Join the EHC social media team!

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Join our herd!

   The Equine History Collective is looking for a social media liaison to assist with Twitter, Instagram, and EquineHistory.org. Social media experience is a must, experience with wordpress.com and wordpress.org a plus. This is a chance to be involved in the growing field of equine history, and interact with both scholars and the public. You do not need to be an equine historian to apply, but some familiarity with equine history is needed.  

   Duties would include coordinating with potential writers for blogposts, and editing and sharing engaging content across platforms, including EquineHistory.org, Twitter, and Instagram. Our goal is to promote community, share exciting research trends, and curate news of interest to EHC members and equine history fans.

   This is a volunteer position, and as such includes some flexibility, but communication with the EHC board is critical.

For more information, email EquineHistory@gmail.com

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T-Shirts are back!

We are raising funds for filing 501(c)3 status and for the EHC Conference travel fund. T-shirts are now available!

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If you missed the popular “heads” design, featuring zebra, horse, and donkey heads, that has been relaunched. Order here.

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-18 at 9.58.42 AM   New this time is a Lascaux design, which is also available as a sweatshirt or hoodie. Order here. Multiple cuts & colors available on both.

Direct donations can be made here. Please feel free to share!

Idaho PTV’s “Taking the Reins” to Feature Horsewoman of the American West

Kittie Wilkins on Sidesaddle (Mountain Home Historical Museum) (300 dpi) copy
Post by Philip A. Homan

Photo of Kittie Wilkins courtesy of Mountain Home Historical Museum, Mountain Home, ID

 

   The second episode in Idaho Public Television’s new Idaho Experience series will feature Kittie Wilkins, the Horse Queen of Idaho, one of the most well-known horsewomen in the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century United States.

   The boss of the Wilkins Horse Company, headquartered at the Diamond Ranch in the Bruneau Valley of Owyhee County, Idaho, Wilkins ran 10,000 horses, all branded with her famous Diamond brand. The company’s herd was said by the newspapers to be the largest owned by one family in the American West.

   According to the newspapers, the “Queen of Diamonds,” as Wilkins was also known, was the only woman at the turn of the twentieth century whose sole occupation was horse dealing. In fact, she sold horses by the trainloads. From 1887 to 1902, she traveled each year to the stockyards of the Midwest, helping to supply America’s horsepower. Newspapers along the Union Pacific announced her arrival with headlines like “The Only One of Her Kind.”

   However, Wilkins was no Calamity Jane. Trained as a classical pianist at the first college west of the Mississippi to give the baccalaureate to women, she told the newspapers, “Next to petting my favorite horses, I like nothing better than to sit down at my piano and let my fingers drift along the keys ….” Indeed, she was an ambassador not only of the American West but also of Western American womanhood. Solidly Victorian, she subscribed to many of the tenets of the so-called Cult of True Womanhood. Nevertheless, as not only a horse dealer but also a commercial traveler, she was successful as a woman in a profession that not only took her out of the home and into the marketplace for months at a time but that had also helped to define American manhood at the turn of the twentieth century.

   Wilkins also made what was said by the newspapers to be the largest sale of horses in the West. In 1900, she sold 8,000 head in a single sale to be shipped by the British Army Remount Department from New Orleans for the South African War, 1899-1902. According to statistics, Wilkins supplied over seven percent of all American horses sent to South Africa for the war.

   “Taking the Reins” will premiere on IdahoPTV on Thursday, May 24, at 8:30 pm MDT, and will repeat on Sunday, May 27, at 7:30 pm MDT. The episode will be available for free streaming online approximately May 29.

 

 

#MemberMonday: Holly Kruse

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Holly Kruse

Ph.D., Communication
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Post-graduate Certificate, Equine Business
University of Louisville

B.A., Political Science & History
University of Iowa

 

What got you into history, and into equine history?

   I’ve always liked history, and as an undergraduate political science major at the University of Iowa, I needed to have an outside area to supplement my major. I chose history, and I ended up taking so many history classes that I ended up adding a history major to my political science major. That’s when I first read work by the Annales historians: Montaillou by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie made a big impression on me.

   I went to the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for my doctorate in media studies, and even before that, I was researching and writing about social histories of communication technologies. I published a journal article on the “domestication” of the phonograph in the U.S. in the early twentieth century, and more recently I’ve published research on the pneumatic tube as a nineteenth century (and beyond) communication technology. History is a central element in my research.Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 10.04.29 AM

   My interest in equine history comes from my lifelong horse-racing fandom and love of horses. Several years ago I decided to take a break from my academic teaching career to earn my post-graduate certificate in the Equine Industry Program at the University of Louisville. It was a time when the prototype for TVG had been launched and when legal online betting on horse racing was getting started, so a lot was happening with newmedia and horse racing. I began not only researching current developments, but also histories of technologies related to horse racing like tote machines and remote wagering. Those histories were central to my book on horse racing technologies, Off-Track and Online: The Networked Spaces of Horse Racing (The MIT Press, 2016).

Who is your favorite historical horse?

affirmed   My favorite historical horse is 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed. Although as a young kid in the 1970s I already watched and loved horse racing, Affirmed was the horse who made me passionate about it. It probably helped that my sister was an Alydar fan. I finally got to meet Affirmed in the summer of 2000, several months before he died.

 What are you working on right now?

   I just finished writing a chapter on horse racing, media, and social class to a forthcoming Routledge collection on media and social class. Right now I’m working on a book on gender and technology for Polity Press. It’s meant to be a book that can be used in any upper-level undergraduate gender and technology class. I’m writing the book because I can never find a good basic book – one free of a lot of higher level cultural theory – to use in my gender and technology class. I plan to slip in plenty of equine-related technologies, including sidesaddle. I’ve presented my research on girls, hobbyhorse competitions, and social media, and I plan to include that in the book as well.

#MemberMonday: Lonneke Delpeut

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Lonneke Delpeut

Leiden University

MA student in Classics

BA in Egyptology

 

 

 

What got you in to history? In to equine history?

   I have always been interested in history, especially the history of ancient Egypt. As soon as I knew that Egyptology existed, I knew that was what I wanted to study. I have 

methorsealso always been a horse girl, so when I found out that there were so many beautiful depictions, two-dimensional as well as three-dimensional, I found the perfect opportunity to combine both my passions: horses and ancient Egypt. I fell in love with this particular object:

Who is your favorite historical horse?

    I do not have a favourite horse in history (although the horse found in the forecourt of the tomb of Senenmut would definitely be in my top-5) but this whip handle is definitely one of my favourite objects.

 

What are you working on right now?
   My current research involves the study of two-dimensional depictions of the horse in ancient Egypt in private tombs during the Eighteenth dynasty. I compare the image of the horse as a source of information to the image of the horse as a piece of art. Images tell us all kinds of things, like what the horse was used for in Egyptian society, what role the horse played inside the image (e.g. as a status symbol) and about what the Egyptians knew about the horse. On the other hand, the image studied as a piece of art tells us where the artist got his inspiration from, whether or not they saw the horse as a special element considered to other four-legged animals, and, most interestingly, to what extent the image can be considered as a naturalistic display. 

#ShelfieSunday: Kingdom of the Workhorse

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Kingdom of the Workhorse by A.J.Dampier
Countryside Publications, 1987
ISBN 0 86157 226 2

Review by Miriam Bibby

 

   This splendid account of the lives of working horses in and around the city of Manchester at its 19th century zenith, when it was the “workshop of the world”, home to the greatest manufactories in Britain, is one of my favorite books.

   A.J. (Tony) Dampier was from north west England and knew his subject both from his own research and from contact with the horsemen of the region from the middle of the 20th century until his sad death in 2011. It’s therefore largely, though not exclusively, based on local history and oral traditions. Arguably it’s the type of history of which we need more, because all too often the stories of working people and animals are not recorded and then they simply disappear. Frequently the only histories we have are those created after the theme has been viewed through a middle-class lens and dissected for academic purposes.  This, however, is working class history recorded by a local man with an in-depth knowledge of and passion for horses, and who had extensive, practical equine and equestrian experience himself.

   There are limitations to the book, however. Dampier’s broader brush strokes relating to early history are unconvincing: “No doubt these ‘dark Phaenicians’ horses were of Arabian origin” (11); “Then came the terrible, cruel Vikings, their contribution to our story is minimal, being a force of destruction rather than construction” (5). In fact, the Norse contribution to the north and its equine history is becoming better known and it’s increasingly looking like a substantial one, not just linguistically but also in terms of horse breeding and exchange. Dampier himself points out that the Norse derived “Rossendale” in Lancashire is the “Valley of Horses”.

   Away from the general though, Dampier is compelling. He understands the connectedness of early modern infrastructure, commerce, settlement, place names and language in the region in a way that’s both instinctive because it’s an embedded part of his own heritage, and academic, because he acquired local research library-based facts about the working horses of Manchester and the surrounding dales.

   This is revealed not just in the text but also in an excellent choice of outstanding images, such as the unidentified horse-drawn mass funeral in Manchester, ca. 1900, on page 25. We can only speculate on whether this reflects a local mining or industrial disaster, a family tragedy or an outbreak of disease. One local “Black Master” (director of horse-drawn funerals), John Greenwood, appears to have specialized in ensuring the working class had respectable funerals, for his advert in the Manchester Guardian in 1860 read: “John Greenwood begs respectfully to intimate that, in order to meet the requirements of the working classes, he has always for hire neat one horse hearses and coaches, terms (inc. coachman) 7/6d. each” (77).

   That’s another of the great strengths of the book – the attention to detail, a boon for those of us who like the facts of what things cost, how they were obtained and how ordinary folk lived. There’s plenty of detail about individual characters, such as Ailse O’ Fussers, the owner of Jerry, probably  “the last commercial pack horse in Great Britain.” (Actually a donkey, p. 7) Ailse (also known as Alice Hartley) was a commercial carrier, and her team of “gals” (Galloway ponies, though the term was probably being loosely applied to type and function rather than a “breed” here) carried lime across the moors to Rochdale until her death in 1879. “In build she was short and stout, and she wore over her petticoats a male’s topcoat. A ‘Jim-crow’ hat was fastened securely on her head by a handkerchief over the top of her hat and tied under her chin. She carried a long stick in the style of a shepherd, and presented more the appearance of a man than a woman. Yet she had a lover, named Thomas Walton, a young farmer…” (William Roberts, quoted on p. 15)

   Pack horse trains continued to be used across the Pennines, from Durham and Westmorland in the north, to Derbyshire in the south, until the late 19th century and even, in some cases, possibly into the 20th. However, millennia of pack horse use were mostly brought to an abrupt end by the arrival of steam and it was now in the great cities and on ploughland that working horses were to find a place.

   In and around the streets of Manchester, Dampier introduces us to characters both equine and human; Dick Dalby, head horseman of the Prestwich Co-op stables, for instance, who taught all his horses to go on the ‘Pee Patch’ before they came into their stables after work – they had to pee before tea; Joe Bumper, the coal carrier from Rochdale who brought two poor horses to the local smith/farrier/vet and asked him to make one good one out of them only to be disappointed to discover that the “one good one” that the compassionate farrier “made” for him had a wall-eye, which Bumper “conna abide” (35).

   We learn about the secretly brutal methods of “horse whisperers” and the visit of the more enlightened (in Dampier’s view) Solomon Rarey to Manchester. We discover why a monopoly on the horse-drawn omnibuses in Manchester, created by the amalgamation of several companies in the late 19th century, was bad for passengers but good for horses. We hear of the clever horse who taught himself to use the metal curbs on the edges of pavements as a brake, and the well-trained horse who stopped when a police officer held up his hand, even though his driver was asleep!

   Dampier explains why the trandem was used so widely in Manchester that it came to be known as a “Manchester Team” and why all newspaper delivery horses in Manchester were referred to as “Chron. Horses.” Plus, why well-meaning ideas often have unintended consequences. The horse troughs brought in by named donors at locations throughout the city were often key points for the spread of equine epidemics and “many transport companies forbade their drivers to stop at the troughs for fear of infecting their horses” (50).

   Some working horses were more fortunate than others, and the horses of the monopoly Manchester Carriage Company Ltd. in 1865 were “stabled in conditions approaching those that accommodated the pampered private horses. Large, well-ventilated stable blocks were constructed where the animals’ every comfort was considered. The usual dirt floors that had been expected to absorb any moisture and urine were replaced by blue brick floors with good drainage, high ceilings and plentiful windows all contributing to the sweet atmosphere” (49).

   They were the lucky ones. Where hard-nosed commercial demands prevailed, it could be a different story, driving the undercurrent of violence, superstition and chicanery that was never very far from horse trading. “Mugs” were set up by “horse for sale” adverts for in the Manchester Chronicle and Evening News, “using terms such as ‘Property of a gentleman going abroad’ or ‘Lady in reduced circumstances’. All horses were ‘regretfully for sale’ and ‘To good home only.’” (Both these last phrases are still in daily use on Facebook, with the usual addition of “through no fault of his or her own.”) The mugs, inevitably, ended out of pocket and the advertiser nowhere to be seen.

   Whether it’s describing travelling in the “rumble-tumble” (a large basket on the back of coaches that was supposed to hold luggage, but frequently carried unfortunate passengers desperate to travel), or describing the underhand methods used by coach companies to get round the “no galloping” rule, Dampier is always lively and readable. Like Anthony Dent, he entertains and carries the reader along, and as with Dent the reader is left wondering “Where did he get that?”, frustrated sometimes by the lack of references for follow-up purposes. It wasn’t written as an academic text but to record local stories and memories. Nonetheless, I believe that this is an essential source book for anyone with an interest in the working horses of 19th century industrial Britain.

   It was clearly a labour of love for Tony Dampier, who also gave a home to Major, the last working horse on the streets of Manchester, for his final years. For this reason more than any other, Tony Dampier is a personal hero of mine and, to coin a phrase from Anthony Dent I think this is an outstanding book, “but I am prejudiced, so let it pass.” Dampier was a hero I never met; for though he wrote some articles for a magazine that I edited in the 1990s we didn’t have the opportunity to meet and talk, something that is of lasting regret to me. So, contact the knowledgeable while they’re alive; make the most of their experiences before it’s too late. And enjoy one of the most interesting books ever written about working horses.