The Emininently Recyclable Horse

  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 […]

Equitation Tips from Medieval Germany

Thank you to Justin E H Smith for his translation of this “Blessing for Horses,” a twelfth-century German poem included in the Codex Manesse. A man went his way · dragging his steed · There my lord met him · With all of his men · How · is it going · man? Why aren’t […]

A (Not So) Short History of Women Riding Astride

I enjoyed talking about the history of sidesaddle on Countryfile – it was my first experience of TV and everyone was incredibly friendly and easygoing. We did a few takes of different parts of the interview and it was hard to know whether to embellish what I’d said each time or to say the same […]

If Wishes Were Horses: Ladies

The Taymouth Hours: the ladies set out on horseback, and begin to gallop and hunt a deer. And catch it. 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. […]

Polo Week: Love on the Polo Field

The Khamsa is made up of five narrative poems by the twelfth-century Persian poet Nizami, including the story of the lovers Shirin (an Armenian princess) and Khosrow (a Sassanian king), who meet playing polo. Of course, it all ends tragically, but the Armenian ladies’ team make a great entrance onto the pitch: “Seventy maidens like […]

Polo Week: The Imperial Polo Ritual

An account of a polo ritual in China under the Sung dynasty (960 – 1279 aD). The somewhat reserved and “civilised” Sung dynasty followed the T’ang dynasty, which was far more keen on actually playing polo. “The emperor arrived on horseback. … A eunuch opened a golden box, took out the vermillion-painted ball, and threw […]