Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day

How horses help soldiers...

Throughout human history and even as recently as World War II, horses were used extensively in battle.  World War I saw an incredible amount of horses. Great Britain lost over 484,000 horses and an estimated 6 million horses were used on all sides in the war.  The horses were used as Cavalry mounts, pulling supply wagons, and heavy artillery. Horses of all sizes and lineage were used, but there was a royal decree in WWI that height of 15hh was ideal for mounts.
Soldier and horse in gas masks.
The "Military Seat" is actually the style of riding I was first taught, being the foundation of the New Canaan Mounted Troop and the Silvermine School of Horsemanship where my first instructor was trained.

You may have read Michael Morpurgo's novel "War Horse", or have seen the stage play or feature film of the same name.  The story covers the life of Joey, a thoroughbred horse raised by a young boy, then sold to the war effort.  The boy enlists in the army in an effort to find his horse.  Historical fiction, of course, but still an intriguing look at the life of horses in the war.... and Benedict Cumberbatch is in the film.... riding... so... you know... there's that.

 I was fortunate to be able to see the play with my mom in NYC.  The horses in the play are puppets created by the Handspring Puppet Company and are incredible in their ability to express realistic horse body language.  It was easy to ignore the fact that they were puppets, and sometimes even the horses were confused....

Me, before seeing the play at the Lincoln Center in October, 2012.
Yes, I was annoyed by the nylon halter in the poster. Pretty sure it was all leather in WWI.

But let's be serious for a moment.

Did you know that today, horses are still helping our soldiers, but in a different way. Many veterans enjoy the benefits of Equine Assisted Therapy.  Equines provide soldiers with both physical therapy and psychotherapy through a variety of non-profit organizations including PATH, Horses4Heroes, and Saddles For Soldiers and many more national and local organizations.  Some centers simply offer time with the horses, others follow researched-based curriculum that targets PTSD, reintegration challenges, and physical therapy for limb loss, traumatic brain injury, and other emotional and physical challenges.

Equine assisted therapy is fast becoming a proven and well-researched field. Researchers are finding again and again that time with horses can help people of all ages and backgrounds progress through physical and emotional difficulties.

One such program is actually offered by the same horses that carry fallen soldiers to their final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery.

PATH International Photo
Other organizations throughout the country help soldiers and their families cope with the physical and emotional challenges.

On my list of things to do if somebody ever hands me 100 acres and a few million dollars, is to set up a ranch style resort for veterans and their families to reconnect and strengthen their relationships following their service.  I envision guided trail rides and camping where the family gets to accomplish tasks together such as camp set-up, campfire building/cooking, scavenger hunts, moving cattle, etc.

Until that day comes, thankfully, there are hundreds of volunteers and generous donors working to provide Equine Assisted Therapy to our veterans.  Thank a Veteran today and do whatever you can to ensure our fallen are remembered and our living heroes are supported.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sparkly Pretty Things

As Laura and I mentioned, we've been scheming on a project together.  I didn't expect my trip to Texas would result in homework, but I'm glad it did!

Here's a sneaky peek at the Showmanship jacket we're working on.  Those of you who follow Buckstitch Becky's on facebook have already seen it, so sorry for the old news. I promise more in the next few weeks.  I'm still working on the 30 appliques and haven't even started applying (photo is just a sample) the crystals yet: HUNDREDS of genuine Swarovski crystals in 5 colors (Blue Zircon, Aquamarine, Black Diamond, Silver Shade, and Crystal) plus Dark Grey "pearls" in two sizes. Oh, and the apps have some hand painting.  

These projects are time consuming and all that detail work makes my head spin.  But it's going to be SO AWESOME when it's done!!!  Since we're using one of Hobby Horse's Justine Tunics I will likely enter it into next year's Designer Contest and maybe I'll keep going UP in placings.  Ha!

2013 Contest Post Link - 2nd Place
2012 Contest Post Link - This is the one I made for R Lil Bit of Cash, 3rd Place