Stephen Brook-Blaut and Foxvangen's Braveheart Two.
Here is some positive news that should bring a smile to the faces of all who
own, breed, ride or appreciate the Missouri Foxtrotter Horse!
December, 2005, after nearly 5 long years of waiting for him to grow up, including
one year while he was being trained in reining and Parelli, Foxvangen's Braveheart
Two arrived in Germany. He arrived two weeks ahead of schedule due to some sort
of mix up in quarantine
and he arrived during a huge snowfall.
surprised Stephen Brook-Blaut was when his telephone rang and the transporter
on the other end of the line informed him Braveheart was in Luxemburg, heading
for Holland and would be awaiting his pick up that evening! Braveheart was not
expected until January 4! His stall and paddock were not even scheduled for completion
until the Christmas holidays!
Even though he was certain there had
been a mix up in the paperwork and that the horse awaiting in Holland couldn't
be Braveheart, Stephen braved the 500 mile round trip to Holland driving through
a snow storm. He arrived at the collection farm after dark to find the horse awaiting
pick up was indeed Foxvangen's Braveheart Two!
Perfectly calm and
willing to please, Braveheart stood munching hay in the stall. His gleaming sides
reflected light even in the dimness of the barn! Even in dead of winter he was
shiny and sleek.
Stephen was not certain how Braveheart would respond
to being loaded in his trailer. It was long after sunset and the trailer does
not have interior lights. It takes an act of trust for a horse to load at night
in any strange trailer. Braveheart had to step into a strange trailer that appeared
as a dark cavern. He sniffed the interior and then loaded right up and rode home
to Germany as if it was just another day at the farm.
has had a year of reining training and he has worked up through Parelli nearly
to level 3. He can be ridden without bridle, halter or rope, and he performs flying
lead changes, side passes, half passes, turn on haunch, turn on forehand, shoulders
in, shoulders out, roll backs and a proper, rounded frame, back up. He is a very
agile and athletic young stallion with an incredibly gentle and gentlemanly manner
yet he has spirit and style as well.
Braveheart has had no professional
gait training, he is a 100% natural horse. All who meet him are impressed with
his gentle willingness to please. He seems to endear himself to all who come in
contact with him. In short Braveheart Two is a fine Foxtrotter of the old school!
soon as they had arrived safely home, Stephen called me. It was a little after
midnight German time and just morning chore time here in Arkansas. I was surprised
to hear from Stephen and even more surprised when he asked "Guess who is
standing in my barn?" He said Braveheart simply walked into his stall, looked
around and settled to eating and drinking.
Stephen received high
praise from the folk at quarantine and the transporter for the gentle, cooperative
manner with which Braveheart deported himself during quarantine and shipment.
Handlers took the time to call or email Stephen to comment upon how easy to manage
Braveheart was. This is high praise from people accustomed to handling multitudes
of horses from many different breeds! In true Foxtrotter fashion Braveheart Two
kept his wits about him and was quiet and respectful.
of acclimating to a German winter, new surroundings, feed, and handlers began.
Braveheart adjusted quickly and without issue
even to the new language! He
quickly endeared himself to Stephen's wife and children. He settled in to being
a part of the family making himself quite at home.
In February, 2006,
there was a horse event in Germany that is sponsored annually by the International
Gaited Horse Association. This event is designed to give judges opportunity to
acquaint themselves with the various gaited breeds and their styles of gait. This
is the time when each breed presents horses most representative of their breed.
These horses are expected to demonstrate the proper form of gait and style by
which their breed should be judged. Therefore the top and most foremost horses
of each breed was brought to the event.
The event was attended by
the foremost gaited horse trainers, breeders, and riders in Europe. These people
take horse shows and activities quite seriously and expected to impress the judges
with the gaits and smoothness of their horses. Though this event does not garner
a terribly high attendance the list of attendee's was quite prestigious.
the 2006 year's event the clinicians were a team from Brazil who are active trainers
of Mangalarga Marchadors. (a Brazillian gaited horse rapidly growing in popularity)
seems a few years ago these gaited horsemen developed an electronic gait analysis
machine that works with a camera to record the motion of a horse as it travels
down a special mat. The camera takes 180 frames per second! This machine is called
To be tested by the Analoc-E, a horse must
travel at gait down a narrow mat that is many yards long. The purpose of the mat
is to keep the bottom of the hoof visible during the entire performance so the
camera can record it's impact and relay the data to the computer.
many American gaited horse show rings, most gaited judges around the world put
the highest emphasis on the smoothness of gait. The Analoc-E, however, also judges
upon 21 components of each stride. The data is transmitted from the camera to
the computer where it is analyzed and judged. This is really interesting because
it takes away any political bias, personal preference or prejudice, etc. The test
is 100% objective and not subjective which removes all manner of cheating, tilting
the scales of judgment or any other way of awarding a horse that should not be
the winner of a competition! The computer just judges according to what the data
Many gaited breeds were presented at this event. There
were Icelandics; Aravani ( Greek pacers); Aedigienberger ( which is a German cross
between Paso and Icelandic); Mangalarga Marchadors, and Braveheart Two representing
The event was held in a smallish arena of approximately
65 feet by 135 feet, and half of that area was filled with tables and booths leaving
just a tiny strip for the horses to move about and for this testing area to be
This was the very first public outing for Braveheart Two,
his life to this point was living on our farm and one year in a training barn,
but he had not "been to town" yet!.. Because of everything being so
new to him he was a bit nervous due to clutter and confusion around him. To make
matters worse there was a stallion in the ring making challenging sounds to all
and sundry. But Braveheart maintained his composure with very little support required
Stephen was a bit nervous too! He was not quite sure
how Braveheart would respond or react to so much excitement and confusion! He
was also nervous because he was going to present Braveheart, a natural foxtrotting
horse, in front of some of the top trainers and most successful show riders of
the region! All the other horses presented were trained show horses.
is a good rider and is in tune with his mount, but has had no gaited horse training
either! This made the situation even more tense! Both Stephen and Braveheart were
tight and a bit rigid and as such were not nearly as fluid as they generally are
under normal conditions.
To participate in this test, the horses
have to be "hitting a lick" before stepping onto the matted runway.
They are filmed from the moment they come onto the mat. That means they have to
be dead on their stride and gait before stepping onto the mat. The arena afforded
so little space that each horse had only a few feet to go from start to full stride
in gait and had to be functioning at it's best before the test began. Not an easy
accomplishment for anyone!
Braveheart was the only "non-professional"
horse there and was being ridden barefoot with only a light snaffle bit.
tests are generally scored from 1-10 with 10 being the best. The machine can measure
higher but the best horses rarely even achieve 10. The very best scored horse
in the world to date, after testing more than 1,000 horses since 1999, is a highly
trained, Marchador champion show mare from South America who actually tested 12.15
on the scale.
The tests began. In the end the scores ranged from
a low of 4.4, to a high of 9.1. One Mangalarga Marchador tested a very respectable
9.1 which is considered very good indeed! All the other horses fell somewhere
below his score. Then it was Braveheart's turn.
Braveheart had never
been asked to walk on a mat before, much less do so in a strange place, under
such chaotic circumstances, particularly with a challenging stallions screaming
close by! All the same he hit his gait and stepped onto the mat. He made his pass
down the mat in good form although his gait was a bit stilted and less fluid than
he normally moves due to his tenseness and Stephen's as well. All the same when
their run was analyzed and scored by the computer this pair scored a remarkable
11.35!!! Less than one full point of the world leader to date!
that is quite some accomplishment for any horse but particularly for a horse new
to his surroundings, and an owner with no professional gait training! A huge pat
on the back for the Missouri Foxtrotter! Needless to say, Foxvangen's Braveheart
Two caught the attention of all the trainers, judges, and breeders in attendance!
It will be extremely interesting to follow this young stallion's career. He is
a very versatile and athletic horse.
Congratulations to Stephen
GOOD JOB!!!! WELL DONE!!!
FOXVANGEN'S BRAVEHEART TWO,
a first rate Missouri Foxtrotter!
is a picture of Stephen and Braveheart taken during the test. Braveheart's gait
and high tail carriage are all natural. Notice Stephen's pony tail is staying
still during the smooth ride! No bounce to this ride!
Two is a Foundation bred Missouri Foxtrotter with a V-factor rating of V-109.
He is heavily bred to the old Black Squirrel lines of Saddlehorse stemming from
many different descendents of Black Squirrel.
is Foxvangen's Toy Boy who is a Rollen Clarkson bred ranch horse. Toy Boy is a
true old time foxtrotting horse that trainers could not force to pace. He foxtrots
and run walks naturally and is a powerful galloper and canters a true three beat
canter. He is bred for a working ranch horse from a breeding program that was
standardized for foxtrot and working ability through a fifty-plus year long breeding
program. Toy Boy factors V-122.
Braveheart's dam is a mare from the
A.A. Winterbottom breeding. A.A. Winterbottom was one of the original breeders
of Foxtrotters. He took the first MFT's out to the state of Oregon in the 1950's
where he started a small breeding operation. Braveheart's dam is the most remarkable
mare imaginable. She has out raced a stake's winning Thoroughbred mare and distanced
that mare so far the Thoroughbred really should have stayed home.
She is so supple and flexible she can nearly bend
in half and she is sure footed as a goat. She has
the smoothest gaits of any horse we have ever seen
and she does the entire range of gait from full pace
to full trot. All of which are glide smooth. She factors
Braveheart inherited the best of both parents and
he reproduces these attributes in his offspring.