Do You Know Where Your Right Leg Is?

Do You Know Where Your Right Leg Is?

(“The Two Horse Act,” color lithograph originally published in 1874 by Gibson & Co, Cincinnati)

I had to laugh when I wanted a feature image for this post and this amusing Victorian circus act image that I saved some time ago floated up to the top of my extensive gallery of artwork.

Everything about this image is fascinating. The audience as a group oddly seems to be either looking in front of the “two horse act” or behind it. Yet each person’s individualistic face and his or her details from headwear to clothing is drawn carefully. The mustachioed rider understandably has a preoccupied expression, balanced atop two horses as he is, guiding them (on loose reins, I might add!) as they run at frenetic speed in a small ring, and at the same time holding out a perky lass with golden ringlets who stands with her right foot on his manly thigh…with her left ankle extended out of sight.

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Order in the Time of Chaos – Thoughts On the Beauty of Balance

Order in the Time of Chaos – Thoughts On the Beauty of Balance

(© Kip Mistral 2020. Painting by Alexander Pock 1940, Spanish Riding School Levade.)

When as a child I first read Marguerite Henry’s wonderful book about the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, titled “The White Stallion of Lipizza,” equally wonderfully illustrated by her creative partner Wesley Dennis, I was fascinated with the idea of a supremely orderly program of learning and teaching a venerable and highly cultivated horsemanship.

This was no haphazard affair like the way my friends and I learned to ride…we were told to get on, kick to go, pull back on the reins to stop and neck rein. Then off we tore with our kind-hearted and forbearing mounts, all asses and elbows for too long as we learned the hard way.

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Moving Sabbatical!

Moving Sabbatical!

(Costume design for a carrousel of King Louis XIV from the studio of Jean Bérain 1640-1711)

Kipmistral.com is going on a short sabbatical while Kip and Val are moving to Tucson in the beginning of July **AND** expanding the website platform to include regularly scheduled articles, book and video reviews, short film creations, recordings, podcast interviews with today’s classical masters and other persons of the highest calibre of expertise, and new products. If you are not sure that you have joined the email list, please do! Your entry will not be duplicated in the event you have joined previously. I will soon have lots of news for you. Happy Trails for now!

When Only a White Horse Will Do

When Only a White Horse Will Do

(© Kip Mistral 2019. Detail from the “Apotheosis of Kaiser Wilhem” by Ferdinand Keller, 1888. National Gallery, Berlin)

Everyone knows, on an archetypal level, that anyone riding a white horse in a movie is a good guy and anyone riding a black horse is a bad guy. Why is that? Why is Pegasus white and why is the Unicorn white? Why is the horse the King rides so often white? Well, white is the color identified with the qualities of purity and nobility, and also it just so happens that real white horses are extremely rare…literally, the pearl of great price.

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Where Did the Wild Things Go?

Where Did the Wild Things Go?

(© Kip Mistral 2018. “Water Sprite” by Theodor Kittelsen)

Almost all of us riders met the horse first in our childhood imaginations. We took our seats on the gleaming black stallions, or the feisty red mares, or even the luminous winged white horse, and they carried us to…wherever we wanted to go. And we flew together with them in a gallop so fast that we conquered space and time.

Some of us children were so lucky to find our way to the horse in the real flesh. We learned to love that wonderful smell of their coats and their sweet hay-scented breath. We groomed them until they shone. We sat on their patient backs for hours while we talked to our friends in the barn aisle. We rode freely out in the country, perhaps, with no rules except to be home by dark. We were unconscious of anything except the moment, the freedom and its joy. We—and I am one of these fortunate ones—know now how extremely lucky we were to have this gift of innocent time with the horse. We could be Wild Things together.

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