The Emininently Recyclable Horse

 

screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-16-00-55

From Internet Archive’s scan of The Anatomy and Physiology of the Horse (1863) via Wiki Commons

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 horses’ bodies. Here is a brief, morbid and often suprising list of them, from armour to face lifts.

Hide

As shelters in the eighteenth century by the Puelche and Pehuenche of Argentina and Chile. (Horse Nations: The worldwide impact of the horse on indigenous societies post-1492, by Peter Mitchell, 2015, p281)

The skin from colts’ and mares’ lower legs were used to make gauchos’ “bota de potro” footwear. (Mitchell, 2015, p282)

Drumheads; Blackfoot Indians, (The Role of the Horse in Man’s Culture, by Harold B Barclay, 1980, p177)

Leather for covering large boardroom and office tables (Waste Products and Undeveloped Substances: Or, Hints for Enterprise in Neglected Fields by Peter Lund Simmonds, 1862, p364)

“Leather guards on [German] cavalry trousers”, carriage roofs or whip lashes. (The Horse-World of London by W J Gordon, 1893, p187)

Shoe leather or “porpoise hide”  (“Horse Meat for Food” by Frank G Carpenter, The National Tribune, 19 January 1893, p9)

Saddles and boot tops (twentieth century America)

For making braided reins, bridles, girths, cruppers and whips in Kazakhstan. (Barclay, 1980, p319)

Bags and shoe soles in Mongolia (Barclay, 1980, p302)

Cordovan leather, shield and buckler parts, coat worn under armour, harness (Barclay, 1980, p133)

Fat

Distilled for use in lamps, etc. (Waste Products and Undeveloped Substances: Or, Hints for Enterprise in Neglected Fields by Peter Lund Simmonds, 1862, p364)

In skin care products in South Korea (Shark, 2017).

Intestines

Sausage skins, gut strings (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

Bones

Grease and bones burned for fuel on the Pampas in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. (Barclay, 1980, p187)

“Lucifer matches” (Simmonds, 1862, p340)

Knife handles, phosphorus, super-phosphate of lime (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

Oil for candlemaking, leather dressing and lubricating. (Gordon, 1893, p186)

Ground and mixed with sulphuric acid for fertiliser, or simply ground into bone meal for manure making. (Gordon, 1893, p186)

Button-making (Gordon, 1893, p186)

Ribs and scapulae for smoothing clay pots, cannon bones for spear heads, jawbones to scrape leather thongs, pastern bones to make ornaments. (Copper Age Botai culture, Kazakhstan)

Teeth

As necklaces by some Native American groups, (Barclay, 1980, p177)

Tendons

Glue and gelatine (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

“Nithya” – a botox-like cosmetic treatment that stimulates the cells that produce collagen.

Hair of Mane, Tail

Tapestry making, girths, ropes, fetters, collars for horses and cattle, shoe covers, rain hats and fishing nets in Buryatia, Siberia.

Hair-cloth, mattress stuffing, woven into bags for crushing seed in oil mills (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

Furniture stuffing, fishing lines. (Gordon, 1893, p187)

Plaited to make ropes, nets, lassoes and fly whisks by the Yakut of Siberia, who also use it for decorative work and stuffing saddles. (Barclay, 1980, p327)

Tipi decorations among some Native American groups (Barclay, 1980, p177)

Clothing or harness decoration by some Native American groups, (Barclay, 1980, p177)

The shirts of penitents (Barclay, 1980, p133)

Mixed with rubber to create “hairloch”, which was used as padding for the equipment dropped into Occupied France for use by the Special Operations Executive in World War Two (The Women who Lived for Danger, Marcus Binney, 2002, p26)

As crests for helmets (Ancient Greece, Persia) and on war standards carried by the Mongolian Army.

For bows for violins, cellos, double basses, violas and other stringed instruments (fascinating facts to be found here) including the Mongolian morin khuur or horse-head fiddle.

Callouses/Chestnuts (?)

Used in perfume making by the Blackfoot (Barclay, 1980, p177)

Flesh

Boiled for men, dogs and poultry (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

Cat and dog meat (Gordon, 1893, p187)

Fed to animals on fur farms (Horse meat for fur farms: its chemical composition by Sedgwick E Smith, Washington, Department of the Interior, 1940)

Fed to zoo animals in Central Park (The Daily Yellowstone Journal, 2nd December 1887, p1)

Fed to hunting hounds (UK)

Fed to pigs raised at knackers yards and sold for commercial pork-pie making in the UK (Among Horses in Russia by Captain M H Hayes, 1900)

Hoofs

Trimmings turned into funeral wreaths (Luc Sante’s The Other Paris); bright blue dye (Simmonds, 1862, p340)

Gelatine, prussiate, “fancy snuff boxes” (Simmonds, 1862, p364)

Glue, blue-maker manufacture (Gordon, 1893, p186)

As pendants by some Native American groups, (Barclay, 1980, p177)

Armour – “These mares [the Sarmatians use] not only use for war, but also sacrifice them to the local gods and eat them for food. Their hoofs they collect, clean, split, and make from them as it were python scales. . . . These pieces they bore and stitch together with the sinews of horses and oxen, and then use them as breastplates that are as handsome and strong as those of the Greeks. For they can withstand blows of missiles and those struck in close combat.” (Description of Greece, Pausanias, translated by W H S Jones)

Blood

Button manufacture; albumen extracted and used for making photographs  (Carpenter, 1893, p9)

Dung

For making cores/loose internal parts of casting moulds in foundries “in some foreign countries” (Simmonds, 1862, p368)

Collected, moulded into cakes for fuel and sold (China) (Simmonds, 1862, p369)

To insulate roofs (Copper Age Botai culture, Kazakhstan)

Urine

For making PreMarin, a hormone used to allay menopause symptoms and in feminizing hormone therapy for transwomen.

Boiled to preserve seeds, in a mythical Chinese pharmacopoeia.

Bezoar (a solid mass that forms in the digestive tract of some animals)

“It has the medicinal properties of settling fright and resolving phlegm, clearing heat and dispelling poisons. It is used to treat internal proliferation of phlegm-heat, manic depression (diankuang) and fright epilepsy (jingxian), malign poisons, ulcers and swellings, disturbances of consciousness, etc.” (Bencao gangmu, a Chinese Systematic Materia Medica by Li Shizhen, 1590)

Horse-shoes

Shipped to China, straightened and sharpened into razors (Carpenter, 1893, p9)

Horse-shoe Nails

“Horse-shoe nails, kicked about the world by horses innumerable, are not the useless fragments we might naturally deem them. Gun-makers tell us that no iron is so well fitted for their purpose as that which is derived from horse-shoe nails and similar worn fragments. The nails are, in the first instance, made of good sound iron, and the violent concussions they receive when a horse is walking over a stony road, give a peculiar annealing and toughnening to the metal, highly beneficial to its subsequent use for gun-barrels” (Simmonds, 1862, p418)

Body

If you’ve had your horse cremated, the cremains can be transformed into diamonds or glass jewellery as a keepsake.

Alternatively, the horse can be allowed to break down into compost.

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

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 11.46.14Here’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 sides in the war, and on class and the fate of equines in general. I copied it from a microfiche in Cambridge University Library that was not always legible, so my apologies for the omissions or errors. The spelling is also “authentic”, but reading it is rewarding, I promise!

A Dialogue Betwixt a Horse of warre and a millhorse
wherein the content and safety of an humble and painfull life, is preferred above all the Noyse, the Tumult, and Trophies of the Warre.

Full of harmeless Mirth, and variety

London, printed Bernard Alsop, published according to order, 1645

A discourse between the Cavalliers Warre-Horse and the Country-mans Mill-Horse

Cavalier’s horse:
Well met old Mill-Horse or indeed an Asse,
I must instruct thee before we doe passe
How to live bravely; look on me and view
My Bridle and my Saddle faire and new;
Warre doth exalt me, and by it I get
Honour, while that my picture is forth set
Cut out in Brasse, while on my back I beare
Some Noble Earle or valiant Cavallier.
Come therefore to the Wars, and doe not still
Subject thyself to beare Sacks to the Mill.

Mill horse:
Despise me not thou Cavallier War-horse
For though to live I take an idle course
Yet for the common-wealth I alwayes stand;
and am imploy’d for it, though I’m nam’d
A Mill-Horse, I am free and seem not under
Malignants that doe townes and houses plunder,
Transported on thy back, while thou must be
Halfe guilty of their wrong, and injurie
Done to their country, while without just cause,
Thought fightest for the King against the Lawess
Against religion, parliament and all
and leave the Pope and Bishops down would fall
Thou art expos’d to battle but no thanks
thou hast at all when thou dost break the Ranks
of our stout Musketiers, whose bullets flye
In showeres, as in the fight at Newbery,
And force thee to retreat with wounds or lame,
is this the glory of thy halting fame
Whereof thou dost so bragge? … [illegible] thy fault
of fighting for them who have alwayes fought
Against the common-wealth, is such a sin
That both stick closer to thee than thy skin
What though upon my back I carry sacks;
Thy meat is plundered out of barns and stacks
While thou dost feed on stolen oates and hay
the wronged farmers curse the strength away
of all thy Diet, often inviting that
diseases may consume they ill-got fat,
therefore recant and never more appeare
in field a Champion for the Cavallier;
Let not his Spurre nor false fame prick thee on
to fight in unjust warres as thou hast done.

Cav. horse:
Fame is not what I aime at, but the knowne
Right of the King, the trumpet that is blowne
Into the Battell doth not give me more
Courage, than what I had in him before,
As if we did partake of more then sense
and farre exceeded man’s intelligence,
In Hooping unto Kings, and doe prove thus
Ourselves descended from Bucephalus,
That Horse who did no loyall duty lack
But kneeling downe received on his back
Great Alexander, while men kick and fling
Against the power of so good a King
As time has blest us with, O let this force
A change in thee who art dull Mill-horse.
Thou art no Papist being without merit,
Nor zealous Brownist, for thou dost want spirit.
But with a Halter ty’d to block or pale,
… [illegible] pennance, while they master drinks his Ale
In some poore Village; such a poore thing art thou
Who Gentry scorne, beare till thy ribs doe bow
Burthens of corne or meale, while that Kings are
My Royall Masters both in Peace and Warre.

Mill-horse:
Boast not of happy fortune, since time brings
a change to setled states and greatest Kings,
England was happy; peace and plenty too
Did make their rich abode here, but now view
the alteration, warre hath brought in twos [?]
and sad destruction both this land o’flow;
Now thou art proud, but if this Warre in peace
Should end, they high ambition would then cease;
Thy strength and courage would find no regard,
Thy plundering service would get no reward,
Although in warre thou trample downe and kill
Thy foe, in age thou shalt beare sacks to mill
As i doe now, and when thy skinne is grizzle
… [illegible] underneath thy burthen, fart and fizzle
… [illegible] an old horse, a souldier of the kings
‘All imploy’d valour sad repentence brings,
when thou art lame, and wounded in a fight
not knowing whether thou dost wrong or right,
or what is the true ground of this sad warre
Where king and subjects both ingaged are;
both doe pretend the justnesse of their cause
One for Religion, Liberty and Lawes;
Doth stand, while that the king doth strive again
his right and due prerogative to maintaine;
the king keeps close to this, while subjects be
Growne mad to eclipse the sonne of Majestie
by enterpoling differences; how canst though judge
Where the fault is? both at each other’s grudge,
I know that this discourse is farre too high
For us, yet now to talke of Majesty;
In boldest manner is a common thing
While every cobler will condemn a king,
And to be politick in their discourse
Yet know no more then I a poor MIll-Horse;
Who for the common-wealth doe stand and goe
Would every common-wealth man doe so.

Cav. horse:
Mill horse in this thy space and speech agree
Both wanting spirit dull and tedious bee;
The King and commonwealth are vexed the ames
writ on by many; prathee think on Beanes
And Oates well ground, what need hast thou to care
How the deplored common-wealth doth fare;
for policy this rule in mind doth keep,
‘Laugh when thou hast made others grieve and weep,
what care we how the State of things doe goe?
‘While thou art well, let others feel the woe.
If I have store of provender I care not,
Let cavaliers still plunder on and spare not,
When Ockingham [?] was burned I stood by
and like rich widdowes wept at ne’re an eye;
When the town burnt a fellow said in leather
‘He loved to see a good fire in cold weather;
and with the simple clowne I doe stay still,
‘If I do well I care not who doth ill;
For with the Cavalliers I keep one course,
And I have no more Religion then a Horse.
I care not for Liberty nor Lawes,
Nor priviledge of Subjects, nor the cause,
Let us stand well affected to good Oates,
While that the ship of State and Kingdom floates
on bloody waves, the staved rack shall be
Crammed with hay, a common-wealth to me.

Mill horse:
I pity thee thou great war horse
As thou art like Cavalliers without remorse;
The sad affliction which the kingdom feeles
Regarding not thou casts it at thy heeles;
And so doth prove that horses have no brains,
Or if they have they little wit containe.
Into the kingdomes tale thy prick eares lend
A whole griefe I will describe, and right defend.

Cav-horse:
Though defend right, thy right to the high way
is lost, as sure as thou dost live by hey,
In telling of a tale without all doubt
Thou needs must be humble, and wilt soon run out
of breath and sense, good Mill-horse, therefore prethee
Leave tales, there are too many tales already,
That weekly flye with more lies without faile
Then there be haires on a horses taile;
And if the writers angry be I wish,
You would the Cavalliers horse arse both kisse,
Not as the Miller thy back doth kisse with whip,
But as a lover doth his mistresse lip;
For know the Cavalliers brave warlick [sic] horse
Scornes vulgar jades, and bid them kisse his arse.

Mill horse:
Thou pampered Jade that liv’st by plundered oates
My skin’s as good as thine and worth ten groates,
Though slow of foot, I come of good kind,
of Racers, gotten by the boistrous wind
… [illegible] when the mare turned her back-side in the mouth
of Boreas, being northerne breed not South
The Miller’s horse before the warres began,
Would take the way of Lords and Gentleman;
And when peace shall malignants keep in aw,
I shall see thee in coach or dung cart draw.

Cav-horse:
I scorne thy motion, after this sad Warre,
Perhaps I may draw in some Coach or Carre,
and which doth grieve me, Cavaliers most high-born
I may be forced to draw on to Tiburne:
In time of Peace I serve for Triumphs, more then that
I shall be made a Bishop, and grow fat,
As Archey said ‘When bishops rul’d t’was worse,
that had no more religion than a horse.’
But thou shalte weare thy selfe out, and be stil
an everlasting drudge unto some Mill.

Mill-horse:
No matter, I will spend my life and health,
Both for my country and the common-wealth,
And it is Prince-like (if well understood)
to be ill-spoken off for doing good,
and if a horse may … [illegible] his good intent
some asses raile thus at parliament
scorn is a burthen laid on good men still,
which they must beare, as I do sackes to the mill:
But thou delighteth to hear trumpets rattle
and animal rushing into lawlesse battle;
If thou couldst think of thoe who are slain and dead,
they skin would blush, and all thy … [illegible] red
with blood of men, but I do with for peace,
on that condition Dogs may eat thy flesh.
then should the Mill-horse meat both fetch and bring,
Towns brew good Ale, and drink healths to the king.

Cav-horse:
Base Mill-horse have I broke my bridle, where
I was tyed by my master Cavaliere
To come and prattle with thee, and doest thou
wish dogs might eat my flesh? I scorn thee now?
My angry sense a great desire not feeles,
to kick thee into manners with my heeles.
But for the present I will curb my will,
If thou wilt tell me some newes from the mill.

Mill-horse:
If thou wilt tell me newes from camp and court,
I’ll tell the Mill-newes that shall make thee sport.

Cav-horse:
If country news thou wilt relate and shew me,
Halters of love shall binde me fast unto thee.

Mill-horse:
It chancced that I carried a young Maid
to Mill, and was to stumble much afraid,
she rid in handsome manner on my back,
and seem’d more heavie then the long meale sacke
on which the fate, when she alighted, I
perceive’d her belly was grown plump and high;
I carried many others and all were
Gotten with childe still by the Cavaleer [sic],
so that this newes for truth I may set downe,
there’s scarce a Mayd left in a market towne;
A woman old with … [illegible] on her chin,
did tell the miller she had plundered been
thrice by the Cavaliers, and they had taken
her featherbeds, her brass, and all her bacon
and eke [?] her daughter Bridget that should wed
Clodsforms, was plundered of her maidenhead,
besides I heare your Cavaliers does still,
Drinke sacke like water that runs from the mill;
we heare of Irish Rebels comming over,
which was a plot that I dare not discover,
and that malignant Army of the king,
Into this land blinde Popery would bring.

Cav-horse:
Peace, peace, I see thou dost know nothing now,
They fleering jests I cannot well allow;
and there are Mercuries abroad that will,
tell better news then a horse of the Mill;
But I will answer thee, and tell thee thus,
thou lyest as bad as ere did Aulicus.
Who thought he write Court-newes I’ll tell you what,
he’ll lye as fast as both of us can trot.
You tell of Maydens that have been beguild,
and by the Cavaleers [sic] are got with childe,
and hast not thou when thou wast fat and idle,
often times broke thy halter and thy bridle,
and rambled over hedge and ditch to come,
unto some Mare, whom thou hast quickly wonne
to thy desire, and leapt her in the place,
of dull Mill-horses to beget a race;
while that the Cavaliers when they do fall
to worke, will get a race of soldiers all.
It had been newes whereat I would have smilde,
If the maids had got the Cavalliers with childe.

Mill-horse:
I ramble over hedge, thou meanst indeed [?]
The Cavaliers, who were compelt, with speed
both over hedge and ditch away to flee
when they were lately beat at Newbery,
the proverb to be true is prov’d by thee
that servants like unto their masters bee;
those plundering … [illegible] on thy back doe ride,
have fill o’thee with a pamper’d spirit of pride,
and hath eaten too much Popish Dates [?]
That in thy belly thou hast got three Popes;
the great grandfather of that race did come
that bore [?] Pope Joane in triumph through Rome
I heare to Mill of corne a plump long sack,
thou carriest a great Pluto upon thy back,
… [illegible] Cavallier and who can then abide thee,
when that malignant fooles and knaves do ride thee
from town to town and plunder where they come,
the country is by Cavlliers undone.
and these thy matters are, who fight and kill
and seek the blood of the protestants to spill;
for thus the newes abroad doth alwayes runne,
that the kings forces are in horse most strong
whereby it doth appeare the … [illegible] War-horse are
guilty of blood-shed, in this cruell wars
and yet the Cavalliers horse I heare
at Kenton Field beshit themselves for feare.
and the Cavalliers being kill’d, they run about
the field to seek another master out,
therefore love war, and have of wounds thy fill,
while I in peace doe walk unto the mill;
I will be alwayes true unto my selfs
and love the kingdome and the Common-wealth.

Cav-horse:
Mill-horse, because thou shewst thy railing wits,
I’ll give thee a round answer with some kicks,
which I’ll bestow upon thee, but I’m … [illegible] done,
Yonder my Cavallier doth come
to fetch me back, and Yonder too I see
the miller comming for to take up thee
if thou lik’st not my discourse very well,
Mill-horse take up my taile, and so farwell.”

Department of Zero Surprises and Some Hope

Illustration from Nutztierhaltung & Tiermedizin & Pferd by Georg Simon Winter, 1678 via Wikimedia Commons.

Illustration from Nutztierhaltung & Tiermedizin & Pferd by Georg Simon Winter, 1678 via Wikimedia Commons.

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 Online.)

Yesterday the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) announced bold steps designed to improve endurance horse welfare, proposing unprecedented athlete penalties for equine injuries, extended rest periods, and increased accountability.

(TheHorse.com)

 

 

My Little Pony, 18th Century-Style

Photo: Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia Commons

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 bit of a trend in recent years. It turns out that there’s history to this phenomenon. Firstly, here are some 19th-century tall tales about herds of My Little Pony-esque steeds roaming Oregon, and the few specimens that were exhibited to the public, seen here in a nicely researched piece. And now a wander through Wikimedia Commons brought me to this 17th or 18th century painting captured by Andreas Praefcke at, I think, Burg Waldburg, Germany. If anyone knows any more about this prancer, do get in touch. The rock in the foreground seems to be saying this horse was known as the Swan of Arnstadt, a town in Thüringia.

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 to make it read The Compleat Horseman and Pert Farrier. “Oh the cretin”, he wrote in the margin.

Joan Thirsk, Horses in Early Modern England, For Service, For Pleasure, For Power (1978)

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

1967 Yemeni stamp, c.o WikiCommons.

  • 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 is “riding around the world” but seems to have already broken two horses doing it (Star Telegram)
  • Recycling racehorses at Suffolk Downs (Boston.com)
  • Canada and Mexico say no to slaughtering US horses. All I can say about this is MORE ANON (Fugly Horse of the Day)
  • Living with an equine comedian (TheHorse.com)

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 today’s modern kur. Cue drums!