Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Just in time for the Kentucky Derby, Disney releases the trailer for its October Secretariat. From the trailer's tone, it seems to be an even more manipulative piece of handsome fluff than 2003's overrated Seabiscuit. But while Seabiscuit's story was of the comeback kid, combining genuine achievement with the ever-popular story of that magical second chance, Secretariat's is a tougher sell. What do you say about a freak of nature, a horse whose heart was literally - not choked-emotion-in-a-chord-swelling-speech - larger than normal? The trailer indicates that the filmmakers chose to focus on the horse's owner, and her challenges facing a male establishment at the dawn of the feminist era. All in bright, crazy Disney style, of course. But for once, that sturdy Disney hyperbole fits. At the end of the trailer, when an unseen man cries out "You about to see something you ain't never seen before!" it rings true. Secretariat's boringly simple story - great racehorse wins and wins and wins, and is declared a champion and wins some more - is an engine powerful enough to cut straight through the rags and tatters of a typical Hollywood horse story. Let's see if it does.
A regional publisher, Dementi Milestone, is bringing out a glossy book of Secretariat-related stories and photos in September. Secretariat's Meadow: The Land, The Family, The Legend by Kate Chenery Tweedy (daughter of Penny Chenery, Secretariat's owner) and Leeanne Ladin.
Returning from 1973... The field is set for 2010's Kentucky Derby. There's a filly in it for the first time since Eight Belles in 2008, the bay Devil May Care. NBC will cover the race from 4-6pm EST. The first 2 hours and 50 minutes will, of course, center largely on what celebrities are in the stands, interviews with long-suffering trainers and inane banter from the commentators.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Saddles For Breakfast
Janet Randall, il.
1961, David McKay Company, Inc.
Curled dejectedly on her bed in one corner, Robin could barely hear her small radio above the noise of the ten-year-old twins, Drucy and Donna, playing across the room. She found herself envying girls who had rooms of their own. Once again the longing to escape swept over her.
16-year-old Robin Marshall is restless and dissatisfied with life in a small
Engaging, with a nice mix of teenaged angst and horsey interest. Robin struggles with homesickness, a hostile cousin, a snobby girl and her own insecurities, including an attraction to a college boy. Her first hurdle is handling the less-than-glamorous truth that Sycamore is a shabby hack stable, not the gleaming lesson barn of her imagination.
Her eyes swept the other horses. Even her untrained eye told her that they were a far cry
from the saddle animals at Greenbriar farm. A few, like one dainty black mare, appeared handsome and high-spirited, but others were well past their prime, with poor conformation or splints from long years of hard riding.
After that first shock, Robin learns to roll with the punches. She learns more about horses and riding at Sycamore than she had at her fancy barn back home, and discovers that her reactions to people - like the unflappable Val - can be colored by her own worries.
Leave it to Val to never lose that saucy self-assurance. For a moment she wondered if that was one of the reasons she found it so hard to like the other girl. There were so many times in her own life when she wasn't sure of herself at all.
A fun, quick read overall, though cousin Butch wears out his surly, bad-tempered welcome early. Robin's friends are acquired a bit too easily, and the pity Robin feels for her beleaguered cousins seems a bit overdone at times. Her next horse book, Pony Girl, was a smoother, more polished work although written for younger children.
Sycamore Stable horses
Pepper - mare
Peppito - foal
Ballerina - black mare
Rex- bay gelding
Dolly - black pony
Leo - bay gelding
Volcano - piebald gelding
Vixen - palomino mare
Sweetheart - gray mare
Major - chestnut gelding
Redbird - sorrel
Fritz - bay gelding
Sorcerer - palomino gelding
Peanut - pinto pony
Saddles For Breakfast (1961)
Pony Girl (1963)
Tumbleweed Heart (1959)
Desert Venture (1963)
The Seeing Heart (1965)
Brave Young Warriors (1969)
Topi Forever (1969)
Island Ghost (1970)
The Girl From Boothill
with husband (as Jan Young)- Nonfiction
54-40 Or Fight: The Story of the
To Save A Tree: The Story of the Coast Redwoods
Forged In Silver: The Story of the
Frontier Scientist: Clarence King
Simon Bolivar: The George Washington of
The Last Emperor: The Story of
Reluctant Warrior: Ulysses S. Grant
The 49'ers: The Story of the California Gold Rush
Plant Detective: David Douglas
Empire Builder: Sam Brannan
Old Rough And Ready, Zachary Taylor
Seven Faces West
Gusher: The Search for Oil In
Mr. Polk's War
Anza, Hard-riding Captain
The Story of the
with husband (as Jan Young)- Fiction
Across The Tracks
Run, Sheep, Run (1959)
One Small Voice (1961)
Sunday Dreamer (1962)
Good-bye, Amigos (1963)
The Undecided Heart (1970)
I unfortunately have no access to the cover; an image is available at eBay
Jane Badger Books has a nice bit on Janet Randall's biographical information
About the publishing house
About the publishing house
David McKay Company, Inc.was founded in Philadelphia in 1882 by a 22-year-old Scottish immigrant who'd begun working for J.B. Lippincott & Co. at the tender age of 13. During the 1930s, the company published some of the first comic books, including Popeye, The Phantom and Blondie and Dagwood. The publisher was located on Washington Square, heart of Philadelphia's venerable and now mostly departed publishing industry and to my mind the single most pleasant, most Philadelphian spot in the city after Independence Square, directly catty-corner to the north-east.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Further south, the Rolex **** is chugging along despite tornado warnings and the haphazard routes of European riders to circumnavigate the volcano debris to reach the U.S. My lanky favorite, William Fox-Pitt, is currently in the lead on Cool Mountain. Fellow Brit Oliver Townend, who won Badminton and Burghley last year, fell from Cruise Master and was hospitalized. He and the other three people who fell on today's cross-country course all appear to be fine, and set to complete the competition.
William Fox-Pitt and Cool Mountain at the Head of the Lake, Rolex.
Rachel Alexandra is going to race for the second time this year, heading to Friday's La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs.
The first Saturday in May is closing in, and so the Derby stories are coming out of the woodwork. One of the more esoteric is that Major League Baseball coach Joe Torre owns a share of a Derby contender this year, Homeboykris (oh, the humanity).
And lastly, my alma mater, Rutgers, is holding its annual celebration in New Brunswick. Part of the weekend-long proceedings is an auction of horses used by the school to give students in the agricultural program hands-on experience in caring for and training young horses. In the past, Rutgers bought draft-cross foals from ranches out West that specialized in producing Premarin, an estrogen replacement for women, from pregnant mares' uring. This year, they branched out and also bought four mustangs from Nevada. Not all the horses sold last year; the economy has people cutting back. So good luck, RU Rambling Rose, RU Canella (pregnant), RU Casanova, RU Marley (mustangs), and RU Firedance, RU Pardner, RU The Good Witch, RU Shivna, RU Woodstock, RU Honky Tonk, RU Genesis, and RU Brisa (PMU horses).
The handsome mustang RU Casanova meets a stool for the first time.
New Jersey Star Ledger - Rolex
Daily Mail - nasty photos of Townend's fall
ESPN Sports - Rachel Alexandra
Yahoo! Sports - Joe Torre
New Jersey Star Ledger - Rutgers mustangs
Rutgers - The Young Horse Teaching & Research Program
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
What does the horse give you
That I cannot give you?
I watch you when you are alone,
When you ride into the field behind the dairy,
Your hands buried in the mare's
Then I know what lies behind your silence:
Scorn, hatred of me, of marriage. Still,
You want me to touch you; you cry out
As brides cry, but when I look at you I see
There are no children in your body.
Then what is there?
Nothing, I think. Only haste
To die before I die.
In a dream, I watched you ride the horse
Over the dry fields and then
Dismount: you two walked together;
In the dark, you had no shadows.
But I felt them coming toward me
Since at night they go anywhere,
They are their own masters.
Look at me. You think I don't understand?
What is the animal
If not passage out of this life?
And a list of anthologies of poems about horses.
Poems About Horses by Carmela Ciuaru (Random House)
Say This Of Horses by C.E. Greer (University of Iowa Press)
Hoofprints by Jessie Haas (Google Books)
A Grass Green Gallop by Patricia Hubbell (cover image)
My Kingdom For A Horse by Betty Ann Schwartz (Henry Holt)
My Mane Catches The Wind by Lee Bennett Hopkins (cover image) il. Sam Savitt
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Ride The Wild Storm
Marjorie Reynolds, il. Lorence F. Bjorklund
1969, The Macmillan Company
"Every time he gives a little cough, you rush to him as if he were dying."
12-year-old David Lang is frozen in indecisive nervousness between his impatient father and his sickly mother. His father rages at his mother's coddling, and his mother weeps at his father's brusqueness, and David basically tries to cut off the sound of their twin whining while dreaming of horses, but he's a worried kid. Worried about his parents, who are talking divorce, worried about his asthma, worried about being shunted off to
"Let's ride bareback," he said, although he had never done such a thing in his life.
With Bill Macy and his pony Pumpkin for company, David and Salty explore
Very much a boy adventure, with the focus being on how Salty gives David freedom and autonomy. There is much less fascination with the horse as a beautiful animal or to the care of the horse than in the typical horse book starring a girl. David dearly loves Salty, and there are passages where he reflects on her beauty or gentleness, but it is an emphatically male POV. In most horse stories, a girl rescues a horse; here, a horse rescues a boy.
Reynolds had a few quirks which made her books a bit aggravating - an obsession with fat kids, a tendency to portray women as either sturdy and contented second fiddles or as weak ciphers (with men as strong, sensible alpha males) and some unlikely language - has any 12-year-old boy after 1900 really uttered the word "shall" in a casual conversation? The language itself is slightly stilted; it's clear and readable, but a little simple for the presumed audience.
As opposed to that is her depiction of a wonderful childhood summer running free across a unique island, galloping bareback on the beach, rescuing hapless people and becoming strong and confident. She vividly portrays a sense of a summer idyll on horseback, and Bjorklund's soft, dreamy art complements her style.
The Cabin On Ghostly Pond
A Horse Called Mystery
Dark Horse Barnaby
Keep A Silver Dollar
Ride The Wild Storm
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Old Sam, Thoroughbred Trotter
1955, Follet Publishing Company
This book is mostly about what happened after we got to our homestead in the Dakota Territory, but I guess I better begin before that and tell how we got Old Sam and how he came to be crippled.
John Scott is 7 when a stranger passes by his family's
Three years later, in 1882, the family moves west, settling on 480 acres on the Dakota prairies, in a region then known as "The Great American Desert." The family is relatively well-off, and with 12 other horses to do the grueling work of breaking a prairie into cultivated land, the grey is left to his own devices.
But Sam was not idle. He was always on the go - all over the place. He didn't follow us like a dog any more than we did him, for there were times when he would attract my attention with a short whinny and I would see him standing in the distance, his head up and his ears cocked forward, looking in my direction. That could mean only one thing, and I would call to Lee, "Hey, Lee, come on! Sam is waiting for us." He was just one of us, and that is how we treated him.
The cousins John and Lee have various adventures, usually involving Sam.
In the morning, a strange world was spread out before us. The day before, the prairie had been the light faded color of last-year's grass. But in the morning, as far as the eye could reach, the prairie was black as coal. No - not all of it was black. There was something else that attracted immediate attention. Standing out in sharp contrast to the black background were the white bones of thousands of buffaloes, a tragic reminder of the ruthless slaughter that had cleared the plains of these majestic animals in just a few years.
After a prairie fire, John and Lee get lost collecting buffalo bones (used back East as fertilizer and in sugar refineries) and Sam is called upon to find the route home. The horse does, reliable as a watch. But it's two years after the move that Sam moves back into his old world of racing. The boys, challenged by their family's conviction that their victory in an impromptu race was just a kind gesture by their adult opponents, secretly enter Sam in the Fourth of July trotting race against a field of adults driving sound, young horses, including the favorite, Chestnut Prince. When they get to the starting line, however, a combination of distaste for the spectacle of a crippled horse drawing a bulky farm wagon and an uneasy awareness that said crippled horse has a certain reputation for speediness provokes the other drivers to demands Old Sam's withdrawal. The cousins sadly comply, but when the starter shouts "Go!" Sam takes off.
This is far more a pioneer book than a horse book. The horse plays a recurring role and ties the stories together, but this was originally a series of stories the author told his children with the intention of recapturing his pioneer youth, and it's clear that his interest was largely in that experience. This in itself is an interesting story, of course, but it's a little disconcerting when you go in expecting a horsey book. The stories Taylor told his kids became a book when his grown daughter, Hazel Hohanshelt became a teacher and repeated the stories. Inspired by their interest, she began editing them into a book.
The book was reissued in 2008 under the title Old Sam: Dakota Trotter by Bethlehem Books.
About Don Alonzo Taylor
Married Jennie Anderson in 1901, and moved to
About Hazel Taylor
Married Forrest Hohanshelt and taught school in Alpine,
Links1882 Map of Dakota
Old Sam, Thoroughbred Trotter
Old Sam And The Horse Thieves (sequel)
Monday, April 5, 2010
The Horse That Swam Away
Walter Farley, il. Leo Summers
1965, Random House
Tena wore neither saddle nor bridle, and there was only a light halter on her head. Yet Tim could guide her with no trouble at all. She would run for miles and miles if he let her. There was scarcely a day that they didn't go fifteen miles down the beach and back.
Scant months earlier, Tim's family had moved south to a beachfront house on a remote
One day the pair's usual adventures - herding a school of mullet in the shallows, fighting a nurse shark hooked on a fishing line, galloping along the beach - turns dangerous when Tena follows a porpoise out to sea. Desperate, Tim trespasses on the territory of a reclusive Native American named Billy Roundlegs, only to discover that Billy shares his trouble - the porpoise is his own runaway pet.
A very simply written book which doesn't approach the quality of the series for which Farley is famous, but then it is clearly intended for a younger audience. His love for the unique natural world of
The horse-in-peril plot is a common one, but this slant - a horse swimming out to sea, at the mercy of the ocean and the predators therein - is unusual.
This book appears to have been based on a story Farley told his youngest child, a boy named Tim. The family had a home in
Al-Marah Athena "Tena" - chestnut Arabian mare
Al-Marah Arabians and breeder Ruth "Bazy" Tankersley are big players in the Arabian world in the
LinksMikasuki (Miccosukee) Indians Equine Vision magazine article on Al-Marah Arabians' history
Illustrator - Leo Summers
Summers specialized mostly in sci-fi magazines and adventure stories, but did a surprising number of horse books.
Five True Horse Stories by Margaret Davidson
Wild Boy by Thomas Fall
Runaway To Glory by Alice E. Christgau
The Wild One by Eve Bunting
A Horse For All Seasons by Sheila Kelly Welch (short stories)
Friday, April 2, 2010
He started out in his native Los Angeles doing movie posters in the silent film era, worked in films themselves as art and set director, then in 1925 moved to New York City and advertising. After spending WWII painting battle scenes for Life magazine, he moved to Kentucky and specialized in horse portraits. He did commissions for some of racing's most famous people of some of racing's most famous horses; the people include Penny Chenery, John Whitney and Arthur B. Hancock, Jr., while the horses include Secretariat, La Troienne, and Nashua. He also did illustrations for a book about the Hancock family in Thoroughbred racing, From Here To The Bugle.
Books Illustrated - Walter Farley
The Black Stallion's Filly
The Black Stallion And Satan
Son Of The Black Stallion
The Blood Bay Colt
Books Illustrated - Other
Judging the Horse for Racing, Riding and Recreation by John F. Wall and Frank Jennings
From Here To The Bugle by Frank G. Jennings and Charles J. Calitri
His film credits at IMDB
His former home in Versailles, Kentucky
Links - examples of his art
Examples of his paintings at AskArt.com
Portrait of the racehorse Assault at Racingandriding.meganjellis.com
Pennsylvania Railroad poster, available at Allposters.com
Image of Son Of The Black Stallion at Biblio.com
Thursday, April 1, 2010
The Fantasy Horse
Jenny Hughes, il. M. Stokes
2005, Pony, Stabenfeldt A/S
This next part makes me sound like a real show-off, but I knew everyone loved to see my pony do his act, so as Robert and the team left the ring, I curved Rocco away and cantered in a diagonal line across the grass. Rocco, his ears pricked, kept a smooth pace as I double vaulted from side to side, then he spun in a perfect turn on the forehand as I asked him to rear, lifting his forelegs and pawing the air like a wild stallion. I know it's not part of Pony Club training, but I discovered Rocco loves to learn all sorts of tricks since he came to me as a green young horse four years before.
Yes, Emma, this does make you sound like a real show-off.
Hot on the heels of their triumph in the Pony Club Games Championship, 14-year-old Pony Clubbers Emma Jessop, her best friend Alice and her old friend/maybe boyfriend Robert are invited to take part in a promotion for a new theme park's opening. The festivities at
A modern hothouse of teen lust and jealousy interspersed with straight-from-the-olden-days British gush. I've never seen so many exclamation points in my life!!!!!!
To say the time dragged slowly is like saying double geography is not the favorite period of my timetable. Stating the obvious or what!
Very much a teen story with horsey elements, all intended for a tween audience. When I was a tween (not that we labored under that description then) we all read Sweet Valley High and V.C. Andrews, so clearly, it's an age group with a deeply generous and forgiving heart.
This is a book from the mail-order series PONY, run by Norwegian publisher Stabenfeldt International. Despite the similar name and the participation of the characters in this book, the series and publisher are not affiliated with the Pony Club organization.
Rocco - black
Juniper - grey
Paint - pinto
The Dark Horse
A Horse By Any Other Name
The Painted Horse
The Horse From Nowhere
The Mystery of The Golden Horse
A Horse Called Gem
The Chasing Horse
Mystery At Black Horse Farm
The Horse In The Mirror
Legend Of The
A Horse Called Trouble
The Horse In The Portrait
The Iron Horse
The Sea Horse
Sweet Valley High at Series-books.com
Cover of Double Love (1983), the book that started it all - OMG, LOOK AT THAT JEAN JACKET...