Holding My Horses

Horses, Mongolia.

Horses, Mongolia.

Sometimes I have these daydreams about, you know, really sorting out the blog and having regular features, or an interview series, or book reviews. Making it a news source rather than an overflowing drawer of newspaper clippings and bits and bobs I couldn’t use in my books. Then I remember how much time it takes to blog well, do my sums and realise it can’t be. That’s why you have to put up with my randomness.
I have a huge amount to do this month with the book so the blog will be shuttered for a while to give me a chance to crack on. Have fun with the archives in the meantime, or check on Facebook for news, and I hope to emerge in February!

Sidesaddle Across Mongolia: An Adventure in Memory of an Adventurous Woman

In memory of their sister Polly de Blank, Martha Sitwell and Clemmie de Blank will cross Mongolia aside in six weeks next May. A journalist, campaigner and yoga scholar, Polly supported both the mental health charity Mind and Prisoners of Conscience, and her sisters are raising funds for both charities. If you’d like to chip in or read more, click here and see their page on Just Giving.

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

  • Professional child jockeys (as young as 4) in Indonesia (SBS)
  • Virtual racehorses on the game Digiturf sell for $7,000 and $9,000. (ESPN)
  • The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration goes ahead, although welfare concerns knock out some leading competitors. DIg into the comments here. (Tennessean)
  • The number of horses slaughtered in Ireland this year appears to have fallen by half since 2012 – a good thing. The government are still organising a horse disposal scheme. (Irish Independent)
  • Mongolians and their horses (The Diplomat)
  • The results of a study into the deaths of feral walers culled by helicopter gunmen in Australia. (Horse Talk NZ)

Mare’s Milk Champagne And Tipsy Amazons

By A. Savin, via WikiCommons.

By A. Savin, via WikiCommons.

Thank you to Andrew Curry for tipping me off about this great piece on koumiss, or fermented mare’s milk. It takes you from drunken Amazons to proto-Indo-European paleolinguistics, and confirms what this lactose-intolerant already feared: horse milk is very high in lactose. It’s on Wonders and Marvels, and it’s by Adrienne Mayor of Stanford University. The ice princess who features in the Hunters and Amazons chapter of If Wishes Were Horses makes an appearance too.

Koumiss was repackaged as “milk champagne” by an enterprising health nut in 1877, and you can read his manifesto (complete with scan typos) here at Archive.org.

It has been long since noticed that certain tribes [in] Russia were completely exempt from debilitating diseases; that is to say, diseases which exhaust the strength and induce emaciation, as phthisis pulmonalis, chronic broncitis, chlorosis, anemia, etc. Their fortunate immunity attracted the attention of physicians, already awakened by the popular reports, which attributed to the daily use of Koumiss, the excellent health of these people, notwithstanding the detestable climatic and hygienic condition in which they lived. …
Koumiss is a white lactescent liquid, with a characteristic odor resembling that of whey, with a lightly assidulous and biting taste, savoring somewhat of buttermilk. It leaves a fresh and agreeable after-taste, is more effervescent than champagne, and when poured out becomes covered with an abundant foam, white as snow, overreaching the glass.