A phonecall from our friend Veronique of the horsestables, lured us over, as she told me she had another interesting item: an old used “Fantasia saddle”, worn by Arabian horses, during the feast of Fantasia, but still beautiful. With their unique beauty, this oldest breed in the world, aesthetically pleasing and loaded with top quality character, conquers your heart within seconds, not good when you’ve just lost your horse…
The saddle is old, used, but still shows its original beauty as you can see!
Of course as a seamstress I had to fall for its beauty: those saddles are masterpieces of traditional Arab craftsmanship.
All parts are covered with rich decoration, in most cases embroidery. Often these embroideries are made of metal threads. You can even find rare antique saddles with embroidery made of real gold or silver threads!
Their big stirrups are made of iron, and are often decorated with inlays of silver threads or with ornamental engravings. In this case the stirrups are missing, we have the saddle and the bridle.
My friend even showed me a horse bit (found in the stables, never used by her) which none of us would ever even dream of using, as it is so cruel for the horse!
The most vicious horsebit I’ve ever seen in my life, it will force the horse to do everything and it is a very painful bit!
What is this feast called “Fantasia”, a word that normally only rings Walt Disney bells in one’s ears? Imagine the middle of the local holiday season and getting a spectacle that is the highlight of equine affaire, trendsetter for equestrian entertainment events, breathing the the brilliance, grace, and athleticism of horses and demonstrating the spirit, willingness, and intelligence that horse people cherish most in their equine companions.
An event with a team of competing horses and a group of horse riders, wearing traditional clothes, charging along a straight path at the same speed, so as to form a line. At the end of the line, the spectacle is complemented by synchronized sounds of firing muskets (mostly done for tourists), so that only one single shot is heard! The performance is inspired from historical wartime attacks of Berber and desert knights. Today, Fantasia (“Game of gunpowder”) stands for great horses, great riders, great music, and an energized audience of horse lovers, all together in one place.
And now we come to the Fantasia horses, well bred and well groomed stallions, whose bodies are complete muscle. No ordinary workhorse is allowed to participate in the Fantasia…
A Berber saying states that:
Only men and virgin women are allowed to ride these magnificent animals,
because non-virgins may cause the stallion to loose its power and speed…
Know that Arabs, influenced by superstition, tradition, and religion, consider a horse’s colour and markings as important indicators of their later life. Wrong colour, get rid of the horse…
Picture courtesy of http://mewarnai.us
We’re talking about the Arabian horse of course, do you feel my horse enthusiast heart melt omg, human companions for over 5 000 years, ridden by King Solomon, Genghis Khan, Napoleon (his only surviving horses in his 1812 Russian Campaign were the Arabians, his horses: “Marengo” and “Wagram”) and George Washington (owned a half-Arabian named “Blueskin)! Come on even the inspiration for the model for Prince Charming’s horse in Disney’s animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was one of them!
Arab war horses were mares, considered hardier, more challenging, stallions were owned by the rich and fed almost exclusively on sheep or camel’s milk, to aid in muscle development. Ordinary people owned mares sharing their tents and bonding with their masters, fed on dates, barley, and milk. Don’t forget, grass was scarce, hay making unknown. By the way, a filly, was handled by the tribe women!
Never knew they were so beautifully described in their religious book The Koran:
Horse, thou art truly a creature without equal. All the treasures of the earth lie between thy eyes. Thou shalt carry my friends upon thy back. Thy saddle shall be the seat of prayers to me. Thou fliest without wings, and conquerest without sword.
The wind of Heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.
This distinctive, elegant breed, has even got a distinctive skeleton. Ever so functional to the Bedouin way of life, think hunting, defending territory, carrying out raids, no wonder a Bedouin will tell you:
Children of mine may hunger and thirst, but never my mare.
Ah marvel about the qualities of these horses, smaller in stature than other riding horses: very long-lived and hardy, friendly and intelligent, loyal and well bonding with their humans, powerful, ideal for agility, elegant dressage horses, long distance trail horses, having little fear of people and a friendly disposition, marked by a desire to please their master, willing to work, when older perfect first time horse or backyard family horse, contented with an open shed and a bit of hay… a friend for life!
No surprise then that Arabian stallions are one of the few breeds allowed to be shown by children under the age of 18 in shows endorsed by the United States Equestrian Federation!
Ever so thankful for having unforgettable, fantastic, exciting memories of equestrian experience, feeling stress free, riding through tranquil pine forests, with superb views of our area, on the phenomenal horses of my friend Veronique on my very own Western saddle!