Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

Berlin graffiti

  • A young Scottish showjumper who’s only been riding for three years has been sponsored by Euromillions lottery winners. (Horse and Hound)
  • Meanwhile a nineteen-year-old started a millionaire’s fund of his own when he became the youngest ever winner of the showjumping CN International via Karen K. (Spruce Meadows)
  • Corrective surgery for thoroughbred yearlings before auction. Do they need it? Should it be disclosed? How much goes on?  As one concerned owner points out, “A stallion retires to stud that might not have held up to racing say in 1965 or 1975 and now you’ve got these horses going into the gene pool. I think that unquestionably changes the face of the genetics going forward.” (Kentucky.com)
  • The US federal Horse Protection Act is criticsed by those trying to prosecute abusers of Tennessee Walking Horses. They say the penalties must be much stiffer. (SF Chronicle)
  • In Britain a couple are fined over a thousand pounds and banned from keeping animals for ten years after keeping a pony in a 6ft by 4ft shed. (Daily  Mail)
  • Korean pop group KARA flash their gams and do the “horse riding dance”, which is apparently all the rage among the young folk. (allkpop.com) UPDATE: Thank you to the Atlantic and Ben Perry for this detailed explanation of the horse riding dance.
  • Documentary Wild Horse, Wild Ride, tells the story of trainers preparing fresh-off-the-range horses for the Mustang Makeover. Think Josephine Pullein-Thompson’s Six Ponies and then some. (LA Times)
  • The Seventh Russian polo Open at Moscow. (Living Polo)
  • Przewalski horses return to the wild in China. (Horse Talk NZ)
  • The ill-gotten gains of a city official in Illinois are up at auction: hundreds of top-rank Quarter Horses. (Wall Street Journal)
  • And last but definitely not least, these surprising and moving animal portraits by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Look! Look! (Flavorwire)

The New Kings of Polo

Take eleven minutes out of your life to watch this short ESPN documentary on how a teenager from a deprived, crime-riddled West Philadelphia neighbourhood ended up being the US national schools polo champion and being asked to play for the Cornell University team. Ignore the trailer for the Hollywood film that bookends it and is made to look entirely ridiculous by the true story. Thanks to Tanya for spotting this, and here’s an earlier post on Work to Ride, the organisation that put Kareem Rosser on the path to greatness. Horses are good for kids…

Polo Week: Love on the Polo Field

The Khamsa is made up of five narrative poems by the twelfth-century Persian poet Nizami, including the story of the lovers Shirin (an Armenian princess) and Khosrow (a Sassanian king), who meet playing polo. Of course, it all ends tragically, but the Armenian ladies’ team make a great entrance onto the pitch:

“Seventy maidens like lionesses presented themselves before Shirin, all blazing with ardor. The maidens were seated in their saddles like cypresses. They all had moonlike faces veiled, and thus proceeded into the Shah’s presence. The king of kings was overcome at seeing them.”

Quoted in The Evolution of Polo, by Horace A Lafayette.

Here’s a beautiful sixteenth-century illustration of Shirin and Khosrow at play, part of St John’s College, Cambridge collection. I also have a poem fragment from elsewhere in time that compares the lover’s head to a polo ball hit sky-high by the polo mallet chin and tresses of his beloved, but I’ve failed to copy it down accurately and will need to re-check it before I add it to the blog!

Polo Week: The End of the Original Polo Pony?

The pastime of the royals, which originated in India’s North-east, is facing extinction in its birthplace. Unless urgent steps are taken to conserve Manipuri polo ponies, this magnificent breed of horses will be on its way to oblivion. Over the past few years, say sources in the state veterinary and animal husbandry department, the population of the Manipur pony breed has been dwindling. In the last livestock census done in 2007, the number had dropped to 1,037, a steep decline from the figure of 1,893 estimated during the 2003 census. A Food and Agriculture Organisation publication on the World Watch List on Domestic Animal Diversity has listed the breed as “an endangered animal.”

From the Hindustan Times. A history of polo in Manipur.

Polo Week: The Art of War

“May the heads of your enemies be your polo balls.”

The Persian poet Hafiz (1320–1389) wishes Tamerlane the Great well.

Quoted in “From Iran to All of Asia: The Origin and Diffusion of Polo,” by H E Chehabi and Allen Guttmann in Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 19, June–September 2002.