...and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? (Jer. 12:5)
There has been much controversy lately about the sport of horse racing. On one side of the spectrum are hard-core fans who are willing to glaze over any mistreatment of these noble animals that rears its ugly head every once in a while within the sport. On the other side are the self-proclaimed animal welfare activists who want the sport banned altogether. Like with most other things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
If you are still undecided about your own stance on the issue of horse racing (and other traditional or culture specific sports and competitions involving horses), this post hopes to help you make up your mind by shedding some light on the history as well as modern day use of horses for human entertainment.
Recently, a cyber-friend of ours, Anita Lequoia, blogging at Campfire Chronicle, posted an article on Google+ about traditional horse sports surrounding celebration of the Easter Of The Horses in Bulgaria, which garnered a whole gamut of comments, some of which seemed to imply that use of horses for human entertainment was wrong regardless of its cultural significance. That got us thinking: are we humans being inherently cruel to other creatures when we use them in our recreational activities? The answer to this question is definitely not simple. Let's start with some historical perspective.
Horse racing and other sports involving horses have a long history and have been practiced in different cultures and civilizations since ancient times, from such major players in history as Ancient Greece, Rome, Babylon and Egypt, to lesser known traditions of Mongolia, Caucasus region, Iceland, Japan, and Menorca, just to name a few. Chariot races, Dzhigitovka, Ban'ei racing, Doma Menorquina, Point-to-Point, Barrel Racing, Buzkashi, Polo... There are so many sports developed around the world that could not exist without horses. Why is it that humans cannot entertain themselves without the help of a horse?
Throughout the history, humankind has highly valued horses in all aspects of life, from farming and livestock keeping to war and military uses. Is it then surprising for horses to have found their way into human entertainment activities? If we think that a draft horse pulling a plow or a war horse carrying a general on his back are just 'doing their jobs,' why not then consider a Thoroughbred racing or a Menorquin doing Spanish walk as just performing their jobs? We personally tend to lean in this direction.
But what about betting or abuse in horse racing? Gambling (betting on animals included) is a vice probably as old as human race, and it is more of a 'heart matter' on the part of those who participate in it in different capacities than it is a sign of horse abuse in any shape or form. Love of money is the root of all evil, and it can corrupt any well intentioned human activity, including horse sports. As for cruelty directly affecting horses, such as use of harmful substances and practices to increase chances of winning, at their very root, these activities also stem from the depravity of human hearts on the part of those who engage in them and not from the nature of the sport itself.
There have always been and there will always be those among us humans who consider nothing sacred when it comes to fulfilling their own greed. Does that mean we should ban all human activity in order to prevent such crooks from achieving their goals by abusing others? Let us not throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater when we consider the potential for and the actual incidents of animal abuse in horse sports either!
What are your thoughts on the subject of horse sports? Should they be banned? Are they a form of animal abuse? Feel free to weigh in by posting a comment below.
You have probably never heard of Gardnerville, Nevada - a town of about 5,700 inhabitants - and if you have, you probably think there is nothing remarkable about it. For the most part, you would be right. Although a few movies were filmed there, Gardnerville is still a pretty quiet small town with not much going on. That is, unless you want a high quality custom made saddle. In that case, Gardnerville is the place you definitely want to visit.
Saddle maker Doug Cox, originally from Salmon River / Rocky Canyon area of central Idaho, now lives and works his saddle magic in Gardnerville. For over 30 years Doug has designed and built many types of saddles on many types of trees. Because he builds saddles that are truly customized to achieve a comfortable fit for both the rider and the horse, Doug's work also includes time spent working with horses, experimenting with different aspects of saddle styles and construction. All of his saddles are made to order, and flower carving is drawn freehand, distinctively carved deep and hand set on properly cased leather. He never builds two saddles alike, and he enjoys creating unique designs for his clients who come from the ranks of working cowboys, pleasure riders, and competitors, as well as fine art collectors.
Growing up on an Idaho ranch gave Doug Cox hands-on experience with riding, training horses, and working cattle. He was known as a capable hand, hiring out for day work at ranches across Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. He also started his own colts, entered the show arena in reined cow horse and cutting competitions, and he even did his share of rodeo bronc riding. All along, saddle-making intrigued Doug, so from 1976 to 1981, he trained under well-respected traditional saddle makers, Bob Kelly and Ray Holes. Doug opened his own saddle making shop in 1981, and the rest is proverbial history.
Santa Barbara headstall by Doug Cox
In addition to saddles, Doug also creates headstalls, breast collars, and chaps. His work has been featured at the Santa Ynez Historical Museum in California, Western Folklife Center in Nevada, and has been purchased for private collections throughout the world. For his Collector Series of saddles Doug collaborated with California silversmith Ron Mewes, creating - among other pieces - the Silver Mounted Saddle #1, reminiscent of famed Visalia Stock Saddle and Edward H. Bohlin styles of the early 1900's. Just one look at this piece, and you will be making a trip to Gardnerville, Nevada for your own custom saddle by Doug Cox.
To see the famed Silver Mounted Saddle #1 and many other great designs of Doug's, visit his website at www.dougcoxcustomsaddles.com. To see both Doug's and many other beautiful saddles and gear, visit our Tic-Tack-Toe Horse Fashions board on Pinterest... and while you are there, make sure to follow us.
Join this board as a pinner by filling out the form below. If your style suits the spirit of our Pinterest presence, we will send you an invitation to pin with us. Guidelines for all of our Group Boards can be found here http://www.hartsd.com/blog/come-pin-with-us
Many have unsuccessfully tried to describe the centuries old, unfathomable bond between horse and man. One man does not attempt to describe it. He creates it in metal.
Artist John Lopez originally made a name for himself in the world of sculpture through his bronze castings. If you had ever visited Rapid City, South Dakota, you probably noticed presidential statues on almost every corner of the downtown area. Realistic and meticulously thought out, these pieces are the pride of Rapid City and an ongoing project for John Lopez.
Apart from presidential portraits, John is quite taken by the South Dakota ranching life and all it entails. In his portfolio, you can find sculptures of cattle, horses, bison, deer, and even dinosaurs. Surprisingly, his bronze sculptures are not the ones that are creating all the stir. His welded sculptures on the other hand, the likes of the Draft Horse above and the Friesian below, turn heads wherever they are placed.
The unusual detour from bronze sculpting into sculpting with repurposed farm equipment began a few years ago, after John's beloved aunt passed away. The project that started it all was a cemetery fence. Lopez moved to his widowed uncle's ranch to build a family cemetery. As he was working on the fence around the cemetery, John ran out of materials. Being 35 miles away from the nearest town or post office made him look for scrap metal he could use to finish the project. After some experimentation, he finished a gate into the cemetery, and then made a small angel peering over the top of the gate. Everyone who saw the gate was amazed at the result, and the rest was proverbial history.
Not wanting to depart from his bronze casting expertise, John found a way to merge the two art forms into a new hybrid sculpture form that combines everyday objects with limited edition bronze castings. Hybrid Metal Art, a sculptural fusion of figurative and funk, a blend of iron and bronze, of stately and steampunk was born. Once you see it, you will know it's like nothing else out there, and it is so unmistakably John Lopez.
In 2008, John placed his scrap iron monument, Triceratops Cowboy, in front of the Grande River Museum in Lemmon, SD and later that same year, a scrap iron T-Rex statue found its home in Faith, SD in honor of the largest T-Rex ever found. A year later, a life-size scrap metal horse sculpture won the People's Choice Award at the Sculpture In The Hills show in Hill City, SD. Matter of fact, that same horse now greets visitors in front of a couple of galleries in downtown Hill City. In 2000, John Lopez was commissioned by the Pro Rodeo Hall Of Fame to create two bronze monuments for their sculpture garden: one of the World Champion Calf Roper, Paul Tierney, on Coffee Jeff - a horse raised by the artist's uncle Geno, and the other featuring Charmayne James on her famous horse, Scamper.
Oftentimes, John is asked what he imagines his grandfather, a pioneer stockman, would have thought of his scrap iron sculpture. The artist answers with a quote from an elderly gentleman who came to one of his exhibits. After peering intently at a scrap metal saddle for a long time, the man announced, "Now, that's art!"
We at hART Sense Design completely agree. John's sculptures are so realistic yet so unique, and what makes them even more appealing is that he chooses subjects that can be found on the vast prairies and in the Black Hills of our home state. Thank you, John Lopez, for showing the world that South Dakota is anything but boring!
To find out more about John Lopez and his art, visit his website at www.johnlopezstudio.com
the mind and hands behind hART Sense Design. I am a designer and hand-maker of one-of-a-kind and limited edition jewelry and accessories for artistic, chic cowgirls, boho babes, and lovers of all things western.
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