A history of New Zealand's military horse: The Experience of the Horse in the Anglo-Boer War and World War One.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The horse is an essential component of New Zealand's social, environmental, economic and military history, yet despite this obvious truth, it is a topic which was been overlooked by New Zealand historiography. The horse's role throughout our history has been identified by prominent environmental historians as an area in desperate need of examination; however, it is one yet to be undertaken. As far as New Zealand history books would suggest the horse was good for the racing industry and little else, and even within these histories, its origins seem to be of little historical significance. In military histories much has been written on the impact of New Zealand troops during the Anglo-Boer War and World War One, with emphasis placed on the role of mounted infantry in the many military histories published over the past century. Yet an examination of the specific experience of the horse has been ignored. Veterinary histories have been produced which give detailed accounts of the role and care of the horse, but offer nothing which provides a picture of the war experience from the horse's point-of-view. In an effort to start filling the gap in New Zealand's equine historiography,this thesis will use the late nineteenth and early twentieth century military context as a microcosm for the history of New Zealand's horse. By first tracing the history of the horse through 5,000 years of military experience to its early-nineteenth century New Zealand origins, the history of New Zealand's military horse will explore issues of environment, role, mobilisation, transport, care and casualities to create an informed hypothesis of what New Zealand's military horse experienced in these two moderm wars. The nature of war is awful in itself, but when animals are unconsciously included in the context, as horses were in these two modem wars, the impact of the experience is nothing less than horrific.