The Linda Hall Library

   I spent the last week and change as a travel fellow at the Linda Hall Library. I highly recommend them, especially for agricultural or early 20th century history.

General Information:
Deadline: this year was Jan. 19. Keep an eye on their fellowship page.
Letters: three.
Response time: Fast. I heard back March 12.
Who is eligible: pretty much everyone. Concerned? Ask the staff. They’re fabulous.
Dates: Up to two months in the following calendar year; you list two choices on your applications.
Funding: varies, see the fellowship page.
Housing: I stayed in an airBnB. For short term, this is probably your best bet.
Travel: Kansas City Airport is about a 25 minutes drive from the library. There is a bus that goes from the airport to downtown, but its and hour+ and does not run late. For around town, buses are generally clean and on time, but things are spread out. A car is recommended if you’re a long term fellow.

Application Process:
   No surprises here. Check out their catalog, but don’t hesitate to send an e-mail for recommendations before you apply. Their collections are IMMENSE. Some things you don’t see a lot of elsewhere: full runs of historical journals and magazines, and a ton of government documents, including pamphlets and reports from the Bureau of Animal Industry.

   Very flexible. Check out what exhibits and events are on, and ask about other fellows. Chatting with staff and fellows, and looking at your research from a new point of view, is incredibly helpful as well as fun. Plus, you might discover projects in common (welcome to the
EHC, Dr. Peter Soppelsa)! The Library is generally closed on weekends, so plan your travel and exploration accordingly.

Below are links to my twitter threads from each day, and a few highlights.

July 11 (thread):
Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 4.44.42 PM   I had a stack of recommendations waiting for me when I arrived. Librarians are your friend! Truly, all the staff at the Linda Hall is amazing. Some were books I already had on my list, others were ones I hadn’t thought to look for, but proved useful. I planned my research to go semi-chronologically, semi-thematically. I spent this first day in natural histories up through Darwin.

July 12 (thread):
  Goodrich’s 1859 Animal Kingdom has three sorts of horses that stand apart: Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and Morgans; the rest are listed primarily by the jobs they do. I have already planned a trip to the National Museum of the Morgan Horse for the end of the summer, largely because the Morgan developed at such a critical time, but over this week I have discovered how uniquely useful they are to my research. This is because they develop a cohesive modern breed identity and reputation much earlier than other non “blooded” horses.

stubbs   I took a “break” and pulled a book that really wasn’t related to my dissertation, or any of the million side projects I have brewing. They have an original binding of Stubbs’ Anatomy (price marked £4 4s.), and I couldn’t not. It was well worthwhile. I then got started on A General View of Agriculture, an absolutely AMAZING series that was recommended which surveys all forms of agriculture– livestock, crops, game, enclosures, ploughing technologies, lease agreements, cheese making, and on and on– county by county in the U.K. around the turn of the 19th century. It was magnificent. It also showed that Bakewell’s methods were widely accepted much earlier in cattle and sheep than in horses; Bakewell did also breed horses, but did not achieve the same success or notoriety with them. For more on Bakewellian breeding, see Derry, Bred for Perfection.

July 13 (thread):
   A few more counties. Cattle and sheep have some groups that are almost discussed like what we would call a breed. Horses do not. This may be Bakewell’s fault, as Leicester sheep– the sheep he focused on– had the firmest breed identity. Clydesdale is said to generally produce good draft horses, but they are still discussed as the horses of that place, not the horses of a certain family or type. I also jumped forward a century and a half to look at the first two volumes of the AQHA stud book, and a few years of the National Quarter Horse Breeder’s Association magazine; both registries laid claims to Figure aka Justin Morgan being a Quarter Horse as part of efforts to establish antiquity. Between reading these, and chatting with another fellow, I decided on what will likely be my AHS paper: the splintering of registries based on ideas of how best to maintain foundation type and bloodline.

July 14 (thread):
   Spent the morning back in Ag Views, especially Clydesdale, Yorkshire, and Hereford (extra thanks to Ben Gross, who came in on Saturday so that I could). Many mentions of recent extreme increases in the size of draft animals. We do not yet have a satisfactory reason as to why or how this happened; while nutrition and dentition had important advances, most of those came later and so that common narrative does not hold up to scrutiny. There were a few complaints about how large draft horses were getting, that they were unwieldy and harder to feed; selection is likely a major factor. Earlier drives to breed larger horses did not necessarily want 18hh animals, and so would not have used those animals preferentially for breeding. 
   I spent the afternoon across the street at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Miller Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 2.21.09 PMNichols Library. The Linda Hall is not part of UMKC (despite being nestled in the center of campus: the campus grew around the library), but fellows do get a courtesy card for the UMKC library (and a few others). Sadly, their special collections were closed for the summer; there is a great deal on horse history stored there, including some unique items on local standardbred racing and some un-digitized Gilbey’s. There were also some items worth pulling from the regular shelves, though, or rather from the Robot. They had a bound copy of Magner’s Stock Book, and a number of late 19th century racing yearbooks.

July 15 (thread):
   In the morning I explored the city a bit, and visited some of the many equestrian fountains (thanks to Grant Wekesser for the recommendation). I then returned to the UMKC library for more Magner. Something I hadn’t caught before, as I’m usually thinking about the mechanics of his various gadgets: Magner predicted the Remount breeding program.

July 16 (thread):
   Monday I started with Vol. 6 of the Percheron Stud Book, because this was something I didn’t want to miss. A bunch of the early PSBs are digitized, but the scans aren’t always great, and the meta data– like dates– is sometimes absent or incorrect. Vol. 6 was the first Percheron Stud Book issued by the Percheron Society of America. Like the Weatherbys General Stud Book for TBs, or Battell’s Morgan Register, the early Percheron books were private compilations. The Linda Hall has Vol. 6-13. These, by way of the introductions and meeting minutes rather than the mountains of pedigrees, provided a view of a booming draft horse industry that was greatly concerned with differences between locally bred and imported animals. I often call the Percheron the “thoroughbred of drafts” for it’s use in “improving” U.S. horses of middle and heavy weights, and these early breeders explicitly drew the connection to the bloodhorse.


   I then went back to the Ag Views, with Leicester, Galloway, and South Wales. Bakewell was everywhere, especially (no surprise) in Leicester; some notes on Bakewell’s horses, which are often omitted. These, like his other livestock, were heavily inbred. He was however apparently unsuccessful at producing better draft horses than his neighbors, and resorted to importing black mares from Friezland. No, we cannot call these Friesians, but yes they are of the same vague rootstock. At the end of the day I cracked open the archival boxes holding literally hundreds of American Horse Breeder papers. This publication was concerned primarily with harness racing, and published weekly. They have most of them for the 1920s. In here, several ads for the Patchen Wilkes farm when it was famous for trotters rather than white horses, and an ad for an equine eugenics book written by that farm’s president. 

July 17 (thread):
   So many AHBs! Most notably, early advertisements for Dr. Bristol bits, and the formation of the Morgan Horse Club. A contest was held to decide the motto: The Pride and Product of America. A few years ago, a new contest was held, and it became “the horse that chooses you,” referring to their propensity to form strong attachments with their handlers, but Pride & Product is still in circulation.

July 18 (thread):
toeweight   More AHBs! First up was an add for a type of action device I hadn’t seen before. This doesn’t mean it isn’t in use, because this particular toe weight changes the flight so that there is less interference in an extended gait, rather than to increase the knee action. Sir Barton had passed without mention, but the California “supercolt” Morvich made the front page. 
   There was an extended account of the Ft. Ethan Allen endurance test, which I believe is what the Green Mountain Endurance Ride is based on. In the early days of the remount, there was a good amount of competition between Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Morgans, and Standardbreds. These, along with the Percheron, were the bulk of the U.S.’s “pure breds” at the time, though except for the Thoroughbred those registries were still a little bit loose. A few saddlers were represented, but this was well before the different easy gaited horses where bred or registered as distinctly separate animals. I scooted back a decade or two and ended the day looking through some Bureau of Animal Industry pamphlets, including one the is not given much credit in the breed but is likely as important as Joseph Battell to the survival of the breed: George Rommel’s “Regeneration of the Morgan Horse.” Rommel’s goal was to ‘save’ the Morgan type– he emphasized form over pedigree– from disappearing into the new standard-bred. The following year he wrote his recommendations for the remount, which would both concentrate Morgan blood at depots, and send stallions out to influence to saddlers and ranch horses around the country.

July 19 (thread): 
   Started with early 20th century saddle horses. Like the standard-bred, the first saddle horse registry was a performance registry, not a pedigree one. Any five gaited horse was eligible. 

Rex McDonald
Rex McDonald

This is part of why the early pedigrees of Standardbreds, Morgans, Saddlebreds, Walkers, and Foxtrotters are so similar (fun note- the NQHBA encouraged the foxtrot in ranch horses, while the saddle horse folks note that many five gaited horses also raced the quarter mile). What I hadn’t picked up on before is the consistency, across the progenitors in all those breeds, of the the Hambletonian/Black Hawk nick (also found a few uses of that term). Morgan mares were exceedingly popular, and Hambletonian stallions. Found an anti-soring argument pre-dating the TWBEA. The “slow gait,” today being the stepped pace of the Saddlebred, including any four beat gait done, well, slowly.
   Found a lot of weird claims (my favorite is the claim the Justin Morgan was a Fjord cross); some photos of George Morris as a student; and then shifted gears into some Arabian books. Unlike the saddle horse and standardbred, the Arabian registry in 1908 was very concerned with pedigree; but there is still some disagreement: historic horses claimed as Arabian included many coat colors that the same registry claimed as proof of non-Arabian ancestry.

July 20 (thread):
   Arabians, dog, cattle, sheep, and fish. Yes, fish (no, that wasn’t helpful; lots of technical specs on breeding trout and salmon, but any old fish would do). This perfect quote from a 1951 dog book: “One of the great lessons taught by genetics is the falsity of the belief that like begets like.” It is perfect both because the inference is that before genetics, breeders bred like to like (they didn’t), and because it is absolutely true. The fear of unidentified recessives is why breeders have largely returned to an 18th century model of selection. 
   One of the last books I looked at was an 1845 book on dogs that was spectacular in terms of pre-modern conceptions and definitions of breed:

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 5.29.28 PM

   So, my fellow animal historians, check out the Linda Hall Library. They may surprise you.

On using horsebeans

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 10.34.05 PM       My grocery store has finally started carrying dried fava beans, so I was able to follow up on my earlier pea-based horsebread experiment. I livetweeted the process (perhaps one of the odder things I have done, but a very useful way to organize my notes and thoughts). The main thread can be found here.  This spawned some metathreads, like this one on the size and shape of loaves and the caloric needs of horses; and this one on general nutrition.horsebread

Yes, I ate the horsebread porridge.


T-shirt Time!


  I noticed this year at WSECS and ASEH that my conference horse shirts are getting a bit old, and I no longer had enough to keep up with a busy conference schedule (and how else will folks recognize me?) Luckily, the Equine History Collective is running a t-shirt fundraiser.

   For the “heads” design, featuring zebra, horse, and donkey heads, order here: 

   For the #AndBurros shirt (courtesy of Abbie Harlow, ASU) order here: 

   Direct donations can be made here:… Please feel free to share!

ASEH & ASEH Tweets



  I’ll be presenting for ASEH tweets on Thursday, March 8th, 1pm PST, and at ASEH in the lightning talks Thursday, March 15th at 1:30pm. I will also be at the main, grad, and WEH receptions at ASEH, the FHS lunch, and of course all the equine panels.






What will I talk about? What these have in common:

caspian #8103
Gypsy Vanner Horse stallion "Kushti Bok"
© Mark J. Barrett 2001





WSECS Success!

     WSECS is always a welcoming conference, but being able to present with another equine historian this year was a joy. I presented on various re-imaginings of the baroque “tiger” horse, and Janice presented on the development of a divide in medical knowledge between riders and Albeytar in Castile. We had a small but astute audience, and a lively conversation after our papers that ranged seven centuries and four continents. Between the two of us, we could answer most questions, but it was especially wonderful to be able to suggest other equine history specialists. For this question, Kathryn Renton, for that one, Hylke Hettema, and for this read Sandra Swart’s latest. We are no longer silos!

And, of course, to be able to announce the first EHC conference.


     “Before we start, I’d like to say a few things about our third presenter, who unfortunately could not be here today. I spoke with Dani about her project last year, when it was a mere glimmer of an idea. What I found exciting, and why I invited Dani to be a part of this panel, was that she is working on the transmission of equestrian culture between Italy and Germany (or rather, Italian and German) directly, rather than via France. French horsemanship has dominated our field. Much of medieval and early modern equestrian culture in Europe was centered on France. So much so that, even though modern Olympic dressage is very much based on the 19th c German model, the language remains French. We still speak of piaffe and passage, levade and capriole. Cavendish opened his 1667 treatise with a geaneology of horsemasters, and in it quips that “the French think, That all the Horse-manship in the World is in France.”  Within equine history, it is all too easy to replicate this focus. However, while French riders, and French writers- Cavendish himself wrote his treatise originally in French- may have claimed primacy, they were not the only agents. Today we will try to tell some different stories.

     Given the theme for this weekend, I will be covering a rather long period of time, from the Baroque to the modern. I will begin with the baroque “tiger horses,” and then show three ways in which they have been reimagined, and recreated. In modern parlance, baroque breeds are those that are heavier than the typical warmblood, but without being draft-like. The Iberian breeds and the Friesian are easily recognized as “baroque,” despite the former predating that period and the later being comparatively young in its current form. The Knabstrupper has a “baroque” registration category, despite having a well-documented 1812 foundation date. Tack and riding styles likewise have forms described as “baroque,” despite often being only tangentially related to that time period. They are based, not on the history of a single moment in time, but rather on the layers of memory that have accrued upon that moment. Each layer adds strength to the memory, even as it obscures the lives and events being recalled.”

Olympic History

   We kicked off the new quarter with a hike up Mt. Rubidoux. Every time I’m there, I wonder at the placement of this plaque:


   The 10th Olympics were held in L.A. The story behind Shunzo Kido’s mercy has been attributed to an “endurance race” and a “steeplechase,” neither of which is quite right. He was an eventer, which does require a great deal of endurance (much more than modern eventing), and galloping over fences. Most accounts agree that he was on the verge of winning, but pulled up and dismounted because he felt his horse go off. Along with this 1934 plaque, a commemorative saddle was presented to Japan in 1964. Several accounts from the 60’s suggest he pulled up after being disqualified for refusals; however, this was likely in show jumping. In the interwar Olympics, many riders did double duty. In some cases, so did the horses, however he appears to have had two mounts. The younger, reported as a 9-year-old French mare, was likely his show jumping mount. The eventing course went through downtown L.A. to Santa Monica (really!), not Riverside; but in a park named for Frank Miller, maybe the placement isn’t so strange after all.

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.25.58 PM

Lt. Col. Shunzo Kido


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 they 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 English 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.”


     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”

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.



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.


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.


     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.

Four-beat Follow-up, Part III: Muybridge Myths

horse-race-19th-century (1)     Way back in 1878 Eadweard Muybridge disproved the idea that that a horse gallops with its front and hind legs in pairs, stretched out. Or so the story goes. That is the version most tossed around barns, and occasionally makes it into academic circles. In 2012, one of Muybridge’s series was the subject of a Google Doodle, and he briefly re-entered the spotlight. Since then, the version that has become common is that he sought to prove that there was a moment of suspension in the gallop. Stanford University calls this their “first research project,” because Muybridge used Leland Stanford’s racehorses as his models, allegedly to assist Stanford in winning a bet on the topic.

     But, wait, let’s talk about this “racehorse” term that gets bandied about. Muybridge’s first “horse in motion” photos were, indeed, of one of Stanford’s “racehorses.”

“In 1876, the experimental photographer Eadweard Muybridge captured on film Leland Stanford’s prized horse, Abe Edgington, at full gallop in an attempt to prove Stanford’s theory of “unsupported transit”, the idea that all four hooves of a horse at speed leave the ground. The plate itself was fuzzy and unsuitable for publication, so it was left to a little-known painter of horses to strengthen the image. Thomas Kirby Van Zandt reproduced the image twice, first as drawing of “crayon and ink wash” dated September 16, 1876, and again as the finished canvas, Abe Edgington (Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University), dated February 1877 (1).” Cooley Gallery, emphasis mine.

Stanford University’s account of the “first research project” concurs that this test was conducted at a gallop, and provides this picture:

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 2.44.54 PM

     There’s one problem. The photo series above, “Sallie Gardner,” was taken in 1878. The original photo series, from 1876, was of Abe Edgington, MorganAbe Edgington did race, but in harness at a trot. Whether or not Stanford had made a bet about the results, the first trial was at a trot, and he supposedly used the results to adjust the training of his harness horses.


     Now that’s what I call a road horse! While there was some discussion as to whether or not all four feet left left the ground in the gallop, it was generally accepted that they did; the question was when. 

canterdefNote: what they call canter, we would consider a collected canter or park canter.
Every Horse Owner’s Cyclopedia, 1871, pg 89
Courtesy of the NSLM

See also Pantologia: A New Cabinet Cyclopaedia, 1819, pg 133:

   But, that question of timing was not Muybridge & Stanford’s original inquest. Stanford, being more owner than rider, may not have been aware of the consensus. Or, just as likely, he was, and that is why his first efforts focused on the trot. He was aware of Prof. Marey‘s work, but commented on his depiction of the walk, not the idea of suspension in the gallop.*  It was photos of the trot suspension that were submitted to newspapers as proof, and even by 1881, after Sallie Gardner was photographed at the gallop, the trot continued to receive the greatest amount of column space. Finally, Muybridge’s own Animals in Motion, finished in 1885, made much of the trot suspension, and little of that in the gallop.


No such dispute was mentioned for the gallop. To the contrary, some surprise was expressed at maintaining a slow enough canter (what we might call a lope, though far more upheaded) to remove the moment of suspension.

*See the 1881 article.

This in an update on a prior series from Oct. ’16 on four beat gaits.


Four beat canters & lopes

Four-beat follow-up, Part I: The Break 

Four-beat follow-up, Part II: Non-standard canters & gallops