“Horse Withdrawal” Update

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I found a place to get my horse fix while I get healthy enough to ride again – a place I’ve driven past almost daily in the <cough>ty years I’ve lived in Connecticut, USA.

Pleasant View Stables has been through many variations on the “suburban horse farm” theme over the years. But it was primarily a boarding stable. Now, they offer lessons and pony parties, along with boarding.

But I’ll be mostly in “The Kids Barn” where the lesson and party ponies reside. I’ll be grooming ponies. And one mule.

Editor’s note: As I write this addition in 2012, the Kids Barn at Pleasant View has not only been at another location for a couple of years, but it is now closed.

I’m not strong enough yet to ride, plus I never dealt with my lack of confidence in the saddle. Elaine at Pleasant View has agreed to let me groom to start getting my mojo back.

She’s understanding about granting my need to be around horses yet to allow me to take it very slow so that I can regain my confidence. Let alone my strength after years of treatment for an illness.

Now I just have to learn moderation. The other night, in a happy adrenaline rush, I groomed three ponies and one mule during the three hours my first night.

Several days later, though, I’m still taking muscle relaxers for the pain of unfamiliar tasks on top of daily wear and tear.

I need to learn moderation. No more grooming four of them in one evening. I have to learn to pace myself. No matter how much fun I’m having.

Equestrian Statue Code Cracked

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You’ve all heard this theory some time of another.

“They” — yes, the famous “they” — say that if you look at a statue of a historical figure mounted on a horse, the positioning of the horse’s legs shows how the person died.

So let’s take a look at a couple of statues of historic leaders.

Andrew Jackson

Statue Number 1
Andrew Jackson

Photo by Brent and MariLynn/Flickr

Yes, that statue looks familiar because it’s another version of the one in Layfayette Park in Washington, DC. You see it in some movies set in Washington, especially with the front portico of the White House behind it. This one is on the east side of the Tennessee state capitol.

Anyway,  Jackson’s horse is rearing. So, both front legs are up. What does that tell us about how the former President and general died?

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc

Photo by NCinDC/Flickr

This is the only equestrian statue with a woman “in the irons” in statue-laden Washington, DC. It’s in Rock Creek Park.

Here, the horse has one front foot up.  A hind foot is cocked.

So, how did Joan die?

Waitaminute — which hoof up means what? What does rearing mean? What does one leg up mean? Feed a cold, starve a fever? Had enough yet?

Yeah, me too. Let’s get to the answers.

After years of service as a general and a US President, Andrew Jackson died at his home The Hermitage at the age of 78 due to complications from tuberculosis.

Joan of Arc, a young French general who was later declared a saint, was burned at the stake by her British captors when she was 19.

So, let’s get to the bottom of the horse’s legs theory, once and for all.

According to Snopes, the positioning of the horse’s hooves offers no, nein, zip information about the life of the rider on his back.

So, there you have it. It’s another example that “they” – as in, the famous “they” – don’t have all the answers after all.

Snopes does.

All photos in this post are from Flickr through the Creative Commons license

Tom Bass Arena Memorializes Forgotten Horseman

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Photo by Just chaos/Flickr
Photo by Just chaos/Flickr

For decades, these men were considered the forgotten horsemen — the African-Americans who cared for and trained high-stepping show horses.

For the most part, the men have remained in the shadows of the Saddlebred industry.

Exhibits about African-American horsemen

A recent exhibit at the Saddlebred Museum in the Kentucky Horse Park finally celebrated their contributions.

(Ed. Note: I have a copy of the “Out of the Shadows” DVD, also available in VHS, which is an excellent mini-documentary based on the exhibit.)

And Bass’s contributions are featured in a permanent exhibit in the American Saddlebred Horse Museum in Mexico, MO, where he ran a large training stable during the early 1900s.

Tom Bass Arena

Now, a facility at the complex where the final jewel in the Saddlebred Triple Crown is held will be named for one of these oft-forgotten horsemen.

The new building will serve as the warm-up arena for horses about to compete in The American Royal.

The Contributions of Tom Bass

Bass had been born into slavery but eventually broke racial barriers in the show ring by being the only rider that a wild showy mare would tolerate. He went on to run his own show stable and become a celebrity of his times. He met presidents and trained champions for the ultra-wealthy and the powerful.

He is also credited with inventing a bit that carries his name that was gentler for the horse. He considered it a gift to horses, so he never patented it.

Some accounts credit him with inventing the American Royal horse show as a fundraiser for the local fire department.

An Observation

I believe he would appreciate that his name would go on a warm-up ring. One of his greatest victories in the show ring resulted from his conditioning of his horses for endurance during competition.

Scroll down this page to read the story of his and Miss Rex’s victory in the 1895 Saddle Stakes. She outlasted the greatest competitors of her time in a long workout.