Tag Archives: horse

Hopalong Cassidy

Recently, I went through some of Cassidy’s ‘achievements’ and I stated there that he was not mentioned on IMDB. Since then, I have found out that he did appear on IMDB, acting in a film produced by a household name, Andy Warhol. The film was called Horse, and it was made in Warhol’s Factory in April 1965, around the time Cassidy was flunking out of Cornell.

I would have to declare a particular interest here. Pretty much everything to do with the sixties fills me with disgust. The vast majority of the music was pretty vile, (give me the Killers or the Foo Fighters any day) the clothing was ludicrous and many of the books which people read back then have not stood the test of time. It was the decade that taste forgot.

Warhol is, of course, a respected artist, and in case anyone should harbour suspicions about the homophobic bigotry of the Irish (even after the recent referendum), I have no problem with his sexuality. However, in the uncritical atmosphere of the sixties, Warhol was just as capable of producing pretentious crap as anyone else and I suspect that is what happened here. Much of what passed for artistic endeavour in the sixties seems to me like the first stage of a brainstorming: no negativity, anything goes, just put down whatever comes into your head. Of course, in a brainstorming you then refine and develop the shlock you initially produced. In the sixties, you published it and called it art. As someone once said about the sixties, ‘It all seemed like a really good idea at the time.’

So, this deconstruction of a western features camp cowboys in jockstraps uttering lines like ‘There’s gold in them there hills’ and ‘I’m an onanist.’ At one point, a huge and well-endowed stallion is brought in and the actors, who are reading their lines off large cards, are instructed to ‘Approach the horse sexually.’

Quite apart from the pretentiousness of the whole enterprise, there is something strangely coy about the use of language here. It’s hard to imagine anyone in the nineties or the noughties directing an arthouse skin-flick and instructing the actors with lines like: ‘OK, stop being an onanist and approach him sexually!’

One of the actors was kicked in the head by the horse as he was ‘approaching it sexually’ and lost consciousness. Strangely, this was not Cassidy – it would explain a lot – but the director then instructed several of the cowpokes (horsepokes?) to attack and strip the unconscious individual, which, being out of their heads on dope and poppers, they were only too happy to do. One of these attackers, Tex, was Dan Cassidy Jr. They had to be restrained before they injured the unconscious man. There is a still from the movie above. Recognise the cowboy in the white trousers and boots staring out at the camera?

Then finally, Edie Sedgwick turned up in an elevator and gave the horse a sandwich.

Apparently, this forgotten cinematic gem of the sixties is not available on DVD. Go figure!


This will be a short post, because Cassidy’s claim is so obviously wrong for so many reasons. Cassidy claims that nag (meaning an old or clapped-out horse) comes from the Irish n-each, meaning a horse. He states that each is the Irish for horse and that n-each is a ‘form of’ this. English is a relatively uninflected language. Words tend to be hard pebbles of meaning which change little, so it is hard for English speakers to understand that particles like n- have no meaning outside of a particular context and so they are very unlikely to be borrowed. It is a little like taking the phrase ‘They shouldn’t ‘ve gone’ and deciding to take out the ‘ve gone bit and treat it as a meaningful unit. N-each is not a word. And in any case, each is not the word for horse in modern Irish; this is capall or beithíoch depending on the dialect. And while the origin of nag is not clear, there is no doubt that it has been in English for a very long time. It was first recorded as nagge (pronounced naga) in the 14th century, so even if n-each existed and even if it were a good candidate for the origin of nag, it would be unlikely to be the source of the word because there is no convincing way that it could have entered English that early. In short, this is typical Cassidy horse feathers and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is flogging a dead horse.