February 26 – More of the Same – Nancy & Family Arrive – Mote Aquarium

For much of the past ten days, we've continued with the same activities we've been enjoying since arriving in Sarasota.

We did have a chance to view a "super moon".

Our photo club's assignment was "action at Sun N Fun".  My shots captured Archery, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, Pentanque, Shuffleboard, Pickleball, Lawn Bowling and even the work in the Woodshop.

Debbie was invited to be part of the group doing the make-up for performers in Sun N Fun's three-night annual talent show … and had a ball doing it!

I continue to sail on Suday afternoons and took an overall second this past weekend, sailing the No.8 boat.

The photo club took a field trip to see a practice session of Hermann's Lipizzaner Stallions in Mayakka City.

The Lipizzan, or Lipizzaner is a breed of horse originating from Lipica in Slovenia. Established in 1580, the Lipica stud farm is the world's oldest continuously operating stud farm. It is also closely associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria, where they demonstrate the haute école or "high school" movements of classical dressage, including the highly controlled, stylized jumps and other movements known as the "airs above the ground." The horses at the Spanish Riding School are trained using traditional methods that date back hundreds of years, based on the principles of classical dressage.

The Lipizzan breed dates back to the 16th century, when it was developed with the support of the Hapsburg nobility. The breed has been endangered numerous times by warfare sweeping Europe, including during the Wat of the First Coalition, World War I and World  War II.  The rescue of the Lipizzans during World War II by American troops was made famous by the Disney movie Miracle of the White Stallions. The breed has also starred or played supporting roles in many movies, TV shows, books, and other media.

Today, eight stallions are recognized as the foundation bloodstock of the breed, all foaled the late 18th and early 19th centuries. All modern Lipizzans trace their bloodlines to these eight stallions, and all breeding stallions have included in their name the name of the foundation sire of their bloodline. The majority of horses are registered through the member organizations of the Lipizzan International Federation, which covers almost 11,000 horses in 19 countries and at 9 state studs in Europe. Most Lipizzans reside in Europe, with smaller numbers in the Americas, Africa, and Australia. Generally gray in color, the Lipizzan is a muscular breed that matures slowly and is long-lived.

Most Lipizzans measure between 14.2 and 15.2 hands (58 and 62 inches).  However, horses bred to be closer to the original carriage-horse type are taller, approaching 16.1 hands (65 inches). Lipizzans have a long head, with a straight or slightly convex profile. The jaw is deep, the ears small, the eyes large and expressive, and the nostrils flared. They have a neck that is sturdy, yet arched and withers that are low, muscular, and broad.

They are a Baroque horse, with a wide, deep chest, broad croup, and muscular shoulder. The tail is carried high and well set. The legs are well-muscled and strong, with broad joints and well-defined tendons. The feet tend to be small, but are tough.

Lipizzan horses tend to mature slowly. However, they live and are active longer than many other breeds, with horses performing the difficult exercises of the Spanish Riding School well into their 20s and living into their 30s.

Aside from the rare solid-colored horse (usually bay or black), most Lipizzans are gray. Like all gray horses, they have black skin, dark eyes, and as adult horses, a white hair coat. Gray horses, including Lipizzans, are born with a pigmented coat—in Lipizzans foals are usually bay or black—and become lighter each year as the graying process takes place, with the process being complete between 6 and 10 years of age. Lipizzans are not actually true white horses, but this is a common misconception.  A white horse is born white and has unpigmented skin.

Until the 18th century, Lipizzans had other coat colors, including dun bay, chestnut, black, piebald and skewnbald.  However, gray is a dominant gene.   Gray was the color preferred by the royal family, so the color was emphasized in breeding practices. Thus, in a small breed population when the color was deliberately selected as a desirable feature, it came to be the color of the overwhelming majority of Lipizzan horses.  However, it is a long-standing tradition for the Spanish Riding School to have at least one bay Lipizzan stallion in residence, and this tradition is continued through the present day.

Late Sunday afternoon, Nancy and family arrived to spend a week with us at Sun N Fun and escape what is turing out to be a frigid week back in New Hampshire.  When we arrived at the park model we'd rented for them, I tried to help them unload their car.  Entering throgh the unlit lanai, the door into the bright living ronom looked inviting and open.  Unfortunately it was not … and I damn near knocked myself out as I hit if face first!

Monday, Debbie took Nancy and Taylor

for a manicure while Jason, Jake and I went to the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training park

where the club's general manager, Neal Huntington, one of Doug's best high school friends,

Neal, Jake, Jason and Dick

arranged for a tour of the facility and then spent an hour with us before the game against the Red Sox (Jason and Jake are avid Boston Red Sox fans).

Today, we visited Sarasota's world-famous Mote Aquarium

Jake, Nancy, Taylor and Jason

While Debbie and I had visited the Mote once before, it was a new experience for Nancy and family.  Some of the many excellent exhibits included:

American Alligator (above) and Camain (lower)


American Alligator

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Carolina Diamondback Terapin

Green Sea Turtle

Loggerhead Turle

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle



Playful River Otters

Sandbar Shark

Epaulette Shark

Cownose Ray

Yellow Stingray

Horseshoe Crab

Garden Eel



Pregnant Male Seahorse (YES, the males carry the embryos)

Spiney Lobster

Ghost Anemone Crab

Striped Burrfish

Ocellated Frogfish

Ribbon Seadragon

And untold varieties of tropical fish

No sooner did we get back to our car than the heavens opened up … and a monsoon deluge enveloped our car. 

For most of our 12 mile drive back to Sun N Fun, the visibility was less than 1/4 of a mile.

Large puddles of water accumulated along the edges of the streets

and in some places the water was as high as car doors!

Still raining as I write this evening!





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