Sunday, November 29, 2009

Do you believe...?!

Sorry for the detour...well, not really sorry! I love unicorns, don't you? I'm still not convinced that unicorns never existed and I'm still determined that they will again someday! In the meantime, I have to settle for admiring pictures of them.

You know, the unicorn represents a lot of the greatest equine mythology. Many people probably know (or at least think they know) more about unicorns than about horses. :-) Actually, the true unicorn wasn't just a horse with a horn...but I think the best-looking ones are!

One of the best quotes I ever heard about unicorns was this one, with an excellent point regarding the possibility of their having existed: "To regard the unicorn as wholly fabulous and a product of fancy is an absurd and arbitrary position, and we would do well to remember that if the elephant and giraffe and camel should once die out they too, on account of their strange forms, would be thought fabulous.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

On Beauty

To me, this is the ultimate example of how things can apply in more than one place. I was looking for a picture that would illustrate one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes. See if you've ever heard these famous lines:

Round-hoof'd, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
Broad breast, full eye, small head and nostril wide,
High crest, short ears, straight legs and passing strong,
Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide....

Well, as you can see, the horse pictured doesn't display all the above-mentioned conformation. A few fit, of course--the high crest and small head, for example, are typical of many wellbred horses. But the horse Shakespeare was describing was of the Spanish type, with long feathers and a chunkier build than this Arab.

Yet beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as I've said before, and while I still generally prefer Spanish horses, this horse reminded me of the last lines of the above stanza:

Look, what a horse should have he did not lack,
Save a proud rider on so proud a back.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Look at this guy! Isn't he awesome? I just love this picture (in case you couldn't tell). :-) Seriously, though, isn't this one of the things we love about horses? I don't mean the runaway, disobedient ones...and please don't evaluate this painting by Western civilization's natural horsemanship standards. I like those, I generally use them, but look at this for its sheer beauty, its spirit.

In a lot of ways, this painting shows the quintessential old-style Arabian horse -- nobly bred, fiery tempered, exquisitely made. For my part, I've always loved the Spanish and Barb types and have long defended them against the apparently global preference for the Arabian and Thoroughbred. Yet no one can deny the glory of the other. While I still don't think it's fair to claim that the Arab is the most beautiful (beauty is in the eye of the beholder), it certainly is a gorgeous animal in its own right.

Then too, there is an awesome quote, probably meant to describe the Arab and accurately so, for while other breeds may qualify as well, this definitely describes the purebred Arabian horse, especially as seen in the painting above:

"As old as time itself and as fleet as its flying moments."

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Each leg in its gallop seems to stream with a rush of speed as though from a bucket of water poured o'er the field. ~ Arabian poet

Have you ever watched a horse run? It doesn't seem to matter the breed or size of horse -- there's always something exciting about watching a good gallop. I know a lot of people enjoy riding a good gallop, but for my own part I prefer a nice trot or canter when I'm riding. But oh, how I love to watch them run!

Every horse runs differently. There is something majestic about a beautiful Andalusian or Friesian, looking like an ancient warhorse with mane and tail flying. There's the thrill of seeing a Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred stretched out at top speed, breaking records that other breeds can't come close to matching. There's the heart-stopping thunder of a draft horse pounding across a field and the joyful leap of a pony or small horse hurrying in for supper.

I don't know about you, but whenever I go to feed a friend's horse and I hear galloping hooves, I hurry to the door of the barn so I can see them coming, just for the fun of it! Do you like to watch horses run? Stop and pay attention does your horse run?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Time Well Spent

Well, I was looking for a Winston Churchill quote and I found one...but not the one I was looking for. :-) I like this one though: "No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle." Anyone who has worked (or played!) with horses knows how true that is. Of course, I suppose it could prove false if someone is handling a horse wrong or being unkind to it, but when human becomes one with the horse it's a beautiful thing.

I read somewhere that the horse is the best teacher because it will throw a prince as quickly as it will its groom. (If I find that quote, I'll put it on here too.) On the other hand, horses are also among the most patient of teachers. I haven't had as much riding experience as most "horsepeople," but I can vouch for many a horse that put up with my meager attempts at trying to communicate that they did better than I could have done in their horseshoes!

For my part, I believe God created the horse so that we could experience just such things: patience, beauty, and the unconditional love that only animals seem able to offer. I'm glad that He gave us these awesome creatures and I hope that I ride every time I get on so that no hour of my life is lost that is spent in the saddle!

Monday, October 5, 2009


I have a question for you: Do you talk to your horse? While we're at it, do you talk to other people's horses? What about other animals?

I am a firm believer that animals understand at least the sense of what we're saying, and sometimes more. Also, most animals are better listeners than most people, although personality accounts for a great deal of this and can create exceptions in both cases. :-) As a rule, though, horses are good listeners.

I talk to horses. Since I don't have one of my own, this means I talk to other people's horses. Sometimes they pay attention to me; sometimes they don't. This often depends on whether I am close enough to be heard and whether or not they have their heads buried in a feed bucket. ;-)

If you don't talk to horses, I recommend that you try it sometimes. Especially if you're feeling down. Horses have a way of making you feel better. They also like it when you talk while you're working around them. Softly, of course -- nobody, not even a horse, likes to be yelled at. The next time you're working with a horse, especially if you're a little nervous, try talking quietly to them. You may find out that you both settle down...and that makes for a better and happier experience for everyone involved. How true that quote:

"There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse." ~ R.S. Surtees: Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Humbler Equine

In all this talk about horses, let's not forget that this blog is named for Equus -- that is, all kinds of equines. One friend that wrote me back about it mentioned that where she lives in Africa, hardly anyone owns horses. Instead, most people there use donkeys. Also, instead of riding them, they use them for carrying things. For example, she said they have two donkeys at their university that are used for carrying milk from the farm to the cafeteria or marketplace.

Donkeys are very smart and apparently have excellent memories. My friend said these donkeys don't even have to have a person with them; they will still get where they are supposed to go. She even said that if a car comes along on the road they are traveling on, they can get off the side of the road without spilling the milk! Cool critters!

I would like to include some of my favorite quotes in these posts and when my friend wrote me about this, I immediately thought of a poem I once read called The Donkey. I hope you like it too.

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.