Thursday, September 8, 2016

Things that were probably not a good idea...

...though I guess they got away with it?

So let's break this down.

This is a photograph taken for a promotional pamphlet about training at the US Government Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge, VT. At that time, it was the cavalry remount station for the northeast, breeding primarily Morgans but also some other horses: Thoroughbreds, mostly. Their goal was to breed for the cavalry but also to research horsemanship as an outpost of the US Department of Agriculture. The photo was probably taken c. 1920 - 1925.

That is horse harnessed to a box made out of 2x4 boards with wagon wheels on the outside. The man sitting behind is holding reins which presumably are just for whoa and go, since the box is attached to a pivot point in the center. Scale is tough, but let's say it's a 20m circle.


I mean: I freely admit that driving makes me a bit nervous because of the potential for wrecks. In fact, the day I took this photograph I was researching in the archives of the National Museum of the Morgan Horse; for lunch, I got a sandwich and went over to Weybridge to eat at a picnic table at the Morgan Horse Farm. The current director of the farm was schooling a young horse in a cart on their wide front lawn, and said young horse gave a perfect demonstration of what it's like to train a high strung, fractious, young horse to drive. He was beautifully handled and it worked out but man, would I much rather have been in the saddle for some of those moments. Hats off to the driver, who was calm and professional and ballsy as hell.

But doing that while you're trapped in a 2x4 box? Not to mention this is pretty clearly not a permanent installation. No way is that flat platform bolted down to the ground. I've seen other pictures of the area where it is and it's a wide grass field. So if the horse went sideways, that sucker's getting dragged with him

Honestly, the longer I look at it and think through all the implications the worse it gets.


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  2. I wonder if it was for training them for the old fashioned horse powered sugar cane press? Or a similar configuration?

    1. Yea I thought a lot of horses or mules or donkeys were used in mills and whatnot where they were rigged in a similar fashion ? Going around in circles to keep the machinery grinding or running or whatever?

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      (Sorry I'm having extreme tech problems haha this link should be the right one tho!)

    4. How about them dogs that used to run on wheels to keep the spit spinning :P

  3. Haha yeah driving scares me a bit. I realize it was a different time back then, much more closely linked to when horse drawn vehicles were daily transportation and I guess the risks just came with the territory. Certainly not in a hurry to hook a horse of mine to anything that it drags, haha.

  4. I wonder if this is the before picture and there is an after somewhere that just shows the rubble. Yes driving makes me nervous too, but I have no experience with it.

  5. As much as I agree that you wouldn't want to re-create that today, horses were used to a lot more shit back in those days. They WORKED for a living. I bet that horse was just like, whatever., another day of weird people shit, when's my lunch.

  6. Pretty crazy (still want to learn to drive tho!)


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