Horses, probably the last thing that should be on a battlefield.

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zburkett

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Waterloo50, You got it. It is hard for someone who doesn't love horses to understand. For my old horse, I have to mix up his feed with warm water twice a day just so he can eat; but, if he ever decides to talk I'm divorced and busted, he knows all my secrets. When I could ride him people would ask how I got him to do some of the things he did. All I could answer was I think it and he does it. I have a younger horse now that I sometimes ride and while we don't have the bond I had with Midnight, he has managed to pull me out of disaster a couple of times. BTW when it comes to Sgt. Reckless she was awarded the Silver Star when during a battle her handler was wounded out of action and she continued to carry ammunition up to the firing line and bring back wounded without a handler.
 

diane

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State of Jefferson
You got it, zburkett! My horse Cheeshee was psychic - she knew what I was going to do (or should be doing!) before I did, and, yes, she knew aaalllllll the secrets. :rofl: She was mustang/Appaloosa and way, way smarter than me. The bond might seem strange to people who don't ride but there really is a 'one' type connection. That's why Forrest was emotional over the loss of Roderick and King Philip - he'd lost 29 from under him and those two were the only ones he wept over. Roderick was a thoroughbred and King Philip was Morgan/thoroughbred.
 

Waterloo50

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Waterloo50, You got it. It is hard for someone who doesn't love horses to understand. For my old horse, I have to mix up his feed with warm water twice a day just so he can eat; but, if he ever decides to talk I'm divorced and busted, he knows all my secrets. When I could ride him people would ask how I got him to do some of the things he did. All I could answer was I think it and he does it. I have a younger horse now that I sometimes ride and while we don't have the bond I had with Midnight, he has managed to pull me out of disaster a couple of times. BTW when it comes to Sgt. Reckless she was awarded the Silver Star when during a battle her handler was wounded out of action and she continued to carry ammunition up to the firing line and bring back wounded without a handler.
Thanks, you know it’s not that I don’t like horses, they just kind of intimidate me. I do however admire horses and the people that ride them, I just wish that I could do it, one day maybe.
 
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Waterloo50

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I would love to get my horse trained for cowboy action shooting, but she is a tad bit spoiled.

I had heard the Morgan breed (which she is) was the best all around for different tasks.

I have 3 horses/ Oreo (the paint) Cookie (my wifes pony 12Hands), a mini called Snickers

And 2 donkeys (Cupcake the momma and a 6 week old Jenny named Sprinkles)

View attachment 328749
That’s not a horse......this is a horse. :O o:
D3642E66-92CE-4039-AAFE-972B7F13D18C.jpeg
 

zburkett

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Waterloo50, When I was a kid I was always taught that if you were out on your horse always stay with it. If you got lost, just drop the reigns and let him find your way home. If you were hurt, stay with him even if all you could do was throw an arm across his back and let him drag you. Horses, if you treat them right, are loyal, intuitive and comforting. Of course they do weigh around a half ton so it is best to remember they are bigger, stronger and tougher. When my son was about four years old he wandered into a corral of unbroken horses. When I saw him he was standing between the front legs of a horse so wild that no one could go near it. The horse just stood there and even shooed the other horses away until my son decided to walk away and I could call him out of the pen. Almost any horse treated right will become great. I have also seen horses treated so badly they became killers.
 
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Crazy Delawares

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One year while I was acting Deputy Provost at the G-burg Remembrance Day, I had the displeasure of prohibiting an elderly couple from riding in the parade with their horse and buggy. For whatever reason the horse was obviously stressed. I'm no horse expert but this horse was sweating and the outside temperature was 48*. He wouldn't settle down and the couple were dead set on going into the parade. The horse almost ran over my foot with the wagon wheel when I drew near to talk with the couple. I struggled to make them understand that the horse could hurt them or other people. They refused to listen until I said the horse could hurt itself and that could lead to bigger problems. That stopped them momentarily. It wasn't until "Generals Lee, Jackson, Longstreet and Stuart" came over and talked these folks into putting the horse back into the trailer.
 

Cannondragger

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Not all horses are skittish. Most of the time people are the problem. For 15 years I drove on an artillery team, at many National Military Parks. We did demos for many of the 140th events. We provided the first three caissons for the Hunley funeral. It all boils down to time spent with the horses. People think horses are like their cars, park them in the barn till you want to play. Horses are animals, therefore they have limited memory and time spent once a month isn't going to bond. A few minutes feeding doesn't count. Of my horses, I had one that would go to sleep as we stood 20 yards behind the cannons going off...I would have to bump him in the ribs with the toe of my shoe before we moved. Waterloo50, thank you for you consideration when out on your bike. It would be hard to get a horse used to a loud bike if the horse owner didn't have access to one.

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'03 Cannons at Chick.M2jpg.JPG
 
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Story

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This is great, the Household Cavalry on a summer break, it looks like fun but it’s all about developing trust between horse and ride.
Pursuant to your screenname and relevant to that video, something I remembered reading decades ago that illustrates how horses were trained as much as humans to the point of drills being second nature.

Perhaps managing to patch some up to the point that they could be sold at auction like the 20 bad cases that Sir Astley Cooper bought (purportedly mounts of the Garde [Scots Guard?]Cavalry). Cooper had been moved by the plight of the animals, and being a noted surgeon and anatomist who had recently taken a keen interest in the anatomy of animals determined to buy them, with a view to rehabilitating them. Cooper was a prominent man, a Copley Medal winner, Fellow of the Royal Society and professor of comparative anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons, with an annual salary of 21,000 pounds in 1813.

He had the horses shipped to England under the care of six grooms and had them transported to his park in the country, were he spent months removing musket balls, grapeshot and stitching the sabre cuts from their bodies and limbs. Amazingly he was successful and he was soon able to turn them loose in the park, were they exhibited an unusual behavioural trait of their distinguished service.

One morning Cooper observed the horses gather together in a line and advance to a charge across the field, halt, retreat and then gallop about excitedly. Their evident pleasure at their new lot in life delighted Cooper, who was treated to this display most mornings, as were most visitors who came by. Kelly remembered a horse that showed a similar hang up from its violent past. “An officers horse, which survived the battle of Waterloo, still retains a lively recollection of the wounds received on this occasion; the clamour and bustle of the engagement seem to have perpetuated in his ears:- when anyone approaches him in the stable, he puts himself on alert for a charge, and starts, as if to avoid a sabre cut”.



I think we should all be careful of templating our 21st century bias (and ignorances, considering how horses now are far more of a curiosity than a reality these days).

Full disclosure - learned to ride practically in the Kentucky hills north of Fort Knox a few decades ago while a young LT, taught by a Cavalry SSG spending his last year assigned to Range Control.
 

diane

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That's a very good post, Story. Re-training an animal of any species is patient work - and sometimes it can't be done as thoroughly as might be desired! CW horses were no different, of course, and you're right that they were not the same as modern horses. Forrest's surviving war horse, King Philip, was a docile riding horse and would be a plain ol' horse...unless something triggered his earlier training. Like the color blue! When a group of Union soldiers paid a visit to Forrest's home at Green Grove, his plantation in Mississippi, King Philip promptly attacked them - one drew his sword and Philip disarmed him. At the height of this melee, Forrest and his son rode up - King Philip was running a victory lap along the fence, tossing his head and snorting. He had cleared the field of the enemy! Quite a while later, the lady of the house, Mrs Forrest, decided to go shopping and the only horse available for her buggy was her husband's war horse. She and her girl friends hitched him up and he was a good boy about it, hauled them all around town...until he spied the Memphis police department doing some training in the street. They wore...blue uniforms. His ears went back, his tail went up, his teeth bared, he snorted and off he went - buggy, screaming ladies, shopping bags and all!
 
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zburkett

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It may be of interest that in this area there are many rescued race horses. The stories of their traits are sometimes fascinating. One I know of would go out every morning and run around his paddock for an hour and then go back into his stall and stand there for the rest of the day.
 

Story

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That's a very good post, Story. Re-training an animal of any species is patient work - and sometimes it can't be done as thoroughly as might be desired!
To be clear, I got the sense that these horse (Royal Scots Greys?) simply defaulted to their morning rituals (rather than any retraining) once they were healed - and that is where the good Doctor's wonderment (along with others) originated.

@Waterloo50 can probably whistle up post-1800 British Napoleonic daily stable calls better than I can, but I'd not be surprised if squad drills were not a daily performance after the first stable call and/or breakfast.

Remember that the mass of horse flesh in the charge was as much a part of the combat power of a horse cavalry unit as the sabre & pistol violence the riders were able to perpetrate (although way more a European thing than something that happen in our Civil War). With constant drills, this would have become part of the horses' routine - particularly if they were stabled with equine comrades from the same Regiment, with the same training background.

"Roosters have stopped crowing, time to practice change-and-retreat. FunFun good horse. Apples for rewards?"


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.
 
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Waterloo50

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To be clear, I got the sense that these horse (Royal Scots Greys?) simply defaulted to their morning rituals (rather than any retraining) once they were healed - and that is where the good Doctor's wonderment (along with others) originated.

@Waterloo50 can probably whistle up post-1800 British Napoleonic daily stable calls better than I can, but I'd not be surprised if squad drills were not a daily performance after the first stable call and/or breakfast.
I believe that the standard morning routine of British Cavalry hasn’t changed from the 1800s, 6:00 AM roll call, 6:20 stables, mucking out, followed by grooming, exercising the horses, feeding and more grooming and stable work. The horses are exercised together, some changes are made to the morning routine especially if the regiment is on ceremonial duties.

As for squad drills post 1800, I don’t believe there were any, the reason being that officers led from the front, officers of that period viewed their responsibility as organising the cavalry formation on the battlefield field, giving direct orders and leading by example, simply put, officers followed British Napoleonic Cavalry doctrine which meant that many officers viewed training as a waste of time and effort. Even the introduction of an officers college (Sandhurst) couldn’t make a difference, less than 4% of all cavalry officers bothered to attend college, they didn’t need to, they could buy a commission, which pretty much explains the massive flaws in cavalry tactics.

If you do a bit of digging about, you’ll find that the Duke of Wellington was a big part of the problem, he tried to maintain a tight grip of control over the cavalry brigades but the brigades pretty much did their own thing, it’s just not possible for one man to keep his eyes on the cavalry, very often he’d issue an order and the eager cavalry would charge off into the distance without any idea of what they were supposed to be doing.


Here’s a great comment made by a French observer of British Napoleonic cavalry. ‘Your horses are the finest in the world, and your men ride better than any continental soldiers; with such materials, the English cavalry ought to have done more than has evert been accomplished by them on the field of battle. The great deficiency is in your officers, who have nothing to recommend them but their dash and sitting well in their saddles; indeed, as far as my experience goes, your English generals have never understood the use of cavalry. The British officer seems to be impressed with the conviction that he can dash and ride over everything, as if the art of war were precisely the same as fox hunting”.

So there you have it, the British cavalry looked great, had the right tools to be effective but they were led by a bunch of muppets. Civil war cavalry on the other hand in my opinion was far more effective and far better applied on the battlefield than the British Napoleonic cavalry ever was, the difference being that civil war cavalry had a far better command structure and a better understanding of cavalry tactics and training. I appreciate that the civil war cannot be compared to the mass cavalry charges of the Napoleonic era but even the civil war mounted infantry was put to better use than the British Napoleonic dragoon’s.
 
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zburkett

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Great post Watterloo50, It is my understanding that the primary job of American Cavalry was to be the eyes of the Commander. Basically they did the job of an observation balloon. Their secondary job was raiding supply lines. The massed cavalry charge was the exception.
 
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Story

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As for squad drills post 1800, I don’t believe there were any, the reason being that officers led from the front, officers of that period viewed their responsibility as organising the cavalry formation on the battlefield field, giving direct orders and leading by example, simply put, officers followed British Napoleonic Cavalry doctrine which meant that many officers viewed training as a waste of time and effort. Even the introduction of an officers college (Sandhurst) couldn’t make a difference, less than 4% of all cavalry officers bothered to attend college, they didn’t need to, they could buy a commission, which pretty much explains the massive flaws in cavalry tactics.
I've seen this joke told different ways, but "a fusilier subaltern named his tom cat “Cavalry officer" because the cat spent his life eating, sleeping, playing games, and fornicating. "
 
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