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Why did horses replace oxen?
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Cathryn



Joined: 16 Jul 2005
Posts: 19856
Location: Ceredigion
PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 1:47 pm    Post subject: Why did horses replace oxen? Reply with quote
    

This might have been answered but it came up in a random conversation and I am interested. I can see many advantages to farmers in keeping oxen, you can eat them for start. There doesn't seem to have been much of a British tradition around eating horses. Why did we move to horses? Are the large ones like shires much stronger therefore it did make sense? I can imagine that stocky native ponies might be better for checking your hill sheep. Any one else know what happened?

gz



Joined: 23 Jan 2009
Posts: 7245
Location: Ayrshire, Scotland
PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

This might help
https://www.foxearth.org.uk/oxen.html

Cathryn



Joined: 16 Jul 2005
Posts: 19856
Location: Ceredigion
PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Interesting. I like the need for speed. The second article is somewhat biased.

Mrs R



Joined: 15 Aug 2008
Posts: 7202

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

They didn't just come along one day and everybody suddenly went over as seems to be commonly suggested! The debate raged for years over which was better. The most common argument is that horses are stronger and faster and therefore more suited for BIG, "efficient" farming. Very similar to the tractors vs horses idea.

However, I don't believe that is true, and neither do most ox people I speak to, even the ones who work oxen and horses. They believe they are both pretty even, based on size and really it just comes down to which you prefer working with.

In the old days what probably gave the impression of horses being faster and stronger was the fact that horses were worked in collars, rather than yokes. Collars are more comfortable to pull in long-term. I believe somebody's proven oxen can pull more in a yoke than with a collar (although some may have proved it the other way too) but that is pulling pure weight and no distance involved - let alone a whole day's work at ploughing.

Horses also became larger, whereas native cattle breeds didn't. Look at the size of charolais cattle from france, and chianinas from Italy and other such draught breeds where oxen remained popular for longer (up to modern day). Those animals were bred bigger and leaner, specifically for the job.

So it's always been judged on an uneven playing field.

Personally, I think it has far more to do with horses being a status symbol in this country as they were always a rich person's thing - the equivalent of a flashy car. You can shine them up and parade them about and basically let people know you've 'arrived' when you get horses - whereas the ox was the poor man's beast, humbly getting on with the job for years and then providing a meal for the family. Can't really show off with that.

Mrs R



Joined: 15 Aug 2008
Posts: 7202

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Re: the foxearth articles - the first one is biased too, and factually wrong in places, poorly researched. The second one is biased, for a good reason - he viewed oxen as better, that was his whole point in writing it

Mrs R



Joined: 15 Aug 2008
Posts: 7202

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Something to also think about is that oxen were the ones ploughing and hauling in this country for millennia. Horses were rich people's transport and military toys. They did replace oxen, but that wasn't complete until 1890(ish) - and horses were then replaced by tractors between the world wars, so they had perhaps 50years of being the norm on farms, just in time to get themselves into all the early photos and films and give the impression they had been there all along.....

Cathryn



Joined: 16 Jul 2005
Posts: 19856
Location: Ceredigion
PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Yes, I noticed that and that oxen were used for much much longer in our history than horses. (Why do they think horses need all that fuss and grooming?)

Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 34514
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Cathryn wrote:
Yes, I noticed that and that oxen were used for much much longer in our history than horses. (Why do they think horses need all that fuss and grooming?)



Marketing? Which is why we never had My Little Oxen dolls. Although Ixy probably did.

Mrs R



Joined: 15 Aug 2008
Posts: 7202

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Nick wrote:
Cathryn wrote:
Yes, I noticed that and that oxen were used for much much longer in our history than horses. (Why do they think horses need all that fuss and grooming?)



Marketing? Which is why we never had My Little Oxen dolls. Although Ixy probably did.


Alas no - I was a typical pony-mad girl for years worked with over 200 horses in 4 different stables.

I still ask myself why.

Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 34514
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Well, at least you can comment, criticise and praise from a position of experience and knowledge.

T.G



Joined: 13 Sep 2009
Posts: 7280
Location: Somewhere you're not
PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

because horse are simply more beautiful ....

gil
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 08 Jun 2005
Posts: 18396

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 3:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Why did horses replace oxen? Reply with quote
    

Cathryn wrote:
I can imagine that stocky native ponies might be better for checking your hill sheep.


My neighbour used to look the hill sheep on horseback, in days BQ [before quadbikes].

Cathryn



Joined: 16 Jul 2005
Posts: 19856
Location: Ceredigion
PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

I wonder if marketing played a part. I can see how oxen and horses would fulfill different roles. The wealthy owned horses to get them in and out of battles didn't they, bet that played a small part. Interesting bit of agricultural history I had never thought about before.

Quads still can't reach all the parts small ponies can, ask VSS.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

The.Grange wrote:
because horse are simply more beautiful ....


I was at a horse auction recently, beautiful is not the word.

Mrs R



Joined: 15 Aug 2008
Posts: 7202

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 09 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Cathryn wrote:

Quads still can't reach all the parts small ponies can, ask VSS.


I'd be willing to bet that even a large ox could get where a small pony could - Angus is incredibly nimble, even though he looks like a great fat lump. I think the cloven hooves and flexible spine help.

The other day we brought the cattle into the barn to pull the sold steers out and he gets picked on by the dexters - they are ideal belly-stabbing height so he jumped into a spare pen with a couple of sheep. Except, he only got his front end over and was hung on the partition by his belly....no problem though, he just used the crossbars of wood like a ladder for his back feet and got over Then when the herd went out, he did the same again and mooched back out to the field.

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