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By exploring all things equine, from prehistoric origins to the present, The Hawaiian Horse illuminates the contributions of the horse to transportation, freight service, and agronomy in industries of ranching, sugar, pineapple, taro, rice, and coffee production in Hawai'i. Comprehensive and deliberate, The Hawaiian Horse shows the evolution of the equine species – horse, mule, and donkey – as beasts of burden, for recreational pleasure, or as highly regarded competitive mounts. From the colorful introduction of the species, with its conquistador roots, through the influence of the vaquero in Hawaiian cowboy culture, the authors take the reader on a journey through time, encountering along the way Hawaiian royalty, elegant pa'u riders in flowing gowns, horse racing, polo, rodeo, and military influence on horse quality during both world wars. Novice and experienced equestrians will marvel at the development of the distinctive Hawaiian saddle, described with explicit detail and illustration of its artistry, production, and utility.
Early equine import and export defied sheer practicality when repeatedly confronted with issues of fundamental humane care. Pioneers of this effort were determined to succeed, and succeed they did, establishing the horse as a symbol of status. As the horse gained favour with Hawaiians, the animal's numbers grew to the point of overpopulation, with mounts seeking homes in mountains and valleys; eventually becoming wild and establishing "mustang" status similar to wild horse overpopulation in the Americas. Hawai'i's sugar industry, credited with progressive enrichment of horse quality through importation of genetic excellence, served as a model for major ranches such as Parker, Baldwin, Rice, Greenwell, and Dillingham, as they too, imported quality sires and mares. Two men stand out in this endeavour – A. W. Carter of Parker Ranch and Dr J. C. FitzGerald of Maui. Two equestriennes also rise to the top for their fine work and contributions – Amy Rich, Hawai'i's quintessential horsemanship instructor, and Maui humanitarian, Haku Baldwin.
Unique in their perspective, the authors' depth of knowledge makes The Hawaiian Horse a fitting tribute to the Hawaiian horse and the people involved in its advancement, elevating the noble animal to the stature it rightfully deserves in the history of Hawai'i.
Dr Billy Bergin was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawai'i. He attended Kansas State University, where he received a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1967. Dr Bergin went on to establish the first private large-animal veterinary hospital on the Big Island and served as chief veterinarian at Parker Ranch from 1970 to 1995. From 1971 to the present he has been a medical officer with the Livestock and Disease Control Division, State of Hawai'i Department of Agriculture.
Dr Brady Bergin, owner of 'Aina Hou Animal Hospital in Kamuela, Hawai'i, has led humanitarian campaigns in support of the equine species and authored publications on equine health. Currently on hiatus at the University of Minnesota, where he is associate professor, he also serves as clinical administrator at West Metro Equine Clinic in Minneapolis.