Saturday, July 29, 2006

Janis & Norris Galatas Update

Here is the latest update from Janis & SFC Norris Galatas, as they await Norris' surgery on August 3.

FRIDAY, JULY 28, 2006:
Hello friends and supporters...

Today was hog horse heaven! Kat's friend CJ picked us up at Mologne House [at Walter Reed] and we journeyed to Fort Meyer to see the Caisson horses and stables. CJ and his young son Chris (age 8) were delightful and they are history buffs. They were surprised at how much rich tradition was at Arlington and the Old Guard. We got there and most of the stalls were empty...there was a funeral this afternoon and the two caisson teams were expected back by 4:00 pm...I was saddened that some brave family had to bury a loved one, but excited that I would get to see the prancing caisson horses returning to the stables.

First I took pictures of the stables and the museum. The famous "Black Jack" (named after Black Jack Pershing) has his own little museum right there in the stables. Strange....his statue is gray...looks like they would have painted it black with his markings. But is is fully dressed in traditional gear. He was born in 1947 and was the riderless horse at President Kennedy's funeral that mezmerized me throughout the funeral procession. Even when the procession stopped, he never ceased to prance in place and bob his head...he was one firey black beauty. He died in 1976 and is buried there on Sumrall Field. (Note for history buffs: General Patton rescued the famous Lipizanner stallions and mares from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna Austria during WWII and one of the great horses was given to the US....he also is buried the movie "The Miracle of The White Stallions" for that story )

Then I went in to make friends with some of the horses. "Jerry" and I hit it off right away...he was nuzzling and looking for a treat...I didn't dream we could touch them, so I didn't bring carrots!! I spoiled him by rubbing him under the jaws...he went right to sleep. He loved Norris, too, but knew right away Norris was wounded. He seemed to be concerned. He was a big gray. "Buck" was next door and was a big bay. These horses are crosses between the Percheron (draft horse) and Quarter horses. They have the size and presence of the huge drafts, but the intelligence and trainability of the Quarter horse. They are either gray or bay. There were a couple of young horses that were just turning gray. They are 17 hands tall and I just fell in love with all of them. One mare looked just like my horse "Nose" and just like her, had the lack of good sense to flip over backwards recently and injure all four of her hooves....she still had one hind hoof in a "boot"....girls will be girls. (probably had a temper tantrum like Mandy! LOL!)

It was late afternoon and getting close to feeding time and those of you who know horses can imagine the snappy prancing and head bobbing as the riders tried to rein in the enthusiasm of the huge horses. The groom said they would get rinsed off and turned out to roll in the sand and then get a good grooming and feed. Their hay was sweet smelling and beautiful, but a mixed grass that I did not recognize. They use a lot of Timothy and Brome grass up here. I got to meet "Sergeant York" (the black riderless horse at Ronald Regan's funeral) and he is polished to a spit shine and smoothe as satin. He backed his ears at me to let me know he was hot and tired and wanted no foolishness, so I just offered the back of my hand and he nuzzled it. I patted his sleek neck and it was as soft as cat fur. He let me take his picture and then I left him alone to await his rinsing and grooming and feed. He knew he was very special and he was a no-nonsense kind of horse. He is absolute beauty, and very BLACK, but looks rather small against the 17-hand big caisson horses. They are all very special because they uphold the honor and tradition of the US military. They are just as important to some of us as those who fight for our freedoms.

Norris spoke to one young specialist who was assigned to the color guard "Old Guard" unit right out of boot camp...he thought he could not be a "hero" to us because he wasn't fighting in the war....Norris explained to him that he was still wearing the uniform and was too, a hero, upholding the military tradition and caring for our beloved horses...and he walked a little prouder after that. Even CJ and little Chris were spell bound around the huge horses and both said they will come back again. I never would have thought that I could ever have the opportunity to see these horses up close, much less touch them and make friends. Today was a very special day for Norris and me. Thank you CJ! Chris, enjoy your coloring book. Horselovers, check out "Caisson Horses as therapy mounts" @ and
"The Old Guard" @

Janis and Norris from WRAMC



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