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 is Azerbaijan:

And there’s something a little familiar about Mr Horse. Can you spot it?

On the left, French equestrian choreographer Bartabas and a quarterhorse called Soutine performing in Le centaure et l’animal in 2012. On the right? AZERBAIIIIIIJAAAAAN!

If Eurovision isn’t your scene, here’s the Bartabas performance with Japanese Butoh dancer Ko Murobushi (I was lucky enough to see this at Sadler’s Wells and it features in The Age of the Horse).

Bring on the Dancing Horses

And from a pas de cheval to a ballet à cheval: this is music composed and performed for a grand pageant to celebrate the marriage of King Louis XIII of France to Anne of Austria in 1615. At 5.33 is, I think, music composed for the first formal “ballet à cheval” – the predecessor to today’s modern kur. Cue drums!

Sing Me the Workhorse

“Bring Me the Workhorse” by My Brightest Diamond is part of the soundtrack I used while working on If Wishes Were Horses: atmospheric and escapist, with the bonus of actually being about horses. Bat for Lashes’ Two Suns goes with the Hunters and Amazons chapter. Somehow it was just weird enough to conjure up the ladies on the Bronze Age steppes for me.

A Horse Runs Through It #1

Part one in an irregular series in which we find examples of videos, films or advertisements that feature a random loose horse that just happens to be galloping by, no matter how incongruous the setting. It’s all so symbolic! This one is Kylie Minogue’s video for All the Lovers, which stars a handsome cremello.

All nominations for this series are welcome, along with guesses as to just what the horse represents in each film.

It’s Not Unusual [To Turn Out Your Horse]

British rider Carl Hester and Uthopia perform their last freestyle to Tom Jones at the World Dressage Masters at Hickstead earlier this summer. Sadly the fuddy-duddies complained, and now the pair are accompanied by something a wee bit more classical.

Carl and Uthopia just led a British team to gold at the European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam, and took an individual silver to boot. The winning team consisted of Carl, his 26-year-old protégée Charlotte Dujardin (on a nine-year old called Valegro who was competing in only his sixth Grand Prix), Emile Faurie (who runs the brilliant Emile Faurie Foundation which helps kids from disadvantaged homes to learn to ride) and Laura Bechtolsheimer, who took a silver at Kentucky in 2010. The chairperson of British Dressage, Jennie Loriston-Clarke, was delighted, writing in Horse and Hound:

“The judges are excited about how Charlotte and Carl Hester are riding. They are so classical, nothing is forced, everything looks easy – their horses are soft and happy.”

I’m no dressage judge (heaven forbid), but I love Uthopia’s bounce. I love Carl Hester’s training routine even more. His horses get regular turn-out (hilarious little shot here of one of them hooning about in the field) and are even hacked out two days a week. Maybe I’m just too British, but this appeals to me a lot more than the picture I got of Totilas’ life from a recent feature: no turn-out in case he hurt himself, and a stable at the far end of a windowless barn. His carers said he was very possessive about his solarium. In his custom-made shoes, wouldn’t you be?

Today in Kitsch Pony News

Thanks to Ed for alerting me to this controversy, in which Selena Gomez, apparently a popstar with the temerity to date another popstar, Justin Bieber, made a video featuring a white horse painted pink. A third popstar, actually called Pink, objected to this, with back up from the idiotic PETA. Because lots of girls hate anyone who dates Justin Bieber, the entire episode snowballed into wild accusations of animal cruelty, and the pink pony was withdrawn. Meanwhile, thousands of ponies globally had a genuinely miserable time, but nobody paid attention.

The ascension of the pony to kitsch artefact continues apace, as another celebrity called Kim Kardashian posed with glittered-up ponies to celebrate her engagement, of all things. Apparently imminent marriage = regression to childhood innocence. Who knew!