Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day & The Riderless Horse (2009 Post)

I lived just outside Washington, D.C. all but 9 years of my life, and once lived next door to the Iwo Jima Memorial, heard the bells of the Netherlands Carillion and overlooked Arlington Cemetery from my balcony. This holiday to me is a somber one.

Today, a retired 28th Infantry Division Pennsylvania Army Major, William H. Wolfe, will perform one of the military's most hallowed ceremonies during the 2009 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C.

In 2009, Major Wolfe led the riderless horse -- his own 10-year-old black Tennessee Walking Horse gelding, Winchester, in the No. 7 spot in the parade. He served in the Persian Gulf and in Operation Iraqi Freedom 3 in Iraq for a year. This year, Cruiser, will be led by equestrian Dee Staley. At this time of this blog post, I could not obtain a photo of them.

The riderless (or caparisoned) horse, led by a "cap walker," is fully saddled and bridled and bears a pair of boots set backward in the stirrups. The honor is reserved for high-ranking government officials and for officers of the rank of colonel or above who have died. In this case, Winchester will memorialize those who were killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While you view memorial events in our country set forth to remember those who have fought for our freedom, here are some explanations of the customs adhered to in the processions:

(1) Today's customary three shots fired over a grave probably originated as far back as the Roman Empire. The Roman funeral rite of casting dirt three times on the coffin constituted the "burial." It was customary among the Romans to call the dead three times by name, which ended the funeral ceremony, after which the friends and relatives of the deceased pronounced the word "vale" (farewell) three times as they departed from the tomb. In more recent history, three muskets were fired to announce that the burying of the dead was completed and the burial party was ready for battle again.

(2) The custom of using a caisson to carry a coffin most likely had its origins in the 1800s when horse-drawn caissons that pulled artillery pieces also doubled as a vehicle to clear fallen soldiers from the battlefield. Caissons are pulled by 6 black or grey horses. In Washington, D.C., the horses used for this are kept at Ft. Myer in Arlington, Virginia where they graze happily alongside Rt. 50 behind something like a 20 ft. chain link fence and are surrounded by concrete office high-rises, and apartment buildings.

(3) As noted before, in the mid to late 1800s a funeral procession of a mounted officer or enlisted man was accompanied by a riderless horse in mourning caparison followed by a hearse. It was a custom to have the boots of the deceased thrown over the saddle with heels to the front signifying that his march was ended. You will more often see the rider's boots reversed in the stirrups, indicating the soldier will never ride again, as well as signifying the commander's parting look upon his troops, who march behind.

When the beautiful Caisson horses are not being utilized for memorial / funeral events, they are utilized in therapy on the grounds of Ft. Myer in the rehabilitation of our injured soldiers.

We wish for you to have a safe Memorial Day, and to please remember those who have not yet, or will ever, return home to their families and country that they loved.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What's Blooming Wednesday!

Amidst the Knick-Knacks, Chatchkas,
a Stained Glass Screen of Color With Sparkle
and Flying Blonde Kitchen Witches. . .
the Orchid's Now in Full Bloom Above My Kitchen Sink.

Remember What You Did in 6th Grade?

I can, sort of . . . but check out this 6th grader, Greyson Michael Chance . . . .

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hightower Creek Clydes, Here We Come!

It's May and it's open house time at Hightower Creek Clydes or fondly "Pia's Place" that is nestled in the North Georgia mountains in a town called Hiawassee.

People come from miles around, and we trekked up from Social Circle in the drizzle to not miss a great time. When we arrived, it had gotten just about perfect with overcast -- not too hot, not too cold -- weather.

Everyone gets a carriage ride with Beauty, her only Shire. When Santa comes in December, he always asks for Beauty to pull his sleigh while he visits with the children hearing their wishes for Christmas during the ride.

Here's Jessie and Pia in her HCC Blues enjoying the people who come to visit her, the farm and especially her horses.

Everyone is greeted by Rabun, a chow mix rescue who was in a shelter in Rabun County. He is an awfully happy pup.

There's barn visitation with her 7 Clydesdales, 1 Shire, 1 Clydesdale/Belgian Cross, 1 Quarter Horse, and 1 Arab . . .

Roady House Chickens . . . . who are working on egg production as we speak. . . .

. . . and you can spend some time with the goats, Randy and Andy . . . although I don't know who this is. . . .

But, best of all -- what all the commotion is about is. . . .

Lil' Major's public debut this past weekend!

Major is now 30 days old, and got to visit, nibble and explore with all the folks that came out for the grand opening.

When Pia gives her tours, there's always an educational aspect to the fun day until it is time to go home.

Now, that's when the real fun begins. . . .

Here's Cowboy Bob, in action, getting the horses to "Cross the Creek" after dinnertime to another pasture for their overnight graze. Yep, the ground shakes when they get going. . .

[Note: Shire Leads.]

Out here, on the East Coast, it's not often that we get to meet a real-live cowboy, who actually has been there and done that (in Texas, Oklahoma and Montana -- or was it Wyoming?) and who isn't full of just "talk" (or stuff that's shoveled out of stalls. . . )

He adds some entertainment to the day if you can get him to talk. He's a man of few words, but has a discerning palate for fine Scotch. After all, Clydes are from Scotland so it all makes perfect sense.

After the horses are settled, we got to all play with the baby ourselves, including Bronson, the Boston Terrier, who was present at Major's birth --

-- and apparently believes Major's sole reason for being brought on this earth was to play with him. That cute baby doesn't mind one little bit either . . .

With many visitors who are allowed to rub on the baby, he quickly learned how to work a crowd to relieve the itchiness he's got going on with all his baby fuzz; Jessie knows just where to scratch. His tail is saying, "move over to the left" . . .

"Ahhhhh, right there!"

HIghtower Creek Clydesdales in Hiawassee is a beautiful place to go to relax and escape the city. Besides, it's not everywhere you can go love on so many Clydesdales at once in our neck of the woods. If you see a big horse in Hiawassee in a parade, or elegantly escorting a bride to her wedding, or clip-clopping on the backroads, shout out a "Hey Pia!" and slow down as you pass.

Thank you, Pia, for a wonderful time, and the hospitality by all your neighbors, relatives and friends!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What's Blooming Wednesday!

Lamb's Ear

Peonies Almost Ready to Burst!