The revenge of the horses

The Courier archives are filled with stories of horses being pushed too far by harsh owners.

One of the more common crimes recorded in our archives is the mistreatment of horses.

These lorries and tractors of their day put in long shifts, often carrying colossal loads.

While most horses were treated humanely, a sizeable number of owners or drivers took their frustration out on the animals.

You do not have to dig too deep to find cases of people kicking and flogging horses or failing to have injuries or illnesses treated.

However, there are also many instances of horses serving up revenge, often in the crowded streets of the centre of Dundee.

It was not uncommon for a horse to stand placidly by a pavement watching hundreds of people go by and then without warning sink its teeth into someone’s arm. That happened to barman James Peddie in 1936. He was walking on the pavement when a horse picked him out of the crowd, bit him on the back and trotted on.

A remarkably similar incident happened in West Port in 1919. Millworker Mary Small, 20, was one of many people standing on the pavement. A horse owned by Wm. Hendry coal merchant ignored everyone but Mary. It stretched its neck on to the pavement and took a lump out of her arm.

In 1932, Jessie Stewart, 19, was crossing from Blackness Road to Blackness Street when a horse owned by Carse of Gowrie dairy saw its chance and went for her arm.

Perhaps the most serious incident involved farm worker Alexander Davidson of The Laws, Dundee. He was looking after horses in a thrashing mill when one made a snap at him and took his nose clean off. There was no trip to the infirmary for Mr Davidson. His employer called out Dr Grant from Broughty Ferry who treated his wound so he could continue his work.

In 1928, it was a monkey, not a horse, bite under discussion by Dundee Corporation. James Gibson, 23, Hilltown, demanded compensation after his daughter was bitten at Dudhope zoo. Councillors were having none of it and told Mr Gibson that young children should be kept under control.