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Dr. Victor Mair

An authority on ancient Chinese and Iranian cultures, who has spent nearly two decades leading an international investigation of the Tarim Basin mummies.


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

It is no longer permissible to use trip wires to bring down horses in filming battle scenes.


2 -    Do you ride?



3 -    Do you own a horse?



4 -    Who is your favorite horse in history?

The six noble steeds of the Tang Emperor Tai Zong.


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

Alexander the Great, because he conquered so much of the world against great odds.


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

The Lone Ranger and his "Hi Yo Silver, away!"


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

David Anthony, The Wheel, the Horse, and Language:  How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World for its insights and Pita Kelekna, The Horse in Human History for its comprehensiveness.


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

Through research on the Tarim Basin mummies.


9 -    What prompted you to enter that field?

Sinological studies.


10 -    Did someone encourage your decision or inspire you?

Stumbled upon them myself.


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



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

Well-preserved saddles and other horse trappings in Early Iron Age graves of East Central Asia.


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

The World Wide Web and Google.


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

Documenting the close association between the horse and human history.


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

The slowness and difficulty of breaking through the stereotypically compartmentalized view of history.


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

They are indeed worlds apart. Academics seldom have experience with and affection for the things they study in the abstract.


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

How and when equestrianism developed in East Asia (China, Japan, and Korea).


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

The serving of horsemeat in the Harvard Faculty Club (I don't know if they still do this).


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

Through books, articles, and on the WWW.  I'm satisfied.


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

The offering of courses in colleges and universities; more recognition among the broad public of the important role of the horse in human history.


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

No, not really.


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

To ensure that there will be adequate pasturage and open space for running.


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

Sino-Platonic Papers; The Tarim Mummies; The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Peoples of Eastern Central Asia.


24 -    Any final thoughts?

I shall be most eager to learn about the World Ride as it progresses and eventually concludes.

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