Talk:Horse latitudes

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My question is simple. How horse latitudes occur? (talk) 07:03, 18 February 2012 (UTC)

(random heading)[edit]

(inserted for presumed readability ... said: Rursus (mborke³) 07:15, 3 November 2009 (UTC))

  • should we rename this article to Horse latitudes? That would go along with Roaring Forties (usually the plural is used for both terms). -- Yogi de 17:34, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • I read elsewhere that the term originates from the fact that becalmed ships in these regions would seek to lighten their ships in fear of prolonged journeys, casting their horses overboard as jetsam.
  • The article beating a dead horse offers a plausible explanation for the name. Esn 05:50, 25 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Since horses drink a lot, they were tossed overboard in the becalmed seas to conserve water. "The Doors" wrote a song about it called "Horse Latitudes."
  • These "horses overboard" stories are unsubstantiated claptrap and if decent cites are not found, I'll remove them. Did many exploration era ships carry horses? I doubt it - and if they did, they would have been far too valuable to throw overboard. A more logical explanation is that in these calm latitudes the ships' speeds were reduced to that of carthorses.--Ossipewsk (talk) 23:00, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
  • The German article supports the "horse overboard" theory and is what I've heard for years as the only relevant explanation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:58, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Horses may be valuable, but after a week of no real movement in the sea, a horse is the best thing to keep a crew alive due to fresh water conservation and food some fresh food(horse meat). Though if the sailors were to tell the owner of the horse that they ate part of the horse and threw the rest overboard they would be in trouble and possibly be in debt. Therefore, this theory may be true and thus it would never be recorded. Nevertheless, horses require a lot of food and water, more than humans. Throwing one overboard would really make a difference in water usage weekly!

I was always under the impression that the horse latitudes were located where atmospheric circulation (see whole atmosphere convection cells)involved descending air mass with no component of lateral motion resulting in relativily little surficial wind. As explorers crossed this latitude the ships would slow do to reduced wind speed. I was under the impression that on occasion they would be forced to throw over horses in order to reduce total load (reducing mass reduces inertia)and enabling light breezes to accelerate the ship. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:50, 14 October 2010 (UTC)


The article provides two different explanations for the name. They can't both be right. If the first explanation is not known to be true, the article should say so, and if it is known to be true then the second explanation shouldn't be there. Also, beating a dead horse contains yet another probably untrue explanation. Jibjibjib 11:03, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Straight from the Weather Studies introduction to atmospheric science 3ed it says "...Ships setting sail from Spain to the New World were often caught in this predicament[refers to center of highs], and crews were forced to jettison their cargo of horses when supplies of water and food ran low. For this reason, early mariners referred to this region of calm air as the horse latitudes..."(page 229) (talk) 21:45, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Though I've never heard the Sataspes explanation, it is conceivable that some colloquialisms have origins lost to history, in which case it seems reasonable to offer the competing theories for the origin of the phrase. Billfruge 05:54, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree with Billfruge. The author describes the unverifiable nature of the two competing etymology theories sufficiently well so as not to mislead any reader, renders an opinion as to which of the two is more likely (and it is clear that this is the author's opinion), and presents the reader with the opportunity to accept either or neither of the two. Reecejo (talk) 03:36, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

/* Etymology */[edit]

Sataspes still says he was a Persian navigator and cavalry commander whose name is derived from Sat (=100 sad) and Asp (= Horse, Asb). He is also credited with originating the term "horse latitudes". I've never heard the "throw 'em overboard" theory until now, but have read the reverse: at the proper time of year, the horse latitudes are favorable for the transport of horses to the New World. I'll be back if I ever find a cite. --Pawyilee (talk) 17:33, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

folk etymology[edit]

Based on the definition of folk etymology in the link ("a change in a word over time resulting in the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familiar form"), I don't see how the "becalmed horse ship theory" is an example of folk etymology. Perhaps "folk etymology" is being used as a synonym for "false etymology", i.e., the author thinks the theory is b.s.? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sergevan (talkcontribs) 03:44, 8 October 2011 (UTC)