December 12, 2008 2:55 PM   Subscribe

Merlin is a Portuguese Lusitanos bullfighting horse who was bred by Jacques Bonnier.

I in no way endorse bullfighting. I endorse the fancy hoofwork.
posted by gman (15 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Pitting animals against one another in physical combat. I don't think you can get lower than that.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:33 PM on December 12, 2008

Wow. As my daughter put it - man he's athletic. He juked that bull.
posted by domino at 4:33 PM on December 12, 2008

From the Portuguese link:
In her book, Cavaliers of Portugal, Huldine Beamish writes: "the mentioning of the word bullfighting would probably elicit some negative reactions from an English speaking readership, however when preceded by the word Portuguese, it conjures images of one of the most exquisite forms of equestrian display, which would interest anyone involved with horses, but specially those of us interested in the Iberian horse."
The mounted bullfight begins with a regal display of cavaliers dressed in XVII century outfits and mounted on equally magnificently harnessed stallions. After a complex exhibitions of haute icole, which demonstrates the superb training of the horse, a single cavalier remains in the ring to face the bull alone.
In Portugal, the objective of the bullfight is not to kill the bull but rather to demonstrate the training and schooling of the horse. The bullfight consist of placing a series of long and short darts on the muscular part of the bull, just behind the neck. The darts irritate the bull and make it more aggressive. The performance is relatively short, ten minutes or so, in which an average of six darts are placed, but it must be performed under strict "codes of honor." The bull should be given the advantage when charging, that is, it must initiate the charge before the cavalier makes his move. In addition, the approach and encounter of bull and cavalier must be face to face to the last possible moment, in which the horse, to escape the impact of the bull must literally wrap itself around the bull in some fascinating displays of agility.
Fascinating displays of agility, indeed. Thanks for the links.
posted by carsonb at 4:47 PM on December 12, 2008

Watching the first video, I think I know who has the brains and the brawn of that trio - and it's certainly not the bull or the human. Horses are so amazingly intelligent and agile.
posted by HopperFan at 5:40 PM on December 12, 2008

Is it still exquisite when the bull manages to reach/catch the horse?
posted by stifford at 6:23 PM on December 12, 2008

Horses are so amazingly intelligent and agile.

Not really. Cows are pretty damn agile and far more athletic than they look. And if you want an intelligent and agile equine, get a mule. Except no self-respecting mule would canter fussy little circles around an irritated, decorated bull.

That said, the horse Merlin is lovely. And Portuguese working equitation is quite fun to watch. (No bull involved.)
posted by grounded at 6:44 PM on December 12, 2008

When I tell friends about spending the better part of a summer on a horse, and how, at some point, we just had a vulcan mind-meld, they don't really believe me. These videos show how much two very different organisms can essentially have one intent, reaction, instinct and understanding.

I suggest watching it in high quality, you get much more of a feeling of Merlin's calmness. This is not a horse that is afraid or nervous. He looks like he's having a great time. His body language is alot like what horses at play look like.

I just wish it was more like regular tag, instead of like screwdriver tag.
posted by Freen at 8:23 PM on December 12, 2008

Grounded, I don't have anything against cows. Like them, in fact. Mules, too. Both of them very smart, in their own way, as well ...but the post isn't about cows, or mules, or even those incredibly agile and cagey ZEBRAS, fercrissakes - it's about HORSES. Read the post.
posted by HopperFan at 8:41 PM on December 12, 2008

A beautiful horse in a bad business.
posted by pracowity at 8:58 PM on December 12, 2008

HopperFan, the post is about bullfighting horses so by default, the post is about horses and bulls. I was just showing some respect for the other team.

(I live a horse-centric life and all of my young horses learn to work cattle. I've never had one that didn't love it. But I've also developed a lot of respect for cows and intelligence and athletic abilities.)
posted by grounded at 9:34 PM on December 12, 2008

Oh, I get it now...anyway, I'm a Cow Fan Club Member, too - guess we're sort of agreeing. Now bison, on the other hand - those suckers are mean. And speedy. And while we're on the topic of our ruminant friends, have you ever seen how fast a camel can run when you've irritated him? (which doesn't take much, actually) Ah, good times.
posted by HopperFan at 10:15 PM on December 12, 2008

I've been around horses most of my life, and I was fully expecting to be underwhelmed, but damn...that level of horsemanship (from the rider) and agility (from the horse) and teamwork...that is some serious stuff, and beautiful to watch. At least they don't kill the bull, too.
posted by biscotti at 10:35 PM on December 12, 2008

Well, they don't kill it, er...there...just a bit later.

Portuguese bullfighting : "The bull is not killed in the ring and, at the end of the corrida, leading oxen are let into the arena and two campinos on foot herd the bull along them back to its pen. The bull is usually killed, away from the audience's sight, by a professional butcher. It can happen that some bulls, after an exceptional performance, are healed, released to pasture until their end days and used for breeding."

And now I'm going to bed, this cold medicine is knocking me out.
posted by HopperFan at 10:40 PM on December 12, 2008

Although it was painful watching the bullfighting, it was incredible watching the fancy footwork of the horses. wow. I'd seen the Spanish Riding School in Vienna but now it all makes so much more sense why those horses were trained to move like that.

A super education about something I knew nothing before. Thanks gman.
posted by nickyskye at 11:29 PM on December 12, 2008

I hate the idea of bullfighting as much as the next higher mammal, but I have to agree with domino's daughter: that horse juked that bull. That's the only word for it. Incredible. Merlin has some nasty moves, like And 1 crossover moves, and I could watch a horse doing that for basically forever without getting bored. If I could produce an "Air Bud" style movie about a bullfighting horse that joins the NBA as a point guard I would do that as well (clearly Merlin would sign with the Wizards; they probably need the PR boost, yeah?).

In other news: if I never hear that fucking Evanescence song again in my life it will be too fucking soon.
posted by penduluum at 1:23 AM on December 13, 2008

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