Horses In History: Coney Island Ponies ~1904

Fire Horses In History: Washington, D.C., circa 1914

Washington, D.C., circa 1914. Three-horse team pulling water tower.

“Three-horse team pulling water tower.”
A fire truck racing past the Tea Cup Inn on F Street.
Harris & Ewing.

Memorial Day ~ Remembering The Lost

They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation.
Henry Ward Beecher

And they who for their country die
Shall fill an honored grave,
For glory lights the soldier’s tomb,
And beauty weeps the brave.
Joseph Drake

With the tears a Land hath shed
Their graves should ever be green.

Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Horse Books to Read: “Nobody’s Horses”

Nobody's Horses

Filled with history and heroism, adventure and rivalry, and, ultimately, the alliances between horses and people, Nobody’s Horses will stir the emotions and imagination of horse lovers, humanitarians, and anyone who loves an uplifting tale of second chances.

Descended from the greatest horses of the American West, the wild horses living on the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico were national treasures and living legends.

But in 1994, after years of suffering through periodic droughts, food shortages, and all the dangers accompanying life on a military weapons–testing site, scores of horses suddenly died. And almost two thousand more were in such dire straits that they were unlikely to survive.

Large-animal veterinarian Don Höglund was called in to organize and lead a team of dedicated cowboys, soldiers, and other professionals in removing the surviving horses and their offspring to safety.

Nobody’s Horses tells the dramatic story of these noble animals’ celebrated history, their defiant survival, and their incredible rescue.

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Link: University of Nebraska Press

Link: Amazon Books

Lest We Forget …

 

MEMORIAL DAY
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Remember the fallen … the price was so great.

 

“The Horse” Featured Exhibit At The American Museum of Natural History

 

 

The American Museum of Natural History has announced a major new exhibition, The Horse, opening May 17, 2008 and remaining on view through January 4, 2009.

The Horse will examine the powerful and continuing relationship between horses and humans and explore the origins of the horse family, extending back more than 50 million years.

The exhibition will also examine early interactions between horses and humans that eventually led to horse domestication, and show how horses have, over time, changed warfare, trade, transportation, agriculture, sports, and many other facets of human life.

Museum President Ellen V. Futter states:  “The Horse exhibit will celebrate this magnificent animal while presenting one of the most fascinating stories in the history of life on Earth—the close and complex relationship between horses and humans.

The exhibition will show how the two species have influenced each other through the ages and explore the integral role the horse has played in the history of humanity and civilization.”

Seven life-size fiberglass horses, each over 6½ feet tall, were delivered to the American Museum of Natural History from the Saratoga County Arts Council in upstate New York for display in conjunction with the Museum’s upcoming exhibition .

The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions.

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Horse Exhibit: Museum of Natural History 

Earlier Post: Saratoga Fiberglass Horses

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:

Horses In Transylvania ~ Protecting An Historic Way Of Life

transylvanian-horseman-2.jpg

In Touch With The Past

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Transylvania, a well-preserved twilight zone of European history -a unique place in time – is about to slip away. 

The land that now lives in relative obscurity still remains closely connected to a medieval atmosphere with architecture treasures, history and a spirit worthy of preservation and protection. 

romania-gavriel-jecan.jpg 

It is a world away from the ravages of progress that too often has become the accepted way of life for the rest of the world.

In southern Transylvania, a high plateau of wooded hills and valleys shielded by the Carpathian mountains, where Saxon settlers and their descendants have farmed, traded and fought to preserve their land and traditions for more than 800 years,  life continues on as long ago. 

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With horse-drawn carriages and donkey carts rocking along the rutted roads and their drivers wearing handlebar moustaches and floppy felt hats, it has become a  time capsule for the Europe that was … over a century or more ago. 

transylvanian-horseman-9.jpg 

Great Britian’s Prince Charles wrote “The area represents a lost past for most of us – a past in which villages were intimately linked to their landscape.”

Not much happens in these villages. Depending on the season, most people are in the fields tilling or harvesting small plots of hay, oats and potatoes with horse-drawn implements handed down through generations.

The most common form of transport is the horse and cart, designed to carry crops, logs, people, sheep, tools, and anything else that needs to be moved. 

transylvanian-horseman-10.jpg 

However, time is changing for Romania.  Life is taking a dramatic jolt to the tranquility and link to the past.

With Romania’s entry into the EU earlier this year,  these village and communities now face monumental challenges and changes.

In hamlets where women still draw water from wells and shepherds guard their flocks by night from wolves, there is confusion and concern over impending rules and regulations that threaten their livelihoods.   

transylvanian-horseman-1.jpg 

Romania’s seven-year construction plan for the national motorway network means the Government needs to claim large sections of land, cutting through what has been unchanged for centuries.

Around 12.8 billion Euro is scheduled for investments in road infrastructure in the next seven years with 4 major highways crossing through the heart of Romania.

Authorities have issued laws banning horse-drawn carts from main roads in a disastrous attempt to bring the country into line with European Union laws.

Consequently, horses which for centuries have pulled wooden carts along the city’s streets or worked in the fields are now being abandoned by their owners.   

transylvanian-horseman-8.jpg 

The horses and their owners have become victims of a poorly conceived and politically derived path of progress.  And in the wake is the destruction of a hallowed way of life in Romania. 

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With a sense of preservation, plans could have been derived where both progress and the protection of the past could have dwelled together. 

That is, unfortunately, not the blueprint for the future of Romania.

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No one person knows about this enevitable devastation to land and lifestyle better than British Engineer and Equestrian, Julian Ross, owner and operator of the Stefan cel Mare, the longest-established equestrian centre in Romania.

Often quoted in various news media on the subject,  Mr. Ross states that the police have been too quick to blame animals for the high accident statistics.

As he clarifies, “The ban was slipped in stealthily,” he said. “There are some villages where farmers cannot legally get to their fields any more.”

transylvanian-horseman-6.jpg 

Not only was this lifestyle pretty to look at, it was the ideal method of transport and no danger to anyone in the quiet lanes of the village.

transylvanian-horseman-5.jpg 

The problem is that Romania’s horses and carts, adorned as they often are with bells and lace, are not just picturesque, they are a crucial way of life for many in the countryside.

transylvanian-horseman-12.jpg 

Julian Ross maintains a blogsite known as The Transylvanian Horseman. 

It is a must read for all those interested in a country and lifestyle whose touch with history is running out of time.

transylvanian-horseman-15.jpg 

For those who would like a personal trip by horseback through the historic beauties and serenity of Romania,  check this website for Stefan cel Mare.

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For those viewing Romania from home, enjoy these photographs taken by Julian Ross and remember this place and this time.

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Photos posted by permission.
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News Link:    The Guardian
News Link:   The Atlantic
News Link:  Business Week

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

 

Skijoring With Horses

skijoring.jpg

 Nate Bowers of Bowers Farm
Fort Collins, CO

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Skijoring, or ski driving, is a winter sport that originates in Scandinavia, where it has been practiced for centuries. Laplander’s skied on Nordic skis holding the reins attached to reindeer.

In the mid 1950’s, skijoring found its way to North America, where ranchers attached a long rope to the saddle horn of a horse that was ridden at high speeds down a long straight-away.

Skijoring with horses usually involves two people and one horse. One person rides the horse while the skier is towed behind. The rider determines the pace and route for the skijoring adventure, while the skier attempts to hold on.

Skijoring involves towing a skier behind horses or dogs. In addition to being a rapid way to get around, it is also a competitive winter sport in some parts of the United States, particularly the Northwest and Midwest.

Especially with horses, skijoring is sometimes classified as an extreme sport because of the high rate of speed and potential danger involved. Skijoring is also a great deal of fun when carried out safely.

Some horse skijoring competitions integrate jumps and extreme skiing maneuvers in addition to conventional skijoring. Horses used for skijoring tend to be extremely agile and quick, and breeds such as the American Quarterhorse are favored for the sport.

Currently, the sport of equestrian skijoring has become a highly specialized competitive sport, where competitors must navigate a course of jumps, gates and sometime spear rings.

Competitive skijoring competitions are currently taking place in over 5 states in the USA, and in several countries worldwide.

In 1999, after several follow-up meetings, the North American Ski Joring Association (NASJA) was developed. For the first time in history, equestrian skijoring became a sanctioned sport!

Video:  Nate Bowers Skijoing at Bowers Farm
Link: Bowers Farm

For some exciting, competitive Skijoring, watch the video of
Skiing in the Streets: Leadville’s Offbeat Winter Sport.

Video: Competitive Skijoring in Leadville.,Colorado

Link: More information on Leadville, Colorado Skijoring

Link:  National Association of Skijoring in America