The History of the St. Bernard

St Bernard

st bernard passAt a little more than 8,000 feet above sea level sits the Great St. Bernard Pass, a 49-mile route in the Western Alps. The pass is only snow free for a couple of months during the summer and has been a treacherous route for many travelers throughout history. In order to help struggling trekkers, an Augustine monk named St. Bernard de Menthon founded a hospice and monastery around the year 1050.
 
st bernard hospiceSometime between 1660 and 1670, the monks at Great St. Bernard Hospice acquired their first St. Bernards—descendants of the mastiff style Asiatic dogs brought over by the Romans—to serve as their watchdogs and companions. (The earliest depiction of the breed was in two paintings done by well-known Italian artist Salvatore Rosa in 1695.) Compared to St. Bernards today, these dogs were smaller in size, had shorter reddish brown and white fur and a longer tail.

Salvator Rosa
Salvatore Painting

At the turn of the century, servants called marroniers were assigned to accompany travelers between the hospice and Bourg-Saint-Pierre, a municipality on the Swiss side. By 1750, marroniers were routinely accompanied by the dogs, whose broad chests helped to clear paths for travelers. The marroniers soon discovered the dogs’ st bernard dog tremendous sense of smell and ability to discover people buried deep in the snow, and sent them out in packs of two or three alone to seek lost or injured travelers.
 

 
Life-Saving Work

The canines made rescue excursions on the St. Bernard Pass for the next 150 years. saint bernard Often the dogs would find buried travelers, dig through the snow and lie on top of the injured to provide warmth. Meanwhile, the other dog would return to the hospice to alert the monks of the stranded pilgrim.
 
The system became so organized that when napoleon at the st. bernard pass Napoleon and his 250,000 soldiers crossed through the pass between 1790 and 1810, not one soldier lost his life. The soldiers’ chronicles tell of how many lives were saved by the dogs in what the army called “the White Death.”
 
Although in legend casks of liquor were strapped around the dogs’ collars to warm up travelers, no historical records exist that document this practice. But another legend Barry St. Bernard was very real: famous St. Bernard, Barry, who lived in the monastery from 1800-1812, saved the lives of more than 40 people. In 1815, Barry’s body was put on exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Berne, Switzerland, where it remains today.
 
Between 1816 and 1818, the winter snowstorms at St. Bernard Pass were particularly severe, and many dogs died in avalanches while doing rescue work. As a result, the St. Bernard breed living at the hospice came close to extinction. However, the breed was replenished two years later with similar animals from nearby valleys.
 

 
All in all, the St. Bernard rescue dogs were credited with saving the lives of more than 2,000 people until the last documented recovery in 1897 when a 12-year-old boy was found nearly frozen in a crevice and awakened by a dog.

From Smithsonian Magazine

How to Saddle a Horse

how to saddle a horse

saddle horseKnowing how to properly saddle a horse is the very first thing that every horseback rider should learn before jumping in the saddle and riding off into the sunset. First, I am hoping you’re familiar with the horse you are about to saddle. It is a good idea to let the horse know who you are by giving a few friendly scratches on his or her head and neck.
 
Next, brush the horse with a medium bristle body brush to get any loose hair and dirt off of the back of the horse. Then you should clean the horse’s hooves with a hoof pick.

how to put a saddle on a horse
saddling a horse
clean the horse’s hooves

Typically all saddling should be done on the left side of the horse. Place the saddle pad on the back of the horse and pay attention to how the horse reacts to this. The horses reaction will tell you a little about the horses mood and or how broke/disciplined the horse actually is.

Saddle a Horse
How to Saddle up a Horse

A saddle pad provides a cushion between the saddle and the horses back. This prevents uneven saddle pressure and saddle sores, which are produced by excessive rubbing during the walking/loping motion of the horse. The saddle pad should be placed so that the opening in the pad roughly fits onto the how to fit a saddle to a horse withers of the horses shoulders. The withers are found at the end of the horse’s mane. Make sure the saddle pad is evenly placed on the horses back and place the saddle on top leaving about 1-2 inches from the front of the saddle to the front of the saddle pad.
 
saddle horseNow that you have the pad and the saddle in a position that looks comfortable, locate the cinch and the cinch strap. Place the strap in the cinch loop and through the saddle loop so that the cinch wraps under the belly of the horse.
 
Wrap the strap through the saddle loop and cinch loop one more time and place the cinch belt buckle in a hole on the cinch strap.

How to Saddle a Horse Western Style
How do you Saddle a Horse
How to Saddle a Horse English

The cinch should be tight enough to secure the saddle, but not too tight. You should be able to place 2-3 fingers between the cinch and the horse’s belly. Wrap the remaining end of the cinch strap within the saddle loop. Check the saddle and make sure it is fitting the horse properly. There should be about 4 fingers in width from the horse’s front leg to the side of the cinch.

How to Saddle a Horse
How to put a Saddle on a Horse

Also check the lengths of the saddle stirrups. You should be able to stand in the saddle and fit a single fist between you and the saddle in the standing position. how to saddle a horse After riding for a bit, check your cinch again to make sure it is tight. Horses tend to breath in while you tighten the cinch the first time. They are smarter than they look! Now the horse is saddled and you are ready to put the bridle on the horse.