woensdag 25 juli 2012

Olympic Horses in London

London 2012 is almost a fact and Stallie is totaly fired up for such an Olympic event.  I then change into a person who wants to find out everything there is about a sport.  Yes, I cheer many of them on and when they have date with history then I am genuiely happy for them.  Because after all the Olympic Games are still something special.  Many of the athletes that will come in action in the following 3 weeks have been longing perhaps for this event longer then we can ever imagine.  It is the icing on the cake!
The thing is that this year I will be hanging out somewhere else while many of the best of the best will perform there in London.  I will be in a city where I have been longing for and this for a very long time. It has been on my wish list of places I wanted to visit for sure in my life.  When the Olympic flame will enlighten the British capital I will be having a Martini Bianco on a terrace or a 'gelato' for dessert.  Firenze is calling and I can't wait to fill up my suitcases with my Summer wardrobe!  Yes, I even bought 3 dresses in order to survive the Italian sun! Not that I will forget to take along my sun lotion ph50 in order to come out unharmed!  Stallie and sun do not agree always.

This means that I will miss some Olympic highlights and that I  will have to catch up once I am back from my 'Room with a view'-holiday in 'la dolce Italia'.  And therefor I already leave out here  an Olympic entry.  Because Stallie wishes to express her admiration very openly for one kind of athlete that will be out there pursuing the Olympic fame and glory .   It is the kind of athlete that we tend to forget.

Because let us be honest in the first place we think of people when we think of athletes.  Bet that Usain Bolt,  Michael Phelps,  the Dream Team (US basketball players),  Rodger Federer are just a few that pop up randomly in your head.  I mean how many of you have been thinking of Chippieh, Rubi, Kenny, D'Niro, Painted Black, Vrieda O?  How many of you have been thinking of horses when hearing the words Olympic athlete?

Some of these athletes will have to run very fast, others will have to be able to jump with precission and others will have to perform a kür with perfection and there will even be a few who will have to combine all of this in what we call eventing.  And they will do this in most cases in a very focused state, or with grace or perfection.  It are these athletes that I will be cheering on.  Because let us be honest we tend to forget them that they are out there during these 3 Olympic weeks.

I can't wait to see some of these very special animals in action.  Some have been on boats, planes and trains and trucks to get to their Olympic stables.  If I come to think of it , they even have to overcome jetlag and in some cases even first have to go in quarantaine before they allowed out to perform.

Do I have a special reason to be so into horses?  Well, it is not that I ride myself a horse. At least not anymore.  There was a time I did but then there comes this moment that you need to make choices. I then did prefer ballet slippers above some shiny riding boots.  But still, the love for the horse is still there and I do try to keep it alive and kicking! 

I have had tons of kids in my classroom who just went in overdrive once the did hear the word 'horse'.  Some of these 'special ed' children were able to get me back into the world of horses.  Because in the world of special ed, horses have gained a very special spot.  Especialy in the world of children with autism.   I challenge you to google 'equine assisted therapy' and there will open up a whole new world you might not have known the existence of.   The first time I did hear of it was during my special ed teaching training. The positive side effects I saw in my pupils after being allowed near a horse for a few hours made me as a teacher become aware that a horse can make a difference in the live of many childeren.

Horses can also trigger something in Stallie her mind.  Some of you might now how far the love goes. And no, it is not only because of Mr Darcy being so handsome on a horse in 'Pride&Prejudice'! Nope! It does go a bit further then that.  They inspire me and do so much more then I can express out here. Yes, they have been part of my childhood. A happy time where I got to meet up with gigantic big mares by the lovely names like Mephisto, Fiber and my favorite and most loyal friend Pedro.  Vividly I remember the smell of leather that hit my nose and crispy sound of the saddle that my ears did pick up once I got into the saddle.  Also the very special sensation I felt like once that animal moved.  The world looked quite different from up there.

The fact that your feet are from the ground and that you have to let go so to speak is quite a challenge.  Yes, I did fall of them and I can tell you that it did frighten me. The funny thing was that I never did hesistate to get back right away into the stirrups and that the trust was still there once we were linked back together. Strange what a horse manages you to do!

I also remember how the older ones got to ride their favorite horse into the woods and when they came back they all looked so happy and content. Like the had been on ride through paradise. Also as a kid I always envied the horse riders that I got to see in action during the evenings out at the beach!  The way the water was splashed up by them running through it made me already feeling a bit more refreshed.

Now, I could go on for hours about horses and even start to mention some very historical horses like Bucephalus (Alexander the Great), Marengo (Napoleon), Copenhagen (Duke of Wellenington) and Traveller (General Robert E. Lee.). There is also the endless list of fictional horses that did add some speed to a good story or two: Frou-Frou (the race horse of count Vronsky in 'Anna Karenina'), Shadowfax ( Gendalf his white stalion 'the lord of all horses' in 'Lord of the Rings), Hengroen ( the loyal King Arthur's horse), the Trojan Horse (a gift that won't be easily forgotten!) and the so funny horse Jolly Jumper (who always puts up with the cartoon cowboy Lucky Luke) , 'My Little Pony' (the plastic toy horse that colored up my room and even took along to bed!)and the list could go on and on...

But there is also the troubled horse, the horse that did come across trauma one way or other and needs time to find back its balance. Some of the Olympic athletes with shining riding boots might have come or come sooner or later across some kind of horse like this.   Top of the bill in that category is the fictional horse by the name of Pilgrim.  This horse introduced us into the rather mystical and hard to understand world of horse whisperers.  Yes, horses can get traumatized and then the rider and its companion seem to be lost together. The voyage they then have to embark on is one that is comparble to chasing after Olympic gold.  They are both lost and chances are that they might not find back the balance they once had.  That is if they are not prepared to put back trust in each other.  Use also all the patience and faith you would put in your best friend.   It will cost tears and sweat to find back that one beat you after to make it work out there together as one team. 

So I guess that are reasons enough for me, Stallie to cheer on a bit louder for the olympic horses. Because believe it or not it is not only the rider who needs to qualify.  No also the horse needs to qualify. If the horse falls out for one reason or an other then the game is over.  So the bondage that you will see at work is the result of some very hard work.  The athletes in the saddle don't take it for granted, they are fully aware of how fragile this all is.  Some horses might already get not unharmed out of the transport phase.  What will for sure hurt and believe me that then the equestrian will suffer as well.

One of the best passages I ever read about horses and people also comes from 'The Horse Whisperer' by Nicolas Evans:
"If you want the horse to do something you begin by letting the horse know it is okay to be a horse. Not your version of what you think you need. It is about understanding who you are and respecting your place with one another.  To have that kind of acceptance requires a certain degree of spirtuality.",
(said by the character Tom Booker)
I am pretty sure that many horselovers are fully aware of what this means.  The energiefield that gets activated between a rider and horse is not always visible to the untrained eye of the audience. But I am sure that the Olympic riders who are now preparing their teammates know what Tom Booker tries to tell us.   

So ladies and gentleman, Stallie is putting all her fictional fortune on these Olympic Belgian horses by names of: Dunkas-A, Cyrano, Gazelle de Brasserie, Nepal du Sudre, Donnerfee, Lully de Aulnes, Valentina Van 't Heike, Bufero van het Panishof, Cadjanine Z and for sure Vigo d' Arsouilles, the world champ jumping who will retire after these London Olympic Games.  (If I have forgotten someone, then please forgive me!)

In case you have managed to obtain Olympic tickets have a great time!  I do envy you and for sure if it are tickets to see some of the above horses in action.   Wasn't it after all an Englishman who once made an English king, Richard III say:'My kingdom for a horse.'? Well, Shakespeare would for sure be hanging out at Greenwich Park in Olympic London.  Still, in these Olympic times this sentence won't be used ironically because in order to reach for the Olympic dream the horse is essential!   Good luck, Belgian riders and enjoy the Olympic ride!  You will be cheered on by Zeus and you beloved team mate with a saddle will have Pegasus! What an Olympic combo!

And take a deep look into the eyes of the horse here above. You might be starring into the eyes of an Olympic athlete!

P.S.: Also get well soon to Mensa G, the horse of Olympic horse rider Carl Bouckaert who did get injured during the transport to London! Let them take good care of him at the Olympic stables! 

 Because my love for horses can't be just 'framed' in one clip I post here two:

1. My favorite scene of 'The Horse Whisperer'.   That Robert Redford got to play 'Tom Booker' made me just smile. Plus I do like the character Annie in this one also a great deal.  She finally finds her way back to her own 'stable' with the help of the mysterious horse whisperer.

2. Yes, I dare to admit it here openly that I sometimes even sit down to watch 'Amika'. And I do sing these songs along as well.

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