Department of Zero Surprises and Some Hope

Illustration from Nutztierhaltung & Tiermedizin & Pferd by Georg Simon Winter, 1678 via Wikimedia Commons.

Illustration from Nutztierhaltung & Tiermedizin & Pferd by Georg Simon Winter, 1678 via Wikimedia Commons.

Tons of low-grade Canadian horse meat were purchased and passed off as halal beef by the Dutch businessman who is now in custody as French authorities investigate the scandal in which horse meat from Romania wound up labelled as ground beef.

(The Globe and Mail – and for my background piece on the scandal, Spiegel Online.)

Yesterday the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) announced bold steps designed to improve endurance horse welfare, proposing unprecedented athlete penalties for equine injuries, extended rest periods, and increased accountability.




Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

Melanie Gans, Frankfurt 1906. Image at Jewish Museum, Berlin. M S Forrest.

Melanie Gans, Frankfurt 1906. Image at Jewish Museum, Berlin. M S Forrest.

  • Horse manure generates bio fuel. For book two I’m spending a lot of time thinking about horses as industrial power and product – is this the latest chapter? The British Ministry of Defence are already on the case. (LA Times, thanks to Jane Badger Books)
  • Enjoy In Our Time on the legends and facts behind the Amazons. (BBC Radio 4)
  • The EC cracks down on beef processed in Holland. Because it might well be horse. (Deutsche Welle)
  • Bute is found in corned beef sold by the supermarket Asda in the UK (Reuters)
  • Why are US trainer Bob Baffert’s horses dropping dead? (New York Times)
  • In the wake of the crisis, Spanish horses go to slaughter. (New York Times)
  • A man who attacked his ex-girlfriend’s horse with a knife is struck off by UK nursing authorities. (BBC)
  • The USDA is increasing tests on imported meat. (Bloomberg)
  • On a cheerier note: a horse colour genetics 101 from The Horse.
  • Hat tip to Dug Dug, a new price comparison site for pet supplies with the motto “we dig, you save” – thank you for liking the blog! Good idea to provide a means of sifting everything that’s on offer on the web.

Are You a Luxury Horse?

Wiki Commons: Cheval limousin dans la dictionnaire d’hippiatrique et d’équitation, 1848

“Jij bent een luxepaardje!”

Trans: “You little luxury horse!” Dutch phrase for chiding someone with expensive tastes (ie having rocket in their cheese sandwich).

Thank you to my linguist/translator friend Nick for this excellent insight into the Dutch psyche and language. I plan to use “luxury horse” on all fitting occasions from now onwards.


UPDATE: Thank you to Jane Badger for introducing me to The Horse Luxury Magazine, the magazine for luxury horses worldwide.

Totipocalypse: Totilas Before and After

At the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the Dutch stallion Moorlands Totilas swept all before him with his rider Edward Gal. They took all three gold medals, capping a four-year partnership in which the pair had shattered dressage records around the world. Here’s their freestyle kur at Lexington in autumn 2010:

Only days later, the stallion’s sale was announced. Totilas was sold to German showjumper and sportshorse mogul Paul Schockemoehle for – it was said – fifteen million euros. Edward Gal lost the riding rights, which were sold to Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, who placed her 26-year-old stepson Matthias Rath on the KWPN’s back. Not surprisingly outrage and various rumours followed. That Totilas was crippled by suspensory ligament problems. That the German method of training would not suit him. That he would be incapable of performing both as a Grand Prix horse and as a stallion for Schockemoehle’s farm. That Rath was overhorsed and unhappy. That Totilas was unhappy or even lame. Certainly, the combination were unable to replicate Gal and Totilas’ record, but perhaps that would just take time and adjustment.

In February 2012, at the beginning of the Olympic year, Rath and Totilas appeared at a stallion show at Vechta in Germany. The difference was stunning and the audience seemed shocked:

What on earth happened?

UPDATED TO ADD: I picked up these two videos from online discussions on the “new” Totilas. The first shows Totilas in 2005 before he went to Edward Gal:

And the second shows a 2007 training session with Gal: