Monday, 10 April 2017

H is for Horse …




Well now this was going to be long before I started researching for this post … I will endeavour to be short (failed!)… and maybe there will be a linked post anon (probably) …

Ice Age map showing the peninsula
from which Britain was formed:
check out Wiki - History of the Horse
to see the sites shown - Kents Cavern,
as well as Pakefield, Suffolk


The history of the horse in Britain starts with horse remains found in Suffolk, dating from 700,000 BC – hence you can see my historical challenge for H for Horse!





As far as farm stock is concerned … the horse has had to adapt to changing conditions more rapidly and effectively than any other species of farm livestock.



Drawing a barge on the Tiverton Canal, Somerset
 They have always carried man … with the added duty of being agricultural draught animals over the centuries, before being superseded by the combustion engine in the mid 1800s … and diverted to other uses.



Windsor Greys - so called as they are kept
at Windsor Castle - the majority of the
horses are Cleveland Bays

This meant that different characteristics were required to the original qualities of the breed.  In the 20th century the horse had to adapt yet again … for racing, riding, show-jumping, carriage riding, or eventing …




This changing market meant that new breeds were introduced, so that now more than half the equine breeds are of foreign origin.



Caspian Bay bucking ... 
Some imported breeds are rare – the Caspian … now has a secure base here, but is severely endangered in its country of origin: native to northern Iran and almost certainly sped couriers across the Persian Empire – 3,000 years ago.



I mentioned the Eriksay in my B for British Breeds, which is a Highland pony originating from the Western Isles of Scotland.

These are Shetland ponies c 1900


It was used by crofters as a draught animal, carrying loads of seaweed in panniers up to the fields for fertiliser, and peat from the hills to the crofts for fuel.



Exmoors on Porlock Common
looking out across the Bay

Exmoor Ponies can be traced back to the first ponies that reached Britain after the Ice Age … their feral descendants still roam the Moor … but are now bred throughout the country and make good all-round family ponies …



Tor Grass

Beachy Head just outside Eastbourne, where I live, has been home to some Exmoors, which are grazing the Downland …


… the National Trust have taken to using Exmoors instead of sheep – as they do a better job of keeping the spread of tor grass down – and thus let the native flowers bloom on the chalk downland.


Dartmoor Ponies – another breed from the West Country – for centuries were vital for the economy of the area … they are now being protected as a ‘true type’ of pony in their natural environment.


Croasdale Fell, Cumbria

Fell ponies are another breed – some feral herds can be found on their native Cumbrian fells … while others are kept as riding ponies.  They are famous as trotting ponies … which continues today.




Under saddle a Dale Pony stallion

Dale Ponies were originally packhorses carrying huge loads for long distances each week from the lead mines in the Pennines to the coast.  These too adapted to the work in the leisure industry as a driving and riding pony.


Next we come to the Heavy Horses ... the Suffolk is immensely strong and is an ideal horse for working the land or carting goods.  It is the oldest breed of heavy horse to exist in its present form.


 
A Suffolk pair ready for a
ploughing match
All Suffolks are descended from one horse – Crisp’s Horse of Ufford, foaled in 1768 … there were many Suffolks prior to World War One … the breed is slowly making a comeback.  


Wadsworth Brewery - Shire Horses



The Suffolk does not have feathering on its legs, as seen in the Shire or Clydesdale, leaving them clean and less likely to carry mud … a useful advantage at times.


Shire Horse logging


Heavy Horses … the working horses – Draught Horses – feature in many industries now … the Breweries, Logging Industry, clearing Moorland, and as Coach horses, Show horses etc …



That is H for the Happy Horse adapting to the Human’s way of life … or Hapless A-Z reader with one of Hilary’s long posts … from Aspects of British County Rare Breeds …

Counties with the letter H … 
(note some Counties have been retired!, or amended over historical local government … but some I’ve included)
England:  Hampshire; Herefordshire; Hertfordshire; Humberside; Huntingdonshire;
Northern Ireland: None
Scotland:  None
Wales:  None

Even now I failed to mention racing horses ...  nor have I touched on other uses for the horse ... eg mane and tail hairs can be used for brushes, upholstery, or for musical instrument bows ...

Should you wish to know more I wrote a fairly comprehensive post on the Queen's horses - where these amazing animals are her counter-balance to Monarchy ... and detailed some other aspects ... including the fact she has 43 breeds in her care!  During the A-Z on 26th April she will turn 91 ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

52 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

As always I read enthralled. I hadn't realised that not all of the 'heavy horses' had feathering on their legs. And yes, it would be an advantage.
Thank you so much for all the research you put into your posts.

Sophie Duncan said...

I remember seeing the ponies on Exmoor when we holidayed there in my teens - they are handsome creatures.
Sophie
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

Empty Nest Insider said...

Hi Hilary, What a dazzling array of Heavy Horses! I haven't gone horse backing riding since our boys were little, and I was lucky to have a very slow moving horse! You've chosen another wonderful A to Z theme, and you always go the extra mile in true work horse fashion! Sorry I couldn't resist!

Julie

Nilanjana Bose said...

I like long posts - the more the meat the better the treat :) one of my childhood friends used to say that. I didn't know that horses in Britain go back to 700,000 BCE,wow! Love the meticulous research and the informative posts you do.

This one reminded me of the books by James Herriot, he too mentions how the horse was phased out from being the primary farm animal in the first half of the 20th, and the impact it had on a vet's professional life. I am going to come back for your Queen's horses post.

Nila
Madly-in-Verse

Keith's Ramblings said...

I was kept company by New Forest ponies when I was camping near Beaulieu last July. Nosey little devils! Thanks for another delightful chapter.

Another day in Amble Bay!

Vinodini Iyer said...

I don't recollect seeing a horse with feathering on its feet. Or probably the horse breeds that we have in India don't have feathered feet. Yet another informative post, Hilary.

Curtis Bausse said...

A lovely equine reminder of our horsey heritage. Might I add the Welsh Mountain? I have fond memories of learning to ride on the hardy and headstrong Sooty, who lived to a ripe old age.

bookworm said...

This made me think of our Clydesdales that a national beer brand uses so extensively in their advertising. Every Super Bowl, they create a commercial with these horses that makes you want to cry (in a good way). The Unknown Journey Ahead agingonthespectrum.blogspot.com

Susan Scott said...

So hardworking are horses Hilary - with a long history indeed. And, I picked up a gift from the post office this morning, a small book of poems and just before I sat down at desk at home, I randomly opened it to find on page 69 - a poem entitled 'White Horse' ..
Lovely post, thank you ..

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

As fascinating as ever, Hilary. It's wonderful when wild creatures of any sort are spotted in our countryside, but the ponies of the moors are a bit special - there's a herd along the Pembrokeshire coast, too. I wander what happened to the breed of horse that was used for cavalry?

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Sorry, that should be 'wonder' - I was obviously getting carried away...

FinnBadger said...

Great post. I am glad that other ways have been found for humans to interact with horses following the invention of the motor vehicle.

Phillip | H is for Homemade Envelopes

Out on the prairie said...

I have always marveled at the large drafts. We could put 3 kids on their back and ride around the fields. I have been drawn to the miniatures, but haven't gotten one yet.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC – I know nothing about horses … so it was interesting to write these posts up. Glad you enjoy what I write –thank you …

@ Sophie – the Moor ponies are a delight aren’t they – saw some last year in Devon and Somerset …

@ Julie – yes there was rather a lot to write about horses of all sorts and even then I ‘forgot’ some. It was not an occupation I did – I was thrown too often and that put me off for life obviously! I needed a slow moving horse – it got me to the top of a stony track and said that’s it … you’re off and I was – thwump!

Thanks the theme was a bit of a shock – I thought it’d be easy – but not so … still it’s been a good brain work out – well was last year … and yes it’s been a good horse work out trying to remember what I wrote and why!

@ Nila – many thanks … I appreciate that – I do at least give them some meat … with the pictures I include to illustrate various points.

I’m sure the vets have had to adapt to the changing way of life – WWl had an enormous effect on rural life with its after effects – loss of manpower and loss of horses …

Enjoy the Queen’s horses – it was a fun post to write up …

@ Keith – I’m sure the New Forest ponies are relatively happy around people camping in their forest. Noisy – ah well … you’re in their space! Just glad you enjoyed the read … and fun to read about the ponies quizzing you …

@ Vinodini – it’s very likely your Indian breed of horse will be very different to ours … the feathered feet belong to ‘heavy horses’ used to work the land …

@ Curtis – we certainly have a horse heritage here … you may add Welsh Mountain Pony and Cob … they look stunning … and how wonderful to have those memories. I expect I had way too much information to go into too much more detail … so thank you for reminding us of the Welsh Mountain Pony and Cob …

@ Bookworm – yes the Clydesdales are from Scotland – and are used to pull the beer wagons – Fullers in London, Budweiser – they seem to be known for. I don’t see the Super Bowl – but obviously can see what you’re saying … it’s good to know the breed is known in the States – even if via the Super Bowl!

@ Susan – they are such hardworking animals with a long history. Oh how lovely to read a White Horse poem … gorgeous reminder of horses in general … was it a DH Lawrence poem?

@ Mike – oh I love seeing the ponies on the Moors and horses in the fields – I bet there’s a herd on the Pembrokeshire coast – I’ve never been but would love to visit.

Re your Cavalry Horse: - the Clydesdales are used as drum horses by the British Household Cavalry – any other information I find … I’ll add in to the comments in due course …

@ Phillip – yes lots of alternative uses have been found for horses … we need the motor vehicles to pull them don’t we …

@ Steve – I agree those drafts are extraordinarily wonderful beasts … 3 kids – what fun that must have been. My SIL has a miniature – he’s very sturdy!

Cheers to you all – it’s good horses delight us so much … take care - Hilary

Kim Blades said...

Hi Hilary. I got your address from Jemima Pett's blog today. I also wrote on horses for the a to z challenge. More on their general evolution. You post contains lots of different information to mine. Nice to meet you. Kim

Rhodesia said...

Aha, you are now on my favourite subject but I was mainly involved with thoroughbreds most of my life. Interesting post and again, although a subject I know well, you have touched on a couple of points that I have learnt once again from you. Have a good week Diane

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I live near many horse farms, most of them for sale. It makes me so sad to see this as there is nothing more lovely than watching these beautiful species running across the pastures. Modern times have put the horse out of work and the land has become so valuable that the owners must sell or go broke.

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

So many horses. I've only ever been on a horse a couple of times, one time me and the very fast riding stable horse just came to an agreement - he would follow the others as long as when we stopped for a breather I let him eat whatever he wanted :)
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings - Shapeshifters and Werewolves

Jo said...

700,000 years? I am staggered. Fascinating post Hilary. I particularly loved the Dale Pony picture, they are such pretty looking animals. I didn't realise that some heavy horses didn't have feathering either. Always loved horses and this was very enjoyable. Of course when I read Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire I immediately thought "Hurricanes hardly ever happen".

I remember your post about the Queen's horses too.

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Hilary, the photos you display of the "heavy horses" mesmerized me. They are as ageless as the Queen leads us to believe she is.

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

What a nice variety of horses. Oh, that Dale is gorgeous. The Exmoor Pony has held my fascination for a long time.

Emily Bloomquist said...

Wow - 700,000 BC was a long time ago. Incredible. The Dale Pony looks looks beautiful and built perfectly for cooler weather.

Emily | My Life In Ecuador | Humpback Whales

Sylvia van Bruggen said...

I think Shires are the most magnificent of horses. They are so beautiful and so regal in their nature. I love them!

Bob Scotney said...

The heavy horses have always been my favourites. The first one I remember pulled the cart for the local coal merchant during the war. As we have three riding school within a mile of our village I see horses i fields and being ridden down the lanes almost every day.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Kim – great to see you – and I’ve read your eloquent history of the horse – wonderful. I’m now following you and will back track to see your other posts in due course!

@ Diane – yes I thought you’d love this post. I didn’t concentrate too much on thoroughbreds – though you could do a guest post for me sometime?! I’m glad I managed to find something new to ‘tell’ you about!

@ Arleen – yes I think the same is happening here … so sad in these challenging times. They are beautiful creatures to see out in the fields or pasture as you describe it. Pity … life is changing for many …

@ Tasha – well you were lucky you weren’t thrown … but you obviously had the sensible approach … they are strong creatures too … and I’ve only ventured a go on occasion – not successfully …

@ Jo – I know – it is staggering … but if you read Kim Blades’ post above you’ll see why they were here. Yes the Dale Pony was a great find wasn’t it … lovely colours too. The feathering was an interesting extra … I’m glad you remember the previous post I wrote up re the Queen …

@ Gail – the heavy horses are extraordinary creatures to look at and to see working, particularly on the streets, or in the forests – and the Queen is doing so well isn’t she …

@ Holly- a range of horses certainly. Yes the Dale looks a delight and the Exmoor …

@ Emily – I know 700,000 years is a long time – animals really roamed the world. The Dale is built for our climes isn’t it …

@ Sylvia – magnificent aren’t they – the Shires are extraordinary …. As you say beautiful and so regal in their nature …

Thanks so much to you all – horses obviously are hugely popular … good to see you … if you get a chance – check out Kim’s post – also on horses and their origin:
https://kim153.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/horses-their-evolution-atozchallenge-h/


Cheers and enjoy your second week of the A-Z - Hilary

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I have always loved horses and have attended shows numerous times. It still amazes me how many different breeds there are and they're all beautiful. Saw the Budweiser Clydesdales just last summer. They're magnificent.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Sorry Bob - our comments crossed. You must be in a wonderful part of the world ... having horses around you and seeing them regularly. I don't remember a horse pulling a cart when I was growing up ... but my uncle told me about the milk floats being walked around with a horse - and the milkman whistling for the horse to catch up!!

Cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan - you then slipped in ... I've never been to a Horse Show and often thought I should ... and yes, when I started writing the post up I was amazed at the content that I might have included ... only managed a few -so glad you saw the Budweiser Clydesdales last year - they are incredible animals ... cheers Hilary

Jacqui Murray said...

I am so enjoying these posts, Hilary. Horses--what great creatures.

cleemckenzie said...

Horses are always animals to admire and appreciate. I loved reading about all that you included here today. I've put a small shout out on my blog for you today! Yay #AtioZChallenger.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I loved the images and learning so much of Britain's horses. When you think of the American Indian, you always picture them on horseback. But the first horses were introduced to America by the Spanish explorers!

Kristin said...

I like the picture of the Dale Pony in your post. We used to ride ponies at the park when I was little. They just went around in a circle. They weren't Dales though.

Laurel Garver said...

Horses are indeed a very useful animal, even just the small handful of varieties you mentioned. They carry us over distances (and obstacles--the hunter breeds) and at speed (the racers), pull cargo, and are useful for herding cattle and people. Aa a city dweller, I mostly see them on duty with a policeman astride or giving tourists a nice carriage ride around historic sites.

Joanne said...

I had no idea there were so many breeds, etc. I admire horses from afar. The few times I got roped into a trail ride I was scared to death. As a kid, I was nipped by a Shetland - mean little bugger. I'll leave dressage, etc to the pros. Fascinating history - you've done your work on Horses

Yolanda Renée said...

I love horses! Always have, especially betting on them when my uncle took me to the track. He was a trainer, and the betting was done between my cousins and me, on the hillside watching the races from the barns. Such fun!

M. Denise C. said...

Aww. This post reminds me of when I briefly had a horse. Such great animals to take care of--however, I was too young and lacked transportation to go to the stables. I lived in the suburbs. Thanks for a great post. I love learning about your country, Hilary. Cheers, Denise

Liz A. said...

Writing a history of horses is like writing a definition of the. So ubiquitous as to make an exhaustive examination huge.

Jean Davis said...

The Dale pony is very pretty! I like the looks of the sturdy horses more than the others. Such beautiful animals.
Discarded Darlings - Jean Davis, Speculative Fiction Writer, A to Z: Editing Fiction

Debbie D. said...

Horses of all types are such beautiful animals. Thanks for this comprehensive, educational post on the different breeds, Hilary. I had no idea there were so many! Have a great second week of the A to Z.

Nick Wilford said...

What a great variety of horses. The neighbour across from the street from us has a collection of ponies and donkeys, with a lot of land out front - it's nice to see them when driving or walking past. And of course there are lots of horses around too. This post leads me to wonder, what is the purpose of the feathered legs? The horses seem to be more streamlined without them.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jacqui – that’s great to read and horses are wonderful creatures … we just never really got on!

@ Lee – thanks so much – it was interesting to write up and I appreciate your shout out to me …

@ Roland – glad the images add to the post and giving you some inclination of our British breeds … you’re right I always think of early Americans and Indian Americans on horseback … but no – horse bones have been found way earlier on the American continent … the Spanish would have shipped over the particular breed suitable to their Spanish way of conquering …

@ Kristin – thanks so much … pony riding seems to be the way to start something we didn’t do as kids … even walking in circles is better than nothing – gave you that introduction to the equine breed …

@ Laurel – as you mention horses had many uses and today have lots of other uses … policemen, carriage rides, pulling beer carts, ceremonial times … and I did only mention a few varieties …

@ Joanne – these are just some of the breeds … I never went trail riding … but I wasn’t happy around horses either – usually being thrown! Thanks re the write up – I do what I can …

@ Yolanda - good to see you … happy memories for you with your uncle and cousins – wise to bet between yourselves well away from the track – lovely fun …

@ Denise – well that’s good bringing those memories back for you. Pity about not being able to get to the stables … it’s life sometimes as a kid – isn’t it …

@ Liz – yes … there was a lot to write about and I could have gone on and on … but enough is enough …

@ Jean – isn’t that Dale pony a delight …while the huge sturdy animals are huge! But beautiful …

@ Debbie – I’m glad you enjoyed the post – it broadens our perspective doesn’t it, certainly opened my eyes to a few things …

@ Nick – loads of species of horse – oh what fun to be able to see ponies and donkeys from your home and that spread of land.

The feathering I found out … is designed to stop the water running down the legs from pooling in between the heel bulbs and causing thrush and greasy heel – it’s a natural defence.

Thanks to you all for your visits – delighted to see so many of you … see you at I … cheers Hilary

Gattina said...

Interesting ! I have always loved horses, but was so afraid of them. Since a few years this fear suddenly stopped and now I am even able to pet them !

Sue Bursztynski said...

We don't have as many work horses in the city as when I was a child. I'm old enough to remember when our milk was delivered by a milk cart pulled by a white mare called Lady. I lived in a flat in a small, quiet court, so when I heard the rattle of crates in the early dawn hours, I pulled in a t shirt and shorts and ran downstairs to greet and pat Lady...

Michelle Wallace said...

My hubby is a horse racing aficionado. He loves these creatures and knows about their breeding/lineage/race statistics, etc.
I should consider incorporating some of his knowledge into my stories. One day.

Sharon M Himsl said...

We owe a lot to these beautiful creatures who have long eased the burden of life for us and brought so much joy to those who love them. I have a young girl's love of horses begun when I first went to an area stable and rented a ride. You did a great job researching them. Thanks so much for sharing.

Pamela Wright said...

What a fabulous post - I never knew there was evidence of them that long ago in the UK, pretty mind boggling really. I love the heavy horses, they're so reliable looking. My other new favourite is Shetland ponies as there are so many of them in the highlands - they're so cute.

Pamela @ Highlands Days of Fun

Deborah Weber said...

Goodness I had no idea about all those horses, and particularly the heavy ones. How fascinating. You are a masterful researcher with this series Hilary!

Sara C. Snider said...

Horses are such fantastic, beautiful creatures. You've also now rekindled my desire to have a pony. ;)

A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

Karen Lange said...

Great post, Hilary! So much interesting info. I had no idea. Have always loved horses, they are such beautiful animals. Here in north central Kentucky, USA - horses are a huge thing. Race horses as well as Quarter and Thoroughbred are raised here, and there are horse shows galore. Of course, Churchill Downs is not far from here, so that factors into the picture too. Even so, I don't know much about horses, so appreciate you sharing this with us. Enjoy the rest of the week! :)

Marcy said...

What would our world have ever done without horses! So important to our the history and culture of so much of our world. Wonderful thoughts.

Deniz Bevan said...

Horses are such wonderful animals. We have a stable just down the road from us and love to walk there and see the horses grazing or sleeping or jumping and playing...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina - I felt the same way with horses ... still not sure about them - the ponies are fine!!

@ Sue - the milk floats with horses were a real treat to see - though I don't remember them that well. How lovely to have that childhood memory of 'your' "Lady" ... wonderful ...

@ Michelle - that's great - I wish I had more knowledge - sadly just about none. Yes, you should think about putting some of your hubbie's knowledge and horses into your stories ...

@ Sharon - we do owe a lot to these travelling beasts and to the love they have given us over the years. Children and horses bond so well - which you've obviously retained!

@ Pam - until we find things out ... we are then surprised we hadn't realised - funny old world and funny old human beings! It must be lovely in the Highlands seeing the ponies on the landscape ... but heavy horses are amazing creatures - so glad they are being used for their true setting .. working the land.

@ Deborah - thanks so much ... I follow a lead and away I go - but it's been an interesting subject for the A-Z ... to which I can add different snippets in as I write the posts ...

@ Sara - I do hope you get to have a pony .. they seem to be immensely satisfying to own ...

@ Karen - good to see you and thank you for the comment. Kentucky is famous for its Derby and horse centre ... and I didn't touch race horses of any description - I think that would be a subject too far for me: too many experts around.

@ Marcy - I think you might be right ... where would we have been without horses: they do cross so much of our developmental stages of the human world ...

@ Deniz - I bet Emily loves seeing the stables and the horses - and all the component parts of their lives ...

Thanks so much everyone - Horses seem to have captured your hearts! Cheers Hilary