Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

eBay, I don’t believe you. That never happened in my daydreams.

Right, on with a long overdue HHLHL! I’ve been busy organising a research trip for book two but the horse world went on turning, and lovely people have been sending me links, so enjoy this extra special post whose diversity reminds me why I’m writing that second book in the first place.

  • A zebra pulling a trap in Brixton, circa 1915. (Urban75)
  • Look at this beautifully carved golden horse head discovered in a Thracian tomb in Bulgaria. It dates from the third century BC. (Guardian)
  • If Radio 4 ever gets rid of Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time I’ll know Britain is over. Here Melvyn and guests discuss the Upanishads – some of the sacred texts of Hinduism. Horse sacrifice is mentioned (maybe with a connection to the Steppes folk who first domesticated horses?) Thanks to Mum for sending this. (Radio 4)
  • The “Pony” chair of Eero Aarnio, the brilliant Finnish designer who came up with the Sixties icon, the Bubble Chair. (Eero Aarnio)
  • Francis Robinson send me this cute piece on a police horse who likes to rearrange cones at Buckingham Palace (Daily Mail)
  • Wired on the astonishing solidification of the Brony movement, with military personnel confessing their love for My Little Pony in front of the camera. Thanks to my brother for this one (Wired)
  • A clean drug-test sheet for all competitors at this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Some of the races were even lasix-free. (ESPN)
  • Mega race mare and US Horse of the Year Havre de Grace sells for $10,000,000 (Blood Horse)
  • The feral Chicoteague ponies survived Sandy just fine (Daily Press) Speaking of the hurricane, this crazy hoss was just fine too. (Washington Post)
  • Horses in today’s US military (CS Monitor)
  • A disaster for a herd of Brumbies in Western Australia (ABC)

Kicking the Habit

Last week Joe Drape of the New York Times reported on a summit at Belmont Park on the use of drugs in American horse racing:

The American thoroughbred industry has acknowledged recently that it is in trouble, and on Monday, its counterparts from around the world told it why: it races too often, allows race-day medications that prop up inferior horses and is paying the price for these flaws with plummeting sales at breeding auctions.

“European buyers are drifting away because we view the performances of U.S. horses with skepticism because of the medication policies, and the stallions are not comparable to ‘clean’ European stallions,” Denis Egan, the chief executive of the Irish Turf Club, which is responsible for regulating Ireland’s racing industry, said at an International Summit on Race Day Medication at Belmont Park.

With bipartisan legislation calling for federal regulation of performance-enhancing drugs and medications as well as stiff penalties for offenders, horse racing’s stakeholders are taking a hard look at their medication rules.

…and there’s good news already – the Breeders’ Cup has banned the use of Lasix for two year olds in the 2012 races, and all horses by 2013. The NYT has an excellent page of related articles here.

America’s Narcotics Problem

Thanks to Karen Krizanovich for sending me this New York Times piece on the use of drugs in US horse racing in the run up to the Breeders’ Cup championship day. I’ve bolded for emphasis… I do not know how any true horseman or horsewoman could send injured horses into competition.

“A Jockey Club study released last March determined that racehorses died at the rate of 2.04 per 1,000 starts in the United States and Canada, a rate twice as deadly as in any other country. The Jockey Club has pointed to multiple studies that show permissive drug rules are part of the cause of the high mortality rates. It has gotten the Association of Racing Commissioners International, or R.C.I., to lower the allowable level of phenylbutazone, which can be used to mask injuries to horses.”

I suppose it’s a start…