Costa Rican Ornamented Cruppers

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 5, 2008, 3:28 pm


The traditional saddle used by the "sabanero" or cowboy of Costa Rica is a simple affair - a support tree structure of woven reeds, covered by several large flaps of cowhide, perhaps with some tooling around the edges. Sometimes a wool saddle blanket is used underneath the saddle for extra padding. Due to it's simple structure and the narrowness of the horses, it is often held in place by a crupper and breastplate. The crupper is one of the few parts of the traditional Costa Rican tack
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The Costa Rican Paso

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 1, 2008, 5:12 pm


The Paso Costarricense, or Costa Rican Paso, is derived from the Criollo stock improved with additions of Andalusian and Peruvian Paso blood. Some horses show more of one influence or the other in their conformation and gait. Many show the flicking of the leg - called termino - that is characteristic of the Peruvian Paso. A thick arched neck and naturally high-stepping action are typical. A variety of solid colors, including dun, as shown here, are common. Sabino markings are quite common. Tobiano
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Costa Rican Criollo

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 1, 2008, 4:33 pm


Here's a video still of another Criollo, showing the running walk. I saw many people riding miles at this speed - like a brisk jog - with the stillness of the rider revealing the smoothness of the ride.  
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Working Cattle in Costa Rica

Global Horse Culture Archive on March 1, 2008, 4:22 pm


Here's a working cowboy's horse in Costa Rica.  Called Criollos, these horses are not typically attractive, but are sure-footed, hardy, tireless, smart and pleasant-tempered. Gray, chestnut and sabino (on a bay, black or chestnut base) seem to be popular colors. The Criollo is a small, compact, narrow horse with characteristics of Barb and Spanish Jennet ancestry - long often convex nose, narrow head and body when viewed from front, sloping croup and low set tail. They are invariably gaited,
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Marketing Horses

Global Horse Culture Archive on February 27, 2008, 3:38 pm


This is one of those books that opened my eyes to details of the history of horses I'd never considered. Margaret Derry is a professor who has written some of the few books out there which analyze the way breeds of horses (and cattle, in some of her research) have been modified through time to suit changing needs, and how breeds have been marketed throughout history. In this book she looks in great detail at the concepts of pure breeding, breed registry development, and the marketing of various
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Ladies Aside

Global Horse Culture Archive on February 13, 2008, 12:50 am


Here is a video of a sidesaddle class at an Arabian horse show. There are a number of sidesaddle clubs and organizations in the US. Popular especially among people who participate in historic recreation groups, sidesaddle riding is not as insecure as it might look. The right leg is draped over a special hook, to help the rider balance, and a whip is carried in the right hand to replace the cues the right leg would otherwise give.  Elegant traditional dress is pretty much required, as you'd
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Cow-back Riding

Global Horse Culture Archive on February 12, 2008, 11:52 pm


This is strange but adorable. A Swiss girl takes her darling (and rather large) cow for a ride. Doesn't look like a very comfortable ride. Perhaps why we more commonly ride horses. Note the look of astonishment on the faces of the herd of horses at the end of the video.
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Plugs and Dummies

Global Horse Culture Archive on February 12, 2008, 10:34 pm


I have gotten the biggest kick reading this book about horse trading. This is a delightful collection of stories told by old time horse traders to the Federal Writer's Project, and found by the editor in various archives around the USA. Horse traders had an assortment of dirty tricks up their sleeves to get make money off of lame, old, or unreliable horses, and these men tell some hilarious stories about pulling one over on the buyer, but also about all the times they got duped in return. It's
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A Desert Diet

Global Horse Culture Archive on February 12, 2008, 10:22 pm


This is a nifty video featuring Arabian horses - and nicely produced, too. Note the scene near the beginning where the horses come in from the pasture to eat... camel's milk and dates!  A good source of protein and calories, especially when grass or grain are not abundant. This video appears to be shot at a rather fine Arabian breeding and training facility in the Middle East United Arab Emirates, I think, after further research. There is an additional video of the same trainer, Ali Al Ameri,
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Useful Forums

Global Horse Culture Archive on February 12, 2008, 1:40 am


The internet is full of discussion boards and forums about horses. Many are less than informative, or not very active. Even the best can be both educational and annoying - after all, people of widely disparate opinions meet and mingle on the boards. However, I have found these two, recently, to be consistently intelligent, informative and interesting. The Chronicle of the Horse Forums has active and interesting discussions on dressage, hunting, jumpers, eventing, driving and some other topics.A
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Argentine Harness

Global Horse Culture Archive on January 31, 2008, 7:20 pm


This is a spectacularly decorated harness on an Argentine draft horse. Reminds me of a funky Harley rider's gear with all the brass studs on black leather! The photographer notes this horse was dressed up for a gaucho festival called Mataderos, in Buenos Aires. There is an additional picture of the horse from the side on flickr, where you can also see the delightfully painted cart the horse is hitched to. Photo: Shiralee Matthews on flickr. Used with permission.
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Horses and Lions

Global Horse Culture Archive on January 31, 2008, 6:38 pm


This pretty Ethiopian horse is all dressed up for a parade or festival. The red pom-poms are a common feature of fancy Ethiopian adornment, as is the blue saddle cloth featuring a golden lion. The saddle cloth hangs over top of the saddle (there are slots front and back for the pommel and cantle to stick through) and is just decorative (although perhaps keeps the rider's leg from rubbing on the stirrup leathers - but it's not padded). Photo: Niall Crotty on flickr. Used with permission. I
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Sunshine in a Saddle Pad

Global Horse Culture Archive on January 30, 2008, 1:57 am


Look at the saddle pad on this horse in Cameroon! It is quilted and colorful and cheerful, especially compared to the very workaday bridle. The horse himself is a very flashy bay sabino with a quirky marking on his face. It looks like his tail is partly white, from this angle, and I think he even has a blue eye. The photographer mentions this man is particularly proud of this horse. Photo: rbairdpccam on flickr. Used with permission.
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Dressed for the Races

Global Horse Culture Archive on January 29, 2008, 11:25 pm


This beautiful photo of a Fulani rider showcases the  ornamented tack often found in Africa. There seems to be a continuum of design in East Africa, North Africa and West Africa, perhaps because of the trade routes across the Sahara, and the use of horses by those traders, including the Fulani and Tuareg people.  This image is from a series taken in Burkina Faso on the day of a horse race. The horse is of desert type, with a characteristic lean and narrow build; the browband is quite
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Spooky Dunes

Global Horse Culture Archive on January 29, 2008, 3:52 pm


NamibWeb.com, a travel site, has an article uncovering the mystery of a valley full of old horse bones that occasionally appears deep in the desert. Spooky! I wouldn't want to wander into that on a moonlit night!
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Old Breton Horse

Global Horse Culture Archive on January 24, 2008, 12:34 am


This old photo (from the turn of the last century) shows a bride and groom on their way to their wedding in Brittany, France. Their horse's tack is ornamented with tassles, including what appears to be a fringe hanging from the noseband, much like North African fly fringe (see this post). Photo from "The Secret Museum of Mankind."
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Rare video of Nigerian horses

Global Horse Culture Archive on January 23, 2008, 4:06 am


This video is rather long and some of it is off-topic, but fast forward to minute 4:30 to see about five minutes of footage of a Nigerian horsemen in amazing costumes and tack. The notes for the video (on the lovely Internet Archive) indicate this is a parade of people going to a mosque (for a festival or holy day perhaps?), and the horsemen are escorting a particularly important guy. The horses and riders are just astonishing. The horses are typical of the region, being related to the Barb.  
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To the Rescue!

Global Horse Culture Archive on January 23, 2008, 3:50 am


While we're doing historic video, here's another Thomas Edison film of fire engines racing down a Newark, NJ street, from 1896!            
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Duck and Cover!

Global Horse Culture Archive on January 23, 2008, 3:47 am


This is fascinating: a film shot by Thomas A. Edison in 1898, showing cavalry practicing laying down. I imagine this was an important skill to master in case of battle! There are more subtle ways to teach a horse to lay down, but one can't take one's time when being shot at.
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The Troika

Global Horse Culture Archive on January 23, 2008, 3:20 am


The troika is a traditional Russian driving arrangement of three horses pulling a sleigh or carriage. The harness and method are unique, as described on this lovely and informative site: "The present form of troika driving has been customary only since the middle of the 19th century. The center horse, firmly put between the wooden shafts under the Duga, moves in an extended straight forward trot, while the horses on either side gallop smoothly and swinging with outward bent heads, led by the
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