Friday, March 21, 2008

The Stars of Our Show: Barb Horses at In the Night Farm

A fellow blogger at Global Horse Culture recently expressed the hope that I would share more about how we chose our Barbs. This, I suspect, is a two part request: First and most important is the question of why we prefer the International Barb Horse Registry (IBHR) horses as preserved by Robert Painter of Quien Sabe Ranch. Second, what drove our selection of the seven individuals that comprise our little breeding program here at In the Night Farm?

Because it is Friday and I remain in a funk about my sprained ankle, I'll address the simpler question first -- why did we choose these particular Barbs?

Selecting horses from the Quien Sabe herd isn't as easy as looking down a list of available horses, marking the most interesting on the basis of bloodlines or price or what have you, then taking those animals for a test drive. You see, very few horses on the ranch are gentled at all, let alone halter broke or started under saddle. The herd, seperated in various ways by age and/or gender, runs essentially wild on over 400 acres near Midvale, Idaho. Extensive wandering on diverse footing wears their hooves beautifully, strengthens muscle and bone, and sharpens their wits.

Visitors may walk among the horses, but few members of the herd allow themselves to be touched. Those that do -- often, the boldest two-year-olds -- extend elegent necks to flutter nostrils against outstretched fingertips before retreating, all snort and prance, among their fellows.

Travis and I had the advantage of spending a great deal of time at the ranch, observing the herd that numbered around 200 head, absorbing tales of their ancestors, and watching the young horses mature. When we moved back to the Treasure Valley, we brought with us five Barbs.

Insider, our 2000 Barb stallion by Idaho Night Hawk out of Chispa, was the first to be chosen. If you ever meet him in person, you'll understand my immediate attraction to this horse. He is lovely in every way -- at 13.3 hands, he's well-muscled and strong-boned, kind-eyed, and possessed of an enviable double mane. Dr. Phillip Sponen- berg, respected livestock genetics expert and author of Equine Color Genetics, met Insider and both his parents in 2006. At that time, he informed me that Insider is most likely a "purple roan," which is to say, a mahogany bay roan. In winter, Insider's coat turns a rather muddy shade of violet-brown, but in summer he is all shine and glory, speckled with dark corns (irregular spots that increase in number with age), and glinting with a coppery sheen typically associated with Akhal Tekes' metallic coats. But it was Insider's personality that attracted me most of all...perhaps because he and I are so much alike: restless, inquisitive, stubborn, determined, and formidable when crossed. And, we both appreciate a good meal.

Tuetano is our other stallion, born in 2002 by Fuego out of Quieta. A bay roan like most of Fuego's get, Tano stands about 14.2 and has unusually expressive eyes. At Quien Sabe, he stood out among his fellow three-year-olds as a tough and stylish colt. Upon arrival at In the Night Farm in 2006, Tano was still on the gangly side, but he has grown into a beautifully conformed representative of the Barbs. We selected him from a short list of available Quien Sabe colts, not only on his own potential, but also on the basis of his sire's exceptional quality and obvious prepotency (for more than just color). In personality, Tano is both sweeter and shier than Insider, suspicious of new activity but endlessly curious and eager to please.

Consolation, our 2002 mare by IBHR foundation stallion Arivaca out of Dove, has already been introduced in this post. She came to us as part of a barter, and I confess she would not have been my first choice from the Quien Sabe fillies her age. I'm pleased to report, however, that despite my intial misgivings, Consolation has blossomed into what is arguably our finest mare and a stellar example of the breed. Her training continues to progress and I'm looking forward to her first Limited Distance race in 2008.

Alternating Current, better known as Acey, is a 2003, bay rabicano mare by Marawooti out of Chiripa. I haven't measured her recently, but I'd venture a guess that as our smallest Barb, she's topped out at 13 hands. Fine-featured and adorable under a great puff of forelock (see the photo at the bottom of this post), Acey stood out among the other Quien Sabe fillies for her alertness, petite but sturdy and balanced conformation, and an alluring, undefinable charm. Friendly and sensible, she's a pleasure to train and should be well started under saddle by Fall 2008.


Sandstorm, the lovely grulla featured in our blog header, is a 2003 mare by IBHR foundation stallion Lancelot out of Sands of Time. Very like her sire, Sandstorm is quite cautious, though not exactly "spooky," and eager to comply once assured that she won't be harmed. I'm still in the early phases of gentling Sandstorm, but I suspect that once I have her trust, she'll come along very quickly indeed. I look forward to the day I can sit aboard the sailboat-smooth and lightening-fast extended trot that first attracted my attention at the ranch.

When Consolation and Acey came to In the Night Farm, both were in foal to Jack's Legacy of Quien Sabe Ranch. Anyone familiar with Spanish Mustangs will recognize in Legacy the trademark color and mane of his sire, Jack Slade. (Note: Although the Spanish Mustang Registry (SMR) includes a number of horses we believe to be Barbs, an examination of SMR stock reveals a broader spectrum of types than is included in the IBHR. In the Night Farm's Barbs are IBHR registered and although they share bloodlines with some SMR horses, our horses should not be considered Spanish Mustangs.)

In July 2006, Crackerjack, aka "CJ," (colt, Jack's Legacy x Consolation) and Ripple Effect (filly, Jack's Legacy x Alternating Current) were born just three days apart. Beneath the awkwardness of youth, both show every sign of developing into lovely horses indeed.


CJ is especially eye-catching, and it may just break my heart to have him gelded this spring. However, I am determined to enjoy our Barbs as well as preserve and promote them, and In the Night Farm is fortunate to have two very nice stallions already. Outstanding in physique and personality, CJ is poised for a career as one of the finest geldings on the endurance trails.


Ripple Effect retains the lovely Marawooti head of her grandsire. Indeed, she looks so much like her dam that I often mistake them for one another when feeding before dawn. Inquisitive, bold as brass, generous, sweet-natured, and honest, Ripple ought to make a high quality riding horse, as well as a source of the Jack Slade line in our herd.






And there you have it, a summary of our precious herd. In a later post, I'll address the reasons for In the Night Farm's commitement to promotion and preservation of the IBHR Barbs.

1 comment:

Liung said...

Your horses are all so photogenic! And it's obvious that you love them so much, and they adore you. I really enjoy reading your blog.

I ride a thoroughbred percheon crossbred, and his most common response to me is "Oh god, you're going to make me do excercise, aren't you?!" And then spends the rest of the ride making me regret it. I can bribe him with horsey treats, though, and he always perks up when he sees a jump. How such a lazy horse could love jumping so much is beyond me.

He's so pretty, he's a dark bay bordering on black, he's almost got feathers around his hooves, his tail is so long he can step on the edges, his mane is so long and thick, standing there, everyone says how beautiful he is... and then he starts moving. He's what's called a trashy loper. He's incredibly smooth, but no matter what, it looks terrible. But every now and then, when he's sure we're not expecting it, he'll pull a fancy dressage move that would convince anyone watching he's a olympic gold medalist. Until he trips again. Then he looks like a complete klutz.

But what you've been saying about training, I think it's very true. Once they get it, they get it. Horses are alot like children, you have to keep them interested. My motto these days seems to be, if you don't want them doing something again don't EVER let them get away with it the first time. They've got a VERY long memory.