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  1. #1
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    Default How did horses/owners go thru the great depression?

    How did horses/owners go thru the great depression?

    I was wondering how did horses/owners go thru the great depression or other huge market crashes for example the market crash of 1987? I heard a story from a local barn owner that one of her boarders, a pro trainer didn’t have enough money to pay for the board of about 15 Arabs and after about a year she just took of leaving her Arabs behind. BO rode it out and used those Arabs as a school horses and they were all good at the end.

    Do you know of stories like that?



  2. #2
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    My dad owned a horse during the Depression, but she was more of an asset than a liability since the two of them hired out to plow fields for the neighbors. His dad took her in payment of a debt that a neighboring farmer couldn't pay - and Daddy says it was a lucky thing for Nancy (the mare) because when she first came to their farm she was pretty skinny.

    Nancy also became Daddy's only mode of transportation, which was much safer in the 1930's in the Appalachians than it would be for most of us today. There wasn't money for tack, though. After the stirrup leathers on the old saddle Daddy fished out of the barn broke, depositing him in a hedge, they did without a saddle. The mare's bridle and reins were strips of leather Daddy put together with baling twine.

    Nancy didn't have the advantage of nutritionally-balanced feeds like we have today - after the grass died in the fall poor Nancy had to make do with corn for grain and corn shucks for fodder.

    Anyway, they made it through the Depression just fine (Daddy says they were so poor to start with they hardly noticed there was a Depression) and Nancy was still with them when Daddy left to join the Army in WWII.
    Last edited by pAin't_Misbehavin'; Oct. 25, 2008 at 03:27 PM. Reason: Delete repeated word



  3. #3
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    Two different eras, two vastly different technology and commere bases. Horses were still an integral part of farming and still the mainstay of short haulage in cities: coal, breweries, rail cars to stores, etc.Except in some rare instances (the very wealith and children) horses were ridden for transportatiion, not for fun and lessons; showing except in rare circumstances was a place to show off your good teams, drivers and saddle horses. Of course there WERE discipline specific show peope but those were again the wealthy for the most part. In those days, people didn't commute for 2 hours each way to go work in an office tower - they worked close to home if possible and if not, used trains and trolleys - hopping in the car was rare.

    My parents rode or drove horses to school, dad worked fields with horses, heck, I even went to school with horse and buggy when it was too muddy for the bus to go through (50's). I remember the townman had a dray team and this was in the 60's already; the town finally got a tractor and new wagon in about 1965, and this was very common in smaller towns. I remember milk horses, coal horses and short haul dray teams in the city in the 50's....the totally mechanised era didnt hit all areas as early as it did in the huge cities. At any rate, horses were cheaper to feed than cars. trucks and tractors - grain sold for next to nothing and hay was readily available. Distances travelled were small, so people drove singles or teams or rode.

    Boarding stables were very rare, but livery stables were not - some people kept thier dray teams there, and there were few pleasure horses kept in those facilities as pleasure horses were far and few between. The only people I knew that ever rode for fun were cowboys - real ones, ones that worked cattle for a living, andm of course, their wives and children...that was the only transport they had for a small family outing.

    You cannot equate the depression to a single short lived market crash like th4e oil filed bust when people sported bumper stickers saying "Please, God, let there be another oil booml this time I promise I won't piss it away". You are talking apples and oranges - the oil bust, the 'crash' of 82 and 87 were pretty much gone within 6 months as the rebound as fast. The depression started in 1929 and continued into the very late 30's and the hangover, if you will, lasted to the 50's. You cannot equate what may well be a short term recession to a depression.

    Other factors to consider - European money went all to shit in 1927, and by the beginning of WWII, bread was selling in Germany for 2 million marks, and they were printing notes of multiple millions (If I have misremembered my history on this, please correct me - the dates are right, but the monetary denominations may be off by a decimal point or two). The same was happening in most of continental EWurope, France, Italy, Austria, etc all had the same problems. Some countries ended up as dictatorships (Italy, Germany) and others became Communits (Russia, etc) and swalloed up many smaller nations. Most world wide depressions end in large wars and WWII actually started long before Hitler begain military invasions of countries with lesser or no armies. It began with the gerrymanders happeinomg all over the continent as less economincally depressed countries just absorbed the ones that were worse off. Hitler was the beginning of actual hostilities.

    Post WWII Britain was a dismal place as was most of the continent - I heard this directly from people involved, but as the clean-up begain, the money started behaving 'normally' or what we call normal. Commerce and trade improved particularly in the agricultural sector first as people needed food, then manufacturing caught up. Here, it wasn't as dismal, but it wasn't great. The late 40's were pretty austere, as were the early 50's. Full economic recovery didn't really begin happen until the mid 50's. The austerity of the era from 1945 to 1955 shows in the house I am living in - corners cut, tiny rooms so small you have to leave the room to change your mind, sturdy but immensy fugly kitchen cupboards, a useless (now) space where the cookstove sat - who'd'a thunk electric ranges would overtake the coal and wood cookstove?

    At any rate, currently. the markets are doing the yo-yo thing, womsthing that didn't happen in 1929 - the trading dropped and ground to almost a complete halt and that hasn't happened yet but there is much lighter trading in some commodities....note commodities, not corporations. While corporate stocks in some instances HAVE dropped in value, it is nothing compared to the loss on the commodities. I am no economist by a long shot, balancing a cheque book is sometimes beyond my ken, but I have absorbed enough by osmosis to at least make guess that this is probably not going to last for a full decade or more.....cannot recall what the time span difference is between recession and depression.....and too lazy to look it up,

    Probably far mre history than you wanted but it is impossible to explain what people did with horses during the depression without the history. BTW, there were still cavalry units in the armies of many nations, and not motorised either, some countries couldn't afford tanks, nor had they enough land mass to use them or terrain was rough enough that motorised wasn't much of an option, so horses and mules hauled artillery cannons, ammuntion and stores for the troops.

    UGH, too long winded, i quit.
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  4. #4
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    Nice job, sk_pacer.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by citydog View Post
    Nice job, sk_pacer.
    Ditto. I enjoyed the history lesson, and the insight on the role horses played in troubled economic times.



  6. #6
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    I'm lucky I have a friend who is turning 98 this year. In college I had to do a paper who's topic was to interview someone who lived through a historical event.

    I asked my friend what it was like. He was at the time attending University of Pa to become a veterinarian. Shortly after he graduated he came back to the country to be a country vet. He said that the depression didn't really effect the farmers all that much since most had their own land and they had enough food for themselves and everyone else was still buying food.

    Horses back then were kept on land that was big enough to sustain them so they didn't cost much to feed.

    His wife, who has now since deceased was living in the city at the time of the Depression agreed and said it was more the city people who depended on business, not the land, that faired so poorly.

    My Great-Grandmother and Great-Grandfather who are both still alive also said basically the same thing.

    I'm not sure if their description was an accurate description for all people back then but it's their point of view and it's not too often that you can get a personal account of the Great Depression anymore.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miss-O View Post
    I asked my friend what it was like. He was at the time attending University of Pa to become a veterinarian. Shortly after he graduated he came back to the country to be a country vet. He said that the depression didn't really effect the farmers all that much since most had their own land and they had enough food for themselves and everyone else was still buying food. .
    I would like to point out (gently) that since almost the entire Great Plains area of the country dried up and blew away during the great drought that preceded and in part drove the Great Depression, farmers were indeed impacted. See fascinating book on the topic below.

    http://www.amazon.com/Worst-Hard-Tim...973566&sr=8-10

    While perhaps farmers in PA were able to maintain a sustenance lifestyle, farmers in the mid-west lost everything. Agricultural production policies for a few years had been driven by good weather and increased technology - the result was that when the rains didn't come, and the wind blew, the soil went with it.



  8. #8
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    I understand not all farmers weren't impacted by the Depression which is why I said this was the personal points of view of 4 people.

    I actually did bring up the point of the Dust Bowl though to my friend. His reasoning was that those farmers didn't have a hard time BECAUSE of the Depression rather it was due to environmental disaster. I know the Depression wasn't helped by the Dust Bowl but those farmers would have lost everything with or without the Depression due to the weather.



  9. #9
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    It was not just before WW2 that Germans had to pay millions of marks for bread. It was after the First WW during the Weimar Republic. The terribly poverty of post-WW1, defeated Germany is one of the reasons the Nazis were able to come to power.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by lolalola View Post
    It was not just before WW2 that Germans had to pay millions of marks for bread. It was after the First WW during the Weimar Republic. The terribly poverty of post-WW1, defeated Germany is one of the reasons the Nazis were able to come to power.
    Yes, they were paying 2 million for a loaf of bread by 1927 at keast according to the old history book I found downstairs here. I beleive they had printed 100 million mark notes that were totally useless, as was most European currency. There is more info in my previous post
    Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

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  11. #11
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    Well, in 1929 in Campbell's Creek W.Va. Judge Belcher didn't have his first Walking Horse yet, so nobody still alive up there knows how show horses did.

    As far as the working ones, well, that was the year before 'Calamity' Jane Leftwich was born and having been well acquainted with pret near all her relatives that could speak good English, I can say that the horses up the holler there did OK through the hard times that came from the money industry messing up so big.

    Now, they hadn't been living high on the hog before that, mind you. They did eat about as much grass as they could when they weren't working some kind of cow work or entertaining any youngsters. What they didn't get was as much grain as when times were better. The chickens or the still got the corn, but Paw Paw Hughie did throw some oats out and in what photos are left they show some ribs but aren't all sunk in or anything. Maybe a little more flesh on em than a hard working race horse.

    Of course, the people were pretty lean then, too.
    Visit the new guy's journey at http://www.OnAndOffTheTrack.blogspot.com



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donnalynn View Post
    Well, in 1929 in Campbell's Creek W.Va. Judge Belcher didn't have his first Walking Horse yet, so nobody still alive up there knows how show horses did.

    As far as the working ones, well, that was the year before 'Calamity' Jane Leftwich was born and having been well acquainted with pret near all her relatives that could speak good English, I can say that the horses up the holler there did OK through the hard times that came from the money industry messing up so big.

    Now, they hadn't been living high on the hog before that, mind you. They did eat about as much grass as they could when they weren't working some kind of cow work or entertaining any youngsters. What they didn't get was as much grain as when times were better. The chickens or the still got the corn, but Paw Paw Hughie did throw some oats out and in what photos are left they show some ribs but aren't all sunk in or anything. Maybe a little more flesh on em than a hard working race horse.

    Of course, the people were pretty lean then, too.
    I recall, as a child in WV, asking my MawMaw (born in 1898) about the Depression. She and my granddad were small business people, drycleaning, candystore, that sort of thing, Daddo was in law enforcement--solid middle class, moving up in the world from my mother's birth in the big town of Smithers, just down the road from Cannelton's #9 coal camp. She replied that what they noticed about the Depression was there were more tramps to feed.

    We could probably survive on what we can grow, forgage, hunt, or barter for. We heat with wood that grows on our place already. I dont do lessons, shows, trailers etc. I ride where I live. The horses live here, too. Since they are barefoot, if push came to shove Mr Jeano or I could trim them ourselves. I've nipped and rasped hooves a couple of times, horse's feet didnt fall off. We'd get by. I already give most of my own shots. Dont buy bedding, dont buy supplements, dont feed more than a handful of pellets a day. Have enough riding clothes to last a while, some of those were purchased second hand. Manage to ride two horses with only two saddles. I do have a couple spare headstalls, halters, a bit or twelve, plenty of stuff to swap around if I get bored with the same old tack.
    Since my expenditure for hay is for only for about 100 bales a year (and my two wouldnt die if they had to subsist on a lot less) I am pretty confident I will manage if this turns out to be comparable to the Great Depression.

    Mr Jeano keeps predicting that if the country ever has any kind of emergency where the TVs and airconditioners stop working for a few weeks there will be millions of fatalities due to those two things alone. We've sort of been getting ready for economic collapse for a while now. No mortgage, no stocks, no debt whatsoever except for Mr Jeano's car payment.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeano View Post
    I recall, as a child in WV, asking my MawMaw (born in 1898) about the Depression. She and my granddad were small business people, drycleaning, candystore, that sort of thing, Daddo was in law enforcement--solid middle class, moving up in the world from my mother's birth in the big town of Smithers, just down the road from Cannelton's #9 coal camp. She replied that what they noticed about the Depression was there were more tramps to feed.

    We could probably survive on what we can grow, forgage, hunt, or barter for. We heat with wood that grows on our place already. I dont do lessons, shows, trailers etc. I ride where I live. The horses live here, too. Since they are barefoot, if push came to shove Mr Jeano or I could trim them ourselves. I've nipped and rasped hooves a couple of times, horse's feet didnt fall off. We'd get by. I already give most of my own shots. Dont buy bedding, dont buy supplements, dont feed more than a handful of pellets a day. Have enough riding clothes to last a while, some of those were purchased second hand. Manage to ride two horses with only two saddles. I do have a couple spare headstalls, halters, a bit or twelve, plenty of stuff to swap around if I get bored with the same old tack.
    Since my expenditure for hay is for only for about 100 bales a year (and my two wouldnt die if they had to subsist on a lot less) I am pretty confident I will manage if this turns out to be comparable to the Great Depression.

    Mr Jeano keeps predicting that if the country ever has any kind of emergency where the TVs and airconditioners stop working for a few weeks there will be millions of fatalities due to those two things alone. We've sort of been getting ready for economic collapse for a while now. No mortgage, no stocks, no debt whatsoever except for Mr Jeano's car payment.
    Well, I always think it is great to be as frugal as possible. You all are doing a great job. I don't think there is going to be any kind of collapse. I also believe the worst is over. I think the recession has been going on for a while for most of us. I know where I work we started to have troubles (big troubles) last year this time. We have been spending the last year getting rid of bad locations and shoring up spending. Some jobs were lost but we will be better in '09. I think the banking industry was still making money hand over fist because it was cheating and stealing to stay a head of the recession that it was creating. I kind of think of it like this. During the Great Depression the US/World economy was a young tree with not so many deep roots. A serious assault to its root system almost killed the young tree. But now, the tree is much more mature and the root system is deep. It can survive a long drought. It may not grow those years and it may look crappy but it won't die. Don't get me wrong, I still worry. I hope everyone in my family keeps a job...so my horse can keep hers!
    "What's so funny 'bout Peace Love and Understanding?" Elvis Costello



  14. #14
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    I'm really enjoying reading replies! Very interesting that no horror stories about eating your own horse during the Great Depression evolved.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dressage Art View Post
    I'm really enjoying reading replies! Very interesting that no horror stories about eating your own horse during the Great Depression evolved.
    No, I don't think they got a lot of meat back then. Know what my Daddy's favorite supper is, to this day? Field peas and cornbread crumbled up in a glass of buttermilk, season with the vinegar that comes in the little bottle with the really hot peppers, and eat with a spoon. You can't make him happier than that.

    I'm enjoying reading other people's Depression stories too. I wasn't born until 1960, but godawlmighty if I don't feel like I lived through the Depression, growing up with my Mama and Daddy, cause I got reminded of how it was back then at least once a day. Waste was the cardinal sin at our house.



  16. #16
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    Just remember that unemployment during the depression was 25%. That means 75% of people were employed.
    "What's so funny 'bout Peace Love and Understanding?" Elvis Costello



  17. #17
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    She replied that what they noticed about the Depression was there were more tramps to feed.
    Here's an interesting thing about the tramps (or hobos). They would mark property with hobo code for whether or not the people were good for food, etc. My maternal grandmother was widowed just after the Depression and had five children. The hobos wouldn't come stop at her house. I'm not sure what code they used for that.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobo#Hobo_code

    Ob horsey: My maternal grandfather courted my maternal grandmother using his horse and buggy.
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  18. #18
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    Default Aw...West Virginia people!

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnalynn View Post
    Now, they hadn't been living high on the hog before that, mind you. They did eat about as much grass as they could when they weren't working some kind of cow work or entertaining any youngsters. What they didn't get was as much grain as when times were better. The chickens or the still got the corn, but Paw Paw Hughie did throw some oats out and in what photos are left they show some ribs but aren't all sunk in or anything. Maybe a little more flesh on em than a hard working race horse.

    Of course, the people were pretty lean then, too.
    Alright, I got mighty homesick after reading your post and other one mentioning 'MawMaw'. I called my grandparents PawPaw and MawMaw growing up, and they grew up in the Great Depression. My pawpaw's family was so poor PRIOR to the GD that they didn't have horses, not a single one. My mawmaw's family was her Spaniard father who spoke very little english and worked as a coal miner in the hollers, and her mother who came from old W Va stock and canned/gardened/rung the chickens' necks herself type background. Not to mention they were so far back up in the hollers (anybody know Owl Creek or Yager? My mom was born and raised in Yager, then moved to the 'bustling metropolis' of Blue Field when she was a teen) that they hardly heard about it. My other grandmother, now she grew up in Oklahoma around that time and rode the family plow horse to school-she went out at lunch and fed her. She was the oldest child so despite the fact that she was a girl, she went out and helped her daddy with the tractor work, the haying, anything that needed done. Her younger sister got to stay inside w/ her mom and do the house work, cooking, gardening, etc.

    Really fascinating times...my parents are both older than usual for someone my age, and my grandparents were subsequently much older too...within the late 90's all my grandparents died...but I remember their stories and my mom LOVES to remind me that she and I are 'Coal Miner's Daughters' and not to waste.

    I don't have a horse right now but am looking to learn to drive them. It really wouldn't be hard out a little past town to drive or ride anywhere. I mean, might as well, there are areas where I don't leave w/out an extra gas can in the truck to make sure I make it through! A horse would probably be easier to feed and maintain out here than my not so gas friendly vehicle.



  19. #19
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    I think its Yaeger or Jaeger. And it is definitely Bluefield.

    I was talking about this with my dad recently. I grew up and he still lives on a farm on one of those WV mountains, way out in the sticks. He says that the Depression never really got to or left our place until the eighties, which I believe.

    All true stories (and keep in mind -- my dad was born in 1954 -- most of these were the sixties): My grandmother cooked in a wood-burning stove until she died in 1997. She had an outhouse until 1986. They got a phone in the eighties. Dad never knew what deodorant was until he went to the Army. They brushed their teeth with sticks with the ends chewed up. He had one pair of shoes, for use in winter only. They went to town once a year, and plowed their fields with a team of mules. After he came back from the army, he walked 18 miles a day to work -- which was running a jackhammer for 12 hours. He put himself through electrician's and then plumber's school, and became a successful home builder, building houses from the ground up with 2 men. He is the American dream.

    Of course, my dad (and consequently all his kids) are workaholics. Life's meaning comes from work. He hates nothing more than a person with excuses. And he hates -- hates -- welfare. He remembers working hard in the fields from dawn to dusk, missing half the school year for harvest, and then watching the kids on welfare go by laughing at him working, on their bicycles and with store-bought clothes. It burns him inside to this day.

    I have known all this since I was a kid, and even so I realize that I don't know how good I have it. Dad is worried about another Depression -- but if that happens, I'll just take my lawyer self and my lawyer husband back to the farm and we'll make it.



  20. #20
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    I'm loving these old time stories!

    My mom remembers a guy coming around once a month with a horse and cart, to buy and sell metal goods and scrap. And the milk being delivered by horse cart. She was a teenager before anyone in her small coal-mining town had a car or phone.



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