Horses are special to Pat Jolliff

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Pat Jolliff leads one of her favorite horses named Obvious Question, as her granddaughter Hailey Bell and friend, Mary Kathryn Farrow, enjoy a ride. Both girls are riding students of Linda Donovan of Manila. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Pat Jolliff's love of horses started when she was a young child. She had a horse as far back as she can remember. Growing up, she always loved her horse and now she has many more to love. She has big ones, miniature ones and all sizes in-between.

She and her husband, Garry, started raising horses seven years ago. Her problem is once they are born, she has trouble parting with them. She admits that the time has come to sell a few and she plans to start halter breaking and teaching some of the younger horses to lead.

Mrs. Jolliff recently retired after 32 years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the weeks since retirement, she has more time with her horses.

"I love being out here with them," she said. "When I was young, I didn't know that they had to be fed, watered, and combed. I would tell my dad I wanted to ride, and when I got there, my horse was saddled and ready to go. When I finished, he was there to take care of it for me."

She looses all track of time when she is caring for her horses. They are like children to her.

"They have stomach aches, tooth aches, doctor's appointments and let's not forget manicures, except we use farriors. There is hair care, eye care, viruses, flu and worms to contend with. Just when you think you've got it all covered, then along comes West Nile Virus to worry about," she said. "It really makes you wonder what the Indians did about all this stuff."

Jolliff can look at her horses and tell if they are not feeling well.

"Personally, caring for the horses gives me a sense of calmness and a feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes I am not sure if it is because of my love for horses or if it is because I am so tired after tending them that I mistake tiredness for calmness."

The Jolliffs each have their own horses. They keep them at separate locations but they share the work at both. Mr. Jolliff teaches school at Manila.

"Garry spends half of his summer hauling hay for me. He also does any work on my barn that is needed," she said.

The Jolliffs buy, sell and breed horses. They have appaloosas, quarter horses, paints, three miniature horses, and a goat.

"He tries his best to keep up with the horses when they are running," she said. "Horses are like children. Even though there is an electric fence and other security measures in the barn and around the pasture, if the electricity goes off or if there is one little place to get through, it is like they say 'I'm free -- but what do I do now?' They don't know where they are going, but they are out of there. They usually just stand outside the fence waiting for me to let them back in. You have not lived until the sheriff's department wakes you up at 1:30 a.m. on a cold winter morning to tell you your horses are out. In with the 65 horses is the big black, ugly goat that thinks he is a horse -- and he is out too."

Mrs. Jolliff's favorite horse is the appaloosa. The Jolliffs belong to the Paint Club and Mrs. Jolliff also belongs to the Appaloosa Club.

"I guess the appaloosa is my favorite because of their history and how hard it was for them to survive. All the breeds of horses have a story but the appaloosa is special. "They were nearly extinct at one time in history. The Nez Perces flight from the U.S. Cavalry is now a part of history. How sad that all but a few of these horses were killed by our U.S. Calvary. The Nez Perce Indians tell the story of three stallions that came from Russia hundreds of years ago, before our country was born. The stallions were sent from the ship to swim to Nez Perce traders. Tradition tells of their slivery bodies, black marks and spots on their legs and bodies and spotted muzzles. The Indians believed that these stallions had powerful medicine. They bred them to their mares. These three stallions were known by the Indians as the Ghost Wind Stallions. They had speed, endurance and color that set them apart from all other horses. The spotted horse was feared by the tribal enemies. It was said that they were wild and ferocious in battle and that the Nez Perce horse was trained to charge an enemy, knock him from his horse and then attack the man striking him with his hooves. But this same animal would be cared for by a young child whose job it was to attend the horses.

According to history, the horses could outrun the buffalo and beat other tribes horses in short races as well as long grueling rides. Generations later the U.S. Cavalry pursued the tribe as they were fleeing for their lives, a journey that would take three months and 1,300 miles. The Cavalry could not keep up. The soldier found they could only beat the Indians by out numbering them -- and they did.

"After the Indians surrendered, a few appaloosas were lost in the mountains and the rest were rounded up and simply gunned down by the soldiers. The breed was preserved simply because of a few hill people that gathered up the horses that ran for their lives. They quietly began a breeding program to preserve the horse. "Just before the Second World War, a small group formed the Appaloosa Horse Club. There are now over 568,000 registered at this time. All are required to have the appaloosa traits in order to be registered," Mrs. Jolliff said.

Jolliff said a horse's genealogy, just like people, can be traced using internet research. She pointed out that when registering horses, breeders have to be positive of the lineage.

"DNA testing is done on the mare, the stallion and the baby and it must match," she said.

Mrs. Jolliff's favorite part of raising horses is the foaling. She finds herself watching over the mare trying to detect if everything is all right.

"At foaling time we almost know the day the babies will come. I have had to deliver only one baby, the rest deliver all by themselves as they have been doing for hundreds of years. Before they are born I start wondering if the appaloosa is going to have spots, is the paint mare going to give us a paint baby, are they going to be healthy. This is something you can never really know until you see the foal.

"It is just like Christmas in March. At first the babies stay close to their moms, but a week or so later they begin to venture away. They usually pick playmates that were born around the same time they were. Pretty soon they are out in the pasture running and playing with the other foals. This is a beautiful site to see," Mrs. Jolliff said.

She said she thinks horses are the most beautiful animals in the world and she cannot understand how anyone could mistreat or neglect them.

She knows that some of her horses will be going to the sale barn for the first time since she has been raising horses. She has some that she cannot part with. She has Goodbye Sam, an appaloosa, that was named for her father, the late Sam Bollinger. He was born on his dad's birthday and she has pampered it ever since. She also has Little Lera named for her mother. Ironically, Little Lera was born on her mother's birthday.

Mrs. Jolliff wants to share her love of horses with her grandchildren and other children in the area. She and Linda Donovan are in the process of starting a 4-H group for young people that would like to learn about horses and ride.

"Linda was a horsewoman of this area when I was growing up. I always admired her. She ran barrels in the 1950s and 1960s. She has a true love for horses. When we were younger one of her horses got sick and she wouldn't leave it and stayed in the barn with Pumpkin for two straight days and a night," Mrs. Jolliff said.

Mrs. Jolliff's granddaughter, Hailey Bell, is one of Donovan's riding students. Hailey has inherited her grandmother's love of horses and riding and enjoys being at the barn helping care for the horses.

"We would like to start the 4-H Club so other children in the area can have the opportunity to learn to ride. Through the 4-H, the young people could compete without their families having to spend a lot of money. All they would need is jeans and a white shirt," she said.

"I would like the 4-H club for my grandchildren and others. Hopefully, someday I would like to have a riding barn so children could ride year round," she said.

The horses keep them pretty close to home.

"We can put out enough hay and get someone to water for a couple of days, but I don't like to be away from them much longer than that," Jolliff said. "I never imagined that I would get so attached to the horses that I would not want to sell one."

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