Saturday, May 23, 2009

"What Price the Horse?" A World War I Farrier Wondered

by Fran Jurga | 23 May 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

A friend shared with me this photo of a farrier sergeant mounted on what looks like a mighty English hunter who must have been drafted to fight in France in World War I.

The farrier, my friend thinks, is Ted Adams. But there is much more to this story, if only we knew what it was.

First, it's a bit unusual to see a farrier mounted on a horse. This fellow didn't just hop on, he's equipped right down to his spurs.

Next, why did he want his photograph taken on this horse? And not just taken, but made into a post card?

And finally, why did he write this cryptic message on the back of the photo, and have it made into a post card that was never mailed: What price the horse? He died after.

message on postcard about war horseMy friend has a theory of why the horse died but before I share her theory, I thought I would ask blog readers to fill in the details of what might have been going on here.

Can you write the rest of the story? What was this horse to this farrier? Was it his own horse that he was giving to his country? How might the horse have died? Remember, this farrier, or his family, kept this post card. It is in beautiful condition after almost 100 years; my friend bought it on eBay with other photos and papers belonging to Ted Adams but this is a mystery. Or perhaps the farrier gave this photo to Ted Adams for some reason.

By the way, the upper patch on his sleeve is a horseshoe, the farrier insignia.

And thank you, Sunnybrook100!

--Fran Jurga

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Heidi Meyer said...

Nice Clyde cross from the looks of it. He's been shaved and is standing as if his fronts are killing him. Cushings? or laminitis? Maybe he went to war and died? Can't wait to find out.

Wildcat said...

I disagree with the Clyde comment, unless it was crossed with a New Forest pony OR the man is 8' tall.
". . . is standing as if his fronts are killing him." Really? I don't see that. He is 'standing in a tea-cup', granted, but he doesn't look painful.
The more I look at him, the more I like him. Lovely rump, thick bones, wonderful shoulder. Big, yet somehow compact. Maybe I just see this because I know that shortly thereafter the horse died.
According to my English husband, all Brittish military farriers are required to ride as part of their military service.
"What price the horse". He made a statement, this is not a question. I get the feeling the farrier felt the horses' death was unjust? untimely? the horse paid too high a price? I don't know how to say it. He felt he lost his horse for no good reason. Perhaps because it is mans' war, not the horses? Maybe the horse was his good friend? (Don't even try to say you never had a best friend that was a horse. Your pants will catch fire! *Liar, Liar, pants on fire*) Did people think this way in the early 1900's? Horses were not pets, they were tools to be used. People still loved them, don't get me wrong. It was just a different time.
It's winter - no leaves on the tree. Maybe they spent a lot of effort in getting the horse 'prettied up' to go to war, and for what? He still died. Note freshly roached mane, clean body-clip (would the Britts settle for anything else?), and is that tail braided? Sure looks it on my little screen.
And "his horse", as I referred to above does not mean his personal mount which he paid for. A horse can be yours, even if it legally belongs to someone else. Just ask any groom who their 'baby' is. Chances are it doesn't belong to them!

Such a sad story. However, as Maggie W. said in a poem (which I LOST!!!), the horse and the man, both, are now together "galloping through the hallways of time."

Wildcat said...

Sorry, Fran. It seems someone read all but the last paragraph of the blog, posted a comment, THEN read the last paragraph where you say to e-mail possible answers to the riddle. Not to post them in the comment section.
Um . . . oops?

Fran Jurga said...

That's ok, Wildcat. You "got it", you understood what I was hoping to inspire in others but no one else was so moved. I don't know if the horse was photographed in an awkward pose or if he stood that way out of discomfort/lameness but I thought this was like the opening to a mystery and different people would have different theories, but Wildcat leads the pack. I need to write a post on what I think killed the horse, which Wildcat hinted at. I found a footnote in a history book about British horses in WWI that absolutely broke my heart.