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ISSUE 10: (Winter, 2010)   
 
Issue 10


Spirit Horse: Equus Przewalski

by Lyne Raff
Editor

     The year is 1226 AD:  Mongols are at war with the Tangut empire in northeastern China.  Ghengis Khan, surveying the landscape, sees in the distance a group of strange-looking horses.  They come closer, and his own horse reacts in fear, throwing him to the ground.

In 1630, an important Mongolian diplomat presents a wild horse as a gift to the Manchurian Emperor. It is a 'takh', a 'spirit horse', fierce and independent ghost of the steppes.

One hundred and twenty years later, in 1750, another Emperor of Manchuria organizes a hunting party for royal sport.  It was a chance to use newfangled rifles, and the game they went after was wild horse: two hundred were shot.

For the next few centuries, they were seen rarely, and warranted only two scant mentions in published works.  Like ghosts, the shy horses had retreated into the landscape.

In  1878, world-famous explorer Colonel Nikolai Przewalski became ill on an expedition to Asia, and decided to cut his trip short and return temporarily to his home in Russia.  While resting at the frontier post on the Chinese-Russian border, the post's commissioner gave him the skull and hide of a wild horse, shot by Kirghiz tribesmen southeast of that location, as a gift.  The Colonel, an avid horseman and very interested in the physiology of horses, accepted the gift, but secretly disbelieved the idea that the horse was actually 'wild'.  Upon his return to St. Petersburg, he took the hide and skull to a friend at the Academy of Science for examination, and the results surprised him: the remains were declared completely genuine.  As quickly as he could, Colonel Przewalski organized another expedition to the same area.

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     Breed Profile:  Przewalski's Horse


Highest Honor:  The Caisson Platoon at Arlington Cemetery

by Lyne Raff 
Editor

     "Good morning, welcome to Fort Myer," Staff Sergeant Maskey says cheerfully.  "Follow me."

It is 4:30 am on a Friday morning in early November, and unusually cold.  SSG Maskey leads the way into a brightly lit barn, where he and about a dozen other soldiers have already been at work for half an hour.  The air sparks with busy energy and there is much to do this morning--there are stalls to clean and horses to groom, saddles, wagons, and hardware to polish, and literally hundreds of feet of harness to inspect and to clean.

And then, after that, the men must prep their own uniforms, pressing their blue wool dress jackets and polishing their boots and spurs to a mirror shine.

Eight horse-drawn military funerals will be taking place in a few hours, requiring the direct teamwork of dozens of people both on and off Fort Myer Army Base.  A master farrier will be on-site shortly, examining each hoof; he will be watching the horses closely, checking the condition of their special borium-studded shoes, which give extra traction on paved surfaces.  Sixteen horses and nearly twenty men will be working out of this barn for the next few hours.  Once in the cemetery, they will divide into two teams, each handling four ceremonies.  Every one of the funerals, called 'missions', has been meticulously planned to the minute on a large whiteboard hanging from the stable wall, where each horse and soldier is marked by name in his position for the day.  To be a soldier here is an honor posting; it is not easy to earn.  These men are highly trained, and they are completely dedicated to the day's task.  There will be no mistakes.

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    Highest Honor:  The Caisson Platoon at Arlington Cemetery


Contemplation:  The Art of Mark Langley
by Lyne Raff
Editor

    Mark Langley did not begin his artistic career in animal portraiture; he started by making a name for himself in the hyper-demanding fields of architectural and transportation art.

But he quickly found that the observational and technical skills needed to succeed there aided him perfectly when he decided to try something new: an equine portrait.

Trying the field of portraiture is a leap that lots of technical artists make.  But in Mark Langley's case, he managed not only to translate the details of his subjects, he also recognized each animal's sense of dignity and depth--and then made those aspects a part of his work.

His drawings are portraits in every sense of the word, and they are likenesses transcribed in intimate detail.  But they are something beyond photo-realism; they are photo-realistic expressionism.

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Contemplation:  The Art of Mark Langley


Mystical Powerful: The Photos of Joerg Kraus

by Lyne Raff
Editor

    Joerg Kraus is one of the new breed of equine photographers who is turning the world of equine portraiture into cutting-edge art.  Working out of Geissen, Germany, he has travelled the globe to photograph horses in Africa, Asia, and Europe.

His is an image that is born of formal, high-fashion photography lineage, with its aristocratic models posed against dramatic backgrounds.  And yet, his image is of a new, techno-lineage as well, made possible by the ultra-sharp, medium format digital Hasselblad and carefully placed artificial lighting.  This is an artist with a complete understanding of his light and equipment.

And somehow, through all of that technology, an artist's homage to a painter --Rembrandt-- still manages to come through.
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Mystical Powerful: The Photos of Joerg Kraus


A Natural Light: The photographs of Edyta Trojanska-Koch
by Lyne Raff
Editor

     "Natural" is an important word to Polish photographer Edyta Trojanska-Koch.  Though she made her initial mark as a photographer shooting the priceless Polish Arabians of her native country's state studs, Edyta is enthusiastic about photoing any horse, especially the 'everyday' horses.  She sees all horses as the same, noble creatures--whether they are priceless purebreds or simple backyard ponies.

Seeking to capture the magic of sunlight on horses, she travels to every part of her beautiful native country.  As any photographer will tell you, it is easy to take good shots in a pretty place.  But what Edyta Trojanska-Koch wants is to take photos that strike a chord in your heart when you see them; what she wants is to take photos that make you dream.

 

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