Inventing the Wild Horse: the Manmade History of the Takhi and Tarpan from 3500BCE–1828

I’ve just published a chapter called “Inventing the Wild Horse: the Manmade History of the Takhi and Tarpan from 1828–2018” in Horse Breeds and Human Society: Purity, Identity and the Making of the Modern Horse, edited by Kristen Guest and Monica Mattfeld (Routledge, 2020). I went overboard writing this and outstripped my word count so […]

Everything I Don’t Know About Selika Lazevski

This blog post is about the research behind an essay I published on Paris Review Daily on 9 February 2018 (accessible here). I first blogged about Selika when her image went viral in 2012. The best source of information was a commenter called Marie (her profile has since been deleted), who pointed out the source […]

Rapunzel Horses – the hot accessory of Early Modern Europe?

I’ve been reading beautifully illustrated books about horses all my life and in the last twelve years I’ve trawled all sorts of academic articles and image libraries, so it’s always delightful to find an image I’ve never seen before. The Palazzo Pitti in Florence just opened an exhibit called Leopoldo de’ Medici: Prince of the […]

No, Horse Slaughter Won’t Solve the US Welfare Problem – Here’s Why

The US House Appropriations Committee has just voted to lift the ban on funding for federal inspections for horse slaughter, thus potentially paving the way for new US equine abattoirs to open up. I wrote extensively about the history of horsemeat in the USA in The Age of the Horse in order to try to […]

From Taboo to “Ecoterrorism” – Horsemeat’s Troubled Political History in America

I’ve written something for The Atlantic‘s Object Lessons blog on the long (if potted!) history of horsemeat in America. A much fuller account is on offer in The Age of the Horse! During World War II food shortages, horse meat once again found its way to American tables, but the post-war backlash was rapid. “Horse […]

“Superb” – The Age of the Horse in The Economist

SIX THOUSAND years ago wild horses roamed the plains and steppes of the world. They were like many prey: fleet of foot, alert to threats and largely unaggressive. Then, in the Copper Age, the Botai people east of the Urals found a way to hunt them—for their meat and skins—and, later, to domesticate them. In […]

The Completely Ridiculous Holiday Horse History Quiz

  What are the following: the leap of the cuckoo, the leap of the crane, the leap of the frog? (a) movements to be performed by warhorses in Ancient India (b) fences on the showjumping course at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics (c) haute-école dressage steps of Renaissance Italy What had Louis XVI previously done in […]