Horse Trivia

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

More interesting trivia about the past, and how modern words came to be.

In the late 19th century, a “biro” was a type of pen, invented by a Hungarian journalist named Laszlo Biro. As a journalist, he wanted a pen that had quick-drying ink, to expedite his writing.

He came up with the idea to install a tiny steel ball in a small tube, that could control the flow of ink.

His prototype appeared to be successful and he registered his first patent after fleeing from the German Nazis in 1943. (1)

He went to France and then on down to Argentina.

The British Royal Air Force found out about the pens, and immediately realized their great potential, since the new-fangled pens did not smudge or leak ink at high altitudes. The British Government quickly stepped in and bought wartime rights to the new invention. (2)

A civilian version of the pen went on sale in 1945, however, Mr. Biro forgot to have his patent registered in the United States.

Other people snapped up the idea, and marketed the pens in various ways, including “underwater writing instruments.”

New Yorkers purchased a whopping 10,000 pens upon their debut there, these at quite a high price for the day. (3)

A crude prototype of a ballpoint pen was tested in the US in the 1880's by a John H. Lond.

Disposable, cheap ballpoint pens were developed by Marcel Bich of France, in 1953. (4)

Modern day pens are used by “scribes,” at Dressage events. They write down notes for the judge as the horse is performing. Scores are based on what the judge sees and what is written down by the scribe.

The original two-wheeled horse carriage known as the “Hansom Cab” was designed by civil architect J. Aloysius Hansom in 1834. Hansom (1803-1882) lived in Birmingham, UK, and the prototypes bore little resemblance to this famous vehicle which became the predominant choice of London taxi drivers. (5)

The prototype featured a large, box-like carriage which sported two, large seven foot wheels. The passengers were forced to sit next to the driver.

Redesign featured a light-weight carriage, with one horse, where the cab driver sat atop and behind the passengers, out in the elements. He drove the horses with a pair of very long reins. (6)

This carriage was very nimble, had a low center of gravity, and was able to turn on a dime.

Trends of the time dictated that this was a carriage for gentlemen, and not suitable for ladies.

It was a racy, souped-up gig, and gentlemen could be seen sporting about town on their way to the Club or an important meeting. (7)

The favorite mode of transportation of Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson was a Hansom Cab.

In the second half of the 19th century, English Parliamentarians, passengers and policemen fought an ongoing battle to try to make the cabbies reduce their fares.

The term “Lynching” has several ambiguous origins. Lynching and lynch mobs go back as far as the Middle Ages. In the 1770's or 1780's, a Virginian named Captain William Lynch (1742-1820) and other local landowners made a serious warning to outlaws in the area, that if they didn’t stop their villainous practices that a terrible corporeal punishment would fall upon them. (8)

There was another fellow Virginian named Lynch, this one with the first name of Charles, (1736-1796) who was known for harassing his political opponents to the point of terror. And in the 1760's a vigilante group who called itself the “Regulators,” took it upon themselves to dole out punishment down in Lynche’s Creek, South Carolina. (9)

To lynch someone accused of a crime, the “ lynch mob” of people would gather, tie the person up, and drag them behind a running horse. Then the person was hanged without a fair trial.

More next time.

Closing once again with the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”

1-6,8,9: “Bloomers, Biros & Wellington Boots,” by Andrew Scholl

7: Wikipedia