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.

 

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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: https://www.bonfire.com/ehc-equine-heads/ 

   For the #AndBurros shirt (courtesy of Abbie Harlow, ASU) order here: https://www.bonfire.com/andburros/ 

   Direct donations can be made here: https://squareup.com/store/equine-history-collective… Please feel free to share!

ASEH & ASEH Tweets

aseh-2018-tweets-participation

 

  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"
rearing.
© Mark J. Barrett 2001

 

 

 

burro

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 used the results to adjust the training of his harness horses.

abe

     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:

gallopdef
   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.

animalsmuy

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.

Read:

Four beat canters & lopes

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

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

 

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

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

greyhound
This “second suspension” is usually missing from a horse’s gallop

    First, let’s talk about an anomalous form of the gallop whose existence is still, with todays slow motion video technology, debated. That is the double suspension gallop. In this, there are two moments of suspension, similar to a running greyhound. The hoof-falls would be hind, hind, suspension, opposite fore, fore, secretariatsuspension.  Secretariats immense stride is sometimes credited to his use of this gait. His winning photo from the Belmont Stakes shows him in a strange position, with all feet off the ground but legs outstretched. His outside fore hangs slightly, much like the dog in the photo above. It looks so strange that I, like many, wondered if it was a glitch. Then I realized that foreleg, and the opposite hind, could still be in the process of moving forward. He is on the left lead, with his left (inside) fore about to land. So I looked around to see if this glitch was repeated anywhere.

     I looked at some “most obvious suspects.” California Chrome. American Pharoah. Cigar. Zenyatta. All had huge closing strides– and acceleration within the gallop is where the double suspension seems to show– and none of them seem to exhibit this gait. And RedCadeauxthen I stumbled across this photo finish from the 2011 Melbourne Cup.  Red Cadeaux, the chestnut on the inside, is in almost the exact strange position that Secretariat was in at his Belmont finish. The photo IS distorted– the larger version shows one horse with a ridiculously large hock– but the distortion seems greatest the furthest from the finish line. And there are now a handful of interesting non-finish line photos floating around, like mrpremierthis Quarter Horse Mr Premier LVThis photo could be the moment after the phase shown above. The left fore has just touched the ground, but both hinds are already well in the air. The double suspension gallop’s effects on speed and soundness, as well as it’s possible heritability, are all conjecture at this point, as is its very existence. Finding evidence of horses galloping with out fulling weighting the diagonal at the same time is easy. Evidence of a second true suspension is inconclusive. Studies are ongoing.

     Now, back to the greyhound. The greyhound tends to employ a rotary gallop, with the hind-fore pair being lateral (usually the outside pair). The second non-standard hoofbeat pattern is what is often called the “gaited canter,” which is a rotary canter. The hoofbeats are hind, lateral pair, fore, which the pair occasionally exhibiting a slight break. It is often seen as just another crosscanter (i.e., disunited, with the fore and hind legs on opposite leads), but the tendency of gaited horses– especially those who exhibit lateral gaits– is strong, and the pairing of the lateral in the canter is not generally seen in other crosscanters. It is not a gait I would encourage, but for these horses it appears to be “natural.” I find that strengthening these horses diagonal gaits, if any, a great deal of working on circles, and is possible introducing haunches-in, helps to develop a standard canter, which is both more comfortable and better for long term soundness.

 

Read the rest of the series: 

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

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

  A while back I wrote a bit on four beat canters & lopes. In a footnote at the bottom, I mentioned the four-beat gallop as well as a non-standard gait that is sometimes four beat: the break. 

  We’ll take a quick tour of our understanding of this “gait,” seen most often out of the horserun starting gate, but first lets look at the related gallop. Prior to Muybridge’s 1870’s photographic study of equine locomotion, running horses were depicted stretch out, both hinds together behind the horse and both fore together in front of the horse, like this:

     And then, of course, came Muybridge’s stop motion photography study. This instantly “disproved” the common depiction, which quickly went out of fashion.

1024px-The_Horse_in_Motion
Muybridge’s The Horse in Motion, 1878

    And that was that. Right? Well…not quite. In the last decade or so, we’ve revisited this idea with new film technology. We need to add a few caveats. The frames above are of a mare galloping at the Palo Alto racetrack in California in 1878. The gallop exhibited by this mare is the most common way of going for horses in that gait, with the footfalls being hind, hind-opposite fore, fore, followed by a moment of suspension with all four legs curled in towards the center of the body. It is not, however, the only footfall pattern for the gallop, and the gallop is certainly not all we see from modern racehorses. The break is likely the root of the splay legged depictions of the gallop. Earlier versions include: 

ramses Mar14_stubbs1500x1053

This is something that was “disproven” by Muybridge, but it turns out actually happens. The gap between the hind pair and the front pair becomes much more pronounced, and the hinds occasionally push off together (though often still landing a half beat apart).

greatbreakfromstartinggategeneralcharleysraceatkeenelandracetrack070img_6510barrel

Next: different footfall patterns?

Manufacturing the Horse

 

17-18_Horse
Royal Armouries Object XVII.18

    Next week at the Society for the History of Technology annual meeting in Philadelphia, I will be presenting “Manufacturing the Horse: Understandings of Inheritance in the Long 18th Century” as part of the Maintaining Natures II panel (and I won’t be the only equine paper! Felicity McWilliams of Kings College London will be presenting “Maintaining Tractors and Caring for Horses: Looking after Draught Power Technologies in Twentieth Century British Farming.”) What began as a simple question– what were the genetics behind the unusual colors of the Hanoverian Cream and Hanoverian White– uncovered some surprising features of early modern horse breeding. 

       Before returning to academics, I was a horse trainer. When I started out, I was taught to breed ‘like to like.’ You selected for your mare a stallion of same type, the same general size and shape, regardless of whether he was of the same breed. Among thoroughbred breeders the saying goes “breed the best to the best, and hope for the best.”[1] This very unscientific method of breeding selection has been assumed to be the norm prior to advent of modern genetics. Because early modern treatises often included detailed accounts of correct star positions for auspicious breedings, humoral theory, telegony, and even suggestions on how to influence the color of a foal through what the mare saw while being bred or while pregnant, this assumption has seemed well founded. However, there is often a disconnect between canonical knowledge and applied knowledge, and in early modern breeding that disconnect is a gulf. It is clear that a great deal more thought went in to the choosing of well matched mates than in to following the rules of the stars.

      If we look only a short time back, it is easy to suggest breeders simply bred like to like. The development of modern breeds (of dogs, cattle, sheep, and other livestock as well as among horses) at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries relied heavily on inbreeding to fix desired traits. The studbooks that were rare in the eighteenth century were not only increasingly common but also increasing closed, moving from recording progeny and achievements to codifying what animals were allowed to belong, and allowed to be bred. However, this was not a continuation of prior practices, but rather a break from them. The creation, and subsequent closing, of studbooks represented new concepts of breeding, relying on the previously taboo “in and in” breeding, being then defined as loosely as mating two animals produced by the same farm. The word “breed” itself changed, from meaning a group bred by a particular person to meaning an animal belonging to a pedigreed, reproducible family.

Stop by Maintaining Natures II, or follow #SHOT2017 and #HorseHistory, to hear more.

[1] I’ve dated a version of this phrase to 1893 Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope, Volume 6 By Cape of Good Hope (Colony). Dept. of Agriculture