What Do Horses Mean In New York?

I’ve been hoofing around New York and DC in the pursuit of a holiday and book two (which will be out in, ooooooh, 2015?). Shanks’ Mare and I saw a surprising number of equines on our travels, although we missed the zebra and pony on the loose on Staten Island. Books two and three are about – among many things – the way that humans think about horses and use them both physically and mentally. Here’s a visual collage of New York horses (minus police officers and the urban cowboys of Queens) in November 2012 (with thanks to Helen for the 86th Street Pegasus):

Horse vs. Grizzly

Here’s an absolutely cracking story from The Spokesman Review about a young woman and an 18hh  Percheron/Quarter Horse called Tonk who chased after a grizzly bear that was pursuing an eight-year-old boy on a terrified horse. They faced up to the bear and charged.

“… when you’re riding, the horse is your best protection, if you can stay on,” Erin Bolster said.

“Some of the horses I’ve ridden would have absolutely refused to do what Tonk did; others would have thrown me off in the process. Some horses can never overcome their flight-animal instinct to run away.”

In those minutes of crisis, the big lug of a mongrel mount proved his mettle in a test few trail horses will face in their careers.

Tonk’s mettle moved Bolster. She wasn’t about to send him back to Wyoming with the other leased horses.

“Two weeks ago, I closed the deal and bought him,” Bolster said as she was wrapping up her 2011 wrangling season.

“After what he did that day, he had to be mine.”

 

Via Jezebel.com.

UPDATE: Tonk and Erin will appear on the David Letterman show next week, October 11th. And here they are!

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

Beauty and the Beast

Quick hit: an earlier news story about “rodeo queens” in New Mexico completing their routines on hobby horses raised a question for European horsefolk – what the hell is a rodeo queen anyway? And why are those little girls wearing eyeliner but not, you know, hard hats?*

Jezebel.com has republished a piece on the phenomenon from Sociological Images, and yep, it does appear to be a beauty pageant on horseback:

the Miss Rodeo USA site says that appearance and personality make up 80% of the competition, and riding skills only 20%

(There’s also a video of male cowboys cutting on hobby horses during a 2001 equine herpes outbreak.)

The grown-up Miss Rodeo USA is expected to exhibit:

… unexcelled sportsmanship, high moral and ethical standards, as well as adding a flavor of femininity with a regal touch. The queen should be able to speak intelligently and with authority on the sport of rodeo, IPRA policies and the world around her.

Unexcelled? Boy, that’s tough! If Miss Rodeo USA keeps on being unexcelled every year, then the latest one must be the most unimpeachable human being on the planet. Here are the judging criteria (how do you judge maturity alongside “facial features”? What if you have mature facial features? Isn’t that a good thing?). Needless to say, there is no equivalent show-pony class for men.

 

*Here is one sad coda to that question.