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Equus Rides Again on Broadway

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Photo by Carol Rosegg
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Equus stars Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths

It’s not “Harry Potter Meets My Little Pony,” by any stretch of the imagination.

Not only is there a highly-publicized nude scene, but Peter Shaffer’s play “Equus” is a dark, edgy drama.

If you have a vivid imagination and a tendency to be squeamish, you might not want to click on this link about the play.

And if you don’t think you can handle the synopsis but you’re still wondering what the play’s about, here’s a one-line summation.

“Equus” is about psychotherapy sessions with a mentally ill young man who has blinded six horses with a hoofpick.

So, not only is Harry Potter Naked, he plays a troubled character who’s done some shocking things.

So, why do I have tickets? Prurient interest, perhaps?

Honestly, I may have passed because of the fanfare and hysteria over the nudity. But preparing this article gave me an insight that I might get to see a something special.

No – not that something.

I love to watch great drama. Plus, I live a short train ride from New York.

Reviews about the London production have noted that Radcliffe has the acting chops to deliver such a demanding role. The supporting cast in New York also includes stage and screen veteran Kate Mulgrew.

I figure that, if I don’t need at least a glass of pinot noir after the play to soothe my rattled nerves, then I haven’t gotten my money’s worth. I’ll let you know what I think after I see it.

Because great drama is supposed to engage the emotions. Serious drama and fiction have spelunked into the depths of human emotion and behavior for eons.

Playwright Peter Shaffer has said that the play, first produced in 1973, was inspired by a real incident. Scholars have noted deep mythological, psychological and sociological references woven into the play.

My tickets are for late October. And, no, I won’t be taking binoculars for a better view from my seat up in the mezzanine.

A Derby winner at the Travers anyway?

Posted on 1 min read 23 views

Just because Big Brown is passing up Saturday’s Travers Stakes doesn’t mean that TV viewers won’t get to see a Kentucky Derby winner on TV.

Travers contender Tale of Ekati might be ponied by, at one time or another, 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide.

Yes, as a 3-year-old, Tale of Ekati was born the same spring that Funny came to fame.

Funny Cide, a gelding, didn’t have a second career as a breeding stallion ahead of him. So, his trainer Barclay Tagg gave him a second career as one of his stable ponies.

So, if you spot footage of Tale of Ekati with a chestnut pony, that pony could very well be Funny Cide. And, better yet, the ESPN announcers might tell us if it is. Coverage begins at 4:30 pm EDT.

As I said before, this August is a big month for coverage of equestrian competitions.

Championship Horse Shows on the Web

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The Olympics may be winding down, but August is still a great month for equestrian competitions. Two major American show horse championships are in full swing this week with live pay-per-view webcasts.

But horse show fans without broadband and/or on a budget won’t be left out. Each event offers updates that don’t involve video stream downloads.

On the Saddlebred scene, the World Championship Horse Show, live from the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, is under way now and runs through Saturday, Aug. 23, when champions are crowned.

But, if you want to get some updates but the idea of a video stream gives you a headache, you can catch up by checking in on the American Saddlebred Horse Association for photos.

Also underway live is the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee. The Celebration’s website has a link to the pay-per-view but also offers results for the videoless.

However, if you can watch video yet you don’t feel like forking over the dough for the Celebration pay-per-view, you can watch daily updates on What A Horse , a cable channel and Internet show about the Tennessee Walking Horse. Usually a paid subscription forum, What A Horse will offer free views of its Celebration updates.

As the horse show center ring announcers often say, “This is your gate call. It’s horse show time.”


The Newbie’s Guide to Watching Dressage

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John Rich/iStockphoto
John Rich/iStockphoto

When you finally know what to look for, watching dressage really is more exciting than watching paint dry.

After all, the casual viewer easily figures out jumping and cross country. In those faster-paced sports, the horse and rider must run an obstacle course faster than anyone else and not touch, let alone knock down, any of the jumps.

But the much quieter sport of dressage looks harder to figure out. At first glance, all we see is a horse and rider team moving across or down an arena. The two don’t seem to be doing anything exciting. And the rider seems to be sitting still, not doing much of anything.

So, how does the horse know what to do? And how do we tell who’s winning?

Making the performance look effortless is the point of dressage. Bottom line? The goal is perfect form between horse and rider.

Dressage is judged subjectively, like gymnastics or figure skating. The horse must show flexibility while moving through its gaits with grace and rhythm. The horse must also demonstrate confidence and trust in the rider through its response to cues that should be imperceptible to observers.

Probably the most accessible dressage event for newbies is the musical freestyle, in which the horse and rider can appear to be dancing to the music.

Most of the work happens before the show in the years of training and conditioning. All of the movements are natural to the horse and done willingly upon request from and under the control of the rider. The horse must feel confident and protected by the rider, whereas the rider needs to anticipate the horse’s reactions to what’s liable to be a new environment for the horse.

The result is a horse that prances, skips, glides and travels sideways, all prompted by the silent cues from the rider.

In some ways, the dance you see in the arena isn’t the only dance that’s there. A lot of dressage involves the dance between minds.

P.S. – Thanks, Marti.