MARINE TERMINOLOGY ORIGINATION: HORSE LATITUTE
By Capt. Do Ngoc Hoai
Horse latitudes, subtropical ridges or subtropical highs are the subtropical latitudes between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south where Earth's atmosphere is dominated by the subtropical high, an area of high pressure, which suppresses precipitation and cloud formation, and has variable winds mixed with calm winds.
This may come from theory, that the term horse latitudes originate from when the Spanish transported horses by ship to their colonies in the West Indies and Americas. Ships often became becalmed in mid-ocean in this latitude, thus severely prolonging the voyage; the resulting water shortages made it impossible for the crew to keep the horses alive, and they would throw the dead or dying animals overboard.
An alternative theory, which simultaneously explains both the northern and southern horse latitudes and does not depend on the length of the voyage or the port of departure, is based on maritime terminology: a ship was said to be 'horsed' when, although there was insufficient wind for sail, the vessel could make good progress by latching on to a strong current.