This Week in Horses – August 8, 2014

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Happy Friday, everyone! Here’s what you can talk about this weekend to impress your friends at the barn, on the trail or in the show ring. But not during the class, unless you’re trying to distract them. I’m not here to judge your competitive strategies.

  • This week we learned that horses gather information by observing the eyes and ears of their companions. It’s an interesting study, but I think the most interesting part was that the equine test subjects recognized life-sized, still photographs of horses as horses.
  • Horse ears
  • Horses weigh in on the battle of the sexes. Actually, they wisely declare neutrality. While I think we’ve all met a horse who has responded better to either men or women, in general it seems that they just don’t care about the gender of their rider, according to a recently published study.
  • U.S. show jumper Beezie Madden won the King George V Gold Cup at England’s Royal International Horse Show last weekend. Beezie wins a lot of things, so this may not seem newsworthy, except she’s the first woman to win this prestigious class. Women weren’t allowed to compete in it until 2008, and that just boggles my mind. Apparently the show’s organizers could learn a few things  about gender equality from horses. In any case, congrats are in order for Ms. Madden and her horse, Cortes C.
  • Beezie Madden and Cortes C.
    Beezie and Cortes competing in 2012.
  • The Central Park Horse Show is a…well, it’s a horse show. In Central Park. It’s a bit of a big deal because there haven’t been any horse shows in NYC since the National Horse Show left more than a decade ago. The show, which takes place Sept. 18-21, will have high-profile jumper classes at night and TBA matinee performances during the daytime. Tickets went on sale this week, and despite warnings of limited availability, they’re still on sale as of this writing. I suspect this is largely due to the $250 (plus fees) evening ticket price. (Daytime tickets are $30, and to their credit, the show’s organizers say they are giving half of them away to local children’s groups.)
  • One cool thing about the Central Park Horse Show is that its Grand Prix, which takes place on Thursday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m., will be broadcast live on NBC Sports. That’s a pretty amazing time slot for equestrian sports. NBC Sports is also airing coverage of this year’s Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event this Saturday, Aug. 9 at 5 p.m. EDT and Show Jumping from Aachen at 6 p.m. As always, check your local listings Again, this is NBC Sports, not the NBC network, so if you’re too cheap for cable (like me) this will not come in on your rabbit ears. Sorry.
  • The Mongol Derby is taking place right now. For the uninitiated, this is when foolhardy riders ride half-broke horses more than 600 miles across the Mongolian steppe. I can’t really get behind this event, but National Geographic does have some stunning photos from it in this article.
  • Mackinac Island an island in Lake Huron that is closed to cars, so traffic is pretty much bikes and horses. It sounds absolutely idyllic, but over the course of a couple of hours in one afternoon last month, there were three traffic accidents, two involving carriages. I also learned from this story that there’s something called a “drive yourself carriage” available on the island, which allows random tourists to take the lines and drive themselves around. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Sometimes I go to yoga class at my local YMCA in hopes of shaking off some of the rust I accrue here at my desk job. I’m really bad at it. I know yoga isn’t a competition, but I can’t help but notice that I am always struggling more than everyone around me. Maybe I’d have an advantage if I took this horseback yoga class in New Jersey. Maybe not. That looks hard.

That’s it for today. Enjoy your weekend!

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