Return to Little America Main page


PAGE TWO

It was time for some more learning and there were two most desired educations for me: either the study of Biology or Veterinary Science. Well, I became a vet and worked in equine practice later on, but first, before going to vet school in Utrecht, where the only Dutch veterinary education is provided, I had to decide about Oriante and the colt I had bred with her.

The youngster was sold but for the mare I managed to find a place in the outskirts of Utrecht, near to the university. With her, I even participated in the veterinary students’ club riding lessons. However, one year later, my horse was struck by lightning and I was harshly put on my feet as a horseless person again.

Oriante had been bred to a beautiful Fjord stud, an original import from Norway. After her death, the stallion keeper invited me to ride his horses and help him at shows, so I rode his Norwegian stud, a Dutch Appaloosa (a registry breeding for the pattern, with horses in various sizes) and a Haflo-Arab, partbred Haflinger.

Oriante with her colt at one day old
Oriante with her colt at one day old

Being without a horse gave me more opportunity to travel, with England being my preferred destination. I had been in London and Leicester already, together with my father. In Leicester we went to a sale organized by the British Driving Society and bought a patent leather harness which I had measured to fit Oriante. Amazingly as we found out later, this harness also fit the much bigger Friesian mare, Antje, very well. In London I soon found “The Horseman’s Bookshop” of J.A. Allen & Co. This was the place where (on another visit) I found the book “Saddle Seat Equitation” by Helen K. Crabtree, -  a real eye opener, this book!

Tandem driving with Mr. Vine
Tandem driving with Mr. Vine

At a later visit to England, together with a girlfriend, I got tandem driving lessons from Mr. Vine in Sussex. Again, the British Driving Society provided me with the address and it was a delight to stay with the Vine family and drive their Arab-Percheron crosses on the left side of the road!

During my veterinary study I got involved in the IVSA, the International Veterinary Students’ Association. We organized a students’ congress in Utrecht and my work in the IVSA’s ExCo brought me to several countries. As such, I visited England, Ireland and South Africa.

For the students’ congress in Liverpool we got an official reception in the town hall, and were introduced to the Mayor and to the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, who delivered the opening speech of our congress. At the time, I didn’t promote Tennessee Walkers yet, otherwise that could well have been the subject of conversation with Prince Philip! Instead, we discussed his Fell ponies, a rare breed which he helps to survive.

Shaking hands with the Duke of Edinburgh, in Liverpool Town Hall
Shaking hands with the Duke of Edinburgh, in Liverpool Town Hall

In South Africa I stayed in the veterinary students’ hostel of Pretoria University. This extended visit was a major experience, where I visited Game Farms, populated with native antelopes, and of course, horse breeders. I found horses of the South African breeds, Basuto Pony, Nooitgedacht Pony and Boerperd, as well as American Saddlebreds in the RSA.

In Europe, I also went east and south in my quest for fine horses. The first visit on my own to Germany brought me to owners of Friesians and Peruvian Paso’s. Sure, here I was already infected with the “gaited horse virus”, a very resilient one! The popular Icelandic Horses introduced me to the world of gaited horses and I stayed hooked.

On Peruvian Paso gelding Don Juan, in Germany
On Peruvian Paso gelding Don Juan, in Germany

On pregnant Mangalarga Marchador mare, Gaucha
On pregnant Mangalarga Marchador
mare, Gaucha
Introduction to the Mangalarga Marchador breed, on stallion Nero
Introduction to the Mangalarga Marchador breed,
on stallion Nero

In Germany four beat gaits were making a come-back, well promoted by that grand old lady of gaited horses, Ursula Bruns. She introduced me to the gaited German Trotters which she trained and to the first imported Mangalarga Marchadores from Brazil. Ursula Bruns also had an old Basuto gelding with an amazing background: together with their rider and another Basuto gelding, he had come by foot from South Africa to Europe! Unfortunately, this wiry gaited breed, the Basuto, has been quite decimated during several wars. The South African Nooitgedacht Pony is a new breed, using Basuto stock. See how small the world can be, if you’ve got a good horse for travelling!

Germans are interested in various foreign breeds, also in the original African Barb Horse. In Germany I found a gaited Barb, quite a common phenomenon within this breed!

Barb Horses in Germany, the black stallion proved to be gaited.
Barb Horses in Germany,
the black stallion proved to be gaited.

During a visit to a german Company importing horses from Russia, I rode a Karachaever stallion (a type of Kabardiner), in gait. Many native Russian breeds have a tendency to gait.


On my wanderings, I did find some peculiar saddles. Here my tomcat Bibi is inspecting a South-American one. 

In France I also found gaited horses, imported Peruvian Paso’s. The French bookshops and horse periodicals informed me about it that in recent historical times gaited horses could still be found in Normandy and Brittany.
Besides the veterinary study I found some proper work to do bringing in dough and enabling me to think about another horse of my own in earnest. So, you could find me driving city buses all through Utrecht! That’s where Tennessee Walkers came in view.

As bus-driver in Utrecht, earning dough for Buster's keep - what's in a name?
As bus-driver in Utrecht, earning dough
for Buster's keep - what's in a name?

We had heard about a beautiful palomino stud, Kings Delightful Lad, who had been showed at the Equitana Fair in Essen, Germany, presented by a rider of the stables of Ursula Bruns. First, I went to Holstein with a gaited Dutch Trotter mare which I leased, to be bred to ”King” as the stud was called. I bred two fillies this way, who eventually made their way to other gaited horse people.
My first gaited horse, Dutch Trotter "Tennessee Hal
My first gaited horse, Dutch Trotter "Tennessee Hal",
in foal to Kings Delightful Lad - her sire was a Standardbred Pacer, son of Tar Heel.
One of the daughters of Tennessee Hal by Kings Delightful Lad is Delightful Doris
One of the daughters of Tennessee Hal by Kings Delightful Lad is Delightful Doris, here with her colt
by a gaited German Trotter.
Delightful Doris in gait with owner Horst Manja up, getting instructions of Stephan Vierhaus of Gangpferde Vierhaus.
Delightful Doris in gait with owner Horst Manja up, getting instructions of
Stephan Vierhaus of Gangpferde Vierhaus.  They do important work in promoting gaited horses!

In Holstein I got acquainted with a whole herd of Tennessee Walkers, offspring of King and two imported mares. The next major decision was to buy a young stallion, who got the name Lad’s Black Buster!

Lad's Black Buster and Maryan, demonstrating classic sidesaddle equitation.
Lad's Black Buster and Maryan, demonstrating classic sidesaddle equitation.

...Continued