Saturday, March 30, 2019

Do horses get sea sick?

Siberian ponies on the Terra Nova ship
during voyage to the South Pole
Yes, horses get sea sick.  Because they can't throw up, they colic instead.  Per Live Science"

"When Earnest Shackleton trekked to the Antarctic, he brought ponies (and whiskey) with him to help. According to his journals, those ponies didn’t fare so well on the water. They, like many people, responded to the pitching seas with confusion and dizziness. But because horses cannot vomit — the sphincter that goes from their esophagus to their stomachs is too tight — they experience colic instead. But even though they didn’t lose their lunches, the ponies were definitely seasick."

After the original hay ran out, Shackleton fed the horses a meat based diet.  “It consisted of dried beef, carrots, milk, currants and sugar, and was chosen because it provides a large amount of nourishment with comparatively little weight.”  Several of the early Arctic and Antarctic explorations fed meat to their ponies.

Although the ponies survived the sea voyage, none of them survived the unsuccessful trek to the South Pole

For more information, you can read the article at the link below:

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Horse Ferry on Lopez Island in the Pacific Northwest

One owner has come up with a unique way to "ferry" her horse from island to island among the San Juans in the Pacific Northwest.  After the first few sails, Blessi would probably be more interested in the hay bag.  Do horses get seasick?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Aberdeen Beastiary

The Aberdeen Beastiary just went on-line. This 12th century medieval English manuscript which
The attached photo comes from Adam naming the animals.
uses tales of animals to teach moral lessons. The book is wondrously illustrated and written in Latin.

If you click on the what looks like a timeline under the photo, you can access the original Latin with English translation, scholarly commentary, etc.

A new digital version has been uploaded by Aberdeen University, accessible here.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Relationship of Spooking and Whirl Directions

Dr. Temple Grandin and associates recently published the article "Behavioral Laterality and Facial Hair Whorls in Horses." When faced with a novel stimulus, in this case the sudden opening of an umbrella, "The horses with clockwise facial hair whorls turned to the right and the horses with counterclockwise facial hair whorls turned to the left more than would be expected by chance." Location of facial whirl seemed to have no impact.

Hum, the one time I saw Blessi have a major spook, he teleported almost 360 to the right, which is the direction of his facial whorl, I think. I will check tomorrow. Of course what does this mean for horses that have multiple facial whorls going in different directions.

Does anybody else have any observations to offer?


Friday, March 22, 2019

My Portraits of My Niece MacKenzie

Here is some of my original artwork. I used photos of my then newborn niece MacKenzie to execute pastel portraits in different impressionistic styles.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Aberdeen Bestiary Details

To show you the kind of detail produced by the new digital capture of the Aberdeen Bestiary, here is a close up of the hunter shooting a magpie from a tree, significance is unknown. In the second, a knight has stolen a tiger cub. 

"The tigress, when she finds her lair empty by the theft of a cub, follows the
tracks of the thief at once. When the thief sees that, even though he rides a swift horse, he is outrun by her speed, and that there is no means of escape at hand, he devises the following deception. When he sees the tigress drawing close, he throws down a glass sphere. The tigress is deceived by her own image in the glass and thinks it is her stolen cub. She abandons the chase, eager to gather up her young. Delayed by the illusion, she tries once again with all her might to overtake the rider and, urged on by her anger, quickly threatens the fleeing man. Again he holds up her pursuit by throwing down a sphere. The memory of the trick does not banish the mother's devotion. She turns over the empty likeness and settles down as if she were about to suckle her cub. And thus, trapped by the intensity of her sense of duty, she loses both her revenge and her child. "

Monday, March 18, 2019

Scratch and Sniff Test for a Dragon's Blood Tree

I am attempting to write a flash fiction short story "The Eve Recursion" set on Socotra Island in the Arabian Sea. Socotra broke off from Africa around 3 million years ago so one third of flora is endemic or found only on this island. At one point, the characters walk up to a Dragon's Blood tree. As an aspiring author, I though it would be cool to incorporate the scent--pine, cedar like, floral, whatever--into the scene. I did quite a bit of research but could find nothing about the scent of a Dragon's Blood tree or Dracaena cinnabari.

I found the Botanic Gardens Conservation International web site ( that has a worldwide database of plants. They sent out an email on my behalf to the 13 botanical gardens that have a Dracaena cinnabari specimen. (Told you it was a rare plant.) I love scientists!!!!! The Jardin Botanico in Madrid, Spain, answered my request. A worker did a scratch and sniff test on their young Dragon's Blood tree. There is no odor.

Interesting synergy that ended up in my short story. In Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych of “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” now in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, God and Adam and Eve stand under a Dragon's Blood tree.

Photo of Dragon's Blood Tree from Wikipedia courtesy of Boris Khvostichenko.
Photo of “The Garden of Earthly Delights” from Wikipedia courtesy of Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Can Dogs Tell Time Through Scent

Here's a fascinating video investigating if dogs have a sense of time through the fading scent of their owners. In other words, does a dog expect her owner home at 4:40 pm each day because the owner's scent fades out to a certain degree each day.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

1903 Film of Siberian Ponies in Ziegler Polar Expedition

From 1903 to 1905, Ziegler financed  expeditions to reach the North Pole, all of which failed.  Anthony Fiala, commander of the expeditions, used Siberian ponies, as well as dogs, to haul sledges  The second expedition set off with 26 men, 16 ponies, 16 sledges, 117 dogs, and 9 sledges from Norway. 

As Fiala said about the ponies, " These little creatures behaved so well and proved of such value that I made provision to take more of them this time."  The ponies did a better job than the dogs of pulling the sledges over rough, jagged ice but the dogs were faster on smooth surfaces.  The ponies were considered "meat on the hoof" unlike some of the later expeditions that planned for the ponies to survive. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Regency Femme and Her Baby Carrier

I am researching Regency riding habits so that I can make my own. The Regency era was one of the few historical periods that featured empire style lines rather than the wasp-waisted fashions of other periods--a distinct advantage when one does not have a waistline so much as an equator. I thought you might enjoy the following fashion plate from Vernet's Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1805, that illustrates what the well dressed femme does with her baby.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

How Many Ways to Say "To Be or Not To Be"

Oh my gosh, this is hysterical. How many ways can you interpret a Hamlet soliloquy?

Friday, March 8, 2019

Dog Plays Keep Away with MiniHorse

Clever German Shepherd has found a way to get the minihorse to play with him--just steal her ball.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Icelandic Horses are on the Ball

Mathilde and her "cheval islandais" Undur are really enjoying a game of soccer.  What is so great is that Mathilde is using a neckrein--no bridle--on her horse to play this game.  What enjoyment!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Touring Iceland by Horseback via Hestasport

A wonderful vision by Hestasport of vacationing in Iceland and viewing the sights by horseback.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Amazing Spiders

Who knew about all the marvelous adaptations of spiders--from cartwheeling spider to silkhenge spider to netcasting-ogre-faced spider to the mirror spider to urticating hair flicking spiders to the camel spider which will chase you to stand in your shade. And so many of these spiders have only recently been discovered. Guys be sure and check out any bunches of bananas that you buy because of the Brazilian Wandering Spider.