Everything I Don’t Know About Selika Lazevski

This blog post is about the research behind an essay I published on Paris Review Daily on 9 February 2018 (accessible here). I first blogged about Selika when her image went viral in 2012. The best source of information was a commenter called Marie (her profile has since been deleted), who pointed out the source […]

Rapunzel Horses – the hot accessory of Early Modern Europe?

I’ve been reading beautifully illustrated books about horses all my life and in the last twelve years I’ve trawled all sorts of academic articles and image libraries, so it’s always delightful to find an image I’ve never seen before. The Palazzo Pitti in Florence just opened an exhibit called Leopoldo de’ Medici: Prince of the […]

Women Who Spend Too Much Money On Horses #265372

A COUNTESS IN THE RING She Is to Make Her Debut in a Paris Circus A Countess of ancient lineage, and who for many years has been one of the ornaments of the Austrian court, is about to make her debut as a circus-rider of “Haute Ecole” at the “Nouveau Cirque” at Paris. She is […]

Eurovision 2017: Chevaux, deux points

Folks, I know you thought that the Montenegrin entry for Eurovision, a man with a six-foot ponytail – think top Friesian stud Frederick the Great or Khal Drogo with extensions – was the horsiest entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, but you were wrong. Wrong! Here’s Slavko Kalezic in action: But here, my friends […]

Unbridled Dressage, Brushes with Scandal and a Tragic End: Adèle Drouin

Scores or maybe even hundreds of women in nineteenth century Europe performed as haute-école riders in circuses and hippodromes* before audiences from all classes. A handful of them became famous, as the expansion of the newspaper market meant that they were the first women to be widely celebrated for their equestrian skills (other than the […]

Haunted by Horses in St Petersburg

Last weekend I travelled to St Petersburg to start research on a new book and I thought I’d share my equestrian shots. I was only in this fascinating, complicated city for two and a half days and did not venture out of the very heart of it but I still found some horse history of […]

Making Fearless Men: A Medieval Riding Lesson

I briefly mentioned King Duarte I of Portugal’s Livro da Ensinança de Bem Cavalgar Toda Sela (The Book on the Instruction of Riding Well in Every Saddle) in The Age of the Horse. It was written in 1434, 82 years before Xenophon’s On Horsemanship was first printed. If you’re used to the narrative in which […]

Sidesaddle in a Hot Air Balloon (and other adventures)

If you’ve come here after reading the Washington Post piece on the revival of sidesaddle in America (now going a little viral on Jezebel.com), here’s a selection from the archives – a little bit of everything from balloonists to tragic heroines, scandalous females and zebras ridden sidesaddle. I also wrote in detail about women and […]

Mozart, Uccello, Caravaggio and a Riding School Carved from Rock

I don’t blog much about the work I’m doing on book two (The Age of the Horse), but here’s a sneak peak of something I’ll be writing about. In November I was lucky enough to have three days at the Equestrian Academy at Versailles, where they were rehearsing for this performance in the old riding […]

The Language of Riding: A piece for the New York Times’ Menagerie Blog

Sasa’s name means “so-so” in Portuguese. It’s a little joke, because the gray lusitano gelding is anything but — he’s a beautiful horse who can, like many Iberian equines, claim descent from the war horses of the Renaissance. Look at Uccello’s “Battle of San Romano” and there’s Sasa’s likeness carrying a Florentine general: compact as […]