Horses at Work: What would we have done without them? International Day of the Horse – April 10, 2018

Where would we be without the generosity, courage, and friendship (and sacrifice) of the horse?

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Marie-Adélaïde de Savoie Takes Us On An Afternoon Ride Around Château Versailles

(© Kip Mistral 2018. All rights reserved.)

Bienvenue, welcome to Château Versailles! I am Marie-Adélaïde de Savoie, Duchesse de Bourgogne, wife of Louis, Duc de France (and the adoring mother of a handsome little boy who will be the future King Louis XV!). It is such a lovely afternoon that we are gathering to ride a promenade around the Château. Our horses will be brought up to the Cour Royale (courtyard) in a moment. As always I will ride my beautiful white Spanish mare, La Colombe. She is sweet and soft like the dove for which she is named. Since you’re here, you must join us!

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Sylvia Loch on the Iberian Horse: Generous Beyond Belief

(© Kip Mistral. First published in the Spring 2004 issue of Horse of Kings magazine, and in May 2008 in the Equine Journal. Photograph of Sylvia and her beloved Lusitano stallion Prazer, courtesy of Sylvia Loch.)

“The Lusitanos have taught me everything,” exclaims Sylvia Loch warmly, when asked what she has to say about the Iberian horse. Being an internationally-recognized classical rider, trainer, and judge and internationally published author of numerous books and videos on classical riding, she is considered an authority in matters of the Iberian horse and particularly of the Lusitano from Portugal. And the glow in her voice emanates not just from her knowledge but from the depth of her love for these fine horses that she just cannot live without…

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The Adventures of Amerigo: Flying White Horse of Sinterklaas

(© 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.

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Horsing Around: Functions and Colours of the Medieval Horse in the 12th and 13th Centuries [© 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]

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?

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