What happens to racehorses when they leave the track?
Last week I was contacted by a number of people critical of our decision to display of a can of ‘Horsielicious’, created by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR), in the Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition. The can was used in 2014 protests aimed at raising awareness of the need for a ‘retirement plan’ for horses involved in racing.
The National Museum celebrated Australia’s horse story with the official launch of its new exhibition Spirited last week. The opening event mustered together horse enthusiasts from across the country, many of them having contributed their stories to the exhibition. Animal trainer Zelie Bullen opened the exhibiton by sharing her own horse stories, including those from the set of War Horse. Many more stories were shared as guests mingled and looked through the exhibition for the first time.
It’s truly serendipitous how the fabrics of our lives sometimes manage to weave themselves into fortuitous little knots of connection, and it seems that just such a knot led to this guest blog post – exploring two women’s contemporary lives in the bush – by Pappinbarra River valley resident Chay Khamsone and her neighbour-come-colleague Bryony Anderson.
You see, not long ago, I wrote an article titled “A botanical life”, which explored the life of a young girl named Annabella Innes. In the 1840s, Annabella lived at Lake Innes Estate, about 11km west of Port Macquarie, and was fascinated with the surrounding natural environment, carefully recording it in her diaries and botanical watercolours. She was an Continue reading
News of the fight spread quickly. A bike had been stolen and the culprit discovered. That was all anyone at my high school needed to know. In 1984 you didn’t need social media to create a flash mob. When the bell rang signalling the end of the school day, everyone simply gathered at the bike sheds for the showdown. Continue reading
Like, I suspect, many Australians, I have always thought of racehorses (or at least the non-harnessed variety) as Thoroughbreds, but Arabian enthusiast Virginia Dodson recently opened my eyes to the part her favourite breed has played in Australian racing. Continue reading
This watercolour painting, English mail day at the Post Office, Melbourne by Nicholas Chevalier, shows a frenzy of activity outside the original post office building at the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets about 1862. People flocked to the post office in anticipation of receiving news from home. Continue reading
A few months ago we introduced painter Margrete Erling and her works that powerfully convey the significance of horses within Australian history, see Painting horses. In the meantime, Margrete has finished two striking new paintings. ‘Brumby’ honours the contribution of stock horses to the Australian pastoral industry, and ‘Pit Pony’ records the lives of horses bred to work in the cold darkness of underground coal mines. Continue reading
This week, the National Museum has launched a new website called ‘My Pony Club’, inviting all pony club participants from across Australia to contribute their stories. Check out the website ‘My Pony Club’ to read some great stories, and add yours to the site for a chance to win one of five double passes to our exhibition Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story, opening in September.
Last week I had the great privilege of meeting Mrs Elma Pearsall, esteemed Ngunnawal elder, 93 going on 63, at her home in Boorowa, on the southern tablelands of New South Wales. Over coffee and sandwiches, she told stories about the long careers of her father and four brothers, all shearers with Leonard Brothers, a large contracting firm based in nearby Yass, which serviced sheds throughout New South Wales in the 1940s and 1950s.
Towards the end of our conversation, Elma showed me a small black and white photograph taken at her family’s farm at Pudman Creek, towards Crookwell. In the background stood Continue reading
On August 1st, all Australian horses mark their official birthdays. To celebrate the occasion, we’ve installed a striking, life-size equine sculpture in the Museum’s Main Hall, and are calling on Australians to tweet stories and images of how they are celebrating their horse’s birthday.