Sunday, May 5, 2013

What Matters Most


I would like to think that we are here for the journey and not the miles, not the membership, not for anything else but what we were designed to do in living our passions while employing ourselves in acquiring own souls.

At the end of the day, when we are all old and gray (and in my case, grayer), the legacies we leave behind are the memories and lessons we give to other people. It’s not about earning the stripes and gaining membership status, or other statuses, or about living by other’s definitions of what they believe is true or not true for us. Even though those are valuable to an extent that we all want to feel like we belong in our world, the catharsis of ourselves is within the experience and in making the memory, and the sweet acquisition of our souls on a daily basis. Sometimes these moments are huge but most likely, we are able to gain awareness and personal insight when life whispers our names and we draw close to those whispers rather than the earth shattering rock my world moments that come about sometimes.

Journey 2013

Megan DuBé’s message is simple. However, the long- trail distance delivery of that message has a most been most unusual and sometimes unfathomable even for horse minded folks who trail ride. 

In 2012, DuBé and her horse Evangeline travelled 576 consecutive miles through Texas, on a horse trekking journey to help those with emotional need and also celebrate life and share faith and hope as she travels down the trail.

DuBé’s message and trademarked byline since 2008 has been “emotional freedom starts on the trail.” 

DuBé is the founder of Buffalo Moon Expedition, an organization that preserves equestrian travel and American heritages.  She is a semi-retired psychologist who also has been helping people heal emotionally the majority of her career.  Her life is not all about book smarts either, she has had her share of life loss and horses have been a way for her to get through her toughest times.

Du Bé has owned her own equine assisted psychotherapy practice in the past.  Buffalo Moon's Expedition allows Du Bé  to continue to do what she loves doing best- counseling and facilitating healing for others from the back of her horse.

This year’s expedition is extra significant.  DuBé has done another emotional rescue --- of the equine variety.   Megan has adopted and retrained a Rescue horse from True Blue Animal Rescue out of Brenham, Texas this year.  A Tennessee Walking  Horse named Jazzy.

 “Most of the media portrays rescue horses who have been severely neglected and seized like Jazzy, “ DuBé states.  “But in many cases, horses are surrendered to rescues when family circumstances change financially.  Most of these rescue horses have been family pets and well- loved at one time or another.   I feel that the social responsibility of any horse community is to give these horses a second chance.”

These expeditions are all attempts to make it from A to B.  Whether DuBé makes it to her final destination is unknown as she says that she is not in charge of this journey in so many ways.   However, DuBé’s positive attitude and faith keep her moving down the road.

 “Rescue horses need a second chance, just like people.  Sometimes we rescue people, sometimes we rescue horses,” DuBé states with a smile. And this year, Buffalo Moon Expedition plans to do a little bit of both.

The Versatile Tennessee Walking Horse- The Basics

Gaited horses outnumbered trotting horses almost 4 to 1 in the 17th century.  Gaited horses have been around for much longer than most folks realize.

The Tennessee Walking Horse breed's beginning started in 1885 when a Morgan Mare named Maggie Marshall was crossed with a Standardbred out of the Hambletonian Standardbred Family.  The offspring of this pair was Allandorf, who would later be known as Allan F-1.

But what is this way of going "gaited".  Being gaited is a birth defect. When we realized that this defect was a pleasure to ride, we began to selectively breed for it many many years before the Tennessee Walking Horse became known as a breed.

Once perfected and over time, we came to know and love the way of going of these horses and for the purpose of simple identification, the Tennessee Walking Horse became a breed of its own.

Dangerous Intruder - AKA- Trudy

The Tennessee Walking Horse or Tennessee Walker  (Tenn Walker) is considered a light horse breed. Their beginnings were founded in middle Tennessee whose bloodlines consisted of the Narragansett and Canadian Pacer, the Standardbred and later Thoroughbred, Morgan and American Saddlebred bloodlines were added to refine and mixed into the breed.

These horses were originally bred as a utility horse and agriculturists used them as plow horses.  On their "off days" from the field, because these horses where a pleasure to ride, they would use them as "Crop checkers" and thus the term "Plantation Horse" was born  Vast amounts of land had to be checked upon daily, so a sure footed smooth riding horse was needed to check fence, crops and also be the family cart horse.  The Tenn Walker did it all, with style, a relative amount of speed and with class! 

The Tennessee Walking Horse performs three distinct gaits: the flat foot walk, running walk and canter. These three are the gaits for which the Tennessee Walking Horse is famous, with the running walk being an inherited, natural gait unique to this breed. Many Tennessee Walking Horses are able to perform the rack, stepping-pace, fox-trot, single-foot and other variations of the famous running walk.

These gaits have a variety of speed...much much faster than the quarter horse who travel at a rate of 1 mile per every three hours.  Tenn Walkers can travel up to twice as fast at the walk but usually at about 4 miles per hour.  Their running walk can be as fast at 15 miles per hour. Some Tenn Walkers who rack can "Speed rack" up to 23 miles per hour without breaking into a gallop!

Running Walk - Molley, TWH - age 27 here
In fact, I plan on dedicating an entire blog entry on the natural rate  of the Tenn Walker as many misinterpret their speed for misbehaviour.

Having had Tennessee Walking horses all my life and some other gaited breeds, I can say if they were human, they would be the engineer get 'er done personality - they are all business, friendly, willing and possess a 'professional' work ethic at all times.  They are fun to be around and endear themselves to their riders for their intelligence, versatility and overall steady disposition.

The thoroughbred and Morgan blood in them give them incredible stamina.  They burn fuel differently than a quarter horse would which makes them incredible mounts for long days on the saddle and endurance riding.

It was common for farmers to hold match races with their Tennessee Walkers, which they also used for plowing fields. Even after the coming of the automobile, many Tennessee communities kept their Tennessee Walkers to manage the poor roads of the area.

And lastly, our own Captain Kirk, William Shatner owns a successful Tennessee Walking Horse breeding farm in Kentucky....  Perhaps he will be a stop along the way...

Next up - The Mind of a Tennessee Walking Horse... their not just your regular ole' quarter horses: no way, no how..

For Gaited Horse Training Call - 630-589-2721