Horse Housekeeping: Everything You Need to Know to Keep a Horse at Home

Horse Housekeeping: Everything You Need to Know to Keep a Horse at Home

by Margaret Korda, Michael Korda


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060573089
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/01/2005
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,269,358
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

Margaret Korda was born in England and now lives with her husband in Dutchess County, New York. They are also coauthors of Horse Housekeeping: How to Keep a Horse at Home.

Michael Korda is the author of Ulysses S. Grant, Ike, Hero, and Charmed Lives. Educated at Le Rosey in Switzerland and at Magdalen College, Oxford, he served in the Royal Air Force. He took part in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and on its fiftieth anniversary was awarded the Order of Merit of the People's Republic of Hungary. He and his wife, Margaret, make their home in Dutchess County, New York.

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Horse Housekeeping

Everything You Need to Know to Keep a Horse at Home
By Margaret Korda

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Margaret Korda
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060573082

Chapter One

A Horse at Home

Not so very long ago, keeping a horse at home was a natural thing to do, like keeping a car today.

Even in the great cities, the horse was omnipresent and essential. In London's fashionable West End, the mews -- where tiny houses and apartments now sell for a fortune -- were merely cobbled alleyways behind the great houses, where the family's horse (or horses) were kept, and above whose stable the coachman and the groom were lodged. Until the invention of the motor car, the horse was as much part of the urban scene as it was of the rural -- horse manure was an unavoidable presence too, of course, and the crossing sweeper at each corner of the better neighborhoods held his hand out for a tip, in return for which he swept a narrow path clean of manure so that ladies, delicately raising their long, full skirts a few inches, could cross the street without soiling their shoes or the hem of their skirt. Gentlemen wore spats to guard their ankles against splashes of horse manure or horse piss, and streets were kept sanded or covered with dirt to give the horses safer footing than the bare paving stones, which of course produced a layer of filthy, malodorous mud whenever it rained.

Everywhere one traveled, it was the same -- in Paris, Vienna, or New York, the streets were filled with horses -- pulling cabs, or carts, or trolleys, or carriages. All these horses were, of necessity, lodged close to the family or to the place of business that employed them, from the well-to-do family's modest pair of carriage horses to the many huge draft horses of the delivery companies and the breweries, their presence unmistakable, particularly in warm weather. The horse was no mystery, and its care was common knowledge, like that of looking after a car today.

In the country, of course, the horse was even more important. The horse pulled the plow, the harrow, the hay cart -- without healthy horses a farmer would have been unable to plant and harvest his crops, or to deliver them to the nearest market town or railway terminus. Even the most ignorant of farmers knew the basics of how to look after a horse, and even the cruelest and most hard-hearted of them would make sure his horses were fed and cared for, even if his workers, or indeed his own children, were going hungry. The horse, after all, was a working animal, a valuable investment, as well as a means of transport. You needed to be able to recognize "Monday Morning Disease" (when a horse "tied up" from not being worked over the weekend), or how to deal with a colic, or how to get a horse back on its feet if it got "cast" in its stall. The farmer depended on the horses' health and soundness, exactly the way he now depends on his car, pickup truck, or tractor to start up at the turn of the key.

The knowledge of how to care for horses went from commonplace and normal to rare and esoteric in one generation. In the Western world, the generation that preceded the First World War was raised in the Age of the Horse; the generation that followed was raised in the Age of the Automobile. Those born in the former knew how to replace a lost shoe, adjust a bit or a piece of harness; their sons learned how to repair a flat tire, clean a carburetor, or change a spark plug instead. "Horse sense" was no longer passed down from generation to generation, but became the province of special groups, those which centered around the race track, the show ring, or fox hunters, in any case people for whom riding was a sport or a recreation. Looking after horses was poorly paid, hard work, and a peripheral skill in the Machine Age, increasingly irrelevant as humans took to the road in cars, or to the skies in airplanes, and as the internal combustion engine replaced the horse on farms.

In fact, the horses themselves could now be vanned to polo matches and fox hunts, or even flown from one country to another for racing, grand prix jumping, eventing, international driving and endurance competition, the Olympics, etc. -- in short, even among those who still clung to the horse for one reason or another, the stable and manure pile were no longer close to the home, where they had once unmistakably been.

As the knowledge of how to look after horses waned, the idea of keeping a horse (or horses) at home increasingly came to seem like a difficult and challenging undertaking -- eccentric, demanding, fraught with problems. Yet, no more than ninety years ago (a mere blink in the ten thousand-year-old relationship between man and horse), nobody thought twice about it; the horse was part of everyday life, caring for it as unremarkable as looking after a cat or a dog.

Of course this is true of a lot of other things -- we buy our milk in cartons at the supermarket now, rather than learning how to milk a cow, let alone how to look after her -- and inevitably each scientific or technological advance produces a whole body of knowledge, once considered vital, which we can promptly forget. Automobile engines are now largely computer controlled and are designed to be tinker-proof, the "shade tree mechanic" having been replaced by a technician in a white coat with a hand-held computer terminal. Many of the skills which once, not so very long ago, seemed essential are now of limited use and importance, looking after horses among them.

Still, if what you want is to keep horses at home, you should take heart from the fact that it was a natural thing to do until quite recently. Today, of course, the horses are more likely to be kept as a hobby than out of necessity, but that changes nothing -- the same needs, rules, and precautions still apply; the basics haven't changed any more than the horse itself has.


Excerpted from Horse Housekeeping by Margaret Korda Copyright © 2005 by Margaret Korda. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Horse Housekeeping: Everything You Need to Know to Keep a Horse at Home 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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Lead stallion. A huge, well built and toned white stallion with black hooves and mane.