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efreysson
02-26-2014, 06:54 PM
My two protagonists must push their horses hard towards the climax of my WIP, and I need to know it if actually works.

The characters travel for four days on a disused road, at a moderate pace, then lead the horses on a ship and sail to another country, which takes about a day. There they uses the horses for a couple of short trips but otherwise they get to rest for three days. THEN the characters are forced to move very quickly and they sail back to where they came, and then ride as hard as they can for several hours, with a brief stop so as not to kill the horses before reaching the destination. Anyway, they reach the destination but some unexpected stuff comes up and an hour later they must again ride against time, for about an hour.

Is it feasible that a horse could be put through this or do I need to add an extra horse for each character, so they can switch between?

mrsmig
02-26-2014, 07:16 PM
You might want to have a look at the Useful Research Links (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=63015) sticky at the top of this subforum. There's a whole section on horses which may contain what you're looking for.

King Neptune
02-26-2014, 08:31 PM
and then ride as hard as they can for several hours, with a brief stop so as not to kill the horses before reaching the destination. Anyway, they reach the destination but some unexpected stuff comes up and an hour later they must again ride against time, for about an hour.

The "ride as hard as they can for several hours" would kill the horses. I don't remember exactly how or far a horse can run without resting, but it's a lot less than an hour, more like a few minutes.


Is it feasible that a horse could be put through this or do I need to add an extra horse for each character, so they can switch between?

Even with remounts it would be difficult.

melindamusil
02-26-2014, 09:05 PM
The "ride as hard as they can for several hours" would kill the horses. I don't remember exactly how or far a horse can run without resting, but it's a lot less than an hour, more like a few minutes.


Your question reminds me of the Pony Express, which was a mail service here in the US in the 1860s. Their "claim to fame" was that they could take a letter from St. Joseph, MO to Sacramento, California in 10 days.

There were over 150 Pony Express stations spread along the route, about 10 miles apart. 10 miles was/is about the limit of a horse's endurance. A Pony Express rider would push his horse, full gallop, but after 10 miles, he'd have to stop at the next station and exchange the tired horse for a fresh horse. The station manager would rest the tired horse, and eventually the horse would go back into the rotation.

But the horses absolutely could not be pushed more than about 10 miles each without fear of killing them. And even if the horse doesn't have a rider (as in, if they're taking extra mounts along with them), you'll still be at risk of killing them.

efreysson
02-26-2014, 10:11 PM
The "ride as hard as they can for several hours" would kill the horses. I don't remember exactly how or far a horse can run without resting, but it's a lot less than an hour, more like a few minutes.


Let me clarify: Ride as hard as they can without the horses collapsing.

NinjaFingers
02-26-2014, 10:19 PM
It really depends on the distances involved. Have you considered that?

You don't ride as hard as you can for several hours unless you have remounts available. You canter until they start to puff, then walk until their heart rate is back down, then canter again - that's how you cover ground quickly without killing your horse).

Okay, this data might help.

The Tevis Cup is the most prestigious 100-mile equine endurance race in North America. The winning time is usually between 15 and 16 hours. So, a fit, trained horse with a fit, trained rider, can do 100 miles in 16 hours, for an average speed of 6.25 miles per hour. If you're only going 50 miles and know you can rest the horse at the end, then you can probably up that to 8-9 miles per hour. Again, you switch gaits, you let the horses breathe, you don't ride flat out for hours - unless it's a life/death situation to the point where riding a horse to death might be warranted. (And yes, historically, urgent messengers have ridden horses to death. And yes, horses are stupid enough to let you do it). But assuming your riders are valuing their horses, those are the sort of times you're looking at - again, this assumes a fit horse and rider.

onuilmar
02-26-2014, 11:13 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_gait

This link should help.

The only gaits the horse can maintain for hours are the walk and the trot. Just like for dogs, the trot is the horse's working gait.

This has also been my experience in riding.

ETA: Bear in mind that people can run much longer than most animals. In fact somewhere I read that people captured animals (for food or otherwise) by running them down. And that could involve days.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/health/27well.html?_r=0

King Neptune
02-27-2014, 12:09 AM
Let me clarify: Ride as hard as they can without the horses collapsing.

Big difference, Horses can do walk, trot, canter, gallop, walk... for quite a while, but you'd have to rest them for a while after every few hours.

Bolero
03-01-2014, 04:56 PM
Depends on the type of horse as well.

There is an interesting bit in one of the later Paksenarion books (Elizabeth Moon) where two groups on horse back are travelling together.

1. A group of mercenaries who fight on foot but use horse transport to get to the fight.
2. A company of heavy cavalry.

The latter is designed for a massive charge, not all day travel. Jogging along at the mercenaries transport horse pace isn't possible for the cavalry.

Also depends on how your ride them - my understanding (could be wrong) that rising in the stirrups in time with the trot (posting I think it is sometimes called) is easier on the horse than just sitting still in the saddle. But if you are going to trot for more than a few minutes while rising up and down in the saddle, you need to have had plenty of practice and strong legs.

Weight of rider and fitness of horse also wants to be considered.

shaldna
03-11-2014, 04:52 PM
My two protagonists must push their horses hard towards the climax of my WIP, and I need to know it if actually works.

The characters travel for four days on a disused road, at a moderate pace, then lead the horses on a ship and sail to another country, which takes about a day.

You need to define 'moderate' here.

I used to do long distance riding, and the top races cover 100 miles in 24 hours. But, and I stress this as being VERY important, both the horses and the riders are very fit and well prepared and have spent a long time building up to this and factoring in stops and rests and pace.

So, over say, 3 hours, a level mix of canter and trot would be 'moderate' but over 10 hours mostly trot with periods walk and complete rest would be 'moderate'

Wild horses will cover a distance of up to 25 miles a day on their own, mostly at a walk. Horses are nomadic animals and are designed to travel long distances.

Dehydration will be your biggest issue here. Horses sweat A LOT.

This is where you are going to have issues. After 4 days of constant moderate work - ie. all day long, then basically resting, then you can also run the risk of azoturia, which can be pretty unpleasant - Azoturia is also caused when the muscles are worked for long periods without a chance to rest - think of carrying on running with a stitch. This can cause serious damage to the horses muscles. A horse exhibiting this needs to be rested.



There they uses the horses for a couple of short trips but otherwise they get to rest for three days. THEN the characters are forced to move very quickly and they sail back to where they came, and then ride as hard as they can for several hours, with a brief stop so as not to kill the horses before reaching the destination.

A typical horse can do 2-3 miles at a gallop okay. A fit horse can maybe do 5-6.

But that amounts to mere minutes work of riding.

If they are going to push back as fast as possible and do it without their horses dropping dead, then they are going to be confined to mostly totting with some periods of canter and walk with, and I hate to tell you this, rest stops for rehydration.


Anyway, they reach the destination but some unexpected stuff comes up and an hour later they must again ride against time, for about an hour.

See above.


Is it feasible that a horse could be put through this or do I need to add an extra horse for each character, so they can switch between?

having a rider or not won't make a massive difference. It's just too much work for a horse to do at the speed you want it to go.



Depends on the type of horse as well.

There is an interesting bit in one of the later Paksenarion books (Elizabeth Moon) where two groups on horse back are travelling together.

1. A group of mercenaries who fight on foot but use horse transport to get to the fight.
2. A company of heavy cavalry.

The latter is designed for a massive charge, not all day travel. Jogging along at the mercenaries transport horse pace isn't possible for the cavalry.

I'll explain the science behind this - there are two types of muscle fibres - fast (type 2) and slow (type 1) twitch.

Slow twitch use aerobic metabolism to produce energy for endurance. They are

Fast twitch use anaerobic metabolism to produce energy for speed.

All horses have a mix of both, but in varying quantities. For instance, and Arab has more slow twitch fibres, which makes it perfect for long distance riding. A thoroughbred on the other hand has more fast twitch which makes it ideal for racing - which requires short bursts of energy.

Then you also have to take into the physical build of the horse. You have cold, warm and hot blood horses.

A hot blood is a fine, light build such as an Arab or a TB, a cold blood is a heavy draft type horse such as a Shire, and a warm blood is a general riding horse that is somewhere between the two, such as the Hanoverian. In the UK warm blood are sometimes referred to as Sport Horses.

Now, if you have a cold blood and you need to get somewhere fast, good luck to ya. But if you want something that can patiently plod on for days and week at a time carrying a lot of weight, then they are ideal.

And this is all assuming that your horse has no conformation or medial issues that would influence things, and assuming you don't get an injury etc.

And, and I REALLY CAN'T STRESS THIS ENOUGH, horses need to go to the bathroom too! While they can poo on the move, they HAVE to stop to pee - they can't go while moving.


Also depends on how your ride them - my understanding (could be wrong) that rising in the stirrups in time with the trot (posting I think it is sometimes called) is easier on the horse than just sitting still in the saddle. But if you are going to trot for more than a few minutes while rising up and down in the saddle, you need to have had plenty of practice and strong legs.

It depends on how good a rider you are. A bad rider posting is just as bad as a bad rider sitting. A good rider won't impact the going. A lot of working horses have a jogging pace, think a sort of slow trot, which covers ground but conserves energy. Perfect for long periods of riding.