Urban Cowboys in Queens

The Federation of Black Cowboys operates out of a stable in Howard Beach, Queens, New York, and you can read a 2006 New York Times feature about them here. At the end of last year I spent some time dipping in and out of the on-line debate about the carriage horses that operate in Manhattan, and among the arguments made by “antis” was the notion that “cities are no place for horses”. Sometimes, cities are no place for humans, either, but I believe that if both humans and horses are loved and well cared for, they can get along just fine in an urban setting. The idea that the majority of the population should be cut off from contact with horses because they don’t live in the country is not one that I’d endorse. So ride on, the cowboys of Queens. Keep on grazing horses on that real estate. I can’t think of a better use for it.

Beauty and the Beast

Quick hit: an earlier news story about “rodeo queens” in New Mexico completing their routines on hobby horses raised a question for European horsefolk – what the hell is a rodeo queen anyway? And why are those little girls wearing eyeliner but not, you know, hard hats?*

Jezebel.com has republished a piece on the phenomenon from Sociological Images, and yep, it does appear to be a beauty pageant on horseback:

the Miss Rodeo USA site says that appearance and personality make up 80% of the competition, and riding skills only 20%

(There’s also a video of male cowboys cutting on hobby horses during a 2001 equine herpes outbreak.)

The grown-up Miss Rodeo USA is expected to exhibit:

… unexcelled sportsmanship, high moral and ethical standards, as well as adding a flavor of femininity with a regal touch. The queen should be able to speak intelligently and with authority on the sport of rodeo, IPRA policies and the world around her.

Unexcelled? Boy, that’s tough! If Miss Rodeo USA keeps on being unexcelled every year, then the latest one must be the most unimpeachable human being on the planet. Here are the judging criteria (how do you judge maturity alongside “facial features”? What if you have mature facial features? Isn’t that a good thing?). Needless to say, there is no equivalent show-pony class for men.


*Here is one sad coda to that question.

Round Up

  • Rodeo mules in San Antonio swan dive into water tanks to entertain the paying public. “What’s wrong with a mule diving into a cold pool on a hot day?” asks their trainer. Where to start?
  • A starved, dying horse is dumped in an LA street. Police question locals to find the owners. NFL player Jared Allen offers a reward for information.
  • Twenty shire horses hauled a replica of the Titanic’s anchor from Dudley to Netherton in a recreation of the original anchor’s journey from foundry to railway. Eight thousand people turned out to watch.
  • A statue of a riderless, injured horse was erected in Brno, Czech Republic, to commemorate the cavalry mounts who lost their lives there in 1805 in the Battle of the Three Emperors at Austerlitz.
  • Anna Sewell’s will is now available to view on-line.