Book Review: ‘The Equine Legacy’

Non-fiction by C.S. Purdy.


Title: The Equine Legacy: How Horses, Mules, and Donkeys Shaped America
Author: C.S. Purdy
Publisher: Mosaic Press
Pages: 250
Available on Amazon.

A great book for horse and history lovers alike, this book is well researched and easy to read, written in an enthusiastic voice. The chapters cover a wide range of topics including war, westward expansion, early history of the American humane societies and animals in the early entertainment industry. Each chapter concludes with a list of references and — if you buy the Kindle version — Internet links for further research, which I loved. Nestled in the middle of the book are forty amazing photos. My favorites were the “horse-powered” ferries in 1900, the fire horses charging through the streets of Washington, D.C. from 1925 and the Brown Mine mules taken in West Virginia in 1908.

A few fascinating facts I learned:

“In 1793, British equestrian John Rickets started the very first circus in the United States in Philadelphia.”

“Interestingly, burros experiences a wave of popularity as a family pet in the late 1950s, so much so that Sears and Spiegel sold them, along with Shetland ponies, through their catalogues. The animals were shipped to customers from breeders in Hanover, Illinois and Brownsville, Texas, complete with “how to care for” instructions contained in a coffee tin hung around their necks.”

“Before the Overland Mail route was started, the “Jackass” mail run — so called because the stages were pulled by mules — covered 1,476 miles from San Antonio, Texas to San Diego, California.”

“At West Point, [President Ulysses Grant] set a jumping record that would stand for 25 years.”

I give The Equine Legacy: How Horses, Mules, and Donkeys Shaped America 3 1/2 Golden Horseshoes.

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