The Old Standby

Horse Square WEB w Sig

Horse and Cart

Trinidad, Cuba

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In Cuba the old standby is the horse.  They’re everywhere, and doing everything. Ubiquitous.  In the United States I’m used to seeing big horses. In Cuba they are small horses.  I’m not a horse person, so I don’t know what the technical difference is between a horse and a pony—maybe someone can enlighten me.

In every town we’ve visited, including Old Habana, the horse (pony) has been utilized as a taxi (for 2 to 8 people), family transportation to-and-from, a truck (hauling shit—sometimes literally), carting furniture, veggies, sugarcane, corn, wood and anything else you can think of.

Folks take care of their horses in Cuba.  No ribs popping out of their skin.  They eat well, and are well-groomed.  In other Latin American countries sometimes that’s not the case. I’ve seen horses in Mexico and Costa Rica, for instance, that looked pretty unhealthy—skinny, ribs showing and sores.  El Pato, the horse I rode in Costa Rica, was very thin and had an infected eye (which I promptly brought to the attention of his handler, or is it wrangler).

In Cuba all the horses wear poop-shutes under their tails to catch the waste before it hits the street with a splat.  And this would be the time to mention that Cuba is very clean—old and in need of repair, but no trash or liter to offend the eye.  Again, in Mexico, this is not always the case.  If you look at the photo carefully you can see the aforementioned poop-shute extending from under the horse’s tail, and attaching to the front of the cart.

Cuba is a hodgepodge of transportation:  You will find vintage American automobiles and motorcycles alongside Soviet cars, trucks and lorries, and amongst them all is the ubiquitous horse and even ox-drawn carts.  And they all share the same roadways without incident.  Remarkable.

Photographer’s note:  This image was captured as a JPEG file with my Canon PowerShot G15 backup shooter.  Camera settings:  1/320s @ f/2.8, ISO 100, FL/24mm, Natural Light, Handheld.  Basic post-edits were completed in PSE11, and the image was HDR processed using Photomatix Essentials software.  Final tweaks to exposure, contrast, saturation and sharpening were again completed in PSE11, and a light texturing was added using Filter > Texture > Sandstone.  

Wow, I just noticed something:  Look closely at the photo, and you can see two human feet protruding from under the horse’s belly.  Someone must be sitting in the doorway with just their feet showing.  I didn’t see that when I processed the image, or I might have been tempted to Photoshop them out—now, I just think I’ll leave them.  SFD

Cuba Portrait WEB

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Indochine Photography International

*  Expat Journal

*  My NatGeo Portfolio

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