Medieval Caparison

Global Horse Culture Archive on April 4, 2008, 10:30 pm

This Medieval Recreationist at a fair in France has his horse decked out in a delightful caparison. Photo: Feuillu on flickr.
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What A Good Horse Can Do

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 22, 2008, 9:14 pm

If you read enough descriptions of horse breeds you may come across this phrase at one point or another: He plowed the fields or pulled a wagon during the week, hauled the family to town on Saturday, and to church on Sunday. (Tennessee Walking Horse) It's used to describe an all-purpose horse breed that is pleasant tempered, sturdy and practical, but attractive enough to impress the neighbors.  I've come across variations of this phrase so many times I thought I'd make a little collection.
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Flash of Color

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 18, 2008, 7:56 pm

I touched on this in a post long ago, but it's worth a more detailed exploration. Thoroughbreds - yes, the speedy horses of racing fame - don't just come in solid colors like bay, gray, black and chestnut, although those are the more common colors. Sabino and overo are also found, as are occasional oddball colors such as brindle and strange spots. The latter tend to be one-time individual mutations, but sabino and overo can be passed on, and come in a wide array of variations, from a few white
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Dr. Phil Sponenberg

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 17, 2008, 5:47 pm

Dr. Sponenberg, a professor at Virginia Tech University, is an influential expert in the genetics of domestic animals. He is well known for his studies of the genetics of coat color, and has also worked extensively on  the identification and preservation of the Colonial Spanish Horse in the United States. The Colonial Spanish Horse is a horse descended from the Iberian horses brought to the New World by the Spanish and Portuguese, unadulterated by more recent mixing with draft horses, Thoroughbreds,
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Colonial Spanish Horses

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 17, 2008, 5:44 pm

So what are Colonial Spanish Horses? There are dozens of types and strains, and dozens of websites with conflicting or confusing information. Here is a handy summary, using on this article by Dr. Phil Sponenberg as a starting point for my own additional research. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, with which Dr. Sponenberg is involved, and which is an important organization in rare breed conservation points out:The North American Spanish horse population includes many distinct strains,
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A Bone Saddle

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 17, 2008, 4:18 am

This amazing, intricately carved saddle is a Renaissance saddle from Tyrol. There are many additional detail photos on flickr. Saddles of this type were layered onto the horse - blankets or pads go on the horse, followed by the hard saddle shown here. Then additional pads or cloths were layered on top, to cushion the rider. Slots for a girth and stirrups can be seen. This type of saddle design is still used throughout the world in many cultures (gaucho, North African, much of Asia, and traditional
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Saddle for a Shogun

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 17, 2008, 4:06 am

This fancy costume is being used by a rider in the Tokugawa Ieyasu Parade in Japan, part of a festival to celebrate a famous shogun by that name. I wish we could see more of the woven and fringed red breast and rump ornaments on the horse. I may be wrong, but the rider appears to have a stiff protective covering on his lower leg - a sort of shin guard. The stirrups are shoe-shaped, enclosing the whole front of the rider's foot. Photo: jcowboy on flickr
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Pretty Chinese Pony

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 17, 2008, 3:45 am

This is quite a pretty pony, from the area near Lugu Lake, in the Yunnan region of China. The area is home to an ethnic minority called the Mosou, most renowned for their unusual marriage practices.    This dun-colored pony has the stocky build and low-set neck typical of the mountain ponies of the Himalayas and Mongolia. The cheerful red bridle and multicolored saddle cloths are delightful. Like other Himalayan area bridles, this one is made of woven fabric, not leather.   Photo:
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Elaborate Saddle

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 16, 2008, 10:20 pm

This is a wonderfully detailed Mexican style saddle on a parade horse - not sure if it's in Mexico or the USA. Go to the flickr page to zoom in and see the intricate detail of the pattern. The rider's coordinated outfit is nifty, too, and there is a blue and gold Macaw along for the ride!! Photo: Giant Ginkgo on flickr
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A Leg on a Leg

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 16, 2008, 9:56 pm

I have to point to one of Eduardo Amorim's photos again. He takes beautiful photos of gaucho culture. This is a traditional gaucho boot - straight out of the Middle Ages in design! It is made from the entire skin of the leg of a horse, cow, or other animal, cured and fitted to the rider's leg without being cut or stitched except to close the toe end.  The annotation mentions that in rare cases the boots are even made from the leg skin of a puma or jaguar! Photo: Eduardo Amorim on flickr
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Pink Horse???

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 16, 2008, 9:45 pm

This carriage horse in India has been painted pink! The carriage looks ready for a wedding procession, so I assume the horse has been dyed for this special occasion. It's the least of his worries, given his undernourished appearance. I have seen Indian and Native American horses painted with small designs on the legs, shoulders, or other parts, but never dyed pink from neck to tail! Photo: MWyllie on flickr
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Romanian Horses

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 11, 2008, 12:29 am

Transylvanian Horseman is an interesting blog (about horses in Transylvania, in case you didn't guess). This article in particular describes the uses of horses in weddings, and has pictures of ornately adorned horses. The blog is run by a British man who moved to Romania and now runs a riding-vacation farm in the mountains of Transylvania, an area where horses are still used for daily work. The site is worth a visit to learn more about rural horse culture there. Nice photos throughout, too.
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Horses in British Theatre

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 10, 2008, 7:55 pm

Pantomime horses are a stock British comedy character played by two people in a horse costume. One person plays the front legs and head, the other bends over and plays the hindquarters and hind legs. They come from the tradition of comic folk and street theater going back to the Middle Ages. The comical plays are staged in every town and city, particularly at Christmas, by professionals or amateurs. The exact setting and story varies (and may be loosely based on a well known story like Cinderella
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Singing Cowboys & Dancing Horses

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 9, 2008, 11:52 pm

Singing cowboys on dancing horses are popular at horse shows, rodeos (and here, a circus) in Mexico. The horse spins, trots or canters in place, moves sideways, or rears as the rider sings a favorite to the crowd. Depending on the rider's skill, the dancing can be rather clunky or quite precise. One I saw in Texcoco several years ago sung part of his song while standing on the rump of his horse, and another stanza while sitting on the horse, which had been made to lie down. In between he trotted
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Dancing Horses in Mexico

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 9, 2008, 11:43 pm

Mexico has a fascination with dancing horses, and as in much of the world (browse the  "Dance" category on this blog) "dancing" consists mostly in trotting in place - the movement in dressage known as "piaffe". Here are a bunch of horses at a competition. You can see the varied skill and finesse with which they perform, some better trained than others. Dancing horses appear at horse shows and in parades throughout Mexico.
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More Brave Police Horses

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 9, 2008, 11:40 pm

This Brazilian mounted police unit is practicing riot control skills - the training of the horses is impressive. Notice a few horses in the stable just looking out of their stalls as the riders go by. I'd be wary of lighting fires so close to a stable, though this one appears to be made of stone or cement, and I'm sure there are people nearby holding fire extinguishers!
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Global Horse Culture Archive on March 7, 2008, 8:38 pm

This horse sport is something like Polo meets Basketball - riders handle the ball (which is designed for easy gripping), pass it by throwing, and score by throwing it into a high net. While riding. Seems to have a fairly passionate following in France, in particular, although it is played internationally, and as of 2006 the US had a team capable of international competition. It was invented in France in the 1930s, but didn't gain widespread popularity until the 1990s. Here's the official site, for
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The Camarillo White Horse

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 5, 2008, 5:14 pm

The Camarillo White Horses were developed by a man named Adolfo Camarillo in California in the 1920s, using a white stallion named Sultan, crossed with mostly Morgan mares. The white horses were used for parades and shows, and there are still a handful of them left. An association has been formed to preserve and continue the breeding and use of the white horses. The current breeding program includes select Andalusian, Morgan, Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, Standardbred and American White Horse stock.
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Unusual Jewelry

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 5, 2008, 4:27 pm

Solenaro Designs in New Jersey, USA, makes some unusual and innovative horse-hair jewelry. Using horse hair in art and design is not unheard of (traditional European furniture was often stuffed with horse hair, for example, and there is a tradition of horse hair bridles, ropes and other tack in Mexico and the southwest US). Solenaro's jewelry is beautiful and unusual, and they even make custom pieces from your own horse's hair. Check out their website.
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Golden Harnesses

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 5, 2008, 4:13 pm

The Moscow Kremlin Museum has an amazing collection of ornate horse gear from Tsarist Russia, Turkey, Persia and Western Europe. Most impressive are the ceremonial pieces made of gold and precious stones, like these Turkish stirrups. Check out the museum website for more info and some great photos. This site (caution - I had some weird political popups & hijacking after visiting this site, but can't be sure it was because of them) also has some additional photos from the same collection, taken
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