Horse-oil Gâteau and Pegasus Filet: a Hippophagic Banquet

In the nineteenth century, vets, scientists, doctors, social campaigners, animal-welfare advocates and other prominent figures in Europe and America decreed that horsemeat was just the stuff for the working classes to eat. The proletariat lacked red meat, it was argued, and yet city streets were filled with horses that, once their working life came to …

Scandal! Did the Icelandic tölt come from England?

Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wild Animal Research (IZW) in Berlin have announced a fascinating discovery in the history of gaited horses. By studying the genomes of ninety horses that lived between the Copper Age and the eleventh century, they have traced the spread of the fifth equine gait or amble. This …

The Horse Ghosts of East London

I had some time to kill near Liverpool Street Station in London yesterday and remembered a quest I’d started to put together earlier this year, before it was cut short by health problems. In The Age of the Horse I’ve tried to write a sweeping, single-take overview of all the ways in which horses powered Britain in the nineteenth …

Christmas Quiz: Count the Health and Safety Violations!

Dear readers, Merry Christmas to you all! Here’s my If Wishes Were Horses festive quiz: count the health and safety horrors committed by “Little Miss Fearless” in this short Pathé video from 1933 1923*. I’ve spent most of 2015 slogging away to finish book two, The Age of the Horse, which will be out at …

Extraordinary and Startling Appearance of a Runaway Horse at a Tea-Party

EXTRAORDINARY AND STARTLING APPEARANCE OF A RUNAWAY HORSE AT A TEA-PARTY, AT WRAGBY, LINCOLNSHIRE (Subject of Illustration) A scene occurred on Saturday last at Wragby, which we shall find it difficult to describe by mere words; we must, therefore, refer our readers to the front page of this week’s POLICE NEWS. The large engraving gives …

Pit Ponies at Rest and at Play

The last British pit pony retired astonishingly recently in 1999. Between the mid-eighteenth century and the very start of the twenty-first century, stout “pitters” (short-legged Shire crosses), Welsh cobs and British native ponies of all stripes hauled coal underground and above ground and worked pumps to keep mines from flooding. They were often stabled in …