Thursday, May 23, 2013

Finding What They're Meant to Do II

    I was hit with a new level of understanding about Brockle and his bolt.

   When he charges, barks and jumps at a dog, he is doing naturally what is expected of him in Schutzhund competition, except it's not happening at my command and it's not appropriately directed.

When a setter gets out the gate and takes off through the neighborhood for a jaunt, his head is down and he quarters each lawn,  actively hunting for fun like he would in the field for his owner. The zig-zag is bred into him, along with the desire to find it and point at it.

A cow horse turned out in a pasture with cattle will work them freely. The stop and turn is bred into him and the desire to boss those cows around is his idea of fun.

Brockle, mixed up mutt though he may be, drives across the fields at those dogs with all of the eagerness, speed and straightness of the competition dogs.

Now I know why HMT wanted me to hold off on the shock collar. If I use a shock collar to stop his drive it will create a hesitation in him. Part of him will be wondering, "When am I going to get zapped?" as he flies along.

What I need to do is shape his direction and control when he gets to satisfy this natural desire. If he's directed correctly (which is where I need help from HMT), I'm guessing Brockle will also understand there's a proper time and place for his lunge and run and wait for me to tell him when to use it.

This will give me the means to redirect him.

I got pretty excited and let this line of thinking roll around for awhile. It's not like shaping an animal's behavior to suit my needs is a new concept. I was thinking about shaping behaviors vs. creating behaviors and when we make roadblocks for ourselves and our animals by not understanding exactly the consequence of our actions.

Then I jumped to breed influence. Shaping behaviors that come from a dog/horse/pig/chicken breed vs. creating behaviors to divert the nature of the animal.

Let's take the instinctive flight/fight response horses come with. They all have it. How we shape it determines the horse we end up with.

Ideally, we want to train our horses to carry us along, go where we point them, stop when we say stop and not kick, smash, buck, bite, throw us into trees, in other words, let us live.

By it's nature a horse will run first, fight second when it feels threatened.

Fight comes first when flight won't fix it. Defending young, territory, mares etc.

My personal thoughts while training a horse are that a flight response doesn't hurt me or the horse, but a fight sure can. So I'd rather not fight.

This is why I always offer an escape to a horse. Even one that's securely tied to an iron rail with a rope halter has the option to move it's hip away from me and get a release of pressure.

Having an escape available for a horse is so automatic for me I don't have to think about it anymore, but it took a lot of years. I rarely get in fights with my horses.

All horses have a flight or fight response and I have chosen my path to begin all horses by shaping the flight response to my needs.

Now we can get into the automatic responses created by breed influence.

My first successful reined cowhorse was Sonita,  a handful of a mare that taught me more than I can say. She was so geared to work she would cut anything. Llamas, kids, kids on bikes, flags, balloons, blowing plastic bags, dust devils, absolutely any object waving in the breeze that stood out from it's environment was something she would work. This was with me or without me BTW. If she couldn't control it's movement she would lose interest, but it was very clear she had been bred to work cattle.

On the flip side, that same hyper awareness made her afraid of tractors, indoor arenas, anything happening over her head, white spots on walls, odd patches of snow, I could go on for hours. Her breeding had done that too.

Shaping man-made behaviors is both easier and harder than shaping the ones that nature gives all horses. I think it's because we're not as good at it as Nature is. People breed to enhance performance for themselves rather than survival for the horse. We forget that for every spectacular new response we breed into an animal we are going to get a balancing response along with it, which will be equally unspectacular.

It was easy to get Sonita on a cow, it was a near death experience to get her past a tractor.

Man-made behaviors don't always make sense to the horse either, we tend to breed things into them they don't understand. I'm willing to wager Sonita's compulsion to cut a plastic bag stuck on a bush didn't make sense to her. It probably contributed to her craziness though.

Then comes the third response we put into our animals. This is the one that I really started thinking about while working Brockle. This response is all about us, it's the response we want from our animal that has nothing to do with their natural or man-made self. Dog Dancing comes to mind. Now there's a competition made entirely for our amusement. I'm not saying the dogs don't love it, they seem to think it's as funny as we do, but it's based on nothing but our will.

This is one of the coolest training knots I've ever come up with. I'm thinking the clearest, cleanest communication between me and whatever animal I'm training will come from beginning to shape the instinctive behaviors that come with the animal first.

If I can channel an instinctive response to work in my favor it will lay the groundwork for the next step, shaping the man-made bred in responses. The animal will be open to my training in this murkier area because of the clear relationship we've already established. If I'm on the look-out for the balancing behaviors that come during this phase, and don't look at it as a negative, but just another, expected response to shape, will I get a better animal? I don't know yet, but it makes sense.

If I've been successful in all of this shaping and modifying, the third phase should be cake. We should have our minds tuned in enough for my trainee to accept my request whether it makes sense or not, if for no other reason then the trust and understanding built by that point.

I understand horses better than dogs, so my example is equine.

1. Start a colt with the standard round pen type thinking (even though your pen can be any shape or size). Restraint is voluntary, flight is always possible.
As the colt's training progresses, the flight response is honed until a foot step away is as much a release as blowing away from a flag was at the beginning.
2. Bring in the bred in behaviors. Begin to shape the speed, cowiness, elasticity, whatever your breed offers.
3. Now it's time for double bridles, spade bits, jumps that are higher than the horses head, dancing, talking to Wilbur, whatever.

It's going to be interesting sorting this out with dogs...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Finding What They're Meant to Do

I've been worried about my blog.
When I worry, I float away.
Part of it is evasion, but most of it is letting things percolate in the back of my mind, until they sort themselves out into coherent thought instead of a vague, smoggy cloud.

I've worried about the blog because it's become so much about theory, instead of actual doing. I'm not riding enough horses to come up with interesting problems and solutions anymore. Madonna is pretty much who she is, a decently trained, keen eyed cowhorse. Odin is coming along as fast as my riding time allows, but he's an amiable, competent, easy to get along with horse, so I don't have a lot of stories coming from him.

Riding them is a joy for me, but not particularly the stuff of interesting training knots. I miss those knots. So here's my question to you guys. Should we bring the training questions back to the main blog? I've been neglecting the training page something terrible. If anybody has a training question, they can bring it up here, I'll reach back in the dusty archives and answer as best I can and we'll go from there. We can move conversations back to the training page, chances are I'll remember it's there that way.

Anyway, let me know-- now onto my post.

How often do we read, hear or say,"I have to find what my horse, dog, self, child, wants to do,"?

The theory is sweet, kind and open-minded. Thing is, I also think it's suspect.

I suspect it REALLY means, "What can I find that's easy enough for me to handle?"

Does jumping my warmblood scare the crap out of me? As a rider, if I'm scared, my horse is going to perform poorly.  If I don't want to admit I'm scared, it's easy to justify all by saying, "He's much happier since we started riding Dressage."

Which, up until recently, didn't bother me.

Except I've been learning something  from my dogs. Actually, I've been learning lots from them lately. This particular instance is finding what they are meant to do, by learning what they were bred to do.

Many of you know, I have four dogs, Charlie, a rat terrier (9), Dinah a corgi/JRT mix (15), Snocone, a mostly maltese (100), and my newest addition, Brockle, a big hairy GSD something or other (1).

Brockle is a wonderful dog. He lives life large, has become my devoted guardian and assistant, and has a wicked sense of humor. He is also a rotten, bumbling, arrogant, dominant, willful teenage boy.

Brockle is not the most dog I have shared my life with -- that would be my wolf hybrid Scott, from twenty years ago-- but he is the smartest, at least from a human perspective. He is still a lot of dog, and in order to avoid the mistakes I made with Scott, I went to a professional dog trainer for help.

I was lucky enough to have made the acquaintance, through my job at the FV newspaper, with the Colorado Springs newspaper's dog training columnist. He's a GSD trainer who specializes in Schutzhund training and I have always liked his philosophy on people and dogs. So he was where I went to for help.

We're a good match, he read Brockle where I couldn't and was able to help me understand how he ticks. He also plays some pretty hard core heavy metal and shouts "Free beer!" every time Brockle does something spectacular. Hard man not to like.

It became clear very quickly Brockle is mentally all GSD. Physically, he moves and responds the same too, so he's been an easy read for my trainer. It's been harder for me, I'm not familiar with the breed, other than admiring the working shepherds at the FVPD. Needless to say, I've been having a blast, because I get to untie knots again, and I'm learning something new.

I have learned Brockle is a sensitive, dominant dog with an unusual focus on all things Mugs. HMT (Heavy Metal Trainer) told me he has only come across one other dog in his career with such single minded focus on his owner. This is good and bad, good because I always know where Brockle is, bad because he is so non-responsive when being handled by others.

HMT starts new training with games and treats. Really, really, good treats. Brockle will play them with him, but slowly, and he looks back at me every two or three seconds. Within a minute or so Brockle breaks away from the task and comes back to me. This makes it hard for HMT to teach me our next step, because like the Big K, he's more of a "show it" than a "say it" kind of trainer.

We're getting it though and Brockle is sharp enough and motivated enough for us to continue on into the actual Schutzund training. One of you guys suggested I look into Schutzhund when I was first wallowing around for training help, whoever that was, THANK YOU!

Anyway, I really do have a point here, bear with me.

Brockle still charges dogs. His recall is perfect...unless he sees a dog. Then his eyes glaze over and he's gone. Straight as an arrow he flies with astounding speed, straight at his target, and pounces on it. He hasn't hurt one yet, but there is a lot of snarling, snapping and slobber involved and completely freaked out dog owners.
Then he spins around and flies back to me.

He's doing really well as far as ignoring them on leash or his 30 foot training line, but I still don't have him off leash.

He understands and obeys "Leave it!" for people, livestock, birds, anything and everything, but not other dogs. It's driving me nuts.

HMT is not a Positive Response only type trainer. Like me, he believes animals need to understand the concept of consequence. He didn't faint, freak or stone me when I asked if we needed to try a shock collar.
He did however, tell me to hold off. I didn't get an explanation, but being well broke by the Big K, I didn't question him, I just did what I was told.

I also started watching Schutzhund competitions on Youtube. At first I just watched with my mouth a little open and the thought, I'll never be able to get him to do this. After a while though, I started to really see the dogs work. I watched them over and over, until I felt like I was getting a feel for the energy. I'm not even close to understanding good runs vs. bad ones, unless they're obvious, but I'm beginning to see the forest.

The next time I lost Brockle to a dog launch it was a poor unsuspecting little brown dog and her owner at least the length of a football field away. As he blew off my "Leave it!" and took off like he'd been shot out of a cannon, I had time to admire how fast and true he was flying at the now screaming lady and her dog.

It hit me like a coyote on a cat. Brockle looked exactly like the dogs in the Schutzhund competitions during the protection tests. Straight, powerful and %100 percent focused on the task at hand -- taking out the bad guy.

He wasn't being bad, he was doing what he has been bred to do (however haphazardly), protecting me.
It was suddenly clear to me why HMT didn't want me to use a shock correction and why I couldn't break through Brockle's obsessive need to launch.

More tomorrow, I've got to take Jim to the Doc.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Try, Try Again

Man, oh man.

Life can sure bite you in the butt, can't it?

I haven't been neglecting only you.

I haven't been writing at all. For anyone, including myself.

I have been almost, barely, been keeping up with my column. At least I haven't been fired yet, but I have been struggling mightily there too, and it's my job for goodness sake.

It's all about distraction.

Any of you who get to live with ADD -- whether in yourself or someone close -- know about distraction. It's not like we ADD folk fly around from subject to subject, jump with abandon from thought to thought, well OK, maybe it is, but not all the time, and usually, there is reason behind all the jumping.

Our mind will skitter here and there when we try to focus on a subject, it will refuse to grasp it and work at it, instead, we find ourselves doing this crazy Vitus dance around whatever we're trying to grasp and each random jerk of our head, or foot, or arm launches us onto another thought, then another...

After living with this unusual way of thinking (unusual for you maybe, same ol', same ol' for me) without medication for more than 55 years now, I have finally begun to get it.

ADD has also given me an incredible gift, known in the medical, psychological, and exhausted friend and mom world as hyper-focus.

When those of us of the ADD ilk sink into the luxury of hyper-focus, our mind becomes razor sharp, and can see only the object or thought in front of us.

When I go there, combined with a mildly obsessive nature ("ahem," interjects Damn Therapist, forever known as D.T.), I live, breathe and function with the thought or object as the only thing I see.

For years, it was learning about Working Cowhorse. The sport, the method, how it affected the horse, the rider, where it came from, mechanics, all of it, everything. It was the only thing on my mind for years.

Think about it, I was what, 40 or so when I got into it, maybe my late thirties, and I immediately learned it was a sport for the wealthy.

A single class  at a small, state club-sponsored, NRCHA approved show runs about $180.

This year, the great big, lots of added money, nationally attended show had an average price of $1100 per class. FOR A SINGLE CLASS.

You can see where you quickly find yourself saying, "Oh, good, I can afford this one, it will only cost me $400 or so" That would be for 2 classes on one horse, or 1 class with two horses and gas. No stalls, bedding, trailer fees, overnight fees etc. I was and am a poor person. This was and is an insane amount of money.

Being the ADD person I am, this little hill meant nothing to me in my road to learn cowhorse. I was an open rider, like it or not, because I gave riding lessons and started colts for a living.

This was fine, because I couldn't afford to be a non-pro, the only way I could show was to learn to train it myself. The only way to learn was to ride multiple horses, the only way to ride multiple horses was to go I did.

This was at the same time I met the Big K. He was 15 years younger than me and had twenty years more experience. As time went by he became as focused on helping me learn how to train cowhorse as I was. Why? Because we're twin sons of different mothers (killer 70's reference for all you youngsters out there).
We are obsessed with horses, what makes them tick and how to tune their tick to ours, and we are crazy intent on riding cowhorse.

I raised my daughter in this environment, dirt poor, scraping together money for show after show, she slept in the corner of many an arena, was "home" with the flu more than once on a cot in the tack room with a space heater and micro-waved cup-o-noodles. We had no money, no insurance,shopped at the ARC and the U-name-it-mart and ate very simply.

She didn't have many video games or extra curricular school activities, but she did have a horse to ride, and lots of time with me. Quantity, not quality, that was my credo. She missed too much school (at least as long as she had good grades) because we were on the road, hauling to arenas in Colorado Nebraska, the Dakotas, Wyoming,  or New Mexico.

In the end, I got what I wanted, needed,  to be able to train a good cowhorse.

Did I o the right thing?

Don't know, hope so, but can't promise I could have put it down, if it had been wrong.

So now I'm on the next chapter and I don't have a focus. Writing was there, my two lovely horses, the dogs, you guys, but I've been jumping, here there and everywhere, my Vitus dance becoming wilder and the ensuing thoughts spiraling off into space instead of telling me where to go.

Maybe it's because I didn't choose this life. I have no interest in paying attention to Parkinson's or Jim's stroke. I don't want to learn to live with my new reality... skitter, skitter.

I have learned over the years to accept and release my distractions. I don't let my hyper-focus go there, because it could be twenty years before I come up for air.

One by one, I let the distractions go, it feels like they seep away on their own, but I've learned that it's me shoving them away. My life becomes smaller and I can start to glimpse the thoughts I need to be turning my attention to.

This last month I was down to bare bones.
No writing, hardly any horses. I didn't go out, started shutting out friends, both on the 'Net and at home, no reading, no cooking, all of my escapes were peeled away and discarded.

These past few weeks I have begun to get my house in order. Setting the priorities I need to balance myself and my reality. Ew. I'm hating that one. But my wise and crazy brain has been peeling away my random thoughts and making me recognize them as distractions until I finally saw what I needed to be working on.

It's falling into place. As I have begun to get things squared at home-- I won't bore you with the details, but it has to do with taking back my life--  Jim and I have been able get on with our new reality.

So, the writing is coming back, I have lots of half-written posts to revisit and share, my horses are getting ridden and I'm bumping up into some collection issues with Odin. I've had some great big leaps in horse/dog training perception, am excited to share and get your input on these, and the stories are finally, finally coming back.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I'm Fine, How are You?

Sorry guys, it's just real life. Bleah. Back as soon as  can.
In the mean time, check this out!
Rumor has it Becky Bean has been secretly breeding these, but she is terrified of being labeled a BYHBB (Backyard Hairy Beast Breeder).

We can actually thank for today's distraction.

Talk to you soon, Mugs.


Circuses and sideshows often invented exotic stories about their exhibits. For example, exceptionally hirsute men were exhibited as "lion-faced men" or "wild men" along with tales that they had been captured in a remote country, were wild and ate raw meat. Despite the legends that the "Oregon Wonder Horses" had been captured from a legendary wild herd, they appear to have been bred from Clydesdale, Percheron draft horses, possibly with some Andalusian blood as well. Excessively long manes and tails would have been a severe hindrance in the wild and needed a lot of care in a domestic situation.
One of the earliest long-maned horses was a Percheron named "Prince Imperial" who also laid claim to the world's longest mane. Prince Imperial originally belonged to Emperor Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte III (nephew of the famous Napoleon). In 1869, a Marion livestock breeder named Jacob Howser traveled to France and bought the horse for $3,000. Howser exhibited Prince Imperial at fairs and horse shows around the USA and billed him as "The Greatest Living Curiosity of This or Any Other Age". Prince Imperial was credited with having the longest forelock (at 7 ft) and longest mane (at 9 ft 10 inches) in the world, the mane later being described as 14 ft 3 inches at its longest. He weighed 1840 pounds and is believed to have been one of the first Percherons imported into the USA. When not being exhibited, his mane was braided and the braids looped to stop the hair dragging on the ground. Prince Imperial died in 1888, but continue to be a curiosity and money-spinner for his owner. Professor AG Ward stuffed the horse so that Howser could continue exhibiting him. Outside of the sideshow travelling season, the stuffed horse was kept in Howser's living room. After Jacob Howser died, his sons continued to exhibited Prince Imperial. This tradition continued to the next generation, with Jacob Howser's grandsons and great-grandson Jake Howser doing the same. Great-gradson Jake Howser tried to end the tradition and instructed his sons to burn the stuffed horse when Jake died. Luckily for sideshow historians, Prince Imperial was sold to another local family. They cleaned him up and put him on a wheeled platform which they dragged through local parades. He later became the property of Theodore Myers, associate director of the Marion campus of Ohio State University and member of the board of the local historical society. Myers kept Prince Imperial in a travelling case in his barn. Prince Imperial eventually became the property of the Marion County Historical Society and continues to enjoy a degree of posthumous fame as a static exhibit in Marion, Ohio. at the Heritage Hall.

White Wings was a pure white Percheron stallion whose mane was said to be 14 feet long with a tail 17 feet long. A 1902 book of animal life described White Wings as the most beautiful horse alive. He was exhibited by Bostock and Wombwell in their Royal No 1 Menagerie in England. According to Edward Henry Bostock ("Menageries Circuses and Theatres")"Unfortunately White Wing's tail had been cut off by a revengeful groom while the animal was in America, and this had to be plaited on and doctored up for show purposes. But for this defect I might not have been able to acquire the animal.

The horses for which we have the best "career records", however, are Linus and Linus II.
Books and magazines contain photos of 3 different horses, with different facial markings and different length white socks, all of whom claim to be the famous Linus. According to one postcard ("famous Oregon exhibition horse"), Linus' mane was 14 feet long (with 10 feet forelock) and his tail was 12 feet 3 inches. Another source gives his mane as 18 feet and the tail 21 feet. Other photos supposedly of "Linus" appear in the the 1902 book "Animal Life". These photos are actually his son Linus II and a similar, but unidentified, horse that might be either Aurelius (a brother of Linus II) or Montezuma (a possible son of Oregon Beauty). "Animal Life" (1902) claims a tail 17 ft long and a 13 ft double mane (circuses and sideshows are well known for exaggeration). One of these was Linus II who, at 8 years old, had a mane 13 foot long (with 5 ft 6 inch forelock) and a tail 19 foot long. At 11 years old, both measurements had decreased by 18 inches: mane 11 foot 6 inches; tail 17 foot 6 inches.
Many of the photos of the various Linuses are cabinet cards showing the attractions of circuses and travelling freak shows. There was also a promotional leaflet produced with a fanciful legend about Linus's ancestry which reads like a prequel to the My Friend Flicka/Thunderhead/Green Grass of Wyoming saga. This leaflet mentions Linus and Linus II. There are photos here of Linus I and Linus II and of a third "Linus" - undoubtedly related, but with different facial markings. The legend used to attract the public is as follows:
The story of the long haired Oregon horses
"In the early history of Oregon traditions of a herd of magnificent wild horses that roamed at will over her mountains and valleys were told the settlers, and, like many other tales of like character, seemed beyond belief. It was said this herd was led by an enormous chestnut stallion, whose mane and tail were so abundant and of such length as to almost envelop the entire animal in a wealth of flowing hair. For years this" Wild King of Oregon Wonder Horses" roamed over the country, ever alert to stampede his followers and flee with almost the rapidity of the wind at the approach of a human being. So subtile was this wild leader of his race that it was only at rare intervals that the best hunters were able to even secure at a distance a glimpse of these marvelous equines. Frequent hunts were inaugurated by those who had heard of the surpassing beauty of these horses for the purpose of capturing them to be placed in subjection and used for improving the breeding of the settlers' horses; but, though all the advantage that the intelligent hunter could command was brought to bear, added to which were large rewards for the capture of the magnificent leader, or some representative member of the herd, for years the intuitive cunning of this remarkably intelligent horse rendered his capture, or that of his followers, impossible, though for some unaccountable reason there was no apparent increase in the herd, which was later accounted for, as this wild king would brook no rival, and killed every male born to his equine harem.
Surrounded by his bevy of beautiful mares, who, like him, possessed in a marked degree the hirsute adornments that caused the settlers to seek their capture, this" uncrowned king" of the Pacific Slope continued to evade civilization until his demise, leaving sixteen beautiful mares to mourn their lifelong protector, but with apparently no means of perpetuating the race. Many, in fact most, of these mares were aged, for they, too, had followed the footsteps of their leader and fought among themselves for supremacy to such an extent that only such rivals as were imbued by nature with extraordinary powers of endurance were enabled to rear their female young; and possibly none would have survived but for the probable interference of the "wild old king," who saw in this bitter war of extermination the loss of opportunity to surround himself with the choicest of equine beauty, and so in a few instances must have insisted on allowing some "to live. At all events, of the sixteen mares but one was ever captured that was possible to breed, and she possessed extraordinary powers for perpetuating the peculiarities of her race, for, as shown in the second, third and fourth descent, all the leading characteristics of this marvelous mare are not only found, but in each instance strengthened and increased by careful breeding, so that now the "Oregon Wonder Horses" have become in captivity what they were in their wild state, a distinct and beautiful breed, exhibiting to a high degree the intelligence that enabled them to retain their liberty for so many years while pursued and eagerly hunted by the most famed scouts, cowboys and hunters the great West could command.
The capture of "Oregon Queen," the youngest surviving mare of the wild herd, was hailed with pleasure by those interested in improving the breeding of horses, both in Oregon and the entire Pacific Coast (for their fame was widespread), and when it became known that the "Queen" was to bear a foal by the old leader of the herd, offers of fabulously large amounts were made in advance of its birth for the offspring; but all were refused by Messrs. Rutherford, who had, by early purchase from the captors, secured the much-coveted prize. In the early spring of 1870 "Oregon Queen" became the dam of "Oregon Beauty," the first of the Wonder Horses born in captivity. This filly was treated with the utmost care, and soon developed into a marvel of beauty (hence her name); and when five years old, and after the birth of her first colt (Linus), was placed on exhibition, and proved one of the greatest drawing cards for fairs and museums ever known, until her death at Coney Island, where she was killed by lightning in the summer of 1887. Happily Linus, her son, who not only resembled his dam, but possessed even a greater development of tail and mane, was able to succeed her as one of the most attractive exhibition animals ever placed before the public.
Linus was sold in 1890 to Messrs. Eaton Brothers, of Boston, for $30,000, and proved a splendid paying exhibition property for several years, so much so that $60,000 was refused for him by his owners, who retained possession of him until his death in 1894. In the meantime, by careful and judicious breeding extending over a period of twenty-five years from the capture of the first mare, the Messrs. Rutherford have succeeded in establishing this breed of "Wonder Horses" on a secure foundation; and, though guarding with utmost jealousy all the progeny, they carefully continued their line of breeding until they possess to-day absolute control of a distinct breed of horses, the like of which has never been seen in all the world, nor will it ever be reproduced, since the wild origin is now extinct.
The" Wonder Horses" of Oregon are remarkable for the great growth of hair in mane and tail, which for length and thickness is not equaled in the world; and since these horses have been bred in captivity this growth of beautiful silken hair has increased with each generation, as will be seen from a comparison of the photographs contained herein. The wonderful endurance and intelligence of this breed of equines is at once apparent to anyone familiar with horses; and now that all trace of the wild nature has bowed to the gentle care and treatment meted out to these animals, they exhibit the utmost gentleness and court the attention of those who come near them. Another remarkable characteristic of this truly wonderful breed of horses is their color, all of them being rich chestnuts, which goes far to prove them a distinct breed, able, by reason of their thoroughbred origin, to perpetuate their blood from generation to generation.' No doubt the "Oregon Wonder Horses" are the truest descendents of the first horses brought to America by Cortez, the conquerer of Mexico. Probably some escaped at that early period and established this breed hundreds of years ago remaining wild and uncaptured.
Linus II is pronounced by eminent horsemen as the most perfect type of equine beauty in the world, and his proud bearing adds much to his natural grandeur, for he carries himself as a worthy successor of his wild old ancestor, the King of Oregon Wonder Horses, in whose place he now stands as leader of his race."
The true origins of the Oregon Wonder Horses is more mundane. According to a report in the New Zealand Observer "The first of these long-maned Oregon Wonders came to light in the [eighteen-]eighties, being worked on a farm in Oregon. He was then taken East and put on exhibition, dying in Coney Island in 1887. His son Linus was the only colt sired by him of which there is a record that he had the same superabundance of hirsute [hair] and Linus II was likewise the only one of the sort got by his sire." That farm horse was actually a mare named Oregon Beauty, who produced a son, Linus, in 1884. Oregon Beauty was indeed exhibited and the New York Times reported that she was killed in a fire on June 17, 1888 at Coney Island (a popular exhibition venue) when "Lightning struck the gable of a roof and glancing off, set a heap of rubbish on fire 10 feet away. It then went through the stable, setting it on fire and killing a very fine mare belonging to M.E. Reid of California. The animal was the celebrated Oregon Beauty, a beautiful dark chestnut, 9 years old. She possessed a fine, large, bushy tail and a heavy mane 10 feet long. She was valued at $15,000. She was well known throughout California and Oregon, having been exhibited in all cities and towns of those states, and her owner had brought her to New York to exhibit to the admirers of horse flesh."
This original Linus is known to have been three-quarter Clydesdale and one-quarter French (Percheron) and his weight was advertised as 1435 lbs. He was bred in Marion, Oregon, about 1884, then acquired around 1890/91 by brothers CH & HW Eaton from Calais, Maine. Linus was sold to the Eaton Brothers for $30,000 in 1890, but died in 1894 at the age of 10 years. By then, he had sired Aurelius (born Oregon June 1890) and Linus II (born 1894). Aurelius was exhibited at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles as one of the "Oregon Wonder Horses" and was 16 hands tall with "a luxuriant mane and tail". Some photos of Linus II can also be found labelled as being Aurelius (mane 7 ft, tail 8 ft) who was two-thirds owned by LA Cole and JK Rutherford.
The Eatons became the most successful promoters of the horse. "When about four years old his mane and tail grew so rapidly-often as much as 3 inches a month -that in three years they reached their present astonishing length. His body colour is a glossy golden chestnut, he has white hind feet and a white face, and his mane, tail and foretop are of a soft flaxen colour. His hair, which is 'done up' when he is not receiving visitors, continues to grow, though now very slowly. Linus is certainly a beautiful animal. He is proud, carries his head high, and enjoys admiration with all the intelligence and pride of his race. The mane is 14ft, the foretop 9ft and the tail 12ft. When spread and drawn out to their full extent, the display of the beautiful locks is quite impressive. It is washed out with cold water, no tonics being applied to it. Before the horse is placed in his stall the hair is drawn out and divided into several thick strands. From his mane four such strands are made. Each strand is then tied around once every six inches almost to the end. It is then rolled up and put into a bag. For his mane and foretop alone five bags are required. He is exercised in the same guise, a blanket or sheet, if necessary, being thrown over him to conceal the pendant bags. He is exercised every day, either in a ring or out of doors under saddle. The owners will not permit him to be taken into the upper floor of any building for fear of some accident."
Linus was featured in Scientific American in 1891 where he was described (incorrectly) as a Percheron stallion (Percherons are grey, Linus was chestnut): "He is 16 hands in height, weighs 1,435 pounds and is of chestnut color. The mane is fourteen feet, the foretop nine feet, and tail twelve feet long. When spread and drawn out to their full extent, the display of the beautiful locks of bright hair is quite impressive. The greatest care is taken of the hair. It is washed out with cold water, no tonics being applied to it. Before the horse is placed in his stall the hair is drawn out and divided into several thick strands. From his mane four such strands are made. Each strand is then tied around once every six inches about to the end. It is then rolled up and put into a bag. For his mane and foretop alone five bags are required....During the last two years his mane and tail have grown about two feet."

The sideshow business was highly competitive and as well as Linus, there were several other Wonder Horses. "Santa Rosa, California has the distinction of being the home of one of the remarkable horses of the age. It is Montezuma, a son of Oregon Wonder, the long-tailed and long-maned curiosity of the Nortwest. This horse has a handsome tail over six feet long, and its mane is over five feet long." ("Horses and Horsemen. Notes from the Carriage Room, Auction Mart, and Breeding Farm" New York Times Jan 1st, 1894.) While Oregon Wonder might be another name for Oregon Beauty, it is equally likely that a competing sideshow invented the name so that the horse appeared to be a relative of the famous Linus!
A Wonder Horse exhibited at Fells Waxworks in Glasgow, Scotland was very similiar in appearance to Linus and Linus II, suggesting he was a son or brother of Linus. Marquis was another three-quarter Clydesdale and one-quarter French, at age 7 his mane was 14 ft and his tail was 18 ft long. Marquis was bred at Grande Island, California and owned and exhibited by J A Grimmer and J O Sharp. In 1894, Ringling Bros boasted of exhibiting Prince Chaldean, the long-maned Percheron, with a mane over nine feet long. Bostock and Wombwell had White Wings, claimed to be the most beautiful horse alive and said to be of Spanish Andalusian descent. Another long-maned horse was Jack Allison's Percheron, photographed circa 1880. The Walter L Main Circus boasted a white long-maned horse "Boneito". It appears that the chestnut Oregon Wonder Horses (including Linus I, Linus II, Marquis) were Clydesdale/French (Percheron) mixes while the white ones were Percherons or Percheron/Andalusian mixes. One article erroneously described Linus as a Percheron, rather than a mix.

If a sideshow couldn't get hold of a living Wonder Horse, then a taxidermy specimen would suffice. The stuffed Prince Imperial had a long posthumous career. A stuffed Wonder Horse was exhibited in San Francisco and advertised in a brochure for Chutes Museum (which opened in 1897): "Here may be seen the $3,000, long-tailed and long-maned horse, "Beauty". This animal, in life, was one of the chief attractions of the zoo. In death, he is a permanent interest not alone to those who knew him in the zoo, but to those who now see him for the first time. A more beautiful animal never lived." Despite the name, this was not Oregon Beauty as she was female (the taxidermy was male) and had been killed in a fire (which would have consumed her mane and tail), but is more likely to have been Howser's well-travelled French import, Prince Imperial.
An account of Linus II, son of Linus, appeared in 1899 and detailed the amount of care required to maintain the mane and tail - this immediately rules out any idea of there being a wild race of "wonder horses":
"A WONDERFUL HORSE. The Sampson Among Equines. Lawrence D Fogo.
The accompanying illustration pictures the most wonderful horse in the world - Linus II, son of Linus, a celebrated horse in his day. That his owner James K Rutherford, of Waddington, NY, is very proud of him goes without saying. No photograph can do adequate justice to his superb beauty. In colour he is of a golden chestnut, with a coat like satin. His wonderful mane is double, falling in a solid mass down both sides of his neck and lying about four feet on the ground. In color the mane is much lighter than the horse's body, and mixed with white, very fine and silky, so that it gives a silvery appearance.The tail is even more remarkable than the mane, measuring over sixteen feet from tip to tip, and lying on the ground fully nine feet. It is white, with a dark streak showing in the center. The abnormal growth shows not the slightest tendency to stop. The photograph herewith was taken a year ago. During the short time which has elapsed since then, both mane and tail have made a growth of eighteen inches.
The most painstaking care is taken of Linus II. When not on exhibition, his hair is treated in the following manner: The mane is parted evenly down the back of his neck, and each side divided into five parts. Each part is then braided, beginning about six inches from the neck. After braiding to the end of the hair, it is doubled up and passed through to where the braid began, making a loop about ten inches long. This is repeated until the braid is all looped up, when it is tied and a bag, made especially for this purpose, is drawn over it and securely fastened. The foretop and tail are cared for in a like manner, and thus he has perfect freedom in his movements.
Just because of this wonderful growth of hair, Linus has been facetiously dubbed the Sampson of equines, a name that is not wholly applicable, because he has displayed no remarkable feats of strength, though not wanting in powers of endurance for a horse of his size and age. Linus is a large horse, standing nearly sixteen hands high, and weighing 1,300 pounds. He is nine years of age and enjoys perfect health. The noble animal is high spirited, but withal gentle and affectionate, and has become greatly attached to his groom. He has an excellent memory. mr Rutherford's partner, who formerly had the care of the horse, taught him several tricks, for the successful performance of which the animal received candy and apples. Upon his going into the horse's stall, after not seeing his master for three years, Linus immediately recognised him, and began to perform the tricks that had been taught him, and which the horse had not done once during those three years.
Linus II was widely exhibited in the USA including star turns at the American Horse Exchange (Broadway, New York) and Huber's Museum (New York). He also took parts in harness parades and was also ridden. In 1903, or thereabouts, he travelled to the UK and was exhibited in England, Scotland and Ireland. One photo taken during Linus II's tour describes him as "the famous Linus II of Killarney". At that time, travelling animals shows were a major form of entertainment and travelled throughout North America, Britain, Continental Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. During 1905, Linus II was purchased by Bostock and Wombwell for £1200 (though £2000 is also claimed). Linus II replaced their white Perchereon stallion, White Wings, in their Royal No 1 Menagerie in England. EH Bostock wrote: "Another freak of this kind procured for me after many futile attempts was a horse named Linus [Linus II]. This was a horse, chestnut coloured entire [i.e. not gelded], which, while not so large as White Wings, had two distinct manes, one on each side of his neck. Its tail measured 16 feet and was also prolific of hair. Linus cost me £1,200 - four times more than I paid for White Wings - but its drawing powers did not come up to expectations. The reason for this was that the novelty had worn off. White Wings had already been all round the country, and the public were ready for a fresh freak. Linus and White Wings, however, were both animals of which one could well feel proud." In March 1905, Bostock and Wombwell's Menagerie ("Britain's premier travelling zoo") was in the Common Haugh, Hawick, Scotland for two days before travelling to Selkirk and Jedburgh. Entrance to one of the three daily performances cost 1 shilling (adults) or sixpence (children) and the star of the show was Linus [Linus II] even though he was not a performing horse. He was billed as having a double mane reaching 13 feet each side and a 17 feet long tail. It was reported that he had been bought two years earlier for £2000 and the proprietors offered to forfeit £10,000 if his equal could be produced or give £1000 to any local charity if any person could prove that the manes and tail were not genuine.

After extensive tours of America and Britain, Linus II joined the Bostock and Wombwell menagerie in Australia where he was supposed to join their tour of Queensland. This had to be cancelled due to a tick plague in Queensland that would have resulted in the animals being quarantined for six months after the tour. The Queensland leg of the tour was cancelled and menagerie headed back to Sydney and Melbourne. Linus II was billed as one of the star attractions when exhibited at Fitzgerald's Circus Building, St Kilda Road in Melbourne in October 1906 where the exhibition formed part of the Caulfield/Melbourne Cup Carnival. The Argus (Oct 18, 1906) reported: "Among the attractions of Bostock and Wombwell's Circus, which opens at Fitzgerald's Circus building on Saturday next [this was on Caulfield Cup night], are several specimens of livestock, which differ from the class of animals usually to be seen in a menagerie. Chief among these is Linus, a fine bay stallion, whose points of pride are his beautiful mane and tail. Two days off the boat, on board of which he has spent 41 days, Linus, in excellent condition, awaits inspection, surrounded by the plenitude of his hair. His tail lies along the ground for several feet and the drooping flood of his double mane covers the canvas on which he stands. Although his broad back and heavy shoulders show traces of draught blood, his alert poise and cocked ears betray his trotting strain which is transmitted from his mother. He has been exhibited all over England and America. Two friends of Linus are a fine pair of Harlequin danes, fine upstanding dogs of the Great Dane breed."
Thomas Hunt Morgan (Professor of Experimental Zoology, Columbia University) mentions Linus I in his book Experimental Zoology (Publ. Macmillan & Co, London, 1910): A few other cases in mammals, that seem to show discontinuous inheritance, are known. Castle and Davenport [Professor C. B. Davenport, and by Professor C. E. Castle] have both called attention to cases of so-called wonder-horses, i.e. horses with remarkably long mane and tail. In the case of ''Linus I" the mane was 18 feet long and the tail 21 feet. The parents and grandparents of these horses also had unusually long hair, which increased in successive generations. The data are insufficient to show the relation of dominance and recessiveness in this case, but the persistence of the long hair seems to indicate its dominance. The mane and tail lengths are possibly exaggerations taken from promotional literature.
Charles Benedict Davenport
SCIENCE N.S. Vol XIX., No 473, Pages 151-153, January 22, 1904.

DR. CASTLE'S reference to the Oregon Wonder horse in SCIENCE for December 11 reminds me that in the autumn of 1899 I corresponded with Mr. James K. Rutherford, of Waddington, N. Y., who then owned a horse celled Linus II. Mr. Rutherford sent a photograph of the horse, taken in 1898. The photograph shows a Morgan horse probably about five years old with a double mane which trails on the ground on either side for a distance of two feet. The tail trails on the ground for a distance of about six to eight feet. Correspondence with Mr. Rutherford yielded the following additional statements: Linus II is the son of Linus I, which had a mane that was single, but at fourteen years old eighteen feet long, while the tail was twenty-one feet long. “The mother also had a remarkable growth of hair.” The paternal grandmother was known as the "Oregon Beauty" and was noted for the mass and length of her hair. My correspondence with the owner of Linus I led to few additional facts. He stated that the long hair had been in the family since importation [to Oregon] and added: "the growth and quantity has increased with each generation"
It will be seen that the data are somewhat inconclusive. Had the father as well as the mother of Linus I been long-haired (recessive, according to Dr. Castle’s hypothesis), then we can understand the long hair of Linus I. The latter was mated with a recessive mare (if "remarkable growth of hair" may be so interpreted) and produced Linus II.
On the whole, it would seem more probable that the long-haired property was dominant, unless, indeed, Linus II got no long-haired progeny. The data are, as we see, insufficient to decide the matter.
[Davenport then goes on to illustrate Dominant and recessive Mendelian factors by discussing polydactylism .]

There was also "Chief" the long-tailed pony: tail 13 feet long, height 3 and a half feet, weight 300 pounds.His exhibition equipments consist of fine blankets, brass exhibition stand and suspended tail rest, which gives the effect of tail floating in the air, and the satin sashes, banners and flags make up the most unique and beautiful equipments of any pony of horse travelling. He has travelled over the greater part of the United States and Canada and is engaged to go to Europe. He was in a railroad accident, in which there were seventeen cars wrecked, fifty horses, twelve men and many wild animals killed. In the car he was in there were four men and twelve horses killed, and as he was in between a camel and a water buffalo and a large elephant back of him it was a miracle he was not killed; but neither he nor his attendat, who is in the picture, was hurt except being pretty well shaken. Everyone admits he is a wonderful little horse and we challenge the world to produce his equal in beauty, intelligence, and size, with the lenght of tail.
In modern times, some examples of the Florida Cracker Horse boast manes and tails that reach the ground and which may reflect Andalusian blood. Andalusians may also have manes and tails that reach the ground. Outside of travelling exhibits, such as the 19th Century menageries, circuses and sideshows that exhibited Linus and his ilk, such long hair is impractical.