I was invited to take a look at a world I discovered I know nothing about: Riding shows. The daughter of a friend of mine, like many girls her age, is virtually in love with a horse. Her friend was going to be competition riding on a fjording (Norwegian fjord horse) named Jussi.
In the days before tractors, fjordings pulled the hay wagons and the plows, and being sure-footed and well-adapted to their steep surroundings, also functioned as mules for mountain farmers. They are a docile but spirited breed of pony (Jussi is actually as tall as a horse). The most striking thing about them is their coloring: a fawn-colored coat with a blonder mane with a brown stripe down its middle continuing narrowly along the animals back and adding a brown stripe to the blond tail. The horse in the picture has been shaved, so his regular furry color can be seen on his face and legs, while his neck and body show his skin color. There were some odd shaving jobs on some other horses, and on one there was a striking contrast between a red coat and gray skin.
I was never one of those girls who got into horses during her teens. I've always liked them, enjoyed drawing them, and I have ridden them a few times, mainly thanks to my mother who herself loves horses and was a good rider, but that all engrossing dedication that some girls go through during puberty was never for me. So here I was, standing around, waiting for Jussi and his rider to trot before the judges. They were running late (no pun intended), so I had time to hang around in the little café and watch the olympic biathlon (skiing and shooting). I was just in time to see Norway's Bjørndalen lose his chance at the gold, just yards away from the finish line. Bummer.
Well, it was Jussi's turn. Trot around, keep straight doing diagonal lines, stopping and waiting when commanded to, keeping a steady pace. The solidly built animal looked good to me. He got a work-out and you can see the steam coming off his breath in this photo. I don't know how well they placed.
I enjoyed my few hours, walking around horse manure, observing a lifestyle for a few hours that is absolutely foreign to me. I saw horseys! Lots of horseys!