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.
The Equine History Collective and W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library look forward to welcoming attendees to the second annual Equine History Conference at Cal Poly Pomona in just over a month! Last year’s conference was a lot of fun, featuring not only fantastic papers and conversation, but also Cal Poly Pomona’s very own student mariachi ensemble, Mariachi Los Broncos. We’ve put together this album from least year, showing some of the speakers and activities: https://photos.app.goo.gl/6SVPnGbquaEwVVyF8.
As a reminder, registration for EHC 2019 ends October 30; if you want to pre-order a shirt or tote, please let us know by October 24 to ensure delivery at the conference! We’ll soon be previewing the paper abstracts for this year’s conference, so stay tuned!
On November 7, 2019, NiCHE (Network in Canadian History & Environment) has organized an exciting conference featuring many major players in animal studies and equine studies in Toronto, Canada.
“Traces of the Past: Methodological Challenges in Animal History” is a two-day conference which includes a retrospective on the field of animal history, as well as new research on urban animals, animal biographies, and questions about narratives and knowing.
The event is organized around the “Avie Bennett Historica Canada Public Lecture in Canadian History”, offered this year by George Colpitts (University of Cagalry) on “Retail Animalia: Consumers, the Animal Anti-Cruelty Movement, and the Canadian Fur Trade, 1920-1940.”
George Stubbs (1724-1806), perhaps best known for iconic portraits of horses (Whistlejacket, National Gallery) also made a lasting impact on the study of anatomy and the natural world. An upcoming exhibition at the MK Gallery will bring together more than 40 paintings and 40 prints and drawings to illustrate Stubbs’ position as one of the great figures depicting animal species across the world.
A self-taught draughtsman, painter and printmaker, Stubbs’s reputation was established through the striking compositions that he brought to breeding, racing and hunting, and a sense of curiosity and empathy that transcended his extraordinary technical ability in numerous commissioned works for the English gentry.
The exhibition includes Stubbs groundbreaking, forensic drawings of horses produced during an intense 18-month period of dissection and classification. In 1766, after five years of preparing anatomical studies based on first-hand examination of horse cadavers, Stubbs published his Anatomy of the Horse. For the first time, these studies will be displayed alongside an actual skeleton of a horse, in this case, that of Eclipse (1764-1789) – the legendary 18th-century thoroughbred and progenitor of over 90% of subsequent racehorses – as well as the several paintings of Eclipse by Stubbs.
While known for his equestrian art, Stubbs was an avid student of anatomy and the exhibit highlights the studies, both human and animal, that led the artists towards his last great endeavor, A Comparative Anatomical Exposition of the Structure of the Human Body with that of a Tiger and a Common Fowl (unfinished before his death in 1806). Stubbs had begun his training as the child of a Liverpool tanner, drawing left-over animal bones, before pursuing painting at York and finding a niche in anatomical engravings for medical students and practitioners, like Dr. John Burton’s midwifery textbook. With his reputation established by his anatomical work on horses, the subsequent comparative anatomical sketches, methodically arranged, earned a subscription from the Royal Academy of Arts in 1802. Stubbs’ work belongs to the work of comparative anatomists exploring the similarities and boundaries of species long before the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859.
The exhibition is co-curated by Martin Postle (Deputy Director for Collections & Publications at the Paul Mellon Centre), Paul Bonaventura and Anthony Spira. There will be a one-day conference, organized with the Paul Mellon Centre on 17 January 2020 in MK Gallery’s Sky Room, on subjects including anatomical studies, horse racing and breeding, empire and portraiture. A version of the exhibit will also tour to the Mauritshuis in The Hague.
For all of use who cannot make it to the exhibit in person, check out the extensive collection of George Stubbs holdings viewable online at the Yale Center for British Art!
The International Museum of the Horse and the Chronicle of African Americans in the Horse Industry invites the interested public to a Shareback Session on Thursday, June 13, from 6–7pm in the Lexington Public Library, in Lexington, KY. This free presentation is a follow-up to their History Harvests events held in April and May, which invited people to share their stories and artifacts related to the history of African Americans in the horse industry. At the Shareback Session, organizers will share some of the discoveries, mementos, documents and stories that contributors brought. For more information about the History Harvests, see this blog post.
The goal of the Chronicle of African Americans in the Horse Industry project is to create an online, interactive archive to house and display photos, documents, artifacts, and oral histories of African Americans who have worked, and continue to work in equine industries. Its users will be able to connect the past to the present. It is funded by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and housed at the International Museum of the Horse.