Monday, November 21, 2011

Calling All Little Cowboys and Cowgirls: Tex - A Book for Little Dreamers, by Dorie McCullough Lawson

Do you know children between the ages of two and five who love to imagine that they're cowboys or cowgirls? Then you might want to round up a copy of Dorie McCullough Lawson's Tex: A Book for Little Dreamers.

In Tex, a young boy named Luke imagines that he's a cowboy working on a ranch out West. Lawson describes his day's chores in simple, eloquent text - "He rides. He irrigates. He rounds up the herd." - and illustrates each task with colorful, kid-friendly photos. The pages invite questions and conversation: you'll be talking tractors, cowdogs, and horses-in-the-ranch-house until the cows (and Luke!) come home, curl up, and fall contentedly asleep.

Tex is a prize pick for any little cow-kid. Pair it with Virginia Lee Burton's Calico the Wonder Horse, or the Saga of Stewy Stinker and Erica Silverman's Theodor (Seuss) Geisel Honor Award winning Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series to rustle up a horseback cattle drive of fun!

**As a bonus, during the 2011 holiday season, sharing Tex can be a gift twice over. On Trafalgar Square's book blog, the publisher announces this book drive in support of the Pajama Program:

"Help us celebrate the Pajama Program’s tenth-year pajama-and-book drive! Trafalgar Square Books is donating 10 sets of jammies and 10 copies of its new children’s book TEX by Dorie McCullough Lawson (appropriately, a bedtime story!) in honor of 10 years of the Pajama Program’s efforts in getting books and warm sleepwear to the children who need them most. In addition, 10% of all TEX book sales from TSB website www.HorseandRiderBooks.com through January 1, 2012, will go to the Pajama Program.

The Pajama Program provides new books and new pajamas to children in need, many who are waiting and hoping to be adopted. These children live in various settings including group homes, shelters, and temporary housing, and are shuffled often from one place to another. Many of them have been abandoned, abused, or neglected. Most of these children have never enjoyed the simple comfort of having a mother or father tuck them in at bedtime with warm, clean pajamas and a bedtime story. Some of the children the Pajama Program serves are living with their families below the poverty level, in desperate need of food, clothing and shelter. Pajama Program has 79 chapters in 42 States and operates three (3) Reading Centers: New York, NY, Yonkers, NY and Red Bank, NJ. Around the U.S. their local chapters have begun organizing reading groups for the children they serve in their communities.

Pajama Program celebrates its tenth birthday serving children this year. They have now provided more than 1 MILLION new pajamas and new books to children in need nationwide.

For more: www.pajamaprogram.org facebook.com/PajamaProgram twitter.com/pajamaprogram"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

An Oasis for Arabian Horse Aficionados: "New Arabian horse library officially opened" via Horsetalk and the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library

If you want to read or learn the entire story of the Arabian horse, you have a long journey ahead: the Arabian is an ancient breed, with a culturally rich history that unfurls across many countries - and centuries. Yet now there's a new oasis on the horizon for Arabian horse aficionados. At the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library, Horsetalk reports, librarians, researchers, equine experts, and enthusiasts have gathered the world's largest collection of materials about the Arabian horse.

The collection spans 300 years of Arabian horse history, and items range from books and movies to artwork and photographs to letters, manuscripts, stud books, training manuals, and "all known Arabian horse periodicals ...including foreign language publications." Located on the campus of the California State Polytechnic Institute in Pomona, the library is free and open to the public.

Ready to start - or continue - following the tale of the Arabian horse? Read the Horsetalk article, "New Arabian horse library officially opened," visit the Kellogg Arabian Horse Library website, and, along the way, create a mini-oasis whenever you wish by reading classic short stories and novels about Arabian horses like these:

The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley
* Broiefort, the Black Arabian (from The Wonder-Book of Horses), adapted by James Baldwin
* The Enchanted Horse (from The Arabian Nights), translated by Andrew Lang
* King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry
* Rakush and His Master (from The Wonder-Book of Horses), adapted by James Baldwin
* Samirah's Ride: The Story of an Arabian Filly, by Annie Wedekind

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yeehaw! A New Photo in Dennis Brouse on Horse Training: Bonding with Your Horse through Gentle Leadership, by Dennis Brouse and Fran Lynghaug

Yeehaw! A photo I took during a Literary Horse shoot at Chasin Dreams Farm, the home of Personal Ponies of Maryland and Personal Ponies’ national director, Denise Chasin, will be published in the new book, Dennis Brouse on Horse Training: Bonding with Your Horse through Gentle Leadership!

It was an honor and such a treat to take those photos: Personal Ponies is a 20-year-old national nonprofit organization whose volunteer members provide trained UK Shetland Ponies to families of children with disabilities, special needs, and terminal illnesses, completely without charge, to be the child’s trustworthy companion and forever friend. Check out the photo in the book, read the Great Books for Horse Lovers post about Personal Ponies - Horses Make a Place Complete: Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott and Personal Ponies - and learn how *you* can help make “pony magic” at www.PersonalPonies.org!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday - and Everyday! - Treats for Horses: The Original Book of Horse Treats, by June Evers and the Portland Kitchen Libraries

Celebrate the holidays - or any days! - with horses. June Evers makes it easy and fun to make equi-centric special meals and goodies in her cookbook, The Original Book of Horse Treats: Recipes You Can Make at Home for Your Horse.

The recipes are straightforward and friendly. Even novice adult and teen chefs can navigate the step-by-step directions, while younger kids can help with mixing, rolling, and, of course, garnishing the treats with grape halves, peppermint candies, and carrot tops.

One warning, though: I made a few of Evers' treats for my horse, Pegasus, and I found them so endearing that I thought, "Gee, I should make these for all of the horses at the barn! I could make cookies for the people, too. With some music and games, we could have a party..." The Original Book of Horse Treats inspires and invites you to celebrate, decorate, and bring grown-ups and kids and horses together to be merry, like a kind of Martha Stewart of stables.

I know, I know, horses don't care how their food looks, and like almost all of the things we give them, treats are so many gifts of the magi. So call it a horse-friendly way to share the "extra" roasted carrots, baked apples, and crushed candy canes from your favorite holiday feast. Let it be a way to have fun in the kitchen with your family and friends. Make it a present to your favorite horse, horses, stable, club, riding program, or horse shelter. Their presence is the present - why not celebrate?

Need a few extra kitchen utensils for your human or horse holiday cooking? You might want to trot over to your local library: at libraries like the North Portland Preserve and Serve and the Southeast Portland Tool Library, you can borrow kitchen equipment and tools.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Giveaway: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas Horse Book Giveaway at Barista Kids

Barista Kids is offering a four-book holiday giveaway! The titles are Turkey Bowl, by Phil Bildne, Thank You, Sarah, by Laurie Halse Anderson, Hanukkah Hop! by Erica Silverman, and The Magical Christmas Horse, by Mary Higgins Clark. Click over to the Barista Kids blog to read a review of each book and to enter the contest. Don't wait: the contest ends tomorrow, Tuesday, November 15th.

Looking for more horse books for the holiday season? Check out the post Holiday Books for Horse Lovers: Top Ten Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Holiday Themed Horse Books!

A Homecoming for Wild Horses: Przewalski's Wild Horses Gallop Back to Life, by Jan Marchal via AFP

You know them from the Lascaux cave paintings: the golden, bottle-brush maned Przewalski's horses. But thanks to the efforts of the Czech Republic's Prague Zoo, Jan Marchal reports today, you'll soon be able to see the horses in the wild again: having preserved the breed in captivity, the zoo staff and an international team of supporters will be re-introducing a small herd of Przewalski's horses to their ancestral home in grasslands of Mongolia. Read the full story in Marchal's article, Przewalski's Wild Horses Gallop Back to Life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Scientific Reason to Drop Everything and Ride: Play - How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, by Stuart Brown, M.D.

"The great benefits of play ...are the ability to become smarter, to learn more about the world than genes alone could ever teach, to adapt to a changing world."
     - from Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, by Stuart Brown, M.D.

Finally, horse-lovers have a scientific reason to drop everything and ride, read, and generally have fun with horses! In Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Dr. Stuart Brown reveals that play isn't just for fun: even a few minutes of horsing around can boost your brain, increase your creativity, improve your health, and refresh you as thoroughly as a good night's sleep.

Pairing serious research with examples of playful kittens and polar bears - as well as toddlers through CEOs - Dr. Brown explains how kids, teens, and adults can bring play into - or back into - their lives. One particularly powerful example is of a woman who loved horses as a child, left them behind to focus intently on family and career, and then, after making space for them in her busy adult life, rediscovered "irrational bliss" and experienced personal renewal. Brown writes:

"Play is called recreation because it makes us new again, it re-creates us and our world. As Laurel demonstrated when she began riding horses, just a little true play in one's life can bring everything else, including work, back in balance."

You can learn more about the book and read the first chapter for free at Dr. Stuart Brown's website. If you're ready to get serious - or silly! - about horses and riding, check out Great Books for Horse Lovers post, Start Your Great Horse Adventure Today! Top Twelve Books for Getting into - or Back into - Horseback Riding.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Seeing Spots? "Spotted Horses in Cave Art Weren’t Just a Figment, DNA Shows" by Hillary Rosner, via The New York Times

If you decided to draw a horse, what kind of horse would you draw? A horse that lives in your backyard, a horse you once saw while driving down a dusty highway, or a horse from your imagination - bird-winged, bat-winged, blue ...or polka-dotted?

That's the focal point of a question that has puzzled archaeologists, geneticists, and horse-lovers for nearly 25,000 years. Paleolithic-era paintings in the caves at Pech Merle in France and at other sites throughout Europe depict horses who have spotted coats. But until the publication of a new, startling research paper, Hillary Rosner reports in today's New York Times, no one has known whether the ancient artists were painting horses they knew or horses they could only imagine.

“One of the things that most pleases me about this paper as a piece of ancient DNA science,” [Dr. Terry O’Connor, an archaeologist at the University of York and researcher on the project] said, “is it kind of begins with a question. These spotty horses, were they magical or real?"

Read the full story in Hillary Rosner's colorful and fascinating article, Spotted Horses in Cave Art Weren’t Just a Figment, DNA Shows in The New York Times, and be sure to check out the research paper at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online.

Want to learn more about cave paintings and other ancient equestrian art? Visit the websites of the Pech Merle and Lascaux caves and browse the reviews of equestrian art books in the Great Books for Horse Lovers post, An Equine Art Museum in the Palm of Your Hoof!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Glow of Love, from Horseback: Among All Lovely Things My Love Had Been, by William Wordsworth

Among All Lovely Things My Love Had Been
by William Wordsworth

Among all lovely things my Love had been;
Had noted well the stars, all flowers that grew
About her home; but she had never seen
A glow-worm, never one, and this I knew.

While riding near her home one stormy night
A single glow-worm did I chance to espy;
I gave a fervent welcome to the sight,
And from my horse I leapt; great joy had I.

Upon a leaf the glow-worm did I lay,
To bear it with me through the stormy night:
And, as before, it shone without dismay;
Albeit putting forth a fainter light.

When to the dwelling of my Love I came,
I went into the orchard quietly;
And left the glow-worm, blessing it by name,
Laid safely by itself, beneath a tree.

The whole next day, I hoped, and hoped with fear;
At night the glow-worm shone beneath the tree;
I led my Lucy to the spot, "Look here,"
Oh! joy it was for her, and joy for me!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Celebrate National Novel Writing Month: Write Your Horse Novel!

Happy National Novel Writing Month! The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) contest is beginning, and whether you're a first-time writer or a seasoned, best-selling author, this is your big chance - and fabulous excuse! - to dust off that book idea that's been sitting in the back of your tack closet, join a community of dynamic and passionate writers, and trot out 50,000 words in 30 days.

Yep, that's 50,000 words in 30 days. And not just 50,000 words in 30 days, but 50,000 words in 30 days over, under, between, and around the 50 million things you already have to do this month.

It sounds crazy, and, sure, maybe it is. But have you ever seen a pastured horse raise her head, prick her ears, and leap into flight? At least half of the horses in the surrounding pastures will bolt, too, caught up in her whirlwind energy.

NaNoWriMo is based on the same concept. Now in its thirteenth year, the event includes more than 10,000 writers in 90 countries. You can participate by joining live write-ins at your local library, bookstore, or coffee shop, by posting to the online forums, by watching the Pep Talks and reading the blogs, by uploading your word counts, or simply by knowing the contest is happening and writing independently alongside.

Before you say you don't have time, let me ask you a question. If your horse colicked - and I mean if your horse colicked when you had a Tofurkey in the oven and twenty people waiting for it at your china-and-crystal set table on Thanksgiving Day - would you make time to bring him through it? If a blizzard or a flood or a flock of lost and befuddled Canada geese kept your staff from reaching your barn one November morning, would you find a way to get the hay thrown, the stalls cleaned, and the horses cozily squared away? We all make time for what's important. This is important. You're important. 

And, yes, this contest is for horse-people. Two of NaNoWriMo's most famous participants are Sara Gruen, author of Flying Changes and Riding Lessons as well as two other novels, Water for Elephants and The Ape House, and Jessica Burkhart, author of the young adult fiction series, Canterwood Crest. Both authors' first books - Ms. Gruen's Flying Changes and Ms. Burkhart's Canterwood Crest #1, Take the Reins - were drafted during a NaNoWriMo November.

So amble on over. Take a look. Please do say "Hay!" - I'll be participating in NaNoWriMo, too, drafting a horse-themed thriller I thought up over the summer but had too much going on with The Literary Horse: When Legends Come to Life exhibit to pursue. We have the idea - the words will come. Why not today?
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