Saturday, 1 August 2009


“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.” - William Shakespeare, Henry V

The first day of August in the Southern hemisphere is regarded as the universal birthday of all horses. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is on January 1st. Most registries here in Australia make August 1st the official birthday for all horses to simplify record keeping and to help keep classes even for competitions. For example, for thoroughbred race horses, if a horse is born on July 31st, then for racing purposes, it would turn 2-years-old 366 days after it was born. A horse born on August 1st could wait another year before having to compete in the same races. So, the game for thoroughbred horse owners is to make sure that their foals are born after August 1st, but as close to that date as possible. Horses born closer to the deadline often have a development edge over other horses. This is especially important for some of the big races like the Kentucky Derby, which is restricted to 3-year-old horses.

Of course, there are also mistakes and some foals don’t get reported to the registries on time. If a farm foals a baby in late July, there’s a big incentive to cheat a bit and wait a week or so to report that it’s been born on August 1st.

Here is a “Gallop” from the operetta “Orpheus in the Underworld”, a comic take on the tragic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. This piece is also called the “Infernal Can Can” as it is danced by demons in the Underworld. However, for me it has always had horsey overtones!

And seeing we are talking about galloping horses, you can’t go past some good galloping music like the second part of Rossini’s “Wiliam Tell” Overture (or the Lone Ranger theme, if you are less classically inclined!).

And as the Lone Ranger has taken us galloping to the USA, how about watching some horseracing at the “Camptown Races”?

So, to all horses today, Happy Birthday!


  1. Wow! I didn't know this.
    Thanks for the info.
    (Nice music while eating chocolate cake :-)

  2. Well, that's a surprise! The horse racing industry is engaged in some cloak and dagger stuff? I don't believe it! :-)