Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 - The Year of the Horse


The spirit of the horse is recognized to be the Chinese people's ethos – making unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able.

StrengthsPeople born in the year of the horse have ingenious communicating techniques and in their community they always want to be in the limelight. They are clever, kind to others, and like to join in a venture career. Although they sometimes talk too much, they are cheerful, perceptive, talented, earthy but stubborn. They like entertainment and large crowds. They are popular among friends, active at work and refuse to be reconciled to failure, although their endeavor cannot last indefinitely. 
So we know 2014 is going to be a grand year!

The Best Posts of 2013

Looking back over the year, it's interesting to see which posts were the most popular.  It will surprise you.  If you are a new reader then maybe you have not seen these, most from January.  As we ring out 2013, let's toast to the most read blogposts of the year! 

Number 5

Tack Rooms Extraordinaire
This was the fifth most viewed post of 2013.  As a barn owner and farm lover producing this was great fun.  Wouldn't we all love to get inside the fancy farms in Kentucky, Wellington, the top show jumper riders and owners in Europe?  Maybe we did not get inside those but with unlimited funds just think what you might create.  This post offers some over the top and some plain and simple ideas.  You can view this, posted in August, here.
Number 4

Equestrian Influence in Furniture, Right Now!
This post showcased Julia Browning Bova's new line for Stanford Furniture, taking the applause away from Ralph Lauren Home, at least temporarily.  You can read this early January post right here
Number 3

Primer on Needlepoint Belts
The needlepoint posts are always popular and you'd be surprised how many readers ask where they can buy specific canvases they see here.  Belts are so easy and fun to stitch (even a caveman can do it).  You'll keep seeing these in 2014.  And I hope some of you have learned to stitch after reading these posts.  You can view this one here.
Number 2

Style Icon C.Z. Guest
The popularity of this great trendsetter and equestrian is not a surprise.  No one today even begins to remind me of the fashionable but sporty New England beauty. You can read this one here.
Number 1
Hermes Fabric and Wallpaper Collection
I must admit that I was surprised that this one was the most popular.  I love Hermes and might have included the wallpaper above in my house if it had been available at the time.  But what this shows is that timeless is still tops.  You can view this one here.
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Best Books of 2013

There's nothing better than curling up with a great book on a cold winter day.  Since we have lot's of winter left, I'll give you some of my suggestions for a good read if you'll do the same.

(Pinterest photo)
I'm currently reading Donna Tarrt's The Goldfinch.  Extraordinary book like her others.  At 600+ pages it's a good winter read and it makes me look forward to jumping into bed at 9 pm. 

I read these earlier in the year:

Helen of Pasadena by Lian Dolan
A very good, funny, witty book. Lian's newest book, Elizabeth, The First Wife is equally good.

The Good Earth - Pearl S Buck
A classic that everyone should read.

Ashenden - Somerset Maugham
My favorite writer, one of the few books of his I had not read.  Supposedly, Ian Fleming based his James Bond series on this character. 

The Big Short - Michael Lewis
One of my favorite contemporary writers.  I read this one a second time.  Great tales from the 2008
financial meltdown.

So what are you reading and what would you recommend for 2014?  There's never enough time to read all those great books out there!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The U.S. Cavalry's Role in Modern Horsemanship

The U.S. Cavalry is the foundation for equestrian events in the U.S. It wasn’t until 1912 in Stockholm that equestrian pursuits were routinely included in the Olympics. Led by Capt. Guy Vernor Henry Jr. the first U.S. team was fielded from the U.S. Cavalry. In fact, until the cavalry was disbanded in 1948, every single U.S. equestrian Olympic team was made up of members of the cavalry or U.S. Army equestrian team; civilians were not invited to take part until the Helsinki games in 1952, the same year women were first allowed to compete in Olympic equestrian events.

Capt. Henry was an 1895 West Point graduate and attended the renowned French Cavalry School Saumur.  He also served as an aide to President Teddy Roosevelt.  Under his tutelage with only six months to spare, based in Fort Riley Kansas, the U.S. team prepared for the Stockholm Olympics.  The Army assembled team of 18 horses based in Ft. Riley, Kansas.  They had only six months to prepare. 

Because of his training in Europe, Henry knew his horses would not be able to challenge the European horses. He knew his only chance to be competitive was to out-condition his horses. The team trained through the winter and into the summer of 1912, despite being handicapped by the severe weather at Fort Riley, a time limitation of one and a half hours a day of riding-hall use, and by the fact that three of its members, Henry included, were required to continue their usual military duties as they prepared.

Henry decided to focus on the three-day event. It was the only competition in which they were competitive given the experience of both horses and riders.  The team members carried stopwatches and wore watches, an innovative concept in 1912.

In the competition the team performed up to the exacting standards of Henry. The team challenged for the silver medal in the three-day event and astonished the Europeans by winning the bronze medal. Henry himself rode on the bronze medal team, and additionally competed in dressage (finishing 11th overall on the same horse, Chiswell, that he rode in the three-day), and led the fourth-place jumping team. The performance of the American team is especially significant given the quality of the horses and the severe circumstances under which they trained, for only six months.

After World War I the Army refocused its efforts. The Remount Service, which was founded to ensure an adequate supply of horses for wartime and an elite one-year course in advanced equitation was added to the curriculum at the Cavalry School to groom officers and Olympic team members.
In  1930, Capt. Henry was named chief of cavalry.

At the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, although the event took place in the midst of the Great Depression, the team won five medals, a level of success that would be unmatched for more than 50 years, until the Team (USET) earned five medals in 1984.

(Bert de Nemethy on Tally Ho, 1959, Pinterest)

Col. John W. Wofford, a member of the 1932 team, went on to serve as the first president of USET and to coach the first team with civilian riders in 1952. From 1955 to 1980 Bert de Nemethy coached the team, with Jack LeGoff hired as eventing coach in 1970. At the USET facilities in Gladstone, New Jersey, these men trained many of the medal-winning horses and riders that helped U.S. equestrian sport become what it is today.

 (de Nemethy and William Steinkraus, Pinterest)
If you are fascinated by history like I am, you might want to read two books. The first deals more with the history of horsemanship and how it evolved, going back four centuries.  Littauer relates how dressage was improved; how forward riding was developed by an Italian cavalry officer and how the new natural method for field riding and jumping swept dressage into the background. It is full of accurate, intelligent, and authoritative instruction – much more than mere history.  Court, cavalry and sport have all had their influence. Littauer also discusses modern riding in Italy, France, Germany, England and the United States and each country's contribution to the development of riding. Littauer was an officer in the Russian Imperial Cavalry and fought on horseback in World War I.


The second book is more of a historical survey of the U.S. Cavalry but equally interesting and worth reading. 



Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Art of Snail Mail

No one writes letters anymore as we are overrun by tweets, eblasts, and texts. Sadly this is true for many people, but not for me.  I love to send thank you notes, short letters for birthdays, special occasions or sometimes for no reason at all. 
In this age of disposable and intangible communications—when we delete our emails, hang up our conversations, and  literally turn on and off our books, a  letter, a real letter, written by hand with a pen, on paper is a powerful a way of communicating.  I am hoping it does not die a long painful death.   
“Letter writing,” Lord Byron wrote, “is the only device for combining solitude with good company.”
And engraved is best.  I love the look and feel.  And paper is an extension of your own personality....

One of my new year's resolutions is to write more letters.....

There's simply no reason not to be stylish when you write!

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Country Christmas

Returning from Washington, DC today, I miss the country life more than ever.  So we did not have a country Christmas, but we'll have a country new year's eve.  We'll pretend that we did.  Enjoy these photos and wishing you a country holiday wherever you may be.

(photos from Pinterest)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bye Bye Hollywood

Today is a sad day in racing history.  After 75 years of thoroughbred racing, Hollywood Park is closing for good. The last race will be run this afternoon.  The 260-acre track in Inglewood, Calif., that hosted Seabiscuit will be turned into a housing and retail development starting next year.

(Pinterest photo)

Hollywood Park opened in 1938 under the direction of movie moguls Jack and Harry Warner. Celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Jimmy Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck and Cary Grant attended the races.

Among the star horses that ran at the track were Seabiscuit, and Triple Crown winners Citation, Seattle Slew and Affirmed.  Champion mare and 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta was based at Hollywood Park, and so was I'll Have Another, the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.

(The famous horse, Citation, at Hollywood Park, from Pinterest)

I blogged about the closing in May 2013, you can read that here.

Many are quick to blame technology for racing's demise.  According to the New York Times, of the $213.7 million wagered during Hollywood Park's fall meet last year, $20.3 million was wagered at the track. The rest came from off-track betting.

(Seabiscuit at Hollywood Park, from Pinterest)

The reality is that the land was too valuable.  In a few years, the famed racetrack will be covered over with McMansions, townhouses, a shopping center or two, but you can be certain they'll use cute names like Zenyatta Way or Pincay Street, much like they've down in the developments covering the former Maryland "hunt country" just north of Washington, D.C. 

The 215 full-time employees are looking for work and in a few years no one will remember. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Favorite Wreaths

Christmas wreaths add so much to the holidays.  A plain house can come alive at the with the right wreath.  Go big, stay simple, get a great bow, and keep it up until January.  Here are some of my favorites:

You can tell I love Boxwood.  This is the Ivy Nursery in Charlottesville (above and below).

Moss works well too and you can use it every year!

All photos are from Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tartan and Toile

Tartan and toile, two of my favorites in decorating, especially during the holidays.

Have a great day!
(all photos from Pinterest)

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