HOLLYWOOD HOOFBEATS

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For my birthday, my sister got me a new book, “Hollywood Hoofbeats” by Petrine Day Mitchum and Audrey Pavia.  Now, I’ve only started flipping through, it’s loaded with stories and amazing photos, there’s a lot to take in, but there’s some great history as well.  One story in particular that I wanted to share…

 

In an interview with NPR’s Dave Davies, Mitchum shares how the American Humane Society’s oversight of the treatment of animal actors came about.  This can also be found on the book’s website, http://www.hollywoodhoofbeats.net

 

DAVIES: That film was particularly tough on a lot of horses, right?

MITCHUM: Yes. That film – that 1936 movie “Charge Of The Light Brigade” is just stunning in the amount of carnage of horses and injuries to stunt riders as well. Errol Flynn, the star of the film, was really unaware of what was going to happen to all these horses when the charge began. And he was completely sickened to see horses go down. And, you know, they shot it over and over again, so there were – just – it was appalling.

Interestingly enough, as a sidebar, there was one trained falling horse in the film. But that’s one out of many. Anyway, Flynn was so outraged and so despondent about this that he actually went public and talked about the misuse of horses. And this was the beginning of the American Humane Association’s oversight of animal actors in film, which endures to today, which is a wonderful, wonderful thing. And when you go see a film and you see their little imprint and the no-animals-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-this-film, you’d better believe that no animals were harmed in the making of the film. So we have Mr. Flynn to thank for that wonderful advocacy for equine actors.

DAVIES: And in that film, “The Charge Of The Light Brigade,” were horses actually killed?

MITCHUM: Yes, they were. If they weren’t killed on the spot, their legs were broken so badly they had to be destroyed.

DAVIES: So what was the more humane way of making a horse fall?

MITCHUM: Well, the humane way of making a horse fall is actually centuries old. It’s an old battlefield technique of teaching a horse to fall so that – I mean, it’s not for a very good reason on the battlefield – so that you can fall a horse and use him as a shield.

But as it has evolved as really an art in the film business, it’s a process by where the horse is trained very, very slowly, starting at a standstill. The trainer will pick up the horse’s – one of the horse’s front legs, maybe tie it up and slowly push him over – always onto soft ground – very, very carefully done so that the horse lands on his shoulder and he’s not hurt. And once the horse is confident doing that – that he’s not going to get hurt – then they’ll start doing it at a walk and then at a trot and then finally, at a gallop.

This can take months to teach a horse, and not every horse is going to go for it. I mean, it’s a very strange thing to do. But some horses just trust their trainer enough and have the athletic ability to do it. And from what I heard from talking to stunt men who trained their own falling horses, which is usually the case, they had horses who actually came to love it and anticipate it and were real star athletes.

DAVIES: Yeah. So you have the horse galloping along, and there’s an appointed spot, which – where the ground is softer and there’s a bit of padding – and then they give the horse the signal, and the horse rolls in a way that’s safe.

MITCHUM: Yes. And you can tell a trained fall when you’re watching a film by looking for the horse’s head – looking at the horse’s head. And as the horse is galloping along, the trainer will pull the horse’s head, usually to the left, and he will fall on the opposite shoulder. So he’s taking the weight off of the outside by pulling the horse’s head to the inside and then cueing him to fall over onto the other side. And of course, the stunt man is wearing a saddle that has rubber stirrups on that side so when the horse is falling, he’s not falling on anything hard. And of course, the rider has to get his leg out of the way, if possible. So it’s a very, very carefully orchestrated – almost dance move, if you will.

 

I’ve never really thought about how it all got started, or just how disturbing the process.  Thank goodness for cowboys like Errol Flynn, recognizing the need for safety measures and being the voice of the Hollywood horses.

 

I also want to take the time to wish you all a very Happy Independence Day.  Enjoy a long weekend with your loved ones, and make the time to thank any current or past military service men/women you know for their sacrifices to help keep our America a land of the free.

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MY DAY… OKAY, WEEK REALLY

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Taking a little break this week to celebrate my birthday (yesterday).  All inboxes and profiles pages on social media were flooded with well-wishes.  My family treated my like a Princess, with a fancy dinner from Arby’s (’cause sometimes when you’ve got obligations that run later, you just do what needs to be done!), and more celebrating to come this weekend.

 

I’ve had a great run in my last three decades, this being my last year in my thirties.  I’ll never be one of those women who can’t let go of the fact that I’m not 29 any more, or any less.  Every year has it’s value and deserves it’s own validation.  Looking forward to many many more years of me to come!  Thanks for celebrating with me, and remember, when it’s your day, remind the world how lucky it is to have you in it!

 

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XO,

K

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY DAD (AND ALL DADS)

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To my Papa,

 

You are the man of many hats (literally and figuratively, but we already know how mom feels about all the hats in the hall closet…).  From the first time your baby girl utters the words, “I want a horse,” you’re done for.  In addition to the title of “Dad,” you’re about to become any and often all of the following; groom, trainer, driver, photographer, cheerleader, retriever, ATM, and holder of all things…

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You were there from the beginning, before I had a horse to call my own, and even the day I was gifted one, you never said no.  This came in handy years later when I learned how to say, “BUDDY needs a new… rather than I’d like a new…”

 

I started learning how to drive trucks and trailers on the job, but you were the one who helped me log real miles.  Even today, when I’m going through the mental, pre-hauling checklist, it’s your voice I hear, narrating each bullet point.  I’m comfortable and confidant jockeying the biggest of rigs, because of your guidance.

 

In our 4-H years, when you not only supported, but lead me and the entire club.  You were everyone’s dad, and you were amazing!

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Through my teens, when we argued more than we spoke, until my adult years when I finally realized we were on the same team.  It was always you, right beside me.  Every loss, failure, success, and great win, was achieved with you there.

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Now, you’re not only nailing the role of dad to me, but as a second father to David, and a Grandfather to Michael.  All the fur kids would be disappointed if I didn’t note your being their Gampy too.  Still setting good examples, still with love to spare.  You’re the logic behind my good choices and the reason I work so hard.  Everything I do is in the effort to make you proud.  When we volunteer together, and when we butt heads, I know with 100% conviction, that I’m your little girl.

 

As a dad, when your child becomes an adult, and a parent themselves, some see it as your job being done.  The truth is, it’s just a slight career change.  You’re never finished being my Papa.  I’ll always need you.

 

Love always,

Your baby girl

xo

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TWO US!

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I’d almost forgotten.  I mean, I knew it was June and all, but I’d forgotten that it was our Anniversary, and the second Birthday of Equine in Mind!  Then the congratulations started pouring in through social media…  THAT’s when it clicked!

 

June is a great month for me anyway.  My Beagle girl’s birthday is this weekend, my birthday is in just a couple of weeks, summer officially begins.  There are so many great things going on in the beautiful weather to keep busy with.  I love it!  What’s funny, is that it never occurred to me, two years ago when I started this blog, about the timing.  According to problogger.net, the top 100 average blogs live to be about 33.8 months, so I guess we’re still young.

 

With the talk of Anniversaries and Birthdays, I always like to look up what the traditional and modern alternative gifts are.  For two years, traditionally the gift is cotton.  Being horse people, I think of cotton lead ropes.

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But the new modern version says China, for those of us who are used to hauling to horse shows every weekend, it’s probably closer to Chinet, or if I’m being really honest, take-out containers.  For gift giving purposes though, maybe this is the appropriate choice?

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Now that EIM is officially two, I hope that doesn’t mean we’re growing into the “terrible twos” phase.  We’ve had a fair number of downs in the last several years and things are finally looking up again, fingers crossed we can just ride it out and surpass the average to celebrate the big three next year.

 

Thank you, my readers, for welcoming me into your lives, and sharing my words with your circles.  It means the world to me, every time I see an update showing where all of you are, you’re literally all over the world!  It’s amazing, I’m very very blessed, and very very humbled.

 

Cheers to you, and I can’t wait to celebrate more milestones together!

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Love,

Karen & Equine in Mind

 

 

HERE’S TO US, CHEERS TO US

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KC0DNLDXJW8

I was asked last weekend to braid a mane for a friend at a horse show, something I haven’t done in a few years to say the least, but I was excited for the opportunity to test my muscle memory.  It turned out she didn’t need the mane done after all, it was a smaller show, but that didn’t matter.  As I walked down the stall aisle looking for my friend, I ran into several more.  I’m not sure why that surprised me, given how long I showed, and despite how many years since, but it turned into a mini-reunion.

 

Like any circle of friends, the relationships ebb and flow with time like ocean waves, but they never go away.  All the usual conversations picked up right where they left off, however many years ago.  I was smart to rely on muscle memory too.  As one friend gathered his things to head to the warm-up area, I looked for the ring supplies and remembered to hold the off-side stirrup so he could mount without pulling his saddle over on his head.  I thought of all the things people had always done for me, unrolling chaps, brushing legs and tails, holding and grabbing this and that.  It all came right back, like I’d only been doing it the weekend before.  It felt good.

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No matter where your path goes, there’s a feeling of continuity that cannot be fabricated.  You can always go home again, especially when home is a steamy weekend at a horse show with good friends.

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Ladies posting groupies on social media, take note, here are a few #squadgoals with real value…

To the late nights getting dirtier as our horses got cleaner, and the early mornings hooking up rigs in the quiet darkness.  To the clothes full of tiny clipped hairs, the blisters and eventually arthritis in worn fingers from many a banded or braided mane.  To the horses with better clothes, nicer shoes, and newer rides than we could have ever wanted, but always put on the back burner.  To the dirt, the sweat, the smeared makeup, the blood, the elbow grease and all the liniment and painkillers you can lay your hands on.  To your favorite piece of jewelry being your custom spurs, to knowing how to survive a trip to the bathroom after putting chaps on, to memorizing patterns, countless hours of prep for that two minute ride, and for never imagining how life could be any better. Cheers to you all, my friends, I love you!