To All Friends Near And Far …

Winter Scene ~ One Horse Open Sleigh

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Over One Hundred Horse-Drawn Antique Carriages In Historic Christmas Parade

In Lebanon, Ohio the Antique Horse Drawn Carriage Parade has become one of the most anticipated Christmas celebrations. People travel afar to see this time honored tradition.

The unique Christmas parade features more than 100 antique horse-drawn carriages parading through the streets of beautiful historic downtown Lebanon.

Each year, hundreds of horses and thousands of local Lebanon, Ohio residents prepare for the coming of Christmas.

As night falls, historic buildings and candle-lit streets provide the perfect backdrop for this parade.

People of all ages line Lebanon’s charming downtown streets, candles in hand, anxiously awaiting the first of 100 horse-drawn antique carriages to pass by.

Held every year on the first Saturday in December, this Christmas parade has become one of the most unique and beautiful holiday celebrations in the Midwest.

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Source: Examiner News
Photos: Warren County, Ohio

Fall Photo ~ Homeward Bound

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Are Hackney Carriage Horses … History?

Hackney horses were once a common sight in Great Britain as they carried wealthy passengers in grand carriages.

But now the numbers of the famous Hackney horses have fallen so low they have been put on the rare breeds ‘critical’ list.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) says that with the number of female breeders in existence reduced to fewer than 300 the situation is dire.

Breeder Barbara Stockton from The Hackney Horse Society (formed in 1883), said the situation was increasingly desperate.

During the 18th and 19th century, the Hackney horses were in high demand. They were famed for their beauty, high head carriage and lofty knee action.

This was an era of great flamboyance and the ownership of smart and flashy carriage horses was a real status symbol.

Having smart looking Hackney Carriage Horses was the mainstay during that time, when flaunting wealth was a lifestyle.

Hackney horses were bred to be elegant and strong with the power to pull the heavy carriages. They had the ability to keep going for miles at a trot.

The admiration of the early ancestors of the Hackney horses goes back for centuries. They were highly thought of by Henry VII, Henry VIII and Elisabeth I who all passed acts concerning horse breeding and the value of the Hackney. Henry VIII even penalized anyone exporting an animal without authority

In the early 1700’s breeders began to cross the native hackney with Arabian stallions to add some refinement to the breed.

The most important Arabian was the Darley Arabian.  Hackneys can be traced back through the stud book to this horse.

The Darley Arabian

At the beginning of the 1900s large numbers of Hackneys were still being exported all over the World to places such as America, Australia, South Africa and Argentina as well as the rest of Europe.

Hackney classes at large horse shows were proving popular. The Hackney horses also played an important part in the First World War as cavalry mounts and artillery horses.

Once considered the English Taxi, the demand for Hackney horses was soon to end.

By the beginning of the 20th century the car had arrived and the Hackneys began to be replaced by motorized vehicles.  Hackney horses were deemed unable to contribute to society and declined considerably.

The Hackney then took on a new role as show horses, but in the long-term the breed cannot survive only for the show rings.

Although usually considered carriage horses, the Hackney horses with their stamina, soundness and intelligence can be enjoyed in many other ways, including cart driving, dressage, show jumping and pleasure riding.

The Hackney horses are of particular use for the disabled as a carriage horse, and for those who cannot ride a horse in the usual way.

As Barbara Stockton states, under the revised Rare Breeds Survival Trusts listing, the Hackney Breed has now sadly been categorized as “critical”.

In the equine world a breed with fewer than 3,000 females is put on the watch list and when there are fewer than 300 they enter the critical stage.

According to Ms. Stockton, ‘being in a recession makes it difficult to build up numbers and breeders are declining in number’.

‘This should be very concerning for all devotees of the Hackney Horses, especially as the Hackney has such a long and proud heritage’.

‘Flying Childers’ one of the most famous early Hackneys

‘The word needs spreading that, although spectacular harness horses, they are also extremely versatile and make great riding horses.’

‘If you have ever had anything to do with Hackneys, either as an owner or spectator, if you have thrilled to see these magnificent horses producing their athletic movement, or enjoyed their elegance, the breed needs your support now.’

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Hackney Horse Society UK:

Rare Breeds Survival Trust: 

Photographs: BNPS.CO.UK

Story Sources:
Hackney Horse Society
Rare Breeds Survival Trust
Mail Online

To All Friends ~ Near and Far

vintage-christmas-card

Right Out Of History: Wagon Trains Celebrate Minnesota 150th Anniversary

Minnesota Sesquicentennial Wagon Train

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The first weekend of May, Minnesota began the kickoff celebration of their historic past with the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train.

In all, about 85 people, on horseback and in covered wagons, buggies, surreys and one stagecoach are taking a week long,  100 mile journey, which will end Sunday at the State Capitol.

The arrival of the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train at the State Capitol is the linchpin for the kickoff for the state’s 150th birthday celebration.

The travelers started with two stuck wheels, a willful mule, a handful of skittish horses and a thrown rider. That was all before noon.

 A “green” horse three times took his driver off-road. A mule seeking his pasturemate took off, throwing his rider in the tall ditch grass.

When the group circled at noon, wagon master Olson was philosophical. I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow,” he said Monday. “The first day’s always an adjustment.”

Among the group were Pete Karpe who came from his farm in St. Francis, bringing his Percheron draft horses Trixie and Dixie, as well as his son, Mark, a capable, horse-mad 14-year-old.

Susan Longling, of Farmington, a confessed wagon-train addict, brought her Prince to pull the surrey she’d converted from her grandfather’s dairy (and bootleg liquor) cart.

As a strong sun broke through the crisp morning air, wagon master Jon Olson shouted, “Wagons, ho!” and the caravan rattled across the fairgrounds, onto the road.

Karpe had some trouble at the start, when the rig he drove became stuck in the mud. But once on the road, Dixie and Trixie easily caught pace with the group, their shod hooves ringing on the asphalt.

Townsfolk lined the streets of Cannon Falls, gathering before homes and shops to smile, wave and snap pictures.  A group of elementary kids held a hand-lettered sign: “Happy Birthday, Minnesota!”

This was “Americana” at its best!

The caravan continued, past bare fields and stands of cedar and elm.

Clay Christian the logistics man, said “We’ve got it easy”. “We’ve got county roads to go down, bridges to go across, no cliffs to take the wagons apart and lower ‘em down.”

 The covered wagon is an icon of the American frontier. Still, in the 1850s, most arrived by water, via Mississippi steamboat.

From there, with the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the Mississippi behind them, settlers fanned out, often in wagons, all over the state.

The covered wagon was like the 19th century sport-utility vehicle, said Matt Anderson, a curator for the Minnesota Historical Society who specializes in transportation artifacts.

And contrary to the archetype, wagons weren’t meant for people. Usually, they were packed with luggage or cargo.

“Anybody who could walk, I’m sure did,” Anderson said.

Although the rigs at camp are more or less authentic, it’s hard to ignore some of the comforts of today: coolers, lawn chairs, RVs, digital cameras and the occasional chiming cell phone.

In spite of unexpected events along the way, when the ride was completed it was said that  “A bad day doing this is still better than a good day doing anything else.”

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Re-written from news sources:

Ponies Thunder Through Farm Show Carriage Races

carriage-race-photo-sean-simmers.jpg

Dana Bright (left) and Ann Gardner ride in the
Pennsylvania carriage racing competition.  

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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
January, 2008

Like a modern-day Ben Hur, Miranda Cadwell drew herself erect in her chariot-like carriage and urged her ponies to speed around obstacles.

Rambo and Toby, a pair of Welsh ponies, raced around the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex Large Arena this past January.

They sped around eight barrels, being careful not to knock off the rubber ducks on top, and around eight raised wooden structures at the other end of the arena, leaving the ducks standing.

Then they galloped down the home stretch into first place and into the hearts of 6,000 wildly cheering fans at this unique equestrian event at the 92nd Pennsylvania State Farm Show.

“This was great,” said Cadwell of Southern Pines, N.C. “It’s a real adrenaline rush.”

The Farm Show offers the nation’s only indoor Arena Carriage Racing, said Paul Martin, event organizer and announcer. He said that its usually done outside.

pairhorsespalmerandmunt.jpg

These Dutch Gelderlanders, “Mickie and Janet”, driven by Ronda Palmer and navigated by Roy Munt, placed second in the Pair Horses division. The husband and wife pair has been involved in numerous competitions all over the world. 
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Drivers sit in the front and control the reins to guide the horses. Navigators ride the back, throwing their weight from side to side to counterbalance the turns.

Bruce Rappoport, another event organizer, said carriage racing involves one or two horses or ponies racing against the clock.

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Sarah Schmitt and Glenn Haskell achieved the second best time to win the Reserve Grand Championship.
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Participants in steel marathon carriages use special harnesses to guide the horses through the tight turns needed to navigate the obstacles and hazards in the fastest time.

Seven teams participated in the two day event.

pennsylvania-farm-carriage-races.jpg 

Driver Dana Bright and navigator Melinda Russell
blur through the starting line.
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“We love this,” said Dana Bright of Felton, nodding at her navigator, Ann Gardner and her Welsh ponies.

People laughed when they saw Ben and Jerry, a pair of bright pink stuffed toy pigs, on the back of their carriage. People howled when Jerry tumbled off during the race.

The crowd clearly loved Miranda Cadwell and her younger sister, Keady.

Miranda Cadwell last summer became the world leader in the sport, earning the gold medal at the World Pony Driving Championship in Denmark.

On Tuesday, she drove her team as if her life depended on it, leaving rushing air and flying dirt in their wake.

When the race ended, Miranda Cadwell won first place in the pair of ponies division, Keady Cadwell won first place in pair of horses.

“We push each other to do better,” Keady Cadwell said.

A must-see is the video listed below.

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Race Video:  
Carriage Races, Pennsylvania Farm Show

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News Link:   Pennsylvania State Agriculture Site

News Link:   The Patriot News

 

Happy Holidays To All

vintage-central-park-xmas-card-2.jpg

Vintage Central Park
New York City

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Link:  Classic Christmas Ad ~ Miller Brewery

 

Winter Scene: Austria ~ Draft Horses Pulling Sleigh

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