Sable Island horses

9 08 2006

Off the southeast shore of Nova Scotia, there lies a windswept, sandy island called Sable Island, once also known as the graveyard of the Atlantic (350 shipwrecks since 1583). Although myth has it that the animals are shipwreck survivors, they are actually living remnants of a different sort of tragedy: the expulsion of Acadians from Nova Scotia to America by British authorities in the eighteenth century. The horses they left behind were collected and sent to the island around 1760 by Thomas Hancock, a Bostonian merchant and shipowner.

Access to the island is limited, and the horses themselves are left strictly alone, although researchers and photographers occasionally visit to conduct studies. You can take a virtual tour and learn more about Sable Island through the Sable Island Green Horse Society, and more information about the island’s history and ecology is available here (aussi en français).


State horses

9 08 2006

Did you know that several American states have horses as the official state animal?

  1. Alabama: Racking horse
  2. Idaho: Appaloosa
  3. Kentucky: Thoroughbred
  4. Maryland: Thoroughbred
  5. Missouri: Missouri Fox Trotter
  6. Massachusetts: Morgan
  7. New Jersey: Horse (just a horse!)
  8. North Dakota: Nokota Horse
  9. Tennessee: Tennessee Walking Horse
  10. Vermont: Morgan

Moroccan women riders steal men’s glory

9 08 2006

By Oumnia Guedda

Seized by their passion for “fantasia”, young Moroccan women, wearing pink clothes, ride their horses with rifles in hands for a breath-taking show.

Despite the inconvenience of dust and heat, enthusiastic spectators impatiently wait for the entry of the women riders, those who steal the glory of the “fantasia” formerly limited to men.

Moulay Abdellah Amghar (10 km from El Jadida), hosting the “fantasia” moussem, is animated by the sounds of gun shot. People who are still attached to this cultural heritage flock to the town to applaud these knights riding their horses with pride and courage.

Despite the inconvenience of dust and heat, enthusiastic spectators impatiently wait for the entry of the women riders, those who steal the glory of the “fantasia” formerly limited to men.

The riders are granted an entry to the scene proper to stars thanks to the applause of the excited public. When they succeed a perfectly synchronized shooting, they are lengthily applauded.

According to the head of the troupe, Zahia Abou Layt, the “fantasia” gives her incomparable feelings.

Aged 21, Abou Layt has inherited her passion for “fantasia” from her father, as she used to observe him riding along with the members of his tribe, Oulad Oumrane.

Her first experience with horse riding was at the age of 14. She begged her father to let her participate in the show, and since then has never quitted her horse.

Being a teacher in the Haha region, her profession represents a handicap to practising her passion, as according to her “a good rider must be in perfect symbiosis with his horse.”

This did not prevent her from leading her troupe last June in Dar Essalam during the National Fantasia Championship.

“Nothing can prevent me from practising this ancestral heritage which I will undoubtedly transmit to my male and female children,” affirmed Abou Layt.

Meanwhile, she has indeed transmitted this fervour to her 14-year-old sister, who joined the troupe a year ago.

Mustapha Abou Layt, Zahia’s father, does not hide his satisfaction over his daughter’s performances.

For this farmer, who has no boys, the horse is an inestimable treasure and the “t’bourida” (horse-riding and shooting) is a necessity ingrained in his family from father to son, and now to daughter.


More on Moroccan festivals

Top 15 posts, 2006-08-09

9 08 2006

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