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.

 

 

Advertisements

Horses & Courts Recap

By Kathryn Renton

     “Horses and Courts,” an international symposium, focused scholarly attention on the striking use of the horse at monarchical courts for public display and private power brokering, primarily from the fifteenth to nineteenth century. Conference organizers Donna Landry (University of Kent’s Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century) and Philip Mansel (Society for Court Studies) brought together an intersection of presenters and attendees from the EU, UK, and US, hosted by The Wallace Collection, for a series of more than 30 complementary presentations over the three-day congress.  

 800px-Reiter_(Jacopo_Bellini)    Tobias Capwell, (Curator of Arms and Amor, The Wallace Collection) set the stage in his presentation by emphasizing the essential crossover between artistry and practicality in courtly equine pursuits. The rarity of extant saddles, for example, owes to their use and re-use.  While armor transformed the man and horse, even into fantastical creatures for theatrical mounting the horse exposed the rider to risk rather than merely the pretense of it.  Several presentations demonstrated the practical use of horses in negotiations over exile, inheritance, and diplomatic encounters.  These power plays had multi-faceted extensions in the rich display of carousels, venery or hunting, pas d’armes, royal entrances, and racing. The eminent visibility of participating in these events also found its historical counterweight in a panel on the female rider or ‘Amazon.’  Despite the long-term shift in values from “haut école” to English horsemanship noted by several presentations, the arranged tours of the Royal Mews and Household Cavalry demonstrated the continued relevance of horses and court politics. A strong representation of English, French and Spanish courts did not preclude the presentation of equal emphasis on horses in the courts of Denmark, Sweden, and the Habsburg territories further east, and the shared riding masters and stud horses demonstrated the interconnectedness of the same courts. Presentations also included Algeria, South Africa, and India, and this global reach raises the possibility of “Horse and Empire” as a fruitful theme for a subsequent symposium. Plans are underway for equine congresses in Vienna and Chantilly, as well as the EHC Conference in California at the end of this year.

Review livetweets by @NicoleMennell, and the #HorsePower2018 on twitter.
     Nicole Mennell is a CHASE-funded doctoral candidate within the Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies at the University of Sussex. Her thesis, ‘Shakespeare’s Sovereign Beasts: Political Discourse and Human-Animal Relations in Early Modern Drama’, explores the connections made between figures of sovereignty and animals in early modern drama. Nicole’s chapter, ‘“The Dignity of Mankind”: Edward Tyson’s Anatomie of a Pygmy and the Ape-Man Boundary’ was recently published in the edited collection Seeing Animals After Derrida (2018). She also has a forthcoming chapter on Shakespeare’s lions in The Routledge Handbook of Shakespeare and Animals.

Image: Bellini’s drawing of a monstrous chaffron. Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins

 

CFP: Horses, Moving, September 25-27, Museum of Archaeology, University of Stavanger

The conference seeks to address the movement and motility of horses from a wide array of perspectives, from prehistory until historical times. The Museum of Archaeology, University of Stavanger and the Høgskulen for landbruk og bygdeutvikling would like to invite you to “Horses, moving” a cross-disciplinary conference on the symbolism and relevance of horses in human societies throughout history, as well as the dynamics of human-horse interactions. Keynote speakers are professor Lynda Birke, University of Chester and professor Anita Maurstad, University of Tromsø. We would like to invite prospective participants to submit abstracts outlining their topic. Presentations may come from any field, archaeology, anthropology, ethnography, human geography, history, linguistics, folklore studies, equine studies or animal behavioral studies, to name but a few. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and must be submitted by June 30. For further information or to submit an abstract, please contact Sean Dexter Denham, sean.d.denham@uis.no.

Seeking Co-Panelists for HSS 2018 Session on Animals, the Environment, and Science

     Kathleen Sullivan Thomas is seeking three co-panelists for a session on animals, the environment, and science at HSS 2018 in Seattle. My own dissertation work investigates the interactions between wild animal and domestic bodies in mid-20th-century America through the lens of veterinary medicine and zoonotic disease, though it necessarily tangles with the problems of “wild” and “domestic” as classifications. Potential participants will ideally have a paper that touches on all three themes (animals, environment, science), but time and place need not be homogenous, and there is some flexibility within the themes. This panel would seek to pose new ideas about how animals complicate our human categories, encouraging other scholars to think about the ways science not only used animals, but constructed a human world around those bodies. Papers that explore animal agency are especially welcome, and possible topics include (but certainly are not limited to): veterinary medicine, wildlife science, experimentation, animal activism, animal work, evolutionary science, agriculture, and wilderness.

kst
    Interested parties should contact Kathleen Sullivan Thomas by April 1 at kas465@msstate.edu with a brief description of your work, and how you see your project contributing to the larger goal of the panel.

Call for Papers! Equine History Conference

IMG_0027   The Equine History Collective (EHC) invites submissions for individual presentations for its first annual conference, to take place Nov. 30 – Dec. 1 at Cal Poly Pomona, in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library. Submissions may investigate any equine in the past,kellogg including donkeys, mules, zebras and onagers. The theme of the conference is “Why Equine History Matters,” meant to show the relevance of equine history for historical studies. We therefore encourage papers that illustrate how any facet of equine history, broadly or narrowly conceived, helps to illuminate, interpret, and contextualize the past. The conference will conclude with a visit to the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center’s Sunday Show.

lutely.jpg   The EHC’s purpose is to foster equine history research and its dissemination, and promote collaboration between equine historians in all disciplines. As such, we encourage submissions from anyone who researches equine history. This includes, but is not limited to, scholars in other disciplines other than history, like agriculture, archaeology, art history, and literature, and researchers in non-academic settings, such as public historians and independent scholars. Submissions from scholars at any career stage are welcome. Please understand that space may be limited for this inaugural conference, but we expect the number of presentation spots available to grow in future years.IMG_1859

   The deadline for submission is 15 April 2018. Please send abstracts (250 words or less) and a one-page CV to equinehistory@gmail.com. The Program Committee will notify all those who submitted proposals of its decision by the end of May. Travel funds may be available for speakers.  Questions? Contact us.

Save the Date! First EHC Conference Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2018

Announcing the Equine History Conference!
Save the date: Fri. Nov. 30 – Sun Dec. 2, 2018
Organized by the Equine History Collective, the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library and the Kellogg Arabian Horse Center at Cal Poly Pomona

Calling all equine historians… We are delighted to announce the first annual conference and meeting of the Equine History Collective, in generous partnership with theW. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library  and Kellogg Arabian Center. The three-day conference will be held at the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library  on the campus of Cal Poly Pomona. Tours of the library and exhibits will be scheduled during the conference. Researchers are welcome and encouraged to contact the library archivists about making use of their special collections during their stay in Pomona. The conference will conclude with the traditional Sunday Arabian Show at the Kellogg Arabian Center.  Our official call for papers will follow!

CPPcollectionsdavenport

News from ASEH

logo

     The ASEH annual conference will be in Riverside, CA, March 14-18. There are a number of equine and animal presentations of interest. In addition, there will be a pre-ASEH twitter conference, sponsored by NiCHE, on March 8th & 9th. Submissions are due Feb. 21.

Persistence and Power: The Cultural, Symbolic, and Environmental Role of
Horses and Burros in Survivance in the American West
Lindsay Marshall, University of Oklahoma, “I’ve Been a Horse All My Life”: The
Persistence and Adaptability of Comanche Horse Culture in the Twentieth Century
Abbie Harlow, Arizona State University, “The Burro Evil”: The Eradication of Feral
Burros in Grand Canyon National Park
Kerri Keller Clement, University of Colorado-Boulder, Game of Horsepower: Robert
Yellowtail, Crow Horses, and Native American Power during the 1930s

Lightning Talks
Katrin Boniface, University of California-Riverside, Distributive Preservation & Heritage Livestock

Environment, Power, and Injustice in Southern African Histories
Sandra Swart, Stellenbosch University-South Africa, The Animal in the Mirror – Baboons and the Politics of Power

Managing the Health of People and Animals
Brian Tyrrell, University of California-Santa Barbara, Breeding the Bluegrass: A Political
Ecology of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region

Elusive Beasts: Affective Encounters and the Politics of Representation
Sandra Swart, Stellenbosch University-South Africa, The Others – Animal Kinship and the Strangeness of Familiarity