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WriteMinded
12-05-2013, 08:09 PM
My fantasy novel is set in the 5th century. 50 men, riding 50 horses, have 50 more horses with them and are traveling through Britain. They also have a severely wounded man who has to be carried.

Question 1: Would they herd the horses, or would each man lead one while they herd the rest? Some of the men are otherwise occupied, so there isn't really one guy to a horse.

Question 2: I estimated their travel time as 5 mi/day. Is that a reasonable guess, or not? I did do some research, but now I don't remember how I came up with that number.

Anyway, I'd appreciate a few guesstimates and some opinions on how they'd move the horses along with them. The story is not about the horses, so I don't want to go into a great deal of horse lore, but I do need to know about their travel time.

Thanks.

mirandashell
12-05-2013, 08:10 PM
Where in Britain are they travelling? The terrain varies greatly within a few miles.

5th century BCE or CE?

WriteMinded
12-05-2013, 08:19 PM
Where in Britain are they travelling? The terrain varies greatly within a few miles.

5th century BCE or CE?

Hmm. Across Wales (they came from Ireland), then north as far as Hadrian's Wall, then south. They are making a loop.

CE.

Thanks.

jclarkdawe
12-05-2013, 09:49 PM
Horses in the wild can travel up to 50 miles or more a day on their own. Depends upon how much of a rush they're in, but between 10 to 30+ miles a day is reasonable.

Two men can handle the horse herd. Horses herd and travel that way naturally. Give them a couple of days to get settled and they need a minimum of guidance and will do it themselves. Horses are a lot easier to herd then cattle.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

mirandashell
12-05-2013, 09:56 PM
You've probably already done this but have you taken a look at Google Earth?

I'm assuming you are coming in at South Wales and travelling north-east? What time of year? I'm asking because that will make a great difference to the grazing available.

Nekko
12-05-2013, 10:52 PM
Is the man who is being carried on a litter? And, is it being carried by men on foot, or being dragged by a horse (granted, I've only seen this in movies, so I don't know if this was practical in real life)

If men were walking, then that would affect how quickly they could go, but I'd be surprised if they only made 5 mi/day, unless the terrain was steep or otherwise difficult.

waylander
12-05-2013, 11:10 PM
Are they going across country or using the Roman roads?

WriteMinded
12-05-2013, 11:36 PM
Seems I didn't give nearly enough information. Sorry.

Horses in the wild can travel up to 50 miles or more a day on their own. Depends upon how much of a rush they're in, but between 10 to 30+ miles a day is reasonable.

Two men can handle the horse herd. Horses herd and travel that way naturally. Give them a couple of days to get settled and they need a minimum of guidance and will do it themselves. Horses are a lot easier to herd then cattle.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-DaweThanks. At least I was right on the horses vs cattle thing. Way off on the timing, though.


You've probably already done this but have you taken a look at Google Earth?

I'm assuming you are coming in at South Wales and travelling north-east? What time of year? I'm asking because that will make a great difference to the grazing available.Yep, did the Google Earth thing, but didn't find it that helpful.

Traveling from near Pembroke (don't think it was called that then) on to Llandovery, then cross country to Buckton, then north on the Roman Road almost to Deva, which they bypass, but pick up the road again to go north through Rhegged. After that it's east for a while, then south to York. From there it's on to more southward travel until they come to Bydwaun where all the adventure takes place. You never heard of Bydwaun, because it only exists in my novel.

The journey starts in early March.


Is the man who is being carried on a litter? And, is it being carried by men on foot, or being dragged by a horse (granted, I've only seen this in movies, so I don't know if this was practical in real life)

If men were walking, then that would affect how quickly they could go, but I'd be surprised if they only made 5 mi/day, unless the terrain was steep or otherwise difficult. The man, who lost his leg when they battled their way out of Ireland, is carried by travois, but the back end is carried by two men. Yes, he slows things down considerably.


Are they going across country or using the Roman roads? A little of both. Using the roads, but getting off them when trouble is a possibility. It's a dangerous place. :D

King Neptune
12-05-2013, 11:37 PM
Five miles a day is much too low. JCD's comments are right on.

An injured man on a horse-litter wouldn't slow them much. Put the back end of the poles on the sides of a horse.

WriteMinded
12-05-2013, 11:56 PM
Five miles a day is much too low. JCD's comments are right on.

An injured man on a horse-litter wouldn't slow them much. Put the back end of the poles on the sides of a horse.Thanks for answering.

Yeah, I figured JDC knew what he was talking about. His comment just had that knowledgeable ring to it.

When you say put the back end of the poles on the sides of a horse, do you mean, men in front, horse in back? or two horses, one in front, one in back? Or none of the above? :D The guy's amputation is days old. I was trying not to jounce him around too much.

King Neptune
12-06-2013, 01:32 AM
Thanks for answering.

Yeah, I figured JDC knew what he was talking about. His comment just had that knowledgeable ring to it.

When you say put the back end of the poles on the sides of a horse, do you mean, men in front, horse in back? or two horses, one in front, one in back? Or none of the above? :D The guy's amputation is days old. I was trying not to jounce him around too much.

Make it a horse litter with poles hanging from horses both front and rear. There'll be bouncing no matter how you move him.

WriteMinded
12-06-2013, 03:16 AM
Make it a horse litter with poles hanging from horses both front and rear. There'll be bouncing no matter how you move him.

Hey, thanks. I didn't know that was ever done.

King Neptune
12-06-2013, 03:36 AM
Hey, thanks. I didn't know that was ever done.

They were not rarities.
rather good picture of one
http://www.lookandlearn.com/history-images/M078722/Two-Horse-Litter-of-the-Fourteenth-and-Fifteenth-Centuries

WriteMinded
12-06-2013, 06:15 PM
Hey, thanks everybody for the help.

mirandashell
12-06-2013, 08:01 PM
Make it a horse litter with poles hanging from horses both front and rear. There'll be bouncing no matter how you move him.

Would that need the horses to walk off the same front foot?

King Neptune
12-06-2013, 11:12 PM
Would that need the horses to walk off the same front foot?

I don't know. I do think that the gait of the horses would cause more or less bouncing, but I don't know how it would work.

jclarkdawe
12-06-2013, 11:47 PM
I was there when a canoe was done with two pack horses. You can't control which foot the back horse does first. He's going to walk off when he feels the pull of the freight/person between the two horses. This is what he's trained to do. Front horse is on a lead to the rider, who's on a third horse. Only thing watching where the feet are is the horses.

On the flip side, most horses are the same side dominate like humans and will start on the same foot. I'm not sure it makes any difference.

If you're carrying an injured person, the sling is sort of like a hammock, with spring and bounce control dealt with naturally by the slack between the two horses. Second horse requires the right personality and training, as there is no control on that horse. Even running a rope from the second horse's halter to the rider isn't going to give you much control.

You're limited to a walking pace.

Terrain is going to determine whether you use a hammock between two horses, or a travois. Flat terrain that isn't rocky and a travois is better. If the horses aren't trained for pack work, a travois is better. Realize that with a hammock, you've got to plan your turns very carefully. With the canoe, at one point we had to hand walk both horses to get through some trees.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Buffysquirrel
12-07-2013, 12:56 AM
If it was me, I'd leave the injured guy behind and pick him up later, presuming he survived his injuries. Is there any particular reason to take him with them?

mirandashell
12-07-2013, 12:59 AM
Is there any particular reason to take him with them?

No-one left behind?

mirandashell
12-07-2013, 01:01 AM
JCD - very interesting. I know little about horses so it's good to learn this stuff should I ever need it.

Buffysquirrel
12-07-2013, 04:27 AM
No-one left behind?

But they are going back that way, so he's not really left behind.

WriteMinded
12-07-2013, 05:59 AM
Haha. My guys are up to no good - from the point of view of the Brits. The guy lost his leg risking his life for his cousin. They aren't about to leave him behind.

frimble3
12-07-2013, 10:31 AM
I think that you'd need to get the injured man onto one horse, if you want to make better time.
How bad is his condition? Did he lose the leg recently, or is it healing, and he could stand up to a little jostling? Is he conscious enough to sit upright?
Jclarkedawe and KingNeptune would know if this would work:
If he could sit upright, and the wound wouldn't start bleeding again,
could he ride pillion with another man? It was common for women to 'ride' pillion until fairly recently, sitting sideways behind a (male) rider, who was doing the actual horse-control. Depending on how high he lost the leg, sitting sideways would be easier that trying to use the nonexistent leg for balance, and if necessary, he could be tied to the rider in case he drifted out of consciousness.
It would make the group more mobile, but I don't know if this would be too hard on the injured man.

jclarkdawe
12-07-2013, 06:47 PM
If I'm looking for speed with someone injured, I'd go with a travois over the person in a saddle, especially with this big a horse herd. However, very injured people have gone quite the distance in the saddle. You do what you have to do in order to survive. Or you die and solve the problem.

Advantages of a travois is you can strap the person securely to the travois, so that although the travois is moving, the person doesn't move that much. A horse can canter with a travois, as it provides no interference with the horse's action. However, a horse would tire faster with a travois from the drag. But with a horse herd this size, I can change horses every couple of hours and do it quickly. Maybe five minutes to swap out a horse.

But ultimately, if your choice is sucking it up and being on a horse, or dying, you can suck up a lot of pain and keep going. Travel technique in this situation depends a lot on the cultural approach of the people involved. American Indians used the travois with injured, while cowboys sat in the saddle. Different cultures.

All three techniques are used and were used. In the real world, for someone who has used all three techniques, it would be a judgment call depending upon the personalities of the horses involved, the distance to be traveled, the terrain to be covered, the speed to be traveled at, and a S*W*A*G (scientific wild ass guess) as to which one is the best to use.

I've seen a canoe transported between two pack horses and behind one horse in a modified travois. I've seen a kayak transported on one horse. I know people who do mountain rescues out West who used all three techniques for injured. In the end, it comes down to a S*W*A*G.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

WriteMinded
12-07-2013, 06:48 PM
They would like to make better time, but his amputation is days old, and I need them to be slowed down. Also, King Neptune's horse litter is interesting but a little fancy for my rough 'n ready Irishmen. They wouldn't stop to build it and the horses wouldn't be trained to it. They are stealing as they travel and they intend to take over British lands.

Soon they'll steal a wagon for him and later he'll start riding again.

What I really needed to find out about was the travel time and the herding. That's all cleared up. I love how these threads so often wander down side paths and turn out fascinating bits of information that I'd never have thought to look for on my own.

jclarkdawe
12-07-2013, 07:21 PM
Wagons are very slow unless there are roads.

King Neptune was showing you the Cadillac version. To rig the Honda version, hold two horses about ten feet apart going in the same direction, both horses with a saddle. Take two ropes and tie to each saddle, a rope on each side of each horse. Take third rope and weave between the two ropes and the two horses. It would take me less then thirty minutes to set up on a bad day. Add some blankets and it will collapse around the person like a hammock, holding them nice and secure.

Travois would take me about the same time to set up. I just need some saplings and rope.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

King Neptune
12-07-2013, 07:56 PM
They would like to make better time, but his amputation is days old, and I need them to be slowed down. Also, King Neptune's horse litter is interesting but a little fancy for my rough 'n ready Irishmen. They wouldn't stop to build it and the horses wouldn't be trained to it. They are stealing as they travel and they intend to take over British lands.

Soon they'll steal a wagon for him and later he'll start riding again.

What I really needed to find out about was the travel time and the herding. That's all cleared up. I love how these threads so often wander down side paths and turn out fascinating bits of information that I'd never have thought to look for on my own.

A wagon would be slower than a horse litter or a travois. in 5th century Britain there weren't many roads, and they are slower for horses to drag.

A horse litter could be put together in a short time, and the same with a travois, and horses wouldn't need any significant amount of training.

So these are some of the Scoti who landed early and started the conquest of what is now known as Scotland? I thought they started around the Clyde.

jclarkdawe
12-07-2013, 07:57 PM
An injured person isn't going to slow down your riders much at all, unless it is a very important persona that's worth the risk of slowing down.

Slowing down horses is more about terrain problems. Biggest one is water crossings. If the current is too high, banks too steep, too much underbrush in the water, and you can't cross. Fords were important because often you couldn't cross with a horse any place else. It's taken me over an hour to find a place where a horse can cross a dinky little stream. Water crossings are a big way to slow down your riders.

Bottlenecks are another problem with a group this big. Water next to a steep slope and only enough room for one or two horses, and you've got problems. These are both high risk from attack locations and just time consuming. Think about how bad the highway is when construction causes three lanes to go to one.

Poor graze will cause problems, but this builds up over time. Deserts are another obstacle, but I'm not sure you'd have it in England. Bogs, on the other hand, are also obstacles, with limited trails through them, which go back to bottlenecks.

An injured rider might give you a 20% reduction of speed, but that's about it. More likely, the time loss would not be noticeable.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

benbenberi
12-07-2013, 10:09 PM
A wagon will slow your people much much more than a litter or travois would, and be much less comfortable for the injured person inside -- remember that in 5c Britain not only are there very few paved roads for smooth rolling, there may not be anything we would recognize as roads at all -- away from towns, a "road" might not even be a clearly-delineated trackway with clearly-delineated wheel ruts, just a notional zone of open country between here and there with a few landmarks (recognizable to locals) to identify it, and nothing at all to make it more passable to wheeled traffic than the surrounding non-road landscape.

Between broken wheels, broken axles, and bottomless bogs, a wagon isn't going to do very well,and the person inside it will fare worse!

Mr Flibble
12-08-2013, 04:36 AM
I have to say my big worry would be infection/blood loss from an amputation.

Carrying an injured person isn't the problem(as stated above very well). Infection etc would be. Not to mention them surviving the initial chopping off. Now yes, there were methods in force at the time. But...it would be hard enough if the patient was settled afterwards (Hippocrates performed amputations if I am correct) but then to go on the road a day or two later? With all the mud and filth that entails? Plus how did they stop the blood loss?

He'd be a lucky guy to live long.

ECathers
12-08-2013, 09:04 AM
An injured person isn't going to slow down your riders much at all, unless it is a very important persona that's worth the risk of slowing down.

Slowing down horses is more about terrain problems. Biggest one is water crossings. If the current is too high, banks too steep, too much underbrush in the water, and you can't cross. Fords were important because often you couldn't cross with a horse any place else. It's taken me over an hour to find a place where a horse can cross a dinky little stream. Water crossings are a big way to slow down your riders.

Bottlenecks are another problem with a group this big. Water next to a steep slope and only enough room for one or two horses, and you've got problems. These are both high risk from attack locations and just time consuming. Think about how bad the highway is when construction causes three lanes to go to one.

Poor graze will cause problems, but this builds up over time. Deserts are another obstacle, but I'm not sure you'd have it in England. Bogs, on the other hand, are also obstacles, with limited trails through them, which go back to bottlenecks.

An injured rider might give you a 20% reduction of speed, but that's about it. More likely, the time loss would not be noticeable.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Good stuff here.

As for herding itself, my tactic would be to identify the lead mare. (Despite the common misconception that stallions rule the herd, stallions act as guardians against predators/other stallions but aren't really "in charge" of the herd.) Once you know who the most dominant mare is, put her on a lead and it should be relatively easy to get the rest of them following. This obviously is easier with an established herd than with disparate groups of horses from different places, but still shouldn't be hard to manage.

I haven't had any experience herding cattle, but as with horses, my experience with yaks was that if you control the herd mother you control the entire herd.

WriteMinded
12-08-2013, 06:26 PM
Wagons are very slow unless there are roads.

King Neptune was showing you the Cadillac version. To rig the Honda version, hold two horses about ten feet apart going in the same direction, (Yeah, I don't want to rip the guy apart. :D) both horses with a saddle. Take two ropes and tie to each saddle, a rope on each side of each horse. Take third rope and weave between the two ropes and the two horses. It would take me less then thirty minutes to set up on a bad day. Add some blankets and it will collapse around the person like a hammock, holding them nice and secure.

Travois would take me about the same time to set up. I just need some saplings and rope.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-DaweYes. I had them using a travois. The wagon seemed a good idea when they stole it, but they only keep it for a while.


A wagon would be slower than a horse litter or a travois. in 5th century Britain there weren't many roads, and they are slower for horses to drag.

A horse litter could be put together in a short time, and the same with a travois, and horses wouldn't need any significant amount of training.

So these are some of the Scoti who landed early and started the conquest of what is now known as Scotland? I thought they started around the Clyde.No. They don't go any farther north than Hadrian's Wall. Though I guess you might call them settlers of sorts. And, they "settle" in an area of Britain that does not exist on any map except mine.


An injured person isn't going to slow down your riders much at all, unless it is a very important persona that's worth the risk of slowing down.

Slowing down horses is more about terrain problems. Biggest one is water crossings. If the current is too high, banks too steep, too much underbrush in the water, and you can't cross. Fords were important because often you couldn't cross with a horse any place else. It's taken me over an hour to find a place where a horse can cross a dinky little stream. Water crossings are a big way to slow down your riders.

Bottlenecks are another problem with a group this big. Water next to a steep slope and only enough room for one or two horses, and you've got problems. These are both high risk from attack locations and just time consuming. Think about how bad the highway is when construction causes three lanes to go to one.

Poor graze will cause problems, but this builds up over time. Deserts are another obstacle, but I'm not sure you'd have it in England. Bogs, on the other hand, are also obstacles, with limited trails through them, which go back to bottlenecks.

An injured rider might give you a 20% reduction of speed, but that's about it. More likely, the time loss would not be noticeable.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-DaweGood info. Well, the injured man is the beloved friend and cousin of their "chief".

I realize that in 143k words they never cross a river. I can certainly use that to delay things.

I posted the question about travel speed because I was pretty sure my timeline was off. But what I've got now works just fine.



A wagon will slow your people much much more than a litter or travois would, and be much less comfortable for the injured person inside -- remember that in 5c Britain not only are there very few paved roads for smooth rolling, there may not be anything we would recognize as roads at all -- . . .

Between broken wheels, broken axles, and bottomless bogs, a wagon isn't going to do very well,and the person inside it will fare worse!They use the wagon only for a while and only on a Roman road. Uh oh, I didn't realize that traveling in a wagon would the wounded man less comfortable. They take the wagon on his account.


I have to say my big worry would be infection/blood loss from an amputation.

Carrying an injured person isn't the problem(as stated above very well). Infection etc would be. Not to mention them surviving the initial chopping off. Now yes, there were methods in force at the time. But...it would be hard enough if the patient was settled afterwards (Hippocrates performed amputations if I am correct) but then to go on the road a day or two later? With all the mud and filth that entails? Plus how did they stop the blood loss?

He'd be a lucky guy to live long. Infection/blood loss would be my big worry, too. It is two days before he's put on a ship and crosses over to Britain. Then he has 5 more days of rest before they drag him off. :D They stopped the blood loss and infection the way they do it in the movies.

BTW, he outlives them all.


Good stuff here.

As for herding itself, my tactic would be to identify the lead mare. (Despite the common misconception that stallions rule the herd, stallions act as guardians against predators/other stallions but aren't really "in charge" of the herd.) Once you know who the most dominant mare is, put her on a lead and it should be relatively easy to get the rest of them following. This obviously is easier with an established herd than with disparate groups of horses from different places, but still shouldn't be hard to manage.

I haven't had any experience herding cattle, but as with horses, my experience with yaks was that if you control the herd mother you control the entire herd.
Interesting. Thanks.

Maxx B
12-10-2013, 10:08 PM
What about logistics, 50 people need a lot of food and water. Small parties can forage on the move, how do you feed 50 people on the move? I'd have each man ride one horse, leading a second that carried packs with food and other basic supplies.

jclarkdawe
12-10-2013, 10:38 PM
What about logistics, 50 people need a lot of food and water. Small parties can forage on the move, how do you feed 50 people on the move? I'd have each man ride one horse, leading a second that carried packs with food and other basic supplies.

Put packs on the horses in the horse herd. There's no reason to have to lead them. Leading ties up your ability to respond to an attack.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

WriteMinded
12-11-2013, 06:08 PM
What about logistics, 50 people need a lot of food and water. Small parties can forage on the move, how do you feed 50 people on the move? I'd have each man ride one horse, leading a second that carried packs with food and other basic supplies.Ummm. Well, I've taken care of those things. They hunt. And did I mention they are thieves? My question was about travel time and herding. The story is not about the travel. I just have to get them from one place to another, and I needed to figure out approximately how long it should take them to get there.

And yes, JDC, that was my thought, too. Packs on the horses.

Thanks, guys.

Reziac
12-13-2013, 09:56 AM
They use the wagon only for a while and only on a Roman road. Uh oh, I didn't realize that traveling in a wagon would the wounded man less comfortable. They take the wagon on his account.

No springs in that era. If you want to see how jouncy that gets, put a shovel in a wheelbarrow, then wheel it around your supposedly-smooth yard. Watch the shovel damnear jump out of the wheelbarrow!

WriteMinded
12-13-2013, 06:09 PM
No springs in that era. If you want to see how jouncy that gets, put a shovel in a wheelbarrow, then wheel it around your supposedly-smooth yard. Watch the shovel damnear jump out of the wheelbarrow!
What! No springs? No heat? No air-conditioner? No GPS? No built-in bar? Shudder, shudder.