How Byron Invented the Wild Horse – and How to Tune into The Age of the Horse


I have a new essay for LitHub about the surprisingly scandalous story behind our Romantic ideas about wild horses, and some lovely news: The Age of the Horse is now available as an audiobook.

I’d have loved to include this bit of doggerel I found when researching the story of wild horses – it’s clearly inspired by the stage play and was published in the Bristol Mercury, on March 19th, 1836. In The Waterfall, a series of wild animals approach a waterfall but all turn away in fear, until the last verse:

The wild horse thee approaches in his turn:
He changes not his proudly rapid stride;
His mane stands up erect, his nostrils burn—
he snorts, he pricks his ears, and starts aside;
Then, rushing madly forward to thy steep,
He dashes downward into thy torrents deep.

The photo above is the last “tarpan” in captivity. The colt was captured on the Zagradovsk steppe in 1866 and is unlikely to be a “pure” bred wild horse. He was kept in Moscow Zoo. Image and information in public domain, via Wiki Commons.

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