Fun Things to Do in Minnesota (Fall & Winter Edition)

For my second post of the week I am going to talk about the second part of my “Fun Things to Do in Minnesota” list which includes fun things to do in Minnesota around the fall and winter time. Granted this part of the list is going to be a little more general since I just love to do the cliché fall and winter things in Minnesota but I still want to share it all with you guys. Enjoy!

Just like the first part of the list I will start with things you can do in the fall then move on to things that can be done in the winter (and spring if there is still snow or it is cold, oh Minnesota).

  1. Visit the National Eagle Center (in Wabasha)
    • Okay so I know this is really random and can be done pretty much all year round, but it is really pretty to do it in the fall when all the trees have popped with color. If you like eagles, owls and hawks this is the place to go. I mainly have this on my list because my mom is a huge wild bird fan so its always fun to go with her since she gets all giddy like a little kid in a candy shop. It is also a great place to learn about wild birds in general and get to see the birds up close.
    • NatlEagleCenterLarge1NationalEagleCenter-Eagle
  2. Do some apple picking
    • This is just one of those things that Minnesotans need to do. As soon as I see the apple orchards start to open up I know that fall is right around the corner. Apple picking or visiting an apple orchard can be fun for all ages. I’ve gone apple picking when I was a kid with my family/on field trips and when I got older with my boyfriend (we try to go at least once a year). I especially love going to “Apple Jack’s Orchard” in Delano, MN and “Dumas Apple House” in Long Lake, MN. Being able to try different types of apples and get fresh honey is really great!
    • 2004_orchard_015Screen-Shot-2013-09-20-at-1.03.58-PM
  3. Go to a Fall Festival
    • When I say fall festivals I’m talking about a place that has a pumpkin patch, hayrides, corn mazes and other fall related things. My favorite “fall festival” destination to go is “Sever’s Corn Maze” in Shakopee, MN. It has everything from corn mazes, pumpkin patches and hayrides (plus more). These events and activities are perfect to celebrate the harvest and fall time.
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  4. Go on a nature walk
    • This is one of my favorite things to do in the fall. I live on a farm with a lot of woods surrounding the property so I can just wander around and listen to all the activity in the woods and out on the fields. If you don’t live next to woods just go to a nature trail or park and enjoy it there. It can be very beautiful and peaceful at the same time, I know it helps me relax and unwind when I’m stressed.
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  5. Visit a “haunted” house, go on a “haunted” hayride or do the Zombie Pub Crawl (in Minneapolis)
    • For the people who love Halloween and want a thrill or like suspension visit a haunted house of hayride. I personally don’t like doing this because I don’t like surprises or being scared but I’ve gone with some friends since they like it. I do have to admit it is a fun thing to do with friends. There are plenty haunted houses and hayrides all around Minnesota. If you want a even bigger layout with a lot of attractions just go to Valleyscare at Valleyfair. If you are 21 you can also partake in the Zombie Pub Crawl in Minneapolis where you can dress up as a zombie and hop between bars.
    • 7def9c59-bb49-bc9b-c52b280fa47349ceZombie-Pub-Crawl
  6. Visit the Saint Paul Winter Carnival 
    • This is a fun thing to do for the whole family. There are all sorts of events that can peak all sorts of interests. Some of the events include: touring the ice palace, seeing parades, watching a snow blowing competition, watching crashed ice (very intense) and much more. There are both things to do inside and out so you don’t have to worry about getting cold.
    • st-paul-winter-carnivalFR Hor Wh-XLMU_LIFE_FH_4109
  7. Go on a hay or sleigh ride
    • There are many places that offer hay or sleigh rides all around Minnesota. The best part is that they can be pulled by either (Draft) horses or reindeer! One of the most famous places to have a reindeer pulled sleigh is at Johmar Farms. They also can provide horses, ponies and donkeys if need be.
    • EMT-johmar-farmshorses3L
  8. Go iceskating
    • This can be done pretty much anywhere that there is water in Minnesota (which is in a lot of places). However, you can also skate on some handmade rinks like The Depot, which is a famous indoor ice rink in Minneapolis.
    • 55depotScreen-Shot-2013-12-31-at-6.24.55-PM
  9. Make use of the trails
    • Nature trails have just as much use in the winter as they do any other time of the year. They can be used to: snowmobile, cross-country ski, snowshoe, etc. It is a great way to get outdoors during the winter and get some fresh air/exercise.
    • Yosemite_Winter_Hikingthompson6301
  10. Check out the many resorts/slops/hills around Minnesota
    • There is plenty to do at the resorts, slops and hills around Minnesota. You can ski, tube, snowboard, etc. Some places might be a little more expensive than others but it can be worth it in the end. If all else fails just find a nice big hill at a local park or your backyard and you should be fine.
    • 6405Uniquely Minnesota

In the end, these are some of my favorite things to do in the fall and winter around Minnesota. I know some of them are a little more vague than others but I just love to do those activities in general. If you guys have anything else to add to this list or some interesting stories involving the great aspects of living in Minnesota let me know! I would love to hear all about it.

If you guys want any more ideas of what to do in Minnesota during the fall and winter time check out the links below!

Links:

http://minneapolis.about.com/od/eventsfestivals/a/Things-To-Do-In-The-Fall-In-Minneapolis-And-St-Paul.htm (Fun things to do in Minnesota in the fall)

http://www.minnesotamonthly.com/November-2014/18-Fun-Minnesota-Winter-Activities-and-Holiday-Festivals-For-Kids-and-Adults/ (Fun things to do in Minnesota in the winter)

Fun Things to Do in Minnesota (Spring & Summer Edition)

Hello Everyone!

All this lovely weather we have been having has made me really want to spend more time outside. Sadly I have so much work to do that I barley get to see the sun. However, this gives me time when I am not doing my homework or having a mental breakdown to think about all the fun things I can do in Minnesota all year round.

So for my post today I am going to list a few of my favorite things I love to do in Minnesota during the spring and summer time. Since I am working a lot and now have an internship lined up for this summer I probably wont be able to do much of this stuff this year but I can still dream about it can’t I?

First I will start with the activities that can be done in both the spring (when the snow has finally melted) and summer time and then move into the activities that can be done mainly in the summer time. So lets get started!

  1. Go to the Zoo
    • All though they are usually open all year round, the parts that are outside reopen as soon as spring gets here.
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  2. Visit the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Both are FREE!)
    • These places are open all year round as all but the garden is the best to visit in the spring and summer (it is pretty gorgeous in the fall as well). Everyone needs to see the Cherry and Spoon sculpture at least once in their life.
    • bf5f0ce95100992aeaf8f9e1c2f8913bspoonbridge-and-cherryOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMIA_1344521915_org
  3. Watch/play outdoors sports
    • This can be from something as simple as playing tag with some friends to going to a Twins game. Either way its one of the best parts of spring and summer since you get to be outside and enjoying not being cooped up inside anymore.
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  4. Enjoy the outdoors in general
    • Such as biking, rollerblading, skateboarding/long boarding, etc. Just being outside and enjoying the weather is a great thing to do in Minnesota when there isn’t snow on the ground.
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  5. Go to an Amusement park/Water park 
    • There are plenty of amusement parks and water parks inside but during the summer time the outdoor places are where its at.
    • VF-5-27-2007-7minnesota-water-parks3
  6. Visit state parks/nature areas
    • Some of my favorite places include: the state parks in Duluth, Baker park (in Maple Plain, MN), Minnehaha falls and the boundary waters.
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  7. Spend a day (or two) on the lake
    • With so many lakes around Minnesota there are endless places to go with endless things to do. Some of these activities include: fishing, tubing, swimming, waterskiing, wake boarding, jet skiing and just cruising around the lake. The possibilities are endless!
    • lake-guntersville-alabama-children-tubing-1024wakeboard_542_360_xsa.gr
  8. Go to a Music in the Park/Movie in the Park event
    • There are plenty that go on throughout the summer. I will include a list of locations, dates and times of some of the events in the links below.
    • Music-in-Plymouth-2014-32web3
  9. Go to the Minnesota State Fair/County Fairs
    • This one is a must! If you don’t go to your county fair you should at least go to the state fair for a day. It will definitely be a day full of fun and delicious food (that is most likely not good for you). Besides you can see some pretty cool animals like draft horses :).
    • mnstatefair-COUNTY_FAIR
  10. Go to the Renaissance Festival 
    • If you love anything and everything about the Renaissance time period this the event for you. Surround yourself with the great food, dance and culture of that time period. You can get great souvenirs and even dress up like you are from the Renaissance or as something magical like a fairy.
    • e8e9ec47-df47-42e4-bb2d-e8ec3bc98f72Clashing_knights

These are just a few of the things I love to do in Minnesota around the spring and summer time. I don’t know about you guys but I am pretty excited for summer to get here. Even though I wont be able to do most of the stuff on this list because I am super busy I love thinking about it. Its the only thing getting me through all of the stuff I still need to do before school ends.

What are some of the things you guys love to do in the spring and summer? I would love to hear what they are! Any great memories or fun stories? What would you add to this list? Let me know!

Also, stay tuned for the second part of the list which is about some of the stuff I love to do in the fall and winter around Minnesota.

Links:

http://blogs.citypages.com/dressingroom/2012/07/50_fun_things_to_do_in_minnesota.php (50 fun things to do in Minnesota)

http://www.midwestliving.com/travel/minnesota/20-top-things-to-do-minnesota/ (20 top things to do in Minnesota)

https://www.minneapolisparks.org/activities__events/music__movies/ (Music/movies in the park times, dates and locations)

Cult Classics Part 2

Before I list the second part of my top favorite cult classic movies I want to say that most of the movies on this part of the list can now be described as just classics. However, they were at one point cult classics due to their initial audiences being small yet loyal. So without further ado here is the second part of my top 20 all time favorite cult classics. Enjoy!

  1. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
    • Im starting off the list a little dark with the first two movies but they are really good horror films for their time period. They also both have pretty successful remakes. For the people who don’t know about The Hills Have Eyes here is the definition “On the way to California, a family has the misfortune to have their car break down in an area closed to the public, and inhabited by violent savages ready to attack.” This movie is not for the light hearted and can definitely have its gross moments (it can also get a little cheesy here and there) but it overall is very good. I’m not going to lie, I tend to not like these kinds of movies but this one was so fascinatingly gross and disturbing that I had to watch it. But I must admit I did have to close my eyes or look away a few times because it could be too much.  **If you want more information on this movies remake (and its sequels) check out the link below.**
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    • Trailer (for the original movie): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfbZCJ7JPAA
  2. The Evil Dead (I and II) [1981 & 1987]
    • There are actually multiple movies to this franchise but the first two are the most cult classic like. Just like mentioned above these movies also had pretty successful remakes with their own followers. Here is the definition of the first two movies: “Ashley “Ash” Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend and three pals hike into the woods to a cabin for a fun night away. There they find an old book, the Necronomicon, whose text reawakens the dead when it’s read aloud. The friends inadvertently release a flood of evil and must fight for their lives or become one of the evil dead. Ash watches his friends become possessed, and must make a difficult decision before daybreak to save his own life in this.” and “The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holds up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.” Just like The Hills Have Eyes these movies can be very dark and gruesome at some parts but were overall really good. Once again I am not a big fan of these types of movies so I had to look away a couple time just because it was too much. **Check out the link below for the description of the Evil Dead remakes**
    • Evil_dead_ver1Evil_Dead_IIEvil-Dead-Poster
    • Trailer (Movie I): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU92dtYrF9I
    • Trialer (Movie 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fIUYxqA0wg
  3. The Lost Boys (1987)
    • I hope that most people have heard of this movie but if not here is the definition: “Teenage brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) move with their mother (Dianne Wiest) to a small town in northern California. While the younger Sam meets a pair of kindred spirits in geeky comic-book nerds Edward (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander), the angst-ridden Michael soon falls for Star (Jami Gertz) — who turns out to be in thrall to David (Kiefer Sutherland), leader of a local gang of vampires. Sam and his new friends must save Michael and Star from the undead.” This movie is probably one of the best vampire/horror movies of the 80’s. It can be funny and horrifying at the same time, which is actually a pretty great combination. This is one of my mom’s favorite movies (she quotes it all the time) and I can see why,its very thrilling to watch.
    • Lost_boyscoreyhaimlostboys-thumb-460x300-35319
    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_lwtRMg0ts
  4. Tommy Boy (1995)
    • This is one of my dad’s all time favorite Chris Farley movies (he loves to quote it). This movie is both hilarious and heartwarming at the same time. “After his beloved father (Brian Dennehy) dies, dimwitted Tommy Callahan (Chris Farley) inherits a near-bankrupt automobile parts factory in Sandusky, Ohio. His brand new stepmother, Beverly (Bo Derek), wants to cash out and close, but Tommy’s sentimental attachment to his father’s employees spurs him to make one last-ditch effort to find someone who will buy their products. With his father’s tightly wound assistant, Richard (David Spade), in tow, Tommy hits the road to scare up some new clients.” Ultimately, if you are looking for a good laugh this is a great movie to watch. 
    • tommy-boy-movie-poster-1995-1020186092tommyboy
    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nQ4K2bvVxY
  5. Pulp Fiction (1994)
    • Hopefully all of you have at least heard of the movie Pulp Fiction. This movie is both funny, serious and can be very confusing at parts. This is one of the few movies on this list that I think EVERYONE should see at least once. Here is the description of the movie: “Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) are hitmen with a penchant for philosophical discussions. In this ultra-hip, multi-strand crime movie, their storyline is interwoven with those of their boss, gangster Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) ; his actress wife, Mia (Uma Thurman) ; struggling boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) ; master fixer Winston Wolfe (Harvey Keitel) and a nervous pair of armed robbers, “Pumpkin” (Tim Roth) and “Honey Bunny” (Amanda Plummer).” This movie is mainly known as a classic now but when it first came out it wasn’t that popular due to its unique plot line. Overall, it is considered one of Quentin Tarantino’s better films, which is a big deal since most of his films are really good.
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    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7EdQ4FqbhY
  6. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
    • Monty Python and the Holy Grail is “A comedic send-up of the grim circumstances of the Middle Ages as told through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation. When the mythical king of the Britons leads his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they face a wide array of horrors, including a persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, a cadre of shrubbery-challenged knights, the perilous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen.” This movie does a great job of being outrageously funny and making fun of the middle ages. It is really quirky and has a lot of dry humor making it a great movie for everyone. 
    • monty-python-and-the-holy-grail-movie-poster-1975-1020465239Monty-Python-and-The-Holy-Grail-monty-python-16538969-845-468
    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urRkGvhXc8w
  7. Fight Club (1999)
  8. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
    • This movie is one of my all time favorite Johnny Depp and Tim Burton movies. I mean that is saying a lot since I love all the movies Johnny Depp has been in and all the movies Tim Burton has made. Edward Scissorhands is about “A scientist (Vincent Price) builds an animated human being — the gentle Edward (Johnny Depp). The scientist dies before he can finish assembling Edward, though, leaving the young man with a freakish appearance accentuated by the scissor blades he has instead of hands. Loving suburban saleswoman Peg (Dianne Wiest) discovers Edward and takes him home, where he falls for Peg’s teen daughter (Winona Ryder). However, despite his kindness and artistic talent, Edward’s hands make him an outcast.” This movie is beautiful, unique and heartbreaking all at the same time.
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    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M94yyfWy-KI
  9. The Breakfast Club (1985)
    • The Breakfast club is about “Five high school students from different walks of life endure a Saturday detention under a power-hungry principal (Paul Gleason). The disparate group includes rebel John (Judd Nelson), princess Claire (Molly Ringwald), outcast Allison (Ally Sheedy), brainy Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) and Andrew (Emilio Estevez), the jock. Each has a chance to tell his or her story, making the others see them a little differently — and when the day ends, they question whether school will ever be the same.”This is another one of my favorite cult classics that had recent news. Since this year is 30 years since it was released, select theaters are doing showing of the film and they are coming out with a special edition DVD (YAY). This movie will always have a special place in my heart and I will never get sick of it. Its funny, witty and emotional, which are just a few reasons why I love it so much. The actors do a great job and the soundtrack is just as much of a classic as the film itself. 
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    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfhIcgGpWhs
  10. Clueless (1995)
    • This is one of my sister and I’s favorite “chick flick” movies from the 90’s. The way it “portrayed” (makes fun of) what average teenage girls acted like in that time period was so entertaining to us. Clueless is about “Shallow, rich and socially successful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is at the top of her Beverly Hills high school’s pecking scale. Seeing herself as a matchmaker, Cher first coaxes two teachers into dating each other. Emboldened by her success, she decides to give hopelessly klutzy new student Tai (Brittany Murphy) a makeover. When Tai becomes more popular than she is, Cher realizes that her disapproving ex-stepbrother (Paul Rudd) was right about how misguided she was — and falls for him.” There isn’t anything really special about Clueless. It is a simple, cliche “chick flick” that My sister and I loved/love (almost as much a legally blond). It is a romance movie that can be watched over and over and over again if you live romantic comedies. 
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    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHDcD_xhwAo

Lastly here are two honorable mentions that just missed the cut for my top 20:

  • Mean Girls (2004) and Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
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In the end, I have plenty more cult classics that I love just as much as these 20+ films. However, I feel that these 20 have left the biggest impression on me. They are all very unique and interesting in my opinion, even though they can have their cheesy moments but that is what makes them just as great. If you want more information on cult classics and some of the top cult classics of all time check out the links below.

Once again I would love to hear what you guys think of this list and what cult classics you would have on your list. Don’t be afraid to let me know what you think or what your choices would be! I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I enjoy each of these films.

Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cult_films (Wiki page list of cult classics)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fight_Club (Description of Fight Club)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hills_Have_Eyes_(2006_film) (Page on the remake of The Hills Have Eyes)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil_Dead_(2013_film) (Page on the remake of The Evil Dead)

http://www.nerve.com/movies/the-fifty-greatest-cult-movies-of-all-time (50 greatest cult movies of all time)

http://www.listchallenges.com/ultimate-cult-movie-list (Quiz about how many cult classics you have seen)

Cult Classics Part 1

For my blog this week I am going to totally switch gears and talk a little bit about some of my favorite “cult classics” of all time. I’m doing this because there has been quite a lot of news with some of my favorite cult classic movies lately. I will be splitting the list into two parts since it is going to be a little lengthy. However, I did manage to cut it down to my top 20 all time favorites with a couple honorary mentions here and there.

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I want to point out that some of the movies I am about to list are now considered just “classic” movies or overall great movies but when they first came out they didn’t have a big fan base which is why they are on this list.

Before I provide my list I want to start off by quickly giving a definition of what a cult classic or cult film is. According to Wikipedia: “A cult film, also commonly referred to as a cult classic, is a film that has acquired a cult following. Cult films are known for their dedicated, passionate fan-base an elaborate subculture that engage in repeated viewings, quoting dialogue, and audience participation. Inclusive definitions allow for major studio productions, especially box office bombs, while exclusive definitions focus more on obscure, transgressive films shunned by the mainstream.”

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Now that you have a general idea of what a cult classic is I will list the first 10 of my top favorite cult classic movies of all time. Enjoy!

  1. Forever Strong (2008)
    • This movie is a rugby movie about “a troubled rugby player (Sean Faris) who leads his team against his father’s (Neal McDonough) in the national championship.” Let me tell you, it is a great motivational movie to watch before you play rugby. My high school team and I use to watch it every time before we played in our state games. It definitely has its cheesy moments and can mess up some of the facts/rules of rugby but overall it is a great movie. (Its on Netflix if anyone wants to watch it!)
    • Forever-Strong-Christian-MovieFilm-DVDBlu-rayForever_strong
    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3C2HvQ8KFE
  2. The Boondock Saints (I and II) [1999 and 2009]
    • These movies are one of the reasons why I wanted to write a post about cult classics today. I recently heard that they are in the process of making a third Boondock Saints movie (FINALLY). These movies are definitely not for the light hearted or people who don’t like swearing. They are very funny yet dark and confusing at the same time. With these movies you would be better off to watch the second one first, then the first one and then re-watch the second. This order might be a little confusing at first but it makes the movies even better watching it like this. Here is the definitions of the movies:
    • The Boondock Saints: “Tired of the crime overrunning the streets of Boston, Irish Catholic twin brothers Conner (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) are inspired by their faith to cleanse their hometown of evil with their own brand of zealous vigilante justice. As they hunt down and kill one notorious gangster after another, they become controversial folk heroes in the community. But Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe), an eccentric FBI agent, is fast closing in on their blood-soaked trail.” 
    • The Boondock Saints-All Saints Day: “Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy MacManus (Norman Reedus) have been living in Ireland for several years, working on a farm with their father (Billy Connolly). When they learn they’ve been charged with the murder of a Roman Catholic priest, the brothers travel to Boston to clear their names. Along the way, they meet Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr.), a street fighter who joins them in their quest to find Concezio Yakavetta (Judd Nelson), a mobster who they think is really behind the murder.”
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    • Trailer (Movie 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydXojYfCF3I
    • Trailer (Movie 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h93ezXUz_iU
  3. The Warriors (1979)
    • This movie is probably one of the most underrated movies on this list besides the two I have already listed. My dad was watching this on TV one day while I was in the living room. At first I was like “Whatever this is just another one of those weird movies that my dad always has the talent of finding” but by the end I was at the edge of my seat and bought the DVD of the movie in the same day. It is a little bit older so it can get a little cheesy at points but for its time it is a really thrilling movie. Here is the definition of the movie: “A turf battle between New York City street gangs that rages from Coney Island to the Bronx. The Warriors are mistakenly fingered for the killing of a gang leader. Soon they have every gang in the city out to get revenge and they must make their way across the city to their own turf.”
    • 51RWgbnY8PLWarriors_1
    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhIRuAsiFQQ
  4. Office Space (1999)
    • This movie is about “Corporate drone Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) [and how he] hates his soul-killing job at software company Initech. While undergoing hypnotherapy, Peter is left in a blissful state when his therapist dies in the middle of their session. He refuses to work overtime, plays games at his desk and unintentionally charms two consultants into putting him on the management fast-track. When Peter’s friends learn they’re about to be downsized, they hatch a revenge plot against the company inspired by ‘Superman III.” Most people have probably heard of this movie or at least seen some of the scenes that make it well known but it still tends to go under the radar. It is one of those movies where when you first watch it its not that funny but the more you think about it the funnier it gets.
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    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IwzZYRejZQ
  5. Super Troopers (2001)
    • This is a movie that my friends and I happened to stumble upon one day and quickly became one of the many we quote all the time. This movie is super funny and VERY inappropriate (I repeat VERY INAPPROPRIATE) all at the same time. This is another one of my cult classics that I recently found out was getting another movie (I’m actually pretty excited about this). Lets just say that if you like the TV show “Reno 911” you will live this movie. Here is the definition: “Always looking for action, five over-enthusiastic but under-stimulated Vermont State Troopers raise hell on the highway, keeping motorists anxiously looking in their rear-view mirrors. Between an ongoing feud with the local cops over whose you-know-what is bigger, and the state government wanting to shut them down, the “Super Troopers” find themselves precariously and hilariously heading toward calamity as they try to avoid extinction.”
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    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-9D2qUHN-E
  6. The Craft (1996)
    •  My friend introduced me to this movie. At first I didn’t think I was going to like it at all but I ended up loving it. It can get a little dark at places but has an overall good storyline and message. her is the definition of the movie: “After transferring to a Los Angeles high school, Sarah (Robin Tunney) finds that her telekinetic gift appeals to a group of three wannabe witches, who happen to be seeking a fourth member for their rituals. Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Rochelle (Rachel True) and Nancy (Fairuza Balk), like Sarah herself, all have troubled backgrounds, which combined with their nascent powers lead to dangerous consequences. When a minor spell causes a fellow student to lose her hair, the girls grow power-mad.”
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    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa-fbQ7SbyM
  7. The Princess Bride (1987)
    • This movie is “a fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love. He must find her after a long separation and save her. They must battle the evils of the mythical kingdom of Florin to be reunited with each other. Based on the William Goldman novel ‘The Princess Bride’ which earned its own loyal audience.” The Princess Bride is my mom’s all time favorite fairytale movie besides the story of Cinderella. I remember getting the anniversary DVD for her birthday and watching it with her. Because of this It is now one of my top 10 favorite fairytale movies. It is one of the examples of a pure “classic” movie.
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    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYgcrny2hRs
  8. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
    • The movie is based off the children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are.” It is pretty self-explanatory, just an adaption of the book with a little more detail, great animation and a great soundtrack.
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    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01-PqqifyjA
  9. Spirited Away (2001)
    • This is one of my top favorite animated movies of all time and my ultimate favorite piece of work by Hayao Miyazaki. This movie is about “10-year-old Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi) and her parents (Takashi Naitô, Yasuko Sawaguchi) [who] stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park. After her mother and father are turned into giant pigs, Chihiro meets the mysterious Haku (Miyu Irino), who explains that the park is a resort for supernatural beings who need a break from their time spent in the earthly realm, and that she must work there to free herself and her parents.” Im not going to lie this movie is different from most “american” animated movies but it has a great story to it and is truly beautiful work. 
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    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByXuk9QqQkk
  10. V for Vendetta (2006)
    • I was really not expecting to like this movie so much since we had to watch it for a class in high school. However, I found myself being sucked into the storyline and I even ended up finishing the movie outside of class since I was so fascinated by it. If any of you haven’t heard of the movie here is the definition: “Following world war, London is a police state occupied by a fascist government, and a vigilante known only as V (Hugo Weaving) uses terrorist tactics to fight the oppressors of the world in which he now lives. When V saves a young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) from the secret police, he discovers an ally in his fight against England’s oppressors.” It is a darker movie but is very action packed and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The amazing selection of actors and actresses make this movie even better by providing great acting. 
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    • Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxyUl9M_7vc

So there you have it, the first half of my top 20 all time favorite cult classics. Like I said above I know some of these are not really cult classics anymore but they were at one point, which makes them even more awesome then they already are.

Side-note: Sorry if some of the trailers are low quality some of the movies are pretty old and its hard to find a good quality trailer for some.

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Anyways, If you want more information on these movies or any cult classics at all check out the links below. I also have some links to articles about the top cult classic movies out there and ones that people should try and for sure watch in their lifetime. In the end, I know I should put up the second part of my list before I say the question that I am about to ask but I’m way to curious. I would love to know what some of your favorite cult classics or just classics are. Are any of them on this list so far? Please let me know so I can try and watch any that I haven’t seen yet! I love getting movie suggestions of any kind. My life is a little crazy at the moment so I wont get to watch them right away but I WILL get to them eventually, so let me know!

Stay tuned for the second part of my list!

Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_film (Wiki page on Cult Films or Cult Classics)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cult_films#S (Wiki page list of Cult Classics)

http://www.gamesradar.com/34-best-cult-movies-all-time/ (Article on 34 of the best cult classics of all time)

http://www.filmsite.org/cultfilmsew.html (Article on top 50 cult classics of all time)

http://io9.com/30-cult-movies-that-absolutely-everybody-must-see-1538502596 (Article on 30 cult classics that everyone needs to see)

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Today my post is going to be pretty short but it will be informative. I must warn everyone that the subject I am going to talk about is a serious/sensitive one not only for me but for others. Today I am going to talk about sexual assault and how we need to start doing something about it. There are a couple of reasons why I am writing about this subject. One, because it is a serious issue that is happening everywhere (including colleges, high schools, businesses, etc.) and two, because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I know this subject is a sensitive one but in order to prevent further incidences and statistics we need to become aware of things like this and learn how to prevent it.

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To do this I am mainly going to provide myths, facts and general information on sexual assault and how to prevent it. I promise the material wont get too “dark” and I will try and keep it overall “light.” First I will start with some general statistics.

  • 44% of victims are under 18 years old. 80% are under 30 years old.
  • Every 107 seconds another american is sexually assaulted. 
  • Each year there are about 293,000 victims of sexual assault.
  • 68% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. 
  • 98% of attackers will never spend a day in jail or prison.
  • Approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. 
  • 38% of attackers are a friend or acquaintance.

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I feel that this next set of statistics are the most important to the majority of us since a lot of them pertain to college situations. Here is a list of some statistics about sexual assault that pertain college campuses:

  1. 1 in 5 women (20%) will be sexually assaulted while at college while only 4% of college men will be sexually assaulted. 
  2. Most college victims are assaulted by someone they know.
  3. 42% of college women who are raped tell no one about the assault.
  4. It is estimated that only 5% of sexual assaults on college campuses are reported, making sexual assault the most underreported crime.
  5. Rape results in about 32,000 pregnancies each year.
  6. 4 out of 5 rape victims subsequently suffer from chronic physical or psychological conditions.
  7. 40% of rape survivors develop sexually transmitted diseases as a result of sexual assault.
  8. Campus perpetrators are often serial offenders.
  9. Over a third of women who are raped as minors are also also raped as adults.
  10. 42% of raped women expect to be raped again.
  11. Rape survivors are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than are people who have not been victims of a crime.

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Now I am going to list some myths about sexual assault and the actual facts about each myth. These myths and facts are provided by Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (Conn SACS):

  • Myth: Sexual assault won’t happen to me or to anyone I know. 
    • Fact: “Men, women and children of all ages, races, religions, and economic classes can be and have been victims of sexual assault.  Sexual assault occurs in rural areas, small towns and larger cities.  It is estimated that one in three girls and one six boys will be sexually assaulted by the age of eighteen.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a rape or attempted rape occurs every 5 minutes in the United States.”
  • Myth: Sexual assault is provoked by the victim’s actions, behaviors, or by the way they dress.
    • Fact: “Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault.  Sexual assault is a violent attack on an individual, not a spontaneous crime of sexual passion.  For a victim, it is a humiliating and degrading act. No one ‘asks’ for or deserves this type of attack.”
  • Myth: Most sexual assaults occur between strangers.
    • Fact: “Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.  Studies show that approximately 80% of women reporting sexual assaults knew their assailant.”
  • Myth: Sexual assaults only occur in dark alleys and isolated areas.
    • Fact: “A sexual assault can happen anywhere and at any time.  The majority of assaults occur in places ordinarily thought to be safe, such as homes, cars and offices.”
  • Myth: Women falsely accuse men of sexual assault or “cry rape.”
    •  Fact: Reported sexual assaults are true, with very few exceptions.  FBI crime statistics indicate that only 2% of reported rapes are false.  This is the same rate of false reporting as other major crime reports.”
  • Myth: Men cannot be sexually assaulted.
    • Fact: “Men can be, and are, sexually assaulted.  Current statistics indicate that one in six men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime.  Sexual assault of men is thought to be greatly underreported.”
  • Myth: Most sexual assaults are interracial.
    • Fact:Almost all sexual assaults occur between members of the same race.  Interracial rape is not common, but it does occur.”
  • Myth: Sexual assault results from an uncontrollable impulsive sexual urge.
    • Fact: “Sexual assault is motivated by hostility, power and control.  Sexual assaults are not motivated by sexual desire.  Unlike animals, humans are capable of controlling how they choose to act on or express sexual urges.”
  • Myth: People who commit sexual assaults are mentally ill, abnormal perverts.
    •  Fact:Sexual offenders come from all educational, occupational, racial and cultural backgrounds.  They are “ordinary” and “normal” individuals who sexually assault victims to assert power and control over them and inflict violence, humiliation and degradation.”
  • Myth: Victims who do not fight back have not been sexually assaulted.
    • Fact: “Anytime someone is forced to have sex against their will, they have been sexually assaulted, regardless of whether or not they fought back.  There are many reasons why a victim might not physically fight their attacker including shock, fear, threats or the size and strength of the attacker.”

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Now I am going to state some commonly known concepts about consent and things everyone should know in order to prevent sexual assault.

  1. NO means NO.
  2. Sexual assault can happen to anyone (Men to women, women to men, women to women, men to men)
  3. If you have to convince someone to have sex, it’s not consent.
  4. Consent to one act is not consent to all acts.
  5. If someone first say “Yes” to something but then change their mind,  It’s not consent.
  6. Flirting is not consent.
  7. “We’ve had sex before” is not consent.
  8. If they aren’t sober they can’t consent.
  9. The absence of the word “no” is not consent.
  10. Silence is not consent.
  11. Only an informed sober, freely given, ongoing enthusiastic “yes!” is consent.

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Besides this there are some things that people need to listen for or say in order to give consent or partake in any sexual activities.

  1. “Tell me if I’m going too fast.”
  2. “Do you want to keep going?”
  3. “Can I touch you here”
  4. “I think we should take it slow.”
  5. “Let me know when you want to stop.”
  6. “What do you want to do?”

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There are many more cues and statements to say and listen for when it comes to consent and engaging in sexual activities but these are some of the top ones. Overall, sexual assault is a serious matter that pertains to everyone. We need to understand how serious this is and start becoming more aware of this subject. So during the month of April take some time to learn a little more about sexual assault or at least sexual assault awareness. It doesn’t hurt to know at least a little bit on the matter. If you want more information on sexual assault  awareness check out the links below. Just remember NO means NO.

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ALSO don’t forget to wear jeans on Denim Day April 29th! For more information on Denim Day check out the link below.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hihDEvVJhzw (Spoken word youtube video on Sexual Assault Awareness)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Assault_Awareness_Month (Wiki page on Sexual Assault Awareness Month)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denim_Day (Wiki article on Denim Day)

http://www.nsvrc.org/saam/sexual-assault-awareness-month (Website on Sexual Assault Awareness Month)

https://www.rainn.org/about-rainn/sexual-assault-awareness-prevention-and-education (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network [RAINN] webpage on sexual assault awareness, prevention and education)

https://www.rainn.org/statistics (RAINN statistics on sexual assault)

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-sexual-assault (Article on facts about sexual assault)

http://connsacs.org/learn/index.htm (Myths and facts about sexual assault)

http://sapac.umich.edu/article/52 (Myths and facts about sexual assault)

http://www.enmu.edu/services/police/prevention/sexual-assault.shtml (Myths and facts about sexual assault)

The Misconceptions and Myths about Feminism

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

So as you can see I survived this weekend, although I am definitely feeling it. The SMSU women’s rugby team took 2nd in our bracket and I believe the SMSU men’s rugby team took 3rd in their’s (not 100% sure on that one). Overall we had a blast and I found out that Wayne, NE can be windier than Marshall, MN…who knew! Anyways today I am going to talk about a kinda touchy subject but I plan to keep it very light hearted and informational.Feminism010915

Today I am going to talk about the misconceptions of feminism. As a feminist myself and a member of the SMSU Feminist club here on campus I have heard many misconceptions about feminism and what feminists stand for. I have even found myself refraining from telling people that I am a feminist because they tend to shy away from me as if I have the plague after I tell them. I find this really sad and frustrating so today I am going to clear up some of the myths and misconceptions about feminism so people can start to realize that being a feminist is not a bad thing.
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I am mainly going to list off some of this misconceptions and myths and explain how they are not true with the help of some articles I found. First I want to start by giving the definition of feminism which I found on Wikipedia. Feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Now I will list of some of the misconceptions and myths of feminism.

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  1. All Feminists hate men.
    • FALSE! As I stated above Feminists believe in social, political and economical equality between men and women. Misandrists are people who hate men. Feminism do not equal misandry.feminist-heart1
  2. They want to get rid of all men from the planet
    • NOPE! I don’t even know how this is still an idea BUT I hear it all the time. Of course Feminists don’t want to get rid of men! What would be the point of that? I mean seriously. Anyways, this idea comes from the media representations of radical feminism from the 60s and 70s BUT it shouldn’t still be happening today.what-feminism-actually-is
  3. All Feminists are lesbians
    • Seriously? As a straight woman with a boyfriend of 4 years I can tell you that this one is a lie. I know plenty of straight people of both genders that are Feminists. Just because I am a woman who supports women doesn’t mean I am sexually attracted to them.12eb03d7-5d46-42ef-90ab-6ab1cc3fe1da.jpg_resized_
  4. Feminists are all women
    • Like I said in number 3 I know plenty of straight and gay men that are Feminists. If you believe in equal rights for both men and women (regardless of your gender) you are a feminist. It is not something to be ashamed of.Equality Now Presents "Make Equality Reality" - Inside
  5. Feminists are “anti-bra” and never shave.
    • All I can do is shake my head with this one. This might be a little TMI but I love wearing bras and I can’t go over a day or two without shaving. The reason why some Feminists go bra-less and never shave is because it is a choice. They are basically says “screw you” to beauty standards, but I can promise you this is not a thing most feminists do these days. Side-note: It is a myth that Feminists of the 1960’s burnt their bras in protest of the 1968 Miss America pageant. They threw a bunch of items like: mops, playboy magazines, makeup, high heels and bras but they were never on fire.choice-feminism
  6. Women cannot be feminine and be a feminist at the same time. 
    • I would consider myself pretty feminine when I want to be. Ultimately feminism is about giving women the right to choose not finding ways to limit self-expression. Women can wear whatever they want as long as they recognize that it is a choice.the-mindy-project-work-life-balance
  7. Men and women are equal now so we don’t need feminism anymore.
    • WRONG. There is still a lot that needs to be done when it comes to gender equality. For one there is a massive pay gap between men and women, many jobs are not friendly to mothers and most women continue to be responsible for the majority of the housework, the list goes on.Wage-Gap-med
  8. Feminism only cares about women.
    • NO, NO, NO. Feminism doesn’t just liberate women, it also liberates men by breaking down standards that society put on both men and women. In society men are taught to be: “macho”, emotionless and never show weakness. These social norms are just as damaging to men as the social norms on women. Ultimately feminism says it is okay for men to be whoever they and to be.o-FEMINISM-IN-2014-facebook
  9. Feminists are all angry and like to shame and belittle men.
    • Once again far from the truth! Modern feminists very rarely get so angry that they start fights and protests. The only reason this would happen is if the subject is very drastic or needs drastic measures to get the point across. Modern day feminists are actually pretty “chill” and are open to anyone who wants to talk about equal rights of any kind. Everyone needs to stop associating modern day feminists with the radical feminists of the 60s and 70s, feminism has evolved from this.feminism__not__by_poasterchild-d6q8ata-png
  10. Last but not least! Feminists hate the following: marriage, you holding the door open for them and you playing dinner for them.
    • One, I can’t wait to get married (i’ve been planning my wedding since I was 5). The only reason why a feminist wouldn’t really like TRADITIONAL weddings is because of some of the aspects of the process such as: the vows of obeying the groom, taking the grooms last name and having their father give them away to the groom. BUT, this isn’t the middle ages anymore so you don’t HAVE to get married in the traditional way. For the other two it all boils down to choice. I’m about 99.9% sure that any feminist would be totally fine with having a door held open for them and their meal paid for.maleFeminism110314

In the end, feminism isn’t an evil thing or something to be ashamed of. It is all about choice and equality not power and hatred. Feminism isn’t something that should be hated or shunned just because of certain acts of the past. Everything that has happened in the past has helped build today so lets not dwell on it. Besides there are plenty of amazing people who are feminists and most people don’t even know it.

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Just to name a few: Coco Channel, Barbara Walters, Yoko Ono, Maya Angelou, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Malala Yousafzai, Beyonce, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Patrick Stewart, Mark Ruffalo, John Legend, Seth Meyers, Louis C.K., Prince Harry, Ryan Gosling, Andy Samberg, Ian Somerhalder and The Dalai Lama. For the full list of both check out the links below.

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Hopefully this post cleared up any misconceptions of feminism and what feminists stand for. If you have any questions or comments feel free to respond to this post. Just understand that I truly don’t mean to offend anyone, I am just trying to clear up some confusion on the matter. If any of you want to talk about feminism, equal rights and other topics of choice in person or want to join the SMSU Feminist Club we meet every thursday at noon in SC 236!2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Fixed Show          Gender_Equality-gender-neutral-bathroom-13.08 infog

Here are my links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism  (Wiki article on feminism)

http://hellogiggles.com/misconceptions-about-feminism/ (Article on misconceptions of feminism)

http://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/artsci/gws/resources/myths.html (Article on myths about feminism)

http://www.studentbeans.com/mag/en/campus/14-misconceptions-about-feminism (Another article on misconceptions of feminism)

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/g4201/famous-feminists-throughout-history/ (famous female feminists in history)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/25/famous-male-feminists-men-support-women_n_5564005.html (famous male feminists in history)

WWF and the Preservation of Nature & Wildlife

Happy Friday Everyone!

So today my post is going to be really short since I will be leaving for Wayne, Nebraska soon to play rugby all weekend and wont have any time or internet connection to post anything (first tournament of the season! AHHH wish us luck!).

For today I want to briefly talk a little more about what WWF has to offer, ways you can help preserve nature/wildlife and list some fun things you can do during Earth Hour tomorrow night. So lets get started!

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First things first, all basic information on WWF and what they are about is on their webpage (link below). For 50 years WWF has been protecting the future of nature and its wildlife. Their mission is “to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth” while their ultimate vision is “to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature.” They work globally with all sorts of subject matter relating to nature and wildlife on different levels. Some of the subjects they work with are: Climate, Food, Forests, Fresh Water, Oceans, Wildlife Conservation, Science, Influencing Policy, Transforming Businesses and much more.

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If you want to be apart of WWF or help in any way there are a couple of options you can choose from. Mainly you can become a member, donate money and/or “adopt” a species of animal that needs help. You can also take action by signing petitions, stay informed by signing up for their newsletters or liking them on Facebook (and other social media sites), help fundraise, send Ecards to people and shop their store to support their actions. If you are interested in doing any of these I will include a link below to some of the direct pages you can go to or you can go to WWF’s webpage and click the “how to help” tab.

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Now I am going to list some easy ways you can help preserve nature and wildlife. I will also include the links to the actual articles I got these from and other links to more options below.

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Here are some things/actions you can do/take to protect wildlife:

  1. Protect Wildlife Habitat
  2. Join a Conservation Organization
  3. Reduce the threat of Invasive Species
  4. Recycle and reduce energy and goods consumption
  5. Minimize use of Herbicides and Pesticides
  6. Place decals on windows to deter bird collisions
  7. Slow down when driving to avoid hitting animals
  8. Voice your confers and get involved locally
  9. Change your career if this is really important to you
  10. Share your enthusiasm for wildlife and nature

Now here is a part of a very long list of things that you can do to preserve nature:

  1. If possible, choose more local, organic and seasonal food.
  2. Eat less but better quality meat.
  3. Buy only as much as you will eat.
  4. Reduce unnecessary packaging, bring your own reusable bags.
  5. Replace plastic whenever possible.
  6. Choose small businesses over big brands.
  7. Buy less in general.
  8. Turn of any lights and electronics when they are not being used.
  9. Let hair and clothes dry by themselves if possible.
  10. Set the washing mashine to lower temperatures.

If you want more information on these lists check out the links below. Overall, it is important that we start preserving and protecting our nature and wildlife now before it is too late. There are already noticeable changes in our world that could have been easily prevented. Lets not make things worse by continuing to do nothing. These quick and easy steps can go a long way in helping our planet.

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Now last but not least do not forget tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. is Earth Hour! Turn off and unplug everything in your house (including electronics such as cellphones) to show your support of climate change action! Here are some fun things you can do during Earth Hour:

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  1. Have a candle-lit dinner
  2. Invite friends around for board games by candlelight
  3. Take a wildlife walk or go star-gazing
  4. Go for a nighttime city walk
  5. Go for a nighttime bike ride
  6. Try candle-lit yoga or exercise
  7. Have a unplugged jam session at home
  8. Read a bedtime story by candlelight or flashlight
  9. Do something “crafty” by candlelight: paint, mould, stick, knit, quilt, paint, etc.

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Overall, I know some of these things are hard to do since it is so cold and due to our location but they are still good ideas. Maybe you can think of some better ones that are not listed. If you want more idea check out the links I have posted below.

So once again sorry this post is so short! If anyone is partaking in Earth Hour tomorrow let me know! I want to know what some of your plans for that “hour of darkness.” Also do not forget to go on WWF’s webpage and say you are partaking in Earth Hour! It will help them calculate how many people (and where they are from) took part in the event. However, if you are not going to actually partake in the event do not say you are on their webpage please, it will mess up the statistics.

Just remember let us be the solution, not the problem! Have a good weekend!

Activists-from-the-WWF-de-007Kaieteur Falls Rainforest, Guyanade5f3f74615bbe4a4eb864f981a931caLinks:

http://www.worldwildlife.org (WWF’s Website)

http://www.wwf.org.uk (WWF’s UK Website)

http://gifts.worldwildlife.org/gift-center/gifts/Species-Adoptions.aspx (A list of the endangered species you can “adopt”)

http://animals.about.com/od/wildlifeconservation/tp/helping_endangered_species.htm (A list of things you can do to protect wildlife)

http://www.endangered.org/10-easy-things-you-can-do-to-save-endangered-species/ (A list of things you can do to protect endangered species)

http://www.greenderella.com/thoughts/20-easy-ways-to-save-the-environment/ (A list of things yo can do to save the environment)

http://www.50waystohelp.com (A list of things you can do to help the planet)

https://support.worldwildlife.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&id=821&page=UserAction&_ga=1.252988041.1806992983.1427327499 (Earth Hour Signup Page)

http://inhabitat.com/9-fun-things-you-can-do-during-earth-hour-2012/ (A list of fun things to do during Earth Hour)

http://wwf.panda.org/how_you_can_help/campaign/earth_hour/10_things_to_do/ (Another list of things you can do during Earth Hour)

Nature/Wildlife Milestones and Events for the Month of March

Once again I am going to apologize for not being very active on my blog this week just like last week. It seems that since getting back from spring break (or even during break) everything has just started to pile up and keeps building up which means the time and effort on my blog keeps getting cut shorter and shorter. So once again this week will be short posts but I promise they will be informational and interesting.

The theme for my blog this week is nature and wildlife. It is yet another passion of mine, not only to spend time in nature but to also protect it. I am a member of the WWF (no not the wrestling one that is WWE) a.k.a. World Wide Fund for Nature and even though I am too poor to actually give them money to help protect nature and the creatures in it I do like to try to spread the word about WWF as best as I can. One day I do hope to be able to give money monthly to help preserve nature and save endangered species and I even plan to “adopt” different animal spices to help get their numbers up. But for now I will just  help by spreading awareness of wildlife and nature preservation.

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Today my blog is going to mainly focus on events and milestones that have been reached in march by the WWF, which is a lot more than normal I might add (in a good way). My Facebook wall can attest to this claim since it has been just covered in posts by WWF more than normal (it is just simply too exciting not to share). Today I am only going to list the top milestones and events on my blog. But I will give the links below if you would like to read more on certain topics or want to know what else is happening this week, this month or in the future.

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Without further ado here are some of the top milestones and events that have happened around the world this month. Starting for the earliest to the latest.

March 3rd – Good news is reported on Asian wild cats. The Amur leopard population has more than doubled in 7 years, there are 30% more tigers in India and Amur tigers and cubs have been spotted in china. Also Nepal celebrated two years of zero poaching and agreed to launch a foundation with WWF to stop poaching in all of Asia for good.

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March 13th – It has been confirmed that the panda population has grown nearly 17%. That is at least 268 more pandas in the wild compared to a decade ago! Some numbers from China’s Fourth National Giant Panda Survey showed that there is 1,864 estimated wild pandas which is a 16.8% increase in a decade and a 11.8% increase of giant lands geographic range since 2003. 

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March 19th – there is a setback in the good news streak we were having. There was a record low sea ice maximum in the Arctic reported. The Arctic sea shrunk to its lowest winter extent record in history. The Arctic sea ice has thinned 65% since 1975.

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March 21st – International Day of Forests. This is the day to recognize what is being done to our forests and what needs to be done to preserve them. I do not have any statistics on how much forest ground we have lost but I know it is up there in numbers. I have provided a link below that talks about FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified products for our homes that can help preserve our forest land and the creatures that live in it. 

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March 22nd – World Water Day. This is the day to recognize what is being done to our waters both fresh and salt. Besides the widespread of pollution that is happening in our lakes, rivers and oceans there is also being an over abundant amount of commercial fishing and dam building that is affecting the aquatic life in various ways. I have provided a link below that talks about Amazon river dolphins. They are one of the victims of unnecessary dam building in the Amazon, which is greatly affecting their species. 

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March 28th – Earth Hour. At 8:30 p.m. this Saturday turn off and unplug everything in your home (including electronics such as cellphones) for an hour to show your commitment to climate change action. I have included a link below on Earth Hour and where you can sign up to say you are taking part in it. This year already 48,517 people have said they are going to take part in Earth Hour. It is a really fun thing to do especially with others. My family and I have done it in the past and we have found ourselves going for longer than an hour because you simply lose track of time.

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In the end, even though WWF and the world has been having a really good month when it comes to milestones and events there is still a lot of work to be done. If you ever want to help preserve nature and wildlife but do not know where to start, just go to WWF’s homepage (I will include it in the links area). They have many different ways you can help or become informed on certain matters. Every single person that helps preserve nature and wildlife also helps mankind and the world we live in. Do not think your help or commitment does not help because it really does. If we all start helping (even if it is in small ways) we can make this world a better place not only for generations to come but also for the creatures that share this world with us. Lets not be the cause of the problem, but the solution!

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Links:

https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/good-news-for-asian-big-cats?utm_campaign=species&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social (Article on Asian big cats)

http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/panda-population-grows-nearly-17-percent?utm_campaign=species&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com (Article on panda population)

https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/record-low-sea-ice-maximum-in-the-arctic (Article on low sea ice records)

http://wwf.worldwildlife.org/site/PageServer?pagename=FSC_and_tigers&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=forest-fsc (Article on FSC certified products that can help the forests)

https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/amazon-river-dolphin?utm_campaign=freshwater-species&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social (Article on the Amazon river dolphins)

https://support.worldwildlife.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&id=821&page=UserAction (Article and sign up page for Earth Hour)

https://www.worldwildlife.org (WWF’s homepage)

Welcome to the Draft Horse Community!

For my post today I want to start off with a little family history. I have been a part of the draft horse community since the day I was born. I could even go as far as to say that I was a part of it before I was even born. My family became a part of the draft horse community through my great grandpa because all he would use was draft horses (primarily Belgians) on the farm. Because of this my grandpa was apart of this lifestyle all of his young life and decided to continue it with his own family.

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My grandma and grandpa that started our horse showing hobby. Yes, I know my my grandma is blinking in this picture, it was hard to get a picture of all three together without one blinking. The big guy between them is Bob.

Originally my grandpa started off just using the horses to do some farm work (like my great grandpa) but then it evolved into to showing them at competitions at county fairs, state fairs and expos. As a result, both my dad and aunt have also brought up their families in the draft horse community and lifestyle. It has become sort of a family “hobby” even though I would consider it more of a lifestyle than anything. As much as I would love to show horses everyday all year round, my family cannot. We all have our other jobs so we cannot live off of showing horses but there are plenty of families that can. Even though we are what is considered a hobby farm, we take the competitions just as serious as the profession teams and love it all just the same.

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Here is the whole gang that takes part in the activities. On the left of my grandma is my family (sister, mom, dad and I) and on the right of my grandpa is my aunt’s family (her husband is in the back and the twins are on my grandparents laps). In the background is our show wagon and we are sitting on our braiding bench at the wash station for the horses at Hutchinson’s county fair. 

My family started off mainly showing Belgians but over the years we slowly started to show more Percherons and now we just show Percherons, more specifically geldings and a couple of mares. We mainly made the switch because they are easier to care for due to them being black, it makes washing them much easier than the other two breeds. Although I have never owned a Clydesdale some of my best friends from the draft horse community do so I get to be around them just as much as the others. I can easily say that the draft horse community is one big family that has each others backs and help each other whenever they can.

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On the left is a picture of some of the gang including my boyfriend at Rochester’s county fair and on the right is a picture of one of our horse showing friends with me and my sister at our grandparent’s anniversary this fall. Draft horse families are usually invited to each other’s family functions since they are basically consisted part of the family. 

Now that I have given a little family history, I am now going to explain draft horse showing a little more and explain the process of getting ready to show. Draft horse showing tends to refer to horse shows that are exclusively for the draft horse breeds. These shows usually refer to specific horse show competitions that feature driving exhibits (to have their horses be judged in harness pulling a wagon or cart), halter classes (to show a horse by leading it and be judged on the horses confirmation and breeding), some riding classes (not all competitions have these because it is rare) and fun games to play in between each class. Draft horse shows are different from other draft horse related competitions such as pulling, farm comps and obstacle course races.

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Here are some picture of driving/harness classes that we partake in including the “Unicorn” hitch class and women’s cart class.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAme_cletusbrooke-halter-classHere are some examples of halter classes and what it looks like in the final line up for placing. 

***If you want more information on how the actual class structure and competitions work check out some of the links below. Mainly the judge looks at how the horses are handles and presented. They also look for how the harness looks/if everything is correctly put on, if the tail, mane and foretop of the horses are done and if the horse has good action/stance. There are other details the judge looks at which are also explained in the links and there are also sections that go into more detail about what classes can be seen at a horse show and what they mean.***

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Here are some more examples of different driving/harness classes including: 6 horse hitch class, women’s team class (which I drive), men’s team class and an example of a men’s cart line up to be judged for placement. 

Overall there is a lot of equipment involved in horse showing. Draft horse owners usually have specially designed trucks and trailers that haul the horses and their equipment to the competitions and back. Hobby farms like mine tend to use multiple trucks and trailers to haul everything while higher end/professional farms use a special semi trailer. We also have a couple sets of different equipment used to show and condition the horses. We have work/field harness, practice wagons/farming equipment and a few practice carts/stone boats. On top of that we have two sets of show harness, a show wagon and two show carts. Besides that we also have a couple sets of stall/tack decorations, tack stall items and other miscellaneous equipment that is needs to make the whole process run smoothly.

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Here are some examples of what we use to practice driving and condition our horses. The first two pictures are images of our sleigh we use in the winter and what our work harness looks like. The second two pictures are examples of what a practice wagon looks like and what a stone boat looks like. 

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These pictures are images of what our show wagon and cart look like and a close up example of what show harness tends to look like. 

For harness classes there are no standard rules on what to wear but drivers tend to were formal attire or business clothing. For halter classes usually the presenter/owner needs to wear nice jeans/kakis, a polo top/top representing their farm (logo), a belt and nice shoes (such as steal toes boots or cowboy boots). The way you represent yourself and your horses goes a long way in the ring and can be the deciding factor on who get first place. Horse showing season usually starts in late june and ends in early september but it changes every year. It all depends on what shows your farm wants to go to and when they are. Technically the show season can go all year round if it wanted too but usually ends with the world congress shows.

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This is what our halter showing attire tends to look like. Our shirts have our farms name and location on it and our names. The second picture is of the number we pin on the back of our shirt so the judge knows who we are. These pictures also show some of the miscellaneous equipment and items we need to show (in the left picture there is one of our harness racks, wheelbarrow and sign. In the right there is our wagon,  one of our chairs and one of our trashcans.)

Before we can even get to the competitions there is a lot to be done. All year round the horses are worked in some way or another but as the season approaches (about 3 months before the season) the horses are exercised and worked a little more.Usually a couple days before leaving for the competition we give the horses a break and focus on what needs to be prepared before leaving. We check to see that all the equipment does not have any issues, clean it all and pack it away into/on the trailers that we use. We then choose what decorations we want to hang over and around our stalls/tack to represent our farm and family.The night before we leave we usually wash all the horses so they look nice and are ready to go the next day. Sometimes we wash them the day of the competition (depends on how far we travel) or at least clean them up so there is no dirt on them. Some horses need more attention when it comes to bathing them. For example, the Clydesdales need a little more time due to their feathering which needs to be pure white when showing.

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The first picture is once again an image of our sleigh (a way we exercise our horses in the winter). The next three pictures are of what stall/tack decorations can look like. This is where the presenters/owners have artistic liberty to present and show off their personal style. By the way, don’t mind my grandma in the picture with the sign she was being silly that day. 

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Here are more examples of what you can see at the stalls/tack area. The first one is a close up of our sign and the second picture is of one of the name tags I made for one of our horses (R.I.P “Big” Mike).

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Here are some examples of how we wash draft horses. Yes, you do need a braiding bench or stepping stool to wash the back and ears of the horses. They tend to be really tall and if they don’t want to be washed they seem to make themselves even taller making things difficult especially for someone as short as me. The second picture is a close up example of how Clydesdale owners pay extra attention to the feathering of the horse while washing. 

When we are ready to leave we pack up the horses and roll out. The most horses that a presenter/owner can bring to a competitions is nine but this rule can be bend at some places. My family usually brings no more than 6 since that is all we are really going to need. Presenters usually leave a day before the show so they can get everything settled and set up so it is ready to go when the show starts. On the morning of the show the horses are brushed down and have fly stray put on them. The horses then have their hooves painted black with hoof polish or black spray paint (although that is bad for the horses hooves) to show the size of the hooves. An exception the this rule is the Clydesdales and Shires who leave their hooves white to match their white leg markings. They also have powder put on their feathering to make their markings and feathering even whiter (the Belgians also do this).

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Here are two examples of what the horses hooves look like after painting them or if they are left alone (in the Clydesdale and Shire’s case).

While the hooves dry the mane is rolled, foretop is braided, the tails are put up and flowers are put in. This is done to help show off the horses’ body more without the hair getting in the way, it also makes the horses look much more professional and presentable looking. After this is done the horses are harnessed and the harness is wiped down to remove dust or fingerprints/smudges. Right before the class is to enter the ring the horses are hitched to the wagon or cart and make a practice run outside of the ring to get the horses ready and check that everything is set right. For halter classes the horses are prepared a little differently. They go throughout the same process all the way up to the hove painting. After that their main and foretops are decorated differently for different breeds and genders of draft horses and their tails are tied up. Once they are dressed up they head straight for the ring.

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The top left picture is an example of “rolling” the mane, the picture next to it is an example of what a braided foretop looks like (that is Excel by the way). The lower left picture is an example of a finished tail bun and the picture next to it is a example of putting the “flowers” in the mane.

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On the left is a diagram of all the parts of a work harness, a show harness is a little different. The picture next to it is an example of what the barn looks like when getting ready to show. 

Overall, the main thing that I love so much about the draft horse community is the family feel of it and camaraderie of it all. In the horse showing community we are all one big family. Yes there may be some big rivalries but we all have each others backs no matter what. A lot of us grew up together and go to the same shows every year so we know each other pretty well. We usually have potlucks every night at the competitions in which each farm brings something from their family recipe book and we sit down and BS until the sun comes up. We have even been known to through a pretty good Shindig (a party with music and dancing) and play some interesting games like “corn hole”/bag toss, “whip the bottle” and horse arena football.

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The picture on the left is an image of everyone’s favorite horse “Big” Mike and my boyfriend Henry (“Big” Mike will be missed greatly this horse showing season). The second picture is what “corn hole” or bag toss looks like. 

In the end, this lifestyle/hobby brings my family together and lets me have a close relationship with relatives that I normally wouldn’t get to see much of. It also has provided me some of my best friends in the world and has taught me many lessons that helped make me who I am to this day. I don not say this a lot but I feel incredibly blessed to be apart of this community and lifestyle. I know one day I wont be able to be apart of it like I use to be but I will always have the memories and that will be good enough for me. It is a lot of hard work and takes up a lot of my spare time in the summers but I would not change it in the world because it is a very special and unique thing to me.

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Here is a picture of my sister and grandma sharing a blanket in our tack room of our trailer. This picture is a good example of how close our family is. Those two were poking fun at each other and joking around the whole time they sat together. The second picture is one of my senior pictures that I think does a good job expressing how much I love these horses and what we do. The big guy next to me is named Doc. 

Hopefully this post helps explain the draft horse community a little more and the process of horse showing. I know I spoke a lot about my own experience but it correlates a lot with how the community/horse showing world works. If any of you have any questions about any part of horse showing or about draft horses at all do not be afraid to ask. Once again I have pretty much heard it all. If any of you want to witness it firsthand just stop by the horse barn at your county fair or the showing arena on the fairgrounds of your county fair, i’m sure there will be draft horses there. If not you can always see them at the Minnesota State Fair (my family shows there every year). I also know there is a draft horse show at Marshall’s county fair. However, my family does not go to it because it is during another one of our fairs but I hear it is a nice set up.

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Here are some examples of what a horse barn or “equine center” can look like at a county or state fair and how the inside can be set up.

If you want more information on the draft horse community or how draft horse showing works, check out these links. There is one of my favorite article on this list that explains how showing drafts is not like showing other horse breeds (which is so true). Besides that there is some good information on all of the steps and the whole process of showing draft horses. You can also check out videos of draft horse shows on youtube. Check it out!

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Here are two pictures I took a while back of some of the boys and our last Belgian “Princess” (R.I.P). The snow always makes them look so beautiful and majestic.      

Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft_horse_showing (wiki article on draft horse showing. Look at “Driving Competitions” and “Preparation for a Show” to see how the classes are judged)

http://www.horsenation.com/2014/08/19/8-reasons-showing-drafts-is-not-like-showing-horses/ (article on “8 reasons why showing drafts is not like showing horses”)

http://www.countrysidemag.com/91-6/kay_wolfe/ (article on draft horses and the community)

Gentle Giants

Hello Everyone! Sorry about the mini hiatus from posting. My life has been really crazy lately (probably like most people coming back from spring break) and I am finally getting some free time to check my blog and write some posts. This week my posts will be pretty short but I will try to keep them as informative as possible.

For my blog this week I am going to stick to the theme of animals but shift my main focus towards one of the many loves of my life, draft horses. Draft horses go by many different names around the world including: draught horse, cary horse, work horse or heavy horse. Draft horses are a large horse breed that is bred to be a work animal doing tasks like plowing, planting and other farm labor. They can also be used for draft horse showing, logging, recreation/trail riding and other uses. There are three main breeds of draft horses: Percherons (from France), Belgians (from Belgium) and Clydesdales (from Scotland). However, there are many variations of each breed of draft horse including crossbreeds with quarter horses, thoroughbred and other draft horse breeds.

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Percheron

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Belgian

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Clydesdale (Yes, Budweiser uses this breed of draft horse in their commercials)

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Here are some of the uses for draft horses. From the upper left: farming/plowing, logging and recreational riding. 

Overall, all draft horses show the same characteristics of strength, patience, and an easy temperament which makes them perfect for farm work. Draft horses usually can be recognized by their height and muscular build. They tend to have their tails docked (cut short) so it does not get in the way of the farm equipment (not always the case). They can also have a good deal of “feathering” on their lower legs (mainly clydesdales have this, but it can be seen on the other breeds) and their mane and foretop is kept short (easier maintenance on the farm and safer).

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Here is an example of what most draft horse’s tails, manes and foretops (bangs) look like. 

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Here is an example of the “feathering” around a draft horses hooves. Unless it is a Clydesdale most draft horse owners keep the feathering short on the horse.

Draft horses tend to have upright shoulders and a broad, short back with powerful hindquarters (making them the best breed for pulling). They also have a heavier bone structure and can have a straight profile shaped nose ridge or “Roman Nose” (Convex profile) shaped nose ridge. They can range from approximately 16 to 19 hands high and can weigh between 1,400 to 2,00 pounds. The current record for “World’s Tallest Horse” goes to a Belgian named “Big Jake” who is 20.3 hands (so 6 feet and 11 inches tall) and weighs about 2,600 pounds.

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Here is an example of a “straight profile” shaped nose ridge.

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Here is an example of a “roman nosed” shaped nose ridge. 

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This is “Big Jake” the World’s Tallest Horse.

I have to admit that as much as I love draft horses there is a lot to do when it comes to caring for them. Just to feed them, care for them and shoe them can be costly, even if it is just for one horse. Surprisingly their metabolism is similar to ponies, which means that they have a lower “need” for their bodyweight compared to light horse breeds. However, due to their size they usually are fed a significant amount of feed and hay per day (depending on the time of year). Drafts are not used for excessive energy demands (such as racing and jumping) so they can simply survive on good quality grass and grain just fine. They usually eat about one round bale of hay a day or 2 to 3 square bales of hay. Shoeing can get costly depending on how many horses and the kind of shoes are being put on/taken off. Draft horses have two main types of shoes: Work shoes and show shoes. Work shoes are put on when not working or sowing and show shoes are put on during show season (they are also known as “scotch bottom” shoes). Overall, they should never go without having some sort of shoe on for too long because it can cause damage to the horses hooves or lead to other issues.

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Here is what a work shoe looks like and an example of what it looks like on a draft horse. The right picture also shows what will happen if a horse goes to long without a shoe on. Another thing that can happen is the hoof starts to curved upwards making it hard for the horse to walk. 

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Here is what a scotch bottom shoe looks like and what it looks like on the horses feet. There is a little more padding and weight to make the horses pick up their feet more and show “action” in their step. 

Originally the main use for draft horses was to do farm work or forms of pulling but that has slowly started to die out due to the advancement of farming equipment. My family still uses the horses to do some farm work and you can usually see them being used in the Amish communities and on farms in rural towns in Minnesota. However, their main use now is to be shown in draft horse competitions at county fairs, state fairs and expos. There are two main ways to “show” a draft horse: hitching them up to a wagon or a cart and halter showing them. There can also be farming competitions and fun games like “egg and spoon” or “bribe a horse but hitching them up and showing halter are the main attractions at the events.

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Here are some examples of different activities that can happen at a horse show. Starting from the upper left: 6 horse hitch class, chart class, halter showing, farming/pulling competition, “egg and spoon” riding game and “bribe a horse” relay game. ***The two games are done with a mixture of all horse and donkey/mule breeds.

Overall, draft horses have many different uses and characteristics that set them apart from the rest of the horse breeds. They are some of the kindest and most loving creatures I know and I feel so lucky to be around them whenever I can (basically when I’m not at school). Being able to grow up around these beautiful animals my whole life has taught me many lessons and has helped me become the person I am to this day. That might sound weird but being apart of the draft horse community is a very special thing, BUT I will get into that more in my next post. I will also be going into more detail about the horse showing process itself and talking about some experiences that have changes my life.

6a00d834531b2969e200e54f5d2b0e8833-800wi78036711 In the end, the main purpose of this post today was to help better explain what a draft horse is and how it is different from other horses. Hopefully you all learned something new or interesting about this type of horse. If anyone has any sort of question at all about draft horses do not be afraid to ask. Trust me, I have pretty much heard every kind of question that could be asked about draft horses so I will definitely have an answer for you. If you want more information on draft horses check out the links below, there is also a link to an article about the “World’s Tallest Horse”.

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Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft_horse (wiki page on draft horses)

http://horses.animal-world.com/Draft-Horse-Breeds/information/draft-horses.php (website on draft horses)

http://animals.pawnation.com/fun-draft-horses-2500.html (fun facts about draft horses)

http://host.madison.com/news/local/world-s-tallest-horse-towering-over-midwest-horse-fair/article_37f535e9-6b1e-5517-9ea4-66ed5f046629.html (article on the “World’s Tallest Horse”)