Monday, February 25, 2008

Leaping Animals

This week we add a day to our calendar to acknowledge Leap Year. Let's celebrate by showcasing animals that Leap!

We all know horses are good jumpers. There are shows and competitions held throughout the world, and Horse Jumping is one of the events in the Summer Olympics. Although led through the course by a rider, the horse's leaping ability is valued so highly both horse and rider receive medals.

A Steeplechase is a horse race specifically designed to test a horse's jumping abilities. In its origins, horses and riders raced from one town's church steeple to another (the steeple being the tallest landmark available), traversing over fences, hedges, streams and whatever other obstacles the countryside might produce. Steeplechases now take place on a track with the course of "fences" more defined.

But, perhaps the most awe inspiring display of a horse's talent in leaping can be found among the world famous Lipizzaner Stallions of Austria. These incredible horses have been bred for hundreds of years to take a natural ability and turn it into an art form. What first started as defensive and offensive tactics to be used on the battlefield has now become a ritualized display complete with choreography and music. With grace and power that rivals the best ballet dancers, Lipizzaners truly showcase the agility of horses.

Watch this Lipizzaner perform the Capriole under saddle.

Want to know what else they can do? Visit their official site and watch the
"Airs Above the Ground" demonstrations.

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