Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sam's Story 4

Part 4, Retirement
Go to Part 1

In 1996 we began taking Sam to Flagstaff for the summer to get him out of the summer heat because he developed anhydrosis in the extreme heat of a Phoenix summer. We boarded him with the Cardani family, who were then living in Williams, AZ, in the beautiful mountains of northern Arizona. For the rest of his life, he would spend six months of the year in Phoenix, and six months in the mountains. We drove Sam in the pine forests and into the little town of Williams. (Even took him through the Dairy Queen drive-thru.)

Cart ride in Williams

Cardanis came to love him as much as we did. We bought a small travel trailer and took it north and parked it on their property. For the next eight years, we spent our weekends in northern AZ in the summer. Cardanis eventually moved back to the family ranch in Flagstaff, and we went with them. Sam had a big pasture on the edge of the National Forest.He shared his pasture with deer and elk, and an occasional pronghorn.

In the winter, Sam came home to Phoenix. Although he was becoming arthritic in his hocks, he continued to enjoy going out with the cart or the surrey. He went caroling with the 4H kids, all decked out in tinsel, red velvet bows, and his harness bells. Sam LOVED his harness bells. When he was wearing them he would NOT walk. Walking didn't ring the bells!
Sam at 22 all decked out for caroling with the 4H kids

Sam died in his mountain pasture of a heart attack at the age of 24 and is buried in his favorite sunning spot at the top of his pasture.
This is my last picture of him.
Sam at 24 in his mountain pasture

Update. On February 2, 2011, Sam's High Note (aka Junior) died of an aneurysm. He was just short of his 11th birthday. Like his daddy, he was a gentle and loving soul who would give you his all at anything you asked of him.

Both Sam and Junior left hoofprints on our hearts, and will be always lovingly remembered.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Sam's Story 3

Part 3, Family Man
Go to Part 1

Before I got Sam, he had been a breeding stallion for about ten years and had 30 registered offspring. We didn't start breeding until 1994. That year we bred him to a dun Quarterhorse mare and a sorrel Appendix Quarterhorse mare (QH/TB cross). He produced a sorrel filly and a dun colt that first year. The following year (1995) we bred him to a Palomino mare and got a cremello filly.

In 1996 we bred him again to the appendix QH mare and got another sorrel filly, and also to a Tennessee Walker mare.

That year I bought a Belgian filly to breed to Sam. Rural Retreat's Heidi Lynn was a beautifully bred filly that had won Grand Champion Mare in Michigan as a yearling. We bred her in the spring of 1997. That year we also bred him to a beautiful dark bay thoroughbred mare, Sweet Suprano. Sweets was a Native Dancer bred mare. We also did our first AI breeding that year to a maiden TB mare. Heidi gave me Annie, a beautiful filly; Sweets produced Sweet Sam, a colt; and the TB produced another filly.

Annie, Heidi and Sam
In 1998 I bought a second Belgian mare. Milkwood Farms Erika was a European bred belgian mare. She was 17 years old, and had been a broodmare all her life. We bred Erika, rebred Heidi, and bred another imported mare in Oklahoma with AI. That year we also bred Obviously Bright, an appaloosa mare in Flagstaff. Unfortunately Erika's filly was born prematurely and only lived a few hours. Heidi produced another filly, Kate, and the imported mare had a beautiful bay roan colt, Dandy. Obviously Bright produced a filly, Obviously Sam's Glory.

Obviously Sam's Glory, Belgian/Appy cross Posted by Hello

Kate was very attached to Erika (whose nickname was "Granny"). Even before she was weaned, she spent most of her time with Granny. They were inseparable.

Kate and Granny Posted by Hello

In 1999 we bred Sweets again, and got another colt, Sam's High Note (AKA "Junior") . Sam was getting up in years, so we only bred him once in '99. We bred him one last time in 2000, again to Heidi, and got a third filly, Samantha.

Here are Glory, Kate, Annie, and Samantha


Here is Kate in her first horse show


and Junior in his first jumping class.


Sam lives on in his progeny. Junior doesn't look much like his daddy, but he is sure Sam "between the ears". He has a sweet and gentle nature that just gets better every day.

Go to Part 4, Retirement

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sam's Story 2

Part 2 Sam the Ham
(Go to Part 1)

I love a Parade!
Sam was well known all over the city from our parades and horse shows. We would walk down the street in a parade and hear little voices from the sidelines call out,
“Look, mommy! There’s Sam! Hi Sam!”

Staging area for a local parade

Sam LOVED parades. He loved the crowds, the applause, and especially the kids. He knew exactly how much space to leave behind the previous float. He would automatically stop when the unit in front of him stopped, keeping the spacing. Nothing blew his cool. Balloons, sirens, horns, wild Indians, bands, gunfights…he took them all in stride. In one parade, they were tossing cowboy hats off the float in front of us. It was a windy day and the wind would catch the hats and blow them back under Sam’s feet, hotly pursued by a flock of kids. I nearly had heart failure, but Sam took it all with equanimity. He would stop when the kids rushed up, stand perfectly still while they crawled under him or the surrey to retrieve the hat, then close up to the proper distance and walk sedately on.

Trotting back to the parking area after a parade

There’s No Business Like Show Business
If there was something Sam loved more than parades, it had to be horse shows. He was a halter champion in his youth, and developed a taste for the spotlight. As soon as we would start bathing, clipping and braiding, he knew he was going on stage. There aren’t many drafts in Arizona, so we only had one draft show a year. The rest of the time we showed in regular pleasure driving classes and antique carriage classes with our surrey.

In the annual draft horse show, we competed in cart, antique vehicle, reinsmanship, obstacles, log pull, and gambler’s choice. The grandchildren drove in junior reinsmanship. His best obstacle was the 360 degree spin. With one wheel in a hula hoop, he would spin the cart in a full circle without coming out of the hoop. He could do that spin faster than any other horse, and it won us many a gambler’s choice class.

In regular driving shows, we competed against light horses, including miniatures. Sam loved the little guys, and they seemed to like him too.


We also competed in antique carriage classes in major open shows. In addition, we were often called upon to bring the judges into the arena in our surrey for the evening performances at open shows.

Sam loved showing. The more the audience clapped and cheered, the more he would strut. When Sam put it in high gear the ground shook! He would really pull out all the stops on a “victory lap.”

Sam’s victory lap in Antique Carriage class at Carousel Horse Show

Sam always knew when he was being admired, and loved every minute of it

Part 3 Family Man

Friday, February 25, 2005

Sam's Story

This is the story of my Belgian stallion, Queen's Farceur Sam.

Part 1, the Family Pet


Sam at 13

In the spring of 1989, we decided to buy a driving horse for my husband, since my son and his wife and I all had riding horses, and my husband couldn't ride because of a back problem.

We looked at Morgans, Quarter horses, Appaloosas and Paints. I wanted something that was already broken to drive, and was bombproof, since my husband was a complete neophyte.

Driving horses are rare in Arizona, and we weren't having much luck. Most of the horses I saw were show horses. Then one day I saw an ad in the local Bridle and Bit. Someone across town had a Clydesdale gelding for sale. I called and made an appointment to see him. We drove out to look at him and found...not a Clydesdale, but a Registered Belgian...stallion!

He was sadly neglected, his feet were still wearing remnants of shoes he had been wearing for a year, his mane was a tangled mess, and he was in a 12' by 12' pen that didn't even have a gate. He had not been out of that pen for a year, and it had apparently NEVER been cleaned.

In spite of all this, he was gentle and friendly. He came up to be petted and nuzzled for treats. He had obviously had better treatment in an earlier home. He had harness marks on his hips, so I knew he was broken to drive and had been used in farm work.

They unwired a corner of his pen, put a halter on him and led him out. I climbed on and rode him around bareback. He handled like a dream except he obviously had never been ridden. He didn't have a clue what leg pressure meant. He moved out nicely to voice commands and steered perfectly in nothing but a halter. We bought him on the spot. We went home and got the trailer and brought him home on July 4, 1989. Sam's Independence Day.

Sam lived at my son’s horse property a short distance from our house. The next day we had a family party and all the grandkids were there. All our saddle horses are "kid safe," and the children were fond of bathing and grooming them. We were all in the house, when someone looked out and saw the kids (age 4, 7, and 8) giving Sam a bath!

He was in a small pasture, with no halter or lead, and the kids had him all soaped up. The youngest was on her hands and knees under his belly, scrubbing his hind feet with a brush. I almost had a heart attack.

Later experience would show that I could have beat Sam with a stick and couldn't have made him move a foot with those children around him. He turned out to be the most "kid friendly" horse I ever owned. In the twelve years we owned him he never stepped on a foot, never nipped a finger, never knocked down a child.


Sam didn't much like being ridden. After a few laps around an arena, he would start to balk. Unless it was a kid on him, then he would go as long as the kids wanted to ride.


A kid could ride or drive him anywhere. He was never happier than when he was up to his knees in children.


The grandkids would groom him, braid up his mane and tail, and we would take him out for a drive around the neighborhood in the cart.

On one occasion, I took him to the Special Olympics horse show. I took three children at a time and let each one drive Sam around the parking lot in his cart. This was in the spring, with mares in heat all over the show grounds. For five straight hours, he let children drive him round and round that parking lot. Finally, I had just loaded up three more kids and handed the reins to one of them. I told Sam to walk on. He just stood there. I figured he was getting tired, so I gave him a light touch with the whip. He turned his head CLEAR around so he could see me with the blinkers on and gave me a dirty look. Then I caught a flash of pink. There was a two-year-old girl standing in front of his knees petting him. He wouldn’t move a foot with that child standing there, even when I tapped him with the whip.

When a local no-kill animal shelter held a fund-raising “pet walk” I took Sam. We walked down the sidewalk with all the other people with their dogs and cats and other small pets, (causing something of a traffic jam in the process.) For a donation, people could have their picture taken with (or on) Sam. We raised more money than any other participant.

After we had Sam for a while, I looked up the name of his breeder, and called him to let him know where Sam was, and that he had a good home. The man was in his eighties, and was near tears to hear that Sam was loved and well cared for. It seems Sam was their family pet, too. He had foaled and raised Sam on his farm in Iowa. After an accident, he had to sell all his horses, and had lost track of Sam.

A few months later, a woman from a nearby town called and identified herself as the daughter of Sam’s original owner. She asked if she could come out and see him. Of course we welcomed her, and took her for a cart ride. She was thrilled to see him in a loving home. She said he had always been the family pet.

A year or so later she called again. Her brother was in town. Could they come see Sam? He was that kind of a horse. He became a part of our life.

Although he “officially” belonged to my husband and son, Sam was the pet of the whole extended family. He loved to “mow” the front yard, and was quite a traffic hazard in our horse-property subdivision. Draft horses are still a rarity in Arizona. We lost several large plastic trash cans on our street from drivers watching Sam instead of where they were driving.

Sam was as much the family pet as the dogs and cats were. He just lived in the backyard instead of the house.

Part 2 Sam the Ham