Canadian in Candia

October 7, 2009

Pretty Horses

Filed under: Horses — Tags: , — Miriam @ 8:13 am

My neighbour has a few dozen horses. Many of them are beautiful Percheron draft horses that actually get used to pull sleigh rides, hay rides and to plow fields.

From our yard we can only see one of his fields and our puppy Cooper finds them fascinating. A few weeks ago a mare and her foal were in the front pasture when we were leaving for a walk. I happened to have my camera with me and a new lens, so I snapped a couple pictures. Cooper sat down as the foal started walking towards us.
Percheron mare and foal

Mom of course wouldn’t let her baby head towards a strange dog without protection. So she started walking towards us too.
Percheron mare and foal

She came right up to the fence to say hello.
Percheron mare and foal

What a beautiful animal.
Percheron mare and foal

After a quick pet from me (Cooper did an excellent sit-stay while waiting) she realised that I wasn’t going to feed her. So she headed back up the hill.
Percheron mare and foal

The foal wanted to investigate us more, but wasn’t going to risk mom’s wrath.
Percheron mare and foal
Percheron mare and foal

He’ll be a nice solid horse someday too. But right now he’s all legs.
Percheron foal

Right now the pasture contains three gorgeous mares who occasionally take to sprinting around for the fun of it.  Not a bad view in my opinion.

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July 23, 2009

Vermont 100 – The Horses of the Race

Filed under: Horses, Races — Tags: , , , — Miriam @ 12:00 pm

The horses run their own event during the run: The Vermont 100 and Moonlight 50/75 endurace ride. I guess the original 100 mile runner started on horseback. For the second year in a row his horse had come up lame the day of the one day event. Rather than miss the race he decided to run it. The horse event had a 24 hour time limit, a requirement to earn the silver belt buckle. The runner Gordon Ainsleigh, ran the rugged Sierra Nevada course and earned that buckle. A tradition was born. There are now 25 ultramathons of 100 miles or more, but I think the Vermont 100 is the only one that continues to combine horses and runners.

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Most of the horses were Arabians or Arabian mixes. This lead to amazing horses with beautifully refined heads. I mean arabians are known for having large intelligent eyes and some of the most chisled heads in horsedom.

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And they are fast, and they have endurance. This is the first horse to make it through the Pretty House handler aid station. The winning horses finish in just over 12 hours. That includes several mandatory holds. Fast, with stamina, smart, loyal, as well as gorgeous I can see why Arabians were so cherished.

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As a kid I usually got stuck with the Arabians in riding class. I was a giant as a kid, I wanted to ride the biggest horse. Instead I got put on the beautiful but moody Arabian that needed a strong rider. I think they were usually just so smart that they were fed up of dealing with kids that didn’t know what they were doing.

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Looking back I wish I had taken advantage of riding a horse that needed a good rider. I just wanted to be on a 16 hander instead of the barely 14.2 arabian.

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I did however love a gray horse when I was a kid. I didn’t care that every bit of mud showed.

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So many of the horses were grays. I guess grays are common in long distance arabians or something but we did occasionally see stunning bays, chestnuts and blacks.

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Of course the riders look like they are having a blast too. Although all the jarring must become very tiring after a while. Did I mention that the riders can change out but the horse must remain the same.  This drew some comparisons in our conversations to the riders being more like the pacer, with the main athlete being the horse. But the riders are quite the athletes too.

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My husband tells me that the combined event is enjoyed by both the horsepeople and the runners. Well a lot of the horsepeople didn’t seem to be bothered by our constant photography of them (aka their horses, I doubt they realize how many of their heads I chopped off trying to get the perfect shot of an amazing arabian facial structure.)

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See you would think I could care less about the rider. But with a horse that pretty how could I notice there was someone on the back.

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I think all the spectators stood in awe every time a horse would come through.

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Some of the horses almost seem to find the event relaxing… or I just caught him as he was blinking. Someone asked a horse trainer if the horses enjoy doing this.  The trainer responded that if the horses didn’t enjoy it the event would kill them. They need to enjoy it to have the heart to keep going.

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Some of the riders were obviously out there for the ride and not the race, so they took their time to cool off their horses in a brook.

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As a spectator (who loves photography), I have to say that the horses definately add an enjoyable aspect to the race. As for the runners, I wonder if the horse errosion of the trail and occasional poop causes additional challenges. But Adam didn’t seem to mind.

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