Phnom Penh Hash House Harriers: In the Spotlight - Horse (Frederick "Horse" Thomson)

In the Spotlight - Horse (Frederick "Horse" Thomson)

In the Spotlight - Horse (Frederick "Horse" Thomson)

By Ed "Hazukashii" Howell
8 Feb 2022

There are many unattributed references to Horse on the internet, as many hash websites practice the old mantra of plagiarism is the most sincere form of flattery, but most accounts actually go back to work done by John Duncan in the 1970s, and Mike "Father' Lyons and Tim "Magic" Hughes in the 1980s. Many of the accounts came from those who knew him on the hash, prior to his final departure from Kuala Lumpur in 1951. Horse was a founding member of the "Hash House" Harriers. Hash House is emphasized, as at the time, it was just another Harrier club of the day in SE Asia (it would be another 24 years before the HHH would begin to become the worldwide phenomenon it is today).

If you search the WWW, you will find a multitude of listings for Horse Thompson, but Horse is officially listed in the Mother Hash Black Book as THOMSON (HORSE), no first name, and more specifically, no P in THOMSON. Some old accounts also make reference to the names HORSE, TORCH, and G, as early references to hash names, but that is also incorrect. These nicknames were just names they picked up amongst their mates from daily life (as best I can tell from copious hours of research, hash names originated in Jakarta in the mid-1970s).

Why "Horse" you may ask? That nickname originated in his boyhood school days, stated Ralph Wadsworth, (Honorary Secretary of the HHH in 1963, and Joint Master in 1964), and was due to him having what could best be described as a face with equine (long) features. Like most of the other founding members, Horse was a British expat working in SE Asia. In his professional life, Fredrick Thomson was a manager at Malayan telecommunications, which in the 1920s & 30s was telephone and telegraph.

Before arriving in Kuala Lumpur, Horse lived and worked in Johor Bahru, the capital of the state of Johor, Malaya (the name was changed to Malaysia on 16 Sep 1963). Johor Bahru is located approximately 350 Kms south east of Kuala Lumpur on the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia, just across the Strait of Johor between what was peninsular Malaya and Singapore, both of which were part of Malaya in the 1930s (Singapore did not gain its independence until 9 Aug 1965). Horse is quoted as stating, that he had run paper chases in Johor Bahru as far back as 1932. He had also run similar type events in Malacca (aprox 150 Kms south of KL) as part of the Springgit Harriers (this is where Gispert was said to have first run paperchase events). Horse also claimed to have run pre-HHH type events with another club in Taiping (aprox 250 Kms north of KL). They were all referred to as mixed (allowing women to run), and some even brought their dogs on trail. The runs were often on Sunday morning, and were followed by a curry tiffin lunch.

Horse was recorded as participating on the first run with the newly formed Hash House Harriers, and is listed as one of the first Joint Masters from 1938 (the founding date in 1938 has been disputed by Torch Bennett, as being in the summer of 1939) to 1940, and then again after the war in 1951 before his eventual departure from Kuala Lumpur.

Various accounts state that Horse was first allowed to leave Malaya before the outbreak of hostilities on the peninsula, and subsequently joined the Royal Air Force (RAF), who posted him to Hong Kong. Unfortunately, Japan launched an assault on Hong Kong the same day (8 Dec 1941) that it began occupying Malaya. Horse was taken as a POW, but after a period of time managed to escape. Teaming up with other rogue forces, they were recaptured, and Horse was shot in the neck during the encounter. He was returned back to Hong Kong where he recuperated from his injuries, but it left his head with a slight lean. He was released after the war, and returned to KL to resume his civilian life. He also rejoined the hash in 1946, when Torch got things going again.

In 1951, Horse retired from his career in Telecommunications, and moved to the Philippines where he managed a sugar cane plantation for many years. Interestingly, he was said to have been fluent in Hokkien. Hokkein is the Chinese dialect which is native to Taiwan, and also spoken by the majority of Chinese in the Philippines, according to Wikipedia. Later in life, Horse occasionally turned up on various hash events, most notably at 
Interhashes in Sydney in 1984, and Pattaya in 1986.

For many more articles like this on the history of hashing, check out . . .


On on!