Upcoming Elections

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


  • Maintains handbook
  • Maintains/organizes reports
  • 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 equinehistory@gmail.com

And also stay tuned for the EHC’s formalized membership launch in early 2020!

#EqHist2019 Speakers: Movements and Networks

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.

#EqHist2019 Sponsors: UCLA 17th & 18th Century Studies

Another returning sponsor this year is the UCLA 17th & 18th Century Studies Center. They sponsor fellowships, workshops, and conferences (like ours), and also now offer a certificate in Early Modern Studies for UCLA graduate students across disciplines. They are currently running an international project, including exhibits and research, on empire, colonization, and the development of the modern transnational world.

Check out their latest news!

Psst! Today is the last day to register for Equine History 2019!

#EqHist2019 Speakers: Genetics and History

The panel will be at 9:00a.m. on Thursday November 14th, opening the second day of the conference. It will be chaired by Alyssa V. Loera from Cal Poly Pomona. This is a new feature this year, and we are delighted to include more methodological variety for investigating the past. Two of these papers have agreed to allow livetweeting, so if you can’t make it in person be sure to follow the #EqHist2019 tag on Twitter!

There is still time to register: the deadline has been extended to Nov. 7!

The Artistic Representation of Pizarro’s horse: Reality vs. Myth
María Martín-Cuervo, Universidad de Extremadura, on behalf of Francisco Javier Cambero Santano, Universidad de Extremadura

Horses symbolize power in most cultures that count this animal among their domesticates. The shortage of horses made them a very limited resource in the combat, and that only the Spanish of greater rank could have them. The figure of Francisco Pizarro, except for some portraits, always appears connected to a horse. From different examples that have been taken as a sample, both figures will be analyzed to see the differences between reality and current visual perception.

It can be considered that the horses that arrived to the Viceroyalty of Peru had the following physical characteristics: low height, rustic and with small feet and resistant hoofs, rectilinear or slightly convex head outline and low insertion of the tail.

The drawings before the 17th century showed Francisco Pizarro standing in front of Atahualpa, like an infantry soldier, and in the later representations, he always appears on a horse, often with a chestnut coat and with the morphology of the current Andalusian Horses (PRE-Pura Raza Española). This fact may be due to the need to represent the conquerors as great warriors, instead of adjusting to the historical reality, which describes the conquerors as men from poor families, who conquered territories after suffering many hardships.

Revisiting the Iberian Origins of the North American Horses: Approaching the Two Sides of the Atlantic Ocean Combining Ancient DNA and Historical Registries from the Colonial Era
Jaime LiraGarrido, Universidad de Extremadura and Centro Mixto UCM-ISCIII de Evolución Comportamiento Humanos

Horses were brought from Iberia to the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Theoretically, they had primitive characteristics and it is thought they became the founding breeding stock of the Colonial Spanish Horse. Subsequent generations were a major influence in the colonization of North America by Europeans and forever changed the culture of Native Americans. The status of the Colonial Spanish is considered threatened. Other North American populations with high percentages of Colonial Spanish Horse influence are found in wild horse herds managed by Federal Agencies, who need scientific guidance with management practices.

There are genetic links between modern North American and Spanish horse populations. Studies of ancient DNA have strengthened these links, although genetic backgrounds of many ancient and modern horses differ.Many different horse breeds arrived from Europe to North America during the last 500 years. Surprisingly, no studies have been performed yet about the dispersal of the domestic horses in America during the Colonial period.

The purpose of this project is to characterize the genetics of the horse migratory waves in North America during the last 500 years and check these results with historical documents housed in the General Archive of the Indies (Spain) and other repositories in Spain and Mexico. This information will allow the identification of the descendants of those first Spanish horses brought to the New World and the origin of some North American Mustang populations. Further, it will aid in the conservation of the Colonial Spanish Horse by placing scientific decisions.

The Iron Age Sacrificed Horses from the Iberian Tartessic ‘Turuñuelo de Guareña’ Site Badajoz, Spain: Preliminary Study
María Martín-Cuervo, Universidad de Extremadura

The archaeological site of Casas del Turuñuelo (Badajoz, Spain) represents to date the most numerous collections of faunal remains of Iron Age horses from the Iberian Peninsula. This architectonic complex is associated with the Tartessic culture. The excavation works at the site uncovered more than fifty horses, some of them in anatomical connection, sacrificed and disposed of on a patio in the main temple.

The Tartessic culture was originated from the interaction between Iberian indigenous communities living in the South-West of the Iberian Peninsula and the Phoenicians that established trading centers on the coast during the Iron Age.

This work presents the preliminary archaeological results and the multidisciplinary approach undertaken on this extraordinary assemblage of ancient specimens, which constitutes a milestone discovery across the West Mediterranean area and a singular opportunity to characterize the equine population sacrificed at the site.

The Genetics of Curly Coated Horses
Mitch Wilkinson, ICHO/ Curly Mustang Association

Ever since horse domestication, horses have been traded, shipped, and ridden in conquest from one area to another. It is possible that the genetic material which produces curly coated horses may have been seeded into some populations by introduction of curly coated horses from other locations. It is equally possible that many horse populations developed curly coats due to natural selection and random mutations.

There are six distinct types of curly coated horses known in North America and at least one type in the feral herds in South America. In Asia, horses with curly coats are associated with the Zabaikalskaya breed in Siberia and the Lokai breed of Tajikistan. Horses with curly coats are also found in Mongolia. There may yet be other types of horses found with curly coats in their populations that are undiscovered in forgotten and remote parts of the world.