Flogging a dead horse

If anyone ever kept track of my various bits of research, I hate to think what conclusions they might reach. Yes, there are odd bits of fashion that pop up, like the fashionable hats in the spring of 1857, but there are also things like, “What deadly vegetable poisons would be available to someone with no special skills or knowledge in 1870?” (The answer to that question can be found in Lord Edward’s Mysterious Treasure.)

Recently I was worrying about a dead horse. You know all those scenes where a horse is badly injured in a carriage accident and has to be put out of its misery? Well, I was planning such a scene right outside the vicarage and realized I had no idea what to do about the dead horse.

Obviously, it can’t just be left there in the middle of the road. Quite aside from the difficulty of getting around it, there is the problem that pretty soon it will start to smell. Not what you want right outside your front door.

But you can’t just pick it up and carry it away. A carriage horse can weigh close to a ton. Even if you wanted to just dig a hole and bury it, you would need a very big hole.

Then there is the fact that a dead horse could still be useful. Aside from the numerous uses for horsehair and horsehide, the meat from a freshly killed healthy horse ought to be useful for feeding dogs if people don’t want it.

I tried asking the internet what would be done with my dead horse in 1812, the year when my story is set. I did get some recommendations for composting it and using it for fertilizer, but that didn’t get it off the road.

So I did the sensible thing. I asked my writing colleagues in an online chapter of very knowledgeable historical romance writers. The Beau Monde group, to be precise.

Sure enough, they knew.

Now the village butcher, with the assistance of the blacksmith, will haul off the carcass and put it to good use.


Dead horse

I had a personal experience with the disposal of a dead horse. There was no butcher or blacksmith to help with the problem. No glue factory like when I was young that would take the dead horse to make glue and dog food. That's been banned in the U S.
My horse was old and died of old age in my barn. I didn't know what to do. It was also winter.
My brother-in-law has a dairy farm so I asked him what to do and if there were any laws that I should be aware of. He advised me that there were no laws he was aware of other than you have bury the animal. So my son had to dig a hole in the barn. He dug a VERY big hole next to the horse then dug under the horse until the body could be pushed into the hole. This took days a was a horrible experience all around.

Dead horse

Horrible indeed! I would hate to have to deal with that in real life. When I was writing about it, at least it was just imaginary.
Although I was told that in some places you can just drag the dead horse to the side of the road and let the scavengers take care of it. That doesn't sound like something you could do in my neighborhood. I assume it must be in the wide open spaces. Maybe Australia?

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