#NationalNonprofitDay

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   Today is ! Did you know the EHC is a registered non-profit? We incorporated earlier this year in California in order to better support equine history scholarship. You can find our listing with the California Secretary of State here and our California Charity Registration here. This month we applied for Federal status.

   If you’d like to support the EHC’s goals, there are t-shirts currently available, and we also welcome direct donations. We welcome all with an interest in equine history. Questions, suggestions, or have a project we can help with? Let us know!

 

Board of Directors 2018-2020
Katrin Boniface

Janice Gunther Martin
Kathryn Renton

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#MemberMonday: Alexandre Blaineau

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Alexandre Blaineau

PhD European University of Brittany,
Greek History

What got you in to history ?
   I am interested on the civilizations of the Mediterranean sea, especially the Greek civilization, whose ways of thinking and culture are powerful elements of reflection.


In to equine history ?
   I started working on Xenophon before becoming interested in equine history. Then, the two equestrian treatises of the Athenian author were the object of my interest. My PhD was about horses and riders in Xenophon’s works. Equine history is a vast field of study because it deals with the history of technology, social history, economic history, social history, cultural history… I am convinced that we must work in interdisciplinarity to better understand horses as “actors” of history.

Who is your favorite historical horse ?
Bucephalus ! [A popular answer! Kat Boniface & Chelsea Shields-Más answered likewise]

What are you working on right now ?
I’m working on centaurs, and also the reception of Xenophon.

Furusiyya, or Horsemanship Literature Interview with Hylke Hettema

It’s #ShelfieSunday! Read the Marsh Tacky Blog‘s interview with EHC’s own Hylke Hettema, on Arabic horsemanship literature.

Marsh Tacky Tales

Hylke Hettema, is a Phd. candidate at Leiden University, Netherlands. Her main focus of study is the connection between the horse and Arab identity. Her research includes translating Arabic, studying 19th century texts and art related to the Arabian horse. Hettema explains, Exploring the narratives based on both Western and Eastern memories throughout history will lead to a better understanding of the situation in which the concept of a desert horse came to life.”

36312805_1802714936432141_33157740230606848_n She is currently presenting at the World Conference for Middle Eastern Studies 2018 (WOCMES 2018) conference at the University of Seville, Spain. Check out her blog Remembering a Desert Horse. Hettema will also be presenting at Equine History Collective  (EHC) in November 2018.

Hettema notes that it is commonly held that early furūsiyya literature  (horsemanship literature) is the record of a pre-Islamic horse culture. Those medieval Arabic works on horses have been the base…

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#MemberMonday: #EqHist2018 Keynote Richard Nash

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We are pleased to announce our keynote speaker for Equine History 2018, Dr. Richard Nash. His work likely needs no introduction, including “‘Honest English Breed:’ The Thoroughbred as Cultural Metaphor,”  in The Culture of the Horse: Status, Discipline, and Identity in the Early Modern World, one of the works that reinvigorated the field of equine history.

PhD, University of Virginia, English

What got you into history, and into equine history?

   I have only worked two places in my life: the university and the racetrack; my parents were both English professors who met in their first year of teaching at the University of Louisville at a New Faculty mixer at Churchill Downs.  As my webpage indicates, my developing interest in theorizing nature-culture hybridity as integral to understanding “modernity” directed my attention to combining my two lifelong interests by studying the role of the creation of the thoroughbred horse in early modern culture.  That project, once began, kept proliferating and generating more avenues for exploration, which I imagine I will continue to pursue for some time to come.

Who is your favorite historical horse?

   I am sure many will agree with me that this is an almost impossible question to answer; there are simply too many possibilities for different reasons, and my mood fluctuates too much, for me to ever settle on just one.  I will say that we tend to think of “historical” in terms of the distant past, but it also extends right up to the present.  More than any horse in my lifetime, American Pharoah arrested my attention every time he AmericanPharoah_AE-Lmoved.   No matter what I was doing, if someone sent me a video clip of him galloping– not even racing or working, but just galloping– I would stop what I was doing to watch it immediately, because he hit the ground so perfectly when he ran.  That sheer aesthetic pleasure in pure animal physicality is an important part of how humans admire horses.  But my historical work is grounded in the era of the foundations of the thoroughbred and of the sport; and my interest as a historian, has always been in recovering significant figures too long neglected by history.  I have several of those who I work on, in various ways, but let me mention two in particular. A horse named Buckhunter, but most often referred to as the Carlisle gelding ,was arguably the first important gelding as a racehorse.  Obviously, he left no lasting mark on the breed, but early in his career, he won important races at York; and while he changed hands frequently, working his way down the ladder of competition, he continued winning when placed at the proper level for nearly a dozen years, finally breaking down in his final start, and being buried entire,* near where he died.  In many ways, he set the type for an important– and difficult– part of the sport.  Arguably, the most important horse to the bloodlines of the modern thoroughbred is a mare named Old Bald Peg.  While her importance has been known for some time in at least a statistical way– if one follows both sides of the pedigree, not just sire lines, no name shows up more often in a foundational role– some of my recent research is directing me to an argument that the breeding program developed around her by Lord Fairfax was also profoundly influential on those near neighbors of his in North Yorkshire who established the protocols for developing the thoroughbred.  So, now I have managed to name an intact male, a gelding, and a mare, so I will stop here.  Though I could go on forever.

What are you working on right now?

   My primary contribution to The Heath and The Horse was to tell the story of the early years of the Jockey Club, which had long (mistakenly) been thought to have been created Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 9.36.36 AMin 1751.  My work shows that the Club was founded in association with King George’s visit to Newmarket in 1717, and the events that followed from that– one way or another, we can say that we have just witnessed the 300th anniversary of the Jockey Club. That work is, itself, part of a larger story that I am working on about the intertwining of horse racing with cultural and political history in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries; while there will be some discussion of preludes and codas, the heart of my narrative focuses on roughly the 100 years between the Restoration of Charles II and the death of the Duke of Cumberland and the breeding of Eclipse a century later.  The piece of that project that currently engages my attention is the important era– for both horse racing and national politics– between the last years of the reign of Charles II and the succession of Queen Anne; and the process by which certain racing courtiers active in the sport during the reign of Charles negotiated the establishment of parliamentary monarchy, and how horse racing served a purpose of political theater in that process that would serve as a prototype for the founding of the Jockey Club by their immediate descendants.

Where do you see the field going?

   This question takes me back up to those theoretical questions where my project began: how do we think about modernity in relation to the question of nature and culture? How is such a set of theoretical questions necessary to re-thinking the anthropocentric stories of human history told by modernity, in order to develop better, more ecologically attuned historical narratives that see humans involved with other animals in a common history.  If the world we live in is not here for us, but rather includes us within it, then any proper historical understanding of how we came to occupy our current place in this ecology requires us to attend to more than just human actors. I think the future of the field is in contributing to a much larger transformation of thought, as we begin to learn how to think ecologically instead of anthropocentrically.

*This was a huge honor! See US Sport History: Death of a Hero for how recently it was unusual to bury a horse whole.

Equine Cultures at WOCMES Recap

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“Intersections of Equine Cultures in the Middle East, Europe and North Africa”
World Congress on Middle Eastern Studies
July 16-20, 2018
Seville, Spain 

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“Conquest of Tunis”

   Horses cross borders, sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively. A panel dedicated to “The Intersections of Equine Cultures” at the recent World Congress on Middle Eastern Studies, hosted by the Three Cultures of the Mediterranean Foundation in Seville, explored equine connections between the Middle East, Europe and North Africa. 

   The panel, brought together by Gwyneth Talley (UCLA), discussed equine knowledge from translations of classical texts in Latin, Arabic and Persian, to contemporary racing cultures and their transnational relevance to questions of ethnic and class identity. 

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Ferdinand III

The presentations began with Hylke Hettema[1] (Leiden University) who assessed the profound influence of Orientalism on descriptions of horses in the Middle East as “Arabian” by early colonial enthusiasts. Christoph Lange[2] (University of Cologne) described his anthropological fieldwork at horse racetracks in the Middle East, showing that long-standing popular culture offered a local inspiration for elite involvement in global racing circuits, beyond the influence of the British Empire. Marjan Afsharian[3] (Institute of Ismaili Studies) traced the numerous manuscript variations on a Sanskrit text translated into Persian and found in both British and French collections. Finally, Kathryn Renton (UCLA) discussed the common classical origins of both Arabic and Latin traditions of equine knowledge in the Iberian Peninsula, despite multiple routes of transmission. Together, the panel demonstrated the long-standing and shared interest in horses as carriers of culture across national and linguistic boundaries.

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Carriage horse napping in Seville

[1] Hylke is the founder of Al Safy Arabians in Cairo, Egypt.

[2] Christoph published some of his research in “Purity, Nobility, Beauty and Performance: Past and Present Construction of Meaning for the Arabian Horse” in The Meaning of Horses: Biosocial Encounters edited by Dona Davis and Anita Maurstad (Routledge, 2016).

[3]  Marjan is an editor for the Encyclopaedia Islamica project at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, UK

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Left to right: Christoph Lange, Hylke Hettema, Marjan Afsharian, Kathryn Renton

#MemberMonday: Jane Flynn

Toby at Marchington

Jane Flynn
PhD, ‘Sense and Sentimentality: The Soldier-Horse Relationship in The Great War’, The University of Derby (2016)
MA, Masters in Humanities by Research, The University of Derby (2011)
PGCE, English with Drama, The University of York (2000)
RSA Cert., Teaching English as a Foreign Language, The British Council, Hong Kong (1996)
BA, English Literature and Theatre Studies, The University of Leeds (1995)


What got you into history? Equine History
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   I was introduced to ponies and riding when I was two. A local family would occasionally call my Mum and ask if I’d like to go out for a ride. Donned in wellies, my checky trousers and favourite “jazzy jumper” I was ready to go, and always beside myself with excitement. I remember Noodle and I demonstrating my trot (very bouncy) to my Mum and Dad, and how I could get off by myself. Noodle was an absolute star; a proper Thelwell pony who was wise beyond measure, but not without his cheeky moments! Since then little has changed – the ponies just got a wee bit bigger!

   This was the start of a life-long obsession I am now lucky enough to be able to combine with my academic work. I started off as an English Literature person, so my interest in Equine History really began with a steady trickle of the likes of Surtees, Somerville and Ross, Sewell, and Sassoon. It started turning into a historical interest when I found a copy of Glenda Spooner’s For Love of Horses at an antiques fair. The rest is history!

   The many wonderful (and very memorable) horses and ponies I have met and ridden over the years inspired me to do what I do now. Especially my old boy Toby, who taught me so much, gave me countless wonderful memories, and to whom I dedicated my PhD.

Who is your favourite historical horse?

   Soldiers often had their favourite horses, and it is they I immediately think of. They are too numerous to mention here, and I could write for hours about each and every one, but here are a few notable examples. Slogger earned his name, and the respect of the men in his unit, because he always tried his best. He was particularly admired for his ability to get waggons and limbers out of the mud when other horses, and even mules, would have given up long before. Lion was a mule who knew his own mind. It took four men to groom him, but for his driver he would do anything. Kitty patiently withstood all the noise and chaos around her. She featured regularly in the letters of the soldier to whom she had been assigned. He was clearly very fond of her; often expressing concern about her, or telling amusing tales of their adventures and exploits.

   Last, and by no means least, was a chestnut gelding called Songster.  Songster was a Songsterfirm favourite of the Leicestershire Yeomanry, and after the War became something of a local hero. He was affectionately described as having been “as artful as a barrowload of monkeys” – a character trait to which his survival of the War was largely attributed. After a long and active life (he hunted with the Quorn, and attended every Yeomanry camp until his last in 1935) Songster died at the grand old age of forty in 1940. Slogger, Lion, Kitty and Songster survive into modern memory, but only because they were remembered with such respect and affection by the soldiers who had known them.

What are you working on right now?

   I am currently working on a book project entitled Soldiers and their Horses: Sense, Sentimentality and the Soldier-Horse Relationship in The Great War. My proposal is under consideration at the moment, so watch this space!

Anything else you’d like to add?

   I will be presenting “The Pitiable Martyrdom of Man’s Faithful Friend: Portrayals of the Soldier and his Horse in The War Illustrated, 1914 to 1918” at the Artistic Expressions and The Great War conference at Hofstra University, New York, November 7th to 9th 2018.

   I will also be presenting “A Weapon in the Hands of the Allies: Transporting British Army Horses and Mules during The Great War” at the Maritime Animals: Telling Stories of Animals at Sea conference, at The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, April 25th to 27th 2019.