A Mule’s Life in the Trenches – with Whisky Chaser

Tommy’s Ark is a collection of first-person accounts of animal life in the trenches of the Western Front, compiled and elegantly edited by Richard Van Emden. This story is from Captain Charles McKerrow, an RAMC attending the tenth Northumberland Fusiliers in 1916. A very funny thing happened yesterday. One of our transport mules turned up […]

Steed Poll: Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon & Anne Boleyn

Steed Poll is an irregular series of brief blog posts about the mounts of famous figures – horses, ponies, donkeys, mules and even zebras who have strayed into texts and been preserved in some small way for history. Presents continued to come from the Emperor in Spain to signify his serious intentions: two mules with […]

From the Sea to the Somme

Thank you to Andy Smerdon for getting in touch with me about his project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities in 1914. Andy’s an amateur historian with a special interest in the use of equines – hosses and mules – in World War One. With his Tennessee Walking Horse Mack and […]

Women, Horses and World War One

(Look on this as a kind of missing chapter from If Wishes Were Horses.) Part two of this post will be available here from 2nd June 2014. When I wrote If Wishes Were Horses I tried to take the story of girls and ponies from Lascaux to My Little Pony as neatly as I could. […]

If Wishes Were Horses: Diminutive Dianas

Here’s some Pathé footage of the International Horse Show at Olympia in 1920 (spot the hydrangeas and the standard lamp shades!), the King’s Gold Cup in 1921,  opening day in 1922 (plus side-saddle) and a little showjumping. You can just make out the backdrop of Lowther Castle in this film from 1923. And this – […]

Doping Horses

PHOENIX — Found tottering alone in the desert with their ribs visible and their heads hung low, horses play a backbreaking, unappreciated role in the multibillion-dollar drug smuggling industry. Mexican traffickers strap heavy bales of marijuana or other illegal drugs to the horses’ backs and march them north through mountain passes and across rough desert […]

War Horses in Paradise

The Pakistani Army’s 10,000 acre stud farm at Mona produces donkeys, mules, Arabs and Thoroughbreds for use in the forces. They also keep Suffolk Punches both for their own sake and as parents of particularly sturdy mules – thus maintaining a pocket of the rare breed. I love the mule training at the end of […]

Mourning His Lost Stones

“The wind breathed up the long hillside; remote clouds passed evenly across the sky. Now and then Jack’s big hunter brought his ears to bear; this was a recent purchase, a strongly-built bay, quite up to Jack’s sixteen stone. But it did not much care for hunting, and then like so many geldings it spent […]

Round Up

Rodeo mules in San Antonio swan dive into water tanks to entertain the paying public. “What’s wrong with a mule diving into a cold pool on a hot day?” asks their trainer. Where to start? A starved, dying horse is dumped in an LA street. Police question locals to find the owners. NFL player Jared […]