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 […]

“He had survived.” Ulrich Raulff’s Farewell to the Horse

The horse on the cover of Ulrich Raulff’s impressive new book is soaring, bridleless, riderless and all but headless. It has the fuzziness of distance but also the heft and hairiness of life; it is both figurative and real. In tracing our extended exit from the long 19th century, when horses powered nations and shaped […]

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. […]

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 […]

Haunted by Horses in St Petersburg

Last weekend I travelled to St Petersburg to start research on a new book and I thought I’d share my equestrian shots. I was only in this fascinating, complicated city for two and a half days and did not venture out of the very heart of it but I still found some horse history of […]

Making Fearless Men: A Medieval Riding Lesson

I briefly mentioned King Duarte I of Portugal’s Livro da Ensinança de Bem Cavalgar Toda Sela (The Book on the Instruction of Riding Well in Every Saddle) in The Age of the Horse. It was written in 1434, 82 years before Xenophon’s On Horsemanship was first printed. If you’re used to the narrative in which […]

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 […]