I must admit my favorite part of the ornate harnesses of the horses at the St. Alfio festival in Sicily is the plumage. The plumes on these horses reach epic proportions, and are unlike anything I've seen elsewhere. They are simply spectacular!
Al Zammataro wins the award for biggest fan of Global Horse Culture! Last year he sent me some snapshots from an incredible festival in Sicily, where spectacularly-adorned horses and carts are paraded in celebration of St. Alfio's festival day.
This year, he sent me more photos - taken by a friend of his - with even more detail of the costumes, harnesses, plumes and elaborate carts. There are even puppets acting out legendary battle scenes mounted on the horses!
The Freio de Ouro (Golden Bit) is a huge annual competition for the Crioulo breed in Brazil. Competitors and breeders from throughout southern Latin America come together in Esteio, a city in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, for a best of breed competition and associated auctions and expositions. The Crioulo is the main breed found in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, and is also bred in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile (in those Spanish-speaking countries it is called the Criollo). Argentina and Uruguay in particular share a strong horse culture and breed bloodlines with Rio Grande do Sul.
Something you'll come across on occasion in parts of Brazil (I've seen it mostly in the state of São Paulo) is parade tack made of brass rings. Here is an example of a breast collar, being shown to me by a student at the Universidade do Cavalo, in Sorocaba:
A group in Great Britain which is trying to raise funds and awareness to create an official Museum of the Horse in that nation is undertaking a special ride. According to their announcement "Caroline Baldock and her two companions will be riding some of the ancient Canterbury pilgrim's road" at the end of September. The three day journey will be used to raise funds towards the Museum of the Horse, a project they have been promoting for some time.
I've been intrigued by the variety of methods people use to keep horses in one place - that is, variations on tying or confining them. The styles vary with the lifestyle and landscape, and each method has advantages and disadvantages. Some are based on the obvious necessities of the environment: for example if trees are hard to find, then wooden fences or buildings won't be your first choice; if you move around a lot, nomad-style, then you will probably use something lightweight and moveable, like a tether, to keep your horse nearby. Depending on where you live, some of these methods may seem very normal, and others quite unusual!
My friend Angela Swedberg introduced me to fellow beadworker Al Zammataro, who recently attended the annual festival of Sant'Alfio in Sicily. The story and photos he shared with me are unbelievable and should be quite an eyeful for those of you interested in unusual horse adornment!! The full set of photos follows in the rest of the post.