If You Take A Horse to Court: Glidden, Trials, and Percherons

Though the title may seem more fitting for a children’s book, the next blog will be a two-part series focusing on legal hearings that dealt with Joseph Glidden, either directly or indirectly, and the Percheron horse. While it may seem strange or silly, animals have often been the subject of legal battles or in some cases appeared as witnesses. In sixteenth-century America it was not uncommon for animal’s to be witnesses for their owner’s crimes. Animals were often involved in disputes regarding property and the famous Supreme Court casePierson v. Postis taught in law schools around the world as an example of property law and how a wild animal is regarded as property. The case of Glidden v. Pooleris concerned with warranty.


(A Percheron horse and it’s reputation for bearing foals would be the center of a court case involving Joseph Glidden)

The facts of Glidden v. Poolerare as follows: Pooler bought a Percheron stallion from Joseph Glidden. The horse was alleged to be a “sure foal getter” which was allegedly backed up by a warranty given by Glidden. Glidden claimed that the warranty given was to the overall breed of Percheron horse being good breeding stock, and not this individual horse. Pooler ended up suing Glidden for the promissory notes that totaled $1,300 by arguing the warrant promised on the horse was breeched as he believed the horse was not the “sure foal getter” that he was promised.

The case went before the Illinois Supreme Court in May of 1893. Pooler argued that the horse did not live up to breeding expectations as described in the supposed warrant. Glidden proclaimed that the warrant implied to the entire Percheron breed, which had a foal rate of around fifty-percent and not this specific horse. Originally, Pooler won the case and was awarded the money for the cost of the horse. Glidden would appeal the verdict.

In Glidden’s appeal, he argued that as the warrant applied to the overall Percheron breed and not this particular horse, the warrant was not false in its declaration. The Percheron breed was a good stud horse and had a foal rate of around fifty-percent. Glidden provided evidence on the horse’s foal rate, as did another prominent Percheron horse breeder in W.L. Ellwood. Pooler argued that he had lost profit on the horse because of its low foal rate, but no contracts had been brought before the court. In the end, the judgement in the case was reversed in favor of Glidden.

This would not be the last time that we see Glidden’s name appear in relation to a court trial involving a horse. In the next blog I will detail the charges leveled against Samuel D. Thomas and the American Percheron Horse Breeders and Importers Association. I’m sure if one wishes to dig deeper that more cases involving Percheron horses would appear.



Hannah Palsa

Working Animal Researcher

Guest Blogger




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