The History Of The Pony Express
Horses have been apart of some of the most important and iconic events and moments in history. In this blog, we are going to be talking about the history of the Pony Express.
Hello, everyone! We hope you've stumbled upon our blog to learn more about the best horseback riding trails in South Carolina! This weather is so perfect to be on our trials. As the weather slowly starts to turn you'll see even more beauty that the Lowcountry has to offer. Make sure to book your historic trail rides today, we can't wait to see you!
We've gotten to thinking through all the historic research we've been doing for our recent blogs, and we realized that horses have been apart of some of the most important and iconic moments in the early history of the United States. Up until the early 1900s when Henry Ford made the car affordable and accessible to almost every American, the horse was right there getting us to and from everyday tasks and events, some that would forever change our everyday lives as a country. One of the most iconic events lasted a very short amount of time but has remained in history's spotlight, in our textbooks, and in our hearts ever since it ended. Today, we are going to be talking about the history of the Pony Express.
The Pony Express only lasted for two years and made less than 400 runs, but it is still one of the most iconic parts of our history. Its story has lasted because of the endurance and bravery of its riders and its connection to famous people like Mark Twain and Buffalo Bill Cody. Cody was one of the Express's most famous promoters, but he never actually rode for them! He was much more of a showman. The Pony Express was born when our country was under huge changes both politically and personally. Imagine America right after the gold rush, right as Abraham Lincoln became president, and when the country was right on the brink of civil war. It was born when information needed to be delivered as quickly as possible, but a mode of transportation was not yet available. The Pony Express changed all of this.
The Pony Express riders helped deliver news faster than ever before all thanks to the powerful horses that these brave riders rode. They cut down the time to carrying news from what could be a couple of months down to a few days. They did this by adding more relay stations and making use of the telegraph, according to National Geographic. Individuals could now stay in touch with their loved ones, no matter where they lived. It wasn't just private individuals that were benefiting from this new form of news delivery, newspapers and magazines relied on getting their information from the Express, too. For a total of eighteen months, the Pony Express delivered the mail faster than ever before between April 1860 and October of 1861. It helped tie the east to the west carrying some of the most important news of the time. Young men would ride what would later become the Pony Express National Historic Trail, covering eight states. It was the most direct form of communication of its time between Missouri to California. They could ride up to 1800 miles in just ten days.
Millions began the move out west in the mid-1840s because of the gold rush and the Mormon exodus, according to The National Pony Express. With so many people on the other side of the country, a new form of communication was needed. In came William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell. They created The Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company to deliver mail from one end of the country to the other. This would later become the Pony Express. According to the National Pony Express, shortly after the Express was created, congress authorized a bill to build a telegraph line that would run from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast. While the line was under construction, the Pony Express delivered its letters, news, and newspapers. When the telegraph line was finally finished in 1861, the Pony Express shut down. Its last letters were delivered in November of that year.
Even with its short history, it has become embedded into the history of the Wild West thanks to Wild West shows that traveled across the country and even into Europe. Ironically, these shows and the stars that made them famous (like Buffalo Bill Cody) were famous much after the Pony Express ended. It still raised public awareness about the Express and kept it alive in history. Even though it has been kept alive, a lot of the history is full of inaccuracies, wild stories, and myths according to National Geographic. Almost no records survive of this famous 18 month period.
The young men who were riders for the Express would ride up to 100 miles a day and sometimes up to four times a week. They all had to follow some very strict rules like no drinking or cursing, according to National Geographic. They were facing every kind of challenge nature could put in front of them and in some of the most dangerous parts of the country. Through snowy mountain passes and dangerous deserts, they made their rides. They came into contact with Native Americans and wild animals, and all kinds of other perils. Some Pony Express riders were killed and some stations were burned down after relations between Native Americans and Americans were heated. Service even stopped in certain areas because of it, but after the stations were rebuilt, service went back to normal.
Today, it continues to live on in colorful stories, reenactments, and historical locations that you can visit. Most of the original trail doesn't exist any more thanks to modern roads, construction, and time. What is believed to be left of the original trail can be seen in Utah and California. According to the National Pony Express, some 120 historic sites might soon be available to the public. What do you remember learning about the Pony Express? Have you ever visited any of its historic locations? It's incredible how much history horses helped shape and carry thanks to each ride those young men went on. Imagine how different our world would be without them! Until next time, stay safe and stay hopeful everyone!
The Gypsy Vanner Horse
One of the most mysterious and stunning horse breeds of all time is the Gypsy Vanner Horse. Have you heard of these beauties? We can't wait to introduce you to them!
Hello, Lowcountry! We hope this blog finds you healthy and happy! Things are going well on our trails. Our fantastic guides are ready to lead you on an exciting adventure with our beautiful horses. We are currently offering our historic trail rides. These rides are the perfect choice to enjoy the beautiful local landscape and to learn a little bit about the history of Charleston. We have thee trail rides every day, one at 10 AM, 12 PM, and 2 PM. If you're planning on joining us, please arrive 15 minutes early. If you're a first-time rider or a first time guest on our trails, please visit our FAQ page. If you happen to have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. Please visit our "Book Your Ride" page on our website to book your next trail ride with us today!
Did you happen to watch The Kentucky Derby after reading our last blog? We hope everyone who did still wore their favorite Derby outfits while enjoying a Mint Julep or two! Our congratulations to Authentic and his trainer Bob Baffert for winning in a surprising and very dramatic turn of events. Authentic pulled right in front of Tiz The Law who won The Belmont Stakes and was favored to win the Derby. We are sure you're just as excited as we are to see who will win The Preakness Stakes on October 3rd!
There are many stunning horse breeds across the globe, a few of which we have talked about in past blogs. What many of our readers might not know is that new breeds are still out there and are still being introduced to the United States. One of the newest breeds that have come to the United States and received almost overnight popularity is the Gypsy Vanner horse. Thanks to Dennis and Cindy Thompson, these stunning horses first immigrated to the United States in 1996, and the Thompson's established The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. In 2015, there were over 4000 Gypsy Vanner horses registered in the society, and they are still incredibly popular today. From the beginning the society has been dedicated to breeding preservation, learning about the culture that created this selective breed, and staying true to the breed itself. They do so through education, evaluation, and horse registration.
These magical and striking horses have a very interesting story. For years, the Englishman didn't care for horses that weren't a solid color. Horses that had spots or splotches on them were most often found in Ireland and the surrounding areas. These colored horses were very often cast-off in English culture. Thanks to the English the Gypsy culture was introduced to these beauties and instantly fell in love with them. These Gypsies were predominantly found in the British Isles. There is a lot of speculation as to why they decided to selectively breed what would become the Gypsy Vanner. The most popular speculation is that the Gypsy culture wanted a sturdy and strong horse with an amazing temperament that was stunning to look at. After years of careful breeding, that is exactly what they achieved. These beautiful horses and their breeding went undocumented until almost the 1940s. Once WWII arrived, the horses were finally cataloged and traced as a true breed.
These stunning horses are a mix of very impressive horses; the Shire, the Clydesdale, and the Pales. They are cold-blooded horses, which all feather horses are according to the GVHS. They are shorter horses ranging between 12.2 to 16 hands. They are stocky and strong like a Clydesdale and have a draft-type build. They are perfect for riding and driving, and for any level of rider. They are very easy to train and have calm and sweet personalities. They are wonderful with children and for older riders who might have a difficult time getting on and off their horse due to pain and age.
When they came to America, the Gypsy Vanner didn't have an official name. Thanks to the Thompson family, the name they decided upon honored their origins and the skill they were originally bred for. Named for the Gypsies that bred them and the caraVAN that they were bred to pull, the official name of Gypsy Vanner was born. While they were bread to match and pull the stunningly decorated living caravan wagons that the Gypsies once lived and traveled in, the use of these wagons is now just for show and fun. While this way of life may have turned into fun, the beauty and the strength of these horses remain.
The Gypsy Vanner can come in a variety of colors, but they are most often found in skewball, which is a mix of black and white, or piebald, which is a mix of brown and white. When you see a Gypsy Vanner for the first time it is very easy to confuse it with a Palomino or Paint horse, but pay close attention, you'll be able to spot the differences. Gypsy Vanners are known for an abundant amount of hair in their manes and tails. They can have double manes, and they can grow their manes down past their knees. The stunning feathering they are known for begins at their hock and cascades over their powerful hooves.
With such incredible temperament, strength, and ability to train, the Gypsy Vanner sounds like the picture-perfect horse. Honestly, this isn't far from the truth. One of the very few downfalls is the upkeep they require for their stunning manes, coats, and feathering. Extra care has to go into their grooming to keep them safe, healthy, clean, and ready to show. They also come with a high price tag. If you are interested in purchasing a Gypsy Vanner, we encourage you to consider the responsibility and care that comes with these beauties before officially buying one.
Rising in popularity, these horses are being seen more frequently at shows and in competitions. Due to their popularity and price tag, it will be very hard to find one to adopt. The best way to go about owning one is to go through a private breeder. These horses are truly something special. If you haven't seen one in person, make sure to make that a priority. We do not doubt that it will be love at first sight. Until next time, stay safe and stay hopeful everyone!
The Finish Line of 2020
Every industry has been touched by the effects of the current worldwide pandemic. The world of horses and horse racing has been no stranger to these impacts.
Since the pandemic shut the world down in February and March, every industry has felt those reverberations. Quickly gaining on six months of this strange new world here in the Lowcountry, we too have felt the world shifting. We have changed our policies and what services are available to our riders and guests to keep everyone safe and healthy. When the nation started closing down and canceling major events, it was no surprise that horse tracks and horse races started to shut down and cancel in the footsteps of the NBA, NFL, MLB, and the PGA. Every industry has felt the shock waves of these effects, and all of us at home have felt the tremendous loss these decisions have caused.
Out of the safety of our nation and its people, we recognize the importance of these decisions, but there is plenty still left to mourn. What should come as a surprise is that even though it drastically changed, the industry of horse racing didn't actually shut down. In a recent interview, racing analyst Randy Moss mentioned that even though the world has changed and we've adapted to an online world, the world of horse racing can't be stopped. He said, "You can't water or feed horses through Zoom. They can't get veterinary care through Zoom!" So, those behind the scenes, almost 1500 people to every 1000 horses at each American race track according to Moss, have kept the industry afloat. The needs of these living and breathing creatures depended on quick action, which is exactly what happened. Decisions were made to keep both the industry and the industries employees alive and well.
This doesn't mean that every race and event went on as normal. Once things started to shut down it was almost like a domino effect, and it was felt globally.
One of the largest blows our industry saw was the postponement of the Kentucky Derby. For the first time since 1945, it was pushed back to a different date. After weeks and months of waiting, Churchill Downs announced that the race was going to be moved to September 5th. With this change, the entire set up of the Triple Crown was completely changed. For the first time in its 152 years, the Belmont Stakes started the Triple Crown instead of ending it. On July 20th, the race still went on as planned. Here too, no fans were present. Tiz The Law took first. The hope that the Kentucky Derby would be able to have fans in the stadium was still in the works when the date was pushed back. Many believed that by September, things would be looking much different.
During June and early July of this year, it was announced that 14% of the Derby's capacity would be allowed to attend in person. Social distancing and masks along with frequent hand washing and sanitizing were going to be strongly suggested. Whether masks were going to be enforced or not was never solidified, according to CBS news. This decision and the uncertainty of masks were met with skepticism. As weeks went on and the spike in Coronavirus cases went up drastically, the executives of Churchill Downs decided to change their minds. According to CNN, the race will still be run, but without a crowd. The 14% capacity was still 23,000 fans, and that was too much for comfort. Kentucky governor, Andy Beshear, has praised the decision according to CNN. Although it is a tragic disappointment and loss, it is understood. Following the Kentucky Derby will be the Preakness Stakes on October 3rd, officially finishing the Triple Crown of 2020.
The derby was one of the last big sporting events to see such a change. 2020 has been a huge blow to every industry and sports lovers alike. Throughout Europe, with pandemic numbers looking more promising, they are hopeful for races that were postponed to the fall. Many of these races will be run much later than they ever have been before. They hope that by pushing them back they will be able to amp up even more excitement and be able to have some, even if it is limited, crowd engagement. What has 2020 done to your connection to the world of horses? Comment below - we want to hear from you! Until next time, stay safe and stay hopeful.
Middleton Place Team