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Layla Nahar
05-01-2012, 03:47 AM
Quick question (I think). When you travel with a horse you're usually walking most of the time, right, unless you have some reason to go faster?

Does a horse walk noticeably faster than a human? Would you save time walking by having some on-foot wayfarers who joined you double up on your horses? & is there a name for when two people ride one horse?

thanks!
LN

narmowen
05-01-2012, 03:55 AM
No. Trotting is actually the most effective gait, energy wise for a horse. It covers ground quicker than a walk, too.

Yes, normally, a horse would normally outwalk a human, but it's not too noticeable. Doubling up (aka riding double) can be very hard on a horses back, but it can be done depending on the size of the people and type of horse (heavy draft horse, palfry, destrier etc.)

Layla Nahar
05-01-2012, 04:04 AM
Trotting is actually the most effective gait, energy wise for a horse.

Oh - no kidding. So if I understand correctly, if I'm riding out from my castle, going to see the Duke a day or three away, I'm likely to be trotting most of the time.

I see double riding in the movies. It seems like it happens a lot, or at least people seem casual about it. I'm glad to have seen your answer before I had people casually throw an extra rider on all their horses.

thanks!

narmowen
05-01-2012, 04:09 AM
Yep, you're probably going to be a trotting. A lot. I've done a bit of research into endurance riding. Basically, if you're going to spend a lot of time riding (and two or three days away is a lot), you're going to use three of the four gaits. You'll be walking, trotting and cantering. And cycling through the three gaits. You'll use the walk and canter partly to give the horse a break, but also to give the rider a break, as trotting is hard work.

Yeah, don't casually throw an extra rider on. :) It can be done (and I've done it), but you can't go much faster than a walk because of the balance problems.

Layla Nahar
05-01-2012, 05:30 AM
wow - that is so useful. 'Little' things like this can make such a difference in having your story come out better - thanks again :)

L.C. Blackwell
05-01-2012, 05:40 AM
Depending on how much ground you want to cover and how fast, walking the horse is noticeably easier on your rear end. Spend a day at the trot without being conditioned for it, and you'll be lucky to stand up the next day--and you won't even do that without making faces and noises that generally aren't made in public.

As to walking speed, it depends on the horse. I've been able to outwalk some, keep up with others, and practically have to run to keep up with still others. Gaited horses who progress at the running walk can be very fast when in gait, and there's no way you could keep up with one on foot.

I'd say it depends a lot on the character and what you want to do. If he's a warrior who spends his days in the saddle, probably a steady trot. If he's the scholar who's never been on a horse in his life, or only rides sporadically, he'll be doing well to manage a walking pace.

jclarkdawe
05-01-2012, 07:04 AM
Modern writers go at figuring this backwards. Daily horse travel ranged from 100 - 150 miles per day for messengers on multiple horses, to 10 - 20 miles per day for inexperienced riders or people traveling with pack trains, wheeled vehicles, or walkers. Further you had to factor in sustainability into this. What you could do in one or two days, is markedly different then traveling for a week or more. Terrain and quality of trails also makes a difference.

How far you're traveling in a day would determine your pace, and that would determine what gaits your horse would use. For example, traveling with a wagon train or with Chaucer would be in range of 10 - 20 miles per day, with some days being even less then that. US Calvary could average 30 - 40 miles per day if pressed for several days. A small group of experienced horsemen traveling light could average 50 miles per day, for several days.

Understand that a traveling day was considerably shorter then a traveling day is now. Horses are grazing animals, and need time to graze. You'd probably ride about four to five hours in the morning, spend an hour or two for lunch, and then another three or four hours in the afternoon. So assuming twelve hours of daylight, you'd only have maybe seven to nine hours of traveling. Unless you know the territory, you stop early at the first good site. Especially in areas that are short on water. In that case, you travel water hole to water hole.

To give you an example, let's say you need to travel 150 miles and decide to do it in four days. Water supply is not a concern, but you also won't have inns to stay at either. Which means you probably need a pack horse for supplies, with one pack horse being able to support two riders. Daily mileage needs to be 40 miles per day, and you anticipate riding 8 hours per day.

That means your pace needs to be 5 mph. Average walking speed for a horse is 3 mph, so you need to add trotting and cantering to bring your speed up. By the way, this is going to rather pushing it.

If you have some walkers traveling with you, rather then riding double, the walkers hold onto the stirrup or saddlehorn, using the horse to sort of pull them along. Somebody in good shape could get quite the distance and speed this way. In addition, the walker and rider can trade off their positions.

Horses, unless you're pushing them (and yourself), didn't markedly increase your speed or distance. Humans are quite able to travel 20 - 30 miles a day. They don't need to stop and eat as frequently as horses, and humans tend to survive a day-to-day grind better then horses.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Medievalist
05-01-2012, 07:53 AM
You might take a look at MacAllister's Big Horse Posts (http://macallisterstone.blogspot.com/2008/01/big-horse-posts-collected.html).

shaldna
05-01-2012, 10:08 AM
A major factor to consider is the physical strength and fitness of the horse and the rider - bear in mind that in modern endurance only the fittest horses can riders can compete at 100 miles a day - most riders and horses can managed about 20 a day without too much stress or exertion, although I wouldn't recommend any more than that at speed.

Horses are nomadic animals and wild herds have been seen to travel 25 miles over the course of a day, which sounds a lot, but is really just a mile an hour - about a quarter of the speed they walk.

Chazevelt
05-01-2012, 01:05 PM
You have to take with a grain of salt anything you see horses accomplish in a movie, especially those old westerns. Remember, when you see two cowboys riding double at a wild gallop for miles and miles, those are stunt men galloping for a few feet then the horse is unsaddled and allowed to rest between takes- and usually trailered to the next setting where he's resaddled, hosed down to make him look sweaty, and off they go again across different terrian.

I love old westerns, but what really gets my hackles up is when cowboys ride up to a saloon and wrap the reins around the hitching post. Arrgh. Never, ever, tie a horse by reins attached to the bit in his mouth. Just never. Those movie horses are trained to stand quietly, not bicker and fuss at the horse tied next door, not shy at a piece of paper blowing under his nose, not kick the bejabers out of a dog that's nosing his heels. In Riders of the Purple Sage, Zane Gray, who was about as authentic as it gets, had a pair of horses, Black Star and Night, doing twenty mile gallops, daily. Took me right out of the story.

Captcha
05-01-2012, 03:31 PM
Has anyone got an opinion on the merit of feeding concentrates for distance travel? I mean, I would assume that if there was an inn at which a concentrate-accustomed horse could be fed concentrates as well as hay, it would decrease the rest time required.

But if there's no inn, how would you balance off the increased energy consumed in a shorter period of time vs. the increased weight of carrying the oats or whatever? Did distance riders historically carry feed with them, or rely on grazing? Have there been any advancements in modern feed that would make carrying concentrates a good tactic to a modern unsupported distance rider?

jclarkdawe
05-01-2012, 05:03 PM
Has anyone got an opinion on the merit of feeding concentrates for distance travel? I mean, I would assume that if there was an inn at which a concentrate-accustomed horse could be fed concentrates as well as hay, it would decrease the rest time required.

But if there's no inn, how would you balance off the increased energy consumed in a shorter period of time vs. the increased weight of carrying the oats or whatever? Did distance riders historically carry feed with them, or rely on grazing? Have there been any advancements in modern feed that would make carrying concentrates a good tactic to a modern unsupported distance rider?

Classic comparison in styles was the American Indian (who used grazing almost exclusively) versus the US Calvary (which grain fed their horses). Probably in the short term, a Calvary horse could outrun an Indian horse, all things being equal. Problem was they weren't. The Indians were better horsemen, by and large, and the Calvary carried significantly more weight. Also, the Indians had a large enough pool of horses to change off on a frequent basis.

The Calvary was limited by grain rations to only about three or four days of operation without a pack train. One factor in the Battle of Little Big Horn was the number of troopers that Custer had to detail to protect his pack train. Troopers that weren't available for the fight.

The ultimate incident was the Nez Perce Indians versus the US Calvary. 800 Nez Perce Indians retreated nearly 1200 miles, fighting off numerous attempts by about 2,000 Calvary to capture them. They were only caught about 35 miles from escaping into Canada. And the Calvary had to use steamboats, and multiple approaches to accomplish this. Although the horses on both sides by the end of this were in poor condition, management of their horse assets was better on the part of the Indians. But the factors I listed above were definitely an influence.

Further impacting all this is the seasons. Indian ponies were in rather thin, poor condition by the end of winter, while the Calvary's horses would be in better shape. In August, probably the horses were as close to equal as they could be.

Horse management is like planning the use of a battery-run flashlight during a blackout. Keep it on all the time and it runs out. Graining is an aspect of getting the most from a horse's limited resources. Carrying three to five days worth of grain would probably be advantageous. More would not. Although this depends in part upon what your transportation source. Use of wagons would enable a much larger supply of grain to be carried.

One modern tool for managing a horse's health in long-term physical exertion is electrolytes, similar in concept to Gatorade. Sweating results in the gradual reduction of minerals in a horse. Horses used in endurance can lose 10% of their weight during a ride, from water loss, and need to have these minerals replaced.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Layla Nahar
05-01-2012, 06:23 PM
Wow!

I go away to sleep and look what happens!

This is just so fantastic. I did try googling but it was really hard to find the info I was looking for.

You've all given my so much great enlightening and useful information. Thanks ever so much!

shaldna
05-03-2012, 01:56 AM
Has anyone got an opinion on the merit of feeding concentrates for distance travel? I mean, I would assume that if there was an inn at which a concentrate-accustomed horse could be fed concentrates as well as hay, it would decrease the rest time required.

The most recent thinking in endurance is that the horse should be allowed forage and water throughout the day. I don't feed a lot of concentrates when completing a long distance ride, primarily because of the way the grain is digested versus the way the forage is digested - the forage is a constant through-feed, and requires much less in terms of digestion, as opposed to a sudden dump of concentrates which require a more more complex digestive process - this is why they tell you not to ride for an hour before or after feeding, but riding a horse straight out of the feild is fine.



But if there's no inn, how would you balance off the increased energy consumed in a shorter period of time vs. the increased weight of carrying the oats or whatever? Did distance riders historically carry feed with them, or rely on grazing? Have there been any advancements in modern feed that would make carrying concentrates a good tactic to a modern unsupported distance rider?

You may carry some concetrates, but they are to supplement, rather than to replace forage.

In general the issues I've outlined above would suggest that concetrates are not ideal as the main form of sustinance for an endurance ride.





The Calvary was limited by grain rations to only about three or four days of operation without a pack train. One factor in the Battle of Little Big Horn was the number of troopers that Custer had to detail to protect his pack train. Troopers that weren't available for the fight.

Another factor to consider is physical ability - horses fed on a predominantly grain diet are more prone to stomach ulcers - I remember being taught at college (bachelors in equine science) that somewhere in the region of 95% of professional working horses - eventers, racehorses, showjumpers etc, have a stomach ulcer due to their concentrate dependent diet - the horses digestive system is not designed to be empty, and in a higher grain diet the stomach can be empty for a long period of time, which can cause ulcers. In contrast horses who are feild kept, or allowed ad-lib forage have a less than 10% rate of stomach ulcers because their digestive systems are never allowed to go empty.

In addition, you need to consider problems like azoturia (tying-up, Monday morning sickness) which is exacerbated by a horse on a high grain diet having a period of less exercise followed by a high energy period - common in working horses who would traditionally have a high concentrate, high energy diet and workload, then have sunday off but still be fed full rations. When they went back to work on monday their muscles would seize up due to the muscle glycogen accumulating over the rest period (fueled by the diet) and then a build up of lactic acid produced during the high energy working period can cause severe tissue damage.

It shouldn't shock you to hear that the most successful long term management of horses prone to azorturia is a high fibre diet - we usually recommend high fibre cubes, ad lib forage and bicarbonate of soda added to the feed.

So, there are numerous factors to consider.

In addition, if the horse is not accustomed to being grain fed, then it's likely that a sudden influx of concentrate, especially during a period of high level work, will cause colic.


One modern tool for managing a horse's health in long-term physical exertion is electrolytes, similar in concept to Gatorade. Sweating results in the gradual reduction of minerals in a horse. Horses used in endurance can lose 10% of their weight during a ride, from water loss, and need to have these minerals replaced.

We use electrolytes a lot. Weirdly, I had a horse at college who wouldn't drink water with salts added. We got around this problem by adding a little Ribena to his water to mask the taste.

Mineral loss is a massive issue in horses. When competing over longer distances I will add electrolytes to all water, especially in the later stages of a ride.

Think of it this way - have you ever worked out for a long period of time and, even though you drink lots of water you still have a headache that you can't shift? That's mineral loss.