Among the multitude of other graduate student-ly things I've been up to, I've started writing for the Sport in American History blog. Last month, they put out a call for contributors. Noticing that they didn't have adequate equestrian coverage, I thought: "why not?" U.S. history isn't technically my field, but I am fairly well versed in the equine aspects, and I am certainly involved in horse sports. I didn't consider how very different sports history, and writing about sports history, is. It has been a wonderful opportunity, and has made me re-think the way I look at certain sources and events.
Anyway. My first post was set to go live today (Halloween), so I searched for something suitably festive to write about. Originally, I wanted to write about Frank Hayes, and his posthumous win on Sweet Kiss. What could be more halloween than a jockey who won while dead? But, there are already a number of articles floating around about his unique win. A number of them leave out the impressive fact that it was a steeplechase, but in all plenty of good reading. This one is my favorite.
So, that was out. I decided to dig in to the potentially grisly tradition of burying the head and hooves (and sometimes heart) of racehorses separately. Some notable horses are buried whole, and some have even been carefully exhumed and moved. With one of these major exceptions being Secretariat, I planned to organize my discussion around him. He is a very accessible figure, being fairly well known even outside of racing circles. In my initial research, I discovered that Secretariat's burial stood out even from other racehorses who have been buried whole (you'll have to read the post for more!) One of my advance readers rather was disappointed that I didn't go with the dismemberment topic, because clearly the practice was to prevent zombie horses. And that means: Zombie Secretariat is possible!
It is worth noting that the American horse who's passing was observed most similarly to Secretariat's was Man o' War. Read the Sport in American History post to see why.