THE ARMORED HORSE

“Armored transport.” A term we hear nearly every day, especially about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But few remember that before horses were used for trail riding, showing, and other modern pursuits, they were the original armored transports. Carrying knights into battle, the horses were sometimes as heavily armored as their riders, and just as formidable. Anyone whose summer travel plans include New York City should make a point of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where a special exhibition devoted to “The Armored Horse in Europe, 1480-1620” will be on view through September 3.

An institution that never fails to impress for the breadth and depth of its collections, the Metropolitan’s Department of Arms and Armor was established in 1912. Its collection of European horse armor is not only the largest in America, but also one of the most comprehensive in the world. This exhibition of forty rare examples is drawn exclusively from the Met’s permanent collection.

The exhibition teaches us that it was the Romans who probably first introduced horse armor to Western Europe, during the late Roman Imperial period of the fourth century. But it is in the illuminated manuscripts of the thirteenth century that the early developments and stages of horse armor can be traced.

The use of horse armor in Europe peaked around 1500, and was obsolete by the early seventeenth century. But the lasting relics, with their fanciful metalwork and inventive designs, are worth a comparison to our tanks of modern warfare.

You can access New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (212-535-7710), at Fifth Avenue & 82nd Street online at: www.metmuseum.org.

Mark Your Calendar

Thursday, August 2 – Sunday, August 5

Fiesta Stock Horse Show and Rodeo

Earl Warren Showgrounds

Thursday: 7:45 pm

Friday and Saturday: 7:30 pm

Sunday: 1:30 pm

Parking: $5

Riders from the Tri-Counties will compete at this 83rd Annual Fiesta event, trying their skills at a variety of events, including Fiesta Ranch Horse class, Buckaroo class, Old Timers Team Roping, and Barrel Racing. For more information call 805-687-0747, or visit www.sbfiestarodeo.com

Friday, August 3

El Desfile Historico

Fiesta Parade

12 noon

One of the largest equestrian parades in the United States starts on Cabrillo Boulevard, continues along the beach, and then turns up State Street to Sola Street. Bring a hat and arrive early for free street-side viewing. For reserved seating on Cabrillo Boulevard, in the shade with unobstructed views and no bleachers, call the Arlington Ticket Agency at 805-963-4408. General admission seats are $15. VIP seats are $50 and include private parking, snack box, drinks, Fiesta pin and poster. Televised live on KEYT Channel 3.

Saturday, August 4

Sierra Club Hike

West Fork, Cold Spring Trail

Moderate-Strenuous

5.5 miles round-trip

1,100-foot elevation gain

Start at the main Cold Spring trailhead, cross the creek and head up the west fork, passing the old water tunnel on the newly revised section. Bring a sack lunch to eat at the top of the trail where it meets Gibraltar Road. Bring plenty of water. Meet behind Bank of America on upper State Street at Hope Avenue at 9 am, or at the Cold Spring trailhead at 9:30 am. For more information call Gerry at 805-964-5411.

Wednesday, August 6 – Friday, August 8

Dressage Clinic in Santa Ynez

California Dressage Society,

Santa Barbara Chapter

This 3-day clinic will be taught by Rodrigo da Costa Matos, one of the distinguished senior riders of the Portuguese Equestrian School in Lisbon. He is considered one of the most sought-after clinicians in Europe and the United Kingdom, training top competitive dressage riders. For more information, contact Gina von der Burg at 805-448-2510.

Saturday, August 11

Sierra Club Hike

Franklin Trail

Strenuous, 12 miles round-trip

Long car pool to Juncal Campground. Hike past Jameson Lake then up Alder Creek Canyon to the ridge overlooking Carpinteria. Bring lunch and plenty of water. Meet behind Bank of America on upper State Street at Hope Avenue at 9 am. For more information call Tony at 805-687-1929.

Saturday, August 11

Annual Sunset Hike

Montecito Trails Foundation

Intermediate Level

Meet at 5:30 pm at the San Ysidro trailhead on East Mountain Drive off Park Lane. Participants will hike up the San Ysidro Trail, then divide into two groups: one will take the McMenemy Trail, the other will hike up to the Edison Catway and come down the Girard Trail. Everyone will meet at the McMenemy Bench to enjoy the sunset. Bring refreshments to share. Upper hike is 4 miles with 1,000-foot elevation gain; lower hike is 3 miles with 650-foot elevation gain. Bring plenty of water. Dogs are welcome if they are leashed and you bring cleanup supplies. For more information call Dick at 805-963-8858

Sunday, August 12

Sierra Club Hike

Romero Canyon to Camino Cielo

Strenuous, 9 miles round-trip

Hike all the way up a mostly tree-shaded trail to the top. Great views of the backcountry. Bring lunch and plenty of water. Meet behind Bank of America on upper State Street at Hope Avenue at 9 am. For more information call Diane at 805-687-1929.