Prepare to have your mind blown!
horses will eat meat, if given the opportunity? A lot, right? Well then this is your lucky day, because author CuChullaine O'Reilly has assembled "a lot" of evidence, and more!
Subtitled "The Shocking True Story of Meat-Eating and Murderous Horses," this fascinating book focuses on historical and contemporary accounts of all sorts. The effect is surprising: it's easy to dismiss a handful of stories as aberrant behavior or tall tales. But the body of evidence - spanning cultures around the world, and throughout history - is truly convincing.
Not that many people will be convinced, of course. We have a lot of emotional capital invested in the idea that horses are gentle giants, huge animals that want only to protect and serve (to coin a phrase). Other cultures have not been so sentimental, and even today around the world it's not hard - if you're willing to look - to find places where horses are routinely fed dried fish, blood, dried meat, and fresh meat. Nor is it hard to find first-person accounts of people who have witnessed horses killing and eating other animals.
The biggest surprise of Deadly Equines may be that it is so readable, and that its evidence is presented so calmly. O'Reilly wisely avoids sensationalizing his topic. Surely it is sensational enough not to require any more gilding on that particular lily; still, though, I am positive that many other authors would have gone for the gusto here. O'Reilly's authorial tone remains restrained and reasonable throughout.
At the same time, Deadly Equines is not a dry recitation of facts. O'Reilly has managed the difficult trick of making his book compelling, but not "Weekly World News" lurid. Although it is often grisly, as the topic must be.
As I read, I found myself often thinking about how many people refuse to believe that dogs are omnivorous. Dogs want - nay, need - a considerable amount of vegetables like beans, carrots, peas, and broccoli in their diets. In fact, dogs are as omnivorous as people are. A lot of people won't believe it, though.
The inevitable conclusion, after finishing Deadly Equines, is that the real mystery is why it seems so shocking. Clearly, horses have been eating meat all around us since the beginning. Why, then, is it so hard for us to accept the evidence? Our attachment to the idea of the horse as a peaceful grazer is what starts to seem really bizarre, when you think about it. (And think about it you will!)