Flogging a dead horse

If anyone ever kept track of my various bits of research, I hate to think what conclusions they might reach. Yes, there are odd bits of fashion that pop up, like the fashionable hats in the spring of 1857, but there are also things like, “What deadly vegetable poisons would be available to someone with no special skills or knowledge in 1870?” (The answer to that question can be found in Lord Edward’s Mysterious Treasure.)

Recently I was worrying about a dead horse. You know all those scenes where a horse is badly injured in a carriage accident and has to be put out of its misery? Well, I was planning such a scene right outside the vicarage and realized I had no idea what to do about the dead horse.

Obviously, it can’t just be left there in the middle of the road. Quite aside from the difficulty of getting around it, there is the problem that pretty soon it will start to smell. Not what you want right outside your front door.

But you can’t just pick it up and carry it away. A carriage horse can weigh close to a ton. Even if you wanted to just dig a hole and bury it, you would need a very big hole.

Then there is the fact that a dead horse could still be useful. Aside from the numerous uses for horsehair and horsehide, the meat from a freshly killed healthy horse ought to be useful for feeding dogs if people don’t want it.

I tried asking the internet what would be done with my dead horse in 1812, the year when my story is set. I did get some recommendations for composting it and using it for fertilizer, but that didn’t get it off the road.

So I did the sensible thing. I asked my writing colleagues in an online chapter of very knowledgeable historical romance writers. The Beau Monde group, to be precise.

Sure enough, they knew.

Now the village butcher, with the assistance of the blacksmith, will haul off the carcass and put it to good use.

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