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Posts Tagged ‘horse’

Did you hear about the time a mule won the Great American Horse Race? It’s kind of a tortoise and hare story.

At WBUR’s Only a Game, Martin Kessler explains why endurance mattered.

“The year was 1976. … In honor of the bicentennial, trains and airplanes were painted red, white and blue. A fleet of tall ships sailed down the Hudson River.

“And there was a horse race unlike any other.

“It was called the Great American Horse Race, and it would span nearly 100 days and 3,500 miles, starting in New York, heading to Missouri, and then following the Pony Express route to California.

“[Curt] Lewis was hired by the race organizers to document all the greatness and Americaness of the Great American Horse Race. And also the competition.

“The rider who covered the distance fastest would get $25,000 – worth about $100,000 in today’s dollars.

“About 100 riders signed up. Cowboys took a break from rodeos. World War II veterans, finished with their missions on submarines and B-17 bombers, also entered. So did a sheriff — and even an Austrian count. …

“And then there was Virl Norton. He was one of the oldest riders. He didn’t have as big a bank account as most of the others. He didn’t have any fancy horse equipment. Or a big crew to help him set up camp or cook or do laundry.

“But he had a plan.

“While some riders entered Icelandic ponies, quarter horses, and Appaloosas, the consensus was that the horse to ride if you wanted to win was an Arabian. … Virl Norton entered a mule.”

With his 16-year-old son as the only crew, Norton set out across country with his mule Lord Fauntleroy and a backup called Lady Eloise. And left those fast horses in the dust.

Read all about it here.

Photo: Curt Lewis
Virl Norton, winner of the 1976 Great American Horse Race, with mules Lord Fauntleroy and Lady Eloise.

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Are you familiar with the “Lens” blog at the NY Times? It focuses on “photography, video and visual journalism.” Here David Gonzalez writes about the photos of Putu Sayoga.

[Hat tip: Asakiyume on twitter.]

“If you live in a far-off place, a library may be something you’d only read about in books. That is, if you had books to begin with.

“That became the mission of Ridwan Sururi, an Indonesian man with a plan — and a horse. Several days a week, he loads books onto makeshift shelves he drapes over his steed, taking them to eager schoolchildren in the remote village of Serang, in central Java. ..

“Mr. Sayoga, a co-founder of the collective Arka Project, had seen something about the equine library on a friend’s Facebook page. It reminded him of his own childhood, where his school had only out-of-date books. Intrigued, he reached out to Mr. Sururi, who offered to put Mr. Sayoga up in his home while he spent time photographing Mr. Sururi on his rounds. …

“Mr. Sururi made a living caring for horses, as well as giving scenic tours on horseback. One of his clients, Nirwan Arsuka, came up with the book idea as a way of doing something to benefit the community, specifically a mobile library. He gave Mr. Sururi 138 books for starters. Most were in Indonesian, and the books included a lot with drawings.

“Children at the schools he visits can borrow the books for three days, and demand has been so great that he now has thousands of books.” More here. Check out the slide show.

Photo: Putu Sayoga

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This batch is all Rhode Island. First I have a couple pictures from the mall. If you don’t call the mall Providence Place, people aren’t sure if you mean the Arcade. I’m having a hard time keeping track of the local names. You have the Rhode Island Convention Center, which is not the same as the Civic Center (is that the Dunkin Donuts Center?), which is totally not the same as the same as P-PAC (Providence Performing Arts Center), which is not the same as the Veterans Memorial Auditorium …

Back to the photos. Lady Godiva hangs out in Providence Place, as does PF Chang restaurant’s fine-looking Tian horse. Next, I’m posting a glimpse of  some old brick buildings that were merged and renovated to house my new workplace. I love the view out this conference room window.

The archway is from a different renovated building, the historic Heating & Cowling Mill, which has beautifully repurposed to house formerly homeless veterans.

Several homeless people were watching me from the steps of the cathedral early one morning like wary deer. I took an unobtrusive picture around the corner, where the sun was warming a quiet nook.

The Modern Diner is in Pawtucket and serves breakfast all day, but not breakfast only. It was recently featured on the Food Network show and made a list of top diners in New England. Check out the Providence Journal report.

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The Barking Crab is watching one of many new Seaport buildings go up on its doorstep but wants you to know it is still around and serving seafood.

I was going to use the Barking Crab’s new fence to write a philosophical post with a title like “Nothing is Constant but Change.” Unfortunately, after a couple months, I still couldn’t think of anything philosophical to say and gave up. So here are some more random shots from my peregrinations.

A couple hundred yards from the Barking Crab, a teaching sailboat is once again docked for the summer. In Dewey Square, the Greenway demonstration garden is growing, and the coffee guy is making espresso for customers. One day this week, I saw him teaching a group of schoolchildren about how it all works.

Meanwhile in Rhode Island, a rider was exercising a horse in the early morning, and at night, a rainbow appeared and a lovely sunset.

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I never thought about this before, but it seems that there is a whole community of migrant workers who take care of the horses at racetracks and then move on at the end of the season.

Melissa Shook, a photographer who has taught at UMass Boston and MIT and whose work is at the Museum of Modern Art, has photographed these so-called “backside workers.” Her pictures appear in a book called My Suffolk Downs. The book is a fundraiser to help these invisible migrants, who have no access to health providers or other social services. A 22-year-old nonprofit called the Eighth Pole is their lifeline.

Read what the Boston Globe‘s Linda Matchan has to say about photographer Melissa Shook and why she loves the racetrack world, here.

Photograph of Melissa Shook by Wendy Maeda, Boston Globe

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When I told my husband that playwriting teacher Peter Littlefield wanted class members to base a scene on an early moment when we first looked objectively at the adult world, he volunteered memories of his own.

Last weekend, Suzanne, John, and their spouses got to hear about a Philadelphia childhood and the horse that delivered milk, going reliably to the next house while the deliveryman placed bottles at the last one. They learned about an elementary school visit to a dairy company, and how it hit my husband so young that some men spend their whole lives lifting bottles into crates. He also remembered catching the tail end of the street lamplighter age. He has since mentioned ice delivery at the Jersey Shore and how you would put a special sign in the window indicating how many pounds of ice you wanted for that week.

There was also coal delivery in large canvas bags. Believe it or not, my husband is not that old.

Even Suzanne and John should remember that coal was delivered next door for several years after we moved to town. And clearly coal is still being delivered somewhere, as in this video a guy put on YouTube. I especially like the speech balloons he added.

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I’ve been reading Jason Elliot’s book Mirrors of the Unseen, which is about time he spent in Iran (not long before the green revolution of June 20, 2009, was trampled).

He’s a lovely writer if a bit overwhelming with his ability to compress centuries of history. I liked his earlier book, too, on Afghanistan, An Unexpected Light.

In the car on Sunday I read aloud a section of Mirrors that describes Elliot’s extended stay with Louise Firouz, an American who married an Iranian in the 1960s and has lived in Iran ever since — despite stints in prison and twice having all her family’s property confiscated.

The part I read aloud was about how she had researched, rediscovered, and bred a small horse thought to be extinct, one that turned out to have an ancestor going farther back than the Arabian horse. It’s the little Caspian, which was finally found, in pitiful shape, near the Caspian Sea and in Turkmenistan.

Nowadays you can find lots of videos of these horses on YouTube. I thought I would include this video, which is from a Caspian stud farm in Sweden.

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