The Lone Ranger – ten exciting horse stunts explained

Spoiler Alert: this may contain a few spoilers so… you might want to watch the film first.

The Lone Ranger film has now reached TV (at least here in the UK) so I’m re-issuing this . (And the DVD is out). This film has some tremendous horse stunts – some of which were filmed for real (a refreshing break from the  CGI). Yet the American Humane Association has given it the all-clear, issuing its famous “No animals were harmed” in the making of this film. So how did they do it?

The American Humane Association often posts film reviews which give some of the answers to this question. (They’ve got a great website). So this is what I found out:

For a start, as a matter of course, the horses used included specially trained “falling horses” and “lay down horses” that fell on cue and when they did that, their landing area was specially prepared to be soft.

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Here’s how ten of the best horse stunts were filmed:

  1. In the scene where the Lone Ranger’s horse, Silver, picks up a bottle with his mouth and appears to drink beer out of it, horse trainers placed a rubber beer bottle into the horse’s mouth and then pulled gently on his rein to make it look as if he’s drinking it.
  2. The dead horse lying on top of a Texas Ranger was fake.
  3. In the scene where the Indians ride round the barn, shooting their guns in the air, the area was cordoned off by production with fencing. Only quarter load blanks were used (these are very light). After the action, wranglers came in to calm the horses down.
  4. Where Silver jumps from high up out of a burning barn and runs off in the distance, production achieved this image by capturing the horse jumping from a small height with different camera angles. The film crew used wands, each of which was on fire, at seven points to make it looks as if the fire was surrounding the barn. They placed a smoke pot in front of a strong wind machine. The horse actually jumped from a small platform onto mats and soft footing.
  5. OK, this one did use a tiny bit of CGI: In the scene where Silver licks off the scorpions from Tonto and Lone Ranger’s faces, two fake heads were placed in the sand, and covered with treats. The horse bent down to eat the treats from the fake heads – the scorpions were added into the film later by CGI.
  6. In the same scene, the Lone Ranger and Tonto are buried up to their necks and Silver pulls Tonto out of the ground by having him bite onto the reins while Silver backs up, pulling him out. This scene was accomplished by having the two actors buried in a special box with their heads sticking out. Trainers had the horse bend his head down, whereupon the actor bites onto the rein. The horse then backed up, so it looks like he’s pulling the actor out of the ground.
  7. In a scene where a stable explodes and the horses escape from the explosion, trainers built fence posts outside the corral to keep them in place as they run from the stable. The crew placed mortars under the ground which set off small explosions of dust – but the mortars were never near the horses. The explosions in fact took place after the horses were cleared from the set.
  8. In the scene where the Lone Ranger rides Silver across the rooftops, the crew had constructed a set made to look like the flat roofs of town buildings. There was a ramp for the horse at each end. A stuntman rode the horse from point A to point B, jumping over small barriers along the way.
  9. In one of the most exciting scenes, where the Lone Ranger rides his horse on the train jumping from car to car, the production crew had built a set that looked like the top of a train. The trainer rode the horse up a ramp to the set, and rode on the set, jumping on a blue screen placed between the two carriages. The horse was never actually galloping on a moving train.
  10. In the scene where the man pushes the woman off the train and she lands on the horse facing the Lone Ranger, riding face to face, the production team filmed the actors facing each other on the horse riding at a relatively slow pace, then the film was speeded up.
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Horse and Pony Colours: Which one would you choose? (Colourful Christmas present?)

“A good horse is never a bad color!” I absolutely agree. But, just supposing you could choose the perfect colour for your horse – or the horse or pony of your dreams, which colour would it be?

When I had the idea for my third book, I knew of course that horses come in many colours and many combinations of colours – but I didn’t even guess that there are over fifty recognised horse colours. Yes fifty! Amazingly, the specialist website The Horse Colors Site  identifies over fifty different horse colours  – and that’s not counting the standard bay colour. They’re all listed at: http://www.horsecolor.com/

My own favourite – and I’m guessing the favourite of a good few of you out there – is Palomino. I could be influenced by childhood memories of Trigger and Mr Ed and that holiday job I had on a Palomino stud farm.

But, but, but…. I like the pure black ones, the dappled greys and the spotted ones too. and the cremellos and the buckskins and, and…

Anyhow, check out Horse and Pony Colours: Which one would you choose? Out early December 2013 in paperback or kindle, with colour photos. There a little bit of science too and a link to a website where you can enter the colour of the sire and dam to get a prediction of what colours the foal might be.    

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http://www.lesleylodge.co.uk

 

Flygrazing, abandoned horses – what about leasing?

Got called in for a team meeting for the day job and some chance remarks from my colleagues set me thinking. The first was from a British colleague who reported that the habits of “flygrazing” and even horse abandonment were resurfacing in her part of southern England. Flygrazing usually takes the form of tethering horses or ponies to graze on common land, grass verges or even roundabout.

Theoretically, this somewhat desperate habit could be accomplished without cruelty – if the horse or pony is regularly monitored and has access to water and shade from the sun. But what happens all too often is that the horse is simply left, sometimes for days at a time. There’s the danger too that the horse may break free and wander onto roads or into other hazards. For concerned members of the public the dilemma is whether to report such instances or not. Is the horse suffering? Will its owner re-appear soon or not? Sometimes what starts as flygrazing ends up as the total abandonment of horses.

Check out this link to the Farmers’ Weekly to read about proposals to make flygrazing a criminal offence. There’s a picture there of a badly tied mare with foal:  http://www.fwi.co.uk/articles/01/08/2013/140304/make-fly-grazing-a-criminal-offence-says-nfu.htm

In the past, flygrazing was restricted to the travelling community, who generally did keep a regular eye on their horses but the financial crisis has meant many people have squeezed incomes, reduced hours of job losses to contend with plus the rising cost of stabling and general upkeep for horses. I think too that the unusually sunny summer in England has really slowed the regrowth of grass. England’s “green and pleasant land” is looking distinctly yellowy-brown in places. It’s the first ever summer I’ve had to feed hay throughout – my cob mare is a hairy native breed, out in the field all day but the grass is simply not coming through. Hay prices are not at all cheap.

Back to my colleagues. My second colleague is based in Florida and she – quite separately – commented that leasing horses is almost a craze there. With leasing, two, three or more people share the cost of keeping one horse. They also share the riding and the fun. Think holiday timeshare when it works well, but on a much more frequent basis. So, could leasing help address the difficulties in being able to afford to keep a horse in England? Probably yes – but it needs organisation and it needs trust and co-operation. It won’t solve the whole problem by any means but it could certainly help some. Perhaps social media such as Facebook could easily be used to help riders find other riders nearby with similarly constrained finances. It’s worth a try, isn’t it?

Have you seen flygrazing? Have you leased a horse? What are your thoughts?

www.lesleylodge.co.uk

Ebook on the Horse in Film - under £7 from http://tinyurl.com/lightscameragallop

Writer’s block: Real? Imaginary? Solutions?

 

I’ve been a bit distracted from my “proper” writing recently – but have I really got writer’s block?

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Look up writer’s block and you’ll find it confidently defined along the lines of “writer’s block is a condition, mostly associated with writing as a profession, in which the author somehow loses the ability to write, to produce new work”.

I was listening to Lee Child, however, at the recent (and very great fun) Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. He equally confidently denied the existence of writer’s block. Lorry drivers, he pointed out, might not feel like working some days, but they do nevertheless. Similarly, Philip Pullman has asked “Do plumbers get plumber’s block? What would you think of a plumber who used that as an excuse not to do any work that day?”

Robert McKee (that’s the Robert McKee of the world-famous Story seminar – check out http://mckeestory.com/ ) has suggested that Writer’s block “is not a paralysis of creativity but a malnutrition of material.”  The implication then is that if you think you’ve got writer’s block, either you simply haven’t done enough research – or you should just pull yourself together and get on with it.

OK I thought. I’ll just get on with it. But… but…

On the other hand, some very famous authors claimed they genuinely struggled with writer’s block. F. Scott Fitzgerald (Great Gatsby etc) is one example. Bestseller Dan Brown has been reported recently as going to the extreme of using gravity boots to hang upside down in order to fend off writer’s block. (ebay’s got some for £17.99 ($27.20) by the way).

So is the real answer is somewhere between these extremes? Yes, a lot of it is about research and even more is probably about getting going – just pour it out, write and write. You can improve it, edit out the bad stuff and so on later. That does suppose your starting point is at the least an idea or two and some characters. If you haven’t got those, then maybe try research – even if it’s only walking round the location of your story or dredging your own memory for that spark of an idea, a “what if” line.

I think there’s a less obvious, more insidious cause of writer’s block too – the internet and all its associated social media, whether coming at you by phone or by laptop. Yes we can always do some research on the internet – but let’s be honest with ourselves. If we’re not focusing in on some essential detail, say, what type of gun our antagonist might have used and whether that model had a safety catch, chances are what we’re really doing is wasting valuable writing time.

If you’re lucky enough and there’s some money in what you’re writing, there’s always this suggestion of Lee Child’s:

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“Make a tall stack of tax demands, tuition bills, and mortgage statements. Stare at it until the block disappears. Usually takes three or four seconds.“ (You can substitute your own bills of course – vet bills for injured dog and petrol would be on my list).

Finally, some others to read on writer’s block:

There’s io9 – a daily publication that covers science, science fiction, and the future lists ten types of writer’s block – with ideas on overcoming them (with some fabulous Pulp magazine images)

http://io9.com/5844988/the-10-types-of-writers-block-and-how-to-overcome-them

or try: http://flavorwire.com/343207/13-famous-writers-on-overcoming-writers-block

The Lone Ranger: past and present

OK, in the UK right now, it might be a little bit too hot (very unusual) to think about films but by August this may all have changed. And hardened film buffs carry on film-watching regardless.

The Lone Ranger – starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer – is finally, after many delays, incidents and an accident, due to charge into UK cinemas on 9 August.

The challenge with a remake like this is to resonate with the original much loved stories while bringing something new and modern to the film. Time, then, for a look back to the original. The Lone Ranger was an early TV series in the 1950s, about an unnamed, masked Texas Ranger in the American Old West, who galloped about on his horse Silver, righting injustices with the aid of his wise but laconic Native American assistant, Tonto. Silver was introduced to the audience at the beginning of each episode as ‘A fiery horse with the speed of light!’ At the end, the Lone Ranger would famously say, ‘Hi-Yo, Silver, away!’ (often misheard by the audience as ‘Hi-Ho’), as they galloped off. The series theme tune was the ‘cavalry charge’ finale of Rossini’s William Tell overture. The Lone Ranger had well over two hundred episodes and ran from 1949 to 1961, including re-runs. It successfully made the leap from black and white to colour TV in 1956.

The original Silver was a magnificent horse, white all over except for a couple of black dots around one eye.

So what about the remake? The film dramatically reveals much of the back story to the old series: why the lone ranger was “lone” and why he wears a mask. Importantly, the film’s director Gore Verbinski has taken a similar line to Steven Spielberg’s in War Horse: he’s gone for real stunts wherever possible and spectacular real locations instead of taking the easy way out with CGI. From the trailers, it looks like this has really paid off in terms of the film’s excitement factor. 2013’s Silver, is also a fabulous white horse – but this one even gallops inside a train.

Check out the trailers. On YouTube there’s even a behind-the-scenes trailer which shows the sheer dangers involved in shooting hair-raising action sequences. For example, there’s some action set on a rickety scaffolding on top of one of the rocky buttes in Monument Valley. There’s also has a clip of Johnny Depp’s (real and unscheduled) dramatic accident as he falls off his horse and gets dragged.

Fast-moving, stunning Western locations – amazing train and horse scenes. Let’s hope the film lives up to its trailer hype. I’ll be going for the horse scenes anyhow.

For more, especially on Johnny Depp’s character, check out ScreenwritingU’s Jenny Miller recent interview with the film’s screenwriter Justin Haythe – see http://www.screenwritingu.com/blog/screenwriter-justin-haythe-writing-lone-ranger

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Beer, film, and historical thriller – out now

Ben Wheatley’s new film “A Field in England” is set in seventeenth England. It’s not just a thriller – the Hollywood reporter says it’s “A strikingly original historical thriller spiced with occult mysticism and mind-warping hallucinations”

The seventeenth century was a scary time all round. Many people genuinely believed in witchcraft, the supernatural and a very real presence of the devil. At least this gave them an explanation for wars, freak weather, crop failures and cattle deaths. And others used accusations of witchcraft and devils to settle old scores. You needed have to be a woman to be accused of witchcraft either (though it did help).

The seventeenth century was also the time of the on-off English Civil War, which drove families and neighbours to kill and betray each other. Throw hallucinogens (such as mushroom dust) into this mix – as Ben Wheatley’s “A Field in England” does – and you have the perfect ingredients for a very powerful historical thriller.

“A Field in England” is being released in different formats simultaneously – DVD, TV (Film4) and cinema. Wikipedia says there’s even a specially brewed (Weltons) slow-pour beer to go with it – tagline “Open Up and Let the Devil In.”  Sounds like a really good night in (or out) to me….

Think you might become hooked on the seventeenth century? “Because it is Written” is my short story set in seventeenth century England about witchcraft and a blacksmith’s on a mission for revenge. 

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Choosing your book’s title – a tip

As I found out – the hard way – including punctuation in your book’s title can hinder sales.

My book is a non-fiction, illustrated book about horses in film and on television. There are wild horses galore, chase scenes and lots of daring stunts. Horses rear, fight, buck, jump, dash through war zones, swim to deserted islands or play dead. Choosing the sub-title was relatively easy: “The Story of the Horse in Film” tells you what it’s about and “horse” and “film” and “horse in film” are going to show up in online searches. So far so good. But I wanted a title that would be able to convey some of the excitement there is in filming horses. Horses are unpredictable but fabulously fast and strong. I hit upon “Lights! Camera! Gallop!”

Everyone knows the director’s shout of “Lights! Camera! Action!” so I thought I can tap into that. Job done and eBook uploaded onto Amazon, Apple’s iTunes bookstore, Kobo, WH Smith and Waterstones.

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That was August 2012. Sales since then have been mostly through Amazon, as you’d expect from Amazon’s dominant place in eBook sales overall. And with the sales, usually, come some reviews, from a (fairly small percentage) of buyers on Amazon. Still, I thought I should check the others. And here’s where I found the problem. The really big search engines, like Google and Amazon’s own internal search engine, are sophisticated enough to pick up the book whether you type in “Lights! Camera! Gallop!” – or “Lights Camera Gallop”. Smaller or more specialist search engines, however, such as those within other eBook sellers’ sites do not always pick up the book from the search term which has the exclamation marks, although they will pick it up if you type in “Lights Camera Gallop” . You can see the problem: your would-be buyer is looking for your book but doesn’t find it with the first search. How many would-be buyers will try again, leaving out the punctuation?

I’ve noticed the same problem with hyphens. I was searching a company’s website for one of their own publications which does have a hyphen in its title. Nothing. I rang them up – “Try searching for it without the hyphen”, they said. So they knew about the problem but had done nothing to fix it.   

My tip, then, is to avoid punctuation in your book title. I’ve not firmed up yet on my next book’s title – I was thinking maybe something really simple, like “Colourful Horses”. But then I’ll have another problem – if I’m hoping for a US market, won’t they be searching for “Colorful Horses”? Time for a rethink perhaps….

Self-publishing – and Horse colours (tips please!)

Writing coming off hold! I’ve been a little quiet on the twitter/blog front recently. What happened was that the combination of hungry horse and awful winter weather (not to mention very long winter) here in Bedfordshire (UK) has meant that the grassy green field turned into a sludge brown field. So I’ve sent the hairy cob away to an equestrian centre in the next county over, for some expert schooling and to rest the field. Meanwhile, I’ve been picking up horse droppings, re-seeding the field and laying down fertiliser. Result: a few green shoots and a glimmer of hope for more.

So now, back to focus on the writing. I’ve now read no fewer than five of those books about how to succeed with self-publishing and marketing your e-book. Some of the main lessons in all these books (now they tell me…) are about things you should do BEFORE publication so I’ll be trying these out. One piece of advice many of these books give is about self-publishing on Kindle and then being able to give away free copies on selected days. Now neither of my e-books (“Lights! Camera! Gallop! The Story of the Horse in Film” and the short story book “Because it is Written”) are in my control so I haven’t been able to do the give-away thing. But I’m determined to publish the new one myself through Kindle Direct Publishing.     

So, I’m starting the new book now. The plan is to aim it at a younger audience than Lights! Camera! Gallop! The Story of the Horse in Film and I’ll give it a more playful focus. There will be some horse film stars in it and lots of pictures. It’s going to be about the huge variety of colours horses can have, and the different names for them (sometimes the same colours have different names in the UK and USA). The colour of a horse is often carefully considered in film-making and there’s been a whole raft of theories about the symbolism of a horse’s colour. Just as a director might have definite views about whether to choose a dark haired actress such as Angelina Jolie or a blonde like Reese Witherspoon, he or she would also decide carefully between a black stallion, which might hint at, say, power, mystery, secrecy or even death, or a white one, which would traditionally suggest innocence, light, sun, vitality or resurrection.

Such interpretations of colouring are not set in stone and are sometimes reversed, as for example a pale horse might symbolise death. The star horse in the various Black Beauty films, being all based on the book of the same name, had of course to be black in colour but his character was also very carefully and very strongly shown to be good: brave, faithful and patient. Then there is my own favourite colour: the Palomino. I’m thinking Roy Rogers’ Trigger or the legendary talking Mr Ed.

So, I’d very much value your input as I start this project:

Have you a favourite horse colour?

Have you an anecdote about horse colours?

And – have you any hints on marketing self-published books or on the Kindle Direct Publishing please? 

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Ray Harryhausen: creator of magical, animated horses

Sad news that Ray Harryhausen, visual effects master and creator of fabled animated horses Pegasus and Eohippus has passed away aged 92. These horses were in creaky old films admittedly – Clash of the Titans (1981) and the even older and creakier  Valley of Gwangi (1969) (in the fortunately very genre of cowboys vs dinosaurs – but the prehistoric horse Eohippus stole the show). They were however magical (especially but not only in wine-fuelled all-nighter showings somewhere like the old Electric cinema, in London’s Notting Hill, sometime, let’s say, Back in the Day. Heyho)

Much of this blog is based on Chapter 8 of Lights! Camera! Gallop! The Story of the Horse in Film.

Ray Harryhausen worked extensively with stop-motion animation. He was called, with justification, ‘the world’s greatest stop-motion animator’. During a thirty-year career, he did much of the writing, directing, lighting, modelling and animating in his films single-handedly, creating some of the most remarkable moments in stop-motion animation. Much of his work focused on mythical beings or incredible monsters, and two of his greatest creations were horses: Pegasus and Eohippus.

Harryhausen used an advanced form of stop-motion animation (think Chicken Run or Wallace and Gromit to know what stop-motion looks like) which he himself had developed, because he wanted to integrate his model creatures into real settings rather than having to keep on building tiny and elaborate sets (his films were never given anything near a huge budget). When the whole film was later developed and projected on-screen, the horse or monster would appear to be its full intended size yet moving about inside real-life settings and interacting with human actors.

Anyhow, Harryhausen used stop-motion to bring the legendary flying horse Pegasus to the screen in his 1981 film Clash of the Titans, starring Laurence Olivier. Based on Greek mythology, this is a film about how the gods manipulate the lives of mortals, focusing on the courage of one mortal, Perseus, in the face of such manipulation. It has quite a complex plot in which, essentially, one goddess supports Calibos, a deformed outcast cursed by Zeus for hunting to death his winged horses, while other immortals help the film’s hero, Perseus.

In the film, Perseus finds Pegasus, the one remaining flying horse, when the latter comes by night to drink at the Wells of the Moon. In a magical sequence, we first see Pegasus flying through the night sky to land on the ground bathed in moonlight. Perseus lassoes Pegasus, who resists vigorously, but Perseus leaps on to his back; his riding skills have been hinted at earlier in the film, in a scene where he appears as a young boy cantering along a beach on a horse – with neither reins nor saddle. Pegasus at first reacts to Perseus riding him by bucking and rearing in the sky, like some wild rodeo horse. Eventually, though, he is tamed by Perseus giving him water to drink. Perseus flies off on Pegasus into the night – a beautiful scene, shot in silhouette.

Later in the film, the evil Calibos captures Pegasus at the Wells of the Moon by throwing a large net over him. That scene ends horribly, as Calibos’s henchmen beat at Pegasus through the net with huge clubs. The audience is left to presume that he dies an agonising death. But at the film’s climax, just as a giant sea monster is about to grab the heroine and sacrifice her, Pegasus flies in to help Perseus save her. Then, job done, Pegasus poses on a rock in the sea, rears up as if to say farewell, then flies off, up into the sky.

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Throughout the film, Harryhausen uses three main types of shot in the scenes with Pegasus. Close shots tend to focus on his huge white feathered wings and flowing white mane. Close-ups of his head are clearly those of a real white horse. More distant shots showing the whole of Pegasus, especially when he is flying, use a stop-motion model of the horse. Throughout the film, Pegasus flies and canters gracefully with only a hint of jerkiness. In the context of such a powerful and mythical storyline, that slight element of unreality in Pegasus’s gait caused by the stop-motion animation process actually helped to enhance the horse’s magical status, giving him a kind of dreamlike quality.

Harryhausen’s other important stop-motion horse is the Eohippus in The Valley of Gwangi. The first quarter of this film is remarkable for the presence of the Eohippus, a creature that did actually exist but over fifty million years ago and which is said to be the earliest ancestor of the horse. To judge from the fossil remains, it must have looked like a miniature horse, though it was only about the size of a small dog. It had toes rather than hooves: three toes on the front legs and four on its back legs.

In the film, the Eohippus is kidnapped from the Forbidden Valley, a haven blocked off from civilisation and one where dinosaurs have not died out. The kidnappers’ aim is to sell it to Buffalo Bill’s Circus Show for entertainment. Their plan is to have a normal sized horse carrying a tea-tray-sized platform on its back, with Eohippus trotting about on the platform. This, they reckon, will earn them a fortune in ticket sales. Before this plan can be carried out, though, superstitious local villagers decide to return the Eohippus to the Forbidden Valley, lest it bring them bad luck. The cowboys follow the villagers and find the valley. The rest of the film focuses on their disastrous encounters with the dinosaurs (also brought to life through stop animation).

When we first see the Eohippus in the film, it is in a tiny horse pen on a table top, complete with miniature stable. Harryhausen used cardboard cut-outs of the Eohippus in rehearsals with the actors, so that they would know which way to look, thus making it seem as if they could really see the creature. He filmed these scenes without the Eohippus (with its cardboard cut-out out of shot). He then filmed a stop-motion model of the Eohippus separately and merged the two films together afterwards. The Eohippus is so fascinating – a creature previously seen only as a sketch in an encyclopaedia, if at all, is brought to life on the screen – that it seems far more plausible than the rather plastic-looking dinosaurs that appear later in the movie. The Eohippus model used has short, tan-coloured hair and a sloping back, and moves rather like a small antelope, nervously stopping and starting – as any creature might do if it suddenly found itself on a table top. So the slight jerkiness caused by the stop-motion technique goes unnoticed. The visual impact is further reinforced by sound effects: the Eohippus has a high-pitched and convincing neigh.

Ray Harryhausen – great film-maker, sad loss.

http://tinyurl.com/horseinfilmstory  

Horses spotted in Costa Rica

My brief pause in blogging here has been due to two-week holiday in Costa Rica. (Note to self: I really should crack the art of setting up blogs and tweets for release while I’m away). I had a fabulous time in the rainforest – huge sloths (with long green hair) hanging from the trees, howler monkeys leaping on the roof every night (cute – but believe me the novelty wears off when you’re tired), brightly coloured frogs (poisonous, can be deadly, but hallucinogenic, I’m told – if you get the dose right though you’d need to be pretty foolhardy to try). Above all there were exotic birds. We even glimpsed the famed and rare Quetzal bird.

Whenever I go to another country, I’m always interested in the horses and how they are treated. I’ll never forget the shock of seeing underfed and badly treated horses and donkeys in Greece when I went there many years ago on a school trip. Happily the treatment of horses in most European countries has improved enormously (if only because their owners realised bad treatment upset the tourists and might jeopardise the income from them).

Developing countries are another matter though. Poverty and sheer ignorance sometimes lead to overwork and poor nutrition for horses, donkeys and mules, whether they pull farm equipment, carry loads or pull fancy pony traps for round-the-town tourist rides. I was very impressed with Costa Rica overall. They’ve been democratic for ages, abolished their army in 1948 and have an admirable programme of green and sustainable tourism and rainforest management. They do not seem to have many horses (probably just as well since they do have venomous snakes. I experienced one magical moment on an expedition in the depths of the rainforest though – suddenly, as I looked uphill, to my amazement I saw two beautiful white horses jumping over a fence. They’d stopped by the time we got the camera focused – but here they are.

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Interestingly, the museum in the capital San Jose showed that there were horses back in the days of mammoths. I hadn’t realised there had been horses on the American continent before the Spanish conquistadors arrived but apparently there were (until they were hunted to extinction). Here toImageo is a picture of some Costa Rican riding trail horses. You’ll see they don’t look neglected.