Better yet, I had the pleasure of meeting the woman behind the blog Horse Pollen. We enjoyed the fascinating exhibit together, and additional brainstorming about blogging, horses and social media.
Keep an eye on Horse Pollen for her upcoming post about it. Update: Here it is!
The exhibit continues through July 7, 2011. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area. The exhibit fills several rooms and the workmanship and creativity in the pieces is inspiring. If you are a beadworker, it is not to be missed! The museum building itself is beautiful and contains several other excellent exhibits and a great gift shop.
If you can't get to the exhibit you can buy the book, which is illustrated with tons of beautiful photos.
Rod Miller was raised with horses. He's worked with Reiners for nearly 20 years, including spending 6 years as a judge at competitions all over the US.
Judging opened his eyes to something he hadn't really noticed before. "I found that each year when I went back somewhere to judge many of the beginners from the years before were not there. I started to think about why and didn't like the answers I was getting, for example: 'It was to expensive,' 'I can't compete against people who can pay the best trainers, and buy the best horses,' and 'my horse isn't good enough for the new level I have to show at and I can't afford a new horse.'" When he talked to people who were successful in the sport about the problem, they shrugged. "It's an expensive game," they said. "Not everyone can afford it."
Rod started thinking about a way to solve that problem, and came up with the idea of a Performance Horse Development program. The program would focus on the process of training that leads to a competitive Reining horse, but would award the process along the way. As a standard, he defined what it means for a horse to be really "broke." A "broke" horse, by PHD definition, will "wait for its rider's cue, then willingly accept and follow that cue." Simple, no?
This website has a section about the horse show at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. It's interesting to see what breeds of horses were popular then, and how they were presented. This comment about the Morgan horse class caught my eye: "There were all different
shapes, sizes, and colors of Morgans present at the fair. Some fair
exhibitors preferred the neat and trappy step. Others preferred
Morgans having the trot more straddled out
like an old fashioned Wilkes trotter. Short legs and long legs were jumbled
together and it created confusion in the show ring." I like seeing the photos of the breeds in times past - often they change quite a bit over the decades, sometimes they change very little. Other breeds featured included Roadsters and German Coach Horses. Take a look!
The Kano Durbar is a fantastic festival and procession held regularly in Kano, Nigeria. Featured in the processions are thousands of horsemen in antique ceremonial gear - the horses wearing ornate bridles and saddles; the men in billowing colorful robes and turbans. According to this article, the durbar was encouraged by the British during colonial times as a way of redirecting the efforts of warring factions into a unified ceremonial event. The durbars are held on major Muslim holidays, but also staged for special occasions, such as visits by important dignitaries. The northern part of Nigeria, where Kano is located, is a Muslim area, and the horse culture reflects a mix northern African and native Nigerian styles (Islam spread into Nigeria from its origins in Arabia via the Saharan trade routes).
This site has a gallery of nice pictures of the processions. The fabrics used in the clothing are spectacular, as are the beautiful bridles on the horses.
Another display at the horse fair in Texcoco, Mexico was offered by the Women's Mounted Police unit. Take a close look at their saddles! Although they are designed to be ridden sidesaddle, they also have a stirrup on the off side, allowing the rider to swing a leg over and ride astride. In the last picture you can see that the first rider in line is riding astride, while the rest are riding aside.
This group did a lovely drill-team performance, and also gave lots of rides to children from the audience. The kids were handed over the railing by their parents, and perched on the rumps of the horses for a spin around the arena, before being handed back again.
This is an old photo, but only recently dug out of my archive. I wish I had some more and better photos from this event! This is a Mounted Police display at the annual horse fair in Texcoco, outside of Mexico City. These guys did some crazy stunts, such as the galloping pyramid shown here.
They did another one in which four guys galloped up on an "unsuspecting victim" (played by a fifth police officer standing on the ground) and grabbed him by both arms and legs, and carried him around like a human airplane. They were a big hit with the crowd!
I had a chance to stop by the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA yesterday. I hadn't even made it to the buildings yet when I ran into this handsome turnout in the parking lot. It's "Dave & Dave" - a percheron gelding and his driver. Dave (the horse) is wearing a really fancy harness. I heard later they won their men's cart class - congratulations!
Dave and his wife, Susie, run a carriage services business in Pennsylvania, providing horses and carriages for weddings and other special events. You can see more of their horses and their amazing Cinderella carriage on their website.
Susie took a spin in the ring, too, winning a ribbon with this new gelding:
If you are near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride exhibition is great entertainment. It's part of the evening schedule most days at the 2008 Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
The sheer number of horses in the ring for the musical ride is impressive. The intricate patterns they perform are beautifully done, and the horses and riders just radiate a cheerful spirit of fun under the formality of the presentation. There's a touch of humor in the choreography, and a real skill and refinement in the presentation. It was a treat to see!
For those more familiar with the cowboy culture of the US or other regions of the world, here's an interesting look at Australian Stockman's culture. The annual competition promoted in this video shows clips from the variety of skills the stockmen and required to demonstrate - from cross-country riding to properly loading and leading a pack horse; from "buckjumping" (bronc riding) to handling cattle and a cattle dog from horseback. It's an interesting look at some of Australia's traditional horse culture.