Horsetalk's crazy world of horses

Dressage diva Anky van Grunsven takes up western riding

October 28, 2008

Watch out western riders - there's new competition on the horizon. Olympic dressage gold medalist Anky van Grunsven says she'd like to compete in both dressage and reining at the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

Anky apparently received a western saddle as a gift during an Olympic celebration party, and has been taking reining lessons after schooling her own horses, with her neighbour Rieky Young, in Vorstenbosch in The Netherlands.

"I don't have my own reining horse," she told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "I'm testing a few horses at Rieky's. I first want to feel which horse fits me. The sliding and turning, which make the sport so spectacular, are easy to teach. The hard bit is the basis and that everything happens only with one hand. I notice that I think too much when I train with Rieky. The fun bit is that Rieky is not afraid to shut up. Besides Sjef, not many people dare to correct me when I'm riding a horse. Rieky is not bothered by that."

President's mechanical horse on show

October 27, 2008

Late US president Calvin Coolidge's horse has gone on display in Austin, Texas. Not his real horse, of course.

The horse is a mechanical one he was given and which he rode regularly for exercise. Mr Coolidge would always be wearing a hat, but, according to some accounts, not always his clothes.

The mechanical horse now lives in the Forbes Library but is doing a little tour out west and is now at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

Coolidge get the electric horse in 1925. The farm-raised president liked riding but had reportedly developed an allergy, meaning the mechanical replacement was just to his liking.

It could be set for a trot or gallop, but no longer works. The horse is part of a special exhibition called Cowboys and Presidents. Coolidge's horse is accompanied by some of his riding gear. The exhibition began last week in Austin.

Lucky rescue for horse wedged in a tree

October 21, 2008

Horse owners should add a chainsaw to their stock of safety equipment. At least that must be the advice of American man Jason Harschbarger.

It seems Gracie the filly was doing a 'Winnie the Pooh' in her field in Pullman, West Virginia, and checking out the inner workings of a tree, when she got her head wedged in it.

While Jason was taking a break from yard work, he heard a sound from the field. "I looked up and all I could see was her belly. I ran up to see her and she looked in a lot of trouble."

He ran back down to his truck and grabbed a chainsaw and ratchet strap. "I don't know what possessed me to get the camera as well," he said.

The ratchet didn't work so he had to use the chainsaw to cut her free. "I started cutting on the tree right above her head. That really stressed her and she reared up three times and her head came out. That chainsaw really spooked her."

But as she came down from the rear, her hoof got stuck in the tree. It took another 20 minutes of careful chainsaw work to free Gracie.

The filly is mostly unhurt but has a few scrapes on her neck and some nerve damage to her nose and lips.

The pair are now minor celebrities in the US. "We've been on Fox News," Jason said. "My friends are asking me how it feels to be a celebrity."

Was a horse to blame for Madonna's divorce?

October 18, 2008

The world is awash with theories over why Guy Ritchie and Madonna are divorcing, but the mass circulation tabloid, The Sun, alleges a horse may be implicated.

In a major report, the newspaper quotes unnamed friends who believe it was Madonna's bone-breaking fall from a horse in 2005 - on her 47th birthday - that was the beginning of the end.

The material girl reportedly felt Ritchie was unsympathetic to her plight and did not show her the love and emotional support over the accident she felt that she deserved.

Later arguments often returned to the accident, which proved to be a turning point in the marriage.

It may well have been behind her decision at a concert this week to dedicate a song to the "emotionally retarded".

"You might know a few people who fall into that category," she told concert-goers. "God knows I do."

Madonna's injuries in the accident included four broken ribs, a broken collar bone, shoulder blade and a finger.

Trouble on the way to a funeral

October 18, 2008

A horse-drawn carriage is a very dignified way for the dearly departed to make their way to the cemetery - unless, of course, there's an accident on the way.

A 100-year-old horse-drawn hearse leading the funeral procession for a 79-year-old woman in Suffolk, England, came to an unscheduled halt when the carriage overturned.

The accident occurred when an overtaking car caused the horses to move off course. The carriage hit two cars and overturned. Two of the horses broke free and ran off.

The funeral went ahead two hours late, British media reported.

Drunken pony stumbles into swimming pool

October 16, 2008

A drunken pony and a swimming pool were never going to be a great combination, and so it proved for the little fellow named Fat Boy.

British media are revelling in the tale of 12-year-old Fat Boy, who gorged himself on fermented windfall apples and then staggered across the garden and into the swimming pool in Cornwall.

The pool was shallow enough not to pose a problem for Fat Boy, but firefighters were called to get him out.

The owner of the property was awoken by the splash and discovered Fat Boy's plight. She dialled emergency services.

Fat Boy was checked over by a vet and found to be OK.

The little fellow has yet to give any interviews - at least not until the hangover has worn off.

10 police arrest man riding a horse drunk

October 16, 2008

It took 10 Australian police officers and four cars to pull over a man riding home after a night on the town. News Ltd has reported the conviction of the man, 22, in Mount Isa District Court, where he was fined $A900. Curiously, the maximum fine for riding a horse while intoxicated is higher than that for driving a car in a similar state. The Aussie battler who copped the fine had a few words for the media, rueing the fact that he thought he was doing the right thing in taking his horse, and not a car. He added: "What damage can you do on a horse? Nothing really, just fall off, same as a pushbike, same as you can do walking."

Rump-slapper gets arrested

October 15, 2008

Slapping a horse on the backside is never a good idea at the best of times, but it carries extra dangers if it happens to be a police horse - with an officer on top. A Wisconsin man was arrested early on Sunday morning after slapping a police horse hard on the rump during a routine mounted patrol in Madison. The Capital Times newspaper reported that he apologised almost immediately but still found himself arrested for assaulting a police horse. The horse leapt forward after the slap and almost unseated the officer.

Horsehair mattress for Angelina Jolie

October 15, 2008

Actress Angelina Jolie has reportedly splashed out $US65,000 for a horsehair mattress to help her sleep better. China Daily reports that Jolie has been struggling to sleep since the birth of twins Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline in July. The hand-made mattress, which reportedly took 150 hours to to make, was made in Sweden. Jolie, who is married to actor Brad Pitt, also has three adopted children.

Feelings run deep in Nebraska over Peter Rabbit

October 4, 2008

An old horse who wants nothing more than to eat grass in the Nebraska city of Hickman is now something of a media celebrity. Peter Rabbit, 32, has grazed his pasture for a long time but the suburbs have encroached and the town fathers say it's time for Peter Rabbit to go. His owner says the quarter horse is too old to move. Peter Rabbit and his owner are not budging.

Hickman, it seems, is still a one-horse town despite a town bylaw saying horses are not welcome within its limits. The dispute is far from over. The horse's owner has been issued a $US100 infringement notice, and it could cost him that every day if the authorities want to keeping issuing them.

Feelings are running deep, with one reported telephoned death threat against the mayor and a councillor.

Peggy goes teetotal

September 30, 2008

British cart horse peggy enjoys a pint in a pub as much as any horse, so it's little wonder that British media have latched on to a landlady's decision to ban her. Peggy, was a regular in O'Malleys in Jarrow, South Tyneside, enjoying a pint of bitter and a packet of chips.

However, one new owner, a refit, and new carpet have spelt an end to her pub-going days, the BBC and Dail Telegraph have reported. Owner Peter Dolan still takes Peggy along to the pub but she remains tied up outside.

Perils of drinking and riding

September 30, 2008

Two tales out of Australia highlight the dangers of riding after having a few drinks. In Mount Isa, police stopped a man riding along Hercules Road and found him to be three times over the legal blood-alcohol level. He will be in court in October on a charge of attempting to put a horse in motion a horse while under the influence of alcohol.

Australia's Daily Telegraph has told the story of another patron who was using horse power to get to and from a pub in Windsor. He was passing a service station on the way home when his horse, called Donkey, reached over and gobbled up two bunches of flowers worth $A20 each. The service station attendant got grumpy and tried to make a citizen's arrest.

The upshot of all this is unclear, but one thing is clear: taking a taxi or getting a mate to drive is looking like a better option all the time.