Archive » May 3, 2012
By Pat Murphy, Contributing Writer
If you’re a history buff and also consider yourself an American patriot, you’ll enjoy this report about the grand celebration of Fort Ord Warhorse Day. It took place at Marina, Calif., near Monterey.
It was in 1941, as WWII loomed on America’s horizon, that the U.S. Army at Fort Ord prepared by setting up this veterinary facility for its horse-mounted cavalry and horse-drawn artillery units. They would be valuable for use on rough terrain or in the case of our coastal invasion.
Today, they have an intriguing museum in the old veterinary hospital, right on the grounds of the old Fort Ord Army Base. This is where the Cavalry horses of World War II were stabled, prepared for duty and treated for injuries. The Back Country Horsemen of California, Steinbeck Country Unit took part in the celebration with a demonstration of horse and mule packing. The honored guest of the celebration was Retired Army Sgt. First Class Allan MacDonald. He told about the final days of the horse cavalry. His duties included organizing three shipments of 400 cavalry horses to the Turkish Army during WWII.
The residents of Marina held this Warhorse celebration after recently fighting a war of their own. The battle was one that Santa Ynez Valley residents have often fought, and actually some of them joined this fight. Developers (one of the naughtiest words in our Valley) planned to destroy this place and slaughter thousands of beautiful oak trees and erase horseback riding trails in order to construct some warehouses. Thousands of people attended the multiple protest meetings, and signed petitions to stop this desecration of irreplaceable historic beauty. They won the battle!
The good people of Monterey County will never forget the part that horses have played in the defense of our country, as well as their providing early transportation, help in farming and the creation of the iconic American cowboys. It’s really too bad horses can’t vote.
For a lovely experience called “An Evening With The Cowboys,” just mosey on down to the Carriage and Western Art Museum in Santa Barbara. It’s located at Pershing Park, right near the ocean at 129 Castillo St. Entertainment will be by Dave Stamey and storyteller Gary Robertson. You’ll be able to chat up Bill Reynolds of Ranch and Riata magazine and enjoy the western art of Joe Milazzo while tasting some of the fine Lucas and Lewellen vineyard selections. The date is Saturday, May 19, at 5 p.m.
•••A story both tragic and amazing has come to us from Nancy Hunsicker. It is truly every horseman’s nightmare. The 64-stall Black Tie Stable near McHenry, Ill., became engulfed in flames from some unknown source. It required 21 fire departments, to finally extinguish the horrific blaze, which had started at about 5 p.m. The only people around were 15-year-old Madison Walraff and her stepfather, who immediately called 911. Madison ran into the barn and began pulling horses out of their stalls. She and Shannon Walraff, returned to the burning building again and again, until they were overcome with the smoke and flames. In the end, they had pulled 25 horses to safety. Many of the valuable horses were Arabians. People in the community surged forward offered to care for the surviving horses, but tragically, 18 were lost in the fire.
•••The United States Hunter Jumper Association has announced that it is joining with the Unwanted Horse Coalition of Washington, D.C., which is a national organization that was formed for the protection of horses. They will jointly move forward in their efforts to educate horse owners and the public with educational programs and inspiring seminars. They also give retirement location listings and other owner resources.
The mission of the Unwanted Horse Coalition is to reduce the number of unwanted horses with affordable gelding services and various other resources to help horse owners give responsible care to their beloved animals.
•••Treasure your friendships: The effects of animal relationships has been studied for several decades and now a report comes from biologist Dorothy Cheney, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Animals studied included monkeys, chimpanzees, dolphins, elephants and horses. They found that individual animals are selective about whom they spend their time with and feed near. It was found that the horses, elephants, dolphins and chimps that closely bond to others live longer and have more offspring.
Zoologist Elissa Cameron of the University of Pretoria in South Africa found that wild, unrelated horses in New Zealand form long-lasting friendships with certain other horses. She said, “The mares form long-lasting alliances, in part to keep aggressive stallions at bay.”