If Wishes Were Horses: Hunters and Amazons

The Ukok Plateau, uploaded by Kobsev at Wikipedia.ru

Here’s the Robin Hood Cave horse carving, safely at the British Museum.

I drew heavily on the work of a husband and wife archaeology team for the section on the early domestication of the horse: you can find out about David W Anthony and Dorcas Brown’s Institute for Ancient Equestrian Studies here. You can find more about the fascinating experiments they’ve done to establish that bits were used on Bronze Age horses.

Here’s a transcript of a PBS documentary about the Pazyryk priestess, and a photograph of her remains. Click through here to see some of the St Petersburg Hermitage’s collection of Pazyryk artifacts, including some incredible tattoos (the ice priestess’s most distinctive tatt is here, along with a modern interpretation. Yes, I’m tempted!). UPDATE: more detailed photos and a reconstruction here.

A year after I finished writing the book, Saudi Arabian archaeologists announced that they had found proof of far earlier horse domestication in the Arabian penninsula. There’s a long article on the subject at HorseTalk. Interestingly, they claim they have the one piece of evidence that the Botai researchers lack: what appear to be artistic representations of humans riding horses. They also claim that the artwork shows a distinctly “Arabian” horse.

The woman mentioned at the very end of the chapter was buried at Wetwang in east Yorkshire, and the British Museum has both some of the objects from her grave (including the hand mirror found behind her knees) and a reconstruction of her chariot here.

This post relates to a chapter of the book If Wishes Were Horses: A Memoir of an Equine Obsession. If you have any questions to ask about the content, please fire away in the comments. The main online index for the book is here.

The Further Adventures of the Littlest White Pony

Wales Online has snagged an exclusive interview with Joe Purcell and his white Welshie Ruby, aka the Train Pony.

And the 68-year-old said pregnant section A pony Ruby would have been as “good as gold” on the Wrexham to Holyhead train from which they were both turned away last Saturday.

He said: “Ruby’s bomb proof. Kids can lie down underneath her. She wouldn’t walk on them and she wouldn’t bite them because she loves kids.

“She’s a little Welsh lady who would have been 100% on the train. I’ve raised cattle and horses all my life like my father and grandfather before me.

“I told the conductor she was my guide. People have guide dogs – why can’t they have guide ponies?

“But I was drunk at the time – I was on the top shelf. …

He caught a train between High Wycombe and Wolverhampton in 2006 with a traveller-bred, 15-hands high horse named Queenie.”

Later he and Ruby went for a kebab.

Can You Hold Out Till Christmas?

Jane Badger has a preview of her new stock of pony books here, with scans of covers, including Veronica Westlake’s Ten Pound Pony (price, not weight) and Dream Pony by J S Goodall. I’m intrigued by the latter, which has, Jane says, “a gypsy girl heroine, rather than a gypsy out to steal your pony.” Also up for grabs, a Pat Smythe title – Florian’s Farmyard – and a Daphne Machin Goodall history of horse breeding.