Thanks to the 5000
Last week this blog passed the 5000 views mark. Which is pretty good, I reckon, for a fairly specialist site.
When I started, I never really considered what a blog was for. ‘You simply must have one,’ every Advice For Writers website on the planet trills, ‘to promote your book, dahling.’
Problem is, I’m not really into self-promotion. It seems sort-of, if not vaguely grubby, then…a bit un-British, perhaps. Rightly or wrongly, most Brits don’t trumpet successes, they just muddle along quietly, keeping in the shadows. The old-fashioned ones do, anyhow – or that’s how it seems. Maybe the never-ending chatter of non-celebrity Reality TV inhabitants (I can’t call them ‘stars’) in the media has made self-promotion a dirty word. Whatever the reason, I find it difficult to get involved in promoting something I can’t quite believe in. Me
So…why have a blog?
Because…there’s loads of information out there on Napoleonic cavalry, much of it fascinating. No – really, it is! Nothing like as much written material as there is about the period’s infantry, granted, but plenty all the same. There are certainly a lot more anecdotes (and they are the meat in a historical fiction-writer’s sandwich) than could ever be appropriated to add colour to a whole series of novels. Because, of course, the last thing a novel should be is a history book.
Conversely, there’s a lot missing. Horse management, for example, rarely gets a mention. Details of how animals were kept, fed, treated by saddler, vet and farrier, transported abroad, groomed even, are rarely found. It’s as if everyone involved knew how these things were done so no-one bothered to write them down. ‘Assumed knowledge’ a friend of mine calls it.
There are old veterinary texts out there detailing contemporary treatments and ‘drugs’, of which I have a couple of examples. Clater’s ‘Everyman His Own Farrier’ is a fairly common example, actually written in the mid-18th century and subsequently ‘revised’ (and plagiarised) by others. And, of course, from military sources we know what weights of feed horses receive in barracks or on service. But the latter records exist more from the needs of regimental purchasers and the supply chain on campaign (Commissariat) to justify costs, than from any enlightened effort to inform.
Once you get to the Victorian era, things do improve a little. I was recently gifted a book called ‘The Horse World of Victorian London.’ A modern reprint of an 1894 text, this book give detail on all horse ‘types’ at work in the capital, their numbers, ages, what they were fed, typical length of service per industry and usual fate. All useful stuff, but still lacking the nitty-gritty information to truly round out these animals’ lives.
And perhaps the information we seek will never be found. Perhaps it was never written down. But just maybe, one of you who reads this blog will come across something of interest: in some obscure book or pamphlet. In another article, or on another website. Between the tattered covers of a dusty volume discovered in some long-cluttered attic. And if you do, I for one would be delighted to hear about it.
And so, perhaps, would some of the 5000 who looked at this blog in the hope of discovering useful information.
So my thanks to you, the 5000, for taking the time to look at my blog. I hope you found something of what you were looking for, whether that was fact, fiction, or simply an opinion. And if, on your travels, you happen to discover anything about horses or management that we seem to have forgotten all about in the last hundred years or so, please post a comment about it on my site.
Because another 5000 searchers may be looking for that same thing.