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Layla Nahar
03-15-2017, 01:47 AM
Hi, I've got a character who wants to catch up with another person.

I did some googling to get an idea specifically of horse vs human travel. One thing I gathered is that humans - while they don't go fast, can go all day, and that confers an advantage, and also that with most horses except for the palfrey, it's tiring for the horse and the human to go fast, like trot, for example.

I was guessing that if the intercept point is 2-3 days human walk away, that the speed of the horse could have the advantage - but - that's just my guess and I wanted to hear from people who know about horses what some of the considerations would be for tailing/catching up with a person on foot.

So, maybe a concrete question would be - could a person on a horse catch up with a person on foot? If so, how would they go about it? How does the length of the journey figure in?

thanks
LN


fyi the setting/story:
This is a fantasy. The culture is poor, but relatively stable/safe. People will often travel a week or two by foot for business, pilgrimage, what have you. I have a thief with a magical homing device who wants to intercept a courier and steal something, he's thinking of using a horse.

jclarkdawe
03-15-2017, 02:04 AM
Either way is plausible. Depends a lot upon the conditioning of the horse or human. Wild horses can travel 40 - 50 miles in a day while many areas where horses were not around people traveled 40 - 50 miles in a day. There is information of the Plains Indians walking down wild horses. Either way can work.

The fastest way to travel is on horse, leading a couple of other horses and swapping them off as you need to.

Jim Clark-Dawe

Layla Nahar
03-15-2017, 05:01 AM
Thank you jclarkdawe!

Good to know that it is feasible.

blacbird
03-15-2017, 05:02 AM
Either way is plausible. Depends a lot upon the conditioning of the horse or human.

It also depends enormously on the terrain.

caw

JNG01
03-15-2017, 06:04 AM
Does your culture have roads, or is this all cross-country? If roads in decent repair, you'd be looking at something like 40 miles per day for the rider and 20 miles per day for the walker--if both are traveling at semi-sustainable speeds. In desperation, someone on foot might make 40 or even 50 miles in a day (or maybe a touch more, depending on their condition). But in desperation, a horse and rider might make 60 or 70 miles in a day (at great risk to its health).

stephenf
03-15-2017, 09:49 PM
Hi
A horse can run at speeds over thirty miles an hour , for about 2 miles . You can canter for maybe half that speed , but it's hard work for the horse and rider , so again,you could not travel very far . In medieval Europe, when people actuly travelled about by horse , it was consider reasonable to travel 20 to 30 miles a day , but that is stopping over night, at a place that could look after the man and horse. I have read that a fit young knight on a fit young horse could cover 45 miles in a day, but would not be able to keep it up for many days
A fit young person can walk 4 miles an hour,but most will only mange 3 , and that's on a good path . not many people could keep going at that seed for over 10 hours .
So a fit man chasing an old horse could catch it up.

Tsu Dho Nimh
03-15-2017, 10:02 PM
If the courier is a trained endurance runner - like the "Running footmen" of England - and is moving as fast as he can and maintain his pace for an urgent delivery, that horse is going to have some catching up to do.

You would have to have some way to get fresh mounts for your thief or he'll kill the horse. They have speed, but not endurance.

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/20/450068114/heres-how-you-can-outrun-a-horse

http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2012/06/long_distance_running_and_evolution_why_humans_can _outrun_horses_but_can_t_jump_higher_than_cats_.ht ml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_versus_Horse_Marathon

http://managainsthorse.net/ "The 25 & 50 mile distances should not be undertaken without significant preparation. Runners should be in shape for travel over rough country, including steep and rocky terrain. Most of the course is on mountainous trails and back roads through the tall pines of Mingus Mountain. Elevation at base camp is Approx. 5000 feet with 50 mile course climbing to an approx. elevation of 7600 feet."

**************

On the other hand, if the courier is ambling along and chatting with a group he's fallen in with, because he doesn't have a tight schedule, and if the thief knows how to get the best from one horse, and has one in good condition, or can swap horses or steal fresh ones (he IS a thief) he could catch up to him.

http://www.olddominionrides.org/EndurancePrimer/01.html


*********
And it's a fantasy ... you can give some breeds of horses better running and endurance if you want to.

Layla Nahar
03-15-2017, 11:18 PM
Hey, thanks everybody for all the considerations.


Does your culture have roads, or is this all cross-country?

It's a stable but poor society. There are several major roads that are well traveled & remain level and open. There are smaller roads that might be less traveled, but are still small roads. My thief is taking a slightly steep small road that empties into the big road that the courier is walking on. He hopes to arrive at that point before she does.


If the courier is a trained endurance runner - like the "Running footmen" of England - and is moving as fast as he can and maintain his pace for an urgent delivery, that horse is going to have some catching up to do.
...
Oh - I didn't know they had those. Something noted to look up more about!

On the other hand, if the courier ... doesn't have a tight schedule, and if the thief knows how to get the best from one horse, and has one in good condition, ...

The courier is walking steady and with the goal of crossing a lot of terrain, but not pushing beyond what is comfortably accomplished.

I guessed that at sustaining walking speed, horse and human are pretty close, but from what people say, I could probably get him to the intersection with an hour or two to spare.

Thanks all for sharing your expertise!

Cindyt
03-16-2017, 12:03 AM
Hi, I've got a character who wants to catch up with another person.

I did some googling to get an idea specifically of horse vs human travel. One thing I gathered is that humans - while they don't go fast, can go all day, and that confers an advantage, and also that with most horses except for the palfrey, it's tiring for the horse and the human to go fast, like trot, for example.
I also googled this for my WIP and was surprised that a man could cover more ground than a horse in one day.

GeorgeK
03-20-2017, 07:43 PM
Remember the horse in the scenario is carrying a rider, most likely tack and supplies. It is not an unburdened horse. Also as Stephen pointed out a lot depends on infrastructure. Throughout history the average horse carrying a rider can not go further in a day than an average person. It's a simple fact of biology. Horses need to rest. They need to eat. They need to sleep. People do too, but we (again average person compared to average horse) have better endurance. We can for weeks at a time function on less rest and sleep. We have different digestion. We digest food faster and more efficiently and can eat while walking. Horses either need to be stabled at the end of the day and fed high quality hay and grains or have to be allowed to wander and graze. The wandering and grazing takes time, resting during digestion takes time. Digestion for them also requires access to water. We're more tolerant of dehydration. Horses are grazers. That's one of the reasons the military utilized mules, better endurance, wider diet being browsers, and stubborn just enough to not die of over-exhaustion. The standard military assumption going back as far as Ancient Egypt and accounting for math conversion to our system is that horses can be expected to go 20 miles a day and people on foot should be able to manage 30 and that assumes average quality roads and reasonably healthy subjects, as well as commonly available sources of water and grazing.

Stonewall Jackson's troops were well known for marching 50 miles in a day, not every day, but often enough it scared the pants off the Federal troops. Take an average American today and they'd probably have trouble keeping up with ten miles per day. In that case an average rider could catch an average person on foot with a few days' start. Anything is possible if the circumstances are right.

WeaselFire
03-20-2017, 08:03 PM
Keep in mind that a human will outdistance every other land animal on the planet, given time and distance to do so. While a cheetah will cover a few hundred yards far faster than a human, it gives out very soon and a human can continue for many miles.

There's also a difference between walking, jogging and running. Horses can walk long distances but running even short distances will wear them out. Humans can keep up a decent running pace for long distances and walk basically 24/7 if needed.

Conditioning does play as a factor for both humans and horses, as does terrain. Humans can cross terrain that horses cannot, vertical cliffs for example.

Now, in your instance, a horse can easily catch up to a human who is not running away. The human will stop for normal rest breaks, sleep, food, etc. and cover less distance daily that way than a galloping horse can cover in short spans over a few hours each. If your courier is running, they'll outdistance the horse in less than a day. But you can write this and make it believable that the horse catches the human on the third day.

Jeff

King Neptune
03-20-2017, 11:49 PM
I can't find the figures now, but human lungs are much larger in comparison to body weight tan the lungs of many other animals. Horses have larger lungs, but they aren't four times as large as human lungs, so they are out of breath sooner, and horses have relatively large lungs. Deer that may weigh two to three as much as an adult human have lungs that are bout the same size. This is why humans can keep going, when the cheetahs, deer, and horses have quit.

GeorgeK
03-21-2017, 12:14 AM
I can't find the figures now, but human lungs are much larger in comparison to body weight tan the lungs of many other animals. Horses have larger lungs, but they aren't four times as large as human lungs, so they are out of breath sooner, and horses have relatively large lungs. Deer that may weigh two to three as much as an adult human have lungs that are bout the same size. This is why humans can keep going, when the cheetahs, deer, and horses have quit. Lung size or relative size isn't the real issue. It's part of it. If the heart can pump the blood through the lungs fast enough then that can alter the equations and horses have relatively massive hearts. One of the things that humans have is biconcave red cells whereas horses' red cells are basically spheroids. What that does is increase the surface area to volume of each red cell making each cell a bit more efficient in taking up oxygen that it needs to deliver to the rest of the body

kuwisdelu
03-21-2017, 12:17 AM
I can't find the figures now, but human lungs are much larger in comparison to body weight tan the lungs of many other animals. Horses have larger lungs, but they aren't four times as large as human lungs, so they are out of breath sooner, and horses have relatively large lungs. Deer that may weigh two to three as much as an adult human have lungs that are bout the same size. This is why humans can keep going, when the cheetahs, deer, and horses have quit.

It's a combination of factors, including our proportion of fast-twitch to slow-twitch muscle fibers, but mostly it's due to our sweat glands.

We're better at not overheating compared to most animals, including horses. In a human vs. horse, hotter weather favors the human.

GeorgeK
03-21-2017, 12:18 AM
Keep in mind that a human will outdistance every other land animal on the planet, given time and distance to do so. I'd bet on wolves

GeorgeK
03-21-2017, 12:21 AM
It's a combination of factors, including our proportion of fast-twitch to slow-twitch muscle fibers, but mostly it's due to our sweat glands.

We're better at not overheating compared to most animals, including horses. In a human vs. horse, hotter weather favors the human.True and yet the horses can sweat so I don't know why they are prone to heat exhaustion, unless their hair insulates them enough to not get the evaporative cooling in which case all sweating will do is increase dehydration.

kuwisdelu
03-21-2017, 12:31 AM
True and yet the horses can sweat so I don't know why they are prone to heat exhaustion, unless their hair insulates them enough to not get the evaporative cooling in which case all sweating will do is increase dehydration.

It's true that horses are among the few animals that sweat at a comparable rate to humans.

The horse has a less favorable surface-area-to-volume ratio for sweat evaporation, though, and loses more electrolytes through sweat than humans do.

I'm sure the hair doesn't help either.

The surface-area-to-volume thing is true for human runners as well, which is why many of the best human marathoners tend to be on the smaller side.

(There are definitely outliers, but on average, top distance runners tend to be short. While it's true that -- given a fixed height -- longer legs is an advantage, it's a huge misconception that being taller is an advantage for running -- the additional mass and volume slows a person down more than increased stride length can make up.)

King Neptune
03-21-2017, 12:32 AM
Lung size or relative size isn't the real issue. It's part of it. If the heart can pump the blood through the lungs fast enough then that can alter the equations and horses have relatively massive hearts. One of the things that humans have is biconcave red cells whereas horses' red cells are basically spheroids. What that does is increase the surface area to volume of each red cell making each cell a bit more efficient in taking up oxygen that it needs to deliver to the rest of the body

These are all factors. Horses have large lung, but they are not as large as human lungs in proportion to body size. The heart is important, but it doesn't make any difference how much blood is pumped through lungs, if there isn't oxygen for the blood to pick up. Lung size isn't the whole story, but humans in several ways are adapted for distance running, while horses are not.

Other animals that evolved as cursorial hunters would have a similar advantage, and that means that the suggestion that wolves could do as well in endurance running might be true.

kuwisdelu
03-21-2017, 12:37 AM
Other animals that evolved as cursorial hunters would have a similar advantage, and that means that the suggestion that wolves could do as well in endurance running might be true.

Wolves and dogs would do well in cold weather. In warmer weather, they run into the same overheating problem, even more so than horses.

frimble3
03-21-2017, 11:46 AM
I'd bet on wolves

And being pack hunters, if the lead wolf gets overtired, he can fall back a bit and another wolf can keep pushing the pace, while the lone target has to keep running as fast as it can.

GeorgeK
03-21-2017, 02:22 PM
Wolves and dogs would do well in cold weather. In warmer weather, they run into the same overheating problem, even more so than horses. Our Pyrs can certainly run much longer in the winter than in the summer.

African Wild Dogs are in a hot environment and almost always bring something back because they just run them to death

Tsu Dho Nimh
03-22-2017, 03:09 AM
True and yet the horses can sweat so I don't know why they are prone to heat exhaustion, unless their hair insulates them enough to not get the evaporative cooling in which case all sweating will do is increase dehydration.

it's their body mass - they can't move heat to the surface fast enough to prevent hyperthermia.

snafu1056
03-22-2017, 10:28 AM
It also depends on how much of a rush your foot courier is in. If he's delivering something that absolutely, positively has to be there overnight then he's probably moving at a pretty good clip whenever possible. But if he's just on routine business then he'll probably make lots of stops. If your culture maintains a road system, they might also maintain a network of relay stations to give shelter and supplies to travelers. In early postal systems like the Romans and Chinese had, parcels would be handed off from courier to courier who would run between stations. In a situation like that your guy on horseback would probably have his work cut out for him (unless he's using the same relay stations to get fresh horses).

pentimental
03-23-2017, 09:19 AM
The character of your thief will be part of the equation. If he’s kind, he will tend to his horse’s needs, and take more time. Ideally, this will mean stopping at least once a day to strip the horse’s tack and let it roll, rest and graze for an hour. It will mean letting his mount pause to drink when water is available. Keeping a reasonable pace. (By the way, riding downhill will often be slower than up.)

A fantastic resource for anyone writing about equine travel is the Long Riders’ Guild: http://www.thelongridersguild.com/LRG.htm . A specific page dedicated to writers’ research questions can be found at: http://www.lrgaf.org/guide/writers-guide.htm .