Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Running and the Dream of Horses

Last night in my dream I saw several horses running on two legs - their hind ones of course. It seemed that some horses had decided to become human too - they were hard to distinguish apart from being a bit taller. There was some sense that it was a bit unfair for them to take part in races with natural born humans... clearly need a session with a therapist, some unresolved competition issues!

I guess horses are the power animals par excellence for runners. In some parts of the world, humans have been living alongside horses for thousands of years, and must have always been impressed by their speed and endurance.  As formal athletics developed in the 19th century, human races were modelled on their animal counterparts - hence we have the steeplechase, and cross country developing from 'hare and hounds'. Sometimes humans have even tried their hand at racing horses - over longer distances the horse's advantage can decline.

The Western States 100 ultramarathon in California famously traces its origins to Gordy Ainsleigh running the 100 miles alongside the horses in the 1974 Western States Trail Ride. There's even a Man versus Horse Marathon (pictured above in June 2013), held every year since 1980 in  the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells - though it took until 2004 for a human to win the race.

On the subject of horse dreams, here's one of my favourite songs - Judy and the Dream of Horses by Belle and Sebastian. Of course the band have also some written some great songs about running.

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