WSECS Success!

     WSECS is always a welcoming conference, but being able to present with another equine historian this year was a joy. I presented on various re-imaginings of the baroque “tiger” horse, and Janice presented on the development of a divide in medical knowledge between riders and Albeytar in Castile. We had a small but astute audience, and a lively conversation after our papers that ranged seven centuries and four continents. Between the two of us, we could answer most questions, but it was especially wonderful to be able to suggest other equine history specialists. For this question, Kathryn Renton, for that one, Hylke Hettema, and for this read Sandra Swart’s latest. We are no longer silos!

And, of course, to be able to announce the first EHC conference.

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     “Before we start, I’d like to say a few things about our third presenter, who unfortunately could not be here today. I spoke with Dani about her project last year, when it was a mere glimmer of an idea. What I found exciting, and why I invited Dani to be a part of this panel, was that she is working on the transmission of equestrian culture between Italy and Germany (or rather, Italian and German) directly, rather than via France. French horsemanship has dominated our field. Much of medieval and early modern equestrian culture in Europe was centered on France. So much so that, even though modern Olympic dressage is very much based on the 19th c German model, the language remains French. We still speak of piaffe and passage, levade and capriole. Cavendish opened his 1667 treatise with a geaneology of horsemasters, and in it quips that “the French think, That all the Horse-manship in the World is in France.”  Within equine history, it is all too easy to replicate this focus. However, while French riders, and French writers- Cavendish himself wrote his treatise originally in French- may have claimed primacy, they were not the only agents. Today we will try to tell some different stories.

     Given the theme for this weekend, I will be covering a rather long period of time, from the Baroque to the modern. I will begin with the baroque “tiger horses,” and then show three ways in which they have been reimagined, and recreated. In modern parlance, baroque breeds are those that are heavier than the typical warmblood, but without being draft-like. The Iberian breeds and the Friesian are easily recognized as “baroque,” despite the former predating that period and the later being comparatively young in its current form. The Knabstrupper has a “baroque” registration category, despite having a well-documented 1812 foundation date. Tack and riding styles likewise have forms described as “baroque,” despite often being only tangentially related to that time period. They are based, not on the history of a single moment in time, but rather on the layers of memory that have accrued upon that moment. Each layer adds strength to the memory, even as it obscures the lives and events being recalled.”

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Kellogg Arabians

   Back in December, Kathryn Renton and I had the opportunity to tour the Kellogg Arabian Horse Center at Cal Poly Pomona (across from the phenomenal Kellogg Library). There were unsurprisingly more than a few mares out in the field that bore a striking resemblance to my Raffles/Raseyn pony. There was also this curious colt, CP Cardiff by the late Sheila Varian’s western stallion Always A Jullyen V. I was smitten.

CP Cardiff Arabian colt

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programing…

    Usually, the beginning of the quarter is pretty quiet after hammering out syllabi and lesson plans. This is when I would continue glossing common sources, dig around for less common ones, or just peruse the wonderful world of digital archives for something odd or interesting. Alas, not this quarter. Instead, I have been busy with some quite exciting behind the scenes workings at EHC– hopefully we’ll have some announcements soon!– and for WHEATS. In the meantime, you know what that means. Cats, of course. Well, cat. Have an Abdiel-roll.

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Olympic History

   We kicked off the new quarter with a hike up Mt. Rubidoux. Every time I’m there, I wonder at the placement of this plaque:

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   The 10th Olympics were held in L.A. The story behind Shunzo Kido’s mercy has been attributed to an “endurance race” and a “steeplechase,” neither of which is quite right. He was an eventer, which does require a great deal of endurance (much more than modern eventing), and galloping over fences. Most accounts agree that he was on the verge of winning, but pulled up and dismounted because he felt his horse go off. Along with this 1934 plaque, a commemorative saddle was presented to Japan in 1964. Several accounts from the 60’s suggest he pulled up after being disqualified for refusals; however, this was likely in show jumping. In the interwar Olympics, many riders did double duty. In some cases, so did the horses, however he appears he had two mounts. The younger, reported as a 9-year-old French mare, was likely his show jumping mount. The eventing course went through downtown L.A. to Santa Monica (really!), not Riverside, but in a park named for Frank Miller, the placement isn’t so strange after all.

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Lt. Col. Shunzo Kido

 

Washington County MFA

     Today was far to bitter cold to ride, so we had a little visit to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. The WCMFA is free (donations welcome) and located in Hagerstown, MD’s city park. It is a small museum, but well organized and worth a visit if you’re in town.

     About half the galleries have detailed plaques like this, including acquisition information as well as artist name, creation date, and background.

 

Unsurprisingly, this “Cheval Turk” statuette was my favorite:

 

   The last (or first, depending on your direction) gallery is art from local kids. There were a lot of ponies!

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Best Catsitters

We have the best catsitters. Our kitties love them and they send us pictures.

 

   Only some of their love is based on the crinkle paper (Abdiel’s favorite thing) and treats (which Octavian clearly enjoyed). Usually nothing can get Octavian wanting to come out from under the bed is visitors are over, and if we aren’t home Abdiel usually joins him. But our neighbor-friend-colleagues (pet-parents to the godkittens) are on Octavian’s approved list, and Abdiel has no qualms about ordering them around.