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MacAllister
04-25-2005, 12:51 AM
I got a pm asking an excellent question--and bringing up an issue that has made me roll my eyes more than once, when reading a story with horses. I thought I'd repost my response here, with a pared-down version of the original question:

1. a) What's a reasonable maximum daily distance that you could expect a horse and rider to travel in a day, assuming that the same horse is ridden for a week or two straight and you don't want to ride the horse into the ground? ... b) Would riding double decrease that distance significantly?... c) Would bringing a remount increase that distance?
That's actually a pretty complicated question, with a ton of variables that can make a difference. :) Terrain, size and breeding of horse, what kind of gear, stirrups or no....etc. :)

Figure for long distance stuff, in moderate terrain, a fast horse, pushing hard, will cover @ 15 miles an hour. An average horse will cover 8-10 miles an hour. The further you go, the more complicated it gets trying to hold your horse together, though. note: A short sprint is an entirely different pace!

A more leisurely pace would be completely understandable, for standard travel.--say cut the above times in half, and cover ground walking and trotting. In that case, if you do slow down, you have an easier time keeping your horse alive and sound (not limping) It would be entirely reasonable to ride 35-40 miles in a 8 to 10 hour day, with a break or two. Not for the faint of heart, though. It's gonna hurt, unless your riders are accustomed to all those hours in the saddle.

One rider, with gear, on a fit horse can cover 25-35 miles in about 4-5 hours at a fairly steady trot with some cantering and some walking, to break up the pace--figuring in at least one hour-long rest period...you can do that daily, without much trouble, indefinitely. Again, taking as given that the horse is fit, not a horse who has stood in the pasture unworked for months.

Your hypothetical rider will spend most of his time "posting" a trot--I can give you the history and a description of the technique, if you'd like. It's pretty much the most efficient gate for distance traveling. The Pony Express riders went much faster, but the horses did not have to go out on consecutive days.

Add a remount, and the rider can cover double the ground, without much trouble. If only travelling for 6-7 consecutive days, you could do that on two horses, resting when completely exhausted, and reasonably cover 80-100 miles a day, on roads and good trails. 50-60 miles a day, cross country, or steep terrain.

Add steep terrain, deer tracks to follow or no trails at all...you'll be lucky to make it 5-10 miles.

Add a 100 lb person riding double, you can probably get away with 25-30 miles a day, for 5-7 days...but you'll have a tired horse, trying to go lame, and getting cranky about being saddled. Also probably getting quite sore over the loins.

A horse bred to trot will go more efficiently and even faster, a standardbred or arab, say 25 miles in 2-1/2 to 3 hours-- 50 miles in 6-7 hours (that's riding time only, you'll have to figure in at least a brief rest for the horse every 2-3 hours, with a big drink (ideally) and something to eat, even if it's just a few mouthfuls of grass.

On a rangy, athletic, fit horse, bred to trot, it would be entirely reasonable to cover 40-50 miles a day (counting time to rest) for a week or so, in 7-8 hours, before needing to have some time off.

The horses bred for endurance can cover around 100 miles in about 12-16 hours (again, just on average) but cannot do so day after day--would need several days to rest afterwards, or you're risking metabolic failure or lameness. (carrying around 190-200 lbs)

A heavier horse (draft or draft mix, like you'd expect of a horse who carried a knight in armor, for instance, will take longer, and need more frequent rest stops. Also, a heavier horse won't stand up well to longer distances than around 40 miles.

MacAllister
04-25-2005, 12:53 AM
2. When you stop for the night, what would you do in the way of horse care? Unsaddle, rub down, blanket (?), check hooves? High energy food if you've got it?

Hydration is actually a big factor--horses will go into metabolic failure fairly quickly, if they become dehydrated and over-fatigued. So you're looking for food and water all day, along the trail. You don't pass water without drinking...ever. You try to let your horse grab a couple of mouthfuls of grass, whenever you can spare the time.

When you put him up for the night, you'll check him over for sores or galls caused by the gear, you'll wipe him down with water (warm if you can get it) to take off the crusted-on sweat and dirt. If you can't get a sponge or rag to rub him down, you're going to brush and curry and brush some more, until his coat is clean and smooth.

You'll check his legs for nicks, heat, swollen places, etc., you'll check his shoes for rocks, and to make certain they haven't slipped or loosened...(if he isn't shod, cut the above distances in about half--cuz he'll wear his feet off too fast, otherwise) note: there are, of course, exceptions to this generalization--the Comanches rode unshod horses for staggering distances. There's an old saying about how far a cowboy, a Mexican, and a Comanche can ride a horse without killing it.
Wish I could remember precisely how it goes.

You'll give him a high-energy ration, soaked, if possible...probably a mix of corn and oats (up to around 10-12 lbs), and then you'll follow with all the good clean hay he wants to eat, and likewise, you'll make sure he has free access to clean water all night. if you can beg a fistful of salt to throw in his grain, all the better.

Yep, if you have a wool blanket, toss it over him--unless it's hot enough outside that he'll sweat with the blanket on. It's that much less energy he has to expend to keep himself warm.

Wow. I've gone a bit long, here. Let me know if you have any more specific questions, or anything else you're wondering about.

And if you're curious and up for a little further research, check out: http://www.aerc.org/ or also:
http://www.endurance.net/

I hope this helps, and good luck!

Anaparenna
04-25-2005, 03:43 AM
There's also a great article (aimed at fantasy writers) at the Rumor Mill (http://www.speculations.com/mortal_mount.htm).

ritinrider
06-04-2005, 04:21 AM
Wow Mac, almost what I was looking for, thanks.

Here's my scenerio, It's 1864-65, something like that. A Young woman, around 28 I think, is riding across IT (Indian Territory) toward Arkansas with her daughter (about 5 or 6). They don't have much in the way of gear, just what she could tie on the two horses (she didn't want to take a pack horse, probably because she didn't have one). She isn't following a trail, but she is taking time to try to hide her trail. She is being tracked by two men who start out at least 2 maybe three hours after she does. About how far can she travel and how soon can the men catch up to her.

This is what I was thinking, she leaves headed east (the way they expect her to go) they follow her 2-3 hours later. She turns north about the time the men start out. They miss where she turns north at first and lose about 30 min. looking for her trail. About an 1 1/2 hours later she angles back to the southwest (toward the town she left) then in another hour or so she turns back toward the east.

What are the chances she can do all of this in one day, without them catching up to her? And how many times will she have to stop for more than 5 min. for her daughter, and her, to rest and stretch?

See, I told Barb I keep coming up with more questions for my book.

Can you help? Please?

Thanks,
Nita

MacAllister
06-04-2005, 05:46 AM
how far does she have to get? If the two men are two or three hours behind her, and having to follow hidden trail, unless they are better-than-average trackers, they aren't going to catch up real fast...following trail takes a bit of time, you have to dismount, sort out footprints, etc.

Kids on horseback actually fare better than adults. If I had a five or six year old daughter (what's that 60-70 pounds?) and was an smallish-to-average-sized young woman, I'd ride double with the kid (she's old enough to ride behind me and hold on) leading one horse to trade off when the first got tired.

I'd also keep to either roads (where you can't very well sort one print from another) or rocky, hardpan sorts of surfaces. The creek trick you see in books and movies is all well and good, except sooner or later you must come out again, and riding down the middle of a creek is much slower time than on regular, firm surfaces, and hard on the horses' stamina. Where you come out will be fairly obvious, unless you have a handy gravel bank.

If the woman is a good rider, with a constantly more-or-less fresh horse, she could actually increase the distance between her and her chasers.

If she's used to riding, then she won't have to stop for longer than to water the horses, and she and her daughter can stretch their legs while the animals water and graze--say three or four 15 minute stops over the course of the day. The followers will also have to rest their horses and water, or risk having their horses drop out from under them.

With a two hour head start, and a spare horse? These guys are actually gonna play hell catching up, if she knows what she's doing at ALL.

Does she know she's being followed? Or is she hiding her backtrail because she's in IT?

BradyH1861
06-04-2005, 06:10 AM
Q: Do you know why they pony couldn't talk?


A: Because he was a little horse.


HA HA HA HA HA

Nice info, Mac.

Brady H.

MacAllister
06-04-2005, 06:15 AM
by the way--the Rumor Mill article (http://www.speculations.com/mortal_mount.htm) is okay...but not great. There are a few inaccuracies, but it's mostly good information.

But that's also horse people, for ya. :D We can quibble for days over the simplest things...

Andrew Jameson
06-04-2005, 06:30 AM
Yeah, thanks for the info, Mac (I had the original question that you answered in PM, but I missed this thread a month ago).

Fern
06-04-2005, 06:41 AM
Might also remember that a 5 or 6 year old, while holding up fine riding, is still going to be getting pretty whiney after a couple hours of riding. Sound carries more in some areas than others.

Lots of pine in the area you're talking about, so could be that traveling not on a trail, sound might be somewhat muffled from pine needles.

It might be helpful to go to the OKGenWeb site that shows IT maps as they were at that time. You can get the lay of the land, as well as names of the towns that were in existance then.

MacAllister
06-04-2005, 06:44 AM
heh--it depends on the 5 or 6 year old...there are kids that young completing 50 mile endurance rides in competition--and a handful around that age that complete 100 mile rides.

Savage, tough little brutes.

But Fern's right. I also forgot to ask what your heroine is wearing, is she riding astride, or sidesaddle, etc...

ritinrider
06-05-2005, 03:07 AM
Ya'll are so great. Thanks, also thanks for the website, it was mentioned to me to consider looking for answers on the web, but usually my questions are so general that doesn't help much.

Mac, I haven't figured out yet what she's wearing. She's a hardy pioneer woman having lived in IT for at least 6 years before the story takes place. It wouldn't be too weird to have her wearing pants. But on the other hand she's also a missionary, or at least her husband was a preacher, so she's probably wearing a skirt or at the very least a split skirt. And no, she is not riding side-saddle, she's riding the other way, whatever that's called.

Also, remember children in that era were mostly raised to be seen and not heard, so it wouldn't strange for her to not whine. I read a book recently where a young boy questioned his father at almost every turn- bugged the bejeesees outa me. Also, there are a couple of references in the story to how lucky the mom is that the kid is being so good.

She doesn't know for a fact she's being followed, but strongly suspects she is or soon will be. After all she is running from something.

Nita

MacAllister
06-05-2005, 03:13 AM
If she knows her way around a horse, and is a practical and hardy sort with a two-three hour head start, then the two pursuers will play hell catching her--especially if she pushes on after dark. They'll have to stop when the light gets too bad to follow her trail. If they are very good, and push very hard, they might catch her sometime in the afternoon or early evening, the following day.

If, on the other hand, the plot requires that they DO catch her, then she just needs some bad luck to slow her way down--a lame horse would do it, unless she just cut it loose.

ritinrider
06-05-2005, 03:40 AM
Nope, they don't catch her. I was thinking of her checking her backtrail and spotting them. After all they aren't nearly as smart as she is, and make no attempt to hide themselves. Since she's a missionary type person she can't just out and out kill them in cold blood. Despite the fact they represent a huge threat to her daughter. However, the Good Book, doesn't say she can't slow them down, or maim them in some way - she just can't kill them in cold blood.

I'm thinking of having her double back, leaving the child hidden after she stops for the evening. She'll have to be careful, it is dark. But they will stop early since they think they will easily catch her the next day. She is just a woman. As someone said, sound carries easily, so she can hear them talking for aways before she actually gets close enough to see them. She of course, is being careful and not making a sound.

Oh, another question, or two for you Mac. First, sorry, you being a horse person and all, but someone mentioned today I might want to consider having the woman and child riding mules instead of horses. Also, if I stick with horses, what kind of horses am I talking about? Are they mares or geldings? I can't imagine she or the child would be able to handle a stallion.

Thanks,
Nita

MacAllister
06-05-2005, 03:51 AM
someone mentioned today I might want to consider having the woman and child riding mules instead of horses. Also, if I stick with horses, what kind of horses am I talking about? Are they mares or geldings?Mules are wicked tough, with endurance coming out those long ears. I see no reason not to put them on mules--also, they can keep pace easily with a horse, coming in a wide range of sizes.

Yeah, definitely mares or geldings--geldings, most probably. Usually I see writers put their heroines on "spirited little mares" in a sort of ridiculous identification between woman and horse--and it always makes me roll my eyes.

Unless there's a strong reason to put her on a mare--it's a gift from her tragically-deceased husband, or what have you--then geldings are most likely. It's the sort of thing that would only be mentioned when you're looking for a synonym for "horse."

If you'd like someone to beta-read the scene, I'm up for it! Good luck.

Fern
06-05-2005, 06:00 AM
A lot of folks here (Okla - smack in the middle of IT) ride Spanish Mustangs. . .sometimes called Choctaw ponies, in the endurance races in the area. Anyway they've been here since Spainards brought them to America. They are smallish in size, but tougher than old boot leather. They hold up to the rough trails, rocky, etc. better than some of the finer boned breeds, very sturdy breed.

Here are a couple of websites that give explicit info about them in case you are interested.

http://www.bluebayoumustangs.com/mustangs.php
http://www.conquistador.com/mustang-two.html

Betty W01
06-05-2005, 06:08 AM
I love being in here... you learn all kinds of stuff while wandering through AW!

ritinrider
06-05-2005, 06:41 AM
Betty, you are so right. There is a wealth of information here. I just love it.

Mac, you're on if you're sure you want to read a very beginner attempt at writing. Right now I seem to be putting way too much info in, but figure I can cut the excess later.

Fern, where exactly are you at in OK? I'm in SE (by the prison) which is one reason I moved the locale from Texas to Oklahoma. If I want to see what the area looks like it won't take a day and a half of driving to get there, study the area and come home. Yeah, I know it's changed since the 1800's, but I can still get an idea.

Which reminds me, anybody know where I can find a topigraphical map? Isn't that the kind that shows landscape, not necessarily roads? I tried the okgen web site, but it just had a general map showing the general area each tribe occupied.

Hey, I added another 700 words tonight using some of the info garnered here. Of course, that'll probably be cut to about 300, but it is progress. Thanks all.

Nita

Fern
06-05-2005, 07:37 AM
I'm in extreme SE portion. One county away from Arkansas.

Let me think about the map question. I know you can get those somewhere, but I'm having brain freeze right now.

Probably the area which would have been traveled then would be right on the edge of what we call the mountains. . .people with real mountains laugh and call them hills. They're mountains to us. Of course, everything would have been cleared by manual labor then, so mostly would be wooded area and hilly. Lots of pine trees and hardwood like oak, blackjack, elm, cedar. Also a lot of brush which would make it difficult to ride a horse through if you were off the beaten path much. There are sand hills here too, but the closer you get toward the mountain area it would be rocky roads, etc. . . something the Spanish Mustangs would handle better than most horses since their feet are somewhat like mule feet if I understand correctly.

If she has to forage for food along the way, rabbits could be knocked in the head with a rock if she is adept at it. Fish in abundance in area rivers, perch, bass, catfish; just please don't let her scale a catfish like a writer did in a western I read once. Black berries, persimmons, muscadines and mulberries. . .can't say for sure when mulberries & muscadines ripen. For those who don't know, muscadines are on a vine, usually growing up and around trees. Persimmons & mulberries are on trees, of course. Could dig up sassafrass root for sassafrass tea if needed. Also snakeroot in the area if one knows what they are looking for. They used to use it as some kind of medicine if I remember what my parents told me correctly.. . just can't remember for what.

If it was past potato digging time, folks would have potatos in the cellars or barn in case she needed to filch some. . .smokehouses would have meat hanging or canned.

Honeysuckle was in abundance here. A kid might be kept busy with honeysuckle. I've sat forever pulling those little middles out for the one drop of sweet taste you get. Can't remember exactly, its been so long.

Wild flowers I remember in abundance as a kid were the small sunflowers and Indian Paintbrushes (we called them chigger flowers). Any homeplaces back then would have fruit trees. . .peach and apple and pear for sure. Oh yeah, I almost forgot bull nettle. We had oodles and gobs of bull nettle growing wild before land was cleared years ago. Figure it was native to the area and abundant. You'd have to walk through it once with bare legs to fully understand bull nettle. Ouch! And seed ticks and chiggers. They breed by the kabillions in the Oklahoma hills.

I was trying to think of towns that would have been in existance. . .I know Eagletown in McCurtain County is very old. I have a relative buried there that died in the 1800's. Alikchi comes to mind as does Doaksville. Those would be west of Eagletown. Going toward Arkansas (west, I think) from Eagletown, one might feasibly come out around Washington, Arkansas, once the Confederate Capitol.

Sorry to drone on and on here. Just thought some of this might be helpful.

ritinrider
06-05-2005, 08:05 AM
Fern, you are such a help. One thing, remember this took place when Ok was IT, before the sooner rush. Not too many white people living hereabouts, and those that were had to have a permit to live here. I think she's probably going to finish her journey about where you live. She's actually headed for AR, but I don't think she's going to make it all the way. She's leaving from a town called Oakland (yeah, Oakland Oklahoma, go figure). It's just south of Madill. According to a man from the OK Historical Society it's a town that was in existance at that time, and near the area I wanted to start her from. She's actually a pretty good shot with a gun, so she might shoot some squirrel or rabbit. Knocking a rabbit in the head with a rock might be a little iffy.

Hadn't thought about having her fish. Mostly because I'm not sure how she would've cooked it. The rabbit or squirrel she can put on a stick and roast, fish, I'm not sure about. Also, you bring up a good point, how the heck will she clean it? And then there's the hook she'd need, even assuming she had some string to use for a line. Remember, she's traveling light, she won't have much in the way of cook ware with her. I'm thinking she needs a tin or something to cook coffee in, but I'm not sure about that and probably will drop it. After all, if she has something to make coffee in, she would then need coffee, right?

This is such fun. I actually feel like I'm making progress. Think I'll go write and let my husband have the internet.

Thanks,
Nita

MacAllister
06-05-2005, 08:13 AM
If she's travelling light, then she'd probably carry things you could eat cold--biscuits and dried meat, maybe.

Fern is dead on about the Spanish Mustangs--which would have ended up in the occasional horse sale, or enterprising young men would have caught, broke, and sold them.

Also, that's what the local Indians would have been riding. Southern OK--that would mean which tribes, in those years? Choctaw and Cherokee? I can't remember without finding a map.

Fern
06-05-2005, 08:37 AM
Nita,

The land I described is where I am and east toward Arkansas. If you're starting at Madill area, the land is going to be some different. Over that way it is flatter, still trees at that time, I'm sure, but less pine for sure than is in this area. I don't believe there would be mountainous area (hills).

Coming from Madill, when you get to the very western edge of Choctaw County, (town of Boswell) is about where the land begins to change somewhat. When bad weather hits during the winter months, it may be icy and snow on the ground or whatever over toward Durant, Madill area and as you travel eastward, when you head out of Boswell going east, it begins to change. . .slowly turning into sort of a valley (cradled on the North by the hilly area up toward McAlester, etc.) and on the South by the Red River. The winter weather gets less and less severe for the next 60 to 80 miles or so. Thats not to say we never get it, we do, just over that way seems to run more like what they get in OKC than here.

Also, don't know if the plants etc. apply over that way. Surely they do, being that close, but I don't know for certain. I know they have jack rabbits and roadrunners over that way though.

The rabbit and rock thing came from all the movies I've watched and books I've read about Indian women killing rabbits by throwing rocks at them.

I am near what was the hub of Indian Territory at that time. Be glad to answer any questions I can help with.

MacAllister
06-15-2005, 09:58 PM
Aconite--PMed you. I'm SO sorry I missed your question. My apologies.

PVish
07-05-2005, 04:51 AM
One thing that gripes me in several books I've read is that some writers don't know that easy-gaited horses—not trotting horses—were the preferred horses in the Renaissance (sp?) and back. The trotters--or boneshakers--would be ridden by poorer folks.

Chaucer, for example, correctly has the Wife of Bath upon an ambler (an easy-gaited horse, one that moved with a smooth 4-beat lateral gait instead of a rough 2-beat diagonal gait, as the trot is). She's well-to-do; she has a proper horse. Knights rode their amblers, while leading their great horses that they'd ride into actual battle when they were fully armored.

Many of the easy gaited breeds have died out--the Hobbies and Galloways, for instance--but we still have a batch left: Tennessee Walkers, racking horses, singlefooters, Missouri Foxtrotters, Rocky Mountain horses, Paso Finos, Peruvian Pasos, etc. The early Spanish horses were easy-gaited.

Colonial Virginians rode easy-gaited horses. Most Southerners going off to the, uh, "War of Northern Aggression" rode out on easy-gaited horses (For a while, the term "saddle horse" meant easy-gaited.) The preferred lady's sidesaddle horse was a singlefooter. Even today, some lines of Morgans and Spanish mustangs are able to do an easy-gait. The "Indian shuffle" of some Appaloosas is also an easy-gait.

When roads improved and carriage travel was practical, the trotters took over.

Many years ago, when I owned a quarter horse, my little gelding would sometimes have to run flat-out to keep up with racking horses on the trail. If he trotted, they'd leave us far behind. (Note: I now own a racking horse and a TWH.)

Anyhow, it gripes me when I read an otherwise wonderful book like "Year of Wonder" and the 17th century minister's horse trots! Arrgghh.

MacAllister
07-05-2005, 05:10 AM
...and in a similar vein, who can tell us where the term "posting" (to a trot) comes from?



:)

PVish
07-05-2005, 06:56 AM
...and in a similar vein, who can tell us where the term "posting" (to a trot) comes from? :)

I can, I can! (Raises hand and waves)

From "postilion"; a guy who rode one of the horses that pulled a mail (hence, "post") carriage. Since the horses who pulled carriages were trotting horses, this guy had a heck of a rough ride. Until one of them figured out if he rose to the trot (lifted his butt off the horse) in rhythm with the horse's stride, so he went up-down-up-down, etc., his nether regions wouldn't suffer nearly as much.

A discussion of it is here:
http://www.saddle-up.org.uk/forums/index.php?showtopic=100093

From http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/dictionaries/difficultwords/data/d0009403.html "postilion, postillion: n. person who rides near horse of those drawing coach etc. and acts as guide to the whole team."

I'm not sure when posting originated, but they were doing it by the mid-1800's.

MacAllister
07-05-2005, 06:59 AM
w00t!!! Gold stars to PVish, who is exactly right! :)

PVish
07-05-2005, 07:07 AM
w00t!!! Gold stars to PVish, who is exactly right! :)

Thank you for the gold star. Now do I get to ask a question? Oh, heck, I'll ask three (just in case someone is trying to work this info into a story):

What large animal, besides a Tennessee Walking Horse, does a running walk?

What small mammal racks?

What gait does a camel do?

Aconite
07-05-2005, 03:53 PM
What gait does a camel do?
Pace. There are different types of camels, and ones bred for riding have especially smooth gaits.

PVish
07-05-2005, 04:14 PM
Pace. There are different types of camels, and ones bred for riding have especially smooth gaits.

Right! Gold star to you.

Aconite
07-06-2005, 12:55 AM
Right! Gold star to you.
Oooh, sparkly!

MacAllister
07-06-2005, 01:08 AM
having worked a bit with alpacas and llamas, and finding their dispositions to be generally crabby and standoffish--not to mention their penchant for hucking up wads of semi-digested matter to spit at you whenever they feel displeased by something you're doing; nor their quickness to kick the living daylights out of you, for same imagined offenses--I shudder at the thought of camel-riding...

So what small mammal DOES rack, PVish?

PVish
07-06-2005, 04:02 AM
So what small mammal DOES rack, PVish?

A possum. Joel Chandler Harris had Uncle Remus say (in one of the "B'rer Rabbit" stories) that the possum had a natural rack. Since several possums venture across my deck at night, I've observed this to be true—especially when they're spooked.

And the other animal besdies a TWH that does a running walk? An elephant. (Good thing. Imagine trying to post on a elephant!)

I hope no one reading this thread has written a story wherein elephants "trot" through the jungle. If so, fix it right now:)

MacAllister
07-15-2005, 06:05 AM
and now, for everyone's general edification:

The Llama Song (http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/llama.php)

PVish
07-24-2005, 12:49 AM
And if the llama song wasn't enough, for a little more edification as well as interaction, go to http://www.clickpix.de/horses.htm and click each horse to make it sing. (Wait until all four horses and the fence rail load before you start clicking.)

This is a wonderful time-waster when you're waiting for an idea to hit you.

Shadow_Ferret
09-04-2010, 12:59 AM
First, I just wanted to BUMP this thread because it has got some great info in it and I don't want to have to go looking for it.

Second, I have a horse question (probably more as I go on):

Without going into details of the story, it's set in 1875. My character starts in Milwaukee and ends up in the outskirts of New Orleans. Taking a horse seems out of the question. So, if you're a horse rider, and you have one favorite mount, what's it like to ride a "rented" horse? Say you pick up one at the stables as you get off the paddle wheel. I'm just curious what you'd expect?

What would be the most noticeable difference between horses be? Do they listen to commands from strange riders? I mean, what would my character expect from a "rented" horse?

(Another question, do they respond to voice commands like dogs?)

*looks embarrassed at his lack of horse sense*

Tsu Dho Nimh
09-04-2010, 01:57 AM
It's like driving a rental car of a different model then your own car ... it drives differently.

A rental horse is trained to respond to different riders, but few horses respond to voice commands without extra training. Whoa, Geeup, and 'Easy boy" seem to be the three words they understand. it's more tone of voice than the words.

Some livery stable horses were slow and over the hill, some stables rented good horses.

If the guy gets off the boat, a more likely transportation would be one of the vehicles that took people to the various hotels and downtown - because if he rents a horse at the dock, he has to arrange stabling for it at his hotel. You can't just park them - they have to be fed, watered and guarded.

The boats were met by all kinds of people and vehicles - hotel wagons picking up guests, merchants picking up and delivering freight, private vehicles and families come to collect a guest, local grocers delivering supplies, etc. He could probably get a ride to the city center from any of the commercial vehicles for a pleasant smile and a fat tip to the driver.

Captcha
09-04-2010, 02:04 AM
I don't know the historical aspect of this - were rented hacks reasonably well-trained and well-kept, or were they half-broke, worn-out creatures?

But from a modern perspective, as someone who normally rides one horse but occasionally branches out - the basic commands are the same. I can make a new horse walk, trot, canter and turn without serious problems. It's the little stuff that is annoying. I know exactly how much my seat needs to speed up in order to get my usual horse to walk faster without breaking into a trot - when I ride a new horse, that's lost. Same with any other more complicated movement. There's also trust the other way around - my horse knows me and will do things for me that she'd object to with someone else. She'd do the basics for anyone, but when I ask her to do MORE, she does it because she knows me and trusts me. I also know exactly what she's capable of, so when she refuses to do something, I can judge accurately whether she's being stubborn and lazy (pretty much always, with this horse), or whether she may actually not understand what I want (pretty much never).

In terms of voice commands - not like dogs. Horses are really sensitive to body language (especially once the rider's in the saddle), but not as much with words. Most horses know a few, and they generally know sounds (cluck to trot, smooching sound to canter are pretty common), but they don't seem as sound-trained as dogs are. In general. They do respond well to tone of voice - low, calming sounds actually do seem to calm them down, and they aren't fond of loud, screeching talk.

jclarkdawe
09-04-2010, 05:35 AM
First, I just wanted to BUMP this thread because it has got some great info in it and I don't want to have to go looking for it.

Second, I have a horse question (probably more as I go on):

Without going into details of the story, it's set in 1875. My character starts in Milwaukee and ends up in the outskirts of New Orleans. Taking a horse seems out of the question. Why? If I was doing this on the cheap, I'd ride from Milwaukee to Chicago (three to four days). Then I'd pick up a stock car train heading south. (Lots of cattle going to slaughter in Chicago at the time. Stock cars returned empty south and west.) Maybe six days for the whole trip. Best you probably could do would be two days, so not a big penalty. If I had a bit more money, steamer down Lake Michigan with horse stalls, then train from Chicago to New Orleans (the Illinois Central connected Chicago to New Orleans about this time). Many trains included a car for livestock (mainly horses). Horses travel pretty well by rail and most stations had the facility to unload them, although they can also just jump out of a stock car.

So, if you're a horse rider, and you have one favorite mount, what's it like to ride a "rented" horse? Especially in that case, I'd take my horse with me. The thing about a horse that really knows you is reliability. You know exactly what the horse will do and what it won't. If your life depends on the horse, this matters.

Say you pick up one at the stables as you get off the paddle wheel. I'm just curious what you'd expect? As stated, you'd probably pick up the horse at the hotel. Horses could be rented by the hour, day, or longer period, just like a rental car. A good horseman can tell a lot about a horse from the ground, just by looking at it. And someone fussy about their horse is going to be picky about which horse at the livery stable they take. Horses are also very responsive to good riders. The horse who is a dud for most riders will respond to someone who knows what they're doing very nicely. It usually takes me about half an hour before I get a horse used to me and I to it. Fancy things, like opening a gate, will be a bit more difficult, but horses are very perceptive.

What would be the most noticeable difference between horses be? Responsiveness. Confidence. Some horses respond to very light commands, some need more. Some horses are willing to try anything the rider suggests, others take more convincing. Realize that for anything new you ask a horse to do, the horse's first thought is survival. Do they listen to commands from strange riders? I mean, what would my character expect from a "rented" horse? The same as any average horse. Nothing really great, and probably a couple of vices.

(Another question, do they respond to voice commands like dogs?) Horses are much more influenced by body English than voice.

*looks embarrassed at his lack of horse sense*

As I said, I'd bring my horse with me if I needed a horse I could trust.

Each horse is an individual, with their own likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Livery horses would be of a lesser quality than what some people owned, but comparable to what a lot of people owned. They would have some fairly good horses and some horses that were difficult to determine whether they were alive or dead. But the "dead" horses were good for people who didn't know or like horses.

Stablemen would try to match horse to rider. A good rider would not be given the "dead" horse. Nor would a good rider accept a "dead" horse.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Fenika
09-04-2010, 08:10 AM
And don't forget our horse sense thread and horse link thread :)

GeorgeK
09-04-2010, 04:56 PM
as someone who normally rides one horse but occasionally branches out - the basic commands are the same. I can make a new horse walk, trot, canter and turn without serious problems. It's the little stuff that is annoying. I know exactly how much my seat needs to speed up in order to get my usual horse to walk faster without breaking into a trot - when I ride a new horse, that's lost. Same with any other more complicated movement. There's also trust the other way around - my horse knows me and will do things for me that she'd object to with someone else. She'd do the basics for anyone, but when I ask her to do MORE, she does it because she knows me and trusts me. I also know exactly what she's capable of, so when she refuses to do something, I can judge accurately whether she's being stubborn and lazy (pretty much always, with this horse), or whether she may actually not understand what I want (pretty much never).

In terms of voice commands - not like dogs. Horses are really sensitive to body language (especially once the rider's in the saddle), but not as much with words. Most horses know a few, and they generally know sounds (cluck to trot, smooching sound to canter are pretty common), but they don't seem as sound-trained as dogs are. In general. They do respond well to tone of voice - low, calming sounds actually do seem to calm them down, and they aren't fond of loud, screeching talk.

Most of what I think I know about horses at that time were from my former years as a kid and young man in a Civil War reenactment group. Yes there were some bullshitters, but a lot of the people were amateur historians who tried to be accurate. I was lead to believe that pretty much all of that has to do with training and that today there is far more uniformity in training because of professional societies, national and international equestrian events etc.

In the 1800's everyone had horses. If you rented a horse, it might be an ex-cavalry horse, or from an American Native tribe, or a pastured horse that only walks an old spinster to church on Sunday, or a plough horse. It would be far from a guarantee that the person(s) who trained that horse spoke English. There were a lot of French speakers still here from prior to the Louisiana Purchase and a big influx of Scandanavians and Germans, plus again the Native Americans.

I was also lead to believe that back then that when you rented a horse without a driver and wagon, just the horse, that you paid the purchase price and then were refunded a prorated amount depending upon when and what condition the horse was returned. Supposedly riding a rented horse was like trying to go to a foreign country where you don't know the language or customs and you try to dance with a lady that you don't know, in a ball room. You might get lucky and find someone that you click with, provided neither of you try anything fancy, but if you want to waltz and she wants to tango, you're gonna get thrown.

Brutal Mustang
09-04-2010, 06:39 PM
First, I just wanted to BUMP this thread because it has got some great info in it and I don't want to have to go looking for it.

Second, I have a horse question (probably more as I go on):

Without going into details of the story, it's set in 1875. My character starts in Milwaukee and ends up in the outskirts of New Orleans. Taking a horse seems out of the question. So, if you're a horse rider, and you have one favorite mount, what's it like to ride a "rented" horse? Say you pick up one at the stables as you get off the paddle wheel. I'm just curious what you'd expect?

What would be the most noticeable difference between horses be? Do they listen to commands from strange riders? I mean, what would my character expect from a "rented" horse?

(Another question, do they respond to voice commands like dogs?)

*looks embarrassed at his lack of horse sense*

As someone who rides a variety of horses every year...

Think of the way a horse handles like the way a video game character handles (if you play video games). The difference between horses could be like the difference between playing Altair in Assassin's Creed vs. Nathan Drake. While the controls may be nearly the same, the two characters definitely handle differently.

Generally, a good rider releases the pressure from the rein(s) within a half-second of the horse doing what is asked of it, to instantly reward it. In doing this, the horse becomes very responsive to the reins, because horses learn from the release of pressure, not the pull on the reins. Bad riders, on the other hand, will hang off the horse's mouth, using the reins to balance their own weight, never rewarding the horse for doing what is asked, therefore dulling the animal to the bit. Bad riders will also kick the horse in a constant, confused, half-assed way until the horse no longer responds to the leg cues either. Good riders, on the other hand, will cue the horse with their legs softly and quickly, and if that doesn't get a response, they'll up the aggression until the horse does respond, after which they'll instantly lay off the pressure.

So in short, a rented horse would be dull to the mouth, and dull to the reins from enduring hoards of bad riders. It's only plus is that it would be less likely to spook at things than a personal horse would be, from all the stimuli it receives in its daily routine.

P.S. Yes, horses can learn commands like a dog. Riding, it's just easier and more dignified to use soft touch commands than barking commands out loud all the time. But yes, voice commands are commonly for trick training. Or little stable chores, like picking up the hooves to be cleaned, etc.

Shadow_Ferret
09-04-2010, 07:01 PM
Thanks for all the answers! :)
Why? If I was doing this on the cheap, I'd ride from Milwaukee to Chicago (three to four days). Then I'd pick up a stock car train heading south. (Lots of cattle going to slaughter in Chicago at the time. Stock cars returned empty south and west.) Maybe six days for the whole trip.

My reasoning: I researched trains from Chicago to New Orleans and as I understood it, in 1875, yes, the trains connected the two, but there were so many small branches it seemed to me you'd be changing trains several times. It wasn't a straight line shot that I could see. I wasn't exactly sure how a horse would handle all the transfers.

Captcha
09-04-2010, 09:42 PM
I'm not sure how much the different training methods would really influence the finished horse, because a lot of the cues that humans use are based on equine instinct/nature, and that wouldn't vary between human cultures. I mean, if a horse was POORLY trained, obviously that would have an effect, but if it was just someone training using French ideas or using German ideas. I mean, any verbal commands would obviously be different, but the actual cues that the horse is trained to follow would, I think, be pretty much the same.

Ken
09-04-2010, 10:07 PM
... Paul Revere road one throughout the night at lightning pace:

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!

- Longfellow

When engaged in great and noble deeds, steeds can surpass their natural limits of endurance just as humans of exceptional character, as Revere, can. So while it's valuable to know the physical limitations of horses those stats are by no means set.

jclarkdawe
09-04-2010, 10:28 PM
Thanks for all the answers! :)


Originally Posted by jclarkdawe http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=5303872#post5303872)
Why? If I was doing this on the cheap, I'd ride from Milwaukee to Chicago (three to four days). Then I'd pick up a stock car train heading south. (Lots of cattle going to slaughter in Chicago at the time. Stock cars returned empty south and west.) Maybe six days for the whole trip.
My reasoning: I researched trains from Chicago to New Orleans and as I understood it, in 1875, yes, the trains connected the two, but there were so many small branches it seemed to me you'd be changing trains several times. It wasn't a straight line shot that I could see. I wasn't exactly sure how a horse would handle all the transfers.

Railroads interchange freight cars which is one way to solve this. You request a 36 foot stock car in Milwaukee, to be delivered to New Orleans. The originating railroad arranges the route, and you get transferred from train to train until you get there. This is how every freight car that isn't in a unit train travels. You could ride in the stock car, or the caboose.

Passengers hate to get out of their train car. Result is that passenger trains have historically been through routed. For instance, you could get on a train in Boston at this point, and get off in Chicago. You would have traveled over maybe the Boston & Maine, the Erie, the New York Central, and maybe a couple of other lines. One ticket, one rail car. Frequently in Albany your car would be attached to a train out of NYC.

Some horses like traveling so much, or are so scared of not loading, that they'll hop into any open trailer they see. Most horses are good at loading, and for example, are loaded in the morning to go to the horse show, and in the afternoon, loaded again to return home. Even if you introduce a variety of transfers (such as Milwaukee to Chicago, Chicago to Nashville, Nashville to Atlanta, and then Atlanta to New Orleans), most horses won't have a problem with the transfers. Some race and show horses travel more in a year than you probably do.

I don't have a history of the Illinois Central, although I think there are several out there. But from a website with a smidge of history about it:


Despite the "cholera and water-moccasin," a small town popped up along the Illinois Central rails, it was given the name of West Urbana. In 1858, the town's population was 3,358 and boasted over 30 businesses. This was even greater than Urbana's size. The rapid growth caused Urbana to attempt to incorporate West Urbana. However, the people of West Urbana resisted the idea and filed for separate incorporation. The incorporation was granted by the state, and West Urbana was renamed Champaign. Hence, two cities were formed in which transportation would forever play a role in their development.

The first passenger trains that the Illinois Central operated through Champaign took over 50 hours to make the trip from Chicago to New Orleans. By 1889, the introduction of The Chicago & City of Orleans Limited had cut that time to 23 hours. On February 4, 1911, IC renamed the route The Panama Limited. On November 15, 1916, the train became a luxury, all-Pullman car service. While the depression led to its withdrawal from service in May of 1932, it was only a temporary hiatus. In December of 1934, the Panama Limited returned to service, along with the first air-conditioned cars in the country.So by 1889 there was a through train that went fairly fast, although no trains at all in 1858. Before 1889 travel time was in the range of 50 hours, but I don't know when it started. I'm guessing, though, that by 1875 you could make the trip, although maybe not with a through train. But as I said, the transfer for the horse would not be a big deal.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Captcha
09-05-2010, 01:07 AM
... Paul Revere road one throughout the night at lightning pace:

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!

- Longfellow

When engaged in great and noble deeds, steeds can surpass their natural limits of endurance just as humans of exceptional character, as Revere, can. So while it's valuable to know the physical limitations of horses those stats are by no means set.

Well, you've heard of 'poetic license,' I'm sure.

If an author wants his/her horse use to be realistic, I think it's better to listen to people with experience and expertise rather than trust a mythic poem.

After all:

Verily she has twelve feet, all misshapen, and six necks, exceeding long, and on each one an awful head, and therein three rows of teeth, thick and close, and full of black death.

I don't think we'd recommend that anyone use Homer as a guide to the fauna of the Mediterranean.

frimble3
09-05-2010, 09:51 AM
... Paul Revere road one throughout the night at lightning pace:

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!

- Longfellow

When engaged in great and noble deeds, steeds can surpass their natural limits of endurance just as humans of exceptional character, as Revere, can. So while it's valuable to know the physical limitations of horses those stats are by no means set.
What is a 'great and noble deed' to a man, is just a nuisance of a night ride to a horse. It's dark, the footing is tricky, and the man on top wants to go way to fast. And he keeps yelling.
For a horse, a great deed is probably beating another stallion for a bunch of mares, or defending her foal. Or, scraping off ol' Paul on a low-hanging branch. Or 'guarding' all the grain from the other horses. Horses aren't generally patriotic, for any side. No matter who's in charge, the horses get the same old harness and spurs.

Ken
09-05-2010, 03:29 PM
... that makes horses seem so utilitarian though. And though I see your points about "poetic license" and "patriotism" I still think good horses can sense urgency and importance from their riders and in those instances push themselves beyond ordinary limits of endurance out of loyalty and something more.

And I can guarantee you that there have been plenty of horses who've done exactly that throughout history and gone way beyond any imposed limitations of their species during battles and pressing events. We're talking animals here, after all, not autos that get a set number of miles to the gallon and require an oil change every 10,000 miles.

As to poets, though they may play about with facts a tad they capture the essence of history when they relate it as Longfellow and our immortal Homer. And the essence of an event is in many ways more important than mere facts that also distort through their exactitude and clinical descriptions, robbing events of their vitality.

Just my own view. Feel free to ignore it and stick with your own.

Medievalist
09-05-2010, 07:30 PM
Revere didn't even make the whole ride; he got caught in Concord, and his horse confiscated.

frimble3
09-05-2010, 10:16 PM
See? Once again, the man gets the glory, and the horse gets ... confiscated.

Ken
09-05-2010, 10:40 PM
... another fallen idol :-(