It snowed today at the log house. A significant amount. Enough to scrap off the deck.
Alright, I didn’t, but I could have.
Instead, the snow reminded me of this idea stewing in the back of my brain for a 12 weeks ’til Christmas series on Screen Doors & Saddles, with my best shot at the most unique gift ideas for y’all I could think of. Equus-related of course.
Problem is we’re nine weeks and a bit from Christmas today.
All I can offer is “what the hey?”
Like where did October go?
I know you’re with me on that. So, I’m going to do this thing regardless. Just do it. I’ll throw in the missing weeks here and there. Try and keep up with me.
To rocket this series off in high fashion, I’m going to share with you one of my favorite books; a compilation which I guarantee would be an incredible addition to any horseperson’s library. Technically, Horses, by French photographer, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, might be categorized as a horse breeds book, but it is anything but an A-Z encyclopedia. It’s more like a cornucopia, actually a gallop, indeed a full-out stampede in the greatest of glory, riddled with richness, lavishness and incredible depth and diversity.
If there were an America’s Next Top Horse Model television series, Arthus-Bertrand would be Nigel Barker. Renowned photographer, with an incredible eye for capturing the essence and true beauty of the equine.
I give you the forthcoming cover of Italian Vogue.
Arthus-Bertrand travelled the earth and eventually completed a 15 year project of photographing animals, horses among them, against a plain backdrop, treating his subjects more as models than animals. The result is the photographic captivation of horses that are not only a departure of the four-square traditional profile shot, but animated beyond belief, even surreal at times, and in all cases, most definitely alive with the spirit of the equus.
It is a collection you cannot help but fall in love with.
I gaze through this book and stand in complete awe. Of the connections we hold with the people of the world. Of the history of the world. Of my horses, and all they represent. This book brings all of it crashing into my little corner of the world.
Majestic is a word often over-used as a descriptor of the horse. Here it stands true.
While the breeds we are most familiar with are represented, it is the stunning photos of horses from the most far-flung regions of the world which most capture my heart. Not to mention their incredible handlers.
For instance, this beauty.
This bold, magnificent pair.
Meet the Bashkirsky mare, Anessa, a mare whose pedigree dates back to one of Leo Tolstoy’s stud farms. An ardent breeder, the Russian author crossed English horses and Russian trotters with an original Cossack breed of Russian pony called the Bashkirsky. This award winning descendant is presented with foal at foot, guided by her breeder, who carries on her arm, a bucket of koumiss (a slightly fermented milk, and highly prized drink, which was once considered on the level of a magic potion.)
Consider these matching beauties.
A prized pony!
These are the heavy horses. In all their glory. The handler, in all of hers. And wearing dress slippers! Bravo!
Yes, the glorious Shires.
The true hunters.
Cowboys and their mounts are liberally represented. As are a Canadian western horse breeder couple. But, I won’t spoil that for you by previewing it here.
The Argentina section enthralled me, including the stunning athletic sleekness of this polo horse.
And this breathtaking shot – an Argentine Criollo cow horse, with his trainer.
I love this book so much, and I’m happy to share it with you. But, if you’d like your own copy, we added it to the Western Horse Review store, for your convenience, if you wish to order. Or, you can find it at the usual online outlets such as Amazon.
By the way, Yann Arthus-Bertrand didn’t reserve his camera for only the equine. For you cattlemen and women there is a book of livestock as well with such specimens as this magnificent bull . . .
and this belle.
I refer to the Jersey, not handler.