Sunday, December 12, 2010

Man's Other Best Friend

Magnet # 415:  Kentucky Horses, Stables

Material:  Resin

Purchased By:  Me

Saddle up, everyone - tomorrow is the National Day of the Horse!  This particular observance isn't terribly old and dates back to 2004, when Congress passed a resolution that designated that December 13th as the first National Day of the Horse.  And this was one issue every political party could agree on - it passed the Senate in an unanimous vote.  I can't imagine why anyone would vote against such a celebration.  Even celebrities like Bo Derek and Jewel came out in support of the measure.  This overwhelming support simply illustrates how beloved these creatures are, both in the United States and worldwide.  Horses have been around since Prehistoric times and were first hunted for their meat, but when humans domesticated them over 5,000 years ago, they took on an all-new importance.  They proved to be more useful than just about any other animal, assisting in travel, agriculture, hunting, and war.  But, for some reason, there had been no horses in the Western Hemisphere since before the Ice Age until Christopher Columbus brought them back during his second voyage to the New World.  And they proved to be of vital importance to the settlers who came to America, helping them to spread across the entire continent.  Some new breeds were actually developed in the United States, like the American Quarter Horse, the Morgan horse, and the Tennessee Walking Horse.  Of course, this was also where the first automobile, which would replace horses to an extent, was also created.  Nonetheless, vehicles will never replace the love humans have for horses and even though they're now used more for recreation and sport than work, they will likely remain faithful companions and friends to humans for the rest of our existence.

While I've always liked horses, I have to admit I'm not quite as into them as some of my friends, two of which have horses themselves.  I met one of my friend's horses, Val, a white Arabian, once and spent a nice afternoon taking lots of pictures of him.  I've drawn some horses in my art before, and may use those photos as reference if I ever do so again.  Of course, I haven't portrayed nearly as many horses in my work as my friend Lindsay has.  She adores horses and saved up for years as a child so she could afford to buy her own, Destiny, who's since passed away.  But she still loves horses as much as ever, and I know she'll get another if she's ever able to.  When we traveled down I-75 through Florida at the beginning of this year, she was pretty depressed by all of the foreclosed horse farms we passed - Ocala and its surrounding areas must have had quite a few horses about a decade ago.  But I guess the current economic situation has made life pretty hard on horse owners.  So if you're a horse lover and are up for it, you might want to consider celebrating them, even if it's not tomorrow, by stopping by a local stable and paying to ride for a few hours.  It could really help out in these tough times.  I used to ride horses at summer camp, but it's probably been about two decades since I've been in a saddle.  And I've talked with Lindsay about going horseback riding sometime, as I know she does, so I hope it happens.  I'd also like to take a trip to one of the islands here on the East Coast that features wild horses roaming about.  Maryland and Virginia have Assateague Island, which is home to miniature horses about the size of ponies in addition to some rather small horses in North Carolina's Outer Banks, most notably the Banker ponies of Ocracoke Island. There's also Cumberland Island National Seashore, which is just a bit south down the coast here in Georgia.  There, herds of wild horses run free and they're believed to be descended from horses left behind by the Spanish in the 16th century.  It would really be great to visit one of these scenic locales and catch a glimpse of some of these wild horses.  But no matter where I see them, I'm always happy to come upon one of these magnificent animals.  And I'm glad that we've set aside a day here in the United States to recognize all of the contributions they've made in shaping our nation and its character.

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