Ever wonder why the notorious KKK is called the “Klan?” According to Scottish veterinarian and author Russell Lyon, it’s because it was started by a group of horse whisperers from Scotland.

Lyon spent five years tracing the history of these secret societies, which originated in 18th century Scotland. Six of them emigrated to America and were recruited by the Confederate army. After the war, they formed the Ku Klux Klan, which intimidated and killed southern blacks.

Lyon says, “The methods which the horsemen of Buchan used were totally different from the modern horse whisperers. They told the public they had this magic word to control their animals, but [they] were actually doing was to use different sorts of smells to condition their animal to behave.

“They used powerful aromatic oils, made from herbs like rosemary, which they would smear on their foreheads or incorporate into oatcakes to make the horses respond to them. And they also had ‘resisting’ smells which they would use to make a horse freeze.”

Their secrets were passed from one generation to the next at meetings of their societies. “They were warned that if they divulged the secrets, they were liable to be disemboweled and their bodies buried on the sea shore,” says Lyon.

“They became cavalry officers and, at the end of the war, these six young men were bored and decided to set up a secret society using their knowledge of the whisperers’ traditions and oaths as the basis. It started as just another hellfire club and then it just got out of hand and led directly on to the Ku Klux Klan.”

Most of the secret societies in Britain died out when farm horses were replaced by tractors. But Lyons says, “There are one or two still around, and at least one society still meets in Orkney.”

When you trace the origins of things, you sometimes come up with amazing results.

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