Guest Cat

   We’re spending a few days visiting friends in New York. This is our lovely host Sargent Tibbs, the most debonair of Scottish folds.

tibby

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As promised, Cats.

   As I swim between grading, helping students navigate primary sources, article deadlines, and term papers, things here have of necessity slowed down. In the meantime, have some cat pictures! Because that is truly what the internet is for.

abskitten


Abdiel as a kitten before we adopted him from Cat House on the Kings.

 

absedit

 

He’s turned into an adept editor.

Cavendish, Part III: An Interlude in the Trenches

Start at Part I: In which Cavendish is snarky

     If the last two parts of this series didn’t get across how much Cavendish disparaged Blundeville, and by extension Grisone, maybe this one will. At WSECS this year I mentioned that his “extended weighing of the relative demerits of Blundeville was the strawman that Cavendish used to support his claim of having a new, more sensible, natural, and effective method for training horses.” He was likely able to do this, safely, because Blundeville had been wildly popular, with reprints every few years, but had ceased being republished some fifty years prior to Cavendish’s first publication (being his French edition of this work).

They Dig out Rings, and Entrench themselves (which is a Horrible Folly); but I desire no more for Stopping than a Plain place, without Hills, or any such Toyes; and will Dress any Horse perfectly there, by the New Method of my French Book: which I Refer you to.

     Here Cavendish refers to Blundeville’s use of trenches dug in to the ground to keep the horse straight, and his use of deep footing to tire a horse in to submission. While the use of deep footing and hills is something I will gladly do (especially to isolate muscle groups, or encourage a gaited horse to change gears), it ought to be part of an overall conditioning regime– not basic training. In addition to using these methods in starting horses (which given a lack of facilities can be understandable), Blundeville’s ‘sixth correction’ for a horse who does poorly turning in a particular direction is:

Go into some soft ground newly plowed with depe forrowes, and there first pace him faire and softlye to and fro, the length of a maneging course, then folow on with a good roūd trot…

     So far, so good. Shows concern for working the horse up to it, getting them used to their surroundings, and starting slow helps prevent tendon damage that deep footing can risk. But then, Blundeville writes”

…and when he will not tourne on that hande that you woulde haue him, all to rate hym with a terrible voyce, and beat him with a Cogel upon the heade, betwixt the eares

     Cavendish is not silent on the second half, either:

He would have Us to Strike a Horse with a Cudgel, or a Rod, between the Ears, and upon the Head; which is Abominable, though he thinks it a Rare Secret.

     Yeah, Abominable is a pretty good word here.

Thus ends Part III, because next Cavendish gets in to Blundeville on breeding and there is far too much to unpack. That deserves its own entry.

Cavendish, Part II: In which Cavendish throws shade

(Read Part I: In which Cavendish is snarky)

Oh, look, more Cavendish! 

a Good Horse-man may be Thrown Down sooner than Ill ones; because Good Horse-men little think of Sitting… their Thoughts being all how to make their Horses go Well… whereas an Ill Horse-man thinks of nothing but Sitting, for Fear he should be Thrown, and never thinks how to make his Horse go Well; for he Knows not how to Do it…

    Well…he’s not wrong. Nine times of ten I find myself riding poorly it’s because I’ve become concerned about falling off. Though, I might add, there is also something to the choice in what horses we ride, though I believe Cavendish is here referring only to already broke manege horses.

…But Holds by the Main, and the Pomel, and his Head at the Horses Head, ready to Beat out his Teeth, and his Leggs holding by the Flank; and is so Deformed on Horse Back, as if he were a Strange African Monster; and the Horse so Disordered, that to see him Sit in that Manner, is the most Nauseous Sight that can be, and the most Displeasing to the Beholders; and were much Better for the Spectators to see him Fall, and for his Reputation, so he received no Hurt by the Fall.

 I wouldn’t want to be his beginner student.

     Of Grisone and Blundville, Cavendish says:

They Teach to Ride one Horse two or three Hours at a time, when one may well Ride half a Dozen at least in an Hour, and give them sufficiently Enough.

     And this, of course, is an argument very much alive today. It is, at least publicly, considered to be a mark of great skill to be able to complete a “colt-breaking” challenge, and be able to canter or lope an untouched horse by the end of the weekend. There are still ‘cowboys’ that get paid by the head to travel to ranches and start a number of horses by just getting on and staying there until the horse tires. And yet, even within these, they say less is more. Both the public clinicians and the hired hands tend to say many small lessons work better than one long one. I am inclined to agree, as even my older horses rarely benefitted from more than about half an hours training, if one defines training as teaching or refining new information. The rest, if they got more, was conditioning. The younger or more inexperienced the horse, the shorter the effective “training” section. Of course, that said, I am fond of getting youngsters out more than once a day, given you have the time and staff. I’d far rather do two or three short works than one long one. They tend to learn faster, with less stress (and thus they stay safer as well), and retain their lessons better.
 

     He saves his most pointed criticism of Blundville-from-Grisone for last:

 

For a Resty Horse they Raise a whole Town with Staves to Beat him, with many Curious Inventions, with Squirts, Fire, Whelps, Hedg-hoggs, Nailes, and I know not What.

Yes, hedgehogs. Or, lacking a hedgehog, a cat on a stick. Yes, really.

 

     From Blundeville:

Also the shirle crye of a hedgehog beyng strayt teyed by the foote under the horses tayle, is a remedye of like force, which was proved by Master Vincentio Respino, a Napolitan, who corrected by this meanes an olde restive horse of the kinges in suche sort as he had muche a do afterward to kepe him from the contrarye vice of runninge awaye.

y’don’t say.  Imagine that. More from Blundeville:

Let a footeman stande behinde you with a shrewed cat teyed at the one ende of a long pole with her belly upward, so as she may have her mouth and clawes at libertye. And when your horse doth stay or go backward, let him thrust the Catte betwixt his thyes so as she may scratch and bite him, somtime by the thighes, somtime by the rompe, and often times by the stones.

by the stones.

     It is the single strangest training recommendation I have even read. Cavendish rants on about other ridiculous techniques, and then insults their understanding of terms. He also scoffs at their use of “the Chambetta, which signifies nothing.”

     Yes, chambetta does seem to be jambette. Which, yes, is not a particularly useful manuever in any sense of the word (to be fair, Blundeville does suggest it is best to look flashy when riding before one’s King). To be more specific, Blundeville describes the jambette in turns in his chapter on the chambette. Like this:

It’s fancy, it takes time to train, it impresses the crowd. But…ok, I’m with Cavendish again. It doesn’t translate to the development of the horse as a whole.

Thus ends Part II

Special thanks to Lelian Maldonado for helping me dig in to the possible etymology of chambetta in the course of confirming that it did refer to a form of jambette.

Next: Part III: An Interlude in the Trenches

Cavendish, Part I: In which Cavendish is snarky

     I’d been debating livetweeting my reread of Cavendish’s snarky training treatise. I did this instead. This series was begun in January, but never finished. I have revisited it here and updated my commentary.

On Cavendish’s “New Method” 

Part I: In which Cavendish is snarky, and disparages all riders he has not trained.
 

Cavendish opens with a “genealogy” of equestrian art, and this comment:

“And though the French think, That all the Horse-manship in the World is in France.”  

         I laughed unreasonably. To be fair, for a hand of centuries prior to Cavendish, much of Europe was stealing France’s equestrian vocabulary.

 

“This Noble Art was first begun and Invented in Italy, and all the French and other Nations went thither to learn; the seate of Horse-manship being at Naples: The first that ever Writ of it was Frederick Grison.”

         Duarte predates Grisone by a century and change, but Duarte was not in the “genealogy” of trainers Cavendish described. Duarte was virtually unknown (possibly due to only being available in an incomplete manuscript, cut short by his death). Because Duarte’s manuscript spent some time in Naples, it is entirely plausible that Duarte’s thoughts or even writing does belong in this family tree. For more on the life of this manuscript, I recommend this translation of Duarte.    

         More curiously, Cavendish makes no mention on Xenophon, which was available at least in Italy by Grisone’s time. Unsurprisingly, Kikkuli is left out as well, along with innumerable other folks who undoubtedly wrote about horsemanship through the ages and remain as lost to us as the were to Cavendish. As to development of the French school itself, Cavendish remarks:

 “As for Pluvinel, no doubt but he was a Good Horse-man; but his Invention of the Three Pillars, of which his Book Pretends to be an absolute Method, is no more than an absolute Routine; and hath spoyl’d more Horses, than ever any Thing did; for Horses are not Made to the Hand and the Heel at all with them; nor will they go from the usual place where they are Ridden, nor well there neither.”

         I’ll drink to that.

And then about the Italian school (by which he mostly means Grisone, despite his hat-tip at the beginning, and it seems also includes Blundeville’s gloss of Grisone):

 

“I must tell you that the Italian Writers are Tedious, and write more of Marks, Colours, Temperatures, Elements, Moon, Stars, Winds, and Bleedings, than of the Art of Rideing;…

         He’s not wrong.

 

 …only to make up a Book, though they wanted Horse-manship.”

burn

     He doesn’t stop there. The introduction turns into quite the rant. Next he turns his attention to riders outside the burgeoning academies:

“Many say, that all things in the Mannage is nothing but Tricks, and Dancing, and Gamballs, and of no Use”

         Some things haven’t changed. Cavendish’s answer, being in effect that these are the foundation skills for all pursuits, will also sound familiar to modern horsefolks.

“But, What makes these Men speak against it?…the Main Reason is this; They find they cannot Ride well”
burn2.gif

     He goes on to explain that this is because the manage horse cannot be ridden by “inspiration,” but only though the long work of training rider as well as horse. And on, and on, and just a bit more. He takes aim again at riders who think the manage to be useless tricks:

 

“They cannot do it, and therefore it is Naught: A very good and sensless Reason! He that will take Pains for Nothing, shall never do any thing Well; for Arts, Sciences, and good Qualities, come not by Instinct, but are got by great Labour, Study, and Practice.”

       It seems he had some feelings on the subject. After what seems like eons, he returns to the horse!

 

“I would have every Horse (that wears a Bitt) Gelding, or Nagg, wrought in the Mannage, to be firm on the Hand, both for Readiness, and Safety.”

    I do quite agree with him regarding the foundational nature of what we now call dressage, having turned out even some nice western and saddleseat horses from a dressage start. To clarify, however, by “bitt” he means curb. He continues:

 

“But, sayes a Gallant, when I should have Use of him in the Field, then he will be playing Tricks: That Gallant is Deceived; for, the Helps to make Horses go in Ayres, and to make them go upon the Ground, are Several; and Good Horse-men have much ado to make them go in Ayres, with their best Helps; so that, if you let them alone, they will not trouble you; besides, two or three dayes March will make them, that they will not go in Ayres, if you would have them; and they are much the Readier to go on the Ground.”

        This neatly undermines the received wisdom that dressage (and it’s predecessor the manage) was merely off season practice of military maneuvers. They are related traditions, but a simple glance at a calendar shows a marked disparity.

 

“There can be no Horse else Safe and Useful; nor can any Horse go well in a Snaffle, except he be formerly Ridd with a Bitt.”
        On this I will part ways with his Grace. Though I do tend to finish my horses in some sort of shanked bit, it is not always beneficial and certainly not always needed. I did once start a horse in a neck rope and a halter, alternatingly, because he’d had a terrible ear infection. He wasn’t the most “useful,” but a curb certainly wouldn’t have helped him.

       To be fair, Cavendish advocates the use of a riding cavesson for starting horses. I’m honestly a fan of this myself (though I’ll just clip reins to a regular noseband or a well fitted halter), but despite the various traditions that go from bit-less to curb (like, say, bosal to spade), I don’t think a curb should ever be the first bit a horse carries.

Cavendish concludes his argument:

“Thus it is Proved, That there is nothing of more Use than A Horse of Mannage; nor any thing of more State, Manliness, or Pleasure, than Rideing.”

        I’ve been called manly before, but oddly not for riding.

 

Grinding Peas Sounds Like Death

Originally from March ’16, with added update.

   As some of you know, I am researching horsebread. A friend sent me this fantastic article by William Rubel last year, and off down the rabbit hole I went. Because there are a few questions (or theories) I have that the textual sources can’t answer– like, say, the actual caloric density of late medieval bran-rye-fava horsebread– I get to destroy the kitchen and reconstitute some history.

   For today’s experiment, I had but one question: can legumes hold a loaf together?

   You see, Rubel suggest that a strike of beans is equal to two bushels. This seems entirely reasonable, considering the range of measurements a strike was used for, from two pecks to four bushels. I, however, am accustomed to a strike being one level bushel (a strike was also the name of the tool used to level bushels).

   For Rubel’s purposes, it doesn’t make a large difference. However, since many of my questions revolve around nutritional content (specifically calories, crude protein, and certain mineral ratios), that is a critical difference. And, looking at the recipes, I thought it unusual that Gervase Markham’s (1607) first two recipes called for more than twice as much, by volume, of beans than of grain, while his third called for three times more grain than beans (if the measurement of a strike as two bushels were used). If you consider a strike to be a single bushel, it is a much less drastic change (being then 4:3 to 3:1, rather than 8:3 to 3:1).

   I was also convinced that legumes couldn’t bake into a loaf without more grain flour.

I was wrong.

Benefits of reconstitution, eh?

So, on to my adventure in culinary history:

     First, my local market does not carry horsebeans. How dare they, right? I guess driedpeasinninja fava beans aren’t really a staple of the modern southern California diet. They did, of course, have dried split green peas, which were also commonly used in horsebread. So I got out my trusty Ninja (I love this thing, it lets me abuse it so much), and set out to grind my peas.

Grinding peas sounds like death.
     Seriously. It is awful. Alyse hid behind two doors. I recommend earplugs. About two 20-second bursts seemed to do the trick. Set a timer, it seems like So. Much. Longer. Ok, so I’m a little sound-sensitive, but still. Loud. I found that not filling the Ninja so full was helpful.

 

bolting
bolting

I don’t actually own a bolter, but this steamer tray was very effective. I have a nice bowl that fits it exactly, which cut down on the mess. Though…if you do try this for some insane reason, be prepared to breath pea dust. A face mask might be a good idea.

      

after first bolt
After first bolt. If i had a sieve (or, say, an industrial bolter with proper screens), I could have gotten a more consistent product with fewer bolts. But, hey, it’s supposed to be coarse.

 I separated the flour from the chunky bits (I’m sure there’s a name for them), and reground the bits. I did this a few times, and set aside the last of the bits that wouldn’t fill the blender enough. I’ll probably make soup later.

first mix of flour
Tiny amount. I didn’t expect this to work, and didn’t want to be wasteful. 8 tbsp. pea flour, 2 tbsp. AP, and 1tbsp. bran, based on Markham’s “ordinary” horsebread.
       Next, I added pea flour, all purpose flour, and bran together in my makeshift bolter (Markham’s recipes call for the flours to be sifted together). Now, I did track down some mills that will custom grind heirloom grains for flour, but at this stage that would just be overkill. After all, I was concerned with whether or not pea flour could hold a loaf. I did mix some bran into my AP flour to better approximate flours used for horsebread. 

     Then a splash of beer (I don’t have ale barm handy) and hot water (160º, electric kettle ftw). 

like glue
like glue

     

mini test loaf
mini test loaf

Markham specifies the use of hot water to “take the savour from the beans.” Both split peas and fava beans have an intense, sour,  sulfurous smell. This would be very unappealing to the horse. The unspecified sideeffect is how much water the ground beans would take up. They absorb moisture very slowly, and hot water hastens this and increase the total intake. A tiny splash. It was too wet. I sprinkled on a bit more of each flour in proportion, until it wasn’t so sticky, and finally was able to form a mini-loaf.

    It really doesn’t look appetizing, does it? Good thing it’s not for me. 

mini test loaf- cooked
mini test loaf- cooked

     Medieval ovens were shockingly hot, and presumably didn’t get cooler in the early modern period. I have found no hints as to what time of day horsebread was baked (ok, morning, but for bakeries anywhen that leaves a large window), or what part of the oven was used. I played it safe and used a standard 350º, starting at five minutes, then another five, then a few more…maybe it was done?

   Well, it seems to have held up. I’ll see what it’s like in two or three days when it’s correctly stale, but apparently at least peas can form a loaf. Very well actually, since it didn’t need a loafpan. Of course, that makes sense, as they wouldn’t have used loafpans.

On to the second loaf! I made this one larger, more loaf like.

peadough

Looks like it needs more liquid, right? Nope. Just a whole lot of kneading. The pea flour turns to glue at the barest hint of moisture, but it doesn’t absorb much.

 

Left is raw, right is baked. Hardly looks different after baking. Forgot to incise the H. Oops. Thats a fine.

     I sprinkled the top with bran (tradition, y’know) and rolled it in plastic like rolling sushi (because ew it was sticky). This one baked for 15 minutes, and then I turned the oven off but left it in while the oven cooled. And stuck the small loaf back in, too. They seem to get very hard…like brick…on the outside quickly, but seem squishy inside if you flex the crust.

     I believe Rubel chose the two bushel measure in order to line Markham’s recipes up with John Halfpenny‘s (1696), who he also discusses. Halfpenny appears to have based his recipes on Markham’s. Thomas de Grey (1639) clearly favors a large amount of grain compared to legumes, but he references the fact that more legumes had previously been traditional. While I’m still not convinced about Markham’s measurements, this does show that a dough made primarily from pea flour will indeed hold together.

Update:

     Three days later, the loaf had not staled, but rather fermented. So, if high-peaflour doughs were used, a longer, lower temperature cooking time would be needed. The test for pony approval would have to wait. 
     The leftovers from the grind and from the dough made an excellent porridge. Some day I’ll re-run this experiment and try to make porridge from the baked loaf. Not anytime soon. Somehow I don’t think that level of kitchen destruction will be tolerated a second time soon.
     A year later, my local grocery seems to have heard me, and now carries favabeans. Sadly, only canned.

#ShelfieSunday: War Horse: Mounting the Cavalry with America’s Finest Horses — Equine History Collective

War Horse started as a project by two horsemen to uncover the relationship between pedigree and confirmation, especially pertaining to soundness and athleticism. It became an immense tome on the short lived but massively influential U.S. Army Remount Service breeding program. Livingston and Roberts, in their search to quantify the pedigrees of the best […]

via #ShelfieSunday: War Horse: Mounting the Cavalry with America’s Finest Horses — Equine History Collective