Strange Scene – Funeral of a Horse

Screengrab via British Newspaper Archives.

Screengrab via British Newspaper Archives.

STRANGE SCENE – FUNERAL OF A HORSE
(Subject of illustration)
One of the most singular funerals took place a few days ago at Maryland. A wealthy merchant at his death, in addition to many munificent bequests and legacies, left a certain sum for the maintenance of his favourite horse – a fine old hunter – and at the death of his favourite the horse was to be buried with all the formality and pomp bestowed upon a Christian. A coffin was made of a peculiar construction, and in this the body of the dead horse was placed. The coffin was placed in a hearse, in which it was conveyed to its last resting-place, accompanied by bearers, mourners, porters, and a heterogeneous throng of followers.

Illustrated Police News, Saturday 24 March 1877, via British Newspapers Archive.

War Horses Week: Torpedoed in Transit

The steamer appeared to be close to us and looked colossal. I saw the captain walking on his bridge… I saw the crew cleaning the deck forward, and I saw, with surprise and a slight shudder, long rows of wooden partitions right along all the decks, from which gleamed the shining black and brown backs of horses.

“Oh, heavens, horses! What a pity, those lovely beasts! But it cannot be helped,” I went on thinking. “War is war, and every horse the fewer on the Western front is a reduction of England’s fighting power.”

U-boat commander Adolf von Spiegel relates an attack on a British steamer transporting horses. The rest can be found here, courtsey of the Independent’s A History of the First World War in 100 Moments series.

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 8) terracotta horses, photographed by author at National Museum of China, Beijing, by author.

Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 8) terracotta horses, photographed by author at National Museum of China, Beijing.

  • What the what? No, this is not breaking news, but something I discovered today. Lambourn will have the UK’s first “horse monorail” courtesy of Turkish industrialist and racehorse owner, Mehmet Kurt. As far as I can tell it’s a horsewalker from Tron (have a look at the photo here); apparently the “Kurtsystem” will be great for rehabilitating horses. You learn something new every day. (Newbury Today)
  • The NYT reports on the presentation by Turkmenistan of an Akhal Teke stallion to President Xi Jinping of China. There’s a little on the story of this “heavenly horse” in Chinese history and its current return. I was surprised to read that Genghis Khan rode one – curious to see what the Mongolians would make of that. (New York Times)
  • Meanwhile, someone’s riding lesson went very wrong when a saddled and bridled horse ended up galloping riderless around Beijing’s fifth ring road, chased by a dog. (Shanghaist)
  • Jalopnik on how Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome gets about now that he’s a champ. (Jalopnik)

Working Horse Welfare, Nineteenth-Century Style

Dandy cart at National Railway Museum, York. By Rosemary Forrest.

Dandy cart at National Railway Museum, York. By Rosemary Forrest.

While I’m housebound working on book two, Mum is filling in as our roving reporter on horse history. Here’s a “Dandy Cart”, snapped at the National Railway Museum in York. Working-horse history is intertwined with the history of the railways, so it’s no surprise to see a horse or two in this museum. According to the caption, it wasn’t just steam-engines that used railways. Sometimes genuine horse power was used for haulage. Of course, when the wagons were coasting downhill, there wasn’t much for the horse to do, hence the dandy cart. The horse would be loaded up for an easy ride down the slope, and recoupled to the freight wagon at the bottom.

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

  • Composer Eve Harrison teamed up with Scottish schoolchildren to write a musical about the horse meat scandal, called The Unspeakable. If I weren’t on the move just now I would dig out a 17th century story in which Scottish children chased and stoned a man known to eat horse meat. (BBC)
  • The FAO reports that the number of horses in the world has dropped by a million every year from 2009–2011, doubtless in response to the recession. The number of donkeys has increased – again, I’m pretty sure that’s down to the recession too. Donkeys make the developing world go round, after all. (Horse Talk NZ)
  • In the wake of the horse meat scandal, Ireland tightened its enforcement of slaughter regulations, with the result that the number of horses entering abattoirs has plummetted. The government is now considering a humane disposal programme for horses that have been treated with bute and other drugs that render them unfit for human consumption. (Irish Times) Meanwhile the UK’s DEFRA will close the loop hole that allowed horses travelling between Ireland, the UK and France to escape a full vet inspection. Racehorses and FEI competitors will still be excused (Horse Talk NZ)
  • In May the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association’s executive committee voted in favour of a bill that would end the use of padded shoes and chains. The board of directors nixed it. Now a member of the executive committee is running an unauthorised poll among members to ask them what they think, and feathers are flying (The Tennessean)
  • Archaeologists in Bulgaria have uncovered a 2,500 year-old Thracian chariot and two horses – the twist? The horses were somehow buried standing (Habitat for Horses)