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efreysson
03-02-2010, 09:14 PM
I have a scene where a character is trying to escape a nighttime attack on a camp, and doesn't have time to saddle his horse before riding off. Has anyone here ridden barebacked, without a bridle? Can a skilled rider ride hard that way, at least for a little while?
And how spooked is a horse likely to be by fighting and the smell of blood?

firedrake
03-02-2010, 09:16 PM
I have a scene where a character is trying to escape a nighttime attack on a camp, and doesn't have time to saddle his horse before riding off. Has anyone here ridden barebacked, without a bridle? Can a skilled rider ride hard that way, at least for a little while?
And how spooked is a horse likely to be by fighting and the smell of blood?

Yes, if you're a good rider, you can do it. As for the lack of a bridle, if it's a well trained horse who responds to commands from the rider's legs, then yes, it's possible.

KTC
03-02-2010, 09:23 PM
I've done it. It's very possible. Easy, even.

CaroGirl
03-02-2010, 09:25 PM
An experience rider and a well trained horse can manage bareback very well. I've done it many times and it's not difficult.

I believe a strong smell of blood would panic a horse.

efreysson
03-02-2010, 09:34 PM
An experience rider and a well trained horse can manage bareback very well. I've done it many times and it's not difficult.

I believe a strong smell of blood would panic a horse.

Alright. What counts as a strong smell? A man is slashed to death a few meters away from the horse, and the rider gets a gash on the thigh while escaping.

Scoody
03-02-2010, 09:35 PM
I have a scene where a character is trying to escape a nighttime attack on a camp, and doesn't have time to saddle his horse before riding off. Has anyone here ridden barebacked, without a bridle? Can a skilled rider ride hard that way, at least for a little while?
And how spooked is a horse likely to be by fighting and the smell of blood?

It would depend. Is it his horse? If it is then the horse trusts the rider and there would not be a problem, but if the guy is making an escape and jumping on a random unbridled, unsaddled horse, the horse would be spooked and possibly impossible to handle.

CEtchison
03-02-2010, 09:52 PM
I can understand not saddling a horse and taking off on bareback, I did it as a kid and was far from a horse expert.

But the scenario has me wondering if the horse needs some kind of bridle or halter. How else would they keep the horses from running off in the middle of the night if spooked? I would think the horses would need to be tied to something if a pen is not available.

Mr Flibble
03-02-2010, 10:05 PM
But the scenario has me wondering if the horse needs some kind of bridle or halter. How else would they keep the horses from running off in the middle of the night if spooked? I would think the horses would need to be tied to something if a pen is not available.

Hobbles

What genre is this?

If a fantasy or historical and the horse is some sort of warhorse, fighting / smell of blood wouldn't spook them much - they'd be used to it. Also a lot depends on the training of the horse. If they are trained to be ridden bareback it's going to be a heck of a lot easier! However it's not all that hard if you're a reasonably competent rider.

As for no bridle - difficult unless the horse has been trained to be ridden that way, a halter at least would be better. If it's a camp of sorts, they might just slip the bit and leave the bridle on ( especially if they are ready to move at a moment's notice) Again, all depends on the training of the horse - and would your guy know what training they'd received?

CEtchison
03-02-2010, 10:17 PM
Hobbles
Well, I learned something new today! So I ran right off to google. I remember seeing the styles they used during breeding or horseshoeing but never knew what they were called or that they even had a name.

jclarkdawe
03-02-2010, 11:42 PM
You need to separate out the separate issues here to make sense. First question is whether the camp is in the woods, plains, or partial trees. This affects how you want to deal with the horses. Then look at the number of horses that you have. And add into it the training of the horses. The Mongols and American Indians used vastly different techniques from the Romans. Arabs used an even different approach. So your first question is exactly how are the horses being kept.

Second question is going to be how do you take the rest of the horses with you. Escaping is the easy part, staying away the hard part. So as part of the escape, you've got to get the rest of the horses to leave, or you're going to be caught very quickly. And a trade off horse is very helpful in your escape.

Now for the escape itself, riding bareback can be done at a full gallop, if the rider has the skill. And initially, the person isn't going to worry about control. All they'll want to do is make miles quickly. Whether it is north or south or east or west isn't going to matter too much. So whether you have a bridle or not doesn't really matter.

Once you get to the point where you need to control the horse, it's going to be partly a matter of training, but you can get some level of control with a shirt around the horse's neck. A halter/bridle can be made from a hair in a horse's tail and mane, and in under an hour. Cloth can be used as well. A piece of rope can be made into one in about five minutes.

Even with a completely untrained horse, you can get steering by wacking the horse on the side of the neck. Keep doing until he turns. He'll get the message quickly.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Scoody
03-02-2010, 11:52 PM
Even with a completely untrained horse, you can get steering by wacking the horse on the side of the neck. Keep doing until he turns. He'll get the message quickly.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

In Texas we slap the side of his head with a hat. Smack the right side the horse goes left. Slap the left side the horse goes right. Not hard though because you may startle the horse and if his head goes down and he bows up, you are taking a short flight off his back.

WriteKnight
03-04-2010, 02:56 AM
What do you NEED to happen? As others have stated, if you need the escape to go smoothly, then you should stipulate that the horse is trained as a war-horse, not easily spooked by blood, able to take leg commands or 'pressure' commands on his neck. Rider is skilled and capable - then sure - you can make a fast escape. As others have pointed out though - what about the OTHER horses? And how is this horse 'grounded' for the night? In a pen? On a picket line? Hobbled? These elements will have to be dealt with. Hobbles have to be removed - approaching a picket line or a pen full of horses in the dead of night might spook them all.

efreysson
03-04-2010, 10:40 AM
What do you NEED to happen? As others have stated, if you need the escape to go smoothly, then you should stipulate that the horse is trained as a war-horse, not easily spooked by blood, able to take leg commands or 'pressure' commands on his neck. Rider is skilled and capable - then sure - you can make a fast escape. As others have pointed out though - what about the OTHER horses? And how is this horse 'grounded' for the night? In a pen? On a picket line? Hobbled? These elements will have to be dealt with. Hobbles have to be removed - approaching a picket line or a pen full of horses in the dead of night might spook them all.

Well, I want the character to make a very narrow, haphazard escape. There are only two horses, kept in a depression in the wild. Two characters flee there, take the hobbles off the horses, the enemy shows up, cuts one of them down. The other climbs up on the freaked-out horse (his own, not a war-horse), and clings on for dear life and tries to steer the horse away from the enemies, while they in turn try to cut off his escape. He receives a nasty slash on the thigh, but is able to steer the horse in the right direction, and lets it carry him full-pelt away from the scene. The enemies don't have horses, so once he makes a nice distance he can calm the beast down, see to his wound, and continue at a more responsible pace.

That's sorta what I have in mind.

Rowan
03-04-2010, 03:19 PM
I've ridden bareback a number of times but the lack of a bridle...not sure that'd work (at least not with the Thoroughbreds I owned). ;) Can't this horse have a halter on? Your character could easily attach a lead and create a makeshift 'bitless bridle' of sorts. Now if he has a really good relationship with this horse then your scenario is possible (think Arwen and Asfaloth or Gandalf and Shadowfax OR Viggo Mortensen and his paint horse, Hidalgo). :) AND, he wouldn't have to do much steering---a horse will run away from a threat so unless he's surrounded by enemies, your average horse will flee towards the nearest opening.

sheadakota
03-04-2010, 03:41 PM
I would also second (third?) having at least a halter on the horse- climbing on the back of a freaked out horse- yours or someone esle's would not be an easy thing to do
even if you had hold of the halter the horse is going to be backing and circling away from you- not letting you get anywhere near his back-
I mean do what you need to do for your story- I've owned, trained and have ridden horses for thirty years- there is no way I would be able to jump bareback on a bridal-less, halter-less, freaked out horse.

A scenario I might suggest is earleir in the story suggest a strong bond between the man and his horse- then when that time comes and the animal needs to overcome that powerful flight response, it would be plausable that a few soothing words and a calm touch would keep him still long enough for the guy to grab a handful of mane and swing up on his back-

Fenika
03-05-2010, 05:03 AM
Adding: I always thought a hobbled horse could run if determined? They certainly can cover ground and end up not where expected by morning.

Also, a freaked horse is going to run straight past/over/through any other horses/humans trying to cut him off, so all your MC has to worry about is not having his knee(s) bashed in. If he sees a threat up ahead he can make attempts to steer away. Of course, if he doesn't gallop bareback much, he'll be far more concerned with holding on for dear life on a panicked, UNpredictable horse than worrying about that fallen tree up ahead.

I'm a big fan of the halter and lead rope plan. Your MC will have one rein, though it won't work as well as a bit, it will do in a pinch with some effort. (A fist to the neck working for turning to the right, assuming your MC mounts from the left) A panicked horse isn't too attentive to signals though (depending on the horse and the situation) so you can add some brief tension there.

Lastly, as others mentioned, the horse might want to return to where other horses are. During the initial panic, the horse might not care if there's no other horse running away from him (behind him will spur him on of course). After he's covered some ground though, he's going to start looking for directions and start thinking*. If he's well trained and/or trusts his rider, he'll listen to the rider. If not, he'll loop right back for the enemy's horses and comfort or go find his buddy (who hopefully is running after your MC and horse with lead dangling for a remount and an advantage over your enemy). Of course, a good heel to the rib might have him continuing on, and if the rider has a long enough lead rope (and a short breather) he can eventually lean forward over the neck (while the horse is stopped) and tie it off for two reins and better control.

Clear as mud?

*Start thinking being the key term there. They are mostly thinking 'oh f***, what do I do next' rather than 'what would be a sane and rational way to find my bff now that I'm not actually under attack as I thought only moments ago' and are still pretty damn stirred up and prone to panic over further stimuli.

Ofc, if they have riders at their heels the whole time, the horse will probably keep thinking 'run, run, run, run...'

Mr Flibble
03-05-2010, 05:33 AM
Adding: I always thought a hobbled horse could run if determined? They certainly can cover ground and end up not where expected by morning

Depends on the hobble - I've certainly seen ones that mean walking / grazing is fine, a trot or above ain't

And always remember that horses are a) slightly mad and b) ready to run from any and everything, down to and including hedgehogs / crisp packets / a spot on the floor if they're already spooked. I used to ride a horse that was scared of yellow....

Fenika
03-05-2010, 05:55 AM
Oh, I'm sure you have some good stories to tell of your times with that horse ;)

I heard a story once of a rider that was riding a green horse who didn't bat an eye when a giant Mac truck went flying by (narrow shoulder, absurdly deep ditch, not a good place to be.) Well, the rider heaves a sigh of relief and hurries on to get off the road, only to have the horse stop drop and bolt when a small plastic bag went by. :D

'drop' meaning drop their shoulders. Typically followed by spinning away while you're still in the air.

jclarkdawe
03-05-2010, 06:40 AM
Okay, let's see what we've got here.


Well, I want the character to make a very narrow, haphazard escape. That's not a problem. The problem is making it believable.

There are only two horses, kept in a depression in the wild. How steep are the sides? You need to understand that a horse can climb as well as a mountain goat, without a rider. Depressions work for hiding a horse but doesn't help at all for keeping one.

Probably there are only going to be one or two ways easily out of the depression. Trust me that the horses will figure out the easy way and that's the way they will head. Most likely path the horse will take is the same way it went in. But that's not a problem.

Two characters flee there, take the hobbles off the horses, the enemy shows up, cuts one of them down. Assuming primitive technology, the hobbles would be rawhide. Basically a figure-eight shape on the front legs (there are also three-legged hobbles, but you wouldn't use them in this case). Hobbles limit motion, but depending upon the horse, they can run at a full gallop in them. Especially when scared. Solution to the hobbles from the rider's point of view is just a slice between the front legs. However, the chances of getting this done on a freaked horse is questionable. Those front legs are going to be thrashing all over the place. Personally I'd ignore the hobbles, which are probably going to break pretty soon anyway. They're not designed for this sort of abuse.

Any rider experienced enough to stay on this horse would not need to dismount to get rid of the hobbles. Remember that primitive horses tended not to be that tall. There's no way I'd stop to deal with this against unmounted pursuers.

The other climbs up on the freaked-out horse (his own, not a war-horse) No. You would not climb up. Safest way is to vault onto the horse as the horse runs by you. A freaked out horse wants to run. They believe in flight, and will only fight if there is no way out. But assuming the horse is staying in place (WHY???), approach would be to vault onto the horse.

, and clings on for dear life and tries to steer the horse away from the enemies, while they in turn try to cut off his escape. The horse will run over the enemies, so they're not much of a problem. Probably would not worry about steering at the moment.

In battle, this scenario happened frequently. Warrior's horse would be cut down, and a person standing on the battlefield is chum. Best approach is getting onto a horse as fast as possible, usually with the horse going at a full gallop. American Indian boys would actually practice this, and I'm guessing Mongol warriors as well. Untrained, but panic-stricken rider would probably do it out of desperation.

He receives a nasty slash on the thigh, but is able to steer the horse in the right direction, and lets it carry him full-pelt away from the scene. I doubt he'll have any directional control for a while, but it really doesn't matter. And it makes the escape a lot more haphazard.

The enemies don't have horses, so once he makes a nice distance he can calm the beast down, see to his wound, and continue at a more responsible pace.

That's sorta what I have in mind.

A neck rope would work for some control and support. But a very good rider, especially in a warrior culture, could probably do this. Me? No longer even in my dreams.

You're going to have to set up some credibility here before the scene. And you might want to watch horse vaulting to give you a better idea of how this works. For example, vaulting, gymnastics on horseback (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km4fqXsAqmU). Now just imagine doing this in an uncontrolled environment.

Remember that in a battle situation, the biggest danger is the other side. If you can get on the horse, you've got a lot of incentive to stay on. And the safest place is going to be on the horse's back. Falls only hurt when you land.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

thothguard51
03-05-2010, 06:43 AM
In any society that depends on horses, the horses are going to be trained for whatever task needed. Now depending on the type of camp, if a hunters camp, more than likely the horses are hobbled so they do not run off. If a military or bandit camp, they more than likely are left with their bridles on and the reigns tied to a trot line. Saddles are removed to rest the horses unless they have to move at a moments notice, but I would leave the bridle on.

I used to do endurance riding out west and I can tell you not to believe the movies, because a horse can not run full out for miles and miles on end. After about two miles, depending on the weight of the rider and tack, the horse is going to start getting winded and you will need to alter its speed or risk losing the horse within another mile. You do almost as much walking with a horse as you do riding.

If this escape is at night, horses do not see well and this is why they spoke so easily. There are lots of hazards that can bring a horse down, and they know it more than their riders do, so you need to trust a horses sense. Still, there are all kinds of things that can spook a horse, such as new sounds, smells, or even quick movements that may remind them of a predator. A horses first instinct is flight because of their ability to outrun most animals/preditors.

WildScribe
03-05-2010, 06:51 AM
I love these threads, I learn so much!

Fenika
03-05-2010, 07:40 AM
Falls only hurt when you land.


QFT.

And there's so many bloody ways to land. x.x

thothguard51
03-05-2010, 07:48 AM
On your feet would be the preferred method...

Fenika
03-06-2010, 06:49 AM
Done that, but only a few times (emergency dismounts not counting, as you have a higher chance of landing--and remaining on--your feet.)

I rode a horse once, when still a greenie, that had me mastering my emergency dismount darn fast ;)

shaldna
03-15-2010, 03:03 AM
I have a scene where a character is trying to escape a nighttime attack on a camp, and doesn't have time to saddle his horse before riding off. Has anyone here ridden barebacked, without a bridle? Can a skilled rider ride hard that way, at least for a little while?
And how spooked is a horse likely to be by fighting and the smell of blood?


I do not recomend this. Riding bareback is fine, most people can do it.

However, with no bridle the horse is going togo where he likes and as fast as he likes. the rider will have no control at all.

Horses don't really bother much with teh smell of blood, but if there is a lot fo commotion going on then they are likely to go ape, so your rider may not even be able toget one one, never mind sucesfully ride it away.

shaldna
03-15-2010, 03:12 AM
Depends on the hobble - I've certainly seen ones that mean walking / grazing is fine, a trot or above ain't

And always remember that horses are a) slightly mad and b) ready to run from any and everything, down to and including hedgehogs / crisp packets / a spot on the floor if they're already spooked. I used to ride a horse that was scared of yellow....


I have a horse who will happily walk past JCB's and cross a dual carriage way with no fuss. But he's terrified of leaves on the path, his own shadow, and sand.

Horses are freaking weird.