Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

Ponies: the fatter they are, the naughtier they be. Thelwell proved correct by science.

Cheap gelding clinics are becoming a reality in the US. Here’s one in California.

Jane Smiley on National Velvet.

A fell pony riding holiday in Lancashire.

A swimming race for horses that commemorates a Venezuelan battle of 1819.

A wild stallion in Arizona rescues a filly who’s being swept away in a flood-swollen river.

The Mares of Diomedes Gallop On

In Greek myth Heracles’ eighth task is to steal the flesh-eating mares of the giant Diomedes: Podagros, Lampon, Xanthos and Deinos. Heracles is victorious in the ensuing struggle with Diomedes, and feeds his body to the horses who chomp him up with much relish and gore, as in all the best Greek literature. In some versions the mares also breathe fire and you might have thought that as the horse is the herbivore incarnate, Podagros et al’s taste for flesh was as fanciful as their flaming nostrils.

Not so, it seems.

Several years ago Horse.com featured a few articles on meat-eating horses which threw up some interesting curiosities. Did you know that Icelandic horses are fed dried fish as it contains nutrients not present in the grass on the island? Or that Tibetan horses were fed sheep blood and millet gruel? More gruesome still were the accounts that readers sent in of carnivorous horses they had known, that consumed whole ducklings or murdered pigeons in their fields. Now horse historian CuChullaine O’Reilly has written a book on the subject, called Deadly Equines. Horse Talk reports:

O’Reilly said he was stunned to discover that mankind had known about meat-eating horses for at least four thousand years; that they had been known to consume nearly two dozen different types of protein, including human flesh, and that these episodes had occurred on every continent, including Antarctica.

“This wasn’t an odd example or two. This amounted to a hidden history of horses.”

O’Reilly says tales of deadly and flesh-eating horses arise in mankind’s mythology, as well as history.

“For example, mythology states that Alexander the Great’s horse, Bucephalus, was a notorious man-eater.

“Literature has Shakespeare, Steve McQueen and Sherlock Holmes all involved with man-killers or meat-eating horses. And we now know that meat-eating horses were used to explore both the Arctic Circle and Antarctica.

“The evidence is there for all to see – for those willing to do so.”

My copy has been ordered!

Feeling Your Oats?

When I visited Redwings Horse Sanctuary they told me they kept Weetabix to feed to colicky horses. I don’t think this is what they had in mind…

Non-UK readers might need to watch the original 1970s TV credits, repeatedly, to get the joke, or just because it’s guaranteed to make you misty-eyed. This is my ring tone. Honest.

Hungry Horses

Thank you to Ed for sending me Jon Carroll’s found horse cookie recipe from SFGate.com:

Here’s one I got from sherlockfarms.com/horse treats.htm that will tickle the equine taste buds:

Sunday Cookies

– 1 cup uncooked oatmeal

– 1 cup flour

– 1 cup shredded carrots

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 1 tablespoon sugar

– 2 tablespoons corn oil

– 1/4 cup water

– 1/4 cup molasses

Mix ingredients in a bowl in the order listed. Make small balls and place on sprayed cookie sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Horses love ’em!

More adventurous horse cooks might like to branch out into flavourings. A Southampton University study of eight horses discovered that they could be every bit as finicky as humans:

The investigators started with fifteen flavors. They eliminated three (echinacia, coriander and nutmeg) as these were not accepted by all the horses in an initial trial. One horse refused to eat food flavored with echinacea or coriander. And three did not eat all of the food when it tasted of nutmeg, or echinacea.

Apple, turmeric, garlic, and ginger flavors were accepted by all of the horses. But foods with these flavors added were not eaten as quickly as the other flavors. The eight flavors that were eaten the most quickly were chosen for the second part of the study: banana, carrot, cherry, cumin, fenugreek, oregano, peppermint and rosemary.

The researchers went on to determine the horses` order of preference for the flavors. They offered the horses a choice of two small meals with different flavors in each test. Eventually each horse had been offered all combinations of flavors. The investigators then calculated the preferred flavor overall. Fenugreek and banana came top of the preference list, followed by cherry, rosemary, cumin, carrot, peppermint, oregano.

Donkeys, on the other hand, are fools for gingerbread. I’m told this is because in the wild they grub up ginger roots and they’ve retained a taste for it despite millennia of domestication.

Bits and Bobs

English50cent translates for 50cent