Monday, January 31, 2011

Question of the Day: Why Are There Horses on Merry-Go-Rounds?

This is the kind of question I could always ask my dad when I was growing up. He had stashed in his mental filing cabinet all manner of random facts and bits of interesting information that he could pull out at will. Talk about mental floss. Now everyone just googles to find out whatever it is they need to know. That's a shame. Googling should never replace what your dad can tell you at the other end of a phone call. Evidently there's an unofficial rebellion going on among students who resist memorizing facts, dates, and geographical locations. "I can just google it," is the answer to most anything now. Arrrrgh.
So why horses? Blame it on Louis XIV, the King of Quite a Lot. In 1662, supposedly to impress his wife and infant son, but really because of a new girl in town, Louis put on a gigantic three day dressage, carnival, and jousting tournament on his front lawn at the Louvre. Louis who liked to dress as a Roman emperor presided over the horse show and parade with riders cloaked in the skins of lions, leopards, tigers and monkeys. Nobles masqueraded as Romans, Turks, Persians and "those savage Americans." (Let's hear it for detente.) Everyone, everywhere under the sun was subject to Louis. In his mind anyway. Louis, who had achieved no fame in any military triumph made a name for himself in other ways, Versailles, the Apollo Gallery, and hobby horses rocking on a rotating wood platform. What a guy!

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