No Hoof, No Horse: Hoof Care, Veterinary Manuals, and Cross-Species Communication in Late Medieval England

  • Francine McGregor
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Reading fifteenth-century equine veterinary manuals next to late medieval vernacular poetry, McGregor argues that veterinary attention to the hoof—to its development, structure, ailments, cures, and capacity to suffer pain—provided an instrument by which late medieval culture voiced its recognition of the horse as physical intimate in an often frightening and lonely era. Though one cultural orientation perceived the horse as utilitarian, as a beast of physical and figurative work, a second, evinced powerfully in veterinary manuals, perceived the horse as undeniably of its own “kynde,” behaving according to species-specific rules that had little to do with human concerns or mores. In this very condition of alterity, the horse becomes a cogent locus of identification and empathy, a potential companion in sensation.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francine McGregor
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities, Arts, & Cultural StudiesArizona State UniversityGlendaleUSA

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