Equine Aviation Pioneers

Anapka, the Russian donkey* who inadvertantly became the first equid to parasail, may or may not be comforted to know that she had antecedents.

“We ought also, perhaps, to notice a curious ascent made by Mr Green on July 29, 1828, from The Eagle Tavern, City Road, on the back of a favourite pony. Underneath the balloon was a platform (in place of a car) containing places for the pony’s feet, and some straps went loosely under his body, to prevent his lying down or moving about. Everything passed off satisfactorily, the balloon descending safely at Beckenham; the pony showed no alarm, but quietly ate some beans with which its rider supplied it in the air. Equestrian ascents have since been repeated. In 1852, Madame Poitevin, who had made several such journeys in Paris, ascended from Cremorne Gardens, London, on horseback (as ‘Europa on a bull’); but after the first journey its repetition was stopped in England by application to police courts, as the exhibition outraged public feeling.”

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1875, quoted in Juliet Clutton-Brock’s Horsepower.

* Incidentally, the on dit is that The Sun bought the wrong donkey in their haste to generate headlines in the silly season rescue her, and that the real victim, Manya, is still with her owner. More details here with Horse Talk’s gossip blogger.

Published by Susanna Forrest

Writer Amazons of Paris, The Age of the Horse and If Wishes Were Horses.

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