The real cost of em­bryo trans­fer

Ahead of a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence ded­i­cated to horses and royal courts, his­to­rian Philip Mansel and pro­fes­sor of English and Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture Donna Landry ex­plore how horses have been used to ex­ert diplo­matic power through his­tory, from Richard

Horse & Hound - - Contents -

Twins, de­ci­sions and small print — one breeder’s di­ary

IT’S easy to for­get in to­day’s de­vel­oped world, where horses are largely here for our plea­sure and sport, that be­fore 1900 they were a ne­ces­sity. Whether it was for war or trans­port, agri­cul­ture or se­cu­rity, a coun­try was only as good as its horses.

Mon­archs in par­tic­u­lar found horses essen­tial for power, pres­tige and pro­tec­tion. “A horse, a horse, my king­dom for a horse,” Shakespeare made Richard III cry as he fought for his life on the bat­tle­field of Bos­worth in 1485. Other kings would be more suc­cess­ful in flee­ing bat­tle­fields. Af­ter his de­feat by Cromwell at the bat­tle of Worces­ter in 1651, the young Charles II, who had been taught rid­ing by the great cava­lier and writer on “dress­ing horses”, the Duke of New­cas­tle, owed his life to his flight in dis­guise, on a horse shared with a roy­al­ist lady called Jane Lane. He pre­tended to be her groom and black­smith. Af­ter he re­cov­ered the throne in 1660, he would com­plain that their horse had been

“the heav­i­est dull jade he had ever rid­den on”.

Across the Chan­nel, a French king was also only as good as his horses. On 13 May 1588 King Henri III fled from the re­bel­lious city of Paris, be­cause he had kept his horses ready out­side the walls, be­yond the reach of his en­e­mies.

Sim­i­larly, Charles II’s cousin King Louis XIV also es­caped Paris from an­other re­bel­lion, by horse and car­riage on 6 Jan­uary 1649.

Louis was a skilled horse­man, hav­ing been taught by an Ital­ian called Arnolfini. At the age of nine, Louis mas­tered his rear­ing horse, as ladies screamed with fright, re­mov­ing his feet from the stir­rups with­out show­ing any emo­tion or fear.

HORSES were also at the cen­tre of court en­ter­tain­ments. On 5 and 6 June 1662 in Paris, Louis XIV led a splen­did car­rousel, or mock tour­na­ment, in the mid­dle of Paris, to cel­e­brate the birth of his son the pre­vi­ous year — hence the name Place du Car­rousel for the space out­side the Lou­vre to­day. Eight hun­dred knights on horse­back, in five ri­val teams, dressed as Ro­mans, Per­sians, Turks, In­di­ans and Amer­i­cans, tilted against each other, ran their lances at a ring, threw javelins at a Gor­gon’s head and pa­raded in front of the two queens, his wife and his mother.

The King’s horses came from the royal stud farms in Nor­mandy and the Ile de France (which also sup­plied the French army), and by pur­chase from North Africa, Eng­land and north­ern Europe. For­eign mon­archs sent

Louis XIV presents of horses, as he did them: black horses from the King of Spain, bay horses from the Elec­tor of Bran­den­burg, Olden­burg horses from the Duke of Hanover, Arab and Barb horses from the rulers of Tunis and Morocco. The courts of Europe and the

Mid­dle East, then as now, were united by a shared love of horses.

Horses could help bro­ker deals, and they might change sides dur­ing or af­ter a con­flict.

John Eve­lyn was awestruck by Ot­toman mounts cap­tured at the siege of Vi­enna in 1684. These Turk­ish spoils of war were the finest horses he had ever seen, epit­o­mis­ing the virtues of Eastern blood: “in all re­gards beau­ti­ful & pro­por­tion’d to ad­mi­ra­tion, spir­i­tous and proud.” And he was equally struck by how well they had been schooled, their gen­tle­ness and will­ing obe­di­ence. Horses could be am­bas­sadors in their own right.

Equine breeds of­fered an en­coded lan­guage of dif­fer­ence and su­pe­ri­or­ity across the equestrian world. The no­tion of “horses for cour­ses” ap­plies to all breeds in the sense that each has evolved in at­tune­ment with hu­man needs and de­sires, whether for win­ning races, show­ing fire and stamina on the bat­tle­field, or pulling a cer­e­mo­nial coach with aplomb. By the end of his reign, Louis XIV had 700 horses of every kind in his sta­bles: rid­ing horses, hunt­ing horses, pro­ces­sional horses, car­riage horses, draught horses, mak­ing his sta­bles the largest depart­ment of his court. They were housed in the mag­nif­i­cent royal sta­bles, as big as palaces, which can still be vis­ited op­po­site the château of Ver­sailles. At Chan­tilly, the château of his cousin, the Prince de Condé, the sta­bles are big­ger than the château it­self.

Each monar­chy had its own spe­cial breed of horses — and blood­lines were as im­por­tant in an­i­mals as in hu­mans. Hanover Bays were brought from Hanover to Eng­land in the 18th cen­tury, when the Elec­tors of Hanover — whose sym­bol was a white horse — reigned as kings of Great Bri­tain. They have of­ten been used at English coro­na­tions and were even ap­pre­ci­ated by Napoleon. Af­ter the an­nex­a­tion

‘Equine breeds of­fered an en­coded lan­guage

of dif­fer­ence and su­pe­ri­or­ity across the

equestrian world’

of Hanover by Prus­sia in 1866, the royal stud at Celle, founded by Ge­orge II in 1735 to im­prove farm and army horses, re­mained a last sym­bol of in­de­pen­dence. It was kept go­ing by im­ported English stal­lions, and much vis­ited by Hanove­ri­ans loyal to their ex­iled dy­nasty.

ROYAL courts ed­u­cated young men in horse­man­ship, as an in­dis­pens­able part of their gen­eral ed­u­ca­tion. A relic of this tra­di­tion is the Span­ish Rid­ing School in the mid­dle of Vi­enna, part of the great im­pe­rial palace com­plex of the Hof­burg. The horses that are used to per­form spe­cial ex­er­cises and “horse bal­lets” in Vi­enna are the fa­mous white Lip­iz­zan­ers, from the for­mer im­pe­rial Aus­trian stud of Lipica, in what is now Slove­nia.

Rid­ing could be ther­apy for a ha­rassed monarch and rac­ing in par­tic­u­lar was en­cour­aged by royal courts. James I and Charles II en­cour­aged rac­ing at New­mar­ket, while Queen Anne helped es­tab­lish horse rac­ing at As­cot.

The first horse race near Paris was staged in front of Louis XIV in 1683, and won on an English horse by Charles II’s favourite il­le­git­i­mate son, the Duke of Mon­mouth. The races at Chan­tilly, still the most im­por­tant in France to­day, were started in the 1830s by the sons of King Louis-Philippe.

Fast, slen­der Ara­bian and Tur­co­man (an­ces­tor of the Akhal-Teke) horses were im­ported to im­prove Euro­pean horse breeds be­gin­ning in the 17th cen­tury. Of­ten Ara­bi­ans would be bought in Aleppo and, since the Ot­toman Sul­tan wanted the best for his own sta­bles, smug­gled by boat to France or Eng­land. These Eastern blood horses are the an­ces­tors of to­day’s thor­ough­bred race­horses and also fig­ure in the pedi­grees of hunters and many breeds of rid­ing horse.

A suc­cess­ful monarch re­quired a mag­nif­i­cent equestrian por­trait like the three of Charles I by An­thony Van Dyck, now on dis­play in the ex­hi­bi­tion Charles I: King and Col­lec­tor at the Royal Academy un­til 15 April. In one, from the Na­tional Gallery, Lon­don, Charles I is shown as an ar­moured knight rid­ing a mag­nif­i­cent golden-coated war horse with all the char­ac­ter­is­tics of An­dalu­sian or Span­ish breed­ing.

Per­haps the finest of all por­traits of mon­archs on horse­back is that of Cather­ine II of Rus­sia in 1762 by Erik­sen, now in Peter­hof Palace out­side Saint Peters­burg.

Ladies at court were meant to ride sidesad­dle, a cus­tom said to have been in­tro­duced by Cather­ine de’ Medici Queen of France in the 16th cen­tury and main­tained by El­iz­a­beth II as a young queen dur­ing the Troop­ing the Colour cer­e­mony. In con­trast, in the por­trait of Cather­ine II, she rides astride her su­perb white horse, like a man. She is also dressed as a man in mil­i­tary uni­form with a drawn sword. She is off to de­pose her hated hus­band Peter III in a coup in Saint Peters­burg. She was suc­cess­ful. A few weeks later he was mur­dered with the en­thu­si­as­tic help of her lover Grig­ory Orlov.

HORSES were at the heart of po­lit­i­cal life — and con­tro­versy. Louis XIV’s de­scen­dant Louis XVI could not flee a rev­o­lu­tion­ary mob in Ver­sailles on 5 Oc­to­ber 1789, as his grooms were in re­volt and the har­nesses for pulling the royal car­riages had been cut. His flight by car­riage from Paris to Varennes in June 1791 also failed. He dared not use his own horses, and his hired car­riage horses, on the long jour­ney to eastern France grew tired too soon. His fam­ily and he were cap­tured and brought back to Paris. He was guil­lotined 18 months later.

To de­feat rev­o­lu­tions in other cap­i­tals,

horses were also used for crowd con­trol.

Hence the phrase “charg­ing the mob”. The House­hold Cavalry in Lon­don were called the “Pic­cadilly Butch­ers” in the early 19th cen­tury, as they charged the mob so of­ten and with such deadly re­sults.

The sup­ply of horses re­mained vi­tal in war and peace. Na­tional ri­val­ries could be played out in terms of breed­ing pro­grammes, with state stud farms be­ing founded in the 19th cen­tury to sup­ple­ment ex­ist­ing royal studs. There was re­newed in­ter­est in Eastern horses, es­pe­cially Ara­bi­ans, for im­prov­ing cavalry as well as pro­vid­ing more stylish and en­dur­ing rid­ing and draught horses.

Napoleon was de­feated as he lost horses as well as men in the horrors of the re­treat from Moscow in 1812, and could not re­plen­ish the French army’s stock of horses. The charge of the An­glo-Al­lied heavy cavalry at Water­loo in 1815 made max­i­mum use of the shock ef­fect of big men mounted on big pow­er­ful horses. Although they over­ran the French guns in their en­thu­si­asm and suf­fered many ca­su­al­ties, this ham­mer-blow of a charge helped to turn the day. Horses re­mained cru­cial in both World Wars, although less so in the sec­ond. The last ma­jor cavalry charge in wartime was by Ital­ian cavalry on the eastern front on 24 Au­gust 1942 against Soviet ar­tillery.

The im­por­tance of horses in daily life is shown by com­mon phrases, de­rived from rid­ing, which are still ap­plied to pol­i­tics. For ex­am­ple, “the Prime Min­is­ter is firmly in the sad­dle”; a ri­val is “in har­ness”. Fol­low­ers are “spurred on”; or a politi­cian, on a par­tic­u­lar is­sue, is “com­pletely blink­ered”.

To­day royal sta­bles, main­tain­ing specialised equestrian tra­di­tions, sur­vive in Lon­don, Copen­hagen, Stock­holm, The Hague and Cor­doba, as well as Morocco, Jor­dan, Oman and the Gulf. No monarch has been more pas­sion­ately in­ter­ested in horses than the present Queen. She rides them, breeds them and is heav­ily in­volved in the show­ing of them as well as rac­ing.

Last year she opened Par­lia­ment at West­min­ster in the morn­ing, and watched the races at Royal As­cot the same af­ter­noon. She also prac­tises horse diplo­macy with some of the horse-lov­ing rulers of the Gulf — their horses are flown to and from Eng­land, in the sum­mer, in some cases to breed with her mares and stal­lions.

Pres­i­dent Putin of Rus­sia is an­other ruler who loves horses, and he is of­ten pho­tographed rid­ing them — some­times shirt­less. Since 2006 there has been a rid­ing school in the Krem­lin, with the motto “put cul­ture and horse rid­ing tra­di­tions at the ser­vice of the peo­ple”. He has also re­vived the use of horses in the Krem­lin guard, and in mil­i­tary cer­e­monies, with an an­nual horse show in Red Square. All these are signs of his in­creas­ingly im­pe­rial at­ti­tude to power — and the con­tin­ued rel­e­vance of horses in the strug­gle for the world or­der.

Putin’s ‘im­pe­rial at­ti­tude to power’: a mounted pa­rade of the pres­i­den­tial guard in Cathe­dral square in the Krem­lin

A shared royal pas­sion: the Queen at royal As­cot with sheikh ha­mad bin Ab­dul­lah Al-thani

Power play: Cather­ine ii of rus­sia (1762), rid­ing astride and in a man’s mil­i­tary uni­form

Louis XVi, who failed to es­cape from Paris by horse and car­riage in 1791

‘The shock ef­fect of big men mounted on big, pow­er­ful horses’ at Water­loo in 1815

The Queen rid­ing side-sad­dle in a Troop­ing the Colour cer­e­mony in 1986

The Lip­iz­zan­ers for the Span­ish Rid­ing School in Vi­enna de­scend from Aus­tria’s im­pe­rial stud

Por­trait pres­tige: Charles I, de­picted as an ar­moured knight aboard a golden war horse

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