The Emininently Recyclable Horse

 

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From Internet Archive’s scan of The Anatomy and Physiology of the Horse (1863) via Wiki Commons

In The Age of the Horse I gave readers some idea of the ingenuity humans used to recycle the bodies of horses used in the nineteenth century west. Of course, this inventiveness was not restricted to the Victorian era nor to the more rapidly industrialised nations – and we’re still finding new uses for horses’ bodies. Here is a brief, morbid and often suprising list of them, from armour to face lifts.

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As shelters in the eighteenth century by the Puelche and Pehuenche of Argentina and Chile. (Horse Nations: The worldwide impact of the horse on indigenous societies post-1492, by Peter Mitchell, 2015, p281)

The skin from colts’ and mares’ lower legs were used to make gauchos’ “bota de potro” footwear. (Mitchell, 2015, p282)

Drumheads; Blackfoot Indians, (The Role of the Horse in Man’s Culture, by Harold B Barclay, 1980, p177)

Leather for covering large boardroom and office tables (Waste Products and Undeveloped Substances: Or, Hints for Enterprise in Neglected Fields by Peter Lund Simmonds, 1862, p364)

“Leather guards on [German] cavalry trousers”, carriage roofs or whip lashes. (The Horse-World of London by W J Gordon, 1893, p187)

Shoe leather or “porpoise hide”  (“Horse Meat for Food” by Frank G Carpenter, The National Tribune, 19 January 1893, p9)

Saddles and boot tops (twentieth century America)

For making braided reins, bridles, girths, cruppers and whips in Kazakhstan. (Barclay, 1980, p319)

Bags and shoe soles in Mongolia (Barclay, 1980, p302)

Cordovan leather, shield and buckler parts, coat worn under armour, harness (Barclay, 1980, p133)

Fat

Distilled for use in lamps, etc. (Waste Products and Undeveloped Substances: Or, Hints for Enterprise in Neglected Fields by Peter Lund Simmonds, 1862, p364)

Intestines

Sausage skins, gut strings (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

Bones

Grease and bones burned for fuel on the Pampas in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. (Barclay, 1980, p187)

“Lucifer matches” (Simmonds, 1862, p340)

Knife handles, phosphorus, super-phosphate of lime (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

Oil for candlemaking, leather dressing and lubricating. (Gordon, 1893, p186)

Ground and mixed with sulphuric acid for fertiliser, or simply ground into bone meal for manure making. (Gordon, 1893, p186)

Button-making (Gordon, 1893, p186)

Ribs and scapulae for smoothing clay pots, cannon bones for spear heads, jawbones to scrape leather thongs, pastern bones to make ornaments. (Copper Age Botai culture, Kazakhstan)

Teeth

As necklaces by some Native American groups, (Barclay, 1980, p177)

Tendons

Glue and gelatine (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

“Nithya” – a botox-like cosmetic treatment that stimulates the cells that produce collagen.

Hair of Mane, Tail

Tapestry making, girths, ropes, fetters, collars for horses and cattle, shoe covers, rain hats and fishing nets in Buryatia, Siberia.

Hair-cloth, mattress stuffing, woven into bags for crushing seed in oil mills (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

Furniture stuffing, fishing lines. (Gordon, 1893, p187)

Plaited to make ropes, nets, lassoes and fly whisks by the Yakut of Siberia, who also use it for decorative work and stuffing saddles. (Barclay, 1980, p327)

Tipi decorations among some Native American groups (Barclay, 1980, p177)

Clothing or harness decoration by some Native American groups, (Barclay, 1980, p177)

The shirts of penitents (Barclay, 1980, p133)

Mixed with rubber to create “hairloch”, which was used as padding for the equipment dropped into Occupied France for use by the Special Operations Executive in World War Two (The Women who Lived for Danger, Marcus Binney, 2002, p26)

As crests for helmets (Ancient Greece, Persia) and on war standards carried by the Mongolian Army.

For bows for violins, cellos, double basses, violas and other stringed instruments (fascinating facts to be found here) including the Mongolian morin khuur or horse-head fiddle.

Callouses/Chestnuts (?)

Used in perfume making by the Blackfoot (Barclay, 1980, p177)

Flesh

Boiled for men, dogs and poultry (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

Cat and dog meat (Gordon, 1893, p187)

Fed to animals on fur farms (Horse meat for fur farms: its chemical composition by Sedgwick E Smith, Washington, Department of the Interior, 1940)

Fed to zoo animals in Central Park (The Daily Yellowstone Journal, 2nd December 1887, p1)

Fed to hunting hounds (UK)

Fed to pigs raised at knackers yards and sold for commercial pork-pie making in the UK (Among Horses in Russia by Captain M H Hayes, 1900)

Hoofs

Trimmings turned into funeral wreaths (Luc Sante’s The Other Paris); bright blue dye (Simmonds, 1862, p340)

Gelatine, prussiate, “fancy snuff boxes” (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

Glue, blue-maker manufacture (Gordon, 1893, p186)

As pendants by some Native American groups, (Barclay, 1980, p177)

Armour – “These mares [the Sarmatians use] not only use for war, but also sacrifice them to the local gods and eat them for food. Their hoofs they collect, clean, split, and make from them as it were python scales. . . . These pieces they bore and stitch together with the sinews of horses and oxen, and then use them as breastplates that are as handsome and strong as those of the Greeks. For they can withstand blows of missiles and those struck in close combat.” (Description of Greece, Pausanias, translated by W H S Jones)

Blood

Button manufacture; albumen extracted and used for making photographs  (Carpenter, 1893, p9)

Dung

For making cores/loose internal parts of casting moulds in foundries “in some foreign countries” (Simmonds, 1862, p368)

Collected, moulded into cakes for fuel and sold (China) (Simmonds, 1862, p369)

To insulate roofs (Copper Age Botai culture, Kazakhstan)

Urine

For making PreMarin, a hormone used to allay menopause symptoms and in feminizing hormone therapy for transwomen.

Boiled to preserve seeds, in a mythical Chinese pharmacopoeia.

Bezoar (a solid mass that forms in the digestive tract of some animals)

“It has the medicinal properties of settling fright and resolving phlegm, clearing heat and dispelling poisons. It is used to treat internal proliferation of phlegm-heat, manic depression (diankuang) and fright epilepsy (jingxian), malign poisons, ulcers and swellings, disturbances of consciousness, etc.” (Bencao gangmu, a Chinese Systematic Materia Medica by Li Shizhen, 1590)

Horse-shoes

Shipped to China, straightened and sharpened into razors (Carpenter, 1893, p9)

Horse-shoe Nails

“Horse-shoe nails, kicked about the world by horses innumerable, are not the useless fragments we might naturally deem them. Gun-makers tell us that no iron is so well fitted for their purpose as that which is derived from horse-shoe nails and similar worn fragments. The nails are, in the first instance, made of good sound iron, and the violent concussions they receive when a horse is walking over a stony road, give a peculiar annealing and toughnening to the metal, highly beneficial to its subsequent use for gun-barrels” (Simmonds, 1862, p418)

Body

If you’ve had your horse cremated, the cremains can be transformed into diamonds or glass jewellery as a keepsake.

Alternatively, the horse can be allowed to break down into compost.

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

DoenerHorseBerlin

Yes, we’re still deep in the horse meat scandal.

  • You can now buy a “horse burger” fancy dress costume (Business Insider)
  • Only 13% of Americans would consider eating horse meat (almost twice the percentage who would eat dog), whereas 34% would consider alligator lasagna (KTAR)
  • Groups in Oklahoma want to build a horse abattoir. (SFGate.com and Fox23.com) As does a business in Roswell, New Mexico (Koat.com) And a Philly restaurant wants to add horse meat to the menu (Consumerist)
  • Grub Street suggests 20 places to eat horse, including locavore horse lasagna in Scotland. (Grub Street)
  • A visit to a Kazakh horse meat market (NPR) and a visit to a Polish horse sale (Baltimore Sun)
  • In the merry-go-round that is the international, industrialised food chain, an Irish slaughterhouse sent “beef” to the Czech Republic which was in fact horse. (USA Today)
  • A German politician and clergyman are drubbed for saying that the rejected horse-beef food should be given to the poor. (The Local)
  • Russia threatens to suspend horse meat imports from the EU – something of a joke given that they continue to import possibly bute-laced horse meat from the USA. (Fox News)
  • Could the incorrect labelling have begun in Romania after all? Mislabelled horse meat found in the country (Bloomberg)
  • China reacts to the horse meat scandal (Bloomberg)
  • Meanwhile, I have more local news stories about neglected horses in the US than I can load up here.
  • Non-meat-related uses for horses: a California teen escapes gang culture through his horse. The pastor who helped Dawan Whitmore get riding lessons comments: “He learned how to feed the horse every day twice a day, rain or shine. Forget football practice, forget all those other things. It teaches him a great deal of responsibility. Not to mention self worth.” (23ABC News)

The Baker’s Horse Takes On Royalty

Today’s Times has a piece by Adam Sage on Saonois, a favourite for the 2012 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It’s behind a pay wall here, for those with access. Saonois belongs to 34-year-old village baker, Pascal Treyve, who snapped him up for €8,000 when he was rejected by the industry as being “too small”. Saonois started out at provincial race courses but rose to win the Prix du Jockey Club, nicknamed the French Derby. Altogether he’s won seven races and €1,743,000 in prize money. Now the same big names who rejected him are beating a path to the bakery door, waving wads of money. Sage writes:

Mr Treyve, who has always lived in Bellegarde-en-Forez, grew up with a horse-mad father who took him to the races before he could walk. He thought about becoming a horse and cart-racing driver before opting for baking because “I put security first”. But in 2004 he saw a foal, Cadran, up for sale and bought a 50 per cent stake in it. “It was dream I’d had ever since I was a teenager,” he said. “And I fell in love with that foal. I only bought half because it was very expensive. I said to myself, ‘If it turns out to be a mistake, never mind’.”

Cadran ran in 54 races and won €140,400 in prize money. So when Jean-Pierre Gauvin, a friend and local trainer, suggested buying Saonois, he was able to stump up €4,000.

Elite flat racing tends to be short on fairy tale endings, but who wouldn’t love to see the baker beat the Aga Khan and Saudi royalty?

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

Prague carriage horses

  • Questions are raised over the treatment of horses on film and TV show sets. Are trainers’ welfare concerns being overruled? (LA Times)
  • A “horse palace” in Montreal seeks donors for a makeover. (Montreal Gazette)
  • A woman “gives birth to a pony” during a church service in Nigeria. (PM News)
  • Lady Gaga arrived at the launch of her new signature fragrance in a horse-drawn carriage shaped like the perfume flask. (Ace ShowBiz)
  • Don’t touch the horse! An arrest for drunkenness and touching a police horse. (Tampa Bay Times) Elsewhere, in Philly, a police horse is punched. (Policeone.com)
  • Claims of assault fly in the fight to save wild horses in Reno. (Examiner.com)
  • A smalltown official who defrauded millions sees her illgotten gains – pedigree quarter horses – sold for over a million dollars at internet auction. (Chicago Tribune)
  • A little girl’s dream comes true when she comes home from school to find her very own pony waiting for her. (This is Gloucestershire)
  • The first Exmoor Pony Festival works like a charm (This is the West Country)
  • Muslims in Gaza have to break Islamic “best practice” and eat horsemeat. (NYT)
  • The number of horse rescues in the US has nearly doubled in five years. Major welfare groups suggest accreditation for newcomers (Ventura County Star)

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

Berlin graffiti

  • A young Scottish showjumper who’s only been riding for three years has been sponsored by Euromillions lottery winners. (Horse and Hound)
  • Meanwhile a nineteen-year-old started a millionaire’s fund of his own when he became the youngest ever winner of the showjumping CN International via Karen K. (Spruce Meadows)
  • Corrective surgery for thoroughbred yearlings before auction. Do they need it? Should it be disclosed? How much goes on?  As one concerned owner points out, “A stallion retires to stud that might not have held up to racing say in 1965 or 1975 and now you’ve got these horses going into the gene pool. I think that unquestionably changes the face of the genetics going forward.” (Kentucky.com)
  • The US federal Horse Protection Act is criticsed by those trying to prosecute abusers of Tennessee Walking Horses. They say the penalties must be much stiffer. (SF Chronicle)
  • In Britain a couple are fined over a thousand pounds and banned from keeping animals for ten years after keeping a pony in a 6ft by 4ft shed. (Daily  Mail)
  • Korean pop group KARA flash their gams and do the “horse riding dance”, which is apparently all the rage among the young folk. (allkpop.com) UPDATE: Thank you to the Atlantic and Ben Perry for this detailed explanation of the horse riding dance.
  • Documentary Wild Horse, Wild Ride, tells the story of trainers preparing fresh-off-the-range horses for the Mustang Makeover. Think Josephine Pullein-Thompson’s Six Ponies and then some. (LA Times)
  • The Seventh Russian polo Open at Moscow. (Living Polo)
  • Przewalski horses return to the wild in China. (Horse Talk NZ)
  • The ill-gotten gains of a city official in Illinois are up at auction: hundreds of top-rank Quarter Horses. (Wall Street Journal)
  • And last but definitely not least, these surprising and moving animal portraits by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Look! Look! (Flavorwire)

Totipocalypse: Totilas Before and After

At the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the Dutch stallion Moorlands Totilas swept all before him with his rider Edward Gal. They took all three gold medals, capping a four-year partnership in which the pair had shattered dressage records around the world. Here’s their freestyle kur at Lexington in autumn 2010:


Only days later, the stallion’s sale was announced. Totilas was sold to German showjumper and sportshorse mogul Paul Schockemoehle for – it was said – fifteen million euros. Edward Gal lost the riding rights, which were sold to Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, who placed her 26-year-old stepson Matthias Rath on the KWPN’s back. Not surprisingly outrage and various rumours followed. That Totilas was crippled by suspensory ligament problems. That the German method of training would not suit him. That he would be incapable of performing both as a Grand Prix horse and as a stallion for Schockemoehle’s farm. That Rath was overhorsed and unhappy. That Totilas was unhappy or even lame. Certainly, the combination were unable to replicate Gal and Totilas’ record, but perhaps that would just take time and adjustment.

In February 2012, at the beginning of the Olympic year, Rath and Totilas appeared at a stallion show at Vechta in Germany. The difference was stunning and the audience seemed shocked:

What on earth happened?

UPDATED TO ADD: I picked up these two videos from online discussions on the “new” Totilas. The first shows Totilas in 2005 before he went to Edward Gal:

And the second shows a 2007 training session with Gal:

 

UPDATE: TOTILAS IS NOT COMPETEING IN THE 2012 OLYMPICS AS MATTHIAS RATH HAS GLANDULAR FEVER.

Blatant Cobbery

THE COB.

This is essentially a fancy article. A cob is, compared to other horses, much what a ”concentrated luncheon lozenge’ is to a vol au vent. He must have as much breeding as possible, combined with the power of a carthorse. It is not everyone that is a judge of a cob. An underbred, under-sized, thickset punchy horse is not of necessity a valuable cob, though the owners of such beasts (when they are for sale) are sometimes very hard to persuade of this fact. Cobs are usually ridden by a class of men who can afford to pay for them; and as the demand is always in excess of the supply of these animals, they generally have to be paid for pretty freely, supposing them to be really good. But without a long list of virtues, a cob, however powerful, and in its own grotesque style handsome, will never fetch a price. To begin with, he must be perfectly quiet on all occasions; not inclined to shy; and possessed of a certain sedateness of character and demeanour, as it is his peculiar province to carry gentlemen of a certain age and weight, and usually of a position in life which renders their personal safety a matter of interest to the community at large.

… A cob who is not a good walker is of about as much use as a young lady who does not valse! … To be perfect in the country, a cob should let his rider kill a brace of birds right and left off his back without winking. Even if he be not wanted as a shooting pony, his nerves must defy alarm or excitement at any unexpected sight or sound, especially connected with gunpowder; for in these days of revolvers and rifle practice a quiet gentleman … may, in the course of his ride, whether in town or country, find himself almost at any moment in a “warm corner,” as far as numberless discharges of firearms can constitute one. Therefore the points most important in a good cob are strength, good mouth and slow paces, soundness (of course), good temper, moderate height, say 14 hands, and perfect steadiness and tractability. If anyone who may do me the honour to read these lines possesses a cob up to 16 stone, who can walk four miles an hour and trot twelve, with a good mouth and amiable disposition, who fears nothing, and never stumbles, let him, if a rich man, keep him — he will not get another such in a hurry; if a poor one, let him in offering him for sale, fear not to “open his mouth” boldly, and demand for him a price which shall make a difference in his (the owner’s) year’s income; for people must, and usually are ready to, pay for their fancies, and a good cob, as already remarked, is, of all the equine race, essentially a fancy article, and one too for which the demand is always brisk.

Unasked Advice, A Series of Articles on Horses and Hunting by “Impecuniosus”, reprinted from The Field, 1872.