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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger

The Summer of Horses

Thought for the Week: The Summer of Horses

Unlike many of my family and friends, I’ve never been much for animals. Our children never seemed particularly interested in having a pet so our contact with dogs, cats and other members of the animal kingdom was mostly at a distance.

That all changed over the past month when I had the pleasure of introducing our grandchildren to the wild horses of Corolla, NC.

These horses (and a few other animals) were brought to America’s shores by the Spaniards in the 16th century. When the Spaniards left, the horses stayed and have been residing in the areas of Ocracoke Island, the Shackleford and Currituck Banks, and in the Rachel Carson Estuarine Sanctuary ever since.

The horses run wild and are protected by the park service and various non-profits who are dedicated to their preservation while still enabling the public to interact with them at a distance.

Shortly after my experience with the Spanish Mustangs of Corolla, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Stud Farm in Lipica, Slovenia that has been the home of the Lipizzaner Stallions, the horses of royalty, since the 16th century.

In contrast to the mustangs of Corolla who are essentially homeless and living off the land, the stallions reside in the lap of luxury, getting three square meals (of hay) a day, plenty of exercise and regular pampering with respect to their daily grooming and free healthcare (yes there are benefits to being a Lipizzaner)!

While there is a majesty to both breeds, Lipizzaners have been cultivated for centuries and raised for dressage, the art or method of training a horse in obedience and in the precision of movement.

The other unique quality of the Lipizzaner stallions is that their coat, while dark when they are born, over time turns to gray and sometimes all white, just as our hair does.

I came away from both experiences with a deeper appreciation for the treasure of creation that these breeds are and grateful for the opportunity to experience them up close and personal for a few hours.

For more information on Spanish Mustangs and Lipizzaner Stallions please see this week’s book recommendations.

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