The so-called “horse latitudes” are regions in the subtropics where the wind speeds are almost always very low–at least for long periods of each year. Meteorologically, these regions are quite interesting, but for sailors on ships hundreds of years ago, they were a very serious hazard to their safety. Not only are these regions where the sails of the ships do no good, but these are also regions in which there is very little rainfall, which meant that the sailors who were stuck in the Horse Latitudes also had no easy way to get fresh water. None of this, however, exactly manages to explain how these regions came to be called “the Horse Latitudes”. It’s a fairly ugly story, but tune in to today’s episode of Weather Break to hear all about the untimely end the horses may have met in these parts of the world.
If you read the Wikipedia entry about the Horse Latitudes, you’ll see that the editors of that site are not entirely convinced about this story involving sailors eating horses. They are probably right, but their account (connecting the term to “beating a dead horse”) is not very satisfying, either.
For more information about the Horse Latitudes, visit Information Please.