Tuesday, December 27, 2011

War Horse Hoofcare

By Eliza

First, I have to admit that I have not seen or read War Horse. I am dying to, however, and I already have a large interest in this epoch of equestrian history--see here for an article I wrote about the Remount Depot in Front Royal, Virginia. (And my obsession, wonder horse Exterminator, was an at-home World War I phenomenon.) So I was very interested in this post on Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog (she's doing a whole War Horse week)--it is all about the way cavalry horses were shoed during the Great War. Check it out here. Fascinating stuff. Thank you, Fran.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Treasures

Artwork from Small Medium and Large, courtesy of Jane Monroe Donovan

By Kitson

Last week, a beautiful picture book called Small Medium and Large jumped off the shelf at the elementary school book fair, straight into my hands. What a treasure! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen illustrations that more beautifully articulate the connection between a child and her animals. It's about a girl who wishes for three best friends for Christmas.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fictional Horses--Special Guest Stars

By Eliza

I was following a Twitter conversation recently that had to do with favorite fictional horses. The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, and so on. As a horse-crazy kid, I read all the books in which these horses starred. But there are also the horses who appear in books--written for children and adults--that offer more cameo appearances, but are still key figures. I was always scouting for the stray horse in any book I picked up as a kid, and I still do it.

Here are some of my favorite books that include "special guest star" horses, in no particular order.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Racing Luck post up at Raceday 360

I had a great time researching and writing this piece on racetrack superstition for Raceday 360.
Please click here to read it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Poster Child

By Kitson

So the glossy two-sided poster from the Jan/Feb 2012 Young Rider is in my hands and, as I’m looking for the tape to put it up on the wall of my sons’ room, I need to decide: galloping Haflinger or saucy Icelandic foal close up? As documented before on TheSweetFeed.com, I love Haflingers, but this time I’m going to go with the Icelandic. There’s something irresistible about that wind-blasted forelock, those impulsive eyes and the sharp contrast between his brown and white markings. Which would you choose?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Two New Books: Riding Free and The Smart Woman's Guide To Midlife Horses

By Eliza

Riding Free

I used to ride my sometimes high-headed gelding with a martingale and a gentle enough bit, but it did have cheekpieces. I rode bareback sometimes, but for the most part, I schooled him in full tack. These days, however, my life is different. Our family's 19-year-old Paint mare, Sugar, is not really in training. She just exists to please. My young daughter rides Sugar the most, and her preferred mode is with a bitless Dr. Cook bridle and no tack. Very low-key.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What's Going on Inside Your Horse's Head?

Photo by Mike Brinson,
courtesy of TTouch Training
By Kitson

Did you know that shape of a horse’s head can provide clues as to what’s going on inside his head? I learned a bit about how a horse's ears, jowels, eyes, muzzle and other parts of his head and expression can tell about his personality when I tuned into a teleclass given by international animal expert and trainer Linda Tellington-Jones this week. Her systematic and gentle training methods (TTouch Training) allow "people to relate to animals in a deeper, more compassionate way -- a way that furthers inter-species connection and honors the body, mind and spirit of both animals and their people.”

Here are a few things I learned about what she believes a horse's head shape says about the whole horse:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Beads for Steeds

By Eliza

I am admittedly not much of a jewelry wearer myself, but I came across this after seeing that the designer donated a bracelet as a charity auction item. Beads for Steeds is the name of the business: unique, horsey jewelry. Check it out on Etsy, here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Favorites

By Kitson

A friend asked me (with a wink) if I planned to start Black Friday the traditional way – waiting for the doors to open at Walmart at 6 a.m. I didn't shop today but I was out early -- wearing my favorite worn-in riding boots and toting a bag of apple leftovers from the makings of Thanksgiving pie --  on my way to the barn. It was a great sunny day with a bit of chill in the air – perfect for a long trail ride on a frisky Welsh cob.

And in an attempt to continue this horse-themed take on Black Friday, I will share three wonderful black horses right here on TheSweetFeed.com.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Inmates Caring For Retired Horses

By Eliza
Here's an article from today's Boston Globe about prison inmates caring for retired horses. I never get tired of horse stories like these. Click here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Inside Track: Insider's Guide To Horse Racing

By Eliza

I think one should always be leery when confronted with the term "insider's guide". . .unless that insider is former jockey Donna Barton Brothers, and she's writing about horse racing in her book Inside Track. Even if you are not a huge racing fan, you have seen her at the Kentucky Derby, interviewing the jockeys and generally keeping audiences abreast of what's interesting and what's new at the Derby. She gets to do many of her interviews on horseback--there is a great picture of her doing just that on the back of the book--and just because of the image of her in the saddle, reins in one hand and microphone in the other, I believe that horse people respond to her the most of all the racing commentators.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cave paintings of horses actually look like Paleolithic horses

By Eliza
As horse lovers, we know that there is something timeless about the appeal of the horse. Horses possess beauty, strength, power. . .all things to which people are naturally attracted. When I want a timeless image, I reach for the HipstaPrint app on my phone's camera (see image to left.) According to an article in in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the pull to appreciate and depict nearby horses has been around a very long time. Through DNA typing and laborious research, scientists found that the horses that were around when the famous cave paintings of Pech-Merle, France, which date back 25,000 years, actually looked like those paintings. (One of many interesting facts in the piece: one of the colors was a "leopard" pattern.) This shows that pretty much all of the colors shown in cave paintings have been found in prehistoric horses. The cavemen were not only artists, but naturalists capturing the world--and the horses--they knew.

Abstract and story are here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chestnuts, Blacks and Bays, Four Different Ways

By Kitson

With my kids and husband off school and work for the Veteran’s Day holiday, we headed downtown today to enjoy the National Mall. It was a brilliant fall day and we explored memorials, museums and hiked up to Chinatown for lunch. As usual, my mind strayed to horses…

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'll Miss You, Hickstead

Olympian Eric Lamaze and his horse Hickstead at a World Cup event in Verona, Italy, 11/6/2011.
(Bruno De Lorenzo, Fiercavalli Press Office)
 By Kitson

I'm trying hard to keep this from ruining my day, but it's not easy. I had to stop what I was doing this morning and digest the shocking news that the mighty show jumping Olympic champion Hickstead, who last year I watched win bronze at the World Equestrian Games Show Jumping finale, died suddenly yesterday during a competition in Verona, Italy. The announcer's words from that night in Lexington at the WEG stuck in my head as he exuberantly declared Hickstead to be the best horse in the world.

All-in-one story at the Breeder's Cup Classic

By Eliza

OK, let's say you're not me. That is, you don't follow horse racing. You should still read this story from the New York Times' excellent racing writer, Joe Drape. It's about the Breeder's Cup Classic, one of the biggest deals in the racing calendar and this year featuring two previously affianced jockeys.

Heartbreak, love, loss, victory. . .all in one race and all in one brief story.

Click Here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Guy McLean

By Eliza
I encourage everyone who thinks that they are not interested in natural horsemanship to check this guy out. Or even check it out if you think you have seen plenty of natural horsemanship exhibitions, and have already taken away what you need from it. Maybe it's because he is Australian like Clancy, or maybe it's because he uses four horses in his routine, or maybe because he is up front about being an entertainer as well as a horseman, but I feel like he is one to watch. Kitson and I saw him at the Washington International Horse Show last week.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I Heart Haflingers

Watercolor courtesy of Emilie Goddard
By Kitson

The November issue of Horse Illustrated has come out and what a thrill to see two letters about my stories from recent issues in the Feedback section on page six. One of them praised the magazine for including a story called “Happiness is a Haflinger” in the September 2011 issue. While writing the breed profile, I interviewed a handful of happy Haflinger owners who event, drive, vault and trail ride their marvelous cream-colored equines. The story (September 2011 cover HI) included a profile of All-Tell RVM, aka “Teddy,” a dressage horse and all-around star performer owned by Rachel King, owner of Deer Haven Farm in Lexington, KY. Deer Haven’s head trainer, Emilie Goddard, is also the very talented artist who painted the Haflingers in the watercolor above. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

If you're interested in racing history, check out my latest (also my first) Outrider column for Raceday 360. It includes Citation, Spectacular Bid, and of course, the great Exterminator. It's here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Horses in Unusual Places, Vol. 2

By Kitson

On a recent trip to Whole Foods, while I managed to resist buying a slice of bacon, egg and cheese pizza that looked pretty good, I couldn’t get past the bottles of wine with an eye-catching horse image on the label. I’m not much of a wine drinker, but those beautiful wild horses in reds, yellows and blues sealed my impulse purchase on aisle six. I could give the wine as a gift or serve it to a thirsty guest, I assured myself. I finished shopping, grabbed a bag of overpriced carrots for the ponies and headed to the checkout, comforted to have had my thoughts redirected to horses in the grocery store.

When I got home my reporter’s curiosity led me straight to the winery’s website (http://www.14hands.com/). Based in Washington State, the winery’s name, 14 Hands, was inspired “by the spirit of the wild horses that once freely roamed the starkly beautiful hills of Eastern Washington.” That sounded cool, I thought, but what I liked best (since I can’t speak to how the wine tastes) is that they also support a non-profit wild horse sanctuary in California called Return to Freedom. Here’s what I found out about the winery after chatting with Erin Shane, who works for 14 Hands:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

R Gauwitz Hanover

By Eliza

A truly remarkable story about a Canadian harness racer and the man for whom he is named. (Includes a reference to Walter Farley, so. . .)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

War Horse

By Kitson

Topthorn (left) and Joey, the main horse character.
Both photos by Paul Kolnik, courtesy of Lincoln Center Theater.
After I’ve written an article, I love the moment when the magazine fwops through my mail slot and reveals the glossy finished product. They are like scrapbook pieces documenting incredible people and horses that I’ve met through my writing life.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


By Eliza

Here in Washington, D.C., October is Washington International Horse Show time. But out in much of the rest of the horse world, October is Congress time. Not Congress as in D.C., but the All-American Quarter Horse Congress. (In the Quarter Horse world, all you have to say is "Congress," though. No one will think you're talking about D.C.)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Horses in Unusual Places, Vol. 1

While the officer didn't give me the time of day, his horse gave me the thumbs up with a kind swivel of his ear.

By Kitson

This year I have had the privilege of working on a writing project for the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation. I helped the Foundation write a book about the creation of the memorial. It has been an incredible project and an amazing learning experience, but of course, it has had nothing to do with horses (other than helping to support mine).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Old Friends

By Eliza
One of my favorite books is by Barbara Livingston, the famous horse photographer, and it is called Old Friends. It was published in 2002, a collection of portraits of retired senior racehorses, and includes text about each horse, and his or her accomplishments. (She has some heavy hitters in the book: Genuine Risk, Affirmed, Seattle Slew, and the Bid.) The horses are depicted at home, no longer in racing flesh, hollows above their eyes, manes allowed to grow long. They are beautiful.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


By Kitson
[aro·ma·ther·a·py noun \ə-ˌrō-mə-ˈther-ə-pē\ : the use of aroma to enhance a feeling of well-being]

One soggy Welsh Cob,
happy to see me and my bag of apples.
 When the bag of bruised apples and overlooked carrots that I keep in my refrigerator starts to overflow, it’s a clear sign that the demands of family and freelance work have kept me from the barn for too many days. It felt more like Maine here than DC this weekend, with a chilly rain falling since Friday night. But I was itching to get to the barn.