Tuesday, October 12, 2010

spring is delightful

We went riding again today on Dacio and Carlotta. Neither seemed particularly impressed about the idea of going for a ride, but both went very well and we had a lot of lovely toelt and a relatively shy-free outing.

I got home in time for lunch and to feed the horses, before the rains came down. And down they came indeed! But that's spring for you :-)

Yesterday we had a long walk around because we had a visitor. The two pregnant mares are getting very broad indeed. As always, it looks like they couldn't possibly get any bigger. But they will :-) Having a big, fat, round baby belly make it hard to roll. And with all the winter fur falling out in lumps, the girls have itchy bits. And what face does a horse make when you scratch the itchy bits?

... a deligthed face of course  :-) 

That picture was taken by Yvonne and shows Samba (Paso Fino mare) getting a bit of TLC from yours truly. As you can see by the grey patch on her face, she had already indulged in a good face-rub, too.

Maremmano Horses of Italy

Well, while on the subject of relatively unknown horse breeds, I remembered that I recently looked at some Maremma saddles again.

I was contacted by Stefano, who is a saddler in Italy and makes Maremmano saddles. His website is http://www.saddlemaker.it . I did know about two types of Maremmano saddles used by the butteri, the Italian ranchworkers. One is called the Bardella, and it is a treeless version. I have one in my collection:

Then there is a version which is based on a military saddle tree. I think it's called a Scafardi. But I stand corrected here. The picture below shows one of them in use. The pictures is from the Creative Commons Collection and was taken at Equitana in Germany.

Notice the traditional curb bit, breast plate and leather covered rope headstall under the bridle.
Stefano has several interesting saddles on his website, but the most interesting (to me) was the third version of Maremmano saddle. He calls it a Sella col pallino:

Reminds me a bit of the saddles used in the Camargue region of France. I'd love to have a ride on one of these :-)

According to Wikipdedia, Maremmano Horses are also known as Maremmanas or Tuscan Horses. They are solid boned, agile and usually bay. They are primarily a working stockhorse. The breed is not well known outside Italy.

Here are some Maremmanos at the horse fair in Verona in 2007:

And here is a brief clip showing the horses and the landscape (without the glamour and glitz of the horse show).

More well known than the horses are the Maremma dogs. And I so happen to have one of them, too :-)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Horses of Chile


While looking for something else yesterday, I came across this interesting site about the Chilean Horse.

For some reason, there is very little known about the horses and horsemen of Chile, so it's great to see some information. I found the downloadable book chapters particularly useful.


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I've always been intrigued by the ring bits and the saddles used by the huasos, the Chilenian horsemen. Finally, I've found good pictures and plenty of descriptions as well as historical info. Really fascinating stuff!

The chapter about the history of breeds on the iberian peninsula and the shipments of horses to the Americas is also excellent reading.

If you have an interest in the South American horse breeds, go and have a look.

spring is in the air

I've had a few more rides on Chewie. He's doing great.

He isn't quite so looky with things now. I suppose he's figured that the scary looking letterboxes don't contain evil horse-eating dragons. I've stuck Carlos, a grey half Paso Fino gelding, in with him and he's much happier now. They look a bit like Laurel and Hardy. Carlos is bigger, wider and darker. Chewie is smaller, white and quicker. They hang out like they are each other's shadow and eat out of the same bucket. Considering both are pretty opinionated (often macho around mares) geldings, I'm quite amazed.

The fun bit will come when I take one for a ride and not the other :-)

We took out a couple of Yvonne's youngsters last week. It was their first ride in months. The weather was sunny and all the neigbors were out on ride-on mowers and their kids on quad bikes. Everything was buzzing. I rode Dacio, Yvonne took Carlotta. We did a brief couple of rounds of lunging before we got on, as there were a lot of rolly eyes and busy feet. All ok, so off we went. Dacio had his usual 20 seconds worth of tight back. During that time, I ride "defensively" and keep a nice short rein. Just in case... Nothing ever happens and then he's fine and he's pretty relaxed for the rest of the ride.

However, with that sort of backdrop, and warm weather, and itchy coats (yes, he had scraped loads of winter fur out of them before the ride..), we did have quite a lively ride. There were some levades, a few shies, head shaking, foot stomping, that sort of stuff. Carlotta wouldn't go down some mini bank. Yvonne was going to let it be, but I made them go, haha. More snorting and footstomping, but they did it.

So they both got a good sweat up. Not a bad outing for two youngsters under the circumstances. Hopefully, we'll repeat it this afternoon. The weather is lovely. If Yvonne comes home early enough from volunteering at the dog show...

Yesterday, I took out Max for the first time in a long time. Oh yeah. Big red stallion, high opinion of himself, would rather be out surfing, that sort of thing. I put the Maestro bit on him, which I've been meaning to do for a long time. The last few years, I've ridden him in a snaffe, but I used to have him in a Maestro previously.

I think he bounced several times, kicked out at the whip at least three times, stopped, grunted, swished his tail and generally complained, all by the time we got to the front gate. So I gave him a job to do. Go. Fast. Rack on!

About a km or so along the forest trail he decided that this was beginning to feel like work and wanted to slow down. Nope. Sorry. We went a bit further and then I asked him to walk. Hey, what a beautiful walk!! He got his breath back a bit further along and we had another good long rack. His mindset changed from obnoxious prick to pleasant hack in just over two kms. :-)

He was a lovely horse all the way home. He didn't even grunt at the Arabs on the corner, and managed either a nice rack or a loose rein walk any time I asked. Was he sweaty when we came home? Do fish swim?

Well, there are a few more horses which haven't been ridden since the autumn or winter, and I'm sure I'll have more fun yet. I love it when they are lively like that. I won't accept stupid behaviour, but I have no objections if horses express themselves. I can't stand plods. That's why we don't have any :-) Even if it means that some rides are on the exciting end of the spectrum. They are alive. I am alive.