How Was the Horse Viewed in the 1800s?

In this Write Horses Right video on the Historical American Horse we talk about how the outlook of horsemen in previous centuries might differ from how we see horses today. We discuss Horse Whisperers of old and some lethal superstitions surrounding people who talked with horses. 

Following the video are the notes from the video:

Modern horse lovers want to bond with their animals and form a partnership. They want a relationship. A current trend is to focus on the horse's emotional health.

There are dog moms, cat moms, bird moms, horse moms … There are even pet-friendly restaurants, like the one in my story Last Wish.

While this is all good, it's the result of the horse losing his position in the workplace and becoming a family member.

Our attitude toward pets makes us think people have always been animal lovers and that there have always been dog and horse whisperers. But did you know if you were seen talking with animals in the 1600s, you might be burned at the stake? And if you had a gift with an exceptional horse in the 1700s, you might be accused of being in league with the devil.

The early horse whisperer was not revered the way they are today. They used, "a secret method by which certain persons are able to acquire power over the refractory horse." A con-man or a trickster who had mastered passive aggression, who often did his work behind closed doors— causing the horse to submit.

Former slave, Bob Lemmons, could get an entire herd of wild horses to trust him and follow him into captivity.

How can you use this to your writer's advantage?

Perhaps a cowboy finds himself talking to his horse — a lot. The other cowboys hear him, and he becomes the brunt of their jokes and earns a nick name.

A tough cowboy may feel a stab in his heart when his little daughter asks, "Why don't you love the horse?"

A less than scrupulous horse whisperer might come to town, leaving a trail of unhappy customers…

For more information on horse whisperers check out these articles:

Horse Whisperers, Actors, & Writers

Wild Hogs, Horse Whisperers, and the Real Deal

Horse Whisperer: What Does it Really Mean?

Thanks for watching the video and for reading my post.

Barbara Ellin Fox

About the author 


A lifetime horsewoman, Barbara weaves her extensive background with horses and their people into exciting stories about happily ever after for men, women, and horses.

Barbara also loves to help people with horses and writing.

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Remember Not

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