Paul Belasik: “The Grand Silence”

(© Paul Belasik, from “The Songs of Horses,” first published 1999. Reprinted with permission of the author and The Crowood Press. “Louis XV hunting deer in the forest of Saint Germain” by Jean-Baptiste Oudry. This story was inspired by the 18th century écuyer to King Louis XV, Louis Cazeau de Nestier, also called The Grand Silence. It is said that the rider on the grey horse on the left side of this painting is Nestier.)

Somewhere in the countryside near Paris, 1735…

It is ironic to say that I had heard of his great horsemanship, since he was known as the Grand Silence. I had seen him hunting near Paris, where I once had lived. I have to say that I thought of him then more as the Great Arrogance or the Great Pomposity. It was through the following twist of fate that I met him.

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John Keats: “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”

(© John Keats (1795-1821), “La Belle Dame Sans Merci, 1818, 1821. Painting “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” by Sir Frank Dicksee (1853-1928))

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

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“A Good Seat: Three Months at The Riding Institute von Neindorff” by Lynne Sprinsky Echols, Part I in a Series

(@ 2003-2018 Lynne Sprinsky Echols. This excerpt from Chapter One is used with the author’s permission and and the entirety will be posted in a series. The author describes in fascinating detail the three months that, along with her friend Meredith, she spent in intensive training with Herr Egon von Neindorff at his world-renowned riding school in Karlsruhe, Germany…in search of “a good seat”. Feature image “The Imperial Riding School” (1702) by Johann Georg Hamilton.)

Saturday, February 1, 2003

We arrived in Karlsruhe at almost midnight yesterday. We’d been up for 48 hours straight and were cold, tired and hungry by the time we finally got to bed. The trip did not go smoothly – and that’s an understatement!

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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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Herman Melville: the Noble Truck-Horses at the Quay

(© Herman Melville, Redburn: His First Voyage (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), pp 271-2. Photograph: Roadway and quay at Regent Quay West, Aberdeen, Scotland. More information at bottom of post.) 

“Among all the sights of the docks, the noble truck-horses are not the least striking to a stranger. They are large and powerful brutes, with such sleek and glossy coats, that they look as if brushed and put on by a valet every morning. They march with a slow and stately step, lifting their ponderous hoofs like royal Siam elephants.

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