#MemberMonday: Alexandre Blaineau

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Alexandre Blaineau

PhD European University of Brittany,
Greek History

What got you in to history ?
   I am interested on the civilizations of the Mediterranean sea, especially the Greek civilization, whose ways of thinking and culture are powerful elements of reflection.


In to equine history ?
   I started working on Xenophon before becoming interested in equine history. Then, the two equestrian treatises of the Athenian author were the object of my interest. My PhD was about horses and riders in Xenophon’s works. Equine history is a vast field of study because it deals with the history of technology, social history, economic history, social history, cultural history… I am convinced that we must work in interdisciplinarity to better understand horses as “actors” of history.

Who is your favorite historical horse ?
Bucephalus ! [A popular answer! Kat Boniface & Chelsea Shields-Más answered likewise]

What are you working on right now ?
I’m working on centaurs, and also the reception of Xenophon.

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#MemberMonday: #EqHist2018 Keynote Richard Nash

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We are pleased to announce our keynote speaker for Equine History 2018, Dr. Richard Nash. His work likely needs no introduction, including “‘Honest English Breed:’ The Thoroughbred as Cultural Metaphor,”  in The Culture of the Horse: Status, Discipline, and Identity in the Early Modern World, one of the works that reinvigorated the field of equine history.

PhD, University of Virginia, English

What got you into history, and into equine history?

   I have only worked two places in my life: the university and the racetrack; my parents were both English professors who met in their first year of teaching at the University of Louisville at a New Faculty mixer at Churchill Downs.  As my webpage indicates, my developing interest in theorizing nature-culture hybridity as integral to understanding “modernity” directed my attention to combining my two lifelong interests by studying the role of the creation of the thoroughbred horse in early modern culture.  That project, once began, kept proliferating and generating more avenues for exploration, which I imagine I will continue to pursue for some time to come.

Who is your favorite historical horse?

   I am sure many will agree with me that this is an almost impossible question to answer; there are simply too many possibilities for different reasons, and my mood fluctuates too much, for me to ever settle on just one.  I will say that we tend to think of “historical” in terms of the distant past, but it also extends right up to the present.  More than any horse in my lifetime, American Pharoah arrested my attention every time he AmericanPharoah_AE-Lmoved.   No matter what I was doing, if someone sent me a video clip of him galloping– not even racing or working, but just galloping– I would stop what I was doing to watch it immediately, because he hit the ground so perfectly when he ran.  That sheer aesthetic pleasure in pure animal physicality is an important part of how humans admire horses.  But my historical work is grounded in the era of the foundations of the thoroughbred and of the sport; and my interest as a historian, has always been in recovering significant figures too long neglected by history.  I have several of those who I work on, in various ways, but let me mention two in particular. A horse named Buckhunter, but most often referred to as the Carlisle gelding ,was arguably the first important gelding as a racehorse.  Obviously, he left no lasting mark on the breed, but early in his career, he won important races at York; and while he changed hands frequently, working his way down the ladder of competition, he continued winning when placed at the proper level for nearly a dozen years, finally breaking down in his final start, and being buried entire,* near where he died.  In many ways, he set the type for an important– and difficult– part of the sport.  Arguably, the most important horse to the bloodlines of the modern thoroughbred is a mare named Old Bald Peg.  While her importance has been known for some time in at least a statistical way– if one follows both sides of the pedigree, not just sire lines, no name shows up more often in a foundational role– some of my recent research is directing me to an argument that the breeding program developed around her by Lord Fairfax was also profoundly influential on those near neighbors of his in North Yorkshire who established the protocols for developing the thoroughbred.  So, now I have managed to name an intact male, a gelding, and a mare, so I will stop here.  Though I could go on forever.

What are you working on right now?

   My primary contribution to The Heath and The Horse was to tell the story of the early years of the Jockey Club, which had long (mistakenly) been thought to have been created Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 9.36.36 AMin 1751.  My work shows that the Club was founded in association with King George’s visit to Newmarket in 1717, and the events that followed from that– one way or another, we can say that we have just witnessed the 300th anniversary of the Jockey Club. That work is, itself, part of a larger story that I am working on about the intertwining of horse racing with cultural and political history in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries; while there will be some discussion of preludes and codas, the heart of my narrative focuses on roughly the 100 years between the Restoration of Charles II and the death of the Duke of Cumberland and the breeding of Eclipse a century later.  The piece of that project that currently engages my attention is the important era– for both horse racing and national politics– between the last years of the reign of Charles II and the succession of Queen Anne; and the process by which certain racing courtiers active in the sport during the reign of Charles negotiated the establishment of parliamentary monarchy, and how horse racing served a purpose of political theater in that process that would serve as a prototype for the founding of the Jockey Club by their immediate descendants.

Where do you see the field going?

   This question takes me back up to those theoretical questions where my project began: how do we think about modernity in relation to the question of nature and culture? How is such a set of theoretical questions necessary to re-thinking the anthropocentric stories of human history told by modernity, in order to develop better, more ecologically attuned historical narratives that see humans involved with other animals in a common history.  If the world we live in is not here for us, but rather includes us within it, then any proper historical understanding of how we came to occupy our current place in this ecology requires us to attend to more than just human actors. I think the future of the field is in contributing to a much larger transformation of thought, as we begin to learn how to think ecologically instead of anthropocentrically.

*This was a huge honor! See US Sport History: Death of a Hero for how recently it was unusual to bury a horse whole.

#MemberMonday: Jane Flynn

Toby at Marchington

Jane Flynn
PhD, ‘Sense and Sentimentality: The Soldier-Horse Relationship in The Great War’, The University of Derby (2016)
MA, Masters in Humanities by Research, The University of Derby (2011)
PGCE, English with Drama, The University of York (2000)
RSA Cert., Teaching English as a Foreign Language, The British Council, Hong Kong (1996)
BA, English Literature and Theatre Studies, The University of Leeds (1995)


What got you into history? Equine History
?

   I was introduced to ponies and riding when I was two. A local family would occasionally call my Mum and ask if I’d like to go out for a ride. Donned in wellies, my checky trousers and favourite “jazzy jumper” I was ready to go, and always beside myself with excitement. I remember Noodle and I demonstrating my trot (very bouncy) to my Mum and Dad, and how I could get off by myself. Noodle was an absolute star; a proper Thelwell pony who was wise beyond measure, but not without his cheeky moments! Since then little has changed – the ponies just got a wee bit bigger!

   This was the start of a life-long obsession I am now lucky enough to be able to combine with my academic work. I started off as an English Literature person, so my interest in Equine History really began with a steady trickle of the likes of Surtees, Somerville and Ross, Sewell, and Sassoon. It started turning into a historical interest when I found a copy of Glenda Spooner’s For Love of Horses at an antiques fair. The rest is history!

   The many wonderful (and very memorable) horses and ponies I have met and ridden over the years inspired me to do what I do now. Especially my old boy Toby, who taught me so much, gave me countless wonderful memories, and to whom I dedicated my PhD.

Who is your favourite historical horse?

   Soldiers often had their favourite horses, and it is they I immediately think of. They are too numerous to mention here, and I could write for hours about each and every one, but here are a few notable examples. Slogger earned his name, and the respect of the men in his unit, because he always tried his best. He was particularly admired for his ability to get waggons and limbers out of the mud when other horses, and even mules, would have given up long before. Lion was a mule who knew his own mind. It took four men to groom him, but for his driver he would do anything. Kitty patiently withstood all the noise and chaos around her. She featured regularly in the letters of the soldier to whom she had been assigned. He was clearly very fond of her; often expressing concern about her, or telling amusing tales of their adventures and exploits.

   Last, and by no means least, was a chestnut gelding called Songster.  Songster was a Songsterfirm favourite of the Leicestershire Yeomanry, and after the War became something of a local hero. He was affectionately described as having been “as artful as a barrowload of monkeys” – a character trait to which his survival of the War was largely attributed. After a long and active life (he hunted with the Quorn, and attended every Yeomanry camp until his last in 1935) Songster died at the grand old age of forty in 1940. Slogger, Lion, Kitty and Songster survive into modern memory, but only because they were remembered with such respect and affection by the soldiers who had known them.

What are you working on right now?

   I am currently working on a book project entitled Soldiers and their Horses: Sense, Sentimentality and the Soldier-Horse Relationship in The Great War. My proposal is under consideration at the moment, so watch this space!

Anything else you’d like to add?

   I will be presenting “The Pitiable Martyrdom of Man’s Faithful Friend: Portrayals of the Soldier and his Horse in The War Illustrated, 1914 to 1918” at the Artistic Expressions and The Great War conference at Hofstra University, New York, November 7th to 9th 2018.

   I will also be presenting “A Weapon in the Hands of the Allies: Transporting British Army Horses and Mules during The Great War” at the Maritime Animals: Telling Stories of Animals at Sea conference, at The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, April 25th to 27th 2019.

 

 

#MemberMonday: Dr. Kathryn Renton

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    The EHC would like to congratulate the newest doctor of equine history, Dr. Kathryn Renton. She earned her doctoral degree this month from the UCLA Department of History. Her dissertation was entitled “Breed, Race and Empire: Horse and Human in the Iberian World (1348-1619),” and is already changing how we think about colonial horses and horsekeeping. Dr. Renton is a founding member of our organization, and currently serves as treasurer. Her service to the EHC has been invaluable in developing features like this blog along with the upcoming Equine History Conference. Read Dr. Renton’s EHC profile here.

#MemberMonday: Erica Munkwitz

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Erica Munkwitz

American University (Washington, DC)
PhD, British History, American University (2014)
MA, European History, American University (2008)
BA, History, Sweet Briar College (2002)
BA, English/Creative Writing, Sweet Briar College (2002)

What got you in to history? horse history?
   I have ridden and trained in nearly all disciplines (hunter-jumper, equitation, cross-country, dressage, Western pleasure, Western reining and games, endurance, and yes, side-saddle), but I didn’t link my sporting interests with my academic research until my second year of grad school. I had initially applied to American University to study German-Russian relations after the Second World War, but the disastrous state of the necessary microfilm sources at the National Archives dictated that I quickly find another topic. In a very lucky break, we had just finished reading Linda Colley’s Britons in our European colloquium. She asserted that fox-hunting had been “confined almost exclusively to men,” concluding “in short, the invention of fox-hunting can be seen, as it was seen at the time, as another expression of the new, patriotic patrician machismo…” That line changed the course of my research and my life. Given this martial and masculine representation, what opportunities did women have to join in such sports during the long nineteenth century? How did they justify their involvement to partake in equestrianism before they took up other – arguably, more “feminine” and less demanding – sports like tennis and golf? How were traditional ideals of femininity and domesticity revolutionized by doing so, both in Britain and throughout the British Empire? What were the repercussions of their increased participation on women’s rights and personal emancipation before the First World War? These are the questions I worked to answer in my dissertation entitled “‘Straight Ahead and Over Everything’: Women and Equestrian Sports in Britain, 1772-1956.”

Who is your favorite historical horse?
   All the horses I’ve ridden, and all the ones I haven’t! I also love Whistlejacket, Joey and Topthorn from War Horse, and in film – Cisco (Dances with Wolves) and Denny (The Man from Snowy River).

What are you working on now?
   My book proposal is under consideration now and I hope to have exciting news soon. The book project, entitled “Riding to Freedom: Women, Horse Sports, and Liberation in Britain, 1772-1928,” is devoted to understanding how British women’s involvement in sidesaddle riding, fox-hunting, and polo during the nineteenth century transcended gender and class boundaries and enabled women to attain social equality well before they achieved political equality via the vote in 1918. By riding astride rather than sidesaddle by the late nineteenth century, I argue that female equestrians in Britain and the Empire revolutionized ideals of femininity well before bicyclists, suffragettes, and war workers, and also well before women in other European countries such as France and Germany. Stay tuned!

Anything else you’d like to add?
   See more about my academic journey in this article: “Horse-Sense and Sensibility,” in  The International Journal of the History of Sport’s special issue on “Aspiration and Reflection: Sport Historians on Sport History.” 

Erica and Perseus
Perseus, Household Cavalry Drum Horse

   I will be presenting “Patrons of Pegasus: Women as Equestrian Entrepreneurs, 1880-1930,” at the Equine Cultures in Transition conference at Leeds Beckett University, June 19–21 2018.

   I will also be presenting “‘Four Things Greater Than All Things Are:’ Women, Horses and Power in History” at the EHC inaugural conference in December 2018.

Contact me on Twitter @EricaMunkwitz

 

#MemberMonday: Chelsea Shields-Más

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Chelsea Shields-Más

SUNY College at Old Westbury
PhD, History, University of York, UK (2014)
MA, Medieval Studies, University of York, UK (2010)
BA, Medieval Studies, Mount Holyoke College (2008)

What got you in to history? horse history?
   My love for history and horses has been intertwined for as long as I can remember. I’ve loved horses since about age 2… there seems to be no rhyme or reason for this passion (i.e. no one else in my family rides), and family members joke that “horses are in my blood.” At a young age I developed a love for the medieval period facilitated by reading early Irish, English and Norse myths and legends, learning about knights and medieval warfare and my dad bringing me on trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters in NYC.

Who is your favorite historical horse?
   Alexander the Great’s Bucephalus [Kat Boniface’s answer, too!]

What are you working on now?
   I’m currently working on finishing up a monograph on the reeve in late Anglo-Saxon England (under contract with Boydell & Brewer). In my study of the reeve as an estate manager, I have come across interesting sources on the horse and horse management in late Anglo-Saxon England, which is a project I am also currently researching.

Anything else you’d like to add?
   I’ve ridden since age 7 and have done dressage exclusively since about age 15. My love of and interest in dressage was in part sparked by reading Xenophon and learning about Classical and Medieval training of war horses.

Chelsea Shields-Más will be presenting “If Wishes were Horses: Building a Picture of Late Anglo-Saxon Equine Management and Care” at our inaugural conference.

#MemberMonday: Holly Kruse

roscoe

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.