By Pointy Town Horse-Trough I Sat Down And Wept

“In place of a frog, we discover a point of hard, shrunken, cracked substance, neither frog nor sole. We cut the clenches and take off the relic of ignorance and barbarism, throwing it with hearty good-will into the only place fit to receive it – the pile of scrap-iron.” – John E Russell, Rational Horse-Shoeing, 1873

In this passage, Russell is clearly casting aside “ignorance and barbarism”, perhaps to atone for the mayhem caused by his earlier work Irrational Horse-Shoeing. It was the latter book which had a profound influence on Dobson, who is known to have read it from cover to cover at least forty times. Of course, the pamphleteer had no interest in horses per se – he could barely tell a Knabstrup from a Yonaguni with his glasses on – but the panting urgency of Russell’s prose style as he describes various completely bonkers approaches to shoeing horses was something Dobson spent his entire curdled and despicable life trying to match. And so should you.

One thought on “By Pointy Town Horse-Trough I Sat Down And Wept

  1. Rhodes Gunnarsson, the noted Icelandic farrier-in-exile, favoured the enclosing of the horse in wood on all sides with perhaps ten inches to spare (effectively a horse-shaped box, or horse-box) which was airtight apart from a U-shaped hole at the top, into which enough horseshoes were fed to fill the remaining horseless cavity of the box up to about halfway.
    It is a testament to the Icelandic horse’s unflappable character that during this whole process the box’s occupant remained quiet. Confused perhaps, but not alarmed. Even when the whole apparatus was winched up in the air and dropped into a bronze house-sized steam-tombola the stolid pony retained its quizzical solemnity. Not even after the tombola was activated and the box rolled and banged and crashed around inside did the horse cry out or make any attempt to escape the fearsome clangour.
    And when after one week the tombola was finally halted, and the horse-box emerged from the chute, and the box was dismantled, the horse stood there, serenely, with what might be described as a horsey smirk. And the only horseshoes left were those on the feet of the horse, and they produced a brilliant shine the like of which challenged the moon, made night into day, and drew delighted crowds from the neighbouring valleys.
    Sadly, Gunnarsson fell foul of the ancient Icelandic law when, on returning from a gymkhana in Norway with a clutch of trophies won by the seemingly magical prowess his horseshoes conferred on their wearers, he was halted at customs. Being blind and deaf since the age of five, he was oblivious of the fact that centuries-old Icelandic legislation prevents any Icelandic horse from returning to the island once it has been taken to another country.
    Nobody knows what became of Gunnarsson after his clash with the authorities. Some say that his method of shoeing gave his ponies the ability to gallop over water, and that he plies the seas looking for sailors who need ironwork replacing – a bedstead perhaps, or a front gate. And some say he floats still, on a raft made of bronze, off the coast of Iceland, with his horses, and their trophies, and their shiny, shiny shoes.

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