(The Rainbow Trail by Woody Crumbo, 1912-1989)
I am the Turquoise Woman’s son.
On top of Belted Mountain,
Beautiful horse–slim like a weasel.
My horse has a hoof like striped agate;
His fetlock is like a fine eagle plume;
His legs are like quick lightning.
My horse’s body is like an eagle-plumed arrow;
My horse has a tail like a trailing black cloud.
I put flexible goods on my horse’s back;
The Little Holy Wind blows through his hair.
His mane is made of short rainbows.
My horse’s ears are made of round corn.
My horse’s eyes are made of big stars.
My horse’s head is made of mixed waters–
From the holy waters–he never knows thirst.
My horse’s teeth are made of white shell.
The long rainbow is in his mouth for a bridle,
and with it I guide him.
When my horse neighs, different-colored horses follow.
When my horse neighs, different-colored sheep follow.
I am wealthy, because of him.
Before me peaceful,
Behind me peaceful,
Under me peaceful,
Over me peaceful,
All around me peaceful–
Peaceful voice when he neighs.
I am Everlasting and Peaceful.
I stand for my horse.
The War God’s Horse Song (Navajo)
“WHEN THE EARTH HAS had enough to drink, you must race across the heavens carrying the rainbow in your mane and tail, and spread it over the sky so that departed souls may cross upon it into the next world. . . . All souls will travel across the rainbow trail.”1
These were the instructions given to the horse by the Indians when it was selected as the favorite of all the animal kingdom. The legend of The Rainbow Horse, was a story frequently recounted by the Potawatomie artist, performer, and dancer Woody Crumbo throughout his prolific career, and served as an inspiration for many of his paintings, including The Rainbow Trail installed in the Nowata, Oklahoma post office in 1943. See more at:
(© 2017 Kip Mistral.)
Strictly speaking, this post about the flying white horse Amerigo, who makes the overnight gift deliveries of the Dutch and Belgian holiday character “Sinterklaas” possible, is belated as Amerigo does his thing on December 5th. But having just found out about him, I wanted to share a little bit of the story since after a lifetime of being used to nine reindeer pulling Santa Claus’ sleigh, seeing the image of a horse standing on a roof gable was utterly charming.
(© 2017 Kip Mistral. Featured image, The Clark Sisters, by Alfred Munnings. All images copyright estate of Sir Alfred Munnings, All rights reserved, DACS.)
Having recently discovered the prolific British Romantic art of Sir Alfred James Munnings (1878-1959) which ironically focuses on the kind of sunlit and backlit Edwardian idyllic pastoral countryside equestrian activities that I wish I could enjoy myself, out of curiosity I began to look into his long and interesting life. As a young man Munnings roamed his native countryside painting gypsies, horse fairs and races and hunt scenes with riders and packs of hounds. He later served Britain as a WWI war artist and thereafter roved the world documenting the mostly equestrian lifestyles of aristocratic and wealthy patrons. Munnings was lionized on both sides of the Atlantic as the finest equestrian artist, his friends including Sir Winston Churchill and any number of the highest-ranking persons in society and industry of the time. Today his paintings sell in the $7-8M range. But this is a man who made his way to a knighthood by his passion for horses and the outdoors, and a whole lot of hard work.
(© Elizabeth Chadwick. Author Elizabeth Chadwick has graciously given me permission to re-post her fascinating article about the types of horses bred and used for specific functions, and how their colors were named. Elizabeth is a best-selling British author of historical fiction; please see her website at http://elizabethchadwick.com.)
I was one of those horse-mad little girls. I spent a lot of my childhood either making up stories in my imagination about horses and ponies, or galloping about pretending to be both the horse and rider at the same time.
I was something of a nerd about their colours and collected books and posters and trawled the library for pictures and information. I was a seven year old who knew my bay from my chestnut, my blue roan from a strawberry roan, and that white horses were always referred to by equine types as greys! I spent many happy hours identifying breeds with my Observers Book of Horses and Ponies, on the way discovering that the ancestor of the warhorse more resembled a Welsh cob or a Villanos heavy Andalucian, than a modern Shire, whatever commentator Dorian Williams said about Shires and Clydesdales at the Wembley Horse of the Year Show.
Those childhood obsessions stood me in good stead when I began writing historical fiction set in the Middle Ages, for what was a knight without his destrier and his palfrey? The common soldier without his all purpose rouncy? The merchant without his pack horses? The baron without his chazur for the hunt, and the farmer without his trusty, plodding stott to draw his plough and pull his cart?
Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds…