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Professor Harold Barclay

An anthropologist at the University of Alberta and an expert on the role of the horse in man’s culture.

1 -    What is the single greatest change you have witnessed in the equestrian world during your life time?

Research on origin of  horse domestication and riding.   Advances in equine medicine and psychology.


2 -    Do you ride?        

I am now 86 and rode until until 2004


3 -    Do you own a horse?       

My last horse died in 2004


4 -    Who is your favorite horse in history?       

Any good plow horse.


5 -    Who do you think was the most influential equestrian human in history and why?

I am afraid that most equestrians "in history " were militarists and  murderers, for whom I have no use.


6 -    What was your greatest equestrian influence from books or cinema when you were young?


7 -    What equestrian book would you recommend today and why?

Prehistoric Steppe Adaptation and the Horse,  edited by Levine, Renfrew, and Boyle, 2003;  

Horse Power  by J. Clutton-Brock, 1992:        

Horses  edited by Sandra Olsen, 1995;                     

Fossil Horses by Bruce MacFadden, 1992;

Horses by Elwyn Edwards,1987;        

Wheeled Vehicles and Ridden Animals in the Ancient Near East  by M A Littauer and J Crouwel, 1979.


8 -    How did you initially become interested in your specific equestrian specialty?   

Long time interest in and appreciation of  horses. Discovery of the importance of the horse in the development of man's history  far beyond

racing and war animals.


9 -    What prompted you to enter that field?     

Lack (at that time) of much  cohesive information on the role of the horse in human development.


10 -    Did someone encourage your decision or inspire you?    



11 -  When did you begin your research, investigation, work? 

Regarding the horse I began about 1970.


12 -    What do you think is your most important discovery, achievement or insight regarding your equestrian work?


13 -    What modern technology, techniques and media have you found most helpful?


14 -    What part of your work do you find most fulfilling?


15 -    What’s been your biggest disappointment in your work?


16 -    How do you explain the gulf between academic equestrian investigation and the average horse owner?   

Horse  users could become more knowledgeable about the history, ,evolution , and the psychology  of horses.   Education  is the key


17 -    What equestrian subjects are in need of more research and investigation?

Psychology and  Feeds and feeding:    horse diseases. 


18 -    Which part of the equestrian world would you like to see reformed and why?                                                                                          

Abolition of useless cruelty such as break tail bones, extreme over work, putting two year olds to work (horse racing)


19 -    How do you traditionally deliver your findings or message and how would you ideally like to do so?  

Publishing information.


20 -    What intellectual, technical or ethical advances would you like to see in the horse world? 

For the western world especially, more availability of horses to the so-called lesser lights of this world


21 -    Do you foresee any difficulties for the horse world in the immediate future?

Survival of the draft horse.


22 -    What is the greatest challenge facing the horse world in the long term?

Possible  survival of the  horse as a species, particularly the draft horse; there are too many people interested only in technology and speed.   Too much devotion to the upper class snobs


23 -     What books, magazines, websites, etc. can people read and review to learn more about your work? 

Harold B. Barclay:  The  Role of the Horse in Man's Culture  (1980)  J. A Allen, London, 1980 Note:  Some information herein  now outdated.

"Another Look at the Origins of Horse Riding" Anthropos, No 1-2   LXXV11, pp.244-49. i982

"Professor Harris, Horses and Hippophagists", Anthropos No 1  LXXXJV, pp. 207-218  1989

"Looking at  the Origin of Horse Domestication and Horse Riding". Horse Authority (Vancouver, BC) June, 1999.

"Early Evolution of Devices for Control and Direction of the  Horse"

                       Horse Authority  (Vancouver, BC) July, 1999.

I have written many other articles and books on other subjects.


24 -    Any final thoughts?


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