Some of the most sensible beings ever to grace the White House grounds are the horses of the Presidents. When the country was just beginning, horses were the best means of transportation, and many of our presidents have been land owners, country folk, who loved a daily ride for the exercise and the chance to clear their heads. George Washington started the tradition by bringing his horses to his presidency, always white horses and always six. He kept them in gleaming condition and was even known to brush their teeth. Thomas Jefferson was said to love to ride, but he never mounted a horse before wiping its back with his handkerchief to remove any unwanted dirt. All of the presidents who rode during their time at the white house paid for their own horses and their feed, and purchased their own riding accompaniments. Ronald Reagan may have been the greatest lover of horses in modern times. He was partial to Arabians and he and wife Nancy rode at their California ranch whenever they broke away for a vacation. There is something about a leader who understands the value of a horse. Winston Churchill once said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” He was a smart man.
So amidst the excitement of the Royal Nuptials one thing rang true at every turn. The horses were the stars of the show. As they pulled the carriages down the cobbled streets, winding their way through the throngs of well-wishers, standing at attention as they waited for their valuable cargo to load, never looking left or right, it was obvious they knew they carried a weighty responsibility and they knew the world was watching. Horses, perhaps more than all other four legged creatures, seem to accept and respect their place in pageantry. They have come to understand that there are important moments in life that simply can’t come off without their regal stature or their enduring strength. They have led the charge in battle, carried the common and the elite, run the range, trotted the polo fields, raced the track, and danced under the lights and they do it every time as though they were born for the fanfare. They seem to know, that despite the fuss being made over the royal couple, and the fact that the queen believes she is pulling the strings, they clearly realize that none of this happens without them. They have carved their place in the pages of history and they aren’t going anywhere soon. The equine kingdom reigns supreme!
If you want to talk about cowboy heroes, and it is a subject we love, you simply can’t keep your mouth shut about country music super star George Strait. Strait’s phenomenal career has won him 57 Number One Singles, more than any recording artist in any genre of music … ever. He is the only musician to ever hit Billboard 200s top ten list for thirty consecutive years, and in several years has made the list more than once. His straight on his head cowboy hat and honey coated voice give him a prominent place in the cowboy book of favorites, but, strangely enough, he is an actual cowboy, with a ranch and cattle and horses. He still partners in Rodeo Team Roping Competitions and his son is a professional rodeo cowboy. He is married to his high school sweetheart and they live in Texas. The Straits lost their daughter Jennifer to a car accident in 1986, prompting them to open the Jennifer Lynn Strait Foundation, which donates to children’s charities in and around San Antonio, Texas. George Strait graduated from college with a degree in Agriculture, and managed his father’s ranch for years, all the time singing with different bands. Then one day the right people heard him and the next year he produced a record with MCA Records, releasing, of course his first Number One Hit, Unwound. There is no more loved face or voice in all of country music, and how refreshing to know that his success is all wrapped up in a boatload of character.
There is nothing we love better in this country than a come from behind win, a tale of unlikely success and insurmountable odds. We are, after all, Americans, and our country began with an unpredicted and unexpected victory. In 1933 a Bay Colt was born with a good pedigree. The horse was named Seabiscuit and it was hoped that racing would be in Seabiscuit’s blood, because his grandfather was Man O’ War, who was considered one of the greatest thoroughbred racing horses of all time. Seabiscuit however seemed lethargic, spending most of his time eating or sleeping, and was thought to be lazy by expert horse people. Then a man named Tom Smith came on as the horse’s trainer and things started changing. Smith believed that Seabiscuit’s apparent laziness came from a need to be challenged, so the jockey, Red Pollard, was instructed to push the horse into the lead then let Seabiscuit see another horse gaining on him, giving him the incentive to push harder. Between Tom Smith and Red Pollard, “the Biscuit” began winning races, often coming from behind with an explosive finish, until in 1938 he was named “Horse of the Year” and the “Number One Newsmaker “ for that same year. After a nearly catastrophic injury to both horse and jockey they came back in 1940 to win the Santa Anita Handicap, the only race that had eluded them up to that point. Seabiscuit was hailed as America’s horse because he gave this country more than a win on the racetrack. At a time when the depression years left us with a general feeling of hopelessness and despair, this unlikely hero raced upon the scene and gave the country the shot in the arm it needed. He won when he shouldn’t have because he had the heart to do it, and people who believed he could, and that in American terms, is truly winning.
“We’re alike. I, too, believe that everyone should have a chance at a breathtaking piece of folly once in his life. I was twenty when they said a woman couldn’t swim the Channel. You’re twelve; you think a horse of yours can win the Grand National. Your dream has come early; but remember, Velvet, it will have to last you all the rest of your life.”
Mrs. Brown to Velvet Brown – National Velvet made in 1944
“You’ve stolen my heart. Happy Valentine’s Day!”
Winter can be a harsh reality for everyone, but for the local bird population winter can be catastrophic. Many of our feathered friends don’t migrate for the winter, but stay and deal with the meager winter conditions. Martha Stewart Living Magazine says that putting up a bird feeder is “like inviting several guests to dinner”. They come expecting food and they will be back hoping for more later. Pine Country Feed is keeping the avian population in mind this month by offering 15% off on all bird feeders and the purchase includes bird seed. There is an attractive array of easy to hang feeders to choose from at Pine Country, and while you’re choosing yours you’ll have a chance to peruse the tempting choices of jewelry, clothing and home accessories in the gift shop. Pine Country Feed is the perfect marriage of your ranch and feed supplies and that certain something you’ve been pining for. Feed the birds and treat yourself this February. Everyone is a Valentine at Pine Country.