Have we misunderstood the true nature of equines? A new book probes an untalked-of "hidden history" of horses that reveals their ability to eat meat. Neil Clarkson reports. ... Knighton's remarkable account comes under modern-day scrutiny in a new book entitled "Deadly Equines", by the founder of the Long Riders' Guild, CuChullaine O'Reilly.
O'Reilly has probed mankind's equestrian history to deliver an account that will shock many horse lovers.
He has not only pulled together remarkable accounts of equine aggression, but has undertaken what is almost certainly the first serious piece of research into meat-eating equines, from the workhorses used to explore the Poles to cultures that trained their mounts to eat flesh.
O'Reilly controversially suggests that many modern-day horse lovers have a sanitised view of the horse and suggests past generations may well have had a better understanding of their nature.
O'Reilly is quick to acknowledge that "Deadly Equines" will not make easy reading for horse lovers.
However, he stresses he is not offering a Frankenstein-style equine horror story, but instead is revealing a part of the horse's nature which many equestrians previously did not know existed.
One of the first copies of his book has been gifted to Queen Elizabeth, in the hope royal records might cast some light on the identity of the Lucknow man-eater.
Two separate accounts suggest the horse had been a gift from Britain's King George IV to the maharaja.
O'Reilly notes that the Queen is an accomplished horsewoman, very involved in breeding, and races some of the world's most admired thoroughbreds, the breeding of which is thoroughly documented.
"I can't help but hope that Colonel Toby Browne, the Queen's Royal Equerry, might be able to determine the original name of the exported stallion," O'Reilly explains.
"If we can discover the true identity of the infamous stallion, then the research becomes of even greater interest."
O'Reilly says he first learned of the existence of meat-eating horses in 1977, before his departure to ride in Afghanistan.