Saturday, June 27, 2009

the caravan kind

photo by dave miller, found @ redbubble

photo by mike angelo, found @ eden online news

photo by dave holden, @ blutopia

photo by debra freeman, found @ flickr

photo by arnhel de serra, found @ the saatchi gallery

the appleby horse fair takes place every june in the town of appleby-in-westmorland, england and has existed as a fair for horse trading since 1685. it is a huge gathering for the romany, gypsy and traveller communities who come with their horses and ponies and caravans. apparently during the fair, horses are everywhere—in the river eden and along its banks, along roadsides, and tethered outside of shops and hotels. the gypsies favor "colored' horses, and so black and white, and brown and white horses seem to dominate the landscape. there is a tradition of washing the horses in the river and swimming them through very deep areas, and making sure to dunk their heads before they are allowed to swim back to the banks to reach land. there is controversy regarding how some treat their horses, in 2007 a horse drowned during a deep swim. the town's population swells form 2,500 to 40, 000 during the week of the fair. because i've never been i can't imagine what it must be like or how i might feel about it. and i would never want to witness cruelty or irresponsible horsemanship, but my guess would be that most people at the fair love horses and that's why they are there. and i do think there is something thrilling and fantastic about this horse fair—the crowds, and the overwhelming number of horses, and the possibilities of which one you might end up making your own, and the river and green fields and grey-blue skies, and people from everywhere who are at once strange and familiar.

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