Archive for the ‘ Fuzzy Ponies ’ Category

Skijoring: The Only Winter Sport Where Sled Dogs are the Lamest Possible Option

I think we can all safely agree that puppies are awesome, especially big, fluffy, high-energy, winter-loving puppies.

So how awesome does a sport have to be for sled dogs to be the lamest possible animal option?

Skijoring awesome, that’s how awesome.

Skijoring is one of those things I probably never would have heard of if The Wall Street Journal didn’t have multiple sections a week dedicated to amazing things that you can never, ever afford to buy or do. (As far as I know it’s the only daily newspaper in America with a dedicated weekly “Mansion” section, just for example.)

Their travel section, as befits the world of the insanely wealthy, isn’t called “Travel,” but rather “Adventure & Travel.” Most weeks it delivers. And this week, it delivered ponies:


Well, all right, not actually ponies. That’s a draft horse. But I’m a city boy, so I get to call anything fuzzy and horse-like a pony if I want to. And according the The Wall Street Journal, for a mere $950 you can rent a cabin in Montana whose amenities include food, wine, and being pulled on skis behind a galloping horse.

This is apparently a legitimate winter sport, called skijoring. (It’s so legitimate it was once an Olympic demonstration sport, putting it in the same category of athletic respectability as korfball, cane fighting, and getting shot out of a cannon.)

Needless to say, as soon as I found this out I put down the WSJ and Googled “skijoring Wisconsin,” only to be disappointed: seems that in our state (and most states), skijoring is a slower-paced, cross-country type of skiing activity where you’re pulled by one or two sled dogs.


Adorable, needless to say. But not nearly as awesome as a galloping horse, especially not when you take into account that “equestrian skijoring,” as it’s called, often includes ramps, jumps, and obstacles.


And then there’s Peter Dorje, a Tibetan man who decided to one-up all previous iterations of skijoring with “yak skiing,” in which the skier starts at the bottom of a hill and a yak starts at the top, connected by a rope looped through a pulley at the top of the hill. The skier shakes a bucket of pony nuts, the yak decides he wants the pony nuts, and up the skier goes, as fast as two tons of hungry yak charging downhill can pull him/her.

Yaks: not small.

Yaks: not small.

So, skijoring: the only sport I can think of where adorable fuzzy puppies are the lamest possible option. Nothing against sled dogs; they just aren’t draft horses or yaks.

I’m going to start calling things “skijorling awesome” now.

Good News: Snobby Art Critics Like Ponies Too

I recently had the opportunity to attend a contemporary and modern art show in Chicago with one of my girlfriends, which I then didn’t write about for weeks because traveling for even a weekend throws my work schedule into panic mode these days. A-whoops. But the company was delightful and it was a nice day to be out on Navy Pier.

The art itself was a mix of hit and miss, trending toward the miss, but I was surprised and delighted to find one consistent theme: friggin’ everybody had a Deborah Butterfield horse.


You know these horses, even if you don’t know that you know them. They’re everywhere. Ms. Butterfield seems to be the go-to for every municipal government or small, private museum that wants a large installation and doesn’t want to scare anyone off.

The fine arts consensus is, transparently, “Woo, ponies!” These are not cheap sculptures — the ones we saw at the art show were going for six figures — but an awful lot of institutions seem to agree that they’re worth the sticker price.

I’ve seen them in Minneapolis. I’ve seen them in Des Moines. I saw one quite recently in Estes Park, CO, just outside the Rocky Mountain National Park. Museums have them, universities have them, large corporations put them in lobbies, and anyone with an outdoors sculpture park sort of thing friggin’ loves them.

Ponies for everyone.

I think my girlfriend and I were mostly enchanted by the massive exception curators and gallery owners seem willing to give Ms. Butterfield — representational art is, judging by the selection we saw, right out, unless you happen to make pretty pony sculptures. Then you get a pass from the experimental abstraction crap.

Ok, to be fair, we were also enchanted because “ponies.” But it’s nice to know we’re not the only fans out there.

Fuzzy Bear Filler: Not Fuzzy Ponies

Well, as you all know by now, the last few days have been filler posts, because your humble blogger is off on vacation. And since that vacation is in the wilderness of California, your humble blogger will either be back tomorrow (probably fairly late in the day), or has already been eaten by a bear.

In honor of the latter possibility, today you get fuzzy bears instead of fuzzy ponies:


Herp derp derp. If it’s Photoshopped, I don’t want to know it. Silly bear!


Okay, that’s just adorable.




And a really big fuzzy one to round the set out (also a black one, since those are the only bears I have even a small chance of seeing on this trip).

On a less adorable note, it’s kinda hard to effectively image search for cute bears! The term “cute bears” mostly gets you drawings and stuffed animals, and “fuzzy bear” is of course dominated by Muppets. See how hard I work for you?

Normal content will resume tomorrow, barring bear-related disasters. But there’ll be some travel time in there, so don’t start panicking until late evening, please.

Fuzzy Pony Filler

As promised on Friday, here are some fuzzy ponies to enjoy while the staff of MA101 (re: me) goes on vacation:







And, just for good measure, what has to be closest thing I’ve ever seen to a fuzzy pony glamour shoot:


Enjoy, and tune in tomorrow for more adorable filler — real content resumes on Wednesday.

My Little Pony and the “Fuzzy Ponies” Image Market

As long-time readers will know, one of this blog’s preferred forms of off-day filler is fuzzy pony pictures. (And this is relevant, because your blogger will in fact be gone for the next several days, meaning you get filler content from now until Wednesday June 26).

These have never been particularly responsibly-sourced fuzzy pony pictures. Pretty much I just do a Google Image search and take down anything anyone asks me to, because internet, and it turns out most people who take pictures of fuzzy ponies are pretty chill.

But lately the strategy has run into a problem: My Little Pony.

No, seriously. If your Google search includes the term “pony,” half your results are going to be related to the show, not to actual fuzzy ponies. Here’s a search for “fuzzy ponies” from today:


And before any smart-asses point out that my browser history is full of My Little Pony-related links, I did turn off personal results. This is an internet thing, not a me thing.

Now, don’t be alarmed. MA101 will go on scouring the internet for pictures of real-life fuzzy ponies for your enjoyment on our days off. I just wanted you to know that the work’s gotten harder ever since thousands of men between the ages of 20 and 35 decided that My Little Pony was the hot new thing.

So here’s a fuzzy pony for you, I guess…


Fuzzy Pony Filler: Beer Pony

I’m on the road today, so here’s some fuzzy pony filler for you, courtesy of a friend and former co-worker who encourages my pony obsession shamelessly:


Does she know me, or what? Not just a fuzzy pony, but a fuzzy pony surrounded by attractive women — and in case you didn’t recognize the logo on their shirts, they’re from a bar in Chicago called Fatpour, which makes this a fuzzy beer pony.

Some cursory Googling tells me that the pony is not, alas, a regular staple of the bar, but was only there for a special event. Still and all, beer pony. If life gets much better than that, I don’t want to know about it.

Obscure and Adorable: Baby Takin

takin-paris-menagerieDid you know that there is a subfamily of creatures known as goat-antelopes? Scientific naming at its most creative! They are creatures that kind of look like goats, but also a little like antelopes.

Scientists are almost as good at naming things as Toddler Geoffrey, whose favorite stuffed animal remains to this day a blue teddy bear named Blue Teddy.

But happily, when the powers of goat and antelope combine, the result is freaking adorable. One of my long-time favorites at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is the takin enclosure, and if you’re asking “what the heck is a takin,” don’t worry — Wikipedia is here to help!

The takin (pron.: /ˈtɑːkɪn/Budorcas taxicolorTibetan: ར་རྒྱ་, Wyliera rgya), also called cattle chamois or gnu goat,[2] is a goat-antelope found in the eastern Himalayas. The four subspecies are: B. taxicolor taxicolor, the Mishmi TakinB. taxicolor bedfordi, the Shaanxi or golden takinB. t. tibetana, the Tibetan or Sichuan takin; and B. t. whitei, theBhutan takinMitochondrial research shows the takin are related to sheep; its similarity to the muskox is an example of convergent evolution.[3] The takin is the national animalof Bhutan.[4]

So all that Latin should clear everything up for you. Or we could just look at adorable pictures and videos, since the ones at the Lincoln Park Zoo just had babies! You can click to enlarge any of these, and be sure to scroll all the way down for a video and a story about takin sexy times:






And for some extra cute, here is a video of the baby takin frolicking with their toys:

Funny story about these births (one baby each from two separate mother, just days apart) — I don’t think I actually saw the conception happen, but I sure saw Daddy Takin trying to work it.

Around the end of June last year I’d just been dumped, and I was down in Chicago trying to cheer myself up with, among other things, a visit to the zoo, and there the takin were, sort of shuffling in circles around their pen.

The bigger one would sniff the lady takin’s hindparts for a while, then do this awkward little hopping motion to try and get on top of her, and she’d kind of shuffle sideways and he’d fall back down on all fours, looking like an idiot.

This went on for as long as I was willing to watch it, which was kind of an alarmingly long time given that I was watching ungulates trying to bone, and periodically it would look like he was almost gonna get there, pinning her against a wall or tree or something — and then off she’d trot again, taking advantage of what is obviously the very real physical challenge of pivoting that many tons of furry buffalo thing from “horizontal” to “diagonal.”

Boy was working for it.

Alas, he never made the score while I was there, so the babies were probably not conceived during my visit. But takin mating is a good and hilarious time for anyone with the opportunity to watch it — you heard it here first.

And that’s your daily cute. Nothing political or controversial today — though I guess if we wanted to, we could question the zoo’s choice of Mandarin names for babies of a subspecies that mostly lives in Tibet. Up to you, but I’d recommend just enjoying the cute, myself.

Valve Loves Ponies Too, Apparently

valve-software-logoOld news warning! This was an article from last April that I just recently stumbled across, so for all I know the corporate culture has changed and Valve is now violently anti-pony.

But as of April 2012, Valve, the gaming company responsible for Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Portal, and various other titles, got a fluffy little write-up in Businessweek for their management-free corporate structure. The interview with Valve co-founder Gabe Newell finished with this little tidbit:

In the handbook, there’s a random reference to ponies. What’s with the ponies?

Oh, if you leave your phone at your desk someone will use it to send an e-mail that says, “I like ponies.” Some people will make more and more elaborate photos of ponies that people might like. There are some incredibly entertaining characters who work here.

Of course, then everybody found out that I actually like the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, so I never hear the end of it.

Everybody loves ponies!

And the internet being the internet, a quick Google search for “Half-Life ponies” reveals a massive overlapping fan culture that has produced artwork, animation, sculpture, and yes, porn. And here I was just looking for a thumbnail image for the blog post. Mercy. 


Don’t worry, though, I won’t post the porn. You can Google that yourself if you want to, and it’s between you, your browser history, and the servers at Google that store your personal information for ever and ever.


What happened to poor Gordon-pony’s tail? Maybe it’s just tucked inside his suit. I dunno. That’d have to be one funky-shaped headcrab, though.

Anyway. Ponies!

Meet the Horses that Won the Civil War

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You’ll notice an absence of Super Bowl- or even Super Bowl advertisement-related content on MA101 today, and that’s because I didn’t watch it. I’m almost sorry — the blackout sounds hilarious, if worrying, and a friend who did watch said they mostly filled the downtime with footage of sweaty men stretching in tight spandex — but overall I’m comfortable with my decision to mark the end of the football season at “whenever the Packers play their last game.”

Caring about a team is something I’m happy to do. Caring about a whole sport is a level of effort that’s just beyond me.

So instead of Super Bowl stuff, let’s look at ponies.


Today’s ponies (and my interest in them) come to you by way of the New York Times‘s “Disunion” series, a blog following the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

If you’re not reading it yet, I highly recommend adding it to your Facebook or RSS feed or whatever — the articles are short, entertaining, and good small-talk fodder for parties. And sometimes you get articles about pretty ponies:

Despite an initial supply problem and lack of leadership and mission focus, by mid-1863 the Union cavalry was coming into its own. Union quartermasters smartly purchased many Morgans, a uniquely American breed known for endurance, versatility, heart and courage. The largest cavalry battle of the war, involving 17,000 horsemen, occurred on June 9, 1863, at Brandy Station, Va. Stuart’s forces were preparing to advance in order to screen Lee’s march north toward Gettysburg. Begun by a Union surprise attack, the Confederates finally fended off the enemy. Yet the Union soldiers’ strong stand resulted from the fact that for the first time, they had trained and been commanded as a coherent corps. After the Battle of Gettysburg, Union cavalry fought 15 battles in 16 days and captured or destroyed half of Stuart’s cavalry, as well as 4,000 or so horses and mules and 1,000 loaded wagons. The South’s food crisis also gave Union cavalry operations an edge; by early 1865 well-fed Northern cavalry mounts were able to beat malnourished Confederate horses to their own supply trains and depots in Virginia.

The “Morgan horse” in question has always been one of my favorites, despite its coastie origins and tendency to be too small for my 6’8″ frame. They’re smart and sturdy, and what’s more important, they’re really pretty:


The official breed standard includes the terms “…an expressive face, large eyes…” in its laundry list of what makes a Morgan a Morgan. Who could fail to love a horse like that? Other than the Confederate cavalry, obviously, although they had their share of Morgans too, just not the massive bulk-purchases that kept the Federal cavalry mounted.

True story: many years ago at a bar, a mutual acquaintance pulled my ladyfriend aside and whispered conspiratorially “Geoffrey has pony eyelashes.” I don’t think he meant it as a compliment, but I’ll cop to it. I do have pony eyelashes.

Now wasn’t that more fun than Super Bowl power outage jokes?

Fuzzy Ponies…in Fuzzy Sweaters!

Sometimes my internet-cynicism makes me miss amazing things.

For example, while scrolling through Facebook the other night, I glanced at this picture and kept right on skimming past the obvious Photoshop:


Only it’s apparently not! Unless the Photoshopper in question was dedicated enough to create an entire Scottish tourism website to back his/her claim.

The photo, and several others like it, were apparently taken for VisitScotland’s “Year of Natural Scotland,” which sounds like a pretty silly ad campaign but who cares as long as there are ponies?


There are eight photos total over at the post on VisitScotland, and a video as well, so go have some fuzzy ponies in your day.

And credit and thanks to my friend Andi for e-mailing me the link, without which I would have dismissed the photo I saw as a fake and never looked back. Sometimes you just gotta believe, ya know?


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