We apologize to those of you who have been checking to see if this normal issue of the journal was back up on the Internet these last months. Hackers, spammers, technical problems, and a loss of files during a switch of hosting servers, overwhelmed us. So, we had to slowly chip away at the multiple layers of problems and reconstruct things as time allowed. Some additional material originally intended for a separate second issue of Volume 3 will be added to this combined issue near the end of the year, and Volume 4 should be ready early next year.
Data that Changed Views on Arabians in the Early 20th Century
The Arab Horse, by Col. Spencer Borden
Results of Five Endurance Tests, by W.R. Brown
Book Review: Introduction to Horse Biology, Zoe Davis
Book Retroview: The Arabian in Arabia, Alexis Wrangel
Contact the Journal
Data that changed views on Arabians in Early 20th Century America
One of the primary aims of the Journal of Equine Studies and Equestrian Education is to show how the a body of true scientific knowledge can be built in this field, and how such knowledge differs from opinions and anecdotal information. The change in attitudes towards Arabian horses in America in the first part of the 20th century provides an example of this process.
In the early 21st century, we take the Arab/Arabian horse for granted. Opinions may differ as to their desirability for certain activities compared to other breeds, but they are very much part of the equestrian scene across the whole range of events and activities, and it is hard to imagine that it wasn't always so. However, this was not the case at the beginning of the 20th century, particularly in the USA. There were few Arabians in America at the time. Many of the most highly respected authorities in the equestrian field even refused to recognize Arabians as a distinct breed, and few people were willing to accept that the small horses with dished-in faces could hold their own in comparison to, or competition with, the larger breeds, much less excel in a number of areas. Thus, there was obviously a great change in attitude sometime in the last 100 years. How did it come about?
There were, even in the 1700s and 1800s, those in the US who recognized the qualities of Arabians, yet their attempts to make others aware of them were generally dismissed as just biased opinions. Some proponents of Arabians tried to document the facts they presented. One such attempt was the following 1913 article by Col. Borden arguing for introduction of Arabian blood into US military horses, which made some excellent points. The examples he gave from military history concerning the performance of Arabian horses were indeed very impressive. However, such documentable accounts were still only anecdotal, and thus did not prove more than isolated instances of the abilities of Arabians, much less allow them to be compared on an objective basis with other horses. It would have been possible to find the same sort of anecdotal accounts of exceptional performance by other breeds, including some of similar, smaller than average, size. Thus, the argument about the relative merits of Arabians continued based primarily on opinions, with the proponents of Arabians making few converts to their views..
Truly meaningful and persuasive evidence of Arabians' qualities came
a decade later in military sponsored endurance tests. Data pertaining to
Arabians' performance in those competitions were presented in the
second article below, by W.R. Brown, in 1923. The data
from Arabians and other breeds taking part in the same tests, even
though they were not perfectly controlled scientific experiments, provided
a means for objective comparison of performance both in absolute
terms and relative to the different breeds' average characteristics. If
the only information obtained and presented was that individual Arabian
horses had won the majority of those endurance tests, it might have been
dismissed by skeptics as having been purely by chance. However, the full
data showed that proportionate to their numbers, the Arabians consistently
performed significantly better in most respects despite their disadvantage
in ratio of weight of horse to weight of load carried, in test after
test over a series of several years. Thus, the technique of collecting
data from controlled and well monitored tests, and analyzing it in
a scientific manner, finally provided indisputable evidence of those characteristics
that many had longed claimed Arabians exhibited but which so many detractors
had refused to believe. Having been published in the Cavalry Journal, this
information reached not only military officers but also many civilians
who were most influential in riding, training, and breeding circles . Had
it not been just at the point when cavalry was beginning to lose its importance
in the military, and horses were rapidly disappearing from non-recreational
civilian use, the impact would undoubtedly have been greater and the popularity
of Arabians would likely have risen even faster. Some additional
comments on the tests, the data produced, and Brown's presentation
of them, are given at the end of his article.
THE ARAB HORSE
By Colonel Spencer Borden
(Written in 1913)
It was the fashion a few years ago to claim that the Arab horse did not exist , excepting as a figment of the imagination. Scientists, later, were compelled to acknowledge that there was such a horse, and that he differed from all others even in his anatomy.
Then a claim was put forward that what was called an Arab was really an African horse, originating in Lybia [spelling variation at the time written], the country lying between Egypt and Tripoli, on the shores of the Mediterranean.
These wise people even asserted that the horses we had always called Arabians were never in Arabia until after the beginning of the Christian era, some saying they came from Egypt, others that they were sent from Cappadocia, north of the Taurus mountains, on the Black Sea. The fact that no such horses remain either in Lybia or in Capadoccia [Turkey], although they are numerous in Arabia, caused no embarrassment to these pundits.
Had such theorists gotten their Xenophon or Herodotus from the upper shelves of their book-cases, certain embarrassing facts might have caused them to modify their contention.
They would have learned that Semiramis who succeeded her husband Nimrod -- builder of Nineveh -- had an army in which it is said there were 300,000 cavalry, with which she invaded India, before she started to build Babylon. Nineveh is perpetuated by the present town of Mosul, built on its site on the Tigris River in what is now Iraq but is the northeastern part of the geographic region traditionally known as Arabia. Similarly, the ruins of Babylon are near Baghdad on the Euphrates River, and traditionally considered the primary point of origin of what became known as Arabia.
We are forced to believe therefore, that there were some horses in Arabia at least 3500 years B.C. Not only is this certain from the written record, their representation is preserved in bas-reliefs in stone uncovered by Layard, when he explored the ruins of Nineveh in the middle of the nineteenth century. These show horses of the Arabian horse size and type, ridden by men making use of them in a manner such as no horse but an Arab was ever known to stand up to. The riders are hunting lions with spears and arrows. It is notorious to this day that no horse but an Arab has the courage to face a lion or a wild boar.
[There followed a few paragraphs citing the above mentioned sources from the classical age, along with 19th century archaeological finds, providing evidence of Arab type horses in Arabia thousands of years ago. That evidence that has been added to and superseded by even better and more conclusive archaeological evidence in support of the early existence of Arab horses in Arabia found in the last century. So, those paragraphs were omitted.- editor ]
And now in our day [circa 1913 - ed.] and country, certain "progressive" Americans suggest that though there may have been Arab horses and they may have been good enough a long time ago, they are not such as would be suited to our modern conditions and American climate. The greater part of such people probably never saw an Arab horse.
In other lands the Arabian is sought after and valued at his true worth. The Hungarian Government has a stud of Arab horses at Babolna, established in 1790. In their official account of this stud, the Hungarian Department of Agriculture tells us, -- "The original purpose for which the stud at Balbona was established, was that it might breed foundation stock that could contribute a progressive element in raising the quality of its horses."
In France the government also uses Arab blood for "raising the quality of its horses". In 1906 the Republic had 579 such animals, pure-bred or half-breds in its government stud.
In Austria, the famous Lippizan horses, the oldest established breed next to the Arab, have been bred carefully to a type at Lippiza, near Trieste (from which place the breed takes its name) since the stud was established in 1585. As Austria and Hungary, however, are joined under a common ruler [in the early 20th century - ed.], most of their cavalry horses come from Hungary. Baron Slatin -- brother of the famous Slatin Pasha -- told the writer of these lines in 1911: "We believe the horses bred in Hungary are the best cavalry mounts in the world. They are not too large, and have great proportion of Arab blood in them."
In the great Russian Imperial Strelski stud, devoted to horses of Eastern blood, they had 408 breeding animals, 81 of them pure Arabs in 1889.
Italy, since the days of Givoanni de la Bande Nere, the greatest of the Medician generals, has never missed an opportunity to secure Arabian blood. Christopher Hare, in his "Romance of a Medici Warrior" tells us that Giovanni, writing to his agent Fortunati, from his camp at Pesaro, under date of April 14, 1517 says: "And besides, I am badly mounted. You must send me the best and finest Arab horses that you can get in Florence, for mine are all out of condition,"
Of him Hare tells us: "In our war he would replace the heavy cavalry, the cumbersome armor, the slow massive horses which it required, by light, active Arab horses, easily managed and full of spirit, ridden by agile men lightly equipped."
We also learn that at Vaprio, "He was riding that splendid white Arab horse, Sultan -- who was to survive him and never suffer another rider -- and he turned his head toward the rushing torrent; the noble animal leaped into the river and swam across, his master sitting firmly on the saddle with his lance at rest."
So today also, the Italian Government secures every pure Arab they can lay hands on, having agents in the East at all times to procure them. In 1903 they had fifty-five pure Arab stallions in the Italian royal studs.
Turkey had, in 1900, four studs of horses, for producing cavalry horses, one at Schifteler (where were fifty-five purebred Arabs, eleven half-breeds, thirteen Hungarian, and eleven Russian stallions, with 600 brood mares), another at Sultan Lou, in the province of Harpoot, one at Tchon Korova, province of Adana, one at Vezirie, near Bagdad. The raison d'etre of the last, especially, is plainly asserted: "The object of this stud is to promote the breeding of the best Arab strains."
Can it be that all these people are mistaken, and only those Americans are correct who assert that in these days Arabs are not good horses, they lack in endurance? Many great soldiers would differ with them, some in bygone days, some in our own times.
Washington rode a son of the Lindsey Arabian through our own war of independence. Bonaparte pinned his faith to the white Arab, Marengo, that carried him through his campaigns in Egypt, and the freezing retreat from Russia. His stuffed skin is still preserved in Paris. Wellington would trust himself to nothing but an Arab horse. Kitchner and "little Bobs," Field-Marshall Lord Roberts, will ride no others. There is a photograph of the horse Vonolel, as he appeared at the head of Queen Victoria's jubilee procession, wearing on his breast two medals presented to the horse by her Majesty, one for the Afghan wars, another for his service in Africa. At the time the picture was made Vonolel was twenty-seven years old. He carried Lord Roberts for twenty-two consecutive years, through all his campaigns in Afghanistan, India, Burmah, South Africa, had covered in his campaigns 50,000 miles and never once been lame or sick. We are told that Sysonby is the greatest of all thoroughbred horses. His skeleton stands besides that of the Arab horse Nimur in the Museum of the American Society of Natural History, in New York.
Sysonby is said to have won $170,000 [this is circa 1900 when the US dollar was worth many times more, and horse racing wasn't as big a business as today -- ed.] for his owner, the late James R. Keene, and to have died an unbeaten race horse. Yet Sysonby reached the end of his career when four years old. In winning $170,00 the total distance he ran in all his races added one to the end of the other, was twelve and a half miles.
The history of the XIXth Dragoons (English) who went with Kitchner to Kartoum, is familiar to all modern soldiers. They had to abandon their big English horses at Cairo, were mounted on Syrian Arabs, averaging 14.1 and these carried them nine months through the desert, sometimes for seventy hours without water, with an average loss of about twelve percent of the horses.
Colonel Gore of the Inniskillen Dragoons rode a pure Arab through the whole South Africa campaign. It is reported that "this horse was never sick nor sorry, lasting out four picked horses which his master brought with him from Ireland."
Many other instances proving the sagacity, endurance, and soundness of these wonderful horses must be omitted that this paper go not too far beyond the limits set for its length. A single one nearer home may interest readers.
Captain Frank Tompkins, of the Eleventh Cavalry, U.S.A, Superintendent of Military instruction at Norwick University, Northfiled, Vermont, tried a little Arab he has, on the thirtieth of October, 1912, over the hills of Vermont.
Having occasion to go to Fort Ethan Allen, Burlington, Captain Tompkins
rode the five year old Arab horse Razzia fifty miles in the morning, attended
to his business at Fort Ethan Allen, and rode him back to Northfield the
same day. The horse carried one hundred and seventy-five pounds on his
back; the entire time on the road was fifteen hours thirty minutes; and
he was never distressed. The next morning he was in condition to repeat
the feat. As he had no special preparation for the test, and several showers
during the day had made the road slippery, it would surely seem that this
is the kind of horse that might contribute something useful to the breed
of American horses. He would appear to measure up to the description Captain
W. A. Kerr, V.C. gives to Arab horses, as animals, "whose blood (no matter
in what channel directed, or with what plebeian puddle mingled), has ever
brought improvement in some shape or other, but mainly in respect to quality,
stamina, nervous energy, ivory-like bone, tough hoof, and hereditary soundness."
Results of Five Endurance Tests
The following data, gathered from the official records of 102 horses, of all breeds, entered in five endurance tests for the United States Mounted Service Cup, which have been held in the East, are here presented for the consideration of those asking for facts rather than bias or opinion from preconceived ideas, or planning to select and train horses for future tests of this kind:
Test 1 -- held October 14 to 18, 1919, 306 miles in 5 days between Fort Ethan Allen, Burlington, Vt., and Camp Devens, Mass., 14 entries, all breeds --was won by Arabian mare Ramla, 14-3, 850 pounds, ridden by Albert W. Harris, of Chicago, for W. R. Brown, owner, Maynesboro Arabian Stud, Berlin, N.H., in 51 hours 26 minutes, carrying 200 pounds. Score: Speed, 23 6/25; condition, 50/50; feed, 19 3/25; total, 92.9 per cent. Ramla repeated the following year for 260 miles with 245 pounds in 51 hours.
Test 2 -- held October 15 to 19, 1920, 306 miles in 5 days between Fort Ethan Allen, Burlington, Vt., and Camp Devens, Mass., 27 entries, all breeds --was won by Thoroughbred grade Mlle. Denis, 15-2, 980 pounds, ridden by Major Stanley Koch, of Washington, for himself as owner, in 46 hours 57 minutes, carrying 245 pounds. Score: Speed, 36 1/40; condition, 40/50; feed 6 9/10; total 83 percent.
Test 3 -- held October 10 to 14, 1921, 310 miles in 5 days between Camp Alfred Vail, Redbank, N.J., and Washington Monument, D.C., 17 entries, all breeds --was won by Arabian gelding Crabbet, 15.2, 925 pounds, ridden by Jack Humphrey, for W. R. Brown owner, Maynesboro Arabian Stud, Berlin, N.H., in 49 hours 4 minutes, carrying 245 pounds. Score: Speed, 29/40; condition, 55/60; total, 84 per cent. Crabbet took fifth prize in the 1919 test and fifth prize in the 1920 test.
Test 4 -- held October 8 to 13, 1922, 300 miles in 5 days between Fort Ethan Allen, Burlington, Vt., and Camp Devens, Mass., 21 entries, all breeds --was won by Thoroughbred Vendetta, 15-2, 1,012 pounds, ridden by Major Louis Beard, of Front Royal, Va., for J. Watson Webb, of Brandon, Vt., owner, in 45 hours 17 minutes, carrying 225 pounds. Score: Speed, 39/40; condition, 56/60; total 95 percent.
Test 5 -- held October 15 to 19, 1923, 300 miles in 5 days at and around Avon, N.Y., 23 entries, all breeds --was won by Anglo-Arab demi-sang Gouya, 15.3, 983 pounds, ridden by Ted Collier, for W. R. Brown owner, Maynesboro Arabian Stud, Berlin, N.H., in 45 hours, carrying 225 pounds. Score: Speed, 40/40; condition, 58/60; total, 98 per cent. Gouya went 90 miles in 1921 test and 300 miles in 1922 test.
Cup won permanently by W. R. Brown owner, Maynesboro Arabian Stud, Berlin, N.H., through three winnings.
One hundred and two contestants started in the five tests, of which 24 had 50 per cent or more of Arabian blood; 27 had 50 per cent or more of Morgan blood; 36 had 50 per cent or more of Thoroughbred blood; 9 were Anglo-Arabs, a mixture of Thoroughbred and Arab, with 4 Kentucky saddle horses and 2 Standardbred or Trotting horses. This gives a sufficient number of Arabs, Morgans, and Thoroughbreds for comparison, but not enough Kentucky or Trotting-bred horses to make a fair comparison; so the last two will be left out.
While it is true that many unsuitable horses were entered, this was equally the case in Arabs, Morgans, and Thoroughbreds, and the interest was sufficiently keen and enough money spent by the backers of the different breeds to secure, in most instances, the best specimens possible and give them adequate training; so that it is idle to say that the breeds were not well represented. In some instances horses and riders were brought in from long distances and were trained for some months by their owners at the place where the test was to be held. It is interesting to note in this connection that there are perhaps not over 300 Arabs in this country to be drawn upon and a relatively small number abroad, while there are perhaps 4,000 Morgans in the United States and 16,000 Thoroughbreds; so that the opportunity of selection among Arabs was vastly less.
As to age, horses of all breeds averaged close to eight years, the most desirable age at which to test the maximum power of a horse. In height, Arabs and Morgans averaged 15 hands with Thoroughbreds and Anglo-Arabs averaging 16 hands. Grades of all breeds averaged 15-2 , which is probably the most efficient height for a test of this kind, taking into consideration the ratio of speed, load, and distance.
In weight at the start, Arab blood averaged 903 pounds, Morgan blood 961 pounds, Anglo-Arab blood 1,000 pounds, and Thoroughbred blood 1,025 pounds. The smallest horses were pure-blooded Arabs, which averaged 860 pounds, and pure-blooded Morgans which averaged 918 pounds, the largest being the Irish Hunters, which averaged 1,074 pounds. The average weight of all horses was 976 pounds, which, it will be assumed, is the best weight for the speed, load, and distance.
The load carried in the first test was 200 pounds; in the second and third, 245 pounds; in the fourth and fifth, 225 pounds, being theoretically the weight of the ordinary cavalryman, varying from 130 to 175 pounds, plus the ordinary equipment, with saddle, of 70 pounds. The average load carried in all the tests was 230 pounds, and all the horses in each test were required to carry the same load. The ratio of load carried to the weight of the horse is most interesting when compared with the distance accomplished, the speed attained, and the condition at the finish, as shown by the following table:
From the above it will be seen that a very considerable weight handicap was placed on the smaller horses of Arab and Morgan blood, but that they succeeded in carrying the same load a relatively longer distance than the larger horses, with less leg trouble of all kinds, but at a sacrifice of speed, in which the horses of Thoroughbred blood surpassed. An equal, if not superior, rate of speed was attained, however, by the Anglo-Arabs (the Thoroughbred-Arab cross), as was demonstrated in the last test. This soundness of leg and constitution in the Arab was also demonstrated in the ability to repeat, Arab blood having finished 1 horse 4 times, 1 horse 3 times, 1 horse twice, and 5 horses once, as against Morgan blood having finished 1 horse 3 times, 1 horse twice, and 5 horses once; and as against Thoroughbred blood having finished 1 horse 3 times, 2 horses twice, and 8 horses once.
Concerning the number of finishing horses out of the starters and the number that took prizes (all horses making the distance are called finishers) :
Feed being a feature in the first two tests, with a 25 per cent and 10 per cent score, it was found that horses with Arab blood were consuming at an average of one-quarter to one-half only as much food as larger horses of other blood in doing the same work, and kept in equally as good condition.
From tables showing the results of these tests the following conclusions can be fairly drawn: That the Arab possesses more endurance and weight-carrying ability and low feed consumption, with freedom from unsoundness, than any other breed, but that when handicapped with a larger proportion of his weight is obliged to proceed at a slower pace; that the Morgan possesses many of the qualities of the Arab but in a lesser degree; and that horses of Thoroughbred blood excel only in speed; that the Arab grade, particularly the Trotting and Thoroughbred cross, obtain more height and size, is up to [carrying] more weight and can achieve more speed, but is not as sound as the pure Arab; that the Morgan grade is larger than the pure Morgan, but is inferior; that the Thoroughbred grade varies only from the Thoroughbred in being somewhat shorter (with the exception of the Irish Hunter) and making somewhat less speed; that the legs of the pure Thoroughbred are subject to lameness from the concussion of carrying heavy weight over long distances on hard roads, even though their nerves, courage, and recuperative ability, especially as to recovering of weight, are unexcelled; that the Morgan in himself makes a very good endurance horse, but is not prepotent enough to be impressive in the grades; that a mixture of Arab and Thoroughbred blood can equal both in endurance and speed and is a desirable cross, as it furnishes registerable blood that can be gone on with, increases the size of the Arab and decreases the size of the Thoroughbred, and gives assurance of a fixed and prepotent type; that such a conclusion has been arrived at in a general way in France and other continental countries where stallions of both breeds are used [in the equivalent of the U.S. Remount], and particularly in Hungary, where a superior native horse has been produced by the admixture of these two bloods over the past century; that whatever our predilections for some breed may be for certain services, only selfish lack of consideration for our soldiers in the extremity of war will allow us to ignore the facts brought out in these tests and keep us from acting in full measure upon them.
Reviewer comments: Although five endurance tests involving 102 horses (i.e. an average of just over 20 horses per competition) provided a rather limited sample and number of observations, the numbers were adequate to allow valid comparison of the performance of the different breeds. Had the performance of the several breeds been very close and/or varied greatly in relation to one another from year to year, a greater number of tests, involving larger numbers of horses, would have been required to obtain more meaningful data and draw conclusions with any certainty. In this case, however, the results showed clear differences in performance, and were relatively consistent across the five tests over a period of five years. Those factors make it extremely unlikely that the results were due to chance, or to the inclusion of a few atypical horses, or to other anomalies. Although larger samples would have allowed more precise quantification of the differences in performance, the sample available provided enough data to show what the differences were and give an indication of their extent.
Although a true "random sample" of horses of each breed being compared would have been the ideal and produced the best data, the "self-selected" sample of entrants provided a relatively fair comparison of horses which were all selected and trained for the endurance tests. The fact that the pool of Arabians in the US which supplied the Arabian entrants was much smaller than those from which the Morgans and Thoroughbreds were drawn makes their performance all the more impressive. Fewer horses from which to draw the perceived "best" ones for such tests could be expected to produce a weaker group of entrants. Thus the Arabians' performance could have been expected to have been poorer than the other breeds. Had it been so, it could have been discounted due to that fact, and only if confirmed by additional tests with a fairer sampling could it have been considered a true measure of the Arabians's performance. Since the Arabians in fact performed better than the other breeds, it can be assumed that had they been drawn from as large a pool as the entrants of other breeds, the Arabian entrants would have ben of even better quality and performance.
Differing Observations on the Dietary Requirements of Arabian Horses
As is widely known, and supported by the data from the two of the five endurance tests presented in the article in this issue that included the amount of food consumed, Arabians require significantly less food than larger breeds. Even on a pound for pound comparison with breeds of all types and sizes, their consumption is among the lowest of any of the horse breeds.
However, in various studies of, and literature about, Arabians, conflicting information emerges concerning of what quality that lesser amount of food needs to be. As indicated in the endurance test article, and in the experience of most Arabian owners in North America, Arabians tend to be finicky eaters and require relatively refined diets. However, in his book The Arabian in Arabia, reviewed elsewhere in this issue, Alexis Wrangel recounted that a White Russian cavalry officer of WW I had told him that during a hard campaign in the Carpathian mountains all the horses of a cavalry regiment were starved and hardly alive "except for two Arabians who were quite happy eating the thatched roofs off the miserable huts of the Ruthenian peasants!"(The Arabian in Arabia, p.29) Wrangel noted that this was not surprising because as he observed in their native areas of Arabia, during much of the year vegetation was scarce and what was available was generally coarse and low in nutrition, so they had obviously developed the ability to survive on such. Some of the historical examples cited by Col. Spencer Borden in the article reprinted in this issue also lead to the inference that the Arabians which did well in some of those situations would have been getting limited and poor quality food.
Although the evidence on both sides is largely anecdotal, it comes in each case from knowledgeable observers, so the discrepancy seems like more than just the result of conflicting opinions. On further investigation it appears that both sets of observations are actually correct. The explanation can be found in an article by Colonel P. M. Dobrynin (V.S. Russian Veterinary Corps) "The Thoroughbred - The Best Type of the Cavalry Horse". In discussing the durability of the characteristics of thoroughbreds in cross-breeding, Col. Dobrynin notes "[The thoroughbred] is the same in Europe, America, in a word all the world over. All climatic conditions which bring about the complete loss of the primaeval type in other races (the Arab in Russia is not the Arab in Africa as may be observed at the Bielovodsk Government Studs) have but little influence upon the thoroughbred....." Apparently the environment in Russia had led to the development of some characteristics in Arabians different from those which developed in the breed elsewhere such as Africa. It can thus be inferred that other environments and situations would likewise have led to other changes. This can explain how those Arabians in Eastern Europe retained the ability to survive on poorer forage than most breeds while those in America lost it. The Arabians in North America generally came via Western Europe and Britain from horses owned by wealthy individuals for their personal use. Thus, the majority of Arabians that reached America would have developed from a relatively few animals which were bred in situations where they had ample grain and high quality forage. After many generations of not needing to survive on the limited, coarse, desert vegetation, the ability to do so may have been lost -- particularly if those best able to survive on such poor diets were also those most likely to succumb to problems like founder in an environment with much richer food. In contrast, the Arabians in Eastern Europe were significantly closer to their source, and present in greater numbers. The social and political situations in that part of the world meant that although Arabians might have generally been owned by wealthier individuals, periodically most of those in the region would have been pressed into military service, during which they would have had to endure shortages of not only grain, but, as mentioned by Wrangel, even fodder -- with some earlier conflicts in the area over the centuries having denuded the countryside far worse than was the case in WW I. There were also occasional droughts and famines in peacetime, the effects of which even reached many of the horses of the wealthy.
Although further research is needed before it can be accepted without qualification that this is the definitive explanation for the differing accounts of Arabian's dietary requirements, it illustrates why information on equestrian subjects coming from single sources, even when containing accurate observations, can not be assumed to be universally applicable.
Introduction to Horse Biology
Author: Zoe Davis
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
(online bookstore www.blackwellpublishing.com )
Pages: 224 - Paperback
Price: £16.99 / $34.99
Reviewed by Leonard Leshuk, Ph.D.
To develop a true understanding of horses' behavior, performance, and physical needs, it is necessary to understand their biological make up and functions. For those equestrians without extensive education in the biological sciences, it can be difficult to get a grasp on this somewhat complex subject. Introduction to Horse Biology puts this scientific information into a form that does not require having previous training in biology to follow and understand. Written to provide the necessary background in horse biology for students planning to undertake academic programs in equine studies, it is an excellent book for that purpose. However, it can be of equal value to those who are not planning on formal studies. American readers may at first glance be a bit intimidated by the references on the back cover and in the preface to the various British academic courses and examinations for which the book will prepare students. Once they start reading the book itself though, they will find that it is clearly written and logically arranged, and thus easily understandable even by those without academic orientation. The first few chapters deal largely with basic general biological terms and principles, linking them to horses when appropriate. The rest of the book focuses more specifically on horse biology/physiology, with the scientific information presented in a way which makes the practical significance and applications obvious.
The format of Introduction to Horse Biology is essentially that of a self-guided textbook, yet it can also function as a reference book. It fills the wide gap between the brief and usually very incomplete sections on biological aspects found in general books on the horse, and the unwieldy advanced veterinary texts and reference books which assume the user has an extensive background in biology and the vocabulary of veterinary medicine. And despite being written as a book on horse biology, it can even serve in many respects as an elementary text and reference book on biology in general, since much of the information is applicable to other animals and even humans. It is the sort of book that one should pick up first when seeking quick answers to questions that arise concerning basic biology/physiology of horses and to related questions about their care. Even in the cases where it cannot provide the answers, consulting it first can refresh those who don't have formal veterinary training, on the scientific principles and terms before they go on to consult more specialized books.
A basic work such as this has to limit itself as to the depth of coverage of the various aspects of the subject. Thus, there are a few cases in which chapters, or sections within them, end a bit abruptly, and that may leave the reader wishing those particular topics could have been developed more fully. Similarly, the five appendixes at the end of the book, only two of which are horse specific, seem like the start of a collection of lists, charts, and tables that could have made the book even more useful, but which was disappointingly stopped short. On the whole though, this book provides a wealth of solid information of the sort which anyone who owns or works with horses needs and can continually put to use. Its a book that many will want for their personal libraries, and definitely is a book that would be beneficial, and would be continually read and consulted, in any public or institutional library which is used by equestrians.
As useful as this book may be for giving those students entering equine
studies programs the proper basic foundation in horse biology, I would
like to suggest that it may be even more useful as a way of getting
young people who have an interest in horses to take an interest in biology
and other sciences. There has been discussion and controversy in academia
recently concerning the extent to which women have the inclination to pursue
advanced studies in scientific fields. It seems that giving a copy
of Introduction to Horse Biology to a young woman of secondary school
age who has a passion for equestrian pursuits but no definite academic
and career direction, would be a very effective way to expose her to how
science relates to, and can benefit her in, something she enjoys, and thus
perhaps ignite a similar passion for scientific learning in general that
might carry her on to formal studies and a career in a scientific field.
Most journals review only newly released books. However, as has been shown by some of the articles in this journal, much valuable older factual information was published but then forgotten, allowing the dubious opinions of successive generations of uneducated equestrian "gurus" to predominate in recent decades. It is the same with books; there being many older books which contain more true knowledge on some equestrian subjects than less well researched books of more recent years. Now with the Internet, it is possible to find and purchase used copies of most older books, as well being easier to have your local or research library request books on inter-library loan. So, the Journal of Equine Studies will present brief reviews, or "retroviews", of some older books which either surpass more recent works on the same subjects, or which contain unique information and perspectives, particularly when those subjects relate to articles in the Journal.
The Arabian in Arabia
by Alexis Wrangel
Publisher : J.A. Allen & Co. Ltd., London, 1962 (out of print) , 95 pages.
(Can be found in the collections of a number of research libraries in the EU and North America, and probably even in some public libraries. Available used, but demand from Arabian enthusiasts and collectors of equestrian books tends to keep the price of used copies £14/$30 or higher. )
This relatively short book is written in a popular rather than scholarly style, yet provides some uncommon and very good insight on Arabian horses, particularly as to riding and training in their region of origin. Alexis Wrangel, the son of Petr Wrangel the famous Russian cavalry officer of WW I and of the civil war that followed in the wake of the Russian Revolution, grew up with that background of the Imperial Russian horsemanship from the end of the cavalry age. Through his association with influential riding instructors like Vladimir Littauer who came from that same tradition, he contributed to the evolution of modern competitive and recreational riding during the mid-twentieth century. Thus, his views on Arabian horses reflected both the utilitarian considerations of the last of the traditional cavalrymen, and the aesthetic and competitive perspectives of modern equestrians.
The Arabian in Arabia offers many astute observations on the Arabs' methods of breeding, training, and riding. It reveals the origins of a number of the traits of Arabian horses, and notes some of the ways that these horses have subsequently changed through breeding in other countries. Although a very practical look at these horses and their origins, it still includes interesting local folklore concerning Arabian horses which, like most folklore, must be viewed in its cultural context and not taken as necessarily based in fact. It also gives some insight on the culture of the Arab people who developed this breed. For example Wrangel points out that horses are associated with luck, and notes that even the Islamic religious books of the Koran and Haddith (which came long after the Arabian breed was developed) place mares as the material possessions to be most highly valued. This is in sharp contrast to other cultures/religions from the same area, in which there have traditionally been negative attitudes towards horses, and whose religious books tend to associate horses with evil and destruction.
Being from an international background, Alexis Wrangel brought broad knowledge to his writing on this subject. That is one of the strong points of the book, though in a few cases it requires the reader to question whether a particular bit of information is universally applicable. A good example is the observation about the dietary requirements of Arabian horses examined elsewhere in this issue of the Journal; although initially a bit confusing, it ultimately provides some important information which allows us to better understand the divergence of Arabians' characteristics, and their respective needs in various countries.
This is probably not the first or only book that someone casually interested
in Arabian horses would want to read, but it is definitely a book that
anyone wanting to become a true authority on Arabian horses should read
to broaden his or her knowledge and perspective. Alexis Wrangel helped
to bring about the transition from 19th century attitudes to 21st century
attitudes concerning Arabians with this book. He was also among those who
helped transform the sport of riding in the 20th century. Unfortunately,
Wrangel has produced few other published works. He contributed a couple
of chapters to one of Littauer's books on riding, but the other works written
solely by him have been limited to a history of the last great cavalry
battles of the post-revolution period in Eastern Europe and a biography
of his father. That lack of other books specifically on riding and horses
by this uncommon horseman makes The Arabian in Arabia all
the more a special and intriguing part of modern equestrian history.
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(previous issues follow below)
Volume 1 Number 3 Online Publication
__________________ A Publication of Europa University Press__________________
This issue of The Journal of Equine Studies presents some studies done in the early part of the 20th century, not only for the information they contain, but also to draw attention to the fact that even much of the valuable research work that was done in the past has not been readily available to people working in this field today. Meanwhile, a call for articles has gone out to the departments devoted to, or which offer some courses in, equine studies at colleges and universities. From those teaching and studying at such institutions, as well as from those among the non-academic readership, it is hoped there will be a steady flow of material submitted that will expedite the online publication of future issues. For the convenience of those who are first time readers of JES, the previous issue which gives additional background on the need for a scientific approach in this field and how this journal is addressing them is appended to the bottom of this issue.
1.) Purpose and Goals of The Journal of Equine Studies
Effects of hair and skin color on survival and endurance of horses in various climates
Weight distribution between front and back hooves, and influence of head angle
3.) Editor's column
4.) Call for articles
5.) Research methods tutorial
Purpose and goals of The Journal of Equine Studies and Equestrian Education
The Journal of Equine Studies and Equestrian Education was created to fill the need for a peer-reviewed scientific journal that focuses on the many aspects of riding, training, and raising horses which extend beyond the bounds of the veterinary and agricultural sciences, and have not usually been approached and studied in a scientific manner. The goal is to expand the definitive scientific knowledge in this field by encouraging scientific research, particularly by experiment, and providing a forum for publication of such work. The scope also includes scholarly historical research of interest and value to equestrians, and the re-publication of earlier works in the field which are not otherwise readily accessible.
return to index
The Effects of Hair and Skin Color on Survival and Endurance of Horses in Various Climates
A primary motivation for the creation of the Journal of Equine Studies was the lack of good definitive scientifically derived information even in areas such as equine endurance where observation and measurement should be relatively easy. For example, a relatively comprehensive contemporary book on endurance riding/racing was unable to provide a meaningful answer to, much less any scientific data on, the very basic question of whether dark colored horses are more prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke when ridden in the sun in hot weather. Although the author raised the question, the best answer she could provide was that some people think that dark colored horses are more prone to such heat injuries. "Some people think"...? Whether dark colored horses build up more body heat and thus suffer more physical stress in the hot sun than lighter colored ones can easily be tested and measured scientifically in controlled experiments, and even short of that, it is the sort of question that could be answered reasonably well empirically just through observation and systematic data gathering. Having accurate and definitive information on such a matter should be of great concern to all endurance riders and to all horse owners in the hotter climates/areas, as well as being of significant interest to anyone who rides in hot weather. Yet it appears that the prevailing "knowledge" on this matter, as with so much of equestrian "knowledge", consists mainly of individuals' opinions formed on the basis of small bits of anecdotal evidence and traditional beliefs.
Equine survival and endurance in different climates was of critical importance to cavalry forces, especially those which operated in a wide range of climates and terrains. Differences in the suitability of horses of different colors to various environments is therefore a subject which should have received serious attention from classical times onward, yet seems to have been largely ignored. The subject was, however, at least briefly addressed in a scientifically sound manner in military literature of the early 20th century just before cavalry started to be replaced by mechanized transport. The primary American work on the question of horse color was done by Lt. Col. Charles E. Woodruff of the US Army Medical Corps, and originally published in two articles in U.S. Cavalry Journal in 1912; "The Restricted Climatic Environment of Horses", and "The Best Color for Horses in the Tropics". A condensation/compilation of those articles is presented here.
(It should be noted that early in the 20th century, Arabians were not common in the USA -- only about 300 total even as late as the 1920s -- with most of those in the country at the time apparently whites and grays; thus Col. Woodruff's frequent references to white being the usual color of Arabians.)
Due to differences in heat radiation, retention and absorption, the colors of skin and hair are significant factors in animals' endurance and survival in severe climates. Horses evolved, before and after domestication, primarily in temperate regions and so color's importance in maintenance of body temperature is greatest when horses are taken from their natural environments into very hot and sunny regions or very cold one. Dark skin pigmentation protects horses from excessive exposure to ultraviolet light in both the hot sunny regions and in those colder ones where reflection from snow adds to the amount of UV light exposure. A white coat can have the effect of reflecting solar radiation and ambient heat in excessively hot areas, and of reflecting body heat back inward in very cold ones. Black-skinned horses with white coats of appropriate thickness for the respective climates are thus best able to endure intense heat (e.g. above body temperature) and exposure to the sun, and also extremely cold conditions. However, they do not appear to do as well as darker colors in consistently moderately hot conditions when midday exposure to the sun is not required A black or otherwise very dark coat will absorb solar radiation in hot sunny conditions with potentially fatal results, while it will allow more body heat to radiate outward in very cold conditions. Thus, blacks and other very dark horses are the most limited as to their ability to tolerate climate extremes under most circumstances, but do exceptionally well in warm-to-hot climates where they are never exposed to ambient temperatures above their body temperatures and are not required to exert themselves in direct sunlight in the hottest weather. Horses of the lighter and darker intermediate colors/shades, respectively, fall close to whites and blacks in their endurance/survival characteristics. Those of the mid-range generally do reasonably well in most moderate climates, but there may be optimum climate-color match ranges for them.
ARTICLE: The Effects of Hair and Skin Color on Survival and Endurance of Horses in Various Climates, condensed/compiled from articles by Lt. Col Charles E. Woodruff, Medical Corps, U.S. Army
To emphasize the law of environmental adjustment in man, European anthropologists have recently been calling attention to the fact that each variety of domesticated horse is also adjusted to a very limited climatic environment. We have been deceived by its apparent ability to survive anywhere and everywhere, but as a matter of fact, it is now discovered that in spite of our utmost endeavours to guard a migrated horse from lethal influences of its new home, the type will die out in time or change to another type. We see such changes in the diminutive Java ponies evolved by natural selection in a few centuries from pure- bred Arabians, or better still the tiny agile basuto ponies of the South African hill country evolved from the cast off Northern European stock of the Boers.
It is therefore impossible for us to breed up a military horse fit for campaigning in every climate to which our troops are sent, and the present efforts in that line are sure to result in disastrous failure. For instance, I am credibly informed that the French cavalry took to the Boxer campaign of 1900, a lot of Arabian pure-breds, but the horses quickly died and the troops were then mounted on Mongolian ponies. Both kinds of horses have black skin as a protection from excessive light, and white coat as a rule which, in the case of the Arab is to reflect excessive heat, but in the Mongolian is to prevent [outward] radiation in winter like polar animals in general. But the Arab has not been exposed to intense cold for some thousands of years and has not the furry hair of the Northern type, nor perhaps has he the same air passages to warm the air breathed in. Conversely, Professor Starling of the University of London called attention some time ago to the fact that the northern white skinned horse will not survive in the dry tropics where the white haired black-skinned Arabian thoroughbred [i.e. pure-bred] thrives.
Pigment is for three distinct purposes which occasionally conflict so as to force a compromise serving both ends in a survivable way, but not perfect for either. These purposes are for protection from light, heat, and enemies. Over 25 years ago [now over 100 years ago] Dr. Robert Wallace, Professor of Agriculture in the University of Edinburgh, made the significant discovery that the skin of virtually all domestic animals in the tropics was black, no matter what the color of the hair, white skins being the rare exception. Huxley and Helmholtz both acknowledged it to be a general condition but could not find the cause. Wallace himself tried to explain the matter , but at the time little was known of the potentially lethal effects of (ultraviolet) light, and the phenomenon was considered solely a benefit in heat radiation.. We now know that every animal is protected from damaging light by skin pigment, hair, or feathers. So the black skin pigment of tropical animals is a protection against light. Intensity of sunlight and hours of direct sunlight are greater as one goes towards the equator, but there are other factors to consider. Even in the far north where there is usually less light reaching the earth, the snow glare is terrific, but little of it can penetrate the thick white coats of the arctic [land] animals, and the exposed surfaces like the tip of the nose and the retina are heavily pigmented. Insufficiently pigmented men in the arctic can easily become severely sunburned on their exposed skin areas and also suffer from serious eye diseases due to the excessive light, while the darker pigmented Eskimo escapes. Also, in the arctic there is little or no vegetation to block the sun, thus the Eskimo needed more pigmentation than the forest-dwelling Indians of New England who were of lighter complexion despite living considerably closer to the equator.
Generally though, the darkest skin pigment is needed, and the blackest animals exist, near the equator, and as these places are also hot the animals are at a very great advantage in another respect, for the laws of radiation show that black surfaces radiate heat to cooler bodies very freely but white ones do not. All these animals therefore are much cooler for their blackness when the air temperature is less than that of their bodies, as usually is the case in the tropics where the air is almost never at blood heat in natural conditions. In shaded stables when the ambient temperature remains below 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit black horses will thus be cooler than white ones. But black animals are at a fatal disadvantage when the surroundings are hotter than they are, or when they are exposed directly to solar radiation, for by the laws of absorption dark bodies absorb heat very freely. In such conditions, to avoid the danger, black animals utilize shelter in the daytime, spending their days in shaded jungle areas or in the water, or are nocturnal and hide in cool caves and similar shelters during the days. If we force them into the sun, they suffer from thermic fever [i.e. the elevated body temperature of heatstroke/heat prostration] with more or less delirium. [This natural aversion to activity in the intense sun in the tropics is what led to the saying in the British tropical colonies, "Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun." ed. ]
Any wild animal that must go forth in the day time has another protection - a thin hairy coat of light colored material to reflect as much of the sun's rays as possible. The most effective is white and this color is quite common in tropical birds, cattle and horses, but the more usual color is some shade of yellow - a most important provision for horses as we will subsequently show.
As we move away from the equatorial regions, the amount and kind of clouds are most important considerations, for they may reduce the light very materially if they are between us and the sun, but increase it if so situated and fleecy that they reflect more sun's rays to us. Sky glare is sometimes found to give more light than the sun itself, so that the total light received may be greater than if the sky was cloudless. Thick mists and fog, however, are very effective in excluding light, and as the northwest corner of Europe is notoriously cloudy and foggy, it is found that domestic animals developed there have so little need of pigment that some of the breeds have "white" skins, which are never colorless, by the way, for the red blood shines through as a rule making them pink colored and somewhat protects the lower tissues. Nor are they albinos either, for they have pigment where needed -- in the eye for instance. They have stopped having any significant amount of skin pigment because light skin is a tremendous advantage in conserving body heat in cold surroundings. Arctic animals are the warmer during the long nights for their white coats, and as they can not get any significant heat from the faint sun during the short winter days, they do not need dark coats that could absorb solar radiation.
Black animals are thus very much more restricted as to range of temperature than white ones, for they can stand neither extreme heat nor cold. The black horse cannot stand the cold like the light colored horses of cold countries, and needs warmer stables and more blanketing to survive. Moreover, I find that in the tropics the black horse is more likely to "blow-up" as the teamsters say; -- that is, on a hot trail it gets thermic fever and dies where the white horse is comfortable. But in moderately warm temperatures below blood heat, and out of intense sun, black animals are at a great advantage.
There is not only much evidence that in cold conditions, black horses are more easily "chilled" , but also suffer more from "colds" and pneumonia than the lighter colored. On the other hand Captain A. C. Nissen informs me that at Camp Stootsenburg [probably a US Army camp in the Philippines. ed] in 1902-03 he commanded a troop mounted on beautiful sorrels which had been personally selected and brought over by Gen. Earl D. Thomas, and that it was remarkable how well that these horses retained condition while the dark bays and blacks were having a dreadful time with surra and all other diseases. This was due to their better fitness to the hot climate, for there is no evidence that disease bearing insects are attracted to one color more than another; though that is a point deserving further investigation. [Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate some colors of horses may actually attract more of some insects. If any readers know of studies on this matter please pass that information on to the editor. If not, this is a question that would lend itself to simple studies and experiments that virtually anyone with access to horses of different colors that are pastured/stabled together could participate in and may thus be proposed as such in a future edition of JES. ed.]
In addition to color, size is a factor in the suitability of horses to particular climate. A larger horse (or animal of any sort) has proportionally less skin surface than a smaller one in relation to body mass. Within any give species, wild animals tend to get larger the further their habitat is away from the equator because a large surface area in relation to body mass loses heat more quickly, and because most animals need to put on a significant amount of fat in summer and fall to get them through the lean winter months. Generally, horses tend to be small in the hotter climates, and larger in the cold ones. All tropical horses are small, and we find very large draft horses only in the cooler regions. Although the small ponies of the northern islands and regions of Europe would seem to contradict this general trend, their small size is an adaptation to the limited winter forage available, while their actual body proportions are generally much "thicker" than horses of the same weights, meaning that the surface area in relation to body mass is usually in a ratio closer to that of a Percheron than to that of an Arabian.
The horse was originally not a tropical animal at all, but he and all his near relatives, the asses, back to their tiny five-toed ancestor, lived in relatively dry temperate climates, and, once they developed sufficient size and speed to survive there, on open plains. A white coat is the best, both in cold and hot open plains, but it is fatally conspicuous in wild species, so the wild plains horses' coats were yellow or dun colored. Yet when domesticated and protected from predators by man, resemblance to background is no longer a prime necessity and the tendency is for the domestic breeds to turn white in extremes of climate. The "typical" Chinese pony is milk white or gray with a black skin in a cold climate, and the Arabian breed tends to white in a hot one -- and it too has a jet black skin. The classical desert picture is a white robed Arab on a white horse, and each has a dark pigmented skin to keep out the light while the white coat of each reflects the heat. I have made careful observations among the small horses of the Visayas [also called/spelled: Bisayans - a people of the Visayan Islands in the Philippines] -- a curious mixture of Chinese and East Indian stocks -- and I have been amazed at the enormous percentage of whites, grays, and roans, nearly all the rest being of yellow shades with few light bay. About the only healthy blacks were carriage teams which are never exposed to the midday sun. Practically all colors had black skins, there being no albinos, the alleged albinos having red or yellow skins and well pigmented eyes. It is very significant that the best Philippine ponies, those from Southern Luzon centering around Batangas, are believed to be descended from Arabs, introduced long ago by the Spaniards, or more likely the North African Barbs which are much more common in Spain than the Arab. [In The Arabian in Arabia, Alexis Wrangel repeats a traditional story of the Bedouins that implies that of white, black ,and brown Arabian horses, the whites had the least endurance riding into the hot sun. That runs counter to the theories and data presented in this article. Since the same story implied that black horses did less well on rocky terrain - something that would seem to have absolutely no factual or logical basis, it seems most likely that the beliefs expressed in the story were based on folk lore and superstition rather than actual empirical observations; an example of how popular beliefs often conflicted with facts even among cultures which lived with and depended on horses in their daily lives. ed.]
Observation of predominant colors of horses in various other locales seems to follow the general patterns. The Texas native stock is running to sorrel and light bay, as the darker colors do not survive in such vigor. In the Southwest the pintos are more in evidence. On the western plains, the most vigorous and enduring are the ugly dirty yellows, which the cowboys prefer for work, reserving the blacks for show or pleasure as a rule. In the darker, cooler eastern United States the farmer prefers the bay for endurance, whereas the Filipino farmer finds the best are the buckskins with black stripes down the spine. From Fritzwygram's "Horses and Stables" one would presume that in England chestnuts and bays are good, but the lighter grades of any color are bad, as we would presume where there is neither great heat, cold, nor light. In the generally mild, equitable but often warm, humid climate of Japan, white horses seem to do poorly in comparison to darker colors, with the white hair's prevention of radiation of body heat being the likely cause. The white horses become overheated where the dark ones are comfortable. However, the lighter mid-range colors are more common in the hotter south of Japan where exposure to the summer sun would adversely affect the darker colors, and darker colored horses are more common in the cooler north. The traditional Japanese pony is very small -- in keeping with the trend to smaller size in hot, humid climates -- so the military depends on horses imported from Hungary, Russia, and Australia or half-breeds between those and their native ponies. The difference in climate between cooler England and hotter Japan was found disastrous to thorough-breds and hunters from Britain and such stock is no longer imported into Japan for breeding purposes.
The ass, which is a dun colored animal when wild in the tropics, has run for thousands of years to gray or white under domestication in Africa, Asia, and Europe. On the other hand in Northwest Europe any color of horse will survive which gets stable protection, and as a matter of fact the white skinned ones are very common as they keep warm in the winter. There is then ample reason for the almost invariable rule that our white mules have black skins, inherited either from the black skinned ass or, what is more likely still, horses that are remote descendants of white Arabians or Barbs.
The very sweat glands themselves of the horses are evidence of early evolution in cool climates for they permit of rapid change of temperature and cooling off by evaporation in a dry atmosphere where hair had to be retained for protection from cold shortly afterwards. Sweat glands as a rule are not developed in moist hot countries nor in animals clothed in wool or fur, as they would be useless and dangerous, and all such animals have other ways of keeping cool, -- dogs, cats, carabao [water buffalo], birds, etc. Consequently northern species taken to the tropics perspire unduly in conditions where the adjusted natives have dry skins -- man as well as animals. That is why native dark skinned races of men are often perfectly dry and comfortable in moderate heat, where a light skinned person will be dripping in perspiration through inability to radiate. Similarly, the northern horse will not thrive in a moist hot country, and even when he becomes wild as in South America he cannot get within 20 degrees of the equator, but he does better in dry Australia, even in the tropical zone. In the hot sunshine, the darker the horse the more he frets and perspires, and we can imagine his feelings by donning black clothes and exercising with him.
When we do take northern stock to the tropics they must be shaded or they sicken and die. We did not know that the retina was only sufficiently pigmented to protect from the subdued light of Northwest Europe, but rather, horsemen were so strongly of the opinion that the stock must be sunned that they could not realize that sunning was fatal. So, in 1908 in Cuba it was necessary to prohibit unshaded picketing between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to prevent eye troubles due to the light. This is the reason for the former prevalence of conjunctivitis, iritis, retinitis and blindness among American horses in the Philippines and indeed quite a number were ruined in health in other ways before we realized the dangers of midday exposure. The eye is so shaded from light that a horse can not see much above horizontal, and high checking may cause injury from sky-glare.
Co. Hawthorn informs me that at Vancouver Barracks [perhaps Vancouver, Washington state. ed] there was a black horse battery and one of lighter type, and that the black horses were always in poorer health -- some dying on a maneuver march which both batteries took together. Some of this may have been due to harder work extracted of the blacks, but it seems to show inability to do work in an unsuitable climate. The blacks are therefore more restricted as to climate, for Vancouver summers are not tropically hot though the sun can be strong when it does shine.
It would seem that in our hot summers a black when taken into the suns rays would be better off with a lightweight white cover over the back and sides as it would then have what nature does for the white haired Arab. It is worth trying.
Concerning greater susceptibility of certain colors to medical problems, Veterinary Surgeon W. P. Kelly, of the Quartermaster's Department has kindly sent me all the references he could find in the text books but it is not much as so little attention has been given to correlation of diseases and coat color. White horses nearly always get melanosis sometime after eight or ten years of age, and dark colors very rarely, but this is due to the tendency of such densely pigmented structures as the black skin of white horses to take on pigment if injured. The skin is evidently irritated by excessive light, for the disease attacks only the exposed places not covered by hair. It is not known why other horses are immune.
In passing it might be explained that there are three distinct ways in which horses change color. The first is by sun-burn [perhaps less confusing if thought of as "sun-bleach", to differentiate it from "sunburn" on light colored skin. ed], as when we see our blacks turn reddish brown -- a natural provision by the way, to avoid overheating in the sun. The actual color change itself is not transmissible, and the colts born out of such "burnt" stock are normally as black as their ancestors. However, black horses vary in their ability to sun-burn, and this valuable character is inheritable, the offspring generally having a similar degree of ability to sun-burn as their ancestors. This brings up the second method - evolutionary change due to survival of the fittest. In wild animals the variation in change of colors is usually over the whole body - that is, each hair is the same. Thus, the best color is naturally selected for survival, so that there is a tendency to solid colors, for these congenital variations, like the degree of ability to sun-burn are inheritable. Under domestication we have a third method, for when a solid dark color is taken to a light country, only a few hairs change at a time change to white -- for some reason we do not understand -- and we thus have grays from blacks and roans from bays or yellows. These too are inheritable, and as a man invariably selects the best for breeders, the grays and roans increase very rapidly where they are the best. That is, the solid colors are domestic variations of wild species and the greys and roans are domestic variations of domestic solid colored varieties.
All grays and roans whiten with age and are usually quite dark when born. By the laws of evolution such late appearing characters are the most recently evolved, and it is proof that the grays and white horses [of today] are recent varieties that probably evolved in domestication as better for the climate conditions than the yellow of the wild varieties. The northern indigenous dun horses tended to turn white in the winter like the fox, hare and ptarmigan for then it was an advantage for concealment, as well as heat conservation. [There is a discussion of the white, Ice Age, horses in "Recreating the first domesticated horse" in the previous issue of JES. ed]
The matter of color fitness to the tropics has never been brought up for serious study, consequently there are no available statistics as to the relative efficiency, health and length of life of the various colors of horses. Nevertheless in a few tropical places, I have found that horsemen have noticed that the light colors and grays are the best. The blacks are most sickly and shorter lived, if exposed, but if carefully shaded from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. , their blackness is a great advantage in keeping cool. Here and there, I have found teams of gray horses or mules in perfect condition after years of work on hot trails without a day's sickness, in conditions which worry, fret, sicken and kill the dark ones. The only accurate figures obtainable were given me by Captain S.C. Vesstal, C.A.C., who had a mounted organization at Tampa through the hot season of 1898:
"We had six blacks, sixty bays, twelve sorrels, and about seventy grays. These horses were exposed to the sun with very little protection for about two months. They were all in excellent condition when we received them. We gave them as much shelter as possible, but they were necessarily exposed during the day to the sun. Five of the six blacks died, and the sixth one must have died a short time after we turned him back to the quartermaster. Several bays died and all lost flesh; none of the sorrels died; all lost flesh to a much less degree than the bays; none of the grays died; and, as far as we could see, they did not lose flesh. My recollection, on thinking the matter over, is that we had three or four roans that remained in excellent condition; but I can not be certain of this. Nevertheless, it seems to me that we placed the roans in the scale of health between the sorrels and the grays."
Major A. J. Robertson, P.C., informs me that in 1903 he brought back 100 Chinese mules of all colors, for the Philippine constabulary, and yet eight years later, as far as he knew, only four had survived, and they had milk white hair and jet black skin. Even in our West, the Negro soldiers used to say that a white mule never dies. In Manila, it has been observed that the horses which survive all adversities and become disabled from age are almost exclusively white, gray, roan and light yellow; the whites predominating very largely. The average length of life of American horses in the Philippines is only five years. Major Robertson, from his experience proposes in the future to buy only white-haired, black-skinned mules. If other places give statistics half as conclusive as those of Captain Vestal and Major Robertson, it means that by proper color selection we can save much expense and keep the stock in better condition and get more work out of them.
What is needed now is carefully compiled statistics of horses which die or are disabled in every climate in the world to which we ship our horses and mules -- including age, color, where bred, when and where purchased, how long in the new climate before death or disablement, and whether the animal had been vigorous or sickly as a rule. Even disabilities by injury should be reported, for the best stock will survive what kills the weak.
Meanwhile, cities should furnish valuable information as to the best colors for the tropics, as a very hot wave in summer, in Chicago, for instance, kills the least fit at the rate of 300 to 500 a day, and it is safe to predict that on investigation the dark colors will predominate among those. [Unfortunately, such statistics were apparently never gathered/compiled as motor vehicles soon began displacing horses both in the cities and the military. ed.]
Col. Woodruff's original articles included considerable material on other domesticated animal species and the relation of their skin and coat colors to their adaptation to different climates. There was also more comparison drawn to humans, a species which like the horse relies on perspiration for cooling. There were some statistical data on the horses in Japan which conformed to the general theory, but which the editor judged ambiguous both because the horses seemed to be those purchased abroad and were not known to have suffered any significant attrition due to climate in Japan, and because of the lack of definite correlation with the relatively small climate differences cited. Thus for clarity and length considerations the data were not included in this condensation. A very lengthy footnote about variation in zebra stripes was left out, as were some discussions of horse evolution and other tangential subjects including a page or two on variations in leg callouses /"chestnuts" in the different countries.
It is amazing that with lives and nations' security having been so dependant on the survival of horses during military campaigns, such basic questions related to color had not been asked and answered long before Col. Woodruff wrote his articles. But then, armies had until shortly before that time been sending their soldiers into battle in mercilessly hot climates wearing heavy wool tunics in bright primary colors....
Assuming the data presented are valid -- and there is no reason to believe they are not -- the conclusions on the suitability and survivability of the different colors of horses in severe climate conditions would appear to be generally sound. Absolute proof of them would require either much more collection and analysis of data (as discussed below), or measurement of actual body and skin temperatures, heat buildup and loss, etc. A number of Col. Woodruff's theories in explanation of his findings, while very plausible and logical, must still be viewed as speculative because he did not support them with information that truly showed cause and effect. It appears that on a few points his theories may conflict with what have become the accepted theories on evolutionary changes and adaptations. It is understandable that Col Woodruff would have had to make some intellectual leaps in trying to explain the reasons behind the coloration/pigmentation of horses and how those related to the phenomenon of differing suitability for different climates, given the lack of scientific information available on the subject at the time he was writing. Ninety years later we still do not have definitive answers on many aspects of pigmentation of animals and plants. For example, seemingly basic questions concerning the how and why of the appearance of bright reds among the autumn colors in tree leaves have yet to be definitively answered. And when data on tropical trees and shrubs were recently compiled and studied, scientists were quite surprised to find that the young leaves on as many as 62% of them fall in the "pale pink to deep red" color range, and the theories subsequently put forth as to the reason for this are still very preliminary (The Economist, Oct. 12, 2002, "The science of autumn: Getting reddy" p75; "The science of spring: A youthful blush" p76) . So, it is not surprising that the phenomenon of black versus white/pink skin, and questions of how hair color affects heat radiation, relative to horses did not receive any great attention before or after Col. Woodruff's brief examination of them. Given the lack of more recent studies, Col. Woodruff's articles are valuable for the information they do contain, and they present a good starting point for those who want to do further research in this subject area, whether through gathering of additional data or the direct measurement of body and skin temperatures. Some further comments can be found in the Research Methods discussion in this issue of the Journal.
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Weight distribution between front and back hooves, and the influence of head angle.
Virtually all equestrians know that "horses carry the majority of their weight on their front hooves". However, the actual percentage of weight carried on the front versus the rear hooves is less well known, and one hears various incorrect figures tossed about -- 80% on the front hooves being one of the more implausible claims that the editor has heard in recent years. Its also generally known that horses shift their center of gravity by putting their heads forward/down or back/up but the actual weight shifts that come with changing the position of a horse's head and neck aren't widely known.
The following is taken from an article, "Displacement of the Center of Gravity of the Horse, Equilibrium, and Aids of the Rider", by W.K.L. Van Helden, published in Holland in 1908 . It is the sort of information that may have been reproduced by more recent studies but which isn't readily available or locatable to riders or researchers.
Although horses do carry a majority of their weight on their front hooves, the difference in the amount of weight carried on the front versus the rear hooves of a horse of good conformation without a rider is normally in the 10% - 15% range . Although the position of the horse's head and neck does have a significant influence, within the range of positions they are normally held at when riding, the greater amount of weight on the front legs/hooves is unlikely to fall outside of a 5% minimum to 20% maximum range. When seated in a classic/normal position, a rider's weight was found to be distributed so that almost twice as much was carried on the horse's front legs/hooves as on the rear (e.g. 64% front versus 36% rear -- it probably being a misunderstanding of this distribution of the rider's weight that has led to the gross misconceptions about how much of its own weight a horse carries on its front hooves), but a slight shift in position/posture to the rear can make the distribution nearly equal and actually place a slight majority of the rider's weight onto the rear legs/hooves (e.g. 48% front -- 52% rear).
ARTICLE: Weight distribution between front and back hooves, and the influence of head angle. from an article by W.K.L. Van Helden
Fortunately for the equestrian art, it suffices that one can determine with sufficient precision the vertical line passing through the center of gravity of the horse when standing on a horizontal plane. People have reasoned much upon the situation of the center of gravity; they speak of it continually in books on training, and some do not hesitate to draw the line of gravitation of horse and rider without demonstrating upon what facts it is founded. [The line (or more precisely, the plane, since a horse is three dimensional) passing vertically through the center of gravity, that divides the horse's weight equally from front to rear can be determined by finding the balance point along the length of the horse (i.e the point at which as much of the horse's weight is to the front of it as to the rear of it) and extending a line/plane vertically (i.e. at a right angle to the plane on which the horse is standing) from that point. ed]
One of the most conscientious observers of the horse and his carriage and gait (Von Oeynhausen) makes his line fall a little to the rear of the withers, when the horse is standing in a natural attitude, with head neck and shoulders inclined at an angle of forty-five degrees to the horizon; and the vertical line passing through the center of gravity of the rider, when sitting erect, he makes pass through the middle of the upper part of the body of the horse. A priori, we can say this must be an error; the last vertical must fall nearer the front legs, because the forehand is heavier than the hind quarters.
Another author, Borelli, pretends ["pretends" used in the sense of assuming or claiming without substantive evidence. ed] that this line falls at the center of the quadrilateral formed by the four legs. This is absolutely impossible, as it is proven that the forehand is heavier than the hind-quarters, and in consequence the vertical line must fall nearer the front legs. Von Heydebrand, in his excellent work on the "haute e'cole de Vienne" pretends that this line passes through the only spinous process of the vertebra which is vertical, which, according to him, is the fourteenth. If this were true, the line would fall as Borelli pretends.
General Morris and the riding master Boucher have determined the weight of the forehand and the hind parts by actually weighing horses on scales with movable platforms. They have ascertained by experiment the weight that the two bipeds have to bear separately. The weighing machines, says General Morris, were placed in such a manner that the front legs of the horse stood upon the middle of the first set of scales and the hind legs upon the middle of the second. [Although this does refute the various placements of the center of gravity and front to rear balance point which were based solely on visual assessment while assuming equal weight distribution on the legs/hooves, it doesn't determine where the balance point actually is; only the respective amounts of weight on the front and rear legs/hooves. The article thus shifts focus from center of gravity to weight distribution on the legs/hooves. ed.] Using this weighing method, the difference in weight a horse carried on front and back hooves, without and with riders, was measured.
In later experiments, General Morris and the Veterinary in Chief, M. Bellanger, obtained with twenty-two horses the following results:
(shown in kilograms 1 kg = 2.2 pounds )
Average of 11 horses, good conformation, head and neck light
Head at 450
Forehand 260 57%
Hindparts 195 43%
Difference 65 14%
Head up and slightly flexed neck
Forehand 250 55%
Hindparts 205 45%
Difference 45 10%
Head depressed and flexed on neck
Forehand 267 59%
Hindparts 188 41%
Difference 79 17%
Average of 11 horses, good conformation, neck short and head large
Head at 450
Forehand 246 55%
Hindparts 200 45%
Difference 46 10%
Head up and slightly flexed neck
Forehand 240 54%
Hindparts 206 46%
Difference 34 8%
Head depressed and flexed on neck
Forehand 250 56%
Hindparts 196 44%
Difference 54 12%
In the earlier experiments that included weighing horses with a rider it was also found that the rider (M. Bouchard), sitting in the academic position [one would assume this means the classic dressage seating configuration. ed], had distributed his weight of 64 kilograms in the following manner: Forty-one kilograms upon the forehand and twenty-three upon the hind-quarters. Being seated upright and bringing the upper part of his body slightly to the rear, M. Bouchard made ten kilograms pass back to the hind-quarters.
As noted, Van Helden's article blurred the distinction between center of gravity, balance point, and distribution of weight between front and rear hooves. That, however, does not take away from the validity and usefulness of the real numbers it provided concerning the amount of weight carried on the front and rear legs/hooves. The intention of the experimenters and/or the author was not to produce a comprehensive statistical table of weight distribution for all shapes, sizes, and weights of horses, but rather to simply illustrate that distribution and how it changes. Thus, taking the averages weights in relatively small samples (i.e. 11 horses with light heads and necks, and 11 horses with short necks and heavy heads) met the minimum scientific standards. Similarly, the experiments on weight shifting of a rider that involved a single rider were not intended to produce definitive information on riders of various shapes, sizes, weights, etc., and how they shift their weight during riding, but just to prove and illustrate that a relatively small position shift by the rider can drastically alter the weight distribution. Thus the "sample of one" was adequate to demonstrate the phenomenon, though it could be argued that a rider with a significantly different upper to lower body weight ratio might have shown a significantly greater or lesser shift of weight with the same shift in position. In any event, good basic data like this -- as simple and limited as it is -- is hard to locate in the recent literature. In addition to the better understanding of the basic weight distribution and weight shifting it imparts, it can be used as the starting point for many calculations and additional studies
A related aspect of head position and weight distribution that deserves study is how a horse's weight shifts and how it holds its head when walking up, down, and along a slope. Do horses alter their head angles in relation to the ground for "balance" as relates to vertical orientation and visual perception, or "balance" as it relates to weight distribution? It would be a relatively simple matter to set up two scales at heights corresponding to different slopes/angles and carry out such studies.
There is also the technique for mounting/training horses prone to buck, that involves keeping the horse standing facing uphill on a slope. It would be useful to determine what is the minimum angle of slope that will shift weight enough to preclude bucking or at least minimize it to the point where it will be ineffective. Although this could be done empirically for particular horses and riders, and some general "rules of thumb" arrived at, if the weight shift with increasing angles could be measured and correlated with the ability/inability to buck, it would then be possible to work out a formula that would ensure that the angle of the slope was sufficient for the particular horse and rider combination.
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This issue of the Journal of Equine Studies and Equestrian Education moves a bit closer to the format planned for future issues. Although the articles in this issue are drawn from research and articles done quite long ago, they present information that, judging from what material has been used and cited by those writing books for equestrians in recent decades, was not readily accessible and had been all but lost from the equestrian knowledge base. Bringing to light such forgotten studies and information is important because they will give current researchers something to start with if they decide to do research on the same topics . Even if such earlier studies are judged to be faulty or inconclusive they will at least provide data that can be re-evaluated in the new studies.
Responses received to the initiation of JES have supported the initial premise that there is a real need for a journal of this sort. Additionally, a survey of Internet search engine referrals to the journal site by search terms indicates that a large number of people are looking for the types of articles and information JES intends to be providing in the future. These early indicators would thus seem to confirm that although the riding and training of horses isn't rocket science, the field is long overdue for a far more scientific and systematic approach than has previously been taken.
Since this journal strives to be of maximum value and benefit to all who are working or studying in equine related fields, your views and comments are always welcome.
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Call for articles
This journal is a forum for those involved in research on any topic related to riding or training horses or teaching equestrian studies. As a new journal there is no great backlog of submitted material. This offers you an opportunity to get your work published in a scholarly/scientific journal in a few months, in contrast to other fields where it can take years (e.g. the average economics journal article now takes about three years from submission to publication).
There are no strict guidelines for submissions. Any serious study utilizing valid research methods which concerns any aspect of equine behaviour, aptitude, performance, training/riding, or teaching in this field, will be considered, as will articles done to scholarly standards on historical or other aspects of these subjects which contribute to knowledge in the field. Submissions should be reasonable in length; this is not the place to try to publish a thesis or dissertation that runs into the hundreds of pages (though a brief article of a few pages condensing the research and findings of such would be most welcome). The journal will remain as flexible as possible in accepting submissions. Those without advanced academic credentials should not feel intimidated by such "standards". Sound, scientifically based research is welcome from anyone. While the same standards will ultimately apply in relation to the validity of research, observations, and conclusions, submissions from those who do not have academic backgrounds in the sciences will not be expected to be as formal in structure or presentation. Advice in structuring experiments, methodology, writing up observations, and/or analysing data will gladly be given to those who wish to pursue research and submit their findings. If you have any questions related to submissions, feel free to contact the editor.
Submissions in electronic/digital form are much preferred, so as not to require manual transcribing onto computer media -- the simpler the format/program used (e.g. ASCII or RTF), the better; meaningful content rather than fancy graphics or a display of the latest software's bells and whistles are the important and desirable features.
Those who may not have the background or ability to structure and conduct such research on their own are welcome to submit questions and observations they have about equine behaviour or aspects of riding and training that might lend themselves to scientific research by others.
As this is a peer-reviewed journal, readers who have scientific backgrounds/credentials and who would be willing to serve as reviewers/referees for submitted articles should contact the editor.
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Research methods tutorial
This is an ongoing feature of the Journal for those readers who do not have formal science backgrounds. It is intended to help them understand what constitutes a scientific approach to, and research on, a subject or question, in contrast to unsubstantiated propagation or acceptance of claims, or information compiled to journalistic standards in which "checking facts" often only means verifying that someone has actually made or published specific claims with no concern for their substantiation. It is also intended, over the longer term, to give such readers the basic knowledge of research methods required to enable them to participate in research, and to even structure their own studies and experiments. This instalment is an informal introduction to the need for sufficiently large amounts of data for drawing meaningful conclusions.
Terms with special meanings in research context:
sample -- the group of subjects chosen for, and used in, a study. Since it is usually impossible to gather data on, or conduct experiments involving, all the existing individuals (e.g. all horses in the world, all white Arabians, all Morgan mares which get turned out without blankets when the temperature is below freezing), a practical number is selected from among them. The group selected is thus considered a "sample" of the larger/whole group. A properly chosen sample of appropriate size can be used to draw accurate conclusions about even the largest numbers of subjects. Ideally, a sample should be chosen in a truly random manner (a "random sample") to avoid potential errors that might result from a non-random sample. For example, if we wanted to use a sample to determine the percentages of people of the various ethnic backgrounds in one suburban county near Washington, DC, a sample of 2000-3000 would be large enough to give us reasonable approximation. If we took a non-random sample, such as choosing the approximately 2500 names that begin with the letters X and Y in the local White Pages phone book and determining those people's origins, we would erroneously conclude that the great majority of the residents are of Chinese origin, with Greeks and other Southeast and East Europeans the next largest groups -- those being the groups with disproportional large number of names beginning with Xs and Ys -- and that only small percentages of residents are of other ethnic groups. However, a good random sample of that county's residents could be obtained by taking that same phone book and driving a needle through all 3000 pages and then taking the one name from each page that had been pierced by the needle. Surveying that random sample from the whole alphabet would lead to the correct conclusion that the largest groups of residents are of West and Central European origins, followed in size by the African-Americans, and that there are significant percentages of people from many other ethnic groups. (Some of the difficulties in doing good scientific studies related to horses are in getting large samples and random samples. In future issues of this journal, some means for overcoming these problems will be discussed.)
control group -- a portion of the sample being used in an experiment (or a second sample, ideally selected in exactly the same manner) which is kept under "controlled" conditions, and not exposed to specific factors being studied, so as to have a group for comparison and thus a means of determining if the results of the experiment are other than what might be expected normally or by chance. For example, if we set up an experiment to test a claim that adding fish oil to the feed of a sample group of horses will improve their mental abilities and enable them to learn faster, the effects to be tested by how quickly they learned to respond to new commands, it would be a very poor experiment if we only tested the speed of learning of the same group before and after the addition of the supplement to their diet. It could be that initially they were slow to learn but were beginning to increase in speed even before the supplement was added to their diet, and that it made no difference. Or it could be that the weather turned cooler just at the time the supplement was added and the horses were more active, alert and learned better because of the weather, not the supplement. If we had a "control" group treated exactly the same in all other ways except getting the fish oil supplement in their feed, and that group had the same increase in learning speed, we could conclude that the supplement was not the cause.
data (the plural of datum) -- factual, documented material used as a basis or evidence for discussion, decision, and/or conclusions. This is in contrast to anecdotal evidence or accounts which are generally isolated observations usually related in a narrative form rather than being put into context with similar information and analysed in a systematic manner. (Although treating the term data as singular in American usage is acceptable and now common, treating it as plural stresses the concept of being more than one isolated bit of information.)
Col. Woodruff's article on horse color illustrates the need for more than just anecdotal bits of information when trying to discern patterns and draw conclusions, particularly when there are many factors and variables that may influence what is being observed. Although Col. Woodruff did use some casual personal observations that by themselves would be no more than anecdotal evidence, he compared these when possible with existing scientific knowledge, and ultimately combined them with the limited statistical data he had from various sources. His research encompassed data from a wide range of sources and locations, which made it less likely that some isolated anomaly would cause distorted conclusions to be made. Perhaps most importantly, he acknowledged that the information gathered was inadequate for drawing any more than basic and preliminary conclusions, and that much more research was needed. (Compare this with the average self-styled guru of horse training/riding who claims to have the definitive answers on virtually every matter involving horses, usually based on limited personal observations and experiences, and perhaps some similarly poorly substantiated opinions of a few other riders.)
When there are a very large number of possible factors that are not directly related to the one being studied that could influence the findings there is a need to study a rather large sample if the findings are to be valid. This can be illustrated by taking the simplest of examples, in which there are only two possible outcomes and only one main factor, chance, affecting the outcomes being observed; flipping a coin. (This is pretty much stuff we all learned in primary school, just viewed in the bit more sophisticated context of experimentation, research, extrapolating the results, and drawing conclusions from the data.)
If you flip a coin once it will come up either heads or tails. So, if you tried, solely from that very limited experience/data, to draw a conclusion about what will happen in future tosses (not having any other knowledge of coin tossing or the laws of probability) , you would conclude that a coin tossed will come up the same side as it did on that initial toss. If you flip the coin twice, you will either get two heads, two tails, or one of each. Those first two outcomes, even though constituting twice as much data as obtained from the single toss, would lead to just as erroneous conclusions. If from getting one of each side on your two tosses you concluded that in future tosses you will get equal numbers of heads and tails, in the most general sense you would be basically correct but would almost certainly be wrong in an exact and immediate sense (i.e. it would be unlikely that the next several tosses would be perfectly evenly split between heads and tails), and you would not have had a valid basis for that conclusion because there was an equal likelihood that you could have gotten two of one side or the other instead of one of each. If you increased the data collected by 50% by flipping the coin three times, the four possible outcomes would be two heads and one tail; two tails and one head; three heads; or three tails. Any conclusion about future tosses based on those finding (i.e. twice as many of one side as the other, or all one side or the other) would be wrong even though more data were gathered than from the two flips that might have accidentally led to a generally correct assumption. Obviously, since the outcome was binary, using an odd number of tosses/observations made it certain there would be an error even with the most equal distribution possible -- that is an easy error to spot, but it is a good illustration of how an overlooked factor like that can lead to totally wrong conclusions.
By using a larger sample it is possible to overcome the problems that occur with very small numbers. Its highly unlikely that thirty tosses of a coin would come up all one side or all of the other, although it is quite possible that the distribution between heads and tails might still be skewed significantly towards one or the other just by chance. It would be almost impossible to get all one side or all the other if the coin was tossed 300 times, and far beyond any realistic possibility of such an occurrence if tossed 3000 times. And even if there was a failure to realize that with the binary outcomes an odd number of flips would result in certain error, in 31 flips the error would be minor, and in 301 or 3003 flips that error of the one additional odd observation would be insignificant in relation to the total data. If the outcomes of the tosses of the coin are purely by chance it is likely that in 300 or 3000 tosses the numbers of heads and tails will be close to equal when taken as a percentage of the total even if there are a few more of one or the other. However, there is a possibility that some minor, not readily discernible, factor could influence the outcomes, such as a minting error having resulted in an uneven, off-balance coin that had a greater tendency to fall with one particular side up rather than the other. If we didn't know that by the laws of probability there should be an equal number of heads and tails, we might be misled into believing, on the basis of the off-balance coin that an unequal distribution was the usual outcome to be expected. Flipping 100 coins 30 times each would give us the same amount of data as flipping one coin 3000 times, but would reduce the potential error that might come from one, or even ten, coin(s) having an off-balance defect, and if one or a few of the coins produced outcomes totally inconsistent with the others, that would be easy to spot and suspect some sort of error was involved (There are advanced statistical techniques that can be used to reduce the error effect such factors will have, but those will be saved for later discussions of every equestrian's "favorite subject"... statistical analysis. Don't worry, that's more than a few issues away, and as long as one understands a few basic principles, its possible to do good, useful scientific research without getting into complex mathematical equations unless trying to prove something very subtle and/or trying to very precisely quantify results.)
The relationship between horse color and endurance/survival in various climates involves many variables and possibilities for undetected factors to influence the outcomes being observed. This is why Col. Woodruff suggested further study by gathering as much data as possible, from all the climate conditions to which the US Army was sending horses. This would have been a good and valid approach for studying the subject, and would have required only observation and record keeping, followed by analysis of the data. An even surer method would have been controlled experimentation. It would have been unnecessarily cruel, and probably less than optimally enlightening, to have taken large numbers of horses of various colors and exposed them to very harsh climates with the sole intention of seeing which ones died first, which ones survived the longest, and which ones were able stand up to the greatest exertion. However, the US Army could have easily set up an experiment in which 1000 horses of various colors, of the usual breeds and from the usual sources, were split into 10 groups of 100, randomly selected except to get equal numbers of each particular color in each group. Nine of the groups of 100 could have then been sent to normal cavalry duties in various climates, e.g. three to hot areas, three to moderate temperature areas, three to cold areas. The one remaining group of 100 could then have been used as a control group; kept in a very mild climate area, put to pasture or used only for very light duty, and cared for to the best possible standards. Multiple groups would have made it possible to spot if one group produced very anomalous data. Observations concerning the survival, endurance and general performance of the horses of various colors in the various climates could have been compared to each other and to the control group (e.g. if all the bays had health problems and early deaths in the three climates and so did all the bays in the control group, the assumption would have to be that, while color related, the phenomenon was not climate related, nor related to other conditions encountered in service at the duty posts).
In the case of the weight distribution study, small samples were valid. The goal was not to do a comprehensive detailed study of weight distribution in the whole range of horses, but rather to prove and illustrate that on the average horse of good conformation, its balance point is more towards the front legs than the back, and to give a general idea of the difference in weight carried on the front and back legs, along with the shift of weight that takes place with differing positions of the head and neck. The "experiment" was simply weighing the horses with their front hooves on one scale and their rear hooves on another, so there was not much possibility for error to enter into that aspect of the study. (Still, it would have been best scientific procedure to weigh at least one of the horses twice, reversing which set of hooves were on which scale, to confirm that the same readings were obtained and thus ensure that scales were calibrated and operating in exactly the same manner.) If there was some reason to precisely quantify the weight distribution difference, more data would have been required, but for a simple demonstration/illustration, an average from 11 horses per each of the two head/neck shapes was adequate and valid. To simply prove and illustrate that a rider's weight normally was carried largely on the front legs/hooves but that he could relatively easily shift the distribution of his weight to the rear, a single example was sufficient. Given the range of body shapes of riders which would have slightly altered the weight distribution ratios and the slightly different changes in position required to shift those distributions, it would have taken a very extensive and complex study to go much beyond proving those two simple facts existed in the one example . There would have been virtually no benefit to have given figures from 10 riders or 50 riders unless there was reason to believe that the one rider used was of very unusual body proportions.
So, it is important for a researcher to be able to discern how large a sample is needed to provide reliable and meaningful data for the particular study to be conducted. Generally, its best to err to the high side, but the difficulty of access to and observation of large numbers of horses will probably most often force those involved in equine studies to use smaller than ideal numbers. In that case, it is important to recognize the potential for error and the need to be conservative in the conclusions drawn from the findings.
In the compilation and condensation of Col. Woodruff's articles, the editor left out some statistical data on colors of horses in Japan which seemed to conform to the theories and other findings in the article. Why exclude data when there was so little data to start with? The editor judged that the statistics from the numbers of horses of various colors which Col. Woodruff had observed in a couple of regiments in Japan did not directly reflect the result of any survival or endurance process but primarily represented the Japanese Army's choice of horses in their purchases from Russia, Australia, etc. It may be that the Japanese had, from experience, learned that particular colors seemed better suited to their climate and took that into consideration in their purchases, but quantitative data relating to the resulting color mix would reflect only the Japanese perception of suitability, and would be misleading if presented in the same context as the statistics from elsewhere relating to actual survival rates. Should some future researcher believe that the statistics gathered in Japan might provide useful information and wish to analyse them, he or she can obtain them from the editor or the original articles. This is an important point in the scientific approach; it is permissible, with proper scientific justification, to discount, segregate, and/or leave out anomalous/ambiguous data (particularly if they generally appear to support, rather than contradict, the researcher's other data and findings), so long as their existence is noted and there is no attempt to hide them from those who might wish to confirm/refute the original work or use the data in further research.
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Volume 1 Number 2 Online Publication
__________________ A Publication of Europa University Press__________________
Due to recent national and international events, and the editor and publisher's involvement with books on subjects related to them, this second issue of The Journal of Equine Studies and Equestrian Education is an abbreviated one and a departure from the format that will be used for future issues. It repeats some of the introductory material from Issue #1. There is a call for papers/articles - which are vital for future issues. Additionally, there is a description of a project being undertaken that will lead to a much better understanding of horses, their behaviour, and their development from truly wild animals to the the many breeds of domesticated horses we know today.
1.) Introducing The Journal of Equine Studies
2.) The need for scientific study of equine behaviour and horse & rider interaction
3.) Recreating the first domesticated horse
.4) Editor's column
.5.) Call for papers/articles, and submission guidelines
.6) Research methods
The Journal of Equine Studies and Equestrian Education
The Journal of Equine Studies and Equestrian Education has been established to provide a forum for publication and discussion of serious scientific studies of equine behaviour, aptitude, and performance as they relate to riding/training and to the teaching of such subjects. It is hoped that the existence of such a forum will encourage scientific research and compilation of meaningful data for the benefit all those who work with horses. This issue primarily presents the concept of the journal to make people aware of its creation. Thus it does not contain the sorts of articles presenting the findings of new experiments and studies, or reviews of existing information, that are intended to make up the bulk of future issues.
Since the vast majority of those who raise, train, and ride horses do not have formal scientific backgrounds, the journal will strive to present comprehensive summaries of the information resulting from research and experiments written in a plain English form that is easy to use and understand. The full articles containing the more detailed explanations of methodology, statistical analyses of data, etc. which will allow others to evaluate the work done, attempt to replicate the results, and confirm or challenge the findings, will then be available to readers in the full online edition , and will subsequently be available in an electronic archive. The intention is to maintain high scientific standards while presenting the resulting information in a reader-friendly form readily accessible to the maximum number of people. There is no rule that says a publication devoted to serious scientific research has to be dry, intimidating, and appeal only to highly educated scholars in the field. In fact, the attitude that science should be presented in complex and esoteric terms is extremely damaging in that it often causes those without specialized scientific training to reject the findings of science and embrace quackery and nonsense that is presented to them in simpler, more familiar terms. The best scientific research imaginable will be wasted if it is not accessible and comprehensible to those who need to apply it.
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The need for scientific study of equine behaviour and horse & rider interaction
Despite over five millennia having passed since horses were first domesticated on the steppelands at the eastern edge of Europe, relatively little hard scientific data has been compiled concerning equine behaviour and abilities, particularly as related to training and riding of horses. At first that seems a rather incredible statement in view of the hundreds of books that have been written on training and riding. Yet on closer examination it becomes evident that even most of the best of the existing literature is based primarily on subjective empirical observations and anecdotal information, while the worst is founded in faulty logic and traditional beliefs that are often little more than superstition. As such, most of the information available falls far short of even the basic standards for knowledge in the definitive, scientific sense.
Obviously, ever since the first attempts at riding horses were made, empirical observations and informal, uncontrolled experimentation have produced a great deal of useful and valid information. However, the treatment of riding and horse training exclusively as arts resulted in there being very little systematic compilation of such information, and caused those involved in equestrian activities to largely ignore the possibility of taking a more scientific approach even after the development of the scientific method became recognized as a means of arriving at definitive knowledge. Thus there has been only a very limited amount of truly scientific work done in this field. A number of scientific studies of horse behaviour and performance have come out of veterinary science and from the more general field of the study of animal behaviour. There are also a handful of organizations scattered around the world that are carrying on studies of specific aspects of equine behaviour, but the data from these efforts are not widely available in published form. In any case, all of these combined barely begin to address the great many aspects of riding and training that could and should be scientifically studied.
A search of serials/journals related to horses finds that there are very few other than veterinary journals in which articles are reviewed/refereed.
(For those readers without formal backgrounds in science and research: The review process is one in which an article submitted is first given to one or more reviewers who have credentials as competent researchers/scholars, and who are knowledgeable on the general topic even if not specialists in the specific subject area of the article. The function of the reviewer(s) is to confirm that the article, and any research on which it is based, has been done according to scientific/scholarly methods and standards. If there is a total lack of adherence to such methods and standards the article will be judged not suitable for a scientific journal. If it appears that the minimum standards have been adhered to, an article will generally be accepted. If a reviewer has found an article acceptable overall, but has specific questions about the appropriateness of methodology, or challenges the findings based on her/his own or others' work, such comments are published with the article and the author given a chance to respond to defend her/his research. The intention of the process is not to censor researchers or block new information. Rather, it is to differentiate between claims made without carefully conducted research/experiments or adequate documentation, and true scientific research that follows the accepted procedures which will allow others to conduct the same or similar studies and attempt to confirm the findings.)
The few non veterinary equestrian journals being published today that indicate they are peer reviewed/refereed tend to be narrowly focused on specific breeds or activities, and thus do not adequately address broader subjects or more fundamental questions. Many commercial serial publications in the equestrian field carry articles on equine behaviour, but these are almost invariably written either on the basis of one person's opinion/experience, empirical observations in which there are no controls and the data is too limited to be truly meaningful, or on the "conventional wisdom" that has all too often resulted from a misconception being repeated until it had become accepted as fact. Ultimately, there is also the problem in commercial publications of the desire not to alienate advertisers, many of whom are offering products or services which, if subjected to scientific study, would be shown to be worthless or even counterproductive.
With a lack of a substantial body of journal articles from which to draw scientifically compiled and documented information, even those seeking to write serious books on horse training and riding can only present their personal observations/experiences, second-hand anecdotal accounts, and the similarly derived material published by others in earlier books. With no standard texts of scientifically proven information and best practices, even those who go on to pursue equestrian studies in institutions of higher learning have no definitive base of knowledge on which to build. They therefore must rely on the highly individualized approach of their particular instructors who have generally acquired their information from the above mentioned, less than scholarly, sources. This dearth of objective, definitive scientific information throws the fields of horse training and riding instruction open to competing claims, theories, and methods which periodically gain or lose in favour against one another. The zig-zagging back and forth impedes the real progress that would come from experimental proof or refutation of theories that are formed from empirical observations and which would allow the methodical development of the best and most efficient practices based on scientifically derived knowledge. To be sure, there will always remain a great element of "art" in riding and horse training, with every horse, every trainer, and every rider having some unique characteristics. Similarly, nothing can replace the athletic training required to build up skills, strength, and coordination in horse and rider. However, by determining in which aspects definite best practices do exist, and what those practices are, the rider or trainer will be better able to focus the individual and intuitive approaches on the other aspects where they are appropriate and needed.
It is rather disappointing that apparently even those teaching in the field often called "equestrian science" (apart from those in the veterinary and agricultural science aspects) have generally not felt the need to conduct research in the usual scientific, scholarly manner and publish it in peer reviewed/referred, non-commercial journals. When the work of academics is carried out and presented in ways which make it difficult to distinguish from the large body of material of dubious validity and worth being churned out by the self-styled, self-promoting horse training gurus, it is not surprising that it is difficult for the riding public to understand the difference. It is hoped that this has been due to the lack of an appropriate forum in which to present serious work in this field, rather than a lack of willingness or ability to adhere to the minimum standards of scientific research. The inception of this journal is thus an invitation for those who hold academic positions in this field to conduct and publish the sort of research which is expected to be found where science is being practiced and taught.
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Recreating the first domesticated horse
It is perhaps a bit ironic that the first study proposed and discussed in a journal designed to address the lack scientific literature in the field is something which, at first take, may seem to some readers like it approaches the border of science and science fiction However, the ultimate purposes of this journal are to promote scientific study related to all aspects horse training, increase understanding of the behaviour of horses and equestrians, and to generally advance knowledge in the field of equine studies. Thus, an experiment that will enable research on the horse as it was at the time of its first domestication, as bold as that may be, is not only within the scope of this journal, but is the sort of thought provoking scientific exploration that, regardless of its outcome, will serve to encourage educated discourse and experimental studies on a wide range of related subjects .
Although there are some conflicting theories about whether the horses we have today come from a single, or multiple, group(s) of ancestral stock, the origin of our modern horses can be traced, at least in largest part, to the wild horses domesticated on the steppelands of Eastern Europe about 5000 years BC. Those horses are believed to have been similar in most aspects to the tarapan wild horses found on the steppes until a couple of hundred years ago (though even those last tarapans were quite likely crossbreeds of true wild horses and escaped horses that had gone feral after thousands of years of domestication), and which have been back bred in Poland, Russia, and the US. Those were, in turn, descendant from the horses of the Ice Age which had ended only about 5000 years earlier.
Although selective breeding of horses by man produced great changes and variety in the last 7000 years, that rate of change can not be projected back in nature. First of all, the selective breeding process carried out by man is deliberate and controlled, whereas in nature the changes can occur only by chance in a random manner before the evolutionary process comes into play to eliminate or favour the new variations. Secondly, under the protection of man, domesticated animals are not subject to the harshest effects of the evolutionary process, and thus many variations that might quickly and die out in nature are preserved. More importantly though, the rate of change possible through selective breeding accelerated over time. Those people who began to domesticate horses on the Eurasian steppes would have had little variation in breeding stock to work with in the first few hundred years. They were able to breed one dun coloured, small stature, difficult to control tarapan type horse with another, perhaps using pairs of above average size, or darker/lighter than average colour, or better than average temperament, in efforts to produce offspring having slightly more pronounced characteristics than the parents. But as time went on and greater variations were produced and mutations encountered, the possibilities increased. By classical times - 2000 years ago - there were substantial variations. Yet only since medieval times, about 1000 years ago, have most of the breeds we recognize today been produced. It is thus safe to say that in the last 1000 years there have probably been greater changes bred in the domestic horses than in the first 6000 years of domestication.
In contrast, in the wild very little change would have taken place in the 5000 to 10,000 years prior to domestication. Thus, it is almost certain that the horses first domesticated 7000 years ago were very little different from those that lived 10,000 - 20,000 years ago. Even at a time of changing environmental factors such as the end of an ice age, 5000 years is a very short time in evolutionary terms; long enough for colour, size and superficial feature changes, but not for changes of basic characteristics when breeding in the wild.
The true wild horses of 7000 - 20,000 years ago were physically quite distinct from, and undoubtedly behaved quite differently from, the "wild" (i.e. feral) horses of today, even those which have run loose for many generations. Some indication of this can obtained from Pzrewalski's horse, which, contrary to popular belief, is almost certainly not a purely wild horse of the arid far eastern steppes, but more likely a cross between feral domesticated horses of some earlier era and a remnant wild horse population. Even though they likely have some domesticated horse genes, Pzrewalski's horses are nowhere near as amenable to taming and training as even the wildest mustangs. Meanwhile, the back-bred tarapans that exist today were bred primarily on visual criteria, and therefore it must be assumed that they have different behavioural characteristics than the early horses they outwardly resemble. The only alternative to trying to study such horses in which one can only guess at what percentage of original genetic material in what combination has come down from the horses that existed at the time of first domestication, is to recreate the early horses. Indeed, it will only be possible to truly understand the original instinctive behaviour and other characteristics of the horses which were first domesticated if significant genetic material in known combinations from those early horses is used in reproducing them. There is no way to obtain viable genetic material from tarapans type horses of 7000 years ago, but it is possible to obtain such from their ancestors of 3000 to 15,000 years earlier. Remains of Ice Age horses have been found frozen in the permafrost and glaciers of Siberia. Given that their numbers were certainly many times greater than the woolly mammoths (a full, intact frozen specimen of which was recently recovered), and that their smaller size would have made them more likely to be quickly and permanently frozen when caught in suitable circumstances, finding the remains of frozen horses is considerably easier than finding those of mammoths.
In thinking about reproducing such extinct animals, cloning is the process which first comes to mind. Cloning is one possibility. However, cloning is still somewhat difficult, and the scientific community now generally agrees that even under ideal circumstances cloned animals usually have physical defects. In the case of long dead specimens -- dinosaur fantasy movies not withstanding -- the problems are compounded and become almost insurmountable. And while frozen Ice Age horses may be among the better candidates for extinct species cloning if and when the technology advances considerably beyond where it is today, its not realistic at this time nor is it likely to be in the near future.
Fortunately, a much simpler and more natural alternative method of reproducing extinct animals has been devised by Japanese scientists, Kazufumi Goto and Akira Iritani, who are actively working on the far more ambitious plan of breeding a woolly mammoth. Based on his finding that sperm cells are always already effectively dead when they fertilize eggs, Goto discovered that even those which have been frozen and thawed many times can be used to successfully fertilize an egg in vitro. Sperm recovered from Ice Age horses used to fertilize oocytes (eggs) from back-bred tarapans would impart the original physiological and mental characteristics. By using those sperm cells which contain only X chromosomes, the resulting foals would be female. (As this would be a horse-with-horse breeding, the resulting offspring would not be a hybrid and therefore should be fertile.) When those females reached reproductive age, their eggs could then again be fertilized in vitro with Ice Age horse sperm. That second generation of foals would then be 3/4 pure Ice Age horses. To avoid total inbreeding, sperm would be sought from a minimum of two, and preferably three or four, horses, but the breeding could start as soon as sperm was obtained from even one. The embryos could be implanted in either back-bred tarapans or in any mare. However, the tarapans would be the first choice for mothers since they would be the closest in characteristics to the recreated early horses, and so for reasons of the behavioural influence mothers have on foals, would be better than horses that were of entirely domesticated stock.
The editor of this journal and colleagues in Russia have done a feasibility study for reproducing an Ice Age horse. The chances of success for such a new and unique experiment obviously can not calculated precisely given the many variables. However, it is definitely feasible, and the prospects for success are more than high enough to warrant going ahead. Locating frozen horses in Siberia is the key to the whole project. Cooperation of ethnic Cossacks in Russia will be a key element and an additional factor in the project's favour. Aside from being the quintessential equestrian culture with origins traceable back to those first domesticators of the horse, they have a long tradition of exploration and service in Siberia -- constituting a pre-existing network for assistance in the region. Thus, members of that group are ideal for carrying on much of the work on that end; scouting likely areas, liaising with the native populations in the remote regions of northern Siberia., etc. Obviously, a project such as this can only be undertaken if there is sufficient funding to carry it through. Anyone who is interested in sponsoring this project, or who knows individuals or an organization who might be, should contact the Journal.
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Editor's column .
The Journal of Equine Studies and Equestrian Education was launched with a token introduction issue with the expectation that the eaarly part of the year would be devoted to putting together the first full issue which would begin to present articles based on experimental research. Due to other commitments, the journal was put on hold, and this very abbreviated second issue prepared to serve until a full issue can be published. Your patience is greatly appreciated. Meanwhile, please do consider submitting papers/articles for the future issues of the journal, and/or serving as a peer reviewer -- that is what this journal is about; scientific/scholarly input from those in this field.
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Call for papers/articles , and guidelines for submission
The only way this journal will be viable is if those who recognize the need for a scientific approach to these subjects and who have the ability to conduct research/experiments do so and share the results with others by submission of articles. There are no strict guidelines for submissions. Any serious study utilizing valid research methods concerning any aspect of equine behaviour, aptitude, performance, training/riding, or teaching in this field will be considered, as will articles done to scholarly standards on historical or other aspects of these subjects which contribute to knowledge in the field. Submissions should be reasonable in length; this is not the place to try to publish a thesis or dissertation that runs into the hundreds of pages, but a brief article of a few pages condensing the research and findings of such would be most welcome. The journal will remain as flexible as possible in accepting submissions. Those without advanced academic credentials should not feel intimidated by such "standards". Sound, scientifically based research is welcome from anyone. While the same standards will ultimately apply in relation to the validity of research, observations, and conclusions, submissions from those who do not have academic backgrounds in the sciences will not be expected to be as formal in structure or presentation. Advice in structuring experiments, methodology, writing up observations, and/or analysing data will gladly be given to those who wish to pursue research and submit their findings. If you have any questions related to submissions, feel free to contact the editor.
Submissions in electronic/digital form are much preferred, so as not to require manual transcribing onto computer media -- the simpler the format/program used (e.g. ASCII or RTF), the better; meaningful content rather than fancy graphics or a display of the latest software's bells and whistles are the important and desirable features.
Those who may not have the background or ability to structure and conduct such research on their own are welcome to submit questions and observations they have about equine behaviour or aspects of riding and training that might lend themselves to scientific research by others.
Those readers who have scientific backgrounds/credentials and who would be willing to serve as reviewers/referees for submitted articles should contact the editor.
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For the benefit of those who find information on equine behaviour and training of interest, yet do not have formal education in scientific fields, future issues of this journal will contain articles on the scientific approach to knowledge and the methods by which research needs to be conducted to arrive at valid conclusions. A vital part of the scientific method is that others be able to repeat the research to confirm or refute the results and findings. In addition to enabling those without such formal backgrounds to better understand the work of others, it is hoped that this will give more readers the ability to participate in experiments and research. If practical experience causes a reader to doubt the validity of the findings of others' experiments or research, the ability to set up simple, controlled experiments to scientifically document what has been observed will allow her or him to offer more than an opinion based on anecdotal information. While equine behaviour and equine-equestrian interaction are matters that need to be treated as science, they aren't "rocket science" requiring extensive background knowledge in highly technical matters, ability to work with complex formulas, or expensive experimental techniques. What is needed is a desire for knowledge, some basic understanding of scientific method, the ability to make accurate observations, and a willingness to have such work subjected to confirmation or refutation by others. Thus, the emphasis of the research methods articles will be on proper ways of setting up experiments, gathering data, and analysing the results using basic math and logic, rather than on complex statistical analysis of the data, which, if necessary, can readily be done after the fact by someone other than the initial researcher.
The more people who can contribute, the faster knowledge will increase, so it will be beneficial to enable as many as possible of those who are already involved in equestrian activities to help in advancing science in this field.
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