Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: RWU Hosts Equine History Collective Annual Conference

The conference, running Sept. 28-Oct. 1, highlights the historical significance of horses and other equines and features a talk on the history of horses in Rhode Island by Associate Professor of History Charlotte Carrington-Farmer as well as a reading by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Geraldine Brooks.  

A close-up of a brown horse's head facing to the right. The horse is wearing a harness and standing in a barn.

BRISTOL, R.I. – The Roger Williams University community is invited to participate in the Equine History Collective’s fifth conference, hosted by RWU at its Bristol, R.I., campus, from Thursday, Sept. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 1.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Close Encounters of the Equid Kind.” A lineup of speakers will consider the diverse ways humans have interacted with equids (horses, donkeys, mules, and the genus known as “equus”) throughout history. 

The annual conference brings together “Equistorians” to discuss how and why these animals play such an important role in history and the ways they continue to influence people in the 21st- century. While the conference is academic in nature, anyone interested in equine history is invited to participate.

On Thursday, Sept. 28, Charlotte Carrington-Farmer, Associate Professor of History at RWU, and Richard Ring, Deputy Executive Director for Collections and Interpretation for the Rhode Island Historical Society, will present “Equine History in the Ocean State.” Learn about the origins of legendary Narragansett Pacer in the 17th century, the state’s role in exporting horses in the 18th century, the effort to breed mules in the 19th century, the animal welfare campaign in WWI, and Rhode Island’s long history of racing and polo. Featuring original documents from the Rhode Island Historical Society and an exhibit on the Narragansett racetrack, this event takes place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Mary Tefft White Center, Roger Williams University Library.

Join Pulitzer Prize–winning author Geraldine Brooks on Friday, Sept. 29, for a reading from her most recent novel, “Horse,” which dives into the horseracing world of the 19th century and the enslaved people who often populated the ranks of jockeys and trainers. This reading takes place from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. in RWU’s Feinstein College of Arts and Sciences building, Room 157. Click here to purchase a ticket. Brooks’ appearance is thanks to a collaborative effort of The Friends of the Rogers Free Library, Linden Place, and Roger Williams University.

Click here for more information about the conference, which is free for RWU students. RWU faculty and staff should email Carrington-Farmer at for attendance details.