Equitation Tips from Medieval Germany

Codex Manesse, UB Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 848, fol. 413v: Meister Rumslant. Between 1305 and 1315. Via Wikicommons, added to web by University of Heidelberg.

Codex Manesse, UB Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 848, fol. 413v: Meister Rumslant. Between 1305 and 1315. Via Wikicommons, added to web by University of Heidelberg.

Thank you to Justin E H Smith for his translation of this “Blessing for Horses,” a twelfth-century German poem included in the Codex Manesse.

A man went his way ·
dragging his steed ·
There my lord met him ·
With all of his men ·

How · is it going · man?
Why aren’t you riding?
How can I ride when ·
my steed is all stiff?

Just push at his flank, man ·
while whispering to him ·
he’ll step with his right foot ·
and get along good ·

And the original Middle High German:

Man gieng after wege ·
zoh sin ros in handon ·
do begagenda imo min trohtin
mit sinero arngrihte ·

wes · man · gestu ·
zu ne ridestu ·
waz mag ih riten ·
min ros ist errehet ·

nu ziuhez da bi fiere ·
tu rune imo in daz ora ·
drit ez an den cesewen fuoz ·
so wirt imo des erreheten buoz ·

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

1967 Yemeni stamp, c.o WikiCommons.

  • An Irish Draught called Rupert performs on stage at the Royal Opera House in London (simplymarvelous)
  • Elizabeth I’s sidesaddle came up for auction in England. (Sidesaddle Girl)
  • A British farmer working a 265-acre farm with a team of Percherons (simplymarvelous)
  • Facebook is hot on the heels of a self-styled record breaker in the US who is “riding around the world” but seems to have already broken two horses doing it (Star Telegram)
  • Recycling racehorses at Suffolk Downs (Boston.com)
  • Canada and Mexico say no to slaughtering US horses. All I can say about this is MORE ANON (Fugly Horse of the Day)
  • Living with an equine comedian (TheHorse.com)

The Marquesa and I

My treat for the week’s travel was a copy of Penelope Chetwode’s Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalusia, her tale of wandering through Spain on a fat mare called Marquesa in the early 1960s. It’s vivid, pungent, beautiful and funny; she describes a country that has long since disappeared, swallowed by modernity. I recommend the work as a whole, but this passage had to be quoted in isolation:

“‘Bridle Road to …’ When I see this notice in England it has the same effect on me as Mescalin does on Mr Aldous Huxley. Here there are no such notices but you can see bridle roads leading over the plains and the sierras  in every direction and to an addict the sight is intoxicating. Everyone has his weaknesses: some people run after women, others after Dukes; I run after priests and along carriles which, with their alluringly sinuous ways, are gravely tempting me  to throw all my family duties to the wind and to go on riding along them forever.”

When I googled Penelope to find out more about her life, I discovered that she had, in fact, had the perfect, most gentle death, far from the Pony Clubs, the parish churches and tame bridle ways of England.

Training Your Pony

From the BBC:

A man has been captured on CCTV trying to board a train accompanied by a pony.

Shocked staff watched as the man tried to get on the train at Wrexham General station with the white pony in tow

After a conductor refused him entry, the man returned to the ticket booth where he tried to buy two tickets – for himself and the animal.

Wales Online reports on the hunt to find the man:

The man, believed to be a traveller known as Joe, tried to get on the train at Wrexham and journey to Holyhead on Saturday evening.

But he was turned away by the train’s conductor before trying to buy tickets for himself and the animal at the station.

The man also took the horse to Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s A&E department.

UPDATE – after the eventful trip to the train station and hospital, the pony was taken to a pub.

Pony train-travel afficionados probably recall that David Freeman-Mitford, aka Baron Redesdale once bought a Shetland pony called Brownie in London for his children. He brought it back to their town residence in a hansom cab and stabled it overnight in a box room, planning to take it to their country home by train the next day. On being told that it could not travel in the goods van, he announced that he, the pony, his wife and children would all travel third class instead.

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

Thank you to Susan for sending me a link to this piece on horse prints in fashion at Style Bubble.

Roo shared this, er, fascinating set of what you might call outsider art portraits of horses smoking cigarettes, for sale now on Craigslist New Orleans. Click now before they’re sold.

Ed Ward let me know that Marianne Faithfull’s new album is called ‘Horses and High Heels’, and also directed my attention to this New York Times travel feature on horses and music in Louisiana:

I HAD never noticed how closely the syncopated rhythm of zydeco music echoes the rollicking stumble of horses on rough terrain. But on a September afternoon in the piney woods of Evangeline Parish, in Louisiana’s Cajun country, with hundreds of dusty horseback riders moving down a narrow trail, the kinship was impossible to miss. As the horses followed a tractor towing a D.J. and a zydeco-blaring sound system, they bucked and swayed in a cadence fit for the barroom floors of Lafayette, 70 miles away.

HBO’s new blockbuster/DVD box set of the future is Luck, about hosses and gamblers. There’s a trailer here at Television Blend. Directed by Michael Mann, starring Nick Nolte and Dustin Hoffman. Looks fantastic.

Teenage hearthrob Robert Pattinson shoots a horse in his new film, Water for Elephants, in which he plays a ‘circus veterinarian’ opposite Reese Witherspoon. Reese’s character performs with horses in the circus as a liberty trainer, and a big part of me is fondly hoping that she was inspired by Jenny de Rhaden or Emilie Loisset, though I doubt it. The trailer looks like a big, cheesy waste of Christopher Waltz. Thank you to Patrick (who is always fascinated by horse disposal) for this one.

April brings out equine finery. The president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, showcased the Akhal Teke horse, complete with traditional dress and jewellery (fancy), while in the town of St Augustine in Florida, the 53rd annual Parada de los Caballos y Coches took place. Carriage horses parade through the streets in Easter bonnets contributed by worthy American ladies. Past bonnet-donations came from Mary Pickford, Nancy Reagan, Mrs Billy Graham and Mrs Jimmy Carter. No word on whether Michelle Obama has been asked to help out.

Mark Todd won Badminton, and there’s a fantastic slide show of the cross country day here (see if you can spot the little girl in the crowd who’s brought along her hobbyhorse).

Hanging Ten on a Horse

“I was taking photos of some of my customers one day and said, ‘I’m bored. Why don’t you stand up or something?’ ” Mattox said, explaining the segue from beach riding to horse-surfing. “The next thing I know, there are people coming from Europe to try this new hot American tourist activity.

“It was always a goof, but we have had competitions and want to have a totally non-serious World Championships some day. All in good fun. I personally didn’t try it until six months later.”

From the Miami Herald.