Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Equine Portraits - Jan Lukens

If you have that "special" equine then you've probably thought about having a portrait made of you and/or your horse.

I came across Jan Lukens about 15 years from an ad in the Chronicle of the Horse and immediately fell in love with his work.  My horse was injured and it was an ideal time to do a portrait.  He was living in CT at the time and he flew down to Maryland where I lived and spent a weekend with us.  We have stayed in touch ever since.

He has painted famous horses including Royal Kaliber (Chris Kappler's former Olympic mount), Hidden Creek's Perin (Margie Goldstein's Grand Prix horse), Galant du Surein (a Grand Prix dressage horse), and Gem Twist.

This is a pony I believe.

I prefer his paintings that include the owner:

Most are now done in oil:

The informal shots are wonderful.

Jan now lives in Greensboro, NC and he makes it to some of the larger shows like Upperville, WEF, Hampton Classic.

His paintings are typically large. 

Here is Jan with Chris Kappler:

Enjoy this last day of August.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shopping Detour - Lynchburg, VA

Took a detour yesterday and went to Concrete World (that story in another post) and the J Crew Outlets in Lynchburg, Va.  These are not Factory Stores but real outlets. One is located at the actual J Crew Factory and the other is not far away. 

J. Crew doesn't publish any official information about the factory, but if you prowl around the internet enough, you can find out where it is: 25 Millrace Drive in an industrial park in Lynchburg (J. Crew Aficionada didn't even have the address!).

The Northwynd store had items from the Madewell line, most of the wedding gowns and bridesmaid-type dresses J. Crew makes and a Crewcuts section. This was my second trip to the Outlets (my first trip was in December and I had much better luck then). But there were some great shoe bargains.  For example, you could have bought any of these adorable sandals for $25:
These were $50:
J. Crew Millrace Clearance Store (in the factory)
25 Millrace Drive
Lynchburg, VA
(434) 316-6324

J. Crew Wyndhurst Clearance Store (Wyndhurst is the development)
101 Northwynd Circle Street
Lynchburg, VA 24502
(434) 239-0575

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Great Man O' War

We often think of Secretariat as the greatest of all time, mostly because he is not a distant memory like the great Man o' War.  Born in March 1917, Man o' War won an astounding 20 of 21 races.  He brought much attention to horse racing just after World War I.  He won $249,465 in his career. 

The only race he did not win was the Sanford Memorial Stakes.  In those days there were no starting gates and the horses circled around and then lined up behind a piece of webbing and were sent away when it was raised.  In his only loss, Man o' War was still circling when the barrier was raised.  He only lost this race by a half-length.  The horse that beat him?  Upset. 

By prominent sire, Fair Play, his dam was Mahubah by the U.K. Triple Crown Champion, Rock Sand.  He was owned and bred by August Belmont, Jr.  Belmont joined the Army at age 65 to serve in France during WWI and while overseas his wife named a new foal "Man o' War" in honor of her admirable husband.

When the Belmonts liquidated their racing stable in 1918 the colt was sold for $5000 to Samuel D. Riddle (remember him from Seabiscuit?) who then took him to his Glen Riddle Farm in Berlin, Maryland.  He was chesnut in color.  By three, Man o' War was 16'2 and weighed 1150 pounds. 

He won his maiden race at Belmont on June 6, 1919 ridden by Johnny Loftus.  He was trained by Louis Feustel.  Three weeks later he won again at the Keene Memorial Stakes.  In 1920 Loftus was denied a license renewal and he was replaced by Clarence Kummer.

Man o' War often carried much more weight than the horses he raced.  As a two-year-old he carried 130 pounds in six races.  As a three-year-old he carried as much as 138 pounds and sometimes conceded as much as 32 pounds to other horses.

Unfortunately Man o' War was not entered in the Kentucky Derby.  His owner did not like racing in Kentucky and believed it was too early for a young horse to go a mile and a quarter.  But he did win the Preakness and he set a new track record that day (1:38 - 3/5 for a mile and was eased up to finish in a time of 1:51- 3/5).  He won the Belmont (it was then a 1 3/8 mile race) by 20 lengths, setting another American record with a time of 2:14.20.  That year he also won the Dwyer Stakes, the Travers Stakes, the Stuyvesant Handicap and the Jockey Club Gold Cup.  As the season went on no one wanted to race against the strapping chestnut colt. 

In the Lawrence Realization Stakes only one horse ventured out to run against the winning colt, Hoodwink, who was owned by Mrs. Riddle's neice, Sarah Jeffords.  Man o' War won by over 100 lengths and set a new world record of 2:40- 4/5 for a mile and five-eights, besting the previous record by six seconds, a track record that still stands.

His final race was against the famous Sir Barton (who won the Triple Crown the year before) in Windsor. Ontario in the Kenilworth Park Gold Cup.  This 1 1/4-mile race was an easy run for Man o' War who breezed to a seven length win.  This was actually a match race between the two famous colts.  Another champion horse "Exterminator" was invited to compete as Canada did not allow "match races" at the time.  Due to the owners not being able to come to terms with the conditions of the race, Exterminator was scratched and ran somewhere else on the same day.

This race was the first horse race ever recorded and you can watch it here.

Man o' War retired after the match race and went on to sire more than 64 stakes winners.  He sired American Flag and Crusader who both won the Belmont Stakes in 1925 and 1926. Other great ones include Battleship who won the 1938 English Grand National and Clyde Van Dusen, the 1929 Kentucky Derby winner.  Hard Tack (another offspring) sired Seabiscuit.  His most successful sons at stud were War Admiral and War Relic and War Relic's branch of the male line survives today. Tiznow, Honour and Glory and Bertrando are also all sire-line descendants of Man o' War. 

Man o' War was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 1957.  Soon after, the Man o' War Stakes was made in his honor.  In the Blood Horse ranking of the top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Man o' War was ranked No. 1.

If you are interested, there are a few older books about the famous colt.

The first, Man o' War by Page Cooper and Roger Treat was published in 1950 and is a classic.  Walter Farley of The Black Stallion fame, also wrote a book. 

In 2006, Dorothy Ours wrote a new, extensively sourced biography entitled Man O' War: A Legend Like Lightening.

Man o' War died on November 1, 1947 at the age of 30 of an apparent heart attack only a very short time after his longtime groom, Will Harbut, died.  Somehow they know.  He was the first horse to be embalmed, and his casket was lined in his riding colors. Man o’ War’s funeral was broadcast internationally over the radio and over 2,000 people came to pay their final respects.

He was originally buried at Faraway Farm but in the early 1970's his remains were moved to a new site at the Kentucky Horse Park where his grave is marked today by a lovely sculpture. 

History fades unfortunately and we often forget about another great chestnut colt.  He was in my opinion as great and possibly greater than Secretariat if you consider his legacy.  But let's not split hairs.  He probably would have won the Triple Crown had he raced in the Derby and probably would have set a record.  It would have been interesting to see if that record would still stand today as Secretariat's does.  Maybe they had a match race in heaven.  I guess one day we'll all know.

Enjoy your last Monday in August!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stylish Equestrians - Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum

Faux pas in leaving Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum off my list of stylish equestrians.  She oozes talent and style.  The picture below is from an advertisement for Rolex.

Meredith was born and raised in California, the daugther of a successful Hollywood producer, Richard Michaels.  She was a successful junior rider and later attended Princeton University.  In 1991 she went to Germany to train with Paul Schockemohle and never came back.  She married Markus Beerbaum, of the famous equestrian family, in 1998.  She changed her citizenship to German and the rest is history.

It is safe to say that she is one of the most successful female riders in show jumping history.  She is the first woman to have reached the No. 1 position on the FEI show jumping world rankings (December 2004).  She won the gold medal at the 2009 World Cup Final in Las Vegas on Shutterfly (pictured above).  She was the gold medal winner of the 2008 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden (on Shutterfly).  She was ranked #1 in the world four consecutive months (Feb to May 2007) and she was the individual and team bronze at the 2006 WEG in Aachen, Germany, also on Shutterfly. In 2007 she won the individual gold and team silver at the European Championships on Shutterfly.  In 2005, she was a gold medal team member at the European Championships in San Patrignano on Checkmate 4.   The list goes on and on (and is quite long).  She is accomplished to say the least.

In 2010, she welcomed her first child, Brianne Victoria Beerbaum.  Think of the ponies this little girl is going to have!

She is also the sister-in-law to Ludger Beerbaum, who has won multiple Olympic and championship medas in show jumping.

Meredith oozes outdoor athleticism much in the same vein as Zara Phillips.  She adds that California blonde girl charm as well. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stylish Equestrians

Seeing the upcoming cover of French Vogue made me think of women who have real style but also are avid equestrians.  For some, style and equines go hand in hand. 

The first person who comes to mind is Jackie Kennedy.  Even today, she still has it.  She looks good on and off a horse and she clearly loved riding to the hounds.  There are numerous photos out there of her riding with her children, to hounds in Virginia and New Jersey.  She was a good rider and clearly loved it.

Charlotte Casiraghi graces the cover of the new French Vogue.  As the daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco and the granddaughter of the late Princess Grace, she has style in her blood.  And she has a wardrobe to die over.  But she can also ride and Gucci has created an equestrian wardrobe for her.

She looks great in just about anything, but certainly looks at home in the saddle.

She is modeling those Gucci togs here:

Kelly Klein is also a very competent equestrian and looks good on her horse and off.  She has a farm in Wellington and can be seen riding at WEF every now and then.  She also has written a book about horses.  I believe this photo was taken at her farm in Florida.

(Elle Decor photo)

Who else would you put in this category? 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Beaufort Blues

Still wishing I were in Beaufort.  While I sit at my computer and work today, this lovely vision lingers:

I would be strolling down Ann Street looking at the beautiful restored houses:

And this afternoon I would be at the "Riviera":

It's great to have places that you are emotionally attached to, isn't it?

Have a great Friday and a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Non-Horsey Books for the Uber Competitive Horse Person

I am an avid reader and wish I had more free time to read.  Not yet graduated to the e-book reader as I have a home office which is full of shelves of books that I love.  Like Jackie Kennedy, I like to be surrounded by my books. 

There are few books that I often refer as a competitive rider that are not written specifically for the equestrian.  One of my favorites is a book I picked up at an off price bookstore in Ocala many years ago, Sports Psyching by Thomas Tutko and And Umberto Tosi.  This is a sports psychology book that can be applied to most any sport.  But since riding is not a team sport, much like tennis, so much depends on your individual performance. This book taught me to concentrate, as the author states "without concentration, no athlete can be successful."  I still refer to it before a big competition and it just reminds me how mental most sports are, once you reach a certain level of training.  And riding is so dependent on the ability to focus and concentrate. You can still buy it on Amazon. 

Another favorite is one that is out of print but you can buy it from resellers on Amazon. This was given to me as a gradate school graduation present and I have cherished it ever since.  George Plimpton's The X Factor examines the "factor" that all winners, from famous athletes to successful CEOs seem to possess.  He defines the X Factor as "a quality which goes by many aliases: competitive spirit, the will to win, giving it 100 percent, the hidden spark, Celtic Green, Yankee pinstripes, guts, the killer instinct, elan vital, having the bit in one's teeth, and so on - qualities which if synthesized into a liquid form and corked up in a bottle could be sold by the millions."

I think of Serena Williams as she clearly has the "X Factor" in spades. 

A more recent book, and somewhat similar to Plimpton's in a way is Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers.  Instead of focusing on traits that extremely successful people possess, Gladwell argues that the true story of success is very different, and that if we want to understand how some people thrive we should spend more time looking around them at things such as their family, their birthplace, or even their birth date.  Is it coincidental that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were born in the same year?  His book is fascinating and he makes some very good points about time, place, and the 10,000 hour rule.  I won't give it away. You will need to read it for yourself to find out what that is.  You won't be disappointed.

And I am including a book that I have not read yet but it is on my short list.  Talent is Overrated by journalist Geoff Colvin. 

One of the most popular Fortune articles in many years was a cover story called “What It Takes to Be Great.” Geoff Colvin offered new evidence that top performers in any field--from Tiger Woods and Winston Churchill to Warren Buffett and Jack Welch--are not determined by their inborn talents. Greatness doesn’t come from DNA but from practice and perseverance honed over decades.

And not just plain old hard work, like your grandmother might have advocated, but a very specific kind of work. The key is how you practice, how you analyze the results of your progress and learn from your mistakes, that enables you to achieve greatness.

I am reading a great book on Dwight Eisenhour.  Eisenhour's story, how he lingered in the Army until he was in his early 50's, producing a great record of success, but not moving up, with a foundation built on very hard work, not working for yourself but for the good of the team (the Army in this case) is a perfect example of Colvin's theory of success. 

Hope I inspired some of you to read!  Sometimes you need inspiration, a new approach, a different way of looking at an old problem to cross that hurdle on your way to perfection in whataver you do!  Enjoy your Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Ponies of Shackleford, Part 2

While on vacation in Beaufort, NC in late July, we ventured over to Shackleford Banks off the Beaufort waterfront to actually see the wild ponies.  We got very close to some of them.  (see my earlier post, the Wild Ponies of Shackleford, Part One for more background information).

The ponies have roamed these shores for many centuries and are now protected.  They have the island to themselves but this was not always the case.  Before the hurricane of 1933, Shackleford and Core Banks were a continuous body of sand.  A channel disconnected the two at high tide.  On Shackleford there were several human settlements, Wade's Shore, Mullet Pond and Bell's Island.  The largest and most legendary was Diamond City, named for its proximity to Cape Lookout lighthouse (which has a diamond pattern on it). 

The late 1890's was known for its period of massive storms that devasted the area around Shackleford.  A category four or even five hurricane in August 1899 ravaged the area for two days.  Most of the island's topsoil vanished, freshwater wells were ruined.  Ponies and other livestock were certainly killed.  Within a few years of this last storm, the island became totally uninhabitable for humans.  Some people continued to graze cattle on the island and some cottages eventually reappeared.

When Colonel Fred Olds visited the area in 1925 he described approximately 3000 horses living on Shackleford Banks and Core Banks.  But again, mother nature hit the area hard.  The huge storm of 1933 (hurricanes were not named back then like they are today) claimed the lives of 21 people and killed many of the wild ponies on Shackleford.  It also created a new inlet just west of Cape Lookout, so that Shackleford Island was no longer connected to the Cape (Bogue Banks). 

No one knows how many of the ponies survived but clearly some did. 
And incredibly on June 14, 1938, the Raleigh newspaper announced that the "final extinction of the Banker Ponies, wild horses that have roamed the Outer Banks for three centuries was begun this morning."    Armed with high powered rifles two hunters continued the work of removal that had begun several years earlier as a result of special North Carolina legislation aimed at removing the animals from the Banks.

Not all the horses were killed.  Many survived on near-by Ocracoke Island.  The National Park Service still takes care of the herd that live there, semi-feral on the island.  In 1957 a special plea by local residents won a reprieve for the horses on Shackleford.  Those that remain today stand as a slender vestige of the thousands that once ranged all along North Carolina's barrier islands.  At least those that are left are now protected and are able to roam freely without worry about being killed by poachers.

Here we are in late July, very close to a few of the Banker ponies.  It is a marvel that they have managed to last as long as they have, given the elements, mother nature, and of course, their biggest danger, man.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

More Needlepoint Belts

I am going to stitch a belt for a friend who has helped me a lot this summer (and she rides) so I have been scouring the Internet for good belts.  She wants it horsey, with her initials and she is tall and thin so it will look great on her once it is done.  Take a look at some of these choices:

This one is really cute stitched. I would do the background in a fun color like aqua, pale yellow, or even a light pink.  She wants her initials on the belt which is easy to do, you can order them that way.

This is one of my all time favorites.  One day I will stitch this one.  It looks fantastic when completed:

The fox hunting scenes will always be in style. 

Polo anyone?





Some good sources for belts are, M's Canvas House and the Sign of the Arrow.  Journeyman's in Middleburg, VA is the best place for finishing.  Happy stitching!
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