• Attention Young Riders (of all ages...)!

    At Hardwood Creek Farm in Hugo, MN, we work with young riders at all skill levels from beginning riders to riders training for regional and national competition. At our horse farm, you'll find a community of horse enthusiasts of every age. Our youth group offers riders a valuable opportunity to meet each other, work together on the Horsemastership Achievement Program (run by the American Morgan Horse Association), learn horse care, judging skills, and practice ridership skills with fun activities including barrel racing and horse soccer.

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Sheridan's Ride

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Morgan horses earned an illustrious reputation in the Civil War for strength, endurance, and steady nerves under fire. The most famous Morgan of all was General Sheridan's black charger Rienzi. Standing over seventeen hands in height, Rienzi was powerfully built, with a deep chest, strong shoulders, a broad forehead, a clear eye and of great intelligence.

In his prime he was one of the strongest horses Sheridan ever knew, very active, and one of the fastest walkers in the Federal army. Sheridan, who oversaw Union operations in northern Virginia, received a message that Confederate troops were about to overrun a Union position some twenty miles away in Winchester. He immediately mounted Rienzi and left with a small group of officers. Rienzi's rapid pace soon left Sheridan's entourage behind, but the sight of Sheridan singlehandedly brandishing his sword atop his magnificent Morgan gave new courage to the fleeing Union soldiers who, under Sheridan's command, turned back and routed the astonished Confedrate troops. On account of this exploit, Rienzi was nicknamed 'Winchester' and he was celebrated in paintings and the following poem by Thomas Buchanan Read. Rienzi lived to the ripe age of 19 and after he died his remains were preserved for display at the Smithsonian museum.

Sheridan’s Ride

Up from the South, at break of day,
Bringing to Winchester fresh dismay,
The affrighted air with a shudder bore,
Like a herald in haste to the chieftain’s door,
The terrible grumble, and rumble, and roar,
Telling the battle was on once more,
And Sheridan twenty miles away.

And wider still those billows of war
Thundered along the horizon’s bar;
And louder yet into Winchester rolled
The roar of that red sea uncontrolled,
Making the blood of the listener cold,
As he thought of the stake in that fiery fray,
With Sheridan twenty miles away.

But there is a road from Winchester town,
A good, broad highway leading down:
And there, through the flush of the morning light,
A steed as black as the steeds of night
Was seen to pass, as with eagle flight;
As if he knew the terrible need,
He stretched away with his utmost speed.
Hills rose and fell, but his heart was gay,
With Sheridan fifteen miles away.

Still sprang from those swift hoofs, thundering south,
The dust like smoke from the cannon’s mouth,
Or the trail of a comet, sweeping faster and faster,
Foreboding to traitors the doom of disaster.
The heart of the steed and the heart of the master
Were beating like prisoners assaulting their walls,
Impatient to be where the battle-field calls;
Every nerve of the charger was strained to full play,
With Sheridan only ten miles away.

Under his spurning feet, the road
Like an arrowy Alpine river flowed,
And the landscape sped away behind
Like an ocean flying before the wind;
And the steed, like a barque fed with furnace ire,
Swept on, with his wild eye full of fire;
But, lo! he is nearing his heart’s desire;
He is snuffing the smoke of the roaring fray,
With Sheridan only five miles away.

The first that the general saw were the groups
Of stragglers, and then the retreating troops;
What was to be done? what to do?—a glance told him both.
Then striking his spurs with a terrible oath,
He dashed down the line, ’mid a storm of huzzas,
And the wave of retreat checked its course there, because
The sight of the master compelled it to pause.
With foam and with dust the black charger was gray;
By the flash of his eye, and his red nostril’s play,
He seemed to the whole great army to say:
“I have brought you Sheridan all the way
From Winchester down to save the day.”

Hurrah! hurrah for Sheridan!
Hurrah! hurrah for horse and man!
And when their statues are placed on high
Under the dome of the Union sky,
The American soldier’s Temple of Fame,
There, with the glorious general’s name,
Be it said, in letters both bold and bright:
“Here is the steed that saved the day
By carrying Sheridan into the fight,
From Winchester – twenty miles away!”