A Street Filled with 102 Horses

  From Tom Crewe’s review of A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion and the Bensons in Victorian Britain in the London Review of Books: “At 11am on 22 November 1827 Francis Place, the reformer and radical, stuck his head out of his bedroom window in Charing Cross and put down on paper the activity […]

World War Two Cavalry Training – and Jackal Hunting in Palestine

In January I posted this shot from Getty’s archive that claimed to show the British cavalry in action in North Africa in 1940. I knew the last British Army cavalry charge happened in Burma in 1942 and that the Queen’s Own Yorkshire Dragoons fought on horseback in Syria in 1941 but this was a mystery. […]

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.

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 […]

Sparky the Pit Pony’s Days in the Sun

The last working horses at a colliery in Britain retired – astonishingly – in 1999. Here’s a story from The Mirror about one of the other “last pit ponies”, Sparky: Since his retirement in 1988, Sparky has been taking it easy at the National Coal Mining Museum and has been looked after by Wendy and […]

Horses in the Wings

The theatrical and circus historian A H Saxon is the don of hippodrama history. I bought an old library copy of his Enter Foot and Horse when I was working on The Age of the Horse because I knew it would be the key to nineteenth-century equestrian theatre. I wasn’t disappointed. Hippodramas were, to quote […]