#ShelfieSunday: My Colourful Life: from Red to Amber

Equine History Collective

gingerReview of Ginger McCain, My Colourful Life: from Red to Amber. London: Headline Book Publishing, 2005, 2006, 2014.

Review by Anastasija Ropa

    In this lively autobiography, Ginger McCain, a trainer of racehorses, best-known as the trainer who has won the Grand National four times, tells of his experience of horses on and off the racetrack over more than half a century. Not only is Ginger McCain a man who made history, having trained Red Rum, a three-time Grand National winner and a national sporting hero, but he also lived through a period of change, as the jockeys and trainers of the post-war Britain retired to give place to the men – and women – of today’s racing world. Much of the book, is, appropriately, about Red Rum, who, the author declares, “changed the course of my life as no man or woman or child could ever do.” Arguably, Red…

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The Horses Of Jeju.

Source: The Horses Of Jeju.

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Session: Arthurian Horses


Dr Anastasija Ropa


Dr Joseph M. Sullivan

Dr Eleana Creazzo

Dr Sandy Feinstein


Horses in the Middle Ages were a means of transport, but, in the world of chivalry, they were also powerful symbolic vehicles. An Arthurian knight would be judged not only by his clothes but also, and firstly, by the horse he rode: thus, Chrètien de Troyes’s Perceval is ridiculed for riding an old piebald mare, whereas Chrètien Sir Lancelot (in The Knight of the Cart) undergoes the utter humiliation of being driven in a cart pulled by a nag. On the more positive side, the knights at the height of their glory ride powerful white destriers, and ladies are seated on elegant palfreys, bedecked with colourful equipment.

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CFP: The THE MEDIEVAL HORSE Sessions at the International Medieval Congress 2018 at Leeds, 2-5 July 2018

lady on horsePalfreys and rounceys, hackneys and packhorses, warhorses and coursers, not to mention the mysterious ‘dung mare’ – they were all part of everyday life in the Middle Ages. Every cleric and monk, no matter how immersed in his devotional routine and books he would be, every nun, no matter how reclusive her life, every peasant, no matter how poor his household, would have some experience of horses. To the medieval people, horses were as habitual as cars in the modern times. Besides, there was the daily co-existence with horses to which many representatives of the gentry and nobility – both male and female – were exposed, which far exceeds the experience of most amateur riders today. We cannot reconstruct or re-experience the familiar and casual communication between humans and equids of the Middle Ages – or can we? At our sessions on the Medieval Horse, we will try to deduce, describe and debate the place of the horse in medieval society.

We welcome submissions on any aspect of medieval equestrianism and engagement with horses and similar beasts of burdens, whether in military, civilian, industrial or agricultural context, from a variety of disciplines as well as papers that approach the subject using experimental and reconstruction methodologies.

In particular, we would be interested in contributions on the following themes:

  • Archaeological approaches to horse equipment and harness
  • Osteological research into remains of equids from medieval contexts
  • Equids and other ridden animals in medieval society and thought (including donkeys and mules, as well as camels, elephants and other exotic ridden animals, and even fantastic creatures – the unicorn, the centaur, the hybrids and grotesques in the marginalia, etc.)
  • courtly hawking
  • Horses in the oriental culture
  • Medieval veterinary and hippiatric care and farriery
  • Employment of the horses for hunting, parade, travelling and agricultural activity
  • Military horses and their typology
  • Horses in literature and art
  • Post-medieval representation of the medieval horse


We have already hosted a number of sessions on medieval equestrianism and the horse at IMC 2016 and 2017, which generated considerable response both from researchers and from the audience attending the sessions.

At IMC 2018, we intend to open the scope of the discussion by organising a Round Table on the theme “Reconstructing the Medieval Horse”, in line with the Congress theme for the next year – Memory. We invite contributions to the Round Table, commenting on the reconstruction of the medieval horse from any perspective: whether as practitioners, consultants, participants in medieval themed equestrian events. More generally, we would like to discuss the extent to which the medieval horse can be reconstructed – if at all – and ways in which aspects of medieval equestrian culture and lore (chivalric, veterinary, breeding, training, horse care, etc.) can be applied in the modern world.


If you are interested in contributing to either the sessions or the Round Table (or both), please send the following to the organisers, Dr. Timothy Dawson (levantia@hotmail.com) and Dr. Anastasija Ropa (anastasija.ropa@lspa.lv):

  • For the thematic sessions: Short bio (70-100 words, including name, surname, affiliation, research interests and any other relevant information), proposed paper title and abstract (250-300 words). The duration of the paper is 15-20 minutes, followed by questions.
  • For the Round Table: Short bio (70-100 words, including name, surname, affiliation, research interests and any other relevant information), proposed theme and description (150-200 words)

The deadline for submitting a proposal is 1 September 2017.

Notification of acceptance will be sent by 20 September 2017.

NB: An individual can present only one paper at the IMC and act as a speaker at the Round Table.

If you have any enquiries or want to discuss your proposed contribution, please do not hesitate to contact us.

CFP Horses at IMC 2018

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Making the most of your conference money

A point-by-point discussion how to plan your conference time – things to do and not to do before and during the event. Extremely useful if, like me, you like going to conferences.

The Thesis Whisperer

This post is by Dr Alexandra Hogan, a mathematical infectious disease modeller. She submitted her PhD thesis at the Research School of Population Health at ANU in November 2016. She is now working on models for malaria transmission at Imperial College London.

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-10-14-30-amFor an academic, participating in conferences is important for lots of reasons: sharing research and having it critiqued, building networks, identifying collaboration opportunities, and staying up to date with advances in the field.

For PhD students there are additional advantages: you can use conferences to make your name known outside your immediate geographical area, potentially improving future employment opportunities.

For me, they have been invaluable in feeling included in my scientific discipline; for being part of a bigger student group outside my university; and for receiving a motivational boost when the PhD journey is feeling long and difficult.

There’s also a cost: conferences are expensive, particularly when you…

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CFP: Horses in Art: The Familiar and the Alien Session at the International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 4 July 2017: 11.15-12.45

Source: CFP: Horses in Art: The Familiar and the Alien Session at the International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 4 July 2017: 11.15-12.45

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Where to execute a criminal in the Middle Ages?

Do you have morbid fascination with gallows, pillories and other sites of execution and infamy? If you do, you will probably never confess this interest, lest your colleagues shall fear you as a closet maniac. Unless, of course, you are one of a handful of people working on the archaeology of justice, who confessed and even celbrated our fascination with hangings, decapitations, amputated hands of forgers, burned and drowned witches and suchlike.

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Medieval Churches in Latvia

Romanesque, early Gothic and late Gothic churches were all present on the landscape of medieval Latvia. Many of them have survived wars and fires and still make their mark on the surroundings. Constructed from the twelfth century onwards and rebuilt throughout their history, medieval churches offer a standing testimony to the malleability of history, a reminder of the instability, permeability of meaning. Burned to the four walls and erected once again (Krimulda Church), rebuilt to suit the latest tastes already in the Middle Ages (St. Peter’s Church), or ruined to the four shattered walls, plaintively exposed against the blue waters of the Daugava River (Ikshkile Church) – these are just a few examples of the still beautiful monuments of sacred history which have the power to take the visitors back in time.


St. Peter’s Church in Riga as printed in S. Munter’s Cosmography

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Horseback Archery – a Medievalist Sport

Say ‘horseback archery’ and what would you think? Archaic, esoteric, oriental, arcane?

Indeed, horseback archery was and still is a vibrant tradition in Asia, from Iran and Turkey to Korea (home of the World Horseback Archer Federation) and Japan. More recently, however, horseback archery has crossed the east-west divide and is increasingly popular in Europe, the UK and the States.

The object is simple – to release arrows into a target while galloping. At the same time, there are infinite variations in rules, equipment and styles across schools and countries. You can release arrows, for instance, into a series of targets set alongside the track. Alternatively, you may be asked to shoot three arrows into the same target. Whatever the rules, speed and feeling are the key, in diference from the foot archery, where the archer has time to deliberate and aim.

Like all combined sports, horseback archery is a singularly difficult art to master. Combining two hard and rare skills, archery and riding, it is breathtakingly beautiful to watch and fascinating to practice.

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Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmasand Happy New Year!

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