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!
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:
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.
I posted a while back about skijoring, the wild sport where horses tow skiers. There are many variations (over obstacles, on a track, in the backyard). See this older post for some links to organizations.
I recently found this new, longer (four minute) video documenting the preparation for and running of a skijoring race in Switzerland. There's lots of fun footage and details of how the races are set up and how the horses are equipped. It can't be embedded, but you should check it out on YouTube.
In the US we usually think of Standardbreds as harness racing horses. But here and in other parts of the world the Standardbred and similar breeds are also raced under saddle. The US Trotting Association has an interesting article about the hows and whys of under saddle racing here.
One interesting feature of under saddle racing is that many of the riders are women. This has been true historically, too. The famous Standardbred Greyhound broke a record back in 1940 with a woman riding.
And more recently the speedy mare Moni Maker broke that record, with jockey Julie Krone riding.
A nice little 10 minute documentary tells the story of Moni Maker's achievement, with footage of historic races, an interview with Julie Krone, and Moni Makers record breaking trot.