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)

Prime Cuts

A strong stomach is required for this ESPN documentary on illegal horse slaughter in Florida. In a sentimental, somewhat classist gesture, new legislation in the state will make it a greater offence to kill a thoroughbred than a bog-standard beast. Racehorses are not exactly rare, and that’s precisely why they are being auctioned off for less than the price of a packet of cigarettes.

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.

NOT a Bombproof Pony

Before

After

From the Miami Herald:

ORLANDO, Fla. — Authorities blew up a stuffed pony – determined to be a “suspicious device” – after it was found outside a central Florida school.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office reports that the toy was found near the Waterbridge Elementary School Tuesday morning.

No one was allowed in or out of the building while bomb disposal experts destroyed the stuffed animal. It was ultimately deemed “non-threatening.”

I did a little digging and it turns out that this poor innocent horse was a Furreal Pony – an animatronic children’s toy produced by My Little Pony’s creators, Hasbro, which I first heard about shortly after it had been named Girls’ Toy of the Year in 2007. The press release was fodder for at least three drafts of my book proposal:

“WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU ANSWER YOUR LITTLE GIRL’S DREAM FOR A PONY?
Answer: MOMMY, DADDY…YOU’RE MY HEROES!”

And…

“The BUTTERSCOTCH pony will amaze kids and adults alike with her level of ‘awareness’ and realism. She can move her head up and down, and back and forth, and her eyes open and close. Sensors enable BUTTERSCOTCH to respond and interact with the child. When her mane is brushed, a child will hear contented whinnies. When her ears are tickled, she will turn her head and try to find you. When she gets hungry, she’ll happily ‘eat’ her very own carrot. And, when she’s had enough, she’ll shake her head to let you know she’s full. Petting her muzzle will cause her to sniff!”

Hasbro go on to say that BUTTERSCOTCH “will solidify mom and dad’s status as hero when they are finally able to say yes to their little girls’ pleadings for the quintessential barnyard playmate… Most little girls long for a pony at some point during their childhood. Now, these typically unrealized dreams can become a reality.”

Dream? OR NIGHTMARE??????? Judge for yourself with this sinister footage shot at a toy fair.

The Orlando Sentinel describes the aftermath:

This afternoon, blackened pavement and bits of plastic littering the cul-de-sac on Whisper Glen Court were all that was left of the pony.

Parent Shanie Lucas, who uses the area to pick-up and drop-off her 9-year-old daughter, Valerie, thought the whole incident was funny.

Lucas saw the pony this morning around 8:30 when she dropped Valerie off at school and thought someone put it there to deter people from double-parking inside the small circle.

“When I saw it this morning, I thought it was funny,” Lucas said. “The kids were laughing, the adults were smiling.”

But when Lucas received an automated call from her daughter’s school about the lockdown, she got nervous. She scoured the Internet looking for information and realized it was the same pony she saw earlier in the morning.

“I thought it was a prank,” Lucas said referring to the pony, adding that she never suspected it could have been dangerous.

Parent Heather Mazza used her iPhone to snap pictures of the blacked pavement where the pony once sat.

“I’m sending them to my family back home,” Mazza said.

Her parents, who live in Indiana, had in the past picked up her daughter, second-grader Malak Mazza, in the cul-de-sac and had also heard about the suspicious pony.

“I was scared at first, but then when I saw the news, I was like, ‘A pony? What?'” Mazza said. “You’ve got to take everything seriously.”

A video of the condemned pony, shortly before detonation by the bomb squad, can be viewed here. Screen grabs from WFTV used above.

Forbidden Flesh

Bottled horse sausage for sale in my local supermarket

I’ve become interested in the trade and tradition of horse meat consumption as part of my research. We ate horses for 90,000 years before we thought to ride them, and yet horse meat is a taboo substance in the Anglo world – very much a case of them vs. us, “civilised” vs. “barbarians”.  I have various theories as to why that is (more, I hope, in later writing) but meanwhile two morsels of food for thought.

1) Salon writer Luke Meinzen goes to Mongolia to eat horse:

Still, despite my hope to eat one there, horses do not want for respect in Mongolia. To see that firsthand, travel in winter on a bus, a Russian relic overfilled with sacks of meat and passengers in cocoons of wool, cashmere, nylon and faux fur. The temperature, vibration and cargo are absolutely numbing. On every trip, however, a child’s voice calls out. Passengers awake from a collective stupor and rub portholes in the ice-coated windows, point, appraise and come alive. Nothing — not five welcome minutes to piss into the snow, not a sacred tree streaming with prayer flags, not even the relief of the capital’s central heating and serviceable vodka — is as dependably remarkable to these travelers as a herd of potbellied horses on the plains.

2) The spectacularly named Orestes Gonzalez is arrested in Florida and charged with selling black market horse meat. It’s not clear if he was buying it from the roaming gangs who have been butchering peoples’ pet  horses in Florida fields.