Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday Search Challenge (4/30/14): Horses!

This is a bit of a busy week for me as I'm at the Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) Conference this week, listening to talks about user interface design, the psychology of how people decide to use (or not use) computer interfaces, etc etc.  In some ways it's my "home field" conference, the one I've been attending for many years.  It's where many of my professional publications are, and certainly where most of my professional friends are.  So it's a kind of blend of science, craftwork, and the occasional party with people I rarely get to see.  

BUT that's not the challenge for this week.  Instead, as I was flying to the conference, I went cross-country and as I flew over hill and dale, for some odd reason I kept seeing horse racing venues.  They're surprisingly common (especially in more rural areas where you can easily spot many oval courses scattered around in the farmlands).  

As I talked a few of my fellow travellers about what I was seeing, I started to think about the history of horses, and the following questions came up: 

1.  What was the price of a horse in 1918 in the United States?  In particular, can you find an advertisement in a newspaper printed in 1918 for a horse that would measure 2 meters high? How much would such a horse cost?   
2.  What's the oldest horse racing course you can find that's around 5,800 feet in length?  (The course may-or-may-not be in the US.)   
3.  What's the horse breed with a kind of gait that's particular to only that breed?  

This last noe surprised me when I found this out. I had just assumed that all horses would walk / run / canter / gallop (etc.) in the same way.  It's a little like finding out that people born in Rhode Island have a different way of running than everyone else!  

When you find the answer, let us know HOW you found it. 

(Note also that I'll be flying on Friday, so the answer for this week will also be delayed a bit.) 

Search on! 


  1. Hello, Dr. Russell. In question 2, you mean sea level altitude? Or you ask for something else? I asked Fred and he gave me his point of view.


    1. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers

      Searched so far:

      [define:gait] the paces of an animal, especially a horse or dog.

      [horse breed distinctive gait]

      Horse gait

      [horse breed unique gait]

      [oldest racing horse courses]

      Horse racing track History

      Horse racing

      [5800 feet altitude horse tracks]
      [race horse price United States 1918]


      1. What was the price of a horse in 1918 in the United States? In particular, can you find an advertisement in a newspaper printed in 1918 for a horse that would measure 2 meters high? How much would such a horse cost?
      A: Not yet

      2. What's the oldest horse racing course you can find that's around 5,800 feet? (Not necessarily in the US.)

      A. Not yet.

      3. What's the horse breed with a kind of gait that's particular to only that breed?

      A: Tennessee Walking Horse. The Tennessee Walking Horse or Tennessee Walker is a breed of gaited horse known for its unique four-beat "running walk" and flashy movement, source:Wikipedia

      Icelandic Horse has 5 gaits not just 3 commonly displayed by other breeds.

      How Thoroughbreds Convert Air Into Blazing Speed

      In the url, found an interesting article for the past challenge:
      400 Years of Beautiful, Historical, and Powerful Globes

    2. 1. What was the price of a horse in 1918 in the United States? In particular, can you find an advertisement in a newspaper printed in 1918 for a horse that would measure 2 meters high? How much would such a horse cost?
      A: Not yet.

      [race horse price United States 1918] Wikipedia site talks about Exterminator . This horse was sold in 1918 for $9,000 and pair of fillies.

      [Fillies] Young female horse usually of less than four years.

      2. 2. What's the oldest horse racing course you can find that's around 5,800 feet in length? (The course may-or-may-not be in the US.)

      A: Chester Racecourse

      [[world horse racing tracks]

      [horserace track length furlong] I tried with RoseMary term "Furlong".

      Chute (racecourse) "In horse racing, the term chute refers to an extended path increasing the length of a straight portion of a racecourse, particularly an oval-shaped one, allowing races of a specified distance to start at a location other than on one of the turns."

      [oldest horse racecourse]

      Chester Racecourse

      [oldest horse racecourse in the world]

      Famous Horse Racing Courses Around the World.

      This site mentions: "Contrary to popular belief, horse racing as a sport was established in North America almost two centuries before it was in the UK. The first ever racing meet of North America took place in the year 1665, under the supervision of the then New York's colonial governor, Richard Nicolls, with the first racetrack being built in the same year. However, it wasn't until the later half of the 18th century that the sport of horse racing gained a proper organized form. Here are some of the most famous horse racing courses in America."

      [world famous horse racing courses]

  2. Searched for high altitude racetrack and looked through several articles until I found this website:

    I then Googled St. Moritz, Switzerland elevation and found that it was 5,978 feet.

    I don’t know if it is the oldest, but it has been running for about a hundred years, so it’s got to be one of the oldest.

    Didn’t have time to go to the other questions, but I did find this site that told me Man-)-War sold for $5,000 in 1918.


  3. After I posted my earlier comments I remembered seeing the Peruvian Paso horses in the Rose Parade, so I assume that is the one you are looking for with the unique gait. Here is a website that describes them and a video from YouTube:

  4. Oh. I see an issue here. When I said "Around 5800 feet" -- what I SHOULD have said was "around 5800 feet IN LENGTH" (Not altitude.)

    I'll fix up the post to reflect this.

  5. I knew horses are measured in hands so using Google Search [2 meters= hands] = 19.68 hands. That’s a big horse! These must fall into the category of draft/draught/heavy horses.

    Horse breeds “find the best” I quickly narrowed it to two breeds. This magnificent horse Percheron with typical heights of stallions reaching 19 hands. Here’s some great images of the Percheron.

    English Shire is the next draft horse. English Shire Imagesand popularity of the breed withUS importing between 1900-1918 4000 horses.

    But checking facts there are two other draft (draught) horses 19 hands & over including the Clydesdale and the Belgian

    Here’s a video of a in 1918 off to auction in Scotland.
    parade of Clydesdales. Now after narrowing it down to the four breed of draft horses I have yet to find an advertisement showing one of these breeds at “19 hands”. I have found several ads showing draft horses by weight. We need a draft horse (stallion most likely), 19 hands or over in 1918 in the USA. I did find a world record sale in 1918 of a Belgian sold for $47,000. in Iowa. As well I found price ranges on draft mares in USA between $500 - $800; geldings averaging $375.00 all in 1918.

    Based on racecourses of 5800 feet I did google search [n furlongs = x feet] and narrowed it down by looking for the “oldest track at this length”.
    Saratoga 9 furlongs = 5940 feet Race Course
    Doncaster 7.5 furlongs = 4620 feet Race Course
    Searching horses by gait my first look is at the Icelandic Horse known for its two additonal gaits. These little guys are fast. The first additional gait is a four-beat lateral ambling gait known as the tölt. The breed also performs a pace called a skeið, flugskeið or "flying pace"

  6. I did find 2 Percheron stallions for sale in the Pacific Rural Press on Mar 16 1918 for $600. and $400. using the CDNC website. Based on description "heavy boned three year old" stallion I am assuming his stature as a Belgian would be in the 19 hands range.

    This challenge was a reminder of the changes that have taken place with newspaper archives.
    I would like to review my experience.

    Google Newspaper Archives has a big list of newspapers but I don't see any way to do a date range. You don’t have much in the way of advanced search options. I looked back to Nov 13th when we reviewed how to do google news archives search but back then there was a way around the date range but that seems to be gone now. has only one field for keywords & I couldn't figure out how to get results I was looking for. But I do think this site will have its uses and signed up for convenience in the future. They had a sale for one year at 59.95 which likely will be available again.

    Newspaperarchives is minimum $9.95 per month but you are limited to 25 views. The next level of subscription of $99 US for six months isn’t cheap.

    Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of free and pay however when I searched Cedar Rapids newspaper from that list which was “free” I eventually hit a paywall i.e. Newspaperarchives so it isn't free to view the articles.

    CDNC California Digital Newspaper Collection is free and provided me with an answer. Had it not I would not have found an answer.

    The only other one I am aware of is Chronicling America site that has a newspaper collection that is easy to search & perhaps I was just not lucky to find draft horses for sale with a price and showing height.

    In the end finding an ad with both price & height alluded me but what was more important is a greater awareness in searching newspapers. I would like to understand why Google remove itself as a search engine for newspaper archives. If I recall correctly with CDNC digitizing California newspapers perhaps there's plans for more free statewide archives?

    1. Adding one more useful site that's free is Elephind
      It provides a list of their inventory with earliest and latest dates. It has a huge Australian collection in addition to some I've already mentioned.

    2. This is a great site. I should write up a challenge that uses this.

  7. Working in reverse and starting with #3
    [ unique gallop horse breed ]
    Answer Icelandic horse has 2 unique gaits.
    Horse gait

    [ list oldest horse race track ]
    Horseracing in Great Britain
    The oldest is Chester Racecourse, which dates to the early 16th century.
    I know we were not looking just for the oldest but oldest around 5800 feet in length. Chester is 1.8km in length.
    [1.8km in feet ] tells it is 5905.51 feet which to me is around 5800 feet in length.
    Answer Chester Racecourse

    1. Chester is indeed closer to 5800 feet whereas Doncaster is actually over 10,000 feet (1m 7.5f) according to the Wikipedia articles.

  8. Knowing Dr. Dan is a history buff I had a look for horses in 1918 with a reference to their use during WW I. This booklet has an ad for a champion Belgian in 1918 for sale at the asking price of $25,000. The article outlines how much horses were a factor in the war. My share

  9. the pony has left the barn for me and I am stall-less in the pasture… so this is a bit off topic, but related to a search in Toronto… maybe a seahorse?
    if you had just framed the bow a bit further to the right the mystery wouldn't have been created, but I like the foggy morning shot.
    as Mr. Ed* (aka, Bamboo Harvester) might say, "this has me chomping at my bit Wilbur."
    *my authority on all things horsey - pre 1970; now I'm totally reliant on the horse whispering of My Little Pony…
    reading melody

    North Dakota wheat makes pasta in Italy… it's a curious world.

    the Polsteam vessel in question: your early morning run in Toronto... DrD +image
    on the docks

    was this the vessel, The Miedwie, IMO number : 9393448, MMSI : 311018300?
    in movement, different continent

    in Barcelona, '13

    not in Toronto currently (am having trouble reconciling the times… sister ship?) -
    seeking MONTREALL

    start @ 5:25 in - a Polsteam, Northsea (not the Miedwie)
    rough water example

    traveling on a tramp steamer - Polsteam (not the Miedwie)
    interesting travel mode

  10. For those of you wondering what Remmij is talking about, I posted (on my G+ stream) a picture of a ship docked next to the sugar mill in Toronto... The good ship MAMRY which is part of the Polsteam shipping line. And hence the discussion of ships... FWIW, I updated the information at

    1. thanks for the clarification -
      Mamry in Toronto, but not Mayor Ford
      doesn't help that PŻM has multi Mamri (pl?) here Mamry ll:
      ll, older ship
      FWIW, I often wonder what I'm talking about… part of why I enjoy the focus search brings… even when it is elusive.
      10 chains

    2. ahoy…another sister - (btw, Mamry appears to be the newest -2012 - of the eight 30,000-tonners, that were built in China)
      the Wicko, getting "tuggy"
      Cleveland is popular with Polsteam

  11. Here's my Pre Post Game Analysis

    I did not get any further than I did in the first few minutes of this Challenge.

    So, The horse with gait: This has to be the Tennessee Walking Horse. I have known about them since childhood but had never known til this Search the terrible tortures that are used to enhance the gait.

    And the only other bit I accomplished was to convert 2 meters to hands thus telling me it is the biggest of the big horses, a Clydesdale.

    And from here I Searched many newspapers and goodness knows now what else and got nowhere on finding the 1918 ad. The best I could do was finding a Percheron sold for $47,000 early in 1918 but I could not find out if Farceur was 20 hands. Not anything else useful.

    Trying to find an ancient recetrack at 5800 feet altitude led me in many useless directions too: chariot ? flat ? oval ? endurance ?