Miss Molly Fox

V-66

Miss Molly Fox...blooming and 8 months pregnant.

 

The first time I saw Miss Molly Fox I had gone to Missouri to look for brood stock for a breeding program we wanted to start. At the home of Rollen Clarkson I was greeted in a down home, southern style. Rollen took me out on his ranch of several thousand acres to look at horses.

The horses ranged in age groups in different quadrants of the ranch. Miss Molly and four other horses were ranging with the two year olds even though they were three years old at the time. Rollen had held them over due to a bad bout with worms. He had lost a number of horses but after worming them he put the survivors out with the young stock and there was Miss Molly.

These horses live virtually feral. They are bred, born and live in a wild state on the ranch with precious little human contact if they ever get any. That contact generally consisted of running the horses into a catch pen, roping them, earing them down to do whatever treatment was required before releasing them again to the herd.

Rollen carried a five gallon bucket full of grain in his truck. We came to a water hole where there were shade trees to shelter the horses from the hot, late spring sun. On the rise above the spring, Rollen stopped the truck and spread the grain on the ground in a long line.

Miss Molly Fox, foxtrotting up a hill.

Soon the horses at the water hole came up to the area and began to eat the grain. I was watching each one closely deciding if any would suit my specific needs. As I watched, one horse broke away from the group. She left the grain completely. She walked in a wide arch around the rest of the horses and was heading toward me as I stood watching. Rollen was a number of yards away leaning on the hood of his truck.

Standing utterly still and watching the mare only with my eyes moving I didn't change body position at all. Eventually the mare circled half behind me and then inched her way closer and closer to me. At last she was standing so close I could feel her breath. Curbing the desire to touch I remained perfectly still...but not stiff.

Unbelievably the mare reached out her nose and began to sniff me. Then she very gently ran her muzzle up and down my cheek! She nuzzled my hair, she nuzzled my collar and then she ran her nose up and down my cheek again.

All this while I remained stationary and relaxed. Finally, having satisfied her curiosity, the mare quietly walked away and rejoined her herdmates to eat some of the grain that was fast disappearing.

After she left Rollen pushed his hat back on his head and said he'd never seen anything like that in his life. I assured him nor had I. Rollen said "that mare has chosen you." and I believe he was right. I had to own her. I had to own Miss Molly Fox

Miss Molly Fox at age three on the Clarkson Ranch May 1996

I don't believe if you searched the whole world over you would ever find another mare quite like Miss Molly Fox. I wish we could because I'd have a whole pasture full of them if it was possible! When Miss Molly Fox came to us from the Rollen Clarkson ranch in Protem, Missouri, she was on a load with 11 horses that were coming to us from Rollen's ranch.

Several of the horses being shipped were to be mine, but the others were Rollens that I had agreed to gentle down and sell for him. The Ozarks had been suffering from drought for two or three years and the horses were in pretty bad shape due to the lack of available pasture. They shipped in April just coming off a miserable Ozark winter which had made survival difficult for the horses. They had horrid shaggy coats and every bone in their bodies stood out clearly. We had contracted with Quality Horse Transfer out of Texas to haul the load. We took the entire van so the trip would be straight through instead of having to stop midway for a lay over.

We much prefer straight through trips when at all possible. It is less stressful for the horses and they get to us much faster! Unfortunately, along the way one of those Rocky Mountain fast storms blew up and the snow came in buckets. The van was at Buffalo, Wyoming when the roads were being closed all around and the blizzard raged so fiercely that the transport jack knifed and crashed! The trailer swapped ends with the truck and the result was a very crunched cab to the truck and a stuck trailer.

Miss Molly Fox 6 weeks before shipping...no grass. February 1997

As luck would have it there is a fairgrounds at Buffalo and some farmers helped get the horses to the grounds and got them put up in stalls there. Now these are range bred horses who had never seen a barn in their life much less been put into a stall, yet the horses went in. The snow continued and they were stranded there for a number of days. They were out of hay and with temperatures running close to zero just getting them watered was a serious job!

A farmer got through to them on a tractor to give them a couple bags of alfalfa cubes which the horses chewed at. The cubes were too large for them to get hold of so the best they could do was chew on the edges of them.

The driver and his wife did all they could do in such trying circumstances to keep the horses healthy and at the same time get the truck fixed so they could continue their journey as soon as the roads opened.

At last, a week late, the horses arrived at our farm. They were bone thin and so weary they were shaking on their legs. They were scared half out of their wits and yet not one ever offered to kick, strike or bite. I had alerted my vet to be available as we expected to see dehydration problems, colic and possibly even worse. Yet none of those things occurred. The horses came off that van and were put into a quarantine area where we had bunkers full of grass hay, lots of fresh water, and green grass as well as a place to roll and stretch out. To the horse they went right to eating and never once looked back. They just accepted the change in their life as though it was to be expected. Quite remarkable animals.

Molly arrived in very poor condition..April 1997

In the load Miss Molly Fox stood out. Her long, thick mane hung down to her shoulder and appeared to be anchoring her neck in a ewe shape. Her coat was rough and shaggy and her bony body was so flat and ragged looking I ached for her. Besides her gaunt look Miss Molly had been injured in the round up at the ranch. As they were driving the horses into the catch pens Molly had run into the gate pin and injured her shoulder.

It was not a huge gash but none the less her shoulder was sore and needed treating. As if all this was not enough, Molly was also suffering from gravels in her feet. This is a condition whereby the grit and small gravel actually grind and work their way up into the foot. The foot gets sore as a boil and often will abscess. If left untreated the gravel will migrate up and usually blow out at the top of the hoof near the hair line and then the foot will heal.

Miss Molly Fox one week after arriving. Her ribs are already starting to cover over, her belly is fuller and her hip bones are not sticking out so badly.

Poor Molly had three feet involved with this condition and because her hoof horn was so thick and hard the gravels could not blow out. Her near starvation condition had caused her white line to be soft enough to allow the gravel in but the hoof wall and sole was so hard and thick the gravel could do no more than lay in the hoof festering and causing great pain.

The only way to get the feet well was to soak and soften the hoof in the hopes of either drawing the gravels out of the hoof, or by softening the hoof wall enough so it could blow out and heal. That meant Miss Molly was going to have to be gentled enough to allow her feet to be worked on. A feat I was not really looking forward to.

Miss Molly Fox 6 months after arriving at our farm

After having tamed and gentled Mustangs off the Nevada range years before this, I was expecting the same sort of responses as those range animals showed. My fears were totally unfounded when it came to Miss Molly Fox. This mare just seemed to know I was trying to help her. She cooperated every step of the way even though she had been subjected to some pretty rough handling back at the ranch.

On most older ranches in the country, old time cowboy ways are still the order of the day. In the case of these horses when they were rounded up, they were driven into catch pens where they were roped and eared down so a vet could get tube wormer into them. At that time any who still had wolf teeth were subjected to a piece of 2x4 being placed up next to the tooth and then a sharp rap from a big hammer knocked the wolf teeth out of the horses jaw. NOT exactly modern dentistry but this method has been used for countless decades on American ranches and seems to do the job albeit, rather crudely! I could just FEEL the discomfort her pretty head had to endure!

Molly had been tied to the back of a truck along with Casey and some others, then had been and half drug down the road until they all learned to lead so though they were too wild to get a halter on them, they would all lead IF and when you could get that halter on them!!! Rather an odd set of circumstances. So now here was poor Molly, so thin you could count her bones, so tired and sore she could hardly walk, so scared she didn't know whether to try to run or just lay down and give up.

I drove her into a paddock that was attached to a barn stall. Each stall was 12x14 and stood independent as a total barn with attached tack room. The paddocks were graveled to prevent mud and were approximately 30x50 feet and that opened onto a small grassy turn out. Molly took to this set up because she no longer had to compete for food or defend her space. Even though she was an alpha mare, her sore feet made her unwilling to challenge or defend herself. She really just wanted to lay down unaccosted and rest her painful feet!

Unlike the other ten horses, this amazing mare was so brilliant that within thirty minutes I was able to walk up to her and soothingly talk to her and pet her. She was trembling with fear, yet she held her ground and gave me the benefit of the doubt. With little effort, I managed to get a halter on her and within a few more minutes I had Mollyís foot in a bucket of warm Epsom salt water and whatís more she stood there without a fuss! What a brain this mare has! After the first couple days I could fill the bucket and say ď Molly come put your foot in the bucket and she would just go put her foot in the bucket! I still had to place the hind foot but she did her own front feet! She would stand in the hot Epsom salt water til it cooled and then would just calmly step out and stand there til I told her to go back to her pen.

It took a number of weeks to get the feet in order and during that time little was done with Molly other than soaking her feet, digging out grit and packing the feet to make her comfortable as possible.

First backing of Miss Molly Fox

During that time I was round penning and working to gentle down the other horses . The round pen was within view of Mollyís paddock and often I would see her standing looking over the fence watching what was going on in the round pen with interest. Through the spring and summer I worked with the other horses and then one day in September it was Mollyís turn. Her feet were healed, she had gained her weight and now it was time to get her going. Her once shaggy coat now was sleek and gleaming. Her ewed out neck was coming up to a fine arch. In short, Miss Molly who had arrived as an ugly duckling had turned to a swan.

One sunny day I took Molly to the round pen and was in for one of the biggest surprises of my life. She went right to the rail and began to work as if she had been doing this all her life. She knew every cue and command and responded promptly and appropriately to every signal I gave her! The only thing I could think was that she had learned by watching all the others go through this training!

Within 20 minutes I had the saddle and bridle on her and she stood still and at liberty to receive them. She never offered to so much as walk away. A few more minutes passed and then I just climbed on her and she was as calm and ready for me to be there as any horse who has been ridden for months. Using my seat I pushed her forward and she just walked on. She just wanted to know what came next. Perfectly calm and ready to do my bidding.

Miss Molly Fox first ride

The next day I took Miss Molly Fox up the highway to the trail head one and a half miles away. We rode along a wide verge but that road is a trucking highway with all manner of conveyances strange to a range horse! School busses, logging trucks, concrete trucks, motorcycles, ...you name it we met it. Miss Molly never turned her head. The only thing she even stopped to look at was a pair of little girls swinging on a swing set. They each had on red sweaters and were swinging opposed to one another. When one went away the other came to. That seemed to puzzle Molly. She watched them for a few seconds and then seeming to have settled in her mind they were not to be feared, she just stepped right out and continued on our way.

We went up the trails through the deep forest and she never missed a beat. She went through water, over logs, through mud, over bridges, you name it. She just went wherever she was pointed and never hesitated. Over the course of the next couple months I tried to find anything that may spook Molly but could never find a thing. She was and is just as solid as they come in the brain and she never panics or gets upset over things. She trusts and is reasonable in everything she does.

A few months after I started riding Molly, Lee Zeigler came up to Washington to give some clinics. Lee was a friend of mine and stayed at our home while she was there. Lee took a liking to Molly and all our Clarkson horses. She particularly liked their sound joints.

Our Local club was sponsoring a clinic for Lee so Molly and I participated in that clinic. Molly was still very green broke and had never been out in public. She took all the hubub in her typical calm way but I could feel she was a tad nervous because she kept fidgeting with her feet. Just not quite standing still.

Miss Molly Fox and Lee Zeigler at a clinic.

Lee used Molly as an example in one of the segments. She put dots on Molly's joints to show how the eye can deceive a person. Many Foxtrotters are long bodied in relationship to their leg length. Some people see that and assume the horse has a long back but they don't. When Lee put those measures to Molly she was just where she was supposed to be in balance of thirds.

When it came to the riding segment, Lee was having us use aides which Molly had no knowledge of as yet. She was doing well with leg aides but was not real experienced or by any means finished. Lee really liked and appreciated Miss Molly Fox and so do we!

In many ways Molly was short changed because she was so gentle natured. All our horses undergo extensive ground training prior to riding and that includes long lining and driving etc. Molly had not gotten that so it took longer to accomplish the same things with her.

I had only been riding Molly for maybe a dozen rides when it was Christmas time. A bunch of our friends wanted to go on a ride so they gathered at our house. They all rode gaited horses but not many were Foxtrotters. Our sister in law, Jan was to go with us riding her Arab but she was the only non-gaited horse in the bunch.

We all started out laughing and enjoying ourselves and I was letting Molly follow the group. She needed to learn it was ok to go behind the horses as well as lead.

We headed up the highway to the trail head about a mile away. There is an odd place along that route where a culvert goes under the road. It's a very large culvert and to both sides of the road there is a swamp. It sits down in a hollow where it is sheltered by large, dark trees. It has an odd oder to it and as a rule horses don't like that spot.

The lead horse in the group was a big Tennessee Walking Horse mare who decided she was not going to pass that place and started to dance around in the road.

Behind her all the other horses began to get anxious and were tap dancing around in the road milling in circles while their riders attempted to take control of them.

I stopped Molly and just sat watching for a minute. Not wanting Molly to pick up on their energy or become excited or resitant I decided to ask her to go forward.

All the horses had been past that place many times and so had Molly yet Molly, the green horse with less than a dozen rides on her, took it calmly and went right between all those dancing horses and right on up the road pretty as you please. GOOD GIRL MOLLY.

Behind us the horses mellowed out once they saw Molly was doing ok so they fell in line and came after us.

At the trail head which is really a logging road, there is a chained gate to keep cars out. To get past it we had to climb a tricky little hill that was real steep and went around one big Fir tree that had exposed roots and between two others. The footing was real dicy there and takes a horse paying attention or they might fall.

Molly didn't even hesitate, she just climbed up, went around the tree and back down onto the trail and away we went. Behind us I could hear others fussing with their horses trying to get them to negotiate that tricky place even though all of them have been through there many times.

Finally they all caught up and we were enjoying our ride. About an hour out we had climbed a bit up to the real trails when we came around a bend to find the trail blocked. A wind storm we'd had a few days prior had brought down some huge fir trees. These trees are a couple hundred feet tall with a butt end ranging between 3 to 5 feet in diameter! The way they fell was odd in that the butt end of two trees were on one side of the trail and the butt end of the middle tree was on the other side. They formed sort of a "Z" that ended at bolders on each side so we could not get around the blockage.

Disappointed the group decided our ride had to end there. Another day they would come back with chain saws to clear the trail. But as I looked at the situation I decided to try something. I indicated to Molly that I wanted to continue up the trail by using my legs. I reached way forward and gave Molly her head. Understanding me, Molly walked calmly to the one end of the blockage where the top of the tree lay.

Without hesitation Molly stepped over the brushy tree top so that she was now between two trees. She coupled herself up tight and pivoted around and then walked down between those trees stepping over branches as she went. At the end of the trees she stepped over the top of the second tree.

Even at the top the branches were long enough they were brushing her belly and yet she never missed a step and never hesitated. Once across the second tree she did the same thing and walked to the end of the last tree. She crossed it as if it was nothing and we continued up the trail.

Behind us all the other riders decided if Molly could do that then they could as well. They had to coax and prod their horses along but in the end all of them managed to get past that blockage and we continued our ride.

We took the long way home so we didn't have to negotiate that place again but I know Molly would have thought little of it all the same.

Molly is by far not the fastest horse we own. She is not the hottest horse we own. But she is the most solid horse I've ever known. She has a text book perfect foxtrot that is reachy and smooth as sitting in an easy chair to ride. Her running walk is breathtakingly smooth and fast. She racks like a dynamo and can really make time. Her canter is an easy chair rocking motion that is wonderfully comfortable to ride but she does not waste her energy on nerves or attitude. She just does her work. She is sensible and easy to manage but is very quiet in her manner.

A few days after the incident on the trail I was riding with Jan. It had frozen hard and then snowed so the ground was a bit slick in places and all the puddles were iced over and covered in snow. Babe, Jan's Arab gets real nervy around water or anything that affects footing.

We were riding along a power line trail that is good footing but tends to have some very large puddles in places. Babe had a fit about going across them and was cat walking around trying to find a way to go up the trail without having to step where the puddles were.

One large puddle was totally frozen over. I thought it might be a good time to test Molly to see if anything might spook her. I asked her to go across the puddle. Without even a hesitation in her stride Molly just walked across that ice. CRUNCH< CRACKLE< there was air space between the several inches of ice and the actual water and the bottom was still slightly soft. That has to be a very odd feeling to a horse to have their foot go through the ice and land in wet mud and water. The ice around their legs and the noise it makes. Molly didn't seem to even notice it. She just calmly went on her way.

It's that sort of thing that makes Miss Molly Fox an invaluable asset to our farm. It is one of the many things about Molly that makes her a personal favorite of mine. I know any time I wish I can climb on Molly and go for a ride and not have to worry about a thing.

With the ailments I have and my bad back I have little strength any more and can tolerate no jostling or the risk of getting dumped. Molly is my girl even though she does not present the same thrill Jasmine or Ribbon do under saddle and is not as energetic as Casey. Molly is a go anywhere, go forever type horse. She covers ground well enough but she is not a speed queen and I don't need her to be.

Miss Molly Fox and me at a Lee Zeigler clinic.

The next spring we bred Molly to Toy Boy. I rode Molly for the first few months of her pregnancy but once she began to get heavy I got off her and let her have her time. Her first foal was a colt we named Foxvangen's Shere Khan. He was a stout colt with amazing bone and joints. He was so well built and gaited we decided to breed Molly back again.

Her second pregnancy Molly again produced a colt. We named this one Miss Molly's Toy Fox. He was an outstanding colt. Unfortunately both colts never lived to adulthood due to accidents that proved fatal to them. We grieve them mightily but life must go on.

Just prior to our move to Arkansas we bred Molly to our jr. stallion, Montana's Blue Nugget. Molly foaled the next year in Arkansas. A lovely filly we named Foxvangen's Belle Lyra.

Since then Molly has produced Foxvangen's Tinker Toy, Foxvangen's Ozark Suncatcher, Foxvangen's Pharaoh, and Foxvangen's Autumn Topaz. A total of seven offspring to date.

Due to my poor health Carl and I retired and moved to Arkansas. It was a gigantic move both emotionally as well as physically for us. I closed my childcare/preschool business which had been a big part of my life for over 30 years. We sold our small boarding stable where I had also trained and given lessons for several years. We closed down both of our homes which in and of itself was a big job. We paired down to what we could bring in one trip since the distance was so great.

We bought land in Arkansas that had at one time been a dairy so the land was cleared and all in pasture. It had to be fenced and we had to either build a home or buy a mobile home. We opted for the latter since we were both experienced in the difficulties of building and the toll it takes upon a relationship!

We contracted for the same shipper to come pick up our horses and deliver them to Arkansas that had delivered all the Clarkson horses to us a few years prior. My daughter and I came ahead of Carl so we could receive the horses and he remained behind to see them off. It was July and blistering hot in Arkansas. But the horses made the trip well and took to their new accommodations well.

Family as well as personal illness and the time consuming task of building barns, sheds, fences ...in short building a farm, precluded any fun time for riding. Because of that Molly and the other mares were turned out to pasture as brood mares. One year led to another until before we knew it 8 years had passed with Molly having been ridden at the most maybe 15 times.

During that time, however she raised 7 good foals. Shortly after her seventh foal was born some visitors came from out of state. We pulled Molly out of the field and saddled her up. Poor Molly. She was broody fat and lazy and totally confused what the dickens we were asking of her. In her whole life she likely had fewer than 60 rides on her but she tried and eventually started getting with the program. Her willingness and gentleness are a testament to the breed. Many horses might have gotten a bit irate at such treatment, but not good natured Molly.

Miss Molly Fox with Lydia fresh out of pasture after 8 years being a brood mare.

Like all Clarkson horses Iíve met, Miss Molly has an excellent fox trot. Text book perfect for form, rhythm and extension. She is powerful at the foxtrot and has a wonderful flat walk. At speed Molly can run walk with the best of them and when asked she is a powerhouse at the rack. She has a hind end that is hard to beat and uses her body to advantage. Her front end is so strong with a well muscled, long forearm that she maximizes every stride. She can canter and gallop beautifully and to top it off she carries a high Saddlebred tail naturally.

In our opinion, Molly is a beauty. Molly is a fully roaned Sabino mare. She produces beautiful babies that you can pick out of a line up. She just doesnít make junk. She is an asset to the breed and a wonderful friend and partner to us.

Molly is also our supreme alpha of our mare herd. She rules very judiciously and does not brook any discord in her band. Molly likes her mares to be nice. If they get out of hand with one another they have Molly to reckon with. She runs a tight ship.

Miss Molly with her band at the pond

Each of our horses come when they are called by name. Molly is no exception. She comes on the run when I call her. None of the other horses dare pass her but if I just call one of them, Molly stays where she is and only the one I call comes.

Miss Molly Fox coming when she is called.

Miss Molly Fox turned 16 years old in 2009. She is still a very lovely mare and will be my riding mare for some time to come if the Good Lord sees fit to grant her the time. She is the grandmother to our junior stallion and has graced many homes with her lovely offspring. Perhaps in another year or so we will breed her again but for now I believe she has earned her right to being bell of the pasture and my pleasure horse.

Miss Molly Fox 8 months pregnant with her last foal.

Here are Molly's foals. We are proud of her production and her lovely disposition, not to mention her fabulous gaits and beauty.

What we want from Molly to add to our bloodline is her amazingly textbook perfect foxtrot, her reach, her style, her quiet power and smooth action. We want her innately kind disposition, her willingness to please and her quiet docility. We want her smoothness in motion, her ability to speed rack and her natural intelligence. We also want the Clarkson built in prepotence that Molly carries.

What we would like to improve upon would be to give her bigger feet, a little more speed.

Foxvangen's Shere Khan..Molly/ Foxvangen's Toy Boy..V-94

Miss Molly's Toy Fox..Molly/ Foxvangen's Toy Boy..V-94

Foxvangen's Belle Lyra..Molly/ Montana's Blue Nugget P...V-82

Foxvangen's Tinker Toy..Molly/ Foxvangen's Toy Boy..V-94

Foxvangen's Ozark Suncatcher..Molly/ Dan'na's Magni..V-88

Foxvangen's Pharaoh..Molly / Foxvangen's Braveheart Two..V-86

Foxvangen's Autumn Topaz...Molly/Foxvangen's Toy Boy...V-94

 

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