Seeing a man about a horse

No discussion of cavalry and forage would be complete without an acknowledgement of the darker side. Gene Wilder and Daisy the Sheep; Tijuana donkey shows; Harry Potter in Equus. That exhausts my knowledge of pop culture bestiality references. But we can’t blame this decline in moral standards on the 60s – ask Catherine the Great. For a bit more historical context, I provide the following, from Mother Ross (aka Mrs. Christian Davies), in late 1708:

“The duke of Marlborough, after the siege of Brussels was raised, encamped at Alost. While we were here, I observed an officer, who, by his laced clothes, I con­jectured to be one of the guards, strolling backwards and forwards in the intervals of the camp; I fancied he had a mind to steal some of our horses, and for that reason watched him narrowly; at length I saw him lead off a mare, belonging to a poor woman, into a ditch, and with her commit, by means of the bank, the most detestable sin that can enter into the thoughts of man. Colonel Irwin and another officer, both of Ingoldsby’s regiment, happening at that instant to pass by, caught him in the fact, seized and gave him into the custody of the provost, where he remained till the duke, who had left the army, returned, when he was tried, condemned to the gallows, and executed accordingly. …. The mare which this officer was enamoured with, was shot; but the duke first paid the poor woman who owned her, the full value.”

My Pretty Pony

The Mother Ross narrative has been attributed to Daniel Defoe, but everything written between 1700 and 1730 seems to have been attributed to that prolific author at one point or another, so I’m not sure of the current consensus. In any case, I’m tempted to try to find the court martial account of that trial. If it really happened and an officer of the Guards was involved, you’d think it would’ve been a topic of conversation.
But even if Defoe did make it up, it was certainly in the air. I came across an interesting blog entry awhile back that suggests that shooting the horse in such a scenario was in fact not unheard of:
But, lest you worry about your rights being trampled upon and the victim being punished, it’s still legal in CT!
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One response to “Seeing a man about a horse”

  1. Erik Lund says :

    If only it had been someone dressed as a horse, it would all have been fine.
    Or worse. Whichever.

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