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The Horse World

For the Love of Sarah

August 2018

This story is very personal to me. I did not know teenager Sarah Waugh who fell from a bolting horse and died at Dubbo TAFE in 2009, but I know - and deeply admire - her parents, Juliana and Mark Waugh. Our lives entwined through ‘happenstance’, when I reached out to them after becoming a pariah in my horse community for being passionate about improving safety.

Foals and Beads: Zebra Conservation Across Two Continents

February 2018

Considering the distances involved, it’s perhaps suprising there’s an intimate connection between a gift shop on the outskirts of Melbourne and communities 11,500 kilometers away in Northern Kenya. Another potentially unexpected aspect of this relationship is that it’s founded on beads.

Dressing up for Melbourne Cup Day, from the horse's point of view

December 2018

Melbourne Cup is upon us and racegoers will dress in their finest, with prizes awarded for the smartest fashions on the field. Just like the punters, the equine stars of the track may also be wearing a range of gear in the hope of gaining a winning edge.

The Riding House

December 2018

This month we explore the history of the indoor arena or ‘riding house’ to use its original name. Some might consider that indoor arenas are not necessary in Australia because of our climate, but this would be to overlook the Northern hemisphere influences on equestrianism, including equine architecture. It is also true that those of us in the southern regions benefit from having access to an indoor during our long, cold and wet winters, and those further north benefit from the sun shelter they provide.

Cantering Confessions

November 2018

I have a confession. It’s been months since I cantered Dante. We had been going well and then came the setback at the start of the year: He got sore. I misread it. I pushed too far. His soreness got worse and with it his attitude. And with that, my confidence plummeted.

The Science Behind Melbourne Cup Winners

November 2018

It’s the race that stops a nation … and is worth a cool A$6.2 million. So what goes into the raceday preparation for the equine stars of the show? Thoroughbred racehorses have unique anatomy and physiology that suits them well for racing at high speeds. There are very few 3,200m Thoroughbred races in Australia, and the horses that make it to the final 24 in the Melbourne Cup are truly elite equine athletes.

A Day at the Races: Fillies, Frocks and the Oft-forgotten Folklore of Horseshoes

November 2018

It’s known as the race that stops the nation, but the Melbourne Cup carnival is about more than that. Betting and alcohol aside, it’s about two things in particular: horses and fashion. Two motifs predominate in racing fashion: the horseshoe and the horse bit. The bit is synonymous with Gucci and Hermes; both esteemed saddlers. The motif of the horse and rider, of course, feature in the logos of Longchamp, Ralph Lauren, Longchamp and Burberry. The single jointed snaffle bit adorns watches, bags, belts, shoes, jewellery, cufflinks and ties.

Rugging Traditions

November 2018

From bearskin saddle blankets to hoods resembling knight’s caparisons to magnetic ‘therapeutic rugs’, we’ve come a long way in the history of horse-rugging and, since we are now looking forward to finally casting off those winter turnout rugs with sighs of relief, this is a timely moment to consider the rugged horse in the history of art. Prior to the eighteenth century, horse rugs were basically large ornamental public-occasion heraldic-patterned or ‘parade’ coverings that would also have kept horses warm.

Icelandics in Australia: Big in Spirit

November 2018

When Birgit Kossmann saw an article in a German horse magazine about an Icelandic Horse stud in early 2011, she was surprised to read that the stud was in Australia. Birgit, who had ridden Icelandic Horses in her hometown Nottuln since she was three years old, had never heard of Icelandic Horses being here. Surely the climate was too hot for them? Icelandic Horses hail from a country of arctic deserts, icy tundra and lava fields. They were the preferred transport for the Vikings. Celebrated in Europe, the breed is perhaps best known for having an extra gait called a tölt. (See below.)

Horses and People in Art: Ancient Connections

October 2018

Xenophon’s texts on horsemanship written around 350BC were considered, for a long time, to be the earliest extant works on equitation. For the training of the military horse, Xenophon set the pattern. In fact, extracts from ‘On Horsemanship’ and ‘The Cavalry Commander’ are still required reading for candidates of examinations administered by the British Horse Society1.

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