Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

Prague carriage horses

  • Questions are raised over the treatment of horses on film and TV show sets. Are trainers’ welfare concerns being overruled? (LA Times)
  • A “horse palace” in Montreal seeks donors for a makeover. (Montreal Gazette)
  • A woman “gives birth to a pony” during a church service in Nigeria. (PM News)
  • Lady Gaga arrived at the launch of her new signature fragrance in a horse-drawn carriage shaped like the perfume flask. (Ace ShowBiz)
  • Don’t touch the horse! An arrest for drunkenness and touching a police horse. (Tampa Bay Times) Elsewhere, in Philly, a police horse is punched. (Policeone.com)
  • Claims of assault fly in the fight to save wild horses in Reno. (Examiner.com)
  • A smalltown official who defrauded millions sees her illgotten gains – pedigree quarter horses – sold for over a million dollars at internet auction. (Chicago Tribune)
  • A little girl’s dream comes true when she comes home from school to find her very own pony waiting for her. (This is Gloucestershire)
  • The first Exmoor Pony Festival works like a charm (This is the West Country)
  • Muslims in Gaza have to break Islamic “best practice” and eat horsemeat. (NYT)
  • The number of horse rescues in the US has nearly doubled in five years. Major welfare groups suggest accreditation for newcomers (Ventura County Star)

Donkeys, Books, Unicorn Boadiceas and Brixton Ponies

This is my “what I did on my busman’s holiday” post, except that there will be multiple posts because I can’t do multiple slideshows in a single post.

My first stop was Dartington Hall, home of this lovely donkey statue. I was giving a talk at the Telegraph‘s Way with Words literary festival – my debut as a jobbing, all-singing, all-dancing 21st-century performing author. Owing to the whole “working from home” effect (The Oatmeal sums it up nicely here), general feelings of inadequacy and a large dollop of overexcitement at the possibilities of Power Point, I prepared for the talk as if it were a PhD viva. As I launched into the talk, which coincided exactly with the beginning of Andy Murray’s Wimbedon final, I realised that (a) it would have been far better if I’d trusted myself to improvise the whole thing and (b) what’s required is not a lecture but a piece of stand-up comedy. If I told you that my first question from the floor was, “Well, why do girls like horses?” then you’ll understand how muddled I was. I live, I learn.

Once I’d finished I was able to relax and chat to some of the other authors, discovering that Michele Hanson of the Guardian is a secret ex-horsey girl, and that a very reliable Highland pony once managed to slip Monty Halls off his shoulder three times in less than an hour. I then, via a crammed train, a nose bleed and a long wait at Swindon, reached Tetbury where the Yellow Lighted Bookshop had drummed up a fantastic audience who seemed to enjoy the newly written, improved and improvised If Wishes Were Horses talk. Hereward and his team run a beautiful shop, and let me range through the shelves ogling cookbooks which I (rudely) forgot to buy when the talk was over as I was so relieved.

I spent the night with some friends just outside Stroud, and found this curious welcoming arrangement on my bedroom windowsill:

Back in London I had an afternoon of setting the world to rights with Rose Spearing MBE at Ebony Horse Club in Brixton. We watched as the after-school club had their lessons (part of which included “wearing” a bridle and being steered around the yard) and the older kids prepared ponies for an event at Hickstead. To be continued…

Hunting Spirit

WHEN Caroline Smail heads off to take part in the Boxing Day meet of the Heythrop Hunt in the Cotswolds today, she’ll be hoping that Jigsaw, her cheeky gelding, just over 14 hands high, doesn’t play up too much. Earlier this summer, in a tussle with that much loved pony, who was trying to munch through a hedge, her foot got caught in a bramble. Unfortunately, for Caroline, in the ensuing scramble, her entire left leg fell off.

‘It really isn’t as bad as it sounds,’ says Caroline, who is 30, and runs a PR business from her Gloucestershire cottage. ‘My left leg is a prosthetic and it is always coming off at awkward moments. All I could do was sling it over the front of the saddle and head home. Unluckily, a van drove round the corner at that point; the driver took one look at me riding along with a false leg thrown across the saddle and crashed into the hedge too. I felt awful for him, but you have to see the funny side.’

From the Telegraph.