Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Hudson Bay Influence

You've probably seen these blankets or perhaps you own one.  Ask me why I thought about this as a topic for a blog post, well it's getting colder and the horses are getting fuzzy and the blankets will come out soon, unfortunately.  And yes, they do make blankets for horses that mimmik the Hudson Bay ones, but really they are copies of Witney Blankets (for another day).  Anyway, here are what they look like on the horse. Rambo makes one (and they are great). 

Let's get back to the topic at hand.  

The Hudson Bay is a large body of saltwater in northeastern Canada and the southern arm is called James Bay.

It is the second largest bay in the world behind the Bay of Bengal and it is part of the Atlantic Ocean. You may have heard about  the Hudson Bay Company as it was a trading post started in 1670 along the James and Hudson Bays.  Natives would barter furs for trade goods such as knives, beads, needles and blankets, hence the Hudson Bay Blanket.   The company is still going strong today.  But this place is cold.  Water temperatures peak at 46-48 degrees (F) on the western side in late summer so you can understand how a trading company might get started in a place as remote and cold as this.

The Hudson Bay Company (HBC) or "The Bay" (La Baie in French) is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world.  A fur trading business for much of its existence, today the company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada and the US including the Bay, Lord & Taylor, Zellers and Home Outfitters.  The company is headquartered in Toronto.

The company was incorporated by English royal charter in 1670 as The Governor and Company of Adveturers of England trading into Hudson' Bay and functioned as the de facto government in parts of North America early on. At one time the company was the largest landowner in the world.

The "Point" Blanket was typically traded to Native Americans and First Nations in exchange for beaver pelts.  They were desired because of the wool's ability to hold heat even when wet and they were easier to sew than bison or deer skins (how the world has changed).

Wool cloth was traded as far back as the French regime in North America (1500-1765) but the HBC point blankets were introduced in 1780.  They are called point blankets due to the point system - the points or smaller lines that are stitched into the blanket to denote its size so that it does not have to be unfolded to be measured.  

Point blankets are made in England from 100% wool and the office licencee allowed them to be in the US through Woolrich, Inc out of Pennsylvania.  Similar blankets are made by Pendleton Woolen Mills but they are not the original ones.

We all know of the Hudson Bay influence in fashion, decoration and just the recognition factor.  I love these handbags from Rebecca Ray that are made from point blankets (don't know if she uses the real thing or a copy):

Many of the early blankets have become collectors' items and their value is determined by age, condition, size, pattern rarity.

Next time you see the Hudson Bay influence you'll know where it came from.  Funny how some things never get old.

Friday, September 28, 2012

It's Capital Challenge Time!

Early October means that it's time for Capital Challenge, probably my favorite horse show now in it's 19th year.  Founded by Billy Glass and Oliver Kennedy, it brought a whole new light to high level horse showing and today outshines all of it's much older rivals: The National (now in KY), Harrisburg and Washington.  While you don't have to qualify for CC like you do the others I just mentioned, it is entirely just as competitive if not more so.  Entry fees are high and at one time they limited the number of entries so it was hard to "get in" unless you entered early like in July.  The only other show IMHO that is just as tough is probably the WEF in Palm Beach.  

Why is it so special?

Well, for one, it's the best run horse show IMHO.  They do things totally right.  It's outdoors in the fall so the weather is usually good. There is one indoor ring.  The judging is good.  The rings are good.  There are flowers everywhere.  The stabling is good.  There are little touches - exhibitor breakfasts, lunches. When you win a class you get special recognition.  The trophies are unique.  There is a live feed so you can watch on line (they were the first to do this).  There is money in all the hunter and jumper classes even for the amateurs.  It is uber competitive.  There are several equitation finals (where the rider is judged) and the World Championship Hunter Rider Finals are here (classes for top riders in the amateur and professional ranks).  You have to qualify for those. 

I have not shown here in a few years. When Alfie and I get up to speed maybe we will go back. Sega had some great days here in the World Championship Hunter Rider Finals.  We competed in the class three times and came home with ribbons twice (my fondest memory with her is our last time there where she was fourth). 

If you love watching the hunters and happen to be in Maryland (just outside the Washington, DC Beltway) in Prince George's County you should go watch. You'll see the very best of the very best.  The show runs Sept. 29th through October 7th at PG Equestrian Center in Upper Marlborough, MD.  

The poster above is this year's artwork by Michael Tang. The horse is Small Affair (he is CA-based) and the rider is John French, also from the West Coast.   All photos are from the CC Facebook site and most are from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.  Thank you!  There is great information on their Facebook site.  Just look for "The Capital Challenge Horse Show."  Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Noah's Ark

 Don't you just love Herend animals?  If I had an ark, I'd include them all.  They just never get old!  And the colors! 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

J Crew Teams Up With Barbour

I am loving this Barbour jacket at J Crew which is lined in Liberty fabric.  You can see it here.
It is black, not the usual green or brown which I also love. But what a great idea to line it in something different.  Wouldn't you  love one of these lined with an old Hermes scarf?  These don't come cheap, but they last FOREVER.  I have one in my closet that is over 20 years old and still going. What's not to love about this other than maybe the price?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Army Mules

We went to the Army - Wake Forest football game this past weekend in North Carolina (my hubby is a West Point grad) and it was a lot of fun.  For a few years we have talked about trying to locate a retired Army mule.  I knew nothing about the history behind the mules so a brief lesson is in order.

There are two mules that serve as the Army mascot.  The tradition dates to 1899 when an officer at the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot decided that the team needed a mascot to counter the Navy goat.  Mules had been used for generations to haul Army gear so they were a logical choice.  Not much is known about the "official" mules until 1936 when Mr. Jackson (named for Stonewall), arrived from Front Royal, Virginia (about 2 hours north of where we live).  He served for 12 years presiding over two national championship teams.  There have been 17 "official" Army mules. Only one has been female, Buckshot.

The current Mules are:

* Ranger III - (known as Jack).  He has been on campus since 2011 and was trained by MAJ Anne Hessinger, an Army veterinarian, who served at WP from 2003-2006.  Named, like his predecessor, for the 75th Ranger Regiment and all Rangers past and present, Ranger III came to the Academy in 2011 as a gift of Steve Townes, class of 1975.  He is 16'2 and the son of a Percheron mare.  Townes has donated many mules to West Point. Thank you!

* Stryker (known as Abe). He is the half-brother of Ranger III and was also trained by the same person and gifted by Townes.  He is slightly shorter than his brother.

Mules are a cross between a donkey and a horse.  The size of the horse will likely dictate the size of the mule. Some of the past  WP mules are bred to Quarter Horses which will likely make them smaller like the one in the photo above.  The current mules appear to be large since they are half Percheron (a draft horse).

The riders for the mules are chosen, one from each class.  They are kept at West Point and while many believe that they are the West Point mascot, they are really the mascot for the entire Army.  West Point's mascot is the Black Knight.

Other mules were named General Scott, Ranger II, Raider, Trooper, Traveler, Black Jack, Ranger I, Spartacus, Buckshot, Hannibal II, Trotter, K.C. MO, Hannibal I, Pancho and Mr. Jackson.

We made some contacts at the game and hope that we will one day be able to "retire" one of the mules on our farm.  Would that not be cool?  We think so and we'd love to give one a great home.  It's much warmer in Virginia than in upstate New York too!

There is a great movie if you like old ones, called Francis Goes to West Point (1952) with Donald O'Connor.

We love watching it and the main character, Francis is a mule.  He actually goes to West Point. When hubby sees it he always is able to point out locations from the movie that he recognizes.  Some things never change: mascots, mules, and the venerable West Point.  Army lost the game, by the way, but what a fun weekend.  They sent the "human" mule too (my photo did not turn out well) - the real ones stayed home. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Trend: Equestrian

I promise this is the last fall fashion post with the "equestrian" influence, but who does it better (and did it first) than Ralph.  His web site is full of the equestrian influence this fall and this is just the tip of the iceberg so I encourage you to peruse at your leisure.

In some cases these look familiar, just updated.  This belt looks expensive and it is but how lovely is this?

This shirt was one of my favorites.  Love the colors, in silk.

These boots come in three colors:

Another expensive handbag:

 And belt:

This black dress is from the Lauren line, within reach.

Same goes with this shirt which has race horses on it, ribbons and bits.

Skinny jeans. Maybe there is too much going on here:

This is the same bag as the purple one above. It comes in many colors.

Another inexpensive dress:

Happy shopping!

Friday, September 21, 2012

When I am an Old Horsewoman

This sounds just like me in about 20 years!  Happy Friday and welcome Fall.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fox Overload

I love the fox motif but I think TB has gone too far with it.  What do you think?

I love her Reva flats and they are timeless and functional, but this?????  You can buy them here but there only a few sizes left in the flats so I must be in the minority on this one.  The boots seem to be in ample supply.
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