|Biography - Eli Whitney|
Eli is 15 years old, 15.1 hands and weighs 970 lbs. He is a red roan with a lot of chestnut spots, about a dime to a quarter in size. He has an excellent set of withers. When he is saddled for a long time, the saddle is in the same place where I placed it hours earlier. If you have ever had a mutton withered horse, you know what I mean. His legs are straight with light muscling. He is extremely strong which is suprising given his conformation. He has a good head, not the best Ive ever seen, but good enough. Whats more important to me is whats in it. He has a flaxen mane and tail, which is quite thick for an Appaloosa. Ive had more than one person say they think he has some Arabian in him, in part because of the peek and slope of his hind quarters. He is by no means a halter horse, at least by todays standards. His feet are large when compared to the rest of his body (which makes for a good foundation) and are very strong. I jokingly tell people I shoe him January 1 and take them off December 31. Actually, I have him shod about every 8 to 10 weeks. We were on the road 61 days in 2002 doing the Chief Joseph Trail ride and going to Alaska on the same set of shoes.
One of the reasons I bought him is his smooth racking gait. He holds
his neck and head up, breaking at the pole, moving smoothly down the trail
about 5.5 to 6 miles an hour. I think the
One of the strengths of our breed, is the fact that we have a horse for
all occasions. If you want a halter horse, we got em, a race horse,
a gaming horse, a cow horse for roping, cutting, team penning, a pleasure
horse, whatever. Until I started writing this letter, it had not really
occurred to me that we have a horse for all reasons. The major portion
of our population is the baby boomers. That group is somewhere between
55 to about 62 years old, give or take a year or two. There are more people
in that age group than any other age group. Im meeting people that
boughttheir first horse when they were in their fifties. I think that
is a fairly recent phenomenon, and thats why the registrations of
gaited horses are growing so fast. We have breed associations we never
heard of just a few years back. The trail boss for the Michigan Trail
Riders and I were talking last year. He asked me what percent of the approximately
200 horses on the ride (230 miles from Oscoda on Lake Huron to Empire
on Lake Michigan called the shore to shore ride. Eli has
Back in the 60s, I had 2 appaloosas; both did the racking gait (in the appaloosas it is sometimes called the Indian Shuffle). I didnt even know what they were doing; all I knew was that it was a real nice ride for a trail horse. When I decided to go on the Chief Joseph ride, (the ride is sponsored by the Appaloosa Horse Club and you must ride a registered appaloosa.) I was 63 years old. My knees were starting to bother me and after getting use to riding racking horses, I didnt want to ride a horse that trotted. I talked to God about it, and while I was meditating one day, the thought came to me to run an ad in the walking horse magazine called the Voice. The lady on the phone tried her best to talk me out of it, but I wouldnt let her. My reasoning was this: if a walking horse person knew of a gaited appaloosa in the neighborhood, they would tell that person and thats just what happened. I got calls from all over the country. I stopped counting after 20. Mary Ellen, my wife of 47 years (Im kinda proud of that), and I were all set to drive 700 miles to look at a horse in Missouri when a fellow called from 30 miles away and said he had one. Danny Latham is a racking horseman. He took Eli in trade from another horse trader that bought him from a family in Mississippi. He didnt know if there ever were register papers on him. Some folks say a horse cant read so why should he need papers :). Of course, if the horse theyre selling has papers, they brag about it. I had to register him hardship. I sure would like to know if he had full pedigree papers. As I said earlier, it was March and the farmers in the area around Arab, Alabama were planting cotton. Since Danny told me that he called him Eli, I registered him as Eli Whitney, after the man who invented the cotton gin. Its a very commercial name-one people remember. Everyone loves Eli. Hes just that kind of horse-just real nice to be around.
When Mary Ellen and I were in New Brunswick, Canada, we stopped at a
welcome center. A young lady came over to our rig to see Eli. Eli was
looking out of his window. Of course, thats like a magnet to people
in general and horse people in particular. Diane and her husband and her
sister and brother-in-law were on a short vacation. They live in New Hampshire.
Mary Ellen mentioned that New Hampshire was one of the four states we
had left to do and that we were planning on going there after we finished
doing Canada. She said thats too bad, you could have stayed at our
place, but we wont be back home for 3 or 4 days. We said were
going to Newfoundland after doing the rest of the provinces in between.
She said Oh WOW. A couple of weeks later, when we were back
in the USA, we called her, and she was true to her word, bless her heart.
She even arranged for a trail ride with her club. I got to meet some really
nice folks. Now heres the reason I told you all this. This young
lady confessed that she got to thinking later after we left the welcome
center. What if when he gets to my place, he unloads a bag of bones?
After all, all she could see was Elis head. She knew we had been
on the road off and on for 3 years. She thought What will my friends
think if this horse looks just awful? Well, after all, by the time
we got to her place, we had gone over 7000 miles on that trip alone. She
told me later how pleasantly surprised she was when Ol Eli came