I say: hold out for the real thing

30 08 2006


IGallopOn: enlightening

Horses in the earth

30 08 2006

Uffington horse

Before the gods that made the gods
Had seen their sunrise pass,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale
Was cut out of the grass.

Before the gods that made the gods
Had drunk at dawn their fill,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale
Was hoary on the hill.

Age beyond age on British land,
Aeons on aeons gone,
Was peace and war in western hills,
And the White Horse looked on.

–G.K. Chesterton, “The Ballad of the White Horse“, 1911

Throughout England, there are numerous white horses carved into hillsides; the Uffington white horse (shown above) was found to have been created sometime during the Bronze Age (1200-800BC). I found a nice account of the visit to the horse here; some more photos here. (Of course, it could be a dragon too, a victim of St. George, but my hunch is that it could be an emblem of the pre-Christian horse cult in Britain)

Alton Barnes white horse

Others are much more recent; the Alton Barnes horse, above, was commissioned by a man named Robert Pile in 1812, while the Westbury horse, also in Wiltshire, is thought to be much older, as it was mentioned in an 18thc. book. Exiled Preacher and Wiltshire Hotpot have some great photos.

Most of the figures were created by scraping away the top layers of grass and soil to expose the stark white chalk underneath, and the ones we know of only survived due to the maintenance efforts of local people, who scraped the figures clean and removed any vegetation which began to grow on them. However, some were constructed by piling light-coloured stones or rubble together to create a shape. According to Wikipedia, “Ancient figures all have an associated fair or ceremony which involves maintaining them.” Not all have survived; many of the older ones were lost and overgrown, like the Rockley horse (below).

Rockley horse


“Whoa Nellie”, indeed

30 08 2006

Matthew Broderick just broke his collarbone while riding a horse. This makes Broderick the fourth or fifth person I have heard of in recent months who was injured while riding a horse. This got me to thinking: how dangerous is horseback riding, especially as compared to, say, riding a motorcycle?

Read the rest at Freakonomics.

…and could you pick some carrots out of a salad?

30 08 2006

Another great horse-at-the-drive-through photo, found here.

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