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Saturday, December 15, 2018

To Have Ridden A Horse, In Wood or Flesh

What is it about riding a horse that makes you want to get right back on one?



I've never ridden a real horse, of course...



...except for maybe a pony at the Great New York State Fair when I was really little and couldn't appreciate it...



...but I've ridden plenty of carousel horses.



They don't go anywhere...



...just around in circles.



And they don't always look like they could hold me...



...as they jump up and down.



But I'm endlessly fascinated by how each carousel horse is different—like how English ponies always have a name painted on the neck.



Or how some bear the markings of their maker on their side or their saddle.



Or how some aren't even horses at all, but rather giraffes...



...big cats...



...goats...



...or dragons.



Even among the green and gold dragons by Orton and Sons Spooner Company in Burton on Trent, the bodies are the same but the tongues are all different.



When you're riding a carousel horse, the swish of the tail is the least of your worries.



You never know what might be peering at you from behind...



...or rearing its ugly head for an attack.



But there's only one way to sit on a carousel horse...



...and they only move in one direction.



But what about the people who become carousel horses? Field Marshall Roberts, an officer in Boer War, was carved into a centaur version by the Spooner Company, still holding a quill pen and paper scroll. He's more man than horse.



But even a wizard can't turn a man into a horse, no matter how he sits or what he wears or what horses he socializes with.



If you get on the back of a man who acts like a horse, you can't say you've ridden a horse.

But if you've only ridden horses carved out of wood—ones that merely follow the tails in front of them, with no regard for destination or variance in speed—you also can't say you've ridden a horse.

I plan to remedy that before the end of the year.

Special thanks to Running Horse Studio for access to its menagerie, in various stages of restoration, circa March 2018.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Wayward Carousel Horses & Other Creatures
Photo Essay: The Faces of the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round