- A sanctuary in Devon provide an orphaned foal with teddy bears for company. Video ensues. (ZapIt)
- A pony in Canada is attacked by a bear while minding its own business. (Kamloops)
- A cob called Buddy goes for a swim in Kent, and requires the help fo the fire brigade. (Kent Online) A pony in Essex also took a dip with the same results. (Epping Forest Guardian)
- Two-headed pony discovered in Wales. Sort of. (Daily Mail)
- A man in Rhode Island took a shetland pony called Willy Wonka into his local Liquor store. Something entirely predictable ensued. (ABC News – thank you Ed Ward)
- A psychic helped rescue an adventurous Norwegian Fjord who wound up in a ravine in Seattle. (Seattle Times – thank you to Christina Wilsdon)
- Edinburgh decides it’s really rather nice to have pony rides in the centre of town. (The Edinburgh Reporter)
- Mumbai teenagers rescue a tiny, sick pony they found grazing on a garbage dump. (dnaindia.com)
First up: please go directly to Horse Nation to read Susan Corwin’s account of joining a hunt in Meath, Ireland to break the world record for the number of side-saddle attendees. Fans of Molly Keane and Somerville & Ross will enjoy the craic. This was Susan’s first choice of riding expedition after a gruelling course of cancer treatment. Turns out a thick application of Irish mud, a wilful Connemara pony and some very large ditches are just the ticket.
After about the second ditch, a very kind Irish gentleman handed me his flask and assured me that the more I drank now, the smaller the ditches would get, and the more I drank at the pub later, the bigger they would get.
And now on with the more mixed news of all that’s weird or worrying in the horse world. Not much light-hearted fun this week, I’m afraid, but some steps forward.
- Burger King finds itself implicated in the horse meat scandal. (CNN) Which has probably been going on for over a year… (Telegraph) Meanwhile, Poland say that five of the six slaugherhouses that supply meat to Ireland have no traces of horsemeat on site. (Reuters)
- Aqueduct racetrack in New York begins to cancel race days in order to try and get a grip on horse safety. Six horses have broken down on the turf course and been shot since December. More of the NYT’s excellent coverage of the lethal intersection of big, casino-inflated purses and medication abuse in US horse racing (NYT)
- Denver International Airport erected a statue of a giant blue mustang with neon red eyes five years ago, and everyone hated it. Now that those five years have passed, locals are legally allowed to petition for its removal. Will it become a cult classic or a bad taste memory? (9News.com)
- Danish scientists on the challenges and rewards of studying social hierarchy in horses. (The Horse)
- I’ve covered donkey-milk soap as a beauty aid. Now Kazakhstan is getting in on the act with horse-milk soap. (Eurasia.net)
- Emaciated and gravely injured cob youngster abandoned in an Essex playground. Photo not for the faint-hearted; the horse had to be put down immediately. (Thisistotalessex)
- The number of ponies hit by cars on Dartmoor has risen with the poor weather: the ponies come to the roads for the sale that’s laid down to melt snow. (BBC)
- An American man says he violated a horse because he was trying to make a “horseman baby”. (The Smoking Gun) And Germany outlaws bestiality. Good news for German horses, if not for wannabe centaur begetters. (NYT)
I had a wonderful, wonderful day in February with the Flying Foxes Side-saddle Display Team – aka The St Trinians of side-saddle – at Audley End for a forthcoming Telegraph piece (will run on the 24th March 2012). Here’s a behind the scenes slide show that gives you an idea of what a team effort the photoshoot was! Well done to my mum for capturing all these moments.
Thanks to the Flying Foxes who not only gave me a horse, a habit and a lesson, but were also stellar company. Thanks to Audley End for letting us mash up the lawn. Thanks to the photographer Daniel Jones and the Telegraph. Please overlook my use of double reins as it was the first time I’d ridden with anything other than a snaffle. I hope Henry forgave me – he was a very generous soul and he got two enormous carrots for his pains.
If you’d like to investigate pony racing or attend a meet, you can find details here at the Pony Racing Authority.
This post relates to a chapter of the book If Wishes Were Horses: A Memoir of an Equine Obsession. If you have any questions to ask about the content, please fire away in the comments. The main online index for the book is here.
“At Harolds Park Farm, Essex (31 July), Vicky Westcott and her ‘hairy pony’ Ad Lib III won both elementaries on over 65% – their personal best scores to date.
Vicky said: ‘He’s a 15hh piebald Romany cob with full feathers and a full mane. He thinks he’s very handsome. When we go around the arena before entering he always turns to the judge at C and gives a little “nod and a wink”.
‘He’s so enthusiastic and forward I can have a braking issue in the simple changes, because he doesn’t like the idea of walking. But today I got a seven for one.’
Horse & Hound, 11 August 2011. This, I think, is the point of dressage – to get any horse going beautifully, whether he’s an 18hh expensive warmblood from the continent or a two-bob-cob with legs like Afghan hounds. When I was on holiday in Scotland earlier this year I had a lovely chat in one B&B with a dressage enthusiast who said she’d overheard an old horseman complaining that you couldn’t get hold of Shire horses these days, ‘because all these bloody women buy them for dressage.’
(thank you to Estelle for the headline pun)