Friday, April 29, 2011

A Happily Ever After Wedding and Horse: Kate Middleton’s Fairy Tale Life Equalled by a Horse in the Royal Stables, by Fran Jurga

Fran Jurga gives horse lovers another reason to cheer the royal wedding procession: one of the apprentice Drum Horses, a 20-hand Clydesdale named Digger, was adopted from World Horse Welfare into the Household Cavalry, Britain's royal mounted guard. Soon both people and horses may follow Digger to happily-ever-after, too. If Digger can complete his training, Jurga writes, the rescued horse "will lead the Household Cavalry band on all ceremonial and state occasions" - including weddings like today's.

Read the full story - and enjoy the gorgeous photo and captivating video - in The Jurga Report post, "Kate Middleton's Fairy Tale Life Equalled by a Horse in the Royal Stables: Digger the Apprentice Drum Horse Came from a Rescue Farm."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pony at the Library! The Literary Horse Exhibit and Becky the Miniature Horse at Springfield Town Library

You can find horse books inside every public library, but today horse-lovers discovered a real horse in the children's room of the Springfield Town Library in Springfield, Vermont!

Becky, a miniature horse, visited the library with her owner, Miranda Bogardus of Bay Mare Farm, for the closing reception of the library's The Literary Horse: When Legends Come to Life exhibit. Children - ages thirteen months to thirteen years - and their families listened as Miranda talked about Becky's breed, her work as a driving horse, and her daily habits - which include trotting into the Bogardus's kitchen for snacks! Afterwards, each family had the opportunity to meet Becky, pet her satiny coat, tangle their fingers in her glitter-dusted mane, and, if they wished, have their picture taken by yours truly.

Also, as they browsed The Literary Horse exhibit images on display throughout the library, both children and adults could leaf through and borrow any of the dozens of horse books the librarians had set out among the photos. First-time library visitors could get a library card and take "Becky-inspired" reads home, too. As Miranda writes in her post about their visit, Becky's Big Day:

"Though I encountered some disbelief and skepticism from people when I told them of our plans, putting a pony in a library is nothing new. When I was a little girl growing up in Elgin, Illinois, famed author Marguerite Henry lived in the nearby village of Wayne. Her books were some of the greatest treasures of my young life. One of my favorites was Newbery award winner Misty of Chincoteague, a story about a family raising a pony foal and the celebration of “Pony Penning Day” on Chincoteague Island off the coast of Virginia. The real Misty lived with Ms. Henry in Wayne for a time, and was a regular visitor to area libraries, including ours in Elgin. So now, over fifty years later, it seemed both logical and a great honor to follow in Misty’s distinguished hoofprints."

Would you like a pony to visit your public library? Check The Literary Horse calendar to see when it's trotting to your town, or contact me to learn how to schedule an exhibit!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gallop into the Green Life: The Green Guide for Horse Owners and Riders: Sustainable Practices for Horse Care, Stable Management, Land Use, and Riding, by Heather Cook

Changing the world has never been so easy. Heather Cook's breakthrough book, The Green Guide for Horse Owners and Riders: Sustainable Practices for Horse Care, Stable Management, Land Use, and Riding, is a complete yet concise handbook for environmentally friendly horse-keeping that will help every stable owner, barn manager, horse owner, rider, and horse lover gallop into a greener life.

Casual readers can dip into The Green Guide and pick up dozens of quick, useful tips. However, Cook also provides a meticulously researched, holistic approach to transforming horse care and activities, expanding "Reduce, reuse, and recycle" to include "Restore, revitalize, and renew!" You'll learn, for example, how to ride more lightly at home, at shows, and on trails - and how to rehabilitate and enrich your land and your ecosystem. How to reduce your use of chemicals on your horse and in your stable - and how to switch natural and local materials. How to adapt your barn or build a new one - and how to transition to self-sustaining management practices and renewable energy. And, lastly, in the welcoming whinny of her thought-provoking Reader's Guide and comprehensive resource list, you'll discover how to make the leap from greening your horse and your stable to helping green the planet, so that today's and tomorrow's horses and riders have a healthy, beautiful world to live in and enjoy.

The Green Guide is a must-read for any adult who cares for - or cares about! - horses. However, this book would also be a perfect gift for horsey older teens and college students. Cook's research and case studies offer a sturdy foundation for horse-themed science projects and presentations - whether for school or for Pony Club, 4H, or other youth horse associations - and present a smorgasbord of ideas and inspiration for young adults preparing for careers in the horse industry.

Waiting for your copy of The Green Guide to arrive or just champing at the bit to know more? Read Heather Cook's companion blog, The Green Horse, for extra tips and breaking news on environmentally "sound" equestrianism!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Through Fire and Ice: The Crystal Mountain, by Ruth Sanderson

Horses make anything possible in Ruth Sanderson's extraordinary picture book, The Crystal Mountain. A twining of two fairy tales, The Crystal Mountain unfurls the story of a boy named Perrin, whose mother weaves a tapestry so beautiful that the fairies, envious of her vision, steal it. After his older brothers try - and fail - to retrieve it, Perrin sets out to win it back. He must cross a plain of fire, ford a sea of ice, climb a mountain of flawlessly sheer crystal, and then escape the fairies and return home with the tapestry. It's an impossible quest, unless he can earn the trust of three magical steeds.

Ruth Sanderson is the award-winning illustrator of more than 80 children's books, and the paintings of The Crystal Mountain glowingly reveal her own lavish, vibrant vision of Perrin's journey. Readers can all but feel the fire, the splash of icy waves, the horses' flexing muscles, and the intricate weave of his mother's brocade. The story is clear and engaging, and it holds several especially pleasant surprises: not only do the characters often step out of traditional fairy tale roles, their happily ever after is truly original and satisfying. Sanderson also draws from the Chinese folktale, The Magic Brocade, and the Norwegian fairy tale, The Princess on the Glass Hill, to create her story, and sets it in 15th century Europe, an age famous for its tapestries - and its armored horses. So while the book in itself is a delightful read, it can also be a springboard into those dazzling times and tales. 

Though The Crystal Mountain is currently out of print, it's worth tracking down at your public library or through a used book seller. Many of Sanderson's other books also feature horses, so you may wish to browse the book list on her website, Golden Wood Studio, to find other titles - such as her and author Jane Yolen's recent book, Hush, Little Horsie - that you and your young horse-lovers may enjoy.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Save the Planet without Sacrificing Your Wallet: Eco-Horsekeeping – Over 100 Budget Friendly Ways You and Your Horse Can Save the Planet, by Lucinda Dyer

So you've wanted to go eco - and take your horse with you - but it's seemed too expensive? Now there's a way to keep the planet and your wallet full of green. Lucinda Dyer's Eco-Horsekeeping: Over 100 Budget-Friendly Ways You and Your Horse Can Save the Planet offers clever, quick changes and innovative longer-term projects that will help you save the Earth - and energy, time, and cash - without compromising on style, convenience, and fun.

Dyer makes it easy to get started. Sure, you have a recycle bin at your home, school, or office, so why not add one to the barn? Instead of worrying about scrubbing your horse's water tank with harsh chemicals, let a handful of goldfish - yes, goldfish! - do the work for you naturally. Feeling ambitious? Learn how you can use rain, wind, and sunlight to power your farm, and meet the nationwide network of eco-experts who would be happy to help you, free of charge.

It may all sound too good to be true, but it isn't. Dyer includes profiles of real equestrians, stables, and other horse-centered businesses that have made the switch, and the book itself walks its talk, printed on 100% recycled paper. Crack open Eco-Horsekeepingand in less than five minutes, you and your horse can be greener - and so can your purse and your planet!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Horse Show! The Literary Horse Exhibit in The University of Chicago Magazine

Legendary horses caper alongside the fabled gargoyles of the University of Chicago in the March/April 2011 issue of the University of Chicago Magazine!

In her article, Horse Show, Katherine Muhlenkamp tells the story of The Literary Horse: When Legends Come to Life exhibit from its summer-daydream beginnings to its fairy-tale finale, bringing its journey to life with her signature sparkling, vivid prose. Check out the print edition of the article - which includes exclusive photos - or read the article online.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Ideal Horse: The Literary Horse and the Equine Photographers Network's 2011 Equine Ideal Photography Contest

Have you met the ideal horse: a horse so splendid and special that he or she fills both your eye and your spirit?

I have - more than one hundred of them! - through The Literary Horse: When Legends Come to Life exhibit. So when the Equine Photographers Network announced their 2011 Equine Ideal Photo Contest, I had to share two photos from the exhibit that I hope reflect the idyllic beauty of the horse and of equestrian partnership. Today I was honored to learn that both photos have joined the "stable" of contest winners!

Receiving third place in the Professional Head Study category is And the Grandeur that Was Rome, a portrait of Ox Kill Minnie Pearl, a fourth generation Clydesdale mare bred, raised, and trained by Gene and Vicky McCaffrey of Ox Kill Farm. (Don't worry, "kill" is the Dutch word for "creek"!) The McCaffreys' Clydesdale and Shire horses - towering at 17, 18, and 19 hands - are spirited but gentle and majestically beautiful, truly models of their breeds.

Awarded fourth place in the Professional Horse-Human Bond category is Partners, a portrait of Miles Dean and his Arabian-Saddlebred stallion, Sankofa, who rode across America - a 6,000 mile trek from Manhattan to Los Angeles - as part of Dean's Modern African American Pioneer Expedition. As part of the expedition, Dean's students, fifth and sixth graders at Chancellor Avenue Elementary School in Newark, New Jersey - as well as thousands of other elementary through college students across the nation who followed Dean's journey on the Web -  watched, listened, and interacted with him as he visited African American historical landmarks, interviewed experts, and discovered America as many pioneers had discovered it: from the back of a trusty horse.

“Most American schoolchildren are unaware of the role African Americans and their horses played in the exploration, expansion, and settlement of the United States,” said Dean. “Through the expedition, those students rode with me across America, learned about African American explorers, soldiers, pioneers, cowgirls and cowboys, and discovered that no matter what their circumstances they, like their ancestors, can be trailblazers, too.”

See all the winners at EPN's Equine Ideal Photo Contest website, and don't forget to start shooting pictures of your ideal horse for next year's competition!
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