Rapunzel Horses – the hot accessory of Early Modern Europe?

I’ve been reading beautifully illustrated books about horses all my life and in the last twelve years I’ve trawled all sorts of academic articles and image libraries, so it’s always delightful to find an image I’ve never seen before. The Palazzo Pitti in Florence just opened an exhibit called Leopoldo de’ Medici: Prince of the […]

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 […]

Talking Horses: “The Cavalier’s brave warlike horse bids them kiss his arse”

Here’s a gem. This salty poem appeared on a pamphlet during the English Civil War, and it pitches the Royalist Cavaliers against the Cromwellian Roundheads through the medium of a fancy, boastful war horse and a humble mill horse or ass. Some tart words are exchanged between these two, reflecting on the ideologies of opposing […]

Department of Zero Surprises and Some Hope

Tons of low-grade Canadian horse meat were purchased and passed off as halal beef by the Dutch businessman who is now in custody as French authorities investigate the scandal in which horse meat from Romania wound up labelled as ground beef. (The Globe and Mail – and for my background piece on the scandal, Spiegel […]

My Little Pony, 18th Century-Style

It’s always fascinating to see which blog posts garner the most hits – which aspects of horses preoccupy people? One of my “surprise hits” is a slightly snarky post about horses with long manes and tails (often augmented with extensions that have to be stolen from some other horse) – something which has become a […]

Blog Comment Debates on Horsecare, 1600s-style

The copies of books that survive in our libraries show passages underlined, and agreement or disagreement signified in marginal comments: one reader of The Compleat Horseman and Expert Farrier (1639) by Thomas de Gray, esquire, so strongly disapproved of its advice that he crossed out “esquire”, and deleted the prefix “ex” in the book’s title […]

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

An Irish Draught called Rupert performs on stage at the Royal Opera House in London (simplymarvelous) Elizabeth I’s sidesaddle came up for auction in England. (Sidesaddle Girl) A British farmer working a 265-acre farm with a team of Percherons (simplymarvelous) Facebook is hot on the heels of a self-styled record breaker in the US who […]

Bring on the Dancing Horses

And from a pas de cheval to a ballet à cheval: this is music composed and performed for a grand pageant to celebrate the marriage of King Louis XIII of France to Anne of Austria in 1615. At 5.33 is, I think, music composed for the first formal “ballet à cheval” – the predecessor to […]

Why a Bidet is a Horse

  The Association pour l’Academie d’Art Equestre de Versailles produces big, beautifully presented books on the history of horses and horsemanship, stuffed with essays by academics and carefully researched illustrations. Browsing through one of them, A Cheval!, I discovered an essay by Jacqus Mulliez on bidets. Yes, bidets. Bidets.     Bidets – the old […]

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 […]