We are going to take a break from the subjects our last few blogs focused on, and visit one of the most unique and interesting traditions celebrated by horse lovers and traditional English hunters alike here in the Southeast!
Traditions are a beautiful thing and something we are all very proud of here in the Southeast. We have some of the oldest and most special traditions to be found. Being horse people, we, of course, love to celebrate traditions that include our favorite beautiful animals. In this blog, we will be celebrating and discussing The Blessing Of the Hounds, the opening meeting of the Moore County Hounds, which is the oldest Fox Hunting Clubs in North Carolina.
Every year on Thanksgiving Morning, excited riders, onlookers, horses, and hounds gather in Buchanan Field in Southern Pines, North Carolina. For many families, it has become a tradition that starts their Thanksgiving holiday. The tradition has been going on for more than 100 years and has continued to grow in numbers as the years have passed. Members of the Moore County Hounds appear and come dressed in formal hunters attire, atop their beautiful horses. Formal hunters attire is the classic and signature red hunting jackets called "Pinks", white riding pants, black leather riding boots, and hunt caps. The riders gather early in the morning, and before the hounds are released to follow the fox scent placed along the hunting trail (it is a mock fox hunt, no animals are hurt!), they all receive a blessing from the local Episcopal Priest while the hundreds of onlookers watch from the sidelines. The tradition and its blessing go way back to very early medieval times when hunters believed that Saint Hubert of Liege, the patron saint of hunters, would protect them and their hounds and keep them safe during the hunt.
As we mentioned above, this tradition is no longer just for the riders and the horses. It has expanded and has become a huge traditional gathering and tailgating event for hundreds of spectators that attend the event every year. Many families have been apart of it for generations. Every year, 150 riders and horses are a part of the hunt. The spectators start arriving before 8 AM to claim their perfect tailgating spot, to start cooking, and to pop the bubbly for their morning mimosas. To get the best tailgating spots today, you will have to pay a pretty penny to reserve it. The official blessing begins at 10 AM and right after the ceremony, about 60 hounds are released on the trail. The whole event takes about an hour or so and is full of excitement.
The equestrian community has always been strong in Moore County and Southern Pines, but it continues to be nurtured and flourishes and thrives with traditions like The Blessing of the Hounds. This celebration is proof of the immense support of the community and how loved it is by all. The club continues to care for the tradition, the riders, and animals alike. A tradition like this keeps the community close-knit and brings it together, even if it is just once a year.
The tradition of The Blessing of the Hounds made its way to Moore County thanks to author James Boyd. He started the Moore County Hounds after he fell in love with fox hunting while he was a student at Cambridge. The club was recognized and made official in 1920, and the blessing is the oldest hunt in North Carolina and one of the oldest in the country. The hounds that have been used in the hunt have been living at the foundation's farm since 1942. Their care and breeding have been one of their primary focuses. The blessing was held on its original land until 2015 and was then moved to Buchanan Field.
What a beautiful way to celebrate horses and bring a community together! We love sharing traditions like this and love learning about them too. Do you have a favorite tradition celebrating these majestic creatures and their incredible histories? Share them with us! Until next time, come ride horses with us on our beautiful trails. We can't wait to see you!
There are so many incredibly fun, highly skilled, and exciting sports and events that take place on horseback. Some of these fun sports have been going on for centuries and are apart of certain cultures and backgrounds, while others are no longer played. But in each of them, there is excitement, skill, and a sense of grandeur that is so fun to learn about.
Happy New Year, Lowcountry! We hope all of you had a wonderful holiday, and are so excited to kick 2020 into gear. The weather has been so warm these last few weeks, that we hope you start your new year off with a fun and exciting trail ride with us! For those of you who have visited us recently, have you been inspired by your visit that you've become a little curious about what else you can do on horseback beyond trail rides? You've come to the right place! This week's blog and in the next few blogs to follow, we are going to be talking about the many fun, challenging, and unique sports that can be played on horseback.
Each of these sports we will be discussing over the next few blogs will challenge you in more ways than one. They're fun to watch and exciting to learn. Some take years to master with multiple skills needed to succeed, while others aren't played anymore. If you're here with us in the Lowcountry or are from areas close (in NC, TN, KY), this is a great area to expand your knowledge and explore the world of equestrian sports!
In this blog, we will be discussing some of the more unique and interesting equestrian sports. Each has their own special traits, tactics, and skills needed to excel and do so safely. Some you can still see in competition today while others are just for show. Maybe you've heard or seen some of these sports before, and maybe you'll learn a thing or two today!
That's right! Forget about Medieval Times for a second, and think back to when this was not just the days of yore. When princes and kings ruled the lands and were fighting for the fair princesses' hand. In its heyday this wasn't a sport found at the Renaissance festival or at themed dinner shows, it was a way of life! Jousting was an actual mid-evil sport that was very popular and needed for the training of knights and soldiers. The way it works is that two opponents on horseback wield long poles called lances (that are 6-7 feet long!) with blunted tips on their ends. Dressed in full armor, they ride full speed at one another on a specially made course that is about 110-220 yards long separated by a fence right down the middle part of the field. There is a rider on either side of the fence. The goal of each ride is to knock your opponent off of their horse before you get knocked off. If the riders make it to the end of the course without either falling off, they turn around and start again until someone is eventually knocked off. The sport was originally created to train for battle and warfare, Soldiers would learn what it would feel like to get hit or clash with someone else while wearing a full suit of armor while going very fast. Even during its height, it was also a sport for fun during celebrations, not just for training. Today it is seen in historical reenactments, renaissance fairs, and the ever classic Medieval Times dinner show. It is considered to be an extinct sport and has been for over three centuries.
Cowboy Mounted Shooting
This sport is one of the newest equestrian sports out there, despite its name. It was created in the late 1990's and is a sport for those well versed in horseback riding and shooting. Also know as mounted shooting, this very disciplined sport involves shooting at still targets while riding a horse. As of 2015, the United States is the only place this sport is still played. Each course this sport is played on is specifically designed for each race, and balloons are used as the targets. The goal is to get through the course as quickly and perfectly as possible while shooting as many balloons as you can. Each rider is timed, and each target missed and part of the track not ridden correctly are points that are added to your time. The riders with the lowest time at the end of the race wins. Riders use old fashioned western style single-action revolvers to strike the balloons, and the guns are filled with blanks. Both men and women can play and compete in this sport.
Mounted Horseback Archery
To be efficient at this sport, you need to be well versed in two skills - riding and archery. You need to be able to do both at the same time to succeed. The skills used in this sport are used for mounted hunting around the world. Those to first use these techniques were European nomads during mid-evil times, and the most famous to use it were Japanese Samurai called Yabusame. The objective of the sport is for the rider to ride without reigns on a 90 m course while shooting arrows at different targets that are placed at different distances. This sport takes a different kind of skill than most normal horseback riding or equestrian sports. It is almost harder than riding bareback, as your hands will be used to work the bow and arrow. The guidance of the horse and actual skill of riding will be left to your legs and body. The sport continues to be very popular today, especially here in the United States. Many riding clubs offer classes and courses to learn, and there are competitions held across the country.
How excited are you to come to visit us now? One trail ride could lead to you becoming the next best show rider, a career in show business, or just learning how to show off some very exciting skills. We will see you next time for the next round of equestrian sports blogs. Until then, come visit us for a ride and have a happy new year!
he festive season may be upon us, but that doesn't mean you forget about your beautiful horses! This can be one of the most exciting times to share with your horses and those who help care for them.
Happy December everyone! Can you believe it's already here and that Christmas is just days away? Where did 2019 go? As we have been keeping a steady eye on our beautiful horses and making sure Santa pays a visit to Middleton, we have been thinking about some of the best ways to celebrate with your horses! That's right! We celebrate with our beautiful horses, so there is no reason for you not to! Are you stumped on ideas on how to celebrate this time of year with your majestic four-legged family member? Here are ten ideas to help you make this holiday the best year yet!
See? The holidays are the reason for the season and you can enjoy them with your horses too! From the Middleton Equestrian Center family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
With the temperatures dropping at alarming rates here in the Lowcountry, it's time to get yourselves and your horses ready for winter!
It's been a cooler fall than many of us in the Lowcountry and Southeast expected. It looks like it's going to be a pretty cold winter. So, it's time to get your stables and horses ready for whatever might come our way this year. Dare we say it, maybe even snow!
Important Steps To Follow:
The winter might seem harsh on you and your horses, but it doesn't have to be. Prepare early and understand that their care might take a little more time than usual. On beautiful winter days, always take advantage of them with your horses and enjoy it as much as possible. Until then, come ride with us and enjoy the changing weather on our beautiful trails!
It was such a joy to walk down the honored halls of some of the most famous horses of all time that we couldn't just limit it to one blog. It was hard enough to pick just a handful to celebrate, but it's been such fun to comb through their history and share their stories with you!
Happy November, Friends! Have you stopped by to enjoy the cool weather and beautiful foliage on our riding trails yet? It's starting to get chilly - so make sure you come to see us soon! While you are waiting for your next ride, we wanted to continue our history lesson with some of the most famous horses of all time. We are moving forward with Seabiscuit and Seattle Slew!
This amazing horse was the grandson of Man O' War, one of the horses we discussed in our last blog. Ironically, Seabiscuit didn't show any racing qualities until later in life and was on the smaller side. He was born in Lexington Kentucky on May 23, 1933. Just two years later he made his racing debut at Hialeah Park in Florida on January 19, 1935. Thankfully he was purchased by Charles S. Howard after his first few unsuccessful racing seasons. He lost 17 races in a row before Howard found him with trainer Tom Smith. They found Seabiscuit 200 pounds underweight, exhausted, and in a terrible temperament. He needed rest, relaxation, and to heal before anyone raced him again. That's exactly what Smith gave him, and he came out of his vacation a brand new horse.
With the help of Smith and his jockey Red Pollard, Seabiscuit won 11 of the 15 races he entered in 1937. Pollard was a bit of a controversial jockey. He was much bigger than most and was blind in one eye. But both underdogs took to one another right away, and the pair became famous virtually overnight. His popularity soared during the Great Depression and gave the country something to hang on to. He was named Horse of The Year in 1938 and was the champion handicap horse in 1937 and 1938. One of his crowning moments, known as the "Match of the Century", was when he defeated Warm Admiral in 1939 at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. War Admiral was considered the fastest horse of his time, and no one saw this race turning out the way it did. Seabiscuit retired in 1940 and went on to inspire many books, movies, and a major motion picture in 2003 with Toby McGuire, Chris Cooper, and a full star-studded cast.
In his six racing seasons, Seabiscuit won 33 of his 89 races with a total winning of $437,730. At the time this was a record for an American Thoroughbred. Just a few days shy of his 14th birthday, Seabiscuit died of a heart attack and is buried at Ridgewood Ranch in California.
This stunning horse was born on February 15, 1974. His owners were Mickey and Karen Taylor and Jim Hill of Tayhill Stable. His parents were Bold Reasoning and poker mare, My Charmer. No one expected much from Slew when he was born, but thankfully someone gave him a chance. The moment he hit the race track, he was a born runner.
When Slew was born he was described as ugly, He was an almost all-black bay, something that didn't catch the eye. He had big floppy ears and a very big personality. He was big for his age, and very clumsy when he first started. He needed time to grow into his body, and to learn how to become the powerhouse he was destined to be. He was bought by Tayhill Stable at a steal of $17,500 in 1975. He was then trained by Bill Turner, and under his tutelage Slew learned quickly and had great confidence in his skills. At three years old he made his career debut with jockey Jean Cruguet, who helped him make a 5 length victory at Belmont Park on September 20th, 1977. He went on to win the Triple Crown that same year.
Slew was the 10th Triple Crown winner for the United States and the first to complete the series with an undefeated career record. Through his career years between 1976 and 1978, his total earnings were $1,208,726. He had 17 starts, 14 first place wins, and 2 second place wins. Just two months before he was set to retire he defeated the heir to the Triple Crown, Affirmed, in the Grade 1 Marlboro Cup at Belmont Park.
After he retired, he sired more than 100 stake winners. He was the only stakes winner to sire a Belmont winner, A.P. Indy, who also sired a Belmont winner, Rags to Riches. At the tender age of 28, Slew passed away 25 years to the day he won the Kentucky Derby.
These amazing horses have such inspiring stories to tell. We are inspired by them daily and the legacy they have left behind. We have loved walking down memory lane with you and look forward to the next time we meet. See you at the stables!
Owning a horse of your very own can be a very special experience and a lifetime goal. Before you decide to take this very large step, make sure you know everything that goes into the process of researching, buying, and owning a horse.
For many, a dream come true is owning your very own horse. Believe us, we understand that. But, it's not just beautiful fall days filled with glorious rides through your favorite fields and feeding them a few lumps of sugar. There is so much that goes into the purchasing, owning, and caring of a horse. As much as we support the decision, we stress that it's not for everyone. Please take the time to consider this blog as you are deciding to or thinking about buying your very first horse.
Think about it this way. Treat buying a horse like you would any big investment. You must take the time to research, understand the strategies of buying a horse and talk with those who have had serious experiences of their own when buying horses. You don't want to make the mistake of buying a horse that's wrong for you, get frustrated, and then give up on the horse and the dream of owning one. As much as you love them, buying a horse isn't the correct path for everyone. It's a huge emotional, time-consuming, and expensive commitment.
The Book Work
We love horses, we love owning horses, and we love caring for horses. But we know the work that goes into this every day. We want you to share this magic with us, but be prepared to face the realities too. If it's not quite time for you to own a horse, you know the best place to horseback in South Carolina! Right here at Middleton Equestrian Center! We can't wait to see you on your next ride!
With hurricane season officially kicked off in the Lowcountry, it's time to prepare not only your homes but also your barns and think of the best plan of action for your animals when a storm is heading your way!
It's not new news that Hurricane Season is officially here in the Lowcountry! Now that we have made it through our first hurricane, it's still incredibly important to stay prepared and on alert until the end of the hurricane season. It lasts through November and even though that's just a few more weeks, that's still plenty of time for anything to start brewing. As a horse owner, it's just as important to prepare your stables and grounds and have an evacuation plan for your horses as you would be for you and your family.
We wanted to share a few helpful hints on how to prepare for a hurricane, how to evacuate, or how to hunker down when you're a horse owner or own a farm of your very own. The first important step is to make sure that you stay informed, make educated decisions, and be prepared to decide anything at a moment's notice. Thanks to incredible Apps and advancements in storm tracking, it's much easier now to understand a storm than ever before. But no matter how intelligent our weather systems might be, the power of mother nature will always win.
The first step is to prepare your barns and grounds. You need to invest in these steps if you are evacuating or hunkering down. Don't wait until the last minute to start preparing. We recommend planning before hurricane season even begins. This way you're prepared no matter what happens!
If a storm decides to head your way, it is your personal choice to stay or evacuate. Once you have prepared for the storm, and you decide to evacuate, there are still some important steps to take care of before you get on the road.
If you decide to stay, it's best to take your preparation stages to the next level. Remember to put the safety of yourself, your employees, and your animals first. Make sure the decision to stay has been made with good intentions behind it. Sometimes if you can leave, it's better to take that opportunity than not.
No matter what you decide to do during a hurricane, always make safety your number one priority. We hope that these tips help you stay prepared for this hurricane season and many more to come. We will see you next time!
One of the most important pieces you'll ever buy when owning a horse is its saddle. But with so many different types of riding, what saddle is right for you?
When it comes to buying a saddle, it should never be something that you scrimp on. It is an item worth investing in since you'll possibly be spending a lot of time in it and it is a huge part of your safety while riding. But it can be daunting when it comes to buying a saddle knowing and deciding which one is the right one for you. The normal range you'll find on a basic saddle is between $100 and $500, but once it comes to custom saddles and custom needs, it could easily dip into the thousands. But when it comes to comfort and your safety, sometimes adding those extra zeros is worth it. Originally, a horse was ridden without a saddle, which was called bareback riding. Did you know the Chinese were the ones to invent the saddle?
When you are in the market of buying a saddle, it needs to be fit to your shape, size, and style of riding you plan on doing. Have a saddle master inspect the horse you'll be using the saddle for too. The saddle master will need to know what disciplines the horse will be doing from general riding, to hunting, competition, and so on. There are so many options out there, but we hope this helps you narrow down your options!
There are Western saddles, which are used by actual cowboys. There are sidesaddles which were designed to keep women ladylike while riding in the middle ages. Other saddles include dressing saddles, jumping saddles, hunting saddles, and racing saddles. There are also certain saddles made specifically for long hours in the saddle and are a little more expensive than your basic saddles. Some of these include the Abetta Saddle, the Allegheny Mountain Trail Saddle, and the Tex Tan Saddle.
We promise that it is worth the time to research your saddle and taking the time to find the perfect fit. You should invest just as much time researching a saddle as you would a car, a house, and anything that would keep you safe and comfortable. The next time you visit us for a day of trail riding, ask your trail leader about the styles and types of saddles found in our barns. They will be impressed with your knowledge of what you learned here today!
When you come to visit us at Middleton to enjoy our beautiful land, take a ride on one of our majestic horses, and to enjoy the beauty of the Lowcountry have you ever wondered what makes up a perfect horse stable?
We pride ourselves on having the best horses in the Lowcountry and the best trails to enjoy the Lowcountry in a unique and beautiful way. But we are also very proud of the stables that our incredible employees that keep our stables immaculate and our horses happy and healthy. But have you ever thought what exactly you need to keep a stable functioning and up to everyday work? Some of these items might not surprise you, but some of them just might!
A lot of what you need to have a functioning horse stable is very practical and might already be found around the house. A lot of it is inexpensive and will make life a lot easier. The current collection of items in your stable will keep you organized, help keep a cleaner barn, and keep you and your horses safe. Our employees make it look so easy!
When you are getting ready to build or create your own horse stable avoid getting stressed and think about categorizing what you need into four different categories.
The list of items below is what we recommend you always have around, especially if you are a first-time stable owner!
1. Contact List
Make sure you have all of your important contacts where you can find them. This includes your Veterinarian, back up Veterinarian, Equine Dentist, Farrier (someone who trims and shoes horses' hooves), transport in case of an accident, and all the numbers of your employees. Also, having a list of handy places that deliver food to your area doesn't hurt either. Caring for horses and their well being means long hours, and you will need to eat too!
2. Mini Fridge
This might sound weird, but it's not used for what you think. A lot of medication and supplements that your horses might and will be taking throughout their lifetime need to be stored in a refrigerator. Keeping it on hand and close to your horses is best.
3. Coffee Grinder
Again, this isn't used for what you think. Your horses might have issues swallowing large pills or supplements. You can grind them in the coffee grinder and add the powder to your horse's food or water. You can also turn the powder into a paste and use a syringe to put it into your horse's mouth.
4. Basic Medical Supplies
Even if you aren't a vet or have a vet on staff, it is always important to have basic medical supplies and equipment on hand. Accidents happen and sickness can occur. A vet might not be readily available or close if your barn is in a very rural place. As you are stocking your barn in preparation check in with your veterinarian for the best suggestions for your store of supplies.
5. Hand Sanitizer
This can be more beneficial than soap and water. It can be readily available and carried on your person no matter what a day at the barn could bring. From the birth of foals to trail rides, your hands will be clean.
6. Baby Wipes
Everyone who owns or keeps a horse strives to keep them clean, groomed, and show ready. But try as anyone might, horses get dirty. Keep these on hand to wipe out basic dirt and gunk from your horse's eyes, muzzles, nostrils, ears and for touch-ups all over their bodies.
7. Wide Barn Aisles
This architectural choice isn't just for you and the horses to use but also for tractors and vehicles to get in and out of the barn. Also, have large entrance doors into the horse's stalls ready to handle whatever mood the horse might be in when transporting them on or off these vehicles.
8, Non-Slip Floors
This is a safety precaution for you, all barn employees, and those visiting the barn. Never have standing water around your horses either!
9. A Well-Stocked and Well prepared Tack Room
A Tack Room is something that every stable should have. This room will store all of the "stuff" you will use to care for the horses that aren't already needed in their stalls. But some barns use it for storage of their trophies and other awards.
This doesn't mean blankets and pillows for your horse, even though they will wear blankets during cold weather to keep them warm, they will need bedding on the floor of their stalls all year round. The most common material to use is hay and shavings but you can also use wood pellets, paper, moss, hemp, and stall mats!
The next time you come to visit us for a ride at Middleton, take a moment to really see what makes up the stable around you and all the hard workers keeping it clean and fun for you!
What are the Corolla Wild Horses and where did they come from?
All of us here at Middleton have always known that there was something very special about the beautiful and majestic horse - and the beautiful beaches that line the coast of the Lowcountry and her sister states. So, what happens you combine the two? Something truly spectacular. If you have ever traveled a little north of the Lowcountry and into the Outerbanks, you might have heard about the Corolla Wild Horses, a herd of very special horses that come from a mysterious and long line of majestic ancestors.
The Corolla Wild Horses are such a special attraction and are so beautiful because they are such a mystery. How did they get to this side of the world and who introduced them into the wild? Today around 400 wild horses making up several different herds that live on the North Carolina stretches of the Outerbanks. They can be spotted between Cape Lookout and Corolla. These incredible animals have survived hurricanes, human settlers, and everything else in between. Even though these horses are wild now, they are descendants of domesticated horses. Many historians believe they are direct ancestors of the Spanish Mustang. But really, how did they arrive here?
During the days of early exploration and settlement from Europe to the America Colonies, many Spanish ships were caught in the dangerous shallows along the Outerbanks called the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Many Spanish ships that were attempting to come to the early colonies and sunk in this graveyard have been found, many dating back to the early 1500s. The Corolla's ancestors could have come from any of these ships because don't forget - horses can swim. They could have been on these ships and have swum to shore after they sunk and took refuge in their new surroundings. But more likely, the Corolla are descended from Spanish Mustangs that were left behind by Spanish Settlers who had to abandon them and head back to their ships after being threatened by Native Americans, sickness, or failure to settle successfully. But let's dig a little deeper into their mystery shall we?
As I stated above, the history of these horses dates back almost 500 years, making them the oldest settlers in the Outerbanks. The Native Americans are the only other group that is older to American soil than these majestic creatures that first called this land home. Spanish settlers probably brought these horses to our shores, but when? What explorations? One of the first possibilities is that they could have arrived in 1521 with some of the very first explorers to the coastline with Lucas Vasquez de Allyon, a Spanish Explorer. Some speculate that this exploration party landed near Cape Fear and made it as far down in their journey as the Outerbanks. The Native Americans were not thrilled about these new visitors and were not welcoming to them at all. They killed them or forced these explorers to leave quickly and retreat to their ships and leave behind their livestock and crude settlements. There is some thought that the Corolla horses started their lineage here, as their ancestors would have been the livestock left behind.
A second, more plausible option, happened 60 years later as Richard Greenville was making his expeditions along the North Carolina Coast. His commander, Sir Walter Raleigh, made regular trips along with the West Indies to the early colonies of North Carolina and Virginia to deliver goods to its settlers and had Greenville many of these trips himself. In 1587, Greenville was leaving the West Indies set to deliver goods for his commander to the colonies. Greenville, as historical records go, hit trouble along Cape Fear and then again when the ship hit the shallow waters in the Graveyard of the Atlantic in an area called Diamond Shoals. At least one of the ships that was lost during these troubles contained live wild stock. The animals that survived the sinking could have swum and made it to shore. Some of these animals were also believed to have been the Spanish Mustangs.
Even though these two historical options are the most documented options, these are plenty of other speculations. But no matter their origin, the mystery of their appearance has been one of their biggest assets. After having been undisturbed for almost 400 years, the herd was almost pushed to extinction in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The herd hit a record low of 40 horses due to inbreeding, eating bad food, and being hit by vehicles. The herd was moved to a more stable beach that could support their needs and promote their growth. But now, thanks to being protected by the National Park Service, the state of North Carolina, and by private funds and sanctuaries, they are ensured to remain for many more generations to come. They are an amazing gem, and truly something special to behold.
Now, with a rich history and healthy numbers - the Corolla Wild Horses will remain a beautiful staple of the Outerbanks. If you have the opportunity to encounter them, take the chance. You won't want to miss out on seeing these myster
Middleton Place Team