From Taboo to “Ecoterrorism” – Horsemeat’s Troubled Political History in America

I’ve written something for The Atlantic‘s Object Lessons blog on the long (if potted!) history of horsemeat in America. A much fuller account is on offer in The Age of the Horse! During World War II food shortages, horse meat once again found its way to American tables, but the post-war backlash was rapid. “Horse […]

The Flesh of Foals

When the 2013 horsemeat scandal broke I was surprised and then realised I had nothing to be surprised about. By that stage I’d been researching the history of horsemeat on and off for seven years for The Age of the Horse, and I’d noticed a pattern going back centuries both to these episodes and to […]

Horse vs Tractor

It’s 1943 and a ploughing match is taking place in Northumberland. A lot of horses did find themselves back in work during the Second World War as they saved scarce fuel resources. However, the fodder available was inadequate, and the thinner horses needed smaller collars than they’d squeezed into in peacetime.

British Cavalry in North Africa in 1940?

According to Getty, this is a British cavalry charge in North Africa, c. 1940. I can’t find any reference to the British having cavalry there at that time, so if anyone knows the story behind this picture I’d love to know more. I can only find a mention of the last Household Cavalry mounted expedition, […]

Packhorses Pack Up Their Troubles for a Roll

Pack horses never know glamour – aside from the famous Staff Sergeant Reckless, they seldom have names that go down in history, and yet they have been essential not just in times of war, but also times of peace. Anyway, here are some British Army packhorses (and their keepers) having fun in the snows of […]

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 […]

Working with Giants

The British railways system still had 9,000 working horses in 1948. This unedited footage is from 1949, and seems to be a story about a flu outbreak at a railway stable: Camden Town Goods Depot. It brings home all the skilled work involved in horse power – the rug mending, the farriery, the vet, the […]

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: Young Riders

Ponymadbooklovers have a good information page on Golden Gorse, as does Jane Badger. The only pony I ever got to Christmas was an Exmoor “adopted” from the Moorland Mousie Trust in Devon, who work to preserve what is now sadly a rare breed. They have commissioned a hardback re-issue of the novel, complete with original […]