Katharine Susannah Prichard and her husband, Hugo Throssell, would have approved of KSP Writers' Centre’s 2017 Story Horse Project. Despite their differences in personality, upbringing, and interests, one thing they had in common was their love of horses. They talked about horses the first time they met at the Royal Automobile Club in London. Writing about their marriage in her autobiography, Child of the Hurricane, Katharine spends as many pages talking about the horses they owned together at their Greenmount property as anything else.
Pictured below: a soldier (not Hugo) breaking a horse at the 10th Light Horse Regiment camp, Guildford, 1915. Source: State Library of WA, 6494B.
Hugo had grown up with horses in Northam; they’d always been a part of his life for transport, work, and recreation. This last month I’ve been researching his movements in 1918, when he returned to Australia from Egypt to help with recruiting. (He actually spent most of his time courting Katharine.) I’ve found him constantly emphasising the quality of the Australian horses in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the war. It’s as if Australians felt the need to prove not just themselves in the war, but also their horses. He said in one interview:
Australian horses have never undergone such a test before. It was the greatest advertisement they could ever be given. They stoop up to it remarkably well. Not a horse carried less than 20 stone, in addition to fodder, and rations for the men for three days. For the first fortnight we did not have our saddles off more than three times. The horses did not average a drink a day for 10 weeks; in fact, many times they went more than 50 hours without one. The water difficulty was the greatest to overcome. (“In Palestine,” Register (Adelaide), 6 December 1918, 4.)
In 1933, horse rides and ring events were a big part of Hugo’s Lazy Hit Rodeo at the Greenmount property. As it happened, Hugo’s ambitious scheme was a financial disaster and seems to have contributed to his suicide later in the year.
Horses represent both happy and sad phases of Katharine and Hugo’s lives. The Story Horse Project, then, is so appropriate for the centre, returning our community of writers to a theme that has had such a long association with the place where we gather to meet and write.
Next month: Katharine and Horses. More on Katharine at Nathan’s blog, now located at https://nathanhobby.com
To submit a horse story or poem for KSP's Story Horse exhibition, please see here.