The second Equine History Conference (#EqHist2019) brought together a fantastic group of scholars Nov. 13–15, 2019 at Cal Poly Pomona (see final program). Hosted by the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library, the event opened with a welcome from Emma Gibson, Interim Dean of the University Library at CPP. The theme of the conference, “Embodied Equines,” invited papers that explored how people have understood, shaped, sustained, and used equine bodies.
On the first day, Sandra Swart gave the keynote address on “The Equine Experiment“—the role of both horses and race in producing the colonial hierarchies of South Africa, despite the immense difficulty of transporting and raising horses there—the role of blood taking on an ominous configuration with respect to racehorses and apartheid.
Conference attendees had the opportunity to tour the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library to view the “Miniature Menageries” exhibit of Hagen-Renaker figurines, examine new additions to the Library’s collections, and browse the Library’s many books and journals.
The first conference session included discussions of Arabian horsebreeding: Margaret Derry’s analysis of competing registries, John Schiewe’s discussion of best practices, and Tobi Lopez Tayor’s explanation of how Cold War politics influenced the importation of Russian and Polish Arabians to the US. The next session examined the human-horse bond and different styles of horsemanship.
Members of a Spanish-led team of scientists and archaeologists presented work on the myth and reality of Pizarro’s horse, excavations an Iron Age site with sacrificed horses in Iberia, and studies of the genetic inheritance of curly-coated horses around the world and of the Spanish colonial horse in American horse populations.
Papers on the long-distance trade and transport of horses – from New England to the sugar colonies, and in nineteenth-century U.S. military supply chains – were followed by Kat Boniface’s impassioned plea for productive interdisciplinary research and communication between equine scientists and historians. Another session addressed horses and social prestige, war, and morality in nineteenth-century America: the relationship between horses and status based on archaeological research at Montpelier, the procurement of horses in Kentucky during the Civil War, and how the urban middle-class applied the rhetoric of morality and efficiency to horse-drawn streetcar drivers and their horses.
In addition, speakers addressed the consequences of equine embodiment in the context of war: the types and concentration of horses in England after the Norman Conquest, the impact of equine disease in the Civil War, the mule-soldier relationship in World War I, and the use of condemned U.S. army horses as military dog food. Other papers highlighted the significance of horses in Arabic language poetry and ethics, and the commemoration of the horse body both in the ancient Greek and Roman world and in contemporary trophies of horse hooves re-purposed to serve a role in the home.
The conference closed with a paper on a little-known project of the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center at CPP to cross Shetland ponies with Arabians for the “Araland” cross, a history both unique and local. Attendees had breakfast that morning with Mary Jane Parkinson, longtime co-editor of Arabian Horse World and author of The Romance of the Kellogg Ranch, which was available for purchase. The day concluded with a tour of the Arabian Horse Center, which emphasized the student learning environment and beautiful batch of yearlings.
The conference provided wonderful opportunities for cross-disciplinary conversation and exchange across fields such as archaeology, history, genetics, and linguistics. The book table gathered together recent titles in equine topics, and generous sponsors provided a fantastic spread of raffle prizes. Our non-conference attendees found an active social media presence with Facebook Livefeed video clips and live-tweeting of talks when approved by the speaker (see #EqHist2019).
If you have stories to share about your experience of #EqHist2019 to share with us for a NiCHE (@NiCHE_Canada) thread in Twitter or a blog post, let us know!
The EHC would like to thank our 2019 Conference sponsors:
The EHC’s purpose is to foster equine history research and its dissemination, and promote collaboration between equine historians in all disciplines. This includes, but is not limited to, scholars in disciplines other than history, like agriculture, archaeology, art history, and literature, and researchers in non-academic settings, such as public historians and independent scholars.
As discussed at the 2019 annual meeting, stay tuned for our upcoming elections for president, secretary, and treasurer in the second half of December, and for the launch of EHC formalized membership in early 2020. Nominations for the elected positions are due Dec. 1, with the deadline to accept and send in a short campaign statement Dec. 15. The formal responsibilities of the officers are as follows:
Runs officer meetings and annual meeting
Appoints committee chairs and board liaisons to each sub-committee
Represents/speaks on behalf of the Collective
Summarizes board meetings and action items.
Gives notice of meetings
Maintains account records
Prepares financial statements
Deposits and disburses money
The newly elected officers will serve a two-year term, and will be advised in their first year by the previous officers acting as Past President, Past Treasurer, and Past Secretary. After completion of their term, the officers elected in 2019 will likewise serve for a year as Past President, Past Treasurer, or Past Secretary. Nominations and questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And also stay tuned for the EHC’s formalized membership launch in early 2020!
New sponsors this year are the departments of English and History at UCLA. We are delighted to have their support, especially as so many fantastic animal historians have been coming out of UCLA lately.
This panel will be at 11:00a.m. on Thursday November 14th, just before lunch. It will be chaired by Marva Felchlin, retired curators from Autry Museum of the American West. Featuring Charlotte Carrington-Farmer, Nicole M. Mathwich, and Katrin Boniface, this panel uses a variety of methods to explore equine trade networks. This panel has agreed to allow livetweeting, so if you can’t make it in person be sure to follow the #EqHist2019 tag on Twitter!
Equine Labour – Enslaved Labour: New England and the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World Charlotte Carrington-Farmer, Roger Williams University
From the late seventeenth century through to the end of the eighteenth century, countless New England vessel braved the Atlantic Ocean in a quest for profit by delivering horses to the sugar colonies. This paper will explore how and why Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut emerged as breeding grounds for horses, and how they came to dominate the equine trade to the sugar colonies. Writing in 1732, the anonymous pamphlet, The British empire in America lamented that the British Sugar Colonies “will soon be reduc’d to a Condition too wretched to be name, and an End be put to the British Empire in America.” The pamphleteer was not alone, and others ranging from Members of Parliament to merchants, described how New Englanders undermined the British sugar colonies of Barbados and Jamaica. New England’s role in this controversy was clear; they readily provided the French and Dutch colonies with the one plantation necessity that they could not easily obtain elsewhere: horses. At its nucleus, the trade centred on the ownership and trade in equine bodies and human bodies. The language planters and merchants used to describe their equine and human property was often one and the same. Moreover, the horses were raised by slaves on plantations along Narragansett Bay, and then traded directly for sugar, molasses, and chattel slaves. If the horses survived the perilous ocean crossing to the Caribbean or South America, the horses then toiled alongside slaves crushing sugar on the plantations. In some instances, slaves only got meat in their diet when a horse died. This paper will centre the relationship between chattel slaves and equine property, linking New England’s economy to the wider currents of transatlantic trade.
The Public Horse Embodied: Requisition, Use, and Replacement of the Military Horse in the Great Sioux War Nicole M. Mathwich, San Diego State University, and Rae Whitley, Museum of the Horse Soldier
In the 1870s, the U.S. military was engaged with the Dakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes in the Great Sioux War as the U.S. attempted to annex the gold-rich Black Hills from Lakota territory. The U.S. part in this conflict depended heavily on horse movement and availability; however these types of engagements and large distances exacted a heavy toll on mounts. Historians have written extensively about the 7th Cavalry and these conflicts, but no detailed research has investigated the procurement and experiences of horses, animals which were central to the conflicts. Here, we explore the embodiment of U.S. military supply organization through horses. Using historical records and zooarchaeological and isotopic methods, we examine the remains of a military horse found in Montana with strong contextual evidence of its participation and death in the Battle of Little Bighorn. Stable isotopes from the tooth carbonate show the horse was foddered for its early adult life and was not reared in Montana. We combine this evidence with historical U.S. military supply records to examine how the U.S. cavalry units obtained mounts and the challenges these animals faced on the northern Plains. We explore the supply system needed to support cavalry during the Plains Indian Wars and use the horse’s remains to explore horses’ roles in the Plains conflicts. The harsh experiences during the 1870s campaigns fueled the demand within the officer ranks for a proper remount breeding program, veterinary care, and equitation training and shifted the way the U.S. military approached its horses.
Dead Ponies and Some Live Ones, Too: History, Genetics, and Sci-comm Katrin Boniface, University of California-Riverside
This presentation will examine a variety of recent zooarcheological genetic studies and how they fit within the historical records. These studies have the potential to give us a greater understanding of equine breeding and trade routes. Genetics studies and histories looking at these topics often cite each other, but unfortunately most communication between geneticists and historians is publicly mediated through news outlets. Equine History 2019 provides an opportunity to for us to share findings directly.