Monday, February 4, 2008

Celebrity Horses at Equine Affaire

I felt like I had a whirlwind visit to Equine Affaire in Pomona, California on Saturday. Usually, I go to do some shopping along with watching some of the clinicians. My time was really limited this year because I could only go one day and I had to get home in time to take care of the Arab prince and change to go to a concert.

But once I saw the schedule, I knew I couldn't leave the fairgrounds before 4 P.M., giving me the opportunity to see presentations of two of the "Celebrity Horses" present at the event. If they had celebrity horses in past years, I must have missed the notice. Or maybe they weren't from a couple of my favorite horse movies.

The notice that clearly caught my attention was that one of the horses who portrayed Shadowfax in the Lord of the Rings would be in attendance. I'm still not sure how he came to be owned by someone in the States when the LotR:TRotK extras video indicated that Blanco was in happy retirement in New Zealand, but there he was.

I decided against carrying my digital SLR because of the weight, but I almost always have my point and shoot Nikon S1 in my bag and that camera is not so good for shooting still photographs, but it isn't bad as a little video camera. So the first video above of the gray horse is Blanco as he's led back in to the exhibit hall to show off some of his tricks. He's a well-trained liberty horse, as the LotR video showed, and a really sweet Andalusian.

The second video, of the black horse, is TC Bey Cedar, the stallion who portrayed Al Hattal in Hidalgo. He's a stunning Arabian, a son of the famous Bey Shah, black except for a coronet ring of white on his back left foot. He's tall for an Arabian at 15-3, which, with his lovely personality, is how he got the gig for the film. He's got a gorgeous head, which I don't think you really see in the film (I watched it again on Saturday night) because it is somewhat obscured by his tack.

Both Blanco and TC Bey Cedar demonstrated rearing on cue. A way to teach this move was demonstrated by the trick training clinician. I'm not so sure it's a great idea to teach this trick to the average horse and TC Bey Cedar's trainer kept saying to people it is a trick best left to professionals. Rearing is somewhat less controlled than the airs above the ground moves of classical training. Personally, I'm happier when Ace keeps all four of his feet closer to the ground. I'm not even thrilled when he decides to do "the flamingo" where he bends one of his front legs and holds it up for quite a while when I'm sitting on his back. I usually wonder what it is he's trying to tell me is bothering him.

I must say I was disappointed I didn't run into Viggo Mortensen. It would have been cool if he dropped by to visit two of his equine co-stars. Cooler yet (well, nothing would be quite as cool as running into Viggo, I suppose) would be an appearance by T.J., the paint that played Hidalgo and whom Viggo now owns and keeps somewhere in nearby Topanga.

The other neat thing about this year's Equine Affaire was that the horse on exhibit at the Region 2 Arabian Horse Association booth turned out to be a close blood relation to my boy. I noticed the animal's name (I think it was All Flame) and immediately thought, hmm, sounds like it could be. Then I saw the pedigree--a Bask Flame son. Bask Flame is Ace's maternal grandfather. So the chestnut horse on display was Rocky's (Ace's dam, Flames Sirocco) half-brother (technically, a half-sib in the horse world comes from the same mother with a different sire, and different mothers mean a designation of "same sire," but I'm a human) and Ace's half-uncle and they did bear a familial resemblance. Ace has more chrome (white markings.) I did wonder whether Cody had inherited the hot Bask Flame personality that Rocky got or whether his dam had cooled him down. Since Cody's owned by a 12 year old girl, I'm guessing the latter. Cody's actually a few years younger than Ace.

I didn't do any shopping worth mentioning, unlike the years when I've come home with new riding pants or helmets or DVDs. I spent $5, on a 2007 Breyer Christmas ornament to give to a friend. Cheap date.

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