Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Horse of a Different Color

I don't know why I'm thinking about this today, maybe it's because we're fast approaching the holiday season and it makes me think of my very first Christmas book ever, but I've been thinking about the Appaloosa horse.

In the foreground, two Native American men wearing cowboy attire sit crosslegged on the ground. In the background, a dark colored horse with a white and black spotted rump stands saddled and bridled.

The Appaloosa or Appy, as it is often called, is most widely known for its spotted coat or blanket and spots across hips. This color pattern, in general, defines the breed, but not all Appaloosa's have color and you guessed it they can change over time.
The Appaloosa horse was a breed perfected by the Nez Perce Indians who lived in what is now Eastern Washington and Oregon and across Idaho. When Lewis and Clark traveled through this area and encountered the tribe they were quite taken by the horses and the quality of breeding they saw in the herds. They did, however, also note that though some horses were "pieded" or multi-colored, the majority were all one color. It is an odd characteristic of the Appaloosa that they truly are a horse of a different color. They can be born a solid color and over time developed the famous blanket and spots, or be born with the blanket and spots and later in life end up a freckled roan with spots everywhere.
a brown mare with a white rump running alongside her baby foal, who is black with a white rumpFor years there has been a controversy about Appys and color with one side saying that if the horses don't have spots they can't be considered an Appaloosa, while others trace bloodlines and feel that that is enough. This led to the ApHC's decision in 1982 to allow "non-characteristic" horses to be registered.
The history of the United States has largely been built on the backs of the humble horse. Their value as transpiration, labor, and freight animals shaped the nation and many of its people. Today though most horses are kept for recreational riding or as pets, their legacy continues.
As we approach the holiday season, looking toward Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is interesting to think about the contributions of those who were here before us and this remarkable horse is one of them.
In my very first Christmas story Christmas Kringle my hero rides one of these lovely horses. He's a kind-hearted man who catches an angel as she falls to earth; even his horse Chester falls in love with the sassy Saraphina Adams.

Christmas Kringle: Tales from Biders Clump: Book 1 by [Roan, Danni] Seraphina Adams has always loved the outdoors, so when she is asked to help fetch the family Christmas tree she is thrilled, but a sudden accident and a chance meeting with the boy next door change everything in an instant.
Rafe Dixon barely knows his nearest neighbors; a strong fence and a family feud having separated them for years, but when he hears the anguished cries for help he answers the call with an open heart only to have it stolen by an angel as she falls.
Can two, star-crossed-lovers find love in the season of peace, or with their parent's ancient war banish them forever?

Most of my readers know by now that I'm a horse lover extraordinaire and that my horses often play a huge role in the stories I write. At one point a good friend asked me which character I was in my books and I replied, "I'm the horse. I'm always the horse." However, in this particular book, there is a bit of me as I actually did what sweet Saraphina did at Christmas, though I was perhaps a tad safer than she was.

Here is my own tale: 

Christmas tree hunting was a tradition for my family, even when I, as the baby, was the last kid still at home; we still had the hunt for just the right tree. Dad and I would collect the tree and mom and I would decorate it under dad's supervision of course. That was right up to the year dad decided the big Douglas Firs along the road had gotten too tall. It was true; they had grown so big you couldn't see the river anymore. They were big, healthy trees, each standing between thirty and forty feet tall. So that year everything changed and a new yearly adventure began. On the day we were to 'top' the tree dad came up out of the basement with the trusty hand saw and a length of rope. Together mom, dad and I bundled up in coats and gloves then walked the ten or so yards to the trees. Dad looked at the trees critically and chose our first victim. Mom, muttered about the height and how would it come down but let us begin. Dad tied the rope around my waist, hooked the saw to my belt and with a big grin gave me a boost into the lower branches. An old hand at tree climbing I love my way between the thick evergreen boughs and up the trunk. The higher I climbed the more strident my mother’s voice became. "Pete, it's too high. What if she falls?'
"She'll be fine Mary." My dad replied calmly.
A little halfway up the tree, I took a moment to look down. I've never liked heights but for some reason, it always feels safe nestled in the branches of a big pine. I looked down through the deep green, fragrant branches to see dad standing tall and calm on the ground, carefully feeding the rope out to me while mom stood hunched in her winter garb, wringing glove covered hands. I couldn't help but smile. I scrabbled the last ten feet up to the top of the tree, untied the rope from around my waist, (you didn't think it was for me did you?) Tied it around the top of the tree and then began sawing. As I cut deeper and deeper into the narrow width of the tree, dad pulled back gently allowing the saw to continue its path without binding. I quickly worked my way through the slender trunk. Then gave a shove. Dad pulled on the rope and our first treetop Christmas tree landed with a soft thud in the snow thirty feet below me.
We did this for the next three years and mom never did get any more comfortable with my scrabbling up those scaly trunks.

Whatever you might be thinking of today, I hope you remember how you got to where you are.  Looking back at blessings as we look forward to a new holiday season. 


T Fordice said...

went to help cut down the tree many times but was never like this - hubs did this however - thanks for another awesome history lesson - been around horses all my life - many different breeds from arabians to drafts!

Alicia Haney said...

Hi, Thank you for sharing your post on the appaloosa horses, it is very interesting and I learned a little more on these horses, I think they are beautiful horses! Your book sounds like a very good read, I sure would love to read it, Thank you for sharing with us what your book is about, I love the cover, it is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories of when you cut your first Christmas tree, that is a beautiful story and one that you will forever cherish, and you were right, when I read about the knife on your belt, I never thought it was for you to use it! :) Thank you for sharing your Beautiful memories. God Bless you.