A professional horseman for over 40 years, Skook continues to work with horses. He is in an ongoing educational program, learning life's lessons from one of the world's greatest instructors, the horse. Skook has finished an historical novel that traces a mitochondrial line of DNA from 50,000 years ago to the present. The book Fifty-Thousand Years is awaiting me to finish a final proofread and it should be sent to the formatter in a matter of days. I am still working, so it is not easy to devote the time I need to finish the project. The cover is a beautiful wok of art. I would put it up here if I could figure out how to make it work.

21 Responses to “The Omission of History”

  1. 1


    All too true. I did not know until recently that many of the breeds date back thousands of years. Breeding books go way back! The history of breeds is entangled with the history of peoples. It is fascinating to compare the horses bred for armored knights to those bred for cavalry, for instance. The armored knight needed a huge beast, as his armor weighed a lot. The light cavalry needed a swift horse with great endurance.
    And the farm horses! What a bewildering variety, for all climates and all types of work.
    And the racing horses. Ah, the great Arabian!
    And the horses of Chincoteague, descendants of the horses brought here by the Spanish.
    Every breed has its own strengths and weaknesses, and its own peculiar diseases too.
    Anybody ever find a cure for mallenders and sallenders?
    And the great horses. My favorite was Trigger, shown in old Roy Rogers films as able to follow hundreds of commands! A true intellectual giant among horses.

  2. 2

    Nan G

    Diamond’s theories are difficult to dispute……

    True, it was difficult, but Diamond’s theory of Easter island’s ”ecocide,” as part of his wider theory of collapse has successfully been refuted by hard working archeologists.

    Lipo and Hunt write:

    [Jared Diamond] has a vested interest in defending his “ecocide” storyline published back in 1995 in Discover Magazine and again in his bestselling book Collapse. We acknowledge that Diamond has much at stake here. But so do the Easter Islanders. So too does the field of archeology. And so too does the truth.

    Let us point out that we didn’t go to Easter Island to tear down Diamond’s thesis.
    We went there to support it by filling in the missing archeological data.
    It was only when we convinced ourselves that any iteration of that original story, including Diamond’s, had no archeological evidence to support it and much to contract it that we began to see where the research was leading us.

    It is also important to note that Diamond is not an archaeologist and has not done archaeological or palaeoecological research in Polynesia.
    We have been doing research and primary archaeological field work on Easter since 2000.
    One of us (TH) has worked in Pacific Island archaeology for nearly 40 years and taught at University of Hawaii for 23 years.
    On Easter Island we have done more field work and covered a greater breadth of archaeology than anyone else in the past two decades.
    Our work has been peer-reviewed and published in science’s most selective and prestigious journals.
    We outline in detail the evidence from our work and that of scores of colleagues working on the island in our book The Statues that Walked. (PDF download FREE here: http://pdfdownload.me/the-statues-that-walked-unraveling-the-mystery-of-easter-island )
    Diamond would have readers believe that the majority of archeologists who have studied Easter Island support his thesis.
    It is simply not true.

    The new evidence that we and other serious scholars have provided over the past decade not only contradicts the old story that Diamond has so heavily invested in, but has led to a new consensus among the majority of scholars around our work.
    – See more at: http://www.marklynas.org/2011/10/the-easter-island-ecocide-never-happened-response-to-jared-diamond/#sthash.WLvkBltz.dpuf

    Seems from what your write, Skook, Jared Diamond’s theory falls further apart in the light of personal knowledge of the subject of horses on how our culture developed.
    Jared diamond is a ”revisionist,” historian whose uses facts of history to back up his agenda while letting most of history be damned.
    I had the chance to walk through his museum version of Collapse back many years ago.
    Even though I was not an archeologist, I had read enough to know his theory of ecocide hung on tenuous threads.
    He is the Dan Brown of history writers.
    Thin number of facts backing gigantically liberal interpretation of today’s reality.

  3. 3



    @Nan G: I worked on two different “digs” over three summers. I still marvel at the amount of material we unearthed; material that is now probably catalogued and stored in boxes, never to be viewed again. These were not glamorous sites, the former inhabitants were migratory shell fish eaters. They engaged in violent acts, made weak pottery vessels, ate any animal they could kill, and buried their dead in shallow graves beneath the floors of their homes. For this information, we gathered as many as 100,000 artifacts from a group of people that occupied the same area over thousands of years and existed approximately 10,000 to 20,000 thousand tears ago. A lot of sweat, a little blood, and more than a few blisters were needed to extract this wealth of information.

    Some digs are glamorous, like the Leakey family, for whom every primate jaw is a “Missing Link” of man’s evolution or even the Easter Islanders and their monolithic sculptures have Hollywood type glamour attached to them, but the serious archaeological work is being done by nameless students in digs with names no one has ever heard.

    Diamond has his faults, but he gave us new ways to envision history, and most of his work/writing involves history (recorded detail from the era). I found his work to be interesting and exciting; at least more exciting than boxes of splintered bones and shards of crumbly pottery or endless detail of dates, names, and locations. It is the men who can bring the past alive who are the teachers of history. These are the people who can inspire the young to imagine and theorize, by looking at history with a different perspective.

    I personally think much of history relates directly to the horse, its power or utility, and the ability of horsemen to exploit that utility. It is my personal theory, and I may be proven wrong, but it will be hard to dispute, for history is more than a collection of dates and names. It can come alive with the imagination and creativity of enlightened people.

  4. 4



    PS. The yearling steers in the photo above are two of eight Brown Swiss, I helped train to the yoke last fall. They are now two years old and working well. The owner hopes to put together an eight up hitch during the next year, but sadly, they eat three percent of their weight in hay each day and when hay is bring $20/bale, it might not be practical to keep them going. Oxen continue to grow and will weigh up to 3500 lbs. If you want to talk about power, you should see them pulling 48 in diameter logs 60 foot long out of the forest in deep snow or mud. You don’t want to mistakes when they start pulling.

  5. 6


    Horses were used by the Germans in WWII. Check out the carnage after the battle of the Falaise Pocket and you will see many dead horses among the rubble. Also, as the British waited to be repatriated on the Normandy beaches at Dunkirk, they killed a considerable number of horses that had performed some military function.

    Skook, you really write well and I always welcome your historical perspectives.


  6. 7


    @Disturber: I remember seeing the pictures of horses pulling equipment for the Germans on the Eastern Front. I think they had one way tickets.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    I checked out the Pocket of Falaise battle pics. War is Hell.

  7. 8


    That tear-jerker movie “War Horse” gives the impression that a military draft horse had a life expectancy of four to six weeks. Of course, that’s hardly an authoritative source.

    On the Eastern Front I’m pretty sure dead horses didn’t even have time to hit the ground.

  8. 9


    Are there any actual situations where the cold, hard bottom-line calculus favors oxen over trucks and tractors?

    By way of explanation I know that dog-teams for anything other than racing all but died out in the Great White North after the snowmachine/ski-doo finally became practical in the 60’s. Freighting dogs hung on in certain especially remote interior areas where people were able to obtain stockfish from the rivers cheaper than fuel and spare parts (snowmobiles don’t have to be fed when not working but fuel and parts get exponentially more expensive the farther they have to be schlepped–plus some people just aren’t mechanical). Also the Polar Inuit of Northeast Greenland stuck to using dogs for hunting on the sea ice because they said machine noise carried long distances and scared off the seals.

    There has been a bit of a renaissance in Canada because of a regulation that requires Polar Bear hunting to be conducted by dog-team. Otherwise (other than racing and weight-pull competitions) it’s a matter of individual afficionados here and there.

    I had long been wondering if the breeding and training of draft horses and oxen had gone the way of the leisure suit and were only to be seen in beer commercials.

  9. 10


    Awww! You mean that horses were not first domesticated about twenty thousand years ago by that hot blonde chick who was raised by Neanderthals? As memorialized in those eighties’ novels?

  10. 12


    I think you’re talking about EVE, wonder how only male neanderthal, would have survive without the soft gentleness from the females to approch the horses to become friend of humans,

  11. 13

    Nan G

    Under GWBush, killing horses here for meat was finally outlawed.
    But, in 2011, the ban on the slaughter of horses for meat was lifted as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012.
    Obama signed it and PETA was for it!
    PETA head Ingrid Newkirk said it was easier on the animals to be slaughtered here than sent to Mexico or Canada then slaughtered.

  12. 14


    …the horse in all its various physical forms and the cultures of horsemanship that used the horse for transportation….

    A woman accidentally figured out why people range from dark black to light white. She studies ancient people, and realized that thousands of years ago, the people who lived around the Equator were dark, and the ones who lived further north got lighter skinned the further away from the Equator they lived. I don’t know if it was her, or someone else who figured out that the horse hadn’t been domesticated yet, so people were born in one area, lived there, and died there. When they started riding horses, they could go long distances, and started inhabiting parts of the Earth no human had been before.

    Who would have guessed that the only reason you and I are the color we are is where our ancestors lived thousands of years ago.

  13. 15


    it would give us a beloved VIDEO,
    if only one would follow with a CAMERA,
    I always loved horses, and I lived among them for a few years, spoiling them with apples, i was mistified with their eyes looking straight at me,
    they did loved me also, except that young punk horse new commer who wanted to be the boss over all the other resident horses, he also threw out one of the family who without experience was practising on him, she end up with a
    broken shoulder, and I found her laying down on the ground with extreme pain, and a 911 call got her in hospital for an operation to put a metal plate to rectifie the disloquated shoulder,
    that horse was sold soon after,

  14. 16


    I wonder how come the human where split between the cruel ones criminal at heart and
    genuine destructive brain mindset,,
    as compare to kind and peaceful and creative for the good of other who strive for excellence and advance of the just society humans,in the old time the bad one where killed as soon as they did one crime it has branded them, so their genes where destroy in the same time,
    today they are given a chance to hurt society again and again, but their mindset has change from true criminals to avenger of the society who found them at the crime activity,

  15. 17


    I’ve found Jared Diamond’s works to be fascinating and spent many a rainy afternoon flipping through them.

    However, through the books and that PBS special, it did not take me long to smell a distinct ideological whiff permeating through the scholarship. Diamond is an ornithologist by training who (according to him) started on his quest while in New Guinea studying the birds of paradise when a local friend asked him point-blank why whites were so well-off and the natives so poor.

    His entire ouvre is a subtle, massive exercise in geographical determinism, i.e. that humanity has been shaped exclusively by our environment and that us Judeo-Christian gringos are at the top of the heap simply because Europeans were lucky in resources and location. I call B.S.

    A classic essay on the subject is Dr. Jack Wheelers’ 2002 “The Secret to the Suicidal Liberal Mind”. It is more oriented toward contemporary liberal politics than prehistory but relates Liberalism to the long dominance of communal, tribal mindsets throughout human history and how Envy and the fear of Envy in contemporary cultures and subcultures (“crabs in a bucket”, and so on) are success killers and make individual people afraid to excel and distinguish themselves.

    In Dr. Wheeler’s opinion, it was the slow and sometimes violent evolution of Western religion, attitudes and culture over several millennia, reaching it’s apotheosis in the Anglo-Saxon (“protestant work ethic”, etc.) family of nations that has brought humanity out of the cradle (so far).

  16. 18


    very interesting, thank you,for the info,
    I bring to my mind the unquestioneble fact that the HUMANS made the same mistakes
    that the FALLEN ANGEL supposivly created perfect made,
    when he thought TO BE GOD, and human also thought to be the supreme force of all the creation,
    they in our own words became full of themselve know it all,
    which trigger the decadence of the human all in body and spirit which made them vulnerable to sickness and corrupt mind,
    today has not heal it but increase the genetic faults by a multitude, over the generations of procreation till now,

  17. 20


    @Doramin: The Clan of The Cave Beat series was amusing; at least the first book, but when Auel relied on pornography to keep the public interest and libido going, I had to retire the Cave Bear nonsense.

    The problem was similar to that of Diamond and Lamour, if you write of horses without the background, you may fool the public, but the horsemen will be wondering whether you have been smoking your socks.

    My dog team knowledge is limited and I have never really used real sled dogs. Most of the guys who race just train the dogs without using them for practical purposes; however, in the Yukon, some of the racers are women and they will drive the dogs to town to pick up supplies. Pack dogs were popular in the early pioneer days, especially in the summer.

    Oxen can work in swamps and deep mud, much better than a horse. This is one of the reasons they were popular in Manitoba, and Minnesota. They can also survive on feed that will kill a horse. I have fed horses poplar branches in winter emergencies and I saw a pair of starving horses surviving off a moose carcass. I’d have shot them, but the grass was coming up in a few days and it looked like they had a chance to survive.

    Dawson City is as close as I have been to the Arctic and the white bears, but they have a reputation that makes the Grizzly seem tame in comparison.

    I once manufactured custom bits and dealt with foundries for certain parts. An old mold maker gave me an education in casting. He delighted in telling me about the casting abilities of the ancient Hebrews and of the magnificent pieces they cast in brass and bronze (very similar). Casting swords, knives, and spear heads allowed them to arm large armies relatively cheaply. Could they do this without metal of the technology of casting?

    Breaking the ground with a wooden plow is a tedious and difficult procedure, but using a metallic plow speed up the process and it can be resharpened with minimal loss of material. You need the alloys of brass or iron to make these agricultural tools, as well as the horse or ox to work the plow. There were no draft animals in the Americas. Thus the agriculture technologies were limited. Europe could eventually farm large acreages and fee enough people to build huge cities.

    I am fading fast.


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