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efreysson
03-27-2009, 02:50 PM
I may be on the verge of a publishing deal for my fantasy story, and am working out the last glitches and uncertainties. One of those is travel, since naturally I need travel times to realistically match the distance traveled.

How fast can one travel on a good, durable horse, across a fairly flat wilderness? How much rest does a horse need during extended travel? How regularly does one need to tend to heir hoofs?

Basically, I need the broad strokes of all those things one needs to know in order to own an ride a horse responsibly. I'm not asking for an extended lecture; I just need to know the basics so I can slip them into the narrative to make things more realistic.

jeseymour
03-27-2009, 09:48 PM
This book should have your answer:

http://www.amazon.com/GURPS-Bestiary-Monsters-Beasts-Companions/dp/1556344120/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238175796&sr=1-1

I have the book somewhere, not right handy, what it is is a guide to animals for a role-playing game, but it tends to be pretty accurate.

You could google Pony Express, keeping in mind they were trying to cover as much ground as possible in as little time as possible, and switching horses. If your characters have access to new mounts, they can cover more ground.

The saying -"For the want of a nail, a shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe, a horse was lost" etc - is very true. A horse travels on it's toenails and those toenails need attention. Your characters will need to keep an eye on the horses' feet to make good time.

firedrake
03-27-2009, 09:55 PM
Depends on the fitness of the horse as to how long it can travel, and whether the horse is walking, trotting, cantering or galloping.
As for hooves, "no foot, no horse" is another popular and valid saying. It depends on the surface of the ground and whether the horse is shod or not.

dirtsider
03-27-2009, 10:08 PM
I believe there's a horse thread already started up here in Story Research with a lot of good information in it.

And I would think good hoof/foot care would be an everyday thing if you will be riding every day over a long period of time and distance. (Or just in general.) It would become a routine part of caring for the horse at the end of the day. You may not be changing a shoe every day (if shod) but you definitely want to make sure there are no rocks in their feet.

TheIT
03-27-2009, 10:30 PM
Try here:

"The Big Horse Link Thread"
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=69852

This has a link to the "Horse Sense" thread and some older thread with horse info.

Good luck!

Fern
03-28-2009, 09:46 PM
I don't know if this is helpful to you or not, but several people left my house last weekend on a trail ride - about 12 miles one way. It started out to be an overnight camping out thing, but they filtered back one by one. Two of the horses made it back home. One that had been being exercised regularly made it back okay (full 24 miles), the other had to have some encouragement for that last little bit. The others all (8 to 10 horses) had to be hauled back. They left here approximately 10 a.m. & the one who made it complete round trip without difficulty was back here by 7 or 7:30 p.m.

I'm assuming travel was at a walk or trot, but I don't know that for sure.
I also do not know what they did about rest stops, etc.

Fenika
03-28-2009, 09:54 PM
100 miles in a day, at least 12 hours, is an impressive feat for the *conditioned* horse. They would not be going anywhere near that the next day.

For sustainable daily distances, over a week or more, the answer lies somewhere in the thread The IT provided. I'm guessing 40-60 miles, with breaks, and you mostly switch between the walk and trot while moving. Again, the horse should be conditioned, otherwise you'll have to go much slower. Some people even get off and walk for a bit, depending on the norms (endurance riders often do this). Breaks are important for rest and grazing time. And grain can be carried to provide the extra energy (and must be carried for maximum daily distance efficiency if going on more than a short trip).

Fenika
03-28-2009, 10:03 PM
Change 12 to 14 hours (though 12 has been done!). I'm basing this on the Tevis cup- a 100 mile ride. Horses do not pass the checkpoints if their health is questionable or poor, and most of the top 10 arrive at the finish line still able to go around an arena in a perky manner (and they use this as a final test when sorting out winners)

http://www.teviscup.org/stat_pages/chr_winners.html

http://www.teviscup.org/the_ride/the_ride_inline.html (and note the Haggin Cup, which is what I was referring to)

Brutal Mustang
03-28-2009, 10:26 PM
For extended travel on a conditioned horse, figure 18-20 miles a day. The horse can take that all at once, although at least one water stop would be preferable.

Keep in mind that people in medieval times weren't always compassionate to their horses like they are today; it wasn't uncommon to ride a cheap horse until it was lame/falling over dehydrated and then just get a new mount.

Fenika
03-28-2009, 11:41 PM
Assuming you had the money and time to do that. It's also risky, should your cheap horse go lame in the middle of nowhere. So yeah, while it happened, it wasn't that common outside a city or among those less fortunate.

But yeah, many were hard on their horses, some were okay, some were nice, a few treated them like royalty themselves. More than a few in the right areas. Even in Black Beauty there were all sorts :)

Horseshoes
03-29-2009, 02:49 AM
The fastest 100 miler time went down last year to 6 and a half hours...but these are flat courses. owever, this is an extremely well-conditioned horse and highly qualified rider.
The Tevis does not compare to easy terrain. It has something like 20k of climb and even more descent.

I very regularly cover 25 miles in about 3 and a half hours. No walking involved. No walking involved in the 6.5 hr guy's time either. Tevis people will walk at times, tho the winners will hardly do so at all.

If all goes well, the horse's feet are needing no care during the comp, tho they will be inspected regularly.

2Wheels
03-29-2009, 04:27 AM
Variables to consider:

Breed of horse (some are much tougher than others)
Weight and experience of rider (heavier rider, who rides sloppily will stress the horse far faster than a lighter more experienced rider)
Temperature and humidity
Fitness of horse (and rider) in the first place
Access to water sources
Condition of hooves - hard horn, white horn, shod/not shod

If you plonked say, a medium weight, experienced rider, on a fit horse from one of the tough, hardy breeds from central asia, at a non-excessive temperature, with relatively low humidity and streams/ponds/wells at no more than about 10 mile intervals, then I'd guess about 40 miles/day. If they only have to go for a day or two, perhaps more, but if it's going to be a great distance then I'd say reduce that to 30-35 miles/day.

I think ...!

MacAllister
03-29-2009, 04:53 AM
The fastest 100 miler time went down last year to 6 and a half hours...but these are flat courses. owever, this is an extremely well-conditioned horse and highly qualified rider.
The Tevis does not compare to easy terrain. It has something like 20k of climb and even more descent.In fact, it's on essentially a flat track, with tanker trucks full of crew spraying horse and rider with fine mist pretty much the whole time. I know people who crew those Dubai races, though I've never been. I've seen horses finish hundred mile races in around ten hours, though, over trail I'd helped mark--and it's always impressive, and yes, horses die if they aren't fit enough to do it. It's not a good measure for anyone but the serious full-time world-class athlete.


I very regularly cover 25 miles in about 3 and a half hours. No walking involved. No walking involved in the 6.5 hr guy's time either. Tevis people will walk at times, tho the winners will hardly do so at all.

If all goes well, the horse's feet are needing no care during the comp, tho they will be inspected regularly.I finished Tevis once, and pulled once (50 percent completion rate is about average, in fact.) I figured later I ran about 30 miles of it, both attempts, most of that through the canyons.

That picture you get to bring home of going over Cougar Rock, though? It's almost worth the pain.

Fenika
03-29-2009, 05:16 AM
Ohh, I forgot about Cougar Rock- http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS266US266&um=1&sa=1&q=cougar+rock+tevis&btnG=Search+Images

Mac, are you doing or going to the Tevis Cup this year?

MacAllister
03-29-2009, 05:27 AM
Good god, no. I'll see if I can scan a pic in for you guys, though, for amusement's sake. *g*

Fenika
03-29-2009, 05:58 AM
:hooray:

RJK
03-29-2009, 04:04 PM
In colonial days, the Inns were about 20 miles apart. That that was an average day's ride. Sometimes good terrain would allow 25 miles, but I would say you'd be safe with those figures, 20 -25 miles.

Saanen
03-29-2009, 05:42 PM
About hooves, your riders should check their horses' hooves at the end of the day, or at every rest if riding over pebbly/rocky terrain. Even a tiny pebble wedged up in the hoof can cause lameness very quickly--think of trying to hike with a pebble in your boot. I don't think unshod horses have this problem since it's most often the shoe that catches the pebble, but I could be wrong, and anyway an unshod horse has other problems.

Some pony breeds have fantastically tough hooves and don't need to be shod unless being ridden/worked extensively on rough surfaces. An ordinary horse will need a farrier's attention every six weeks-two months or so, depending on the shoe, the horse, the terrain, how much wear the shoes have received, how much the hoof has grown, and so on. Quite often a farrier will remove the shoes, trim the hooves, and replace the same shoes. If your characters are traveling over, say, grassland and plan to be traveling in the wilderness for months without coming across a town, they'd probably want to remove the shoes and go carefully, since a hoof that's overgrown the shoe can lame a horse too. Hope this helps a little!

efreysson
03-30-2009, 12:03 AM
Some pony breeds have fantastically tough hooves and don't need to be shod unless being ridden/worked extensively on rough surfaces. An ordinary horse will need a farrier's attention every six weeks-two months or so, depending on the shoe, the horse, the terrain, how much wear the shoes have received, how much the hoof has grown, and so on. Quite often a farrier will remove the shoes, trim the hooves, and replace the same shoes. If your characters are traveling over, say, grassland and plan to be traveling in the wilderness for months without coming across a town, they'd probably want to remove the shoes and go carefully, since a hoof that's overgrown the shoe can lame a horse too. Hope this helps a little!

It does. Thanks. :)

blackrose602
03-30-2009, 04:48 AM
Don't forget to factor in the fitness of the rider as well. Both overall physical fitness and recent riding experience make a huge difference. Someone who grew up riding horses and still rides relatively long distances frequently should do okay with extended travel. Someone unfamiliar with horses, or even one who is used to an hour or two pleasure ride, is going to be in a world of hurt by the end of the first day.

efreysson
03-30-2009, 09:15 PM
Don't forget to factor in the fitness of the rider as well. Both overall physical fitness and recent riding experience make a huge difference. Someone who grew up riding horses and still rides relatively long distances frequently should do okay with extended travel. Someone unfamiliar with horses, or even one who is used to an hour or two pleasure ride, is going to be in a world of hurt by the end of the first day.

Good point. I'll be sure to slip it in. It's those kinds of little details that spice up a narrative and make it more convincing. :)