#MemberMonday: Jeannette Vaught

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Jeannette Vaught
California State University-Los Angeles

American Studies PhD., University of Texas at Austin
English B.A., Minor in History, Vassar College 
Former equine veterinary technician . 

 

 

What got you in to history? horse history?
A lifetime with horses, a veterinary background, and the crucial discovery of STS while in an interdisciplinary humanities graduate program: it all came together that I could study the cultural history of equine science!

Who is your favorite historical horse?
Clever Hans — such a good boy.

What are you working on now?
A very slow-moving long-term project on the science, history, and cultures of equine-focused reproductive technologies in the U.S. [See a bit of this in the latest Humanimalia]

Anything else you’d like to add?
Incorporating agricultural history and animal studies into the fields of gender studies and STS is very important to me — I am always happy to find others to collaborate with and learn from! The photo is of me and my horse Dallas when we were both kids. We’re both much older now!

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#MemberMonday: J.N. Campbell

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M.A. History

M.A. History of Decorative Arts

What got you in to history? horse history?
   I’ve always enjoyed thinking about it, discussing it, and wading into it. If you are lucky enough to have grandparents and parents that instill a sense of the past, I think that is grist for the mill. I went to the University of Kentucky for graduate school, and I drank the kool-aid, along with a bunch of hot browns and burgoo. I took jobs at the Kentucky Horse Park, and spent time at Keeneland. If I could have my ashes spread across the Haggin Course I would.

   Horse racing is such an important part of the American fabric. I think scholars, whether attached to a university or independents, like myself, can do much to shed light on the state of the sport. Honestly, I am concerned. The local track in the hamlet or even in the mid to large-size city is under attack. My hope is that somehow racing will not just be someday at a handful of tracks like Santa Anita, Gulfstream, or at the NYRA courses. We have to do all we can to lobby, cast our nets widely, and support the Sam Houston Race Parks and Turfway Parks in our universe too. Otherwise, its going to be pretty grim.

Who is your favorite historical horse?

That’s like asking which kid do you like the most. I am partial to turf runners because 330px-Wise_Dan_2012_03I truly believe that running on the grass is the way it should be. I know that sounds crazy, but the dirt just doesn’t do it for me. I got to see John Henry in person after he retired. But, all-time is Wise Dan. That record, his style, and just the way he battled back time and time again. It was impressive to witness.

What are you working on now?
  I just finished up this past summer a new brief on the history of the opioid epidemic. It is called A Time-Release History of the Opioid Epidemic, published through Springer’s History of Chemistry Series. This is the second brief (History of Aspirin was the first) that I have published with a good friend of mine who is a chemist called Steve Rooney. Writing together is a true joy and it has brought us closer together through some tough spots. Right now, I am focused on writing a weekly editorial for The Sports Haven. Long-term, Steve and I plan to complete a third volume on the history of Lasix and its impact on American thoroughbred horse racing. Stay tuned!

#MemberMonday: Mike Huggins

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Mike Huggins
University of Cumbria

Ph. D., Lancaster University, 1999
Diploma in Reading Studies, Open University, 1988
Diploma in Management Studies, CNAA, 1986
MA, CNAA, 1983
Diploma in Religious Studies, Cambridge University, 1976
BA (Hons), Open University, 1975 (first class)
Certificate in Mathematics, National Extension College, 1969
Cert Ed, Durham, 1967

What got you in to history? horse history?
I initially taught in primary schools, specializing in reading, and later worked in teacher training and school inspection. But I did a doctorate on the nineteenth-century history of British horse racing to fill my time during the school holidays, and that motivated me to move into the academic world to teach leisure history.
Rather like Saul of Tarsus my conversion to horse history took a long time. I’ve never ridden a horse. Though amongst my many books are three on British racing’s history, covering the period from 1660 to 1939, including my most recent on the long eighteenth century, they’ve focused on cultural, social, economic and political themes and the debates about betting, and did not foreground the horses anywhere near as much as I should have. But I’m belatedly giving it more thought now.

Who is your favorite historical horse?Statue of Kincsem
Kincsem, the thoroughbred mare foaled in Hungary in 1874, is a favourite of mine, not least since mares can be overlooked. She won 54 races from 54 starts, many of them high standard, on racetracks across Europe, and later through her offspring influenced the breed.

What are you working on now?
I am currently exploring the cultural transfer and knowledge circulation of thoroughbred breeding and racing between Britain and Europe between 1700 and 1880.

 

#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.

#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.