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Bolero
05-17-2016, 05:13 PM
As well as the heavy horses in my story, I am also paying a little bit of attention to long distance riding horses. Having a read a bit about endurance horses, that will be what I am aiming for. Would I be correct that they are best thought of as marathon runners?
Could some of them have much short term sprint speed? (For that fun moment when it all goes to pot, you give a scream, kick your horse and gallop out of danger. Or not.)

Aerial
05-17-2016, 08:57 PM
As well as the heavy horses in my story, I am also paying a little bit of attention to long distance riding horses. Having a read a bit about endurance horses, that will be what I am aiming for. Would I be correct that they are best thought of as marathon runners?
Could some of them have much short term sprint speed? (For that fun moment when it all goes to pot, you give a scream, kick your horse and gallop out of danger. Or not.)

All horses are capable of an all-out gallop but the speed of that gallop will vary with breed. Endurance horses (and what kind of endurance you mean matters) could be Arabian-lineage or American mustangs (among others) if you're talking about multi-day or long-distance races over difficult terrain. Quarter horses are an "endurance" breed of a different sort that are good for months of consistent slow riding/walking while herding cattle but with the strength and speed to handle strays and runaways as needed. Draft breeds are "endurance" animals in that they can haul against a heavy load for periods of time better than smaller breeds.

All horses are ultimately prey animals. They are built for sprinting rather than endurance because that's how they survive a predator. All horses need to be rested or walked (rider walking with) at regular intervals to avoid harming them.

Some horses have better endurance characteristics than others, but, historically, anyone that needed to ride for days at speed took a string of remounts with them or, better yet, stopped at regular resupply posts to swap the tired horse for a fresh one.

jclarkdawe
05-17-2016, 09:10 PM
There's a lot of difference between a 2,000 pound Belgian galloping at you full speed (about 15 mph) and a Thoroughbred (over 30 mph). But all horses can gallop and for varying distances.

Jim Clark-Dawe

Bolero
05-17-2016, 09:39 PM
Thanks. Yup, relative speed is what I was looking for. Failed to say in my original post that it is for a fantasy in a broadly 17th century European type setting.

What I am thinking of is advance scouts/outriders for the wagons that are in my other thread. Going ahead, checking the road and bridges, booking accommodation for the night where they expect to stop, or where the advance scouts think they will be stopping at best guess. So able to go distances, generally on tracks - though might cut across country to save time on their way back to the wagons. It is a civilized area, but not guaranteed peaceful. So I think I am looking for the Arabian/Mustang type of endurance horse. I had googled "endurance horse" and come up with some information - in particular the most successful endurance horses seem to be on the smaller side. Hadn't appreciated the wider applicability of "endurance".

I think it also says that the scouts had better have several spares. Would it work that the spares spend several days chugging along behind the wagons for a bit of a rest? So ride one, rest two?

In terms of the gallop question, I think this feeds how the scouts will approach things - cautiously. (Which they kind of would anyway, but....) So any situation where they are approaching someone on say a hunter type horse, they'd be cautious as they couldn't get away at a sprint. Have I got that right?

Aerial
05-17-2016, 11:16 PM
I think it also says that the scouts had better have several spares. Would it work that the spares spend several days chugging along behind the wagons for a bit of a rest? So ride one, rest two?

Yes, this would be a good approach if they are taking their spares/remounts with them.

In terms of the gallop question, I think this feeds how the scouts will approach things - cautiously. (Which they kind of would anyway, but....) So any situation where they are approaching someone on say a hunter type horse, they'd be cautious as they couldn't get away at a sprint. Have I got that right?

What do you mean by a "hunter horse"? Do you mean a soldier on horseback? Another scout? Something else? Just like in a foot race between humans, if they aren't starting at the same point, in the same gear, and at the same level of rested-ness, then the outcome will probably be as much or more dependent on the other factors than on which one has the "actual" top speed.

At that point, you can work the situation to meet your needs. Going with people, again. If you're approaching an uncertain situation on foot and someone sees you and comes running after you with a knife... If he's a top Olympic sprinter, you'd better have seen him a loooong way off. If he's an overweight, sixty-year-old rent-a-cop, you have a lot better chance of outrunning him. If he's a really fit guy wearing armor and an 80 pound rucksack (that he doesn't drop), you'll probably still outrun him. Same thing applies to horses.


Aerial

Bolero
05-18-2016, 12:58 AM
I meant the kind of horse used for fox hunting - so cross country canter/gallop and wall jumping kind of horse. Good for a morning but not all day. Thought they were known as "hunters". Might be ridden by a gentleman out hunting or a better equipped sort of cavalryman.

Thanks for the human equivalents, very good clarification.

Incidentally - the scouts - from the pictures I saw of endurance arab type horses - smaller, lighter riders would be the best - horse could go the furthest, yes?

jclarkdawe
05-18-2016, 09:05 PM
Remember that all things being equal, the bigger the horse the more feed it requires. Hunters are a bit heavier than I'd want. Back then, I'd want horses about 900 pounds, heavy on the front end. You're looking at the start off the line and the initial burst. Quarter horses of the original design, not as they are bred now, would be the ideal. Cow ponies are the type that you're looking for.

If you have the resources, you'd want about six mounts per man. You'd use one mount in the morning and a different horse in the afternoon. Horses not in use would be in the remuda and under control of the horse wrangler. Normally you'd put the horse herd in front of the wagons on the trail. If the horses spook and run, it's away from the wagons. If someone is setting up an ambush on the trail, the horses get there first and your people have a bit of a warning. Caveat is if the horses are the big prize in attacking the wagons. Then you need to do some more thinking.

Jim Clark-Dawe