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."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Real is a Thing that Happens to You: The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

History and literature are full of stories of animals and people who have helped each other, healed each other, and become their best and fullest selves through acts of courage and compassion they perform for the sake of love.

Many of these stories feature horses. Perhaps that's because horses have so often been our companions on the battlefield and on the frontier - both those on the Earth and those in our hearts. So perhaps it's fair and even proper that one of the most beloved and enduring of these stories, Margery William's children's tale, The Velveteen Rabbit, has its gentle wisdom spoken by an old horse.

The Velveteen Rabbit himself is a toy bunny who dreams of being real. The old horse, called the Skin Horse, is a toy who became real, and he explains it this way:

     "What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day..."Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
     "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse." It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
     "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
     "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real, you don't mind being hurt."
     "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
     "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. ...Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

You can read The Velveteen Rabbit as an illustrated flip-book at Internet Archive and download the story and illustrations for free at Project Gutenberg. If you're looking for a printed book, check out the edition featuring William Nicholson's original illustrations, which have the sweetly-shabby look of worn toys but well-loved toys, and Donna Green's luminous and lifelike interpretation.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day Every Day: Top Ten Books on Green Riding, Sustainable Living, and How Equestrians Can Save the World

If you and your horse would like to ride greener, live more sustainably, or join - or lead - the charge toward saving the world, check out these ten books that help horse-loving kids, teens, and adults celebrate Earth Day every day!

1. The Green Guide for Horse Owners and Riders: Sustainable Practices for Horse Care, Stable Management, Land Use, and Riding, by Heather Cook: (Teens, Adults) Changing the world has never been so easy. If you care for - or just care about! - horses, you can use the tips and techniques, success stories, ideas, and inspiration that Cook offers in this superbly researched, comprehensive guide to transform your riding, your farm, and your town - and to imagine and gallop into a greener future.

2. Eco-Horsekeeping: Over 100 Budget-Friendly Ways You and Your Horse Can Save the Planet, by Lucinda Dyer: (Teens, Adults) Keep the planet and your wallet full of green. Dyer's clever, quick swaps and innovative longer-term projects show equestrians how to save the Earth - and energy, time, and cash - without compromising on style, convenience, and fun.

3. Pets and the Planet: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Pet Care, by Carol Frischmann: (Teens, Adults) This nose-to-tail handbook on green care for cats, dogs, and other small animal companions will help you ensure that the Earth loves your Jack Russells and barn cats as much as you do.

4. The New 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth, by John and Sophie Javna: (Kids, Teens, Adults) Now updated for the 21st century, this internationally best-selling classic gives kids pint-sized but powerful tools for exploring, understanding, and protecting the planet. (Pair 50 Simple Things with book #10, Emma Dilemma, The Nanny, and The Best Horse Ever, to show young horse lovers how equestrianism and eco-consciousness can go hand-in-hoof!)

 5. Ecotourists Save the World: The Environmental Volunteer's Guide to More Than 300 International Adventures to Conserve, Preserve, and Rehabilitate Wildlife and Habitats, by Pamela Brodowsky and the National Wildlife Federation: (Kids, Teens, Adults) Why stop saving the world at the pasture fence? With these detailed listings of global volunteer opportunities, internships, and adventure travel, you and your family can make an enduring difference in the world's most endangered places.

6. Living Green: The Missing Manual, by Nancy Conner: (Teens, Adults) Tweak an old habit or overhaul your entire life with the environmentally friendly solutions and suggestions in this omnibus guide to green living, working, and home care. From opening (or closing) a window to building a greener house, business, or investment portfolio, anyone - and everyone - can contribute to a better today, and a more sustainable tomorrow.

7. Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating
, by Jane Goodall: (Teens, Adults) You are what you eat, and so is our planet. Eminent conservationist and United Nations Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall describes the farming, fishing, food production, transport, and eating practices that are damaging our and our planet's health and explains how we can grow, choose, and eat food that helps both people and the planet thrive.

8. Tomorrow's Garden: Design and Inspiration for a New Age of Sustainable Gardening, by Stephen Orr: (Kids, Teens, Adults) Gardeners, don't choose between sustainable and spectacular this season! Let Martha Stewart Living gardening guru Stephen Orr show you how to create magazine-cover-gorgeous gardens that naturally spotlight and support your local environment, whether you're designing an urban oasis, a suburban backyard, or a beautiful and productive addition to a horse farm.

9. How to Save Your Neighborhood, City, or Town, by Maritza Pick: (Teens, Adults) Someone has to take the reins on local change: why not you? Try this Sierra Club text to learn about community organizing and how to start taking action.

10. Emma Dilemma, The Nanny, and the Best Horse Ever by Patricia Hermes (Kids) and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver: (Teens, Adults) Wish you had a "trail buddy" to ride the road to greener living? Emma Dilemma and her dream horse, Rooney, pair eco-consciousness and comic chaos for kids, while Barbara Kingsolver's memoir of her and her family's year of local eating provides a friendly, four-season companion for teens and adults.

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.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Beware the Kelpie: Rosemary and Rue, by Seanen McGuire

The creature will be almost irresistible: it will have the shape of a beautiful horse, with eyes as dark and deep as the moonlit water it stands beside, and its back will ripple and dip as invitingly as a seal's. If it sees you, it may toss its head - flourishing a mane that looks suspiciously like tangled, dripping seaweed - and ask you to ride.

Don't. Don't ride. Don't even touch it. The creature isn't a horse at all: it's a kelpie. And if you ride the kelpie, if you so much as brush its silvery skin, you will stick to it, and it will carry you into its river, lake, or sea, and you will never be heard from again.

For more than a thousand years, these mythical monsters have been confined to the waterways of Scotland. But no longer. Author Seanen McGuire has brought kelpies to San Francisco in her recent book, Rosemary and Rue. In this modern-day fantasy thriller, a half-human, half-Faerie private detective named October Daye - Toby to her friends - must investigate the overlapping worlds of Faerie and North Bay to catch a magical killer before the killer catches her. Dodging kelpies is only the beginning: Toby will have to out-maneuver the mad Faerie Queen, navigate a love triangle more sharply pointed than her changeling ears, and survive the general mayhem of a town populated by taxi-driving trolls, fast-talking cats, and at least one rose bush that has plans of its own.

Half riotously funny, half darkly suspenseful, Rosemary and Rue will beguile and enchant older teen and adult fans of Celtic myth and urban mysteries. With at least six more books in print and to come in the October Daye series, hopefully, more kelpies will follow for horse-lovers, too!

Want to learn more about kelpies? Learning and Teaching Scotland offers a brilliant overview of kelpies and the most famous would-be kelpie, the Loch Ness Monster, and the writings of Robert Burns, one of Scotland's great poets, are haunted by truly devilish sea-horses. However, if you're looking for a sweeter, friendly take on kelpies for kids and tweens, check out Dick King-Smith's kids' novel, The Water Horse, and Sony Pictures' movie adaptation of the book, Water Horse: Legend of the Deep.

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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