When you first land on our page in the morning, there’s no knowing what you’re going to get. Maybe one of us has purchased a new car, maybe one of us has driven across the country, staying in the worst motels imaginable, or perhaps you get to learn how a horse depreciates.
Jason’s article about a comparison between a horse and an EV was a fascinating read, and he may have buried the lede a little in it. I can tell you how many times the subject of horse depreciation has crossed my mind. That number is exactly 0. In hindsight, it does make sense. A horse can depreciate as your car can, it’s just, I suppose you may not think of a horse like a car.
Though, now I’m picturing a version of me from 123 years ago trying to buy a horse at the bottom of its depreciation curve like I currently do with cars. Maybe the horse purchased from old-timey miss Mercedes would be a 20 year old German model that has a check engine neigh on.
That article has a lot of great horse facts in it, but the comments really deliver, perhaps even more so than usual. Let’s start with how big horse energy works from DarKhorse:
“it’s between EVs and horses, which I suppose might be considered as running on combustion, depending on how you feel like classifying digestion and metabolism.”
Friendly neighborhood chemist here: whether you run a vehicle on petroleum products through internal combustion, electricity from a battery or fuel cell, or with a biological being, all energy is being produced via reduction/oxidation processes (commonly called red-ox, but not referring to Babe’s ruddy cousin). The efficiency of the processes and the manner in which the energy is converted into mechanical energy differs, but the fundamental process is basically the same: something gives up electrons and something else takes them.
Also, “Weird old book finder”, where have you been all my life? Thanks for that link, Jason. I predict that I will spend many hours perusing that site. I love weird old books and collect them – things like 200 year old chemistry texts and other old science books.
Have you ever thought about how much poop that people back then had to deal with? Apparently, horses can produce something like 50 pounds of manure a day. Add it up, and you get this crappy statistic, again from DarKhorse:
Another comparison, and one which drove the popularity of not only electric but also petroleum powered vehicles, was the massive amount of poop produced by horses, especially in large cities like New York and Chicago. In New York City alone, an estimated 70,000 metric tons of horse poop had to be hauled away each year to prevent the streets being clogged by turds. (Source: my Ph.D. thesis about remote measurement of automotive emissions by means of long-path infrared and UV/visible spectroscopy.) Automotive emissions, by comparison, were invisible and seemingly harmless and infinitely better than trodding through piles of rotting poop.
With your predilection for all things scatological, I’m surprised you didn’t make a major point of this, Torch.
DarKhorse’s discharge of horse facts are more than enough to win today’s Comment Of The Other Day, but there are plenty of honorable mentions that I will not waste today.
Did horses only have a 5 year useful life in 1900? If not, what is the basis for a 20% depreciation per year in the calculations?
And Drew came in with some hard numbers:
Oooh, I just went looking. The US Treasury has answered this question more than once. And there are a number of factors, including use for racing and use for breeding. Overall, they came up with 6.4 years for non-breeding and 15.1 for breeding horses. 20.5, when accounting for stallions with breeding value that appreciated over time. But they ended up with a 7 year MACRS recovery class for horses overall.
The American Horse Council asked them to remove the outliers of successful racehorses, which would have lowered this. So he may have been pretty close to the useful economic life of working horses.
So, yeah, I’ve learned more about horses on a car site today than I’ve learned anywhere else in my 30 years of being alive. I think this now means that The Autopian is now your hub for great parenting advice, a source for explicit oysters, and horse facts. We’re also working on that shower spaghetti thing. I want to create a recipe, but I’m not sure my landlord would be pleased by my explanation for why the shower drain no longer works.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Horse depreciation is not a thing I thought I’d ever have to think about
I went back & read the article-and especially the comments-again yesterday just because it made me smile. And because someone got to use info from their PhD thesis again: that right there is gold