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Nose to the Ground Issue 014: Beagles, Weathervanes, and Whistlejacket
November 01, 2005

Halloween Night -

Winter's not quite upon us. Snow has made it's appearance on the mountain peaks, come and gone and come again and soon will make its way down towards the valley floor. We had "a flake an acre" of snow mixed in with the rain this morning.

Halloween is no big event at our house as we are off the beaten path as far as spooks, goblins, and trick or treaters are concerned. I do fondly remember Halloweens past however and the joy the holiday brings. At least with no goblins about I'm able to get this newsletter out at the deadline, with a couple of hours to spare.

The horses are growing their winter coats, we have a supply of hay and grain in the shed and the heaters are back in the stock tank. The needles on the tamarack (western larch) have gone from dark green to lighter green to golden and are now about gone. I'm still wondering where summer went but it really doesn't last all that long here some years. No complaints, every season here has its share of beauty and special times and I hope it is the same with you.

Now that the weather is getting wetter it's a little harder to keep the light colored Fjords clean looking. One good roll and they take on the look of a small Fresian - though not nearly as attractive.

A far as Your Guide to Gifts For Horse Lovers is concerned I'm busy sprucing up some of the pages , adding more content, and looking for some end of the year gift suggestions to place in "strategic" locations. The most popular pages the past few months have been those addressing the saddle, horse art, buckles and belts, and cowboy hats.

The Gift Shop -

I hope you've taken the opportunity to visit our Gift Shop. Since what we have to offer is drop shipped the only way I get to see the products up close and personal is to order some myself. Did just that, as a kind of quality control check.

The Fjord Silhouette does add a very nice touch to the various items and we were happy to see that CafePress has done an outstanding job of applying the design. Excellent quality. I think the coffee mug and wall clock should be very popular.

The large coffee mug is just that - large. Just fine for my use, some might prefer the smaller version.

I'm thinking as an end of the year gift idea, the large coffee mug filled with candy would be a nice thank you present. It's great for holding pens and pencils as well, as a book shelf ornament, even as a vase for a small bouquet. It is sharp looking.

The wall clock looked great against a wooden wall though I ended up putting it on a white wall by my desk. This is not particularly pricey. It's black rim is plastic, yet it's quite sharp looking - the logo fits nicely.

Our mug with Lars our Fjord Horse left a little to be desired. While the quality is fine, and Lars is his handsome self, the image is a little too narrow so I'll be looking for, or taking, another picture and try and come up with something better.


I don't recommend books I've not yet read or reviewed but almost (but not quite) am tempted to break my own rule here.

One of my very favorite books is "Dances with Horses" by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, the great European trainer. Hempfling has written a follow-up titled "What Horses Reveal" focusing on equine personalities and what specific training methods are best suited to each personality type. The book is supplemented by his "Coming Together" DVD in which Hempfling demonstrates how you can use body language to best communicate with your horse.

Again, I can't in all honesty recommend that you to rush out and buy the book and DVD, but if you see it on the shelf of your local bookstore you might browse the pages.


While we focus primarily, though not totally, on on-line shopping, it's still fun to leaf through the various gift catalogs that come out this time of year. I particularly enjoy the catalogs I get in the mail from Sheplers and Back in the Saddle. As far as Christmas shopping is concerned, Back in the Saddle has about the most comprehensive selection of gift ideas that I've seen. Items for the "whole herd" as they like to say. I suggest you these web sites out and get on their catalog mailing list.


Just a reminder. Many of the major horse magazines have pages dedicated to Holiday gift ideas in their end of their October through December issues. Western Horseman and Horse Illustrated usually have a few pages of good ideas. Might check them out on your next visit to the newsstand.


This is a repeat of one of my first published articles, still one of my favorites. The number of Nose to the Ground subscribers was quite small at the time , but I'm re-publishing it, with a small bit of editing, as it remains one of my favorites. I hope you will like it as well.

Article: The Beagle, the Weathervane, and Whistlejacket

A six-foot long steel sculpture of men on horseback graces a wall in our breakfast nook. The silhouette of the horsemen stands out an inch or so from the wall and the shadows produced by sunlight gives a particularly dramatic effect.

My wife contacted the artist, who frequents arts and craft shows throughout Montana, asking if he might do a custom steel sculpture for us.
She sent a photograph (side shot) of our Beagle, Boo, (the inspiration for "Nose to the Ground") and I was pleasantly surprised with the gift of a weathervane on my birthday.

The weathervane had been up for several weeks before Boo saw it. The hair on the back of her neck bristled and she began to stalk the weathervane from across the yard. "Woof - woof- woof", not too loud and definitely not the beagle yelp; just a soft but continuous "woof - woof - woof". Eventually Boo figured she couldn't get to the strange black beagle, and it didn't seem to interested in coming to her so she lost interest.

We don't always know how animals will respond to something which resembles them. Generally they seem to ignore it.

One of the great works of equestrian art was almost never completed because of the reaction of the subject. The world of horse art owes much to the 18th-century English master painter George Stubbs.

Stubbs was a scientist and expert in anatomy in addition to being an artist and a lover of horses. His study of the anatomy of the horse brought equestrian painting to a new level.

Much of the art preceding Stubb's time appears almost primitive when compared to his works. While most consider Brood Mares and Foals to be his masterpiece, many also consider Whistlejacket a contender for that honor.

Whistlejacket was a racing Thoroughbred of some fame and Stubbs was comissioned by the owner to do a painting of the animal. The painting demonstrates Stubb's knowledge of equine anatomy and the subject is particularly striking against the plain background, standard for most of Stubbs' work.

The original life-sized painting would certainly be a treat to see as it measures approximately 8 by 10 feet.

The story goes that as the painting was near completion, Stubb's was working on it out of doors, adding final touches. At Stubb's request, a groom walked Whistlejacket near the artist. Whistlejacket suddenly saw himself in all of his glory on canvas, snorted, and charged the canvas, intent of inflicting serious damage to the "intruder". It was only after a supreme effort that the groom and Stubbs were able to keep Whistlejacket at bay and save the painting.

The moral of this story is to keep pictures of horses away from your horses ( especially life size pictures). Weathervanes, on the other hand, are generally safe from attacking beagles.

Some gift ideas here: steel wall sculpture, weathervane (horses or beagles), a print of Whistlejacket, and a very fine book The Horse in Art - (an ideal gift for the artist who loves horses or the horse lover who appreciates fine art).
Whistlejacket graces the jacket cover by the way.

Since this article was originally published we commissioned our artist friend to fashion a steel image of our logo (as seen on our gift shop items) which measures approximately four feet square and adds a very beautiful touch to the side of our house.

Have a great Holiday Season.

Bill Savage

Goose Bay Ranch

Rollins, Montana

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