Thematic Variation in the Przewalski’s Horse

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A domestic horse with a decidedly Przewalski look. Near Hustai, Mongolia. Photo by author.

Two pieces that turned up in internet searches within minutes of one another. Firstly, a rather gruelling article about the complications involved in trying to breed Przewalskis and return them to a degree of wildness in China. And secondly, as light relief, an entire site full of chocolate moulds, which includes one for a… Przewalski. The photo is of a Przewalski-esque domestic horse belonging to a herder just outside Hustai National Park, Mongolia.

Melanie Reid on If Wishes Were Horses

IWWH covers

Melanie Reid in The Times:

“An eclectic band, from HM to Katie Price to millions of little girls, many now middle-aged, belong to this faintly embarrassing masonic sisterhood. How it strikes is a mystery. Maybe it’s a cult; maybe a virus; some (men, naturally) think it’s down to erotic obsession and fetishism. Whatever. Our brains are totally washed; a flame of passion ignited. One woman brave enough to break cover recently is Susanna Forrest. ‘I was imprinted like a goose when I was only a few months old,’ she admits in her delicious book If Wishes were Horses: A Memoir of Equine Obsession.

In 1969, academics found that, among little girls, playing horses was almost as popular as playing hospitals. (Now, granted, probably more playing X Factor.) Forrest says: ‘Across Europe, North America and Australasia, millions of little girls galloped, snorted and pawed the ground as their mothers had done before them, dreaming of one birthday morning when they’d wake up and there would be a pony picking at the lawn under their window. And nobody questioned this. Why? Where does it all begin?’ …

On family journeys, one escaped from the boredom of the back seat of the car or the train to gallop across country alongside, soaring over huge hedges and ditches for endless miles. Every horse-mad little girl I know did the same. As Forrest says, horses made reality better. A horse embodied the liberation inherent in all fantasy. It freed you from the mundane.”

Were You Ever Pony Mad?

IWWH covers

Praise from Jilly Cooper for If Wishes Were Horses:

“How lovely! If Wishes Were Horses brought back all my childhood obsessions about ponies; all one’s old friends are there: Enid Bagnold, the Pullein-Thompsons, Golden Gorse, Joanna Cannan and the visit to Redwings. Susanna Forrest has done a fantastic job. She really loves and knows her horses.”

and from Carnegie Medal Winner, K M Peyton, author of Flambards:

“I adored this book. All aspects of the horse and pony – historical, current, personal, obsessive, beautifully written. The wonderful chapter on riding Tav through the Norfolk countryside . . . I was on Tav, quite tired when I dismounted. It took me back. Gorgeous.”

Want to Smell Like a Horse?

Wiki Commons: Jastrow (2007)

Thank  you to Slaminsky for pointing me towards these scents for the wealthy and horse crazy. Parfums de Marly present a range of equine-themed perfumes:

Godolphin: “opulent rose note, leading to a woody-leather scent base. Top notes: thyme, saffron, cypress, green notes, fruity notes and mate. Heart: rose, iris and jasmine. Base: leather, vetiver, cedar, musk, amber and vanilla.”

Pegasus: “a stimulating blend of bergamot and almond with a base of vanilla, sandalwood and amber.” (for men)

Darley: “notes of lavender and rose on an oriental base. Top notes: lemon, bergamot and mint. Heart: rose, orange blossom, lavender, rosemary and cinnamon. Base: sandalwood, guaiac wood, patchouli, amber and tonka.” (also for men)

Ispazon: “a woody oriental scent named after the native equine breed of the Netherlands, which is renowned for its grace and beauty.”

Lipizzan: “a spicy woody composition using the finest essences. With top notes of citron and cardamom, it has a heart of jasmine, rose and iris and base notes of amber, vanilla and musk.”

Shagya: “Top notes: lime, bergamot and red pepper. Heart: geranium and cedar oud. Base: vetiver, guaiac wood, papyrus, and musk.”

Herod: cinnamon and pepperwood, osmanthus, tobacco, vanilla, cedarwood, patchouli, musk and more.

Marly take their name from the Chateau de Marly in France, where they say that receptions were held to honour the horses of Louis XV and fragrances created to commemorate racing wins. The chateau no longer stands, but some of the superb sculptures by Guillaume Coustou that once decorated it have since been erected elsewhere. The image above is one, prancing outside the Louvre in Paris.

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

eBay, I don’t believe you. That never happened in my daydreams.

Right, on with a long overdue HHLHL! I’ve been busy organising a research trip for book two but the horse world went on turning, and lovely people have been sending me links, so enjoy this extra special post whose diversity reminds me why I’m writing that second book in the first place.

  • A zebra pulling a trap in Brixton, circa 1915. (Urban75)
  • Look at this beautifully carved golden horse head discovered in a Thracian tomb in Bulgaria. It dates from the third century BC. (Guardian)
  • If Radio 4 ever gets rid of Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time I’ll know Britain is over. Here Melvyn and guests discuss the Upanishads – some of the sacred texts of Hinduism. Horse sacrifice is mentioned (maybe with a connection to the Steppes folk who first domesticated horses?) Thanks to Mum for sending this. (Radio 4)
  • The “Pony” chair of Eero Aarnio, the brilliant Finnish designer who came up with the Sixties icon, the Bubble Chair. (Eero Aarnio)
  • Francis Robinson send me this cute piece on a police horse who likes to rearrange cones at Buckingham Palace (Daily Mail)
  • Wired on the astonishing solidification of the Brony movement, with military personnel confessing their love for My Little Pony in front of the camera. Thanks to my brother for this one (Wired)
  • A clean drug-test sheet for all competitors at this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Some of the races were even lasix-free. (ESPN)
  • Mega race mare and US Horse of the Year Havre de Grace sells for $10,000,000 (Blood Horse)
  • The feral Chicoteague ponies survived Sandy just fine (Daily Press) Speaking of the hurricane, this crazy hoss was just fine too. (Washington Post)
  • Horses in today’s US military (CS Monitor)
  • A disaster for a herd of Brumbies in Western Australia (ABC)

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

– the march of the Bronies continues apace – literally. We now have a thriving “military bronies” community, dedicated to adult My Little Pony fans, and a full range of customised guns to accessorise. (Military Times)

– a two-year-old cob in West Yorkshire managed to trap himself in an underground pump chamber for five whole days. Thankfully he’s now been liberated. The BBC has a video of the rescue. (Horse Talk, BBC)

– ‘”Think about it: They spend most of their lives with the world looking down on them,” Murray said. “Now they are up on top and above everybody. It is very empowering.”‘ Equine therapy in Houston. (Chron.com)

– A horse festival in Tajikistan. (Huffington Post)

– Zippy Chippy, a racehorse who couldn’t win a race to save his life is now saving lives by being a loser. (Washington Post)

– Kathleen Stiles on “How to Survive a European Horse Shopping Trip”. “Meals are all taken and enjoyed. However, some are at “tank stops,” or gas stations as they’re known in the United States. They are everywhere since one blows through expensive fuel at an alarming rate. But I am horrified. I am spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on horses and am lunching where I would not normally visit a restroom?” It’s another world… (Chronicle of the Horse)

– Paralympic dressage rider Lee Pearon’s kit in detail. (Guardian)

– Thank you to Anne Billson for a link to Amazon’s sale page for those rubbery horsehead masks. Happy purchasers have sent in an entire album of images of themselves making use of them. Have fun. (Amazon)

– in a year in which horses have unexpectedly taken centre stage in politics, from David Cameron’s rides on Rebekah Wade’s old police horse to Rafalca Romney, we have the first dressage-based political broadcast: