Sunday, April 17, 2011

Zebra Hitches and Saddle Zebra's revisited

From “Animal Life and the World of Nature” (1902-1903): The photograph of the zebra with a native on his back has been sent to us by Mr Carl Hagenbeck of Hamburg. The animal is a new mountain zebra from German East Africa. The photograph was taken within three months of its capture, and the fact that it is being ridden is interesting as once more disproving the statement that these animals are untameable.

On the Mountain Zebra Horace Hayes relates: ' I once undertook to saddle and get ridden an old entire zebra... whose feet were becoming gradually deformed, on account of the animal not permitting them to be pared down. In less than an hour after I had turned it into the ring of Frank Fillis's circus, which was then in Calcutta, I had its feet rasped down to a proper level, and had it saddled and bridled for the first time in its life. It was then ridden by Steve Margaret ( a brilliant Australian rough-rider) and by my wife. This was certainly the first occasion a lady ever rode this variety of zebra, which had the reputation all over the world of being unridable. Although I was able quickly to teach it to carry its unwonted burden quietly, I made far less progress in giving it a "mouth" during the two days I had it in hand, than I would have done in half an hour with any wild horse in the Dominions caught for the first time on a "run"; the reason being that the zebra's neck was so stiff and strong that I unable to bend it in any direction. I soon taught it to do what I wanted in the circus; but when I rode it outside it took me wherever it liked. In fact, I had not the slightest power either to stop or guide it' ('Points of the Horse' by Captain Hayes, writing ca. 1899)

On Burchell's Zebra Horace Hayes relates: ' On account of the fact that this zebra when in a wild state, possesses immunity from the effects of the bite of the tsetse fly, which is a carrier of death to horses, I strongly advocated, when in South Africa, the taming and employment for harness or saddle of these animals in 'fly' infested districts. ....As the Burchell's zebra is comparatively easy to break in, and as it will breed in confinement, there is but little doubt that it will in time become domesticated. will prove a valuable means of conveyance in South Africa. During one of my horse- breaking performances in 1892, at Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal, I made a young Burchell zebra, after about an hour's handling, quiet to carry a rider. In doing this, I did not throw the animal down, nor did I resort to any of the usual "heroic" horse'taming methods.' ('Points of the Horse' by Captain Hayes, writing ca. 1899)

On the Quagga Horace Hayes relates: '... Up to the end of the first half of last century it was found in immense numbers in South Africa, and appears to have become extinct about the year 1870. The last specimen in England died in the London Zoological Gardens in 1864. It was a strong, somewhat heavily built animal, slow of pace for a wild member of the Equidae, and comparatively docile. " A pair of imported Quaggas were in the early part of the last century driven about London in a phaeton by Sheriff Parkins. Lieut. Col. C. Hamilton Smith, in his unpublished volume on Equidae, 1841 states that he drove one in a gig, and that its mouth was as delicate as that of a horse. He further stated that it had better quarters and was more horse-like even than Burchell's zebra, and added: 'It is unquestionably the best calculated for domestication, both as regards strength and docility' " (Tegetmeier and Sutherland) Owing to its deficiency in speed and alertness, and to the value set on its hide by the Boers and on its flesh by their Hottentot servants, it was finally exterminated by the settlers and natives. No attempt was made by naturalists to save this animal from extinction.'('Points of the Horse' by Captain Hayes, writing ca. 1899)


Baraboo 1909

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Ringlings had a four zebra hitch in the 1910s, pulling a small wagon in parade.

The Barnum & Bailey show used a similar hitch to draw the Red Riding Hood pony float in the 1890s and perhaps on the continent 1898-1902.

One can also see such a hitch in Great London posters of 1879-1880, and then Barnum & London.

There were also zebra hybrid hitches on Hagenbeck-Wallace.