Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Things about horses that have amused me

My mother once told me that a horse is the only animal you can legally hammer a nail into and ever since then I've been trying to find where that quote came from. Along the way I've come across all sorts of other strange horse-related items and I've decided to keep them together here because I like making unordered* lists. *Numbered for reference only :)

1. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) adjudications against companies making misleading claims in products sold for horses

ASA Adjudication on Harmonic Power Ltd: Harmonic Power Ltd t/a Fine Fettle
http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2010/12/Harmonic-Power-Ltd/TF_ADJ_49485.aspx
After worrying readers that modern horse food is packed full of toxins and that the groundwater is polluted the advertiser tried to reassure potential buyers that the |surest and least expensive way of protecting your horse from this creeping environmental poisoning is to add Happy Tummy Charcoal to its daily feed" - the ASA said no.

ASA Adjudication on Calinnova Ltd: Calinnova Ltd t/a EquiFeast
http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2014/9/Calinnova-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_259007.aspx 
Selling horse-calming chelated calcium, unfortunately without any evidence.

ASA Adjudication on Horse Requisites Newmarket Ltd
http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2012/11/Horse-Requisites-Newmarket-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_202177.aspx
More things to calm horses. "With regard to the design of the study, our expert was concerned that it did not detail the formulation of the active product or placebo and that bias had not been ruled out with regard to the selection of the horses included in the study and that it was entirely possible that the selected horses were of a non-nervous disposition (and therefore not the horses which were likely to be the subject of the ad)."

Ragwort alarmists rapped by Advertising Standards Authority
http://wildlifenews.co.uk/2011/07/ragwort-alarmists-rapped-by-advertising-standards-authority/
"Monsanto made false claims that land owners have a legal obligation to control ragwort and prevent it’s spread. There is no such legal obligation. If ragwort becomes a problem in an area and there is a major threat to livestock then a control order can be put in place to require land owners to control the spread but it is not mandatory requirement without the local control order. In fact the government’s own agency the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs make it clear that ragwort is an import native plant for wildlife and especially insects."

See also
ASA Adjudication on Redwings Horse Sanctuary
http://asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2013/9/Redwings-Horse-Sanctuary/SHP_ADJ_232455.aspx

2. Getting and using a horse passport
https://www.gov.uk/horse-passport
All horses (and zebras, ponies and things like that) need to have a horse passport. This document also states whether or not the animal can enter the human food chain at the end of its life which amazed me but Guy Herbert explained that horses are eaten in other countries and so this information needs to be recorded.

"You may also need a diagram of the animal (‘silhouette’)" - it's much less exciting than it sounds (no professional horse silhouettists working by candlelight) and is just marking a bit of paper with generic horse shapes drawn on it.

3. Government documents about horses and ponies etc
The Government is an amazing resource for horse-related matters (as it is for everything, as anything that can be measured will get measured by someone). Search for horses or ponies here if you don't believe me https://www.gov.uk/government/publications

The Code of practice for the identification of semi-feral ponies
http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2014-0299/Code_Of_Practice_Final_January_2014.pdf
This was deposited in the House of Lords library on 27 February 2014. There's information in Appendix 1 (p8) on what branding marks mean.

Military helicopter low flying safety: a guide for riders
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/military-helicopter-low-flying-safety-a-guide-for-riders
Two-page document on avoiding your horse being spooked by low flying helicopters. If it goes a bit wrong you can report any horse accidents here.

4. Horses in science
4a. Walk, trot, canter, gallop and "tölt"
One gait-keeper gene allows horses to move in unusual ways - Not Exactly Rocket Science
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2012/08/29/one-gait-keeper-gene-allows-horses-to-move-in-unusual-ways/
Power-walking Icelandic horses which have an unusual gait thanks to a particular gene. I wonder if the history of photography might have been different had Muybridge and Stanford (of 'all four hooves off the ground at the same time' fame) had been Icelandic.

4b. Why the long face? Researchers compile directory of horse facial expressions
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/05/researchers-compile-directory-horse-facial-expressions 
Horses' faces might convey their mood through their facial expressions which are more numerous and subtle than originally thought.

5. Sensible veterinary blog posts etc
I'm probably going to keep blanketing my horse - The Near Side
http://www.horsechannel.com/the-near-side-blog/2015/0107-im-probably-going-to-keep-blanketing-my-horse.aspx
"You’re reading this blog, which means you’re probably a regular reader of horse-related websites" - well to be honest this has just become truer with time. This post discusses whether or not horses need an extra blanket - "Blanketing is a surprisingly heated issue in the horse world. You would think this is something where the non-blanketers could just quietly laugh at the blanketers who spend a lot of money on horse clothes and then fret all winter about which weight is the right one to use. Alas, that’s not always what happens. People get really inflammatory about blankets, accusing blanketers of messing with nature."

The gas they pass (hopefully)
http://www.doctorramey.com/gas-pass/
A skeptic blog post about horse farts. They're hindgut fermenters which means that (a) they fart quite a bit and (b) probably don't need vitamin supplements.

Horse acupuncturist has some gall, unlike...I'm not sure if the embedded picture will show up in a Blogger post (it would on Wordpress) so do click if it doesn't as it's quite amusing.


5. Unevidenced alternative health sites (see also 1 above)
Horse treatments from Dove Health
http://www.donotlink.com/f094
It includes this much-loved picture which seems to imply that a horse is included in the kit.
Horse iridology and herbal health for horses
http://www.donotlink.com/f097 
http://www.donotlink.com/f096
Rolling my eyes so the horses don't have to.

6. Horse miscellany
The first one is probably the thing that started this whole thing off - it's the Guide Horse Foundation which appear to be no more and whose website has turned into a Japanese site that I don't understand.


Guide Horse Foundation
http://web.archive.org/web/20050225090824/http://www.guidehorse.org/ - archived page
This was an organisation that apparently provided miniature horses to people as companion animals in the US. Don't miss 'Helping Hooves' the book explaining the history of the foundation. I have to say that a lot of the pictures of the small horses look... a bit like stuffed toys to me.

This young horse enjoying a space hopper


Potoooooooo the horse
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potoooooooo
"Pot-8-Os acquired the strange spelling of his nickname when a stable lad was asked to write it on a feed bin. The lad's version, Potoooooooo, was said to amuse his lordship so he kept it, and it appears in the General Stud Book."

Henry Ford's attributed quote about faster horses
http://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/07/28/ford-faster-horse/

"If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse." - the evidence that he ever actually said it isn't particularly strong though.

Pegasus road crossing for horse riders
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_crossing
The same as a regular pelican crossing but with an extra raised panel for those on horseback. There's one at Hyde Park Corner but they also have this alarming sculpture nearby in Marble Arch so not the best place for skittish horses. These crossings "are primarily used in the United Kingdom and Peru." Paddington bear could probably confirm this.

Why is the Blackwall tunnel so bendy?
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/mar/05/why-blackwall-tunnel-so-bendy
It may be due to the difficulty in boring a hole through the type of rock in the area or it might have been a deliberate plan to prevent any horses travelling through it from bolting when they see the light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone argues about it in the comments.

Snoring horse rescued from swimming pool
http://home.bt.com/news/oddnews/snoring-horse-rescued-from-swimming-pool-11363939734598
Firefighters in the US got a big surprise when they had to rescue a horse from a back yard pool.

Only Fools and Horses: Trigger's best one-liners
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10576681/Triggers-best-one-liners.html
In celebration of Call Everyone Dave Day (a day remembering Roger Lloyd Pack who played Trigger in Only Fools and Horses and who persistently called Rodney 'Dave' - the actor died of pancreatic cancer and Call Everyone #DaveDay raises money for and awareness about the disease).

Sonic Wonderland: a scientific odyssey of sound, by Trevor Cox
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sonic-Wonderland-Scientific-Odyssey-Sound/dp/1847922104
I recommend this great little book on everyday sounds, and some really not that everyday ones. A quote that made me think (particularly about horses) was this one, on the artificially added sounds to silent-engine cars: "Would cars all make the sound of horses’ hooves instead of the newfangled and confusing drone of an internal combustion engine?"

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery 
http://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/info/200064/local_history_and_heritage/1139/the_kings_troop_royal_horse_artillery
The King's Troop moved from St John's Wood to Woolwich in 2012 and brought about 110 dark-haired horses with them. Several times a week the horses are exercised through Blackheath, pooing freely as they go. It is quite a sight to see them trundling past - usually in blocks of about 30 with 10 or so 'triplets' of horses, one rider riding the middle one and a horse reined on either side. Those riders must have some skill. On special days the horses and riders are in full dress and pulling some gun barrels behind them, that makes quite a good sound.

I remember being on a bus on the heath with a man on it ringing in to work to explain he was going to be late "I'm stuck behind some horses...yeah, horses".

Albedo100 Horse and Pets
http://www.albedo100.co.uk/product/horse_and_pets/hp_reflective_spray.html
A light-reflective sprayable paint for animals which makes them look quite ridiculous but very findable in the dark, with a torch.

Horseflips
I don't know if the embedded gif below will work but it's meant to be a short clip, which is worth clicking on.


Not amusing things about horses
OK these aren't very amusing at all but I'm not going to start a separate post about things about horses that haven't amused me.

Newbury horse racing deaths blamed on electrocution
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/horse_racing/9395743.stm
I'm not sure if anyone worked out what was going on here. It was suggested that wet grass above an underground electricity cable (presumably the insulation failed) resulted in two horses dying from electric shock thanks to stray voltage. I don't know enough about it to know if this is plausible but there are other examples of this in the veterinary literature (that's not easy to say!).

London has had a spate of 'pavement explosions' some of which have also apparently been caused by problems with underground cables, leading to fires - I witnessed one of these on Saturday morning. Perhaps electricity is out to get us (and the horses).

Electrocution of horses by a "hot" ground
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1790310/?page=1

Death and disarray at America's racecourses: mangled horses, maimed jockeys
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/us/death-and-disarray-at-americas-racetracks.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1& 
An awful read.




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