Tag Archives: horses

Cometh the hour, cometh the horse….

To celebrate the Year of the Horse, the National Gallery, London, has posted “Whistlejacket” by George Stubbs, as its  Painting of the Month.

Whistlejacket, George Stubbs, about 1762

Whistlejacket, George Stubbs, about 1762

The National Gallery also has a  Chinese Zodiac Trail which explores the symbolism of animals in eastern and western traditions.

According to the Gallery’s zodiac trail, the horse is one of the most admired animals of the  Chinese zodiac. People born in the Year of the Horse are independent, value freedom, and are hard-working, adventurous, intelligent and successful. They embody the traits of a fellow creature who has accompanied us to the end of the world and, sometimes, back again…..

like Phar Lap

Phar Lap at Trentham Racecourse. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-2372-1/2-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23120509

Phar Lap at Trentham Racecourse. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-2372-1/2-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23120509

This photo was taken in 1931 before Phar Lap’s  trip to the United States. Not long after this date, Phar Lap died  in San Francisco. He is probably New Zealand’s most famous racehorse, renowned for his great heart and his speed and, of course, the winnings and joy he brought to many people, during the gloomy days of the Great Depression. Timaru, his birthplace, has an outstanding memorial sculpture  of Phar Lap.

Another famous New Zealand horse, perhaps less well-known than Phar Lap, is Bess (Zelma)  . New Zealand sent  thousands of horses to the First World War. Only four returned home. Bess was one of  the four. She was born in 1910, and served in Egypt in 1915, Sinai in 1916, Palestine in 1917, France in 1918, Germany in 1919, and was in England in 1920, before coming home to New Zealand in July 1920. She died , on duty, in October 1934.

This is the simple, but eloquent, memorial to Bess. It bears an Arabic inscription, as well as one in English.

Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean (top image, c. 1986), Powles collection; Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, 2010

Bess Memorial; Credit Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean (top image, c. 1986), Powles collection; Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, 2010

As part of New Zealand’s commemoration of the start of World War One, in 1914,  a hundred years ago , there will be a special Anzac Day service at the Bess Memorial, on
April 25 2014, 9 a.m. Forest Road (Off Parewanui Road), Bulls.

The service will honour Bess, and all the horses that didn’t come home, to their New Zealand pastures.  In addition, “The Friends of Bess are hoping to publish an information book on Bess for WW100, and to improve the Memorial to Bess site for better public access and protection from the elements if funding can be obtained.”

I like that, in the Year of the Horse, we have this special tribute taking place in honour of  the horses who travelled, with their human companions, on what must have been one of the strangest, and most terrible, adventures of their lives. The Good Steed   by Marcus Wilson tells the tale of the New Zealand Military Horse, from the angle of the horse, in The Anglo-Boer War and World War One. It is a story worth telling; worth remembering.

Another story which honours the nature of the horse, and looks at the world from the horse’s point of view,  is  Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Though written in 1877, it remains one of the best-selling books of all time. The 1915 edition of Black Beauty was illustrated by the artist  Lucy Kemp-Welch.  Lucy Kemp-Welch  painted horses in both peace-time and  in war-time. One of her horses-in-war paintings  Big Guns to the Front is displayed at the National Museum in Wales.

I can’t find an online image of that painting but, at our own Christchurch Art Gallery, there is a wonderful selection of artwork, featuring horses, collated for the Chinese New Year.     My favourite painting , in the collection, is one by Lucy Kemp-Welch, titled In the Orchard [Sunlight Through the Leaves] 1904-1905, which was acquired by the Art Gallery in 1932.

http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/collection/objects/69-564/

http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/collection/objects/69-564/ In the Orchard, Lucy Kemp-Welch 1904-1905

To me, this scene of mother and foal represents the apogee of the loving, loyal, peaceful,  feminine side of the horse.

How lucky we have been to have these beautiful creatures at our side, throughout history. Long may our shared story continue but, hopefully, with more love and understanding  on our part.  An understanding that, if we  develop greater empathy with our equine family , we will be better humans.

May you have a Happy, Successful, Year of the Horse.

If you would like to seek, or refresh, your inner horse, take a look at Cindy Knoke’s blog and her gorgeous post on the Free Range Horses of Patagonia  The spirit of the Year of the Horse is bound to soar within you when you see Cindy’s photos.

© silkannthreades

If you need a good book…..

In my previous post, I expressed the fanciful notion that my little dog showed a vague resemblance to a Tibetan Snow Lion. Some of you may have thought, “Huh oh, Gallivanta’s gone barking mad.” Or, at the very least, inhaled too much of her precious, essential oil of rosemary.  However, let me reassure you that my flights of fancy were most likely the result of a rekindled imagination, courtesy of a very cute little chap, called Fred. Not just any old Fred, but FEARLESS FRED.

Here he is. I think he is adorable; from the tip of his colander helmet to the toes of his red rubber boots.  Fearless Fred Fearless Fred has a trusty mate, of the canine variety, who doubles as a trusty steed to Fred’s knight in shining armour. Together they go hunting for a dragon, and a dragon, of sorts, is duly encountered. And, then, it is home in time for tea; a tea of that quintessential New Zealand meal; fish and chips.

Fearless Fred , with its wonderful mix of imagination and reality and humour, is the creation of writer and fellow blogger, Maureen Sudlow. The delightful and whimsical illustrations are by Kat Quin Merewether. If you are looking for a book that will appeal to adult and child alike, look no further than this little gem. Ask for it at your bookstore, or suggest to your favourite librarian that your local library needs a copy on its bookshelves.  You can also find Fearless Fred at this link (http://kiwis-soar.com/fearless-fred/) and learn more about Maureen’s day at the library with Fearless Fred at this link( http://kiwis-soar.com/2013/05/01/freds-debut/.) The kids, in their Fearless Fred armour, and Maureen look as though they are having a great time.

Maureen’s  book was a Finalist in the Storylines Joy Cowley Award.  Joy Cowley (http://www.joycowley.com/) is a renowned New Zealand author of children’s’ and adults’ books. She is also known  internationally,  especially in the education sector for her excellent and enjoyable educational readers.

Thank you, Maureen, for adding to our rich heritage of children’s literature. Fearless Fred is placed next to me as I blog. He makes me smile. I wonder what imaginative adventures he will take me on next.

© silkannthreades