1911 Army Remount Report

Posted on May 22, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military.

Crushing load during wartime

Here is a fascinating excerpt providing insight into the horse story of the Cavalry. Issued on December  15,1911, by A D Melvin, then chief of the Bureau of Animal Industry for the US Dept of Agriculture, it documents the history establishing war horses in the battlefield. (found on archive.com)  Excerpts from the report:

106 27th Report, Bureau of Animal Industry, Army Horses in the United States

Next to Russia, the United States leads the world in the number of horses which it possesses. These horses, as everyone knows, are the descendants of horses brought from the Old World after the discovery of America by Columbus, as there were no horses on the American Continent at that time. Prior to the Civil War the horses of the United States were of the light type, with one prominent exception the Conestoga draft horse of Pennsylvania, whose origin has always been shrouded more or less in mystery and whose complete disappearance was a remarkable result of the development of railway transportation. There are also a few minor exceptions. Well-authenticated evidence shows that a few draft horses Avere, imported from France in the [eighteen] thirties, and the draft stallion Louis Napoleon,imported from France in 1851, appears often in the pedigrees of Percheron horses in the United States.

ARMY HORSES OF THE CIVIL WAR

At the time of the Civil War, however, the horses of the United States contained so little cold blood that it was a negligible factor. The Morgans in New England, Standardbreds in New York and the Middle West, Thoroughbreds in Virginia, and saddle horses in Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee, predominated and made up the bulk of the splendid mounts of the contending armies of that great struggle. Even the much despised plains horse (the mustang, cause, or broncho) was the descendant of warm-blooded horses and doubtless contributed his share to remounting the cavalry of both the Northern and Southern forces in the Civil War. The demands of these troops for remounts were enormous, but there does not seem to have been any insurmountable obstacle to the acquisition of these horses. They were in the country, they answered the purpose, and they were obtained when needed. The cavalry of the Southern Army was almost as numerous as that of their opponents, and the consumption of horse flesh was probably nearly as great.

The decimation of horses in war is enormous and must be  provided for if a country’s mounted service is to be properly equipped. During his Shenandoah Valley campaign [General] Sheridan was supplied with fresh horses at the rate of 150 per day. The service of a Cavalry horse under an enterprising commander has therefore averaged only four months. [before killed in action;editor’ s note] If the 50,000 horses now required  by the mounted service of the Regular Cavalry and Militia (excluding those for wagon trains, etc.) were called into active war duty, we could look for a demand of upward of 150,000 horse per annum, basing the estimate on the experience of General Sheridan’s army.

Securing Your Riding Seat

Posted on May 20, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: riding, training.

Picture

 

Here are three secrets to establishing a secure riding seat.

1. THE FIRST SECRET TO A SECURE-SEAT: DO NOT GRIP ANYWHERE. This may come as a surprise to you. You may be thinking “If I don’t grip with knees, thighs, calves (whatever), I’ll fall off. What else would keep me on the horse?” -Your Balance. When you are in perfect balance, your seat stays in contact with the horse’s back no matter what he does. This is the essence of a perfectly secure-seat. So how to you get there?
Imagine that your horse was short enough so that when you sat on his back, you could just touch the ground with the entire soles of your feet. Imagine stretching through your legs into the earth from the sole of your left foot, up through your left leg to your seat bones, down through your right leg, and into the right sole. Imagine balancing your pelvis gently on your seat bones—gently enough so that if your horse moved, your pelvis would simple roll with the movement. Your legs lie softly on your horse’s barrel like damp cloths. This is the foundation of a secure-seat. No matter what your horse does, your pelvis will automatically adjust, your seat bones and legs softly accommodating and following the movement. No matter what your horse does, you will NOT fall off. You will feel perfectly secure in the saddle because you have a perfectly secure seat.

2. THE SECOND SECRET TO A SECURE-SEAT: DO NOT SIT ON YOUR CROTCH! I know, “crotch” isn’t a pretty term. But nothing else will do. A secure seat requires that you sit lightly on your seat bones, lightly enough that your pelvis is free to flex and roll with your horse’s movement. Your crotch and pubic bone should NOT be in strong contact with the saddle. If they are, either your back is hollow (thrusting your seat bones back behind you and tipping your pelvis forward), or your saddle is too small for you. You may have hear the term “three point seat”. Some trainers will tell you that means sitting on both seat bones and the pubic bone.

WHY A THREE-POINT SECURE SEAT IS DIFFICULT FOR WOMEN TO ACHIEVE. Most women have hollow (arched backs) compared to men. You can test this easily. Stand up against a wall (or lie on the floor). If you can fit a fist between your back and the wall (or floor), your back is arched and hollow, and your seat bone are rotated back. You may notice that when you sit in a chair (or on your horse), you’re sitting on your crotch, not your seat bones. When you sit in the saddle, this will be painful, so you will roll onto your thighs to protect your crotch, and end up in a “perched” seat, not a secure seat. (Men tend to have the opposite problem, sitting on their back pockets, which puts them into a chair seat.)

HOW TO SIT ON YOUR SEAT BONES: To sit on your seat bones, you have to roll your pelvis under slightly and engage your abdominal and back muscles. This “engagement” and neutral pelvis is the core of power taught in Pilates, yoga, and martial arts. Without this, you will either be a stiff mannequin gripping your unfortunate horse or a floppy rag doll who gets jerked around whenever the horse begins to trot. This is the essence of a seat seat for both men and women.

Picture

THE THIRD SECRET TO A SECURE-SEAT: REALIZE THAT THE HORSE HAS TWO SIDES TO HIS BACK. Many riders think the trot is an up-and-down movement, and they try to “follow” this movement by “allowing” their seats to go up and down. But the Trot is diagonal gait; the fore and hind legs on opposite sides move together (unless your horse is a pacer). When the horse’s hind leg moves forward, his back will drop on that side. Your seat bone and leg must drop slightly in order to stay in contact with his back and barrel. This means that your pelvis and leg alternate with each stride. Sally Swift likened this to pedaling backward on a bicycle. Sally O’Connor talks about this at length in her classic book Commonsense Dressage.
If this concept seems foreign to you, you will never develop a truly secure-seat. So do this: Try focusing on what you feel in your seat and legs at walk. The horse’s belly will swing gently from side to side with each step, and his back will drop alternately on one side then the other with each hind step.     You’ll notice that to avoid interfering with this motion, your pelvis and legs must relax into it. If you simply relax your pelvis and legs, your horse’s barrel and back will move them exactly the way they need to move in order to stay with your horse’s motion. You don’t have to plan, think, push, pull, tip, or anything. You just need to allow the horse to move your legs and pelvis. When you can do this without thinking at walk, you’re ready to try it at trot. At canter, you will feel the same thing, except that the pelvis will circle slightly as in a hula dance. When you can do this, you will have arrived at your goal–a perfectly secure-seat. All of these activities will help you develop a soft, following, and perfectly secure-seat. The payoffs to this homework are enormous. Your horse will move more freely and willingly. You and your horse will be more balanced. Your horse’s gaits will show more “brilliance”, and will be much more comfortable for you to ride. And the cherry on top: A strong topline that will allow your horse to be a solid riding companion for many, many years.

from: Denise Cummins, PhD September 17 2015

Two-Gun Nan

Posted on May 17, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, history, riding.

two-gun

 

Two Gun Aspinwall and Lady Ellen during their 4496 mile ride across the USA.

The momentum of the cowgirl legacy is still felt today, and their stories remain as relevant as ever. Two-Gun Nan, towered with the tallest of these larger-than-life figures. She did so not only in the show arena as a lead in the rather masculine realm of trick roping, sharp shooting, archery, stunt riding, bronc riding, and steer riding, but also as the sensuous, beautiful, entirely feminine Oriental dancer character she portrayed known as Princess Omene as well. Still, even boasting these startling talents that eventually made her the highest paid star in the biggest show of the era – the combined venture of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Pawnee Bill’s Far East troupe – none of this was what she was best known for. Her most remarkable feat was real, not staged, and incredibly difficult and dangerous.

Two-Gun Nan’s magnum opus came in 1910-11 when she rode from San Francisco to New York on her Thoroughbred mare, Lady Ellen, covering 4496 miles and taking 180 days in the saddle. At 31 years old, she became the first woman to ride from coast to coast. She did it wearing pants and split skirts, riding astride, which was likely still illegal in some parts of the country. She did it packing a pistol, which she used on at least two occasions to shoot up inhospitable towns. And, she made the ride alone.

Two-Gun Nan Aspinwall stunned America and inspired women of a new generation with her transcontinental ride.  “A travel-stained woman attired in a red shirt and divided skirt and seated on a bay horse drew a crowd to City Hall yesterday afternoon,” reported the New York Times on 9 July 1911.    “They gazed upon Miss Nan Aspinwall who had just finished her lonely horseback ride from San Francisco. She had many adventures and once spent a week in hospital after her horse stumbled down a mountainside. ‘Talk about Western chivalry!’ said Miss Aspinwall. ‘There’s no such thing. In one place I rode through town shooting off my revolver just for deviltry. At another place I had to send several bullets into a door before they would come out and take care of me’.”
Equally skilled with a gun or a horse, the Los Angeles Tribune reported that while in New York upon completing her journey in 1911, Two-Gun Nan, “entered a 12-story building and startled her friends by remaining in the saddle and ascending to the top floor,” (via the freight elevator).

The ride became part of the greater Western mythology almost instantly, where it remained solidly for half a century. In 1938, almost three decades after the ride, Nan’s journey was included on the Mutual Broadcasting System’s national radio broadcasts of Famous First Facts, where she reported that it was the suggestion of Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill in 1909 that instigated her to make the ride. The media legend of the ride again was recounted on the radio in 1942 on a broadcast of Death Valley Days. In 1958, Nan’s adventure made the jump to black-and-white television when it appeared in an episode of the Judge Roy Bean television show.

At a time when the frontier to the west had closed, and barbed wire cut across every stretch of once open country along the entire continent, this cowgirl single-handedly found a way to rekindle the American fascination of saddling up, heading to the horizon, and banging around the vast expanse of a country that spread from one sea to another. Perhaps more importantly, she proved this dream and this country were open to women as well as men.

re-posted from horsetalk.co.nz

 

Banjo Peterson – Australian Poet

Posted on April 17, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: history, riding, training.

Featuring A.B.Peterson’s poem:
Man From Snowy River

artwork by Julie Duell

There was movement at the station, for the word had

        passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a
thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near
and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush
horses are
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon
won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was
fairly up–
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a
hand,
No better horsemen ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the
saddle-girths would stand
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy
beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred
at least-
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized,
He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that
won’t say die-
There was courage in the quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and
fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his
power to stay,
And the old man said, “That horse will never do
For a long and tiring gallop – lad, you’d better stop
away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”
So he waited, sad and wistful – only Clancy stood
his friend-
“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;
“I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at
the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.”

He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint
stones every stride’
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make
their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first
commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”

So he went; they found the horses by the big mimosa
clump-
They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,
And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them
from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel
them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills.”


So Clancy rode to wheel them – he was racing on the
wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stock-horse past them, and he
made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the
dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a
sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges
deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they
fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held
their way,
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid
the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side.”

When they reached the mountain’s summit, even
Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden
ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have
his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent
down its bed
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint-stones flying, but the pony kept his
feet,
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his
seat-
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringy barks and saplings, on the
rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and
sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed
the farther hill,
And the watchers on the mountain, standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely; he was right
among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two
mountain gullies met
In the ranges – but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses
racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.


And he ran them single-handed till their sides were
white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound on their track,
Till they halted, cowed and beaten; then he turned
their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely
raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage
fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges
raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white
stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around the Overflow the reed-beds
sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The Man from Snowy River is a household word
today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

 


 

 

 

 

Understanding the Mounted Police Horse

Posted on April 8, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, history, riding, training.

Providence Mounted Patrol

Providence Mounted Patrol

Thanks to Delfin Vigil for his following article:
Officially founded in San Francisco, California, in 1872 (two years after New York City’s), the mounted patrol unit has been trotting through the city’s streets fighting and preventing crime in three centuries. While in its — ahem — heyday, there were upward of 30 badge-wearing horses, and although at one point every substation in the city had horses, there are only 13 on-duty patrol ponies left at the department’s stables in Golden Gate Park. Although some critics write off the mounted patrol as a chance for police officers to joyride through the park, many don’t realize that the horses are putting their lives at risk.
During one of the initial and largest protests against the current war in Iraq, the mounted patrol unit was brought in to help the first officers on the scene, who were being backed in and surrounded by protesters near Third and Market streets.
“Eleven horses were brought in to save the officers,” remembers Sgt Downs. “We were able to part the sea of protesters without hitting, stepping on or even touching a single person. That’s the beauty of the horse.”
Aggressive dogs are probably the biggest danger to the four-legged officers.
In November 2003, a woman was walking Nettie, a pit bull mix, in Golden Gate Park when she decided to take off the dog’s leash to let it play with other dogs. But instead it went after police horse AAA Andy.
AAA, who is not in the insurance business but was given to the department by the company, was bitten several times in the belly and legs by the dog, which continued to chase him for about a half mile as AAA Andy tried to find his way back to the stables. The officer was thrown to the ground during the frenzy. Another officer had to shoot the dog (who survived) to stop the attack.
AAA Andy went on disability for a couple of months. Within weeks of being back on the job he was in the news again for galloping down the “Spider-Man” burglar who had a record of more than 60 acrobatic burglaries through skylights and ventilation shafts in Sunset District buildings. This time, “Spider-Man,” a.k.a. 27-year-old Kristian Kwon Marine, was on the run after snatching a purse at a cafe on Ninth Avenue and Irving Street. With only a good old-fashioned “he went thataway,” tip, AAA and Officer Kaan Chin chased the burglar down in a field in Golden Gate Park.
“What people don’t always understand is that most of what all police officers do involves crime prevention,” says Kaan, who rode AAA Andy. “But these horses are very capable of fighting crime in heat-of-the-moment ways as well. Once that saddle is put on, their personalities change and they are ready to work.”

Dr Stephen O’Grady:Flexor Tendon Flaccidity

Posted on April 3, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, handicap, health, hoofcare, therapy.

tendons

Flexor tendon flaccidity or tendon laxity is a relatively common limb deformity seen in newborn foals usually involving the hind limbs although all four limbs can be involved. Weak flexor tendons is thought to be the cause which results in digital hyperextension where weight-bearing is placed on the palmar/plantar aspect of the proximal phalanges and the toe of the hoof is raised off the ground. The condition often tends to self-correct within days after birth as the foal gains strength and is allowed moderate exercise. However the tendon laxity often persists and it is not uncommon to see a fool that still has digital hyper-extension at 4 weeks of age.

Treatment is sequential depending on the severity of the tendon laxity and the response of the foal to treatment. Therapy begins with controlled exercise allowing the foal access to a small area with firm footing for 1 hour three times daily, the toe of the foot can be shortened and the heels can be rasped gently from the middle of the foot palmarly/plantarly to create ground surface and a palmar/plantar extension can be applied if necessary. This extension which extends approximately 3-4 centimeters beyond the bulbs of the heels immediately relieves the biomechanical instability. A cuff-type extension shoe is commercially available or a small aluminum plate extension with clips. In either case, the author feels that either type of extension should be attached with adhesive tape rather than a composite if the foal is less than 3 weeks of age as this avoids excessive heat being applied to the fragile hoof capsule as the composite cures and prevents contracture of the hoof capsule at the heels. Regardless of the method of application, the extensions should be changed at 10 day intervals. Bandaging the limb is contraindicated as this will further weaken the flexor tendons.

Photo: uncorrected adult legs in 7 year old mare

Angular limb and deformities are common limb abnormalities in foals that require early recognition and treatment. The pathogenesis of this problem is not clearly understood. Angular limb deformities can be classified as either congenital or acquired in the first few weeks of life. The primary lesion is an imbalance of physeal growth; for various reasons, growth proceeds faster on one side of the physis.

Sharpening Your Hoof Nippers

Posted on March 18, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, history, hoofcare, therapy.

That trusty pair of nippers you depend on so often will gradually dull with use, until one day you realize that you’re having a tougher time trimming the hoof wall than you should. It’s best to sharpen those nippers before that day arrives. Exactly how you go about that will determine whether the nippers return to peak performance for an extended period or if they’re a big step closer to the trash bin.
“What destroys the most nippers is the way that horseshoers file them,” says Donald Jones. As an International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame farrier and the owner of NC Tool Company, he ought to know. He’s used a lot of nippers over the years, and he routinely refurbishes the tools sent in by farriers across the country.  “A good sharpening that prolongs the life of the nippers isn’t difficult,” says Jones. “The secret to making the nippers cut well is to keep the shoulder area thin. Most people get their edges too blunt,” he says. “The actual front edge, the cutting edge, will feel sharp, but there’s so much metal back on the shoulder that it makes for resistance when you’re trying to cut the hoof.”

He offers the following advice for best results:
A. Secure the nippers horizontally, with the lower handle firmly in a vise. Pull the top handle upward to open the head of the nippers and expose the underside of the jaws.
B. Identify the area to be filed. Always file the underside, or inside, of the nipper jaws. Although a few strokes may be needed on the front cutting edge, most of the filing should run from the front edge through the back shoulder.
C. Use a two-handed grip on the file for long, flat strokes. Strive for a sharp cutting edge that runs smoothly back into the shoulder of the nippers without any sudden angles along the way. Repeat the process for the second side of the nipper jaws. Avoid damaging the corners of the jaws, which help pierce the hoof wall during trimming.
D. The stops down in the handles come together at the same time as the cutting edges to prevent the cutting surfaces from blunting one another or overlapping. If you take a bit of metal off the cutting edges when you sharpen them, then you have to take a little off the stops, too, so the cutting edges close correctly.

Even with proper sharpening, nippers eventually need professional resetting of the handles and tightening or replacing of the rivet. There are two reasons for this, Jones says:“One reason is that after adjusting the stoppers a few times as part of the sharpening, the handles start getting closer together. Send the tool to a professional when the handles become too close to use the nippers efficiently or comfortably. Another is that after nippers have been sharpened a few times, a gap appears between the cutting edges. The nippers should be sent to a professional for resetting. But you should be able to sharpen nippers several times before you need to send them off for reworking,” Jones says, “and then they’ll work as good as new.”
(article and photo from the American Farriers Journal)

The Story of Wolraad Woltemade

Posted on March 5, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: health, history, military, riding.


Statue depicting Wolraad Woltemade near Woltemade train station, Cape Town.

On the morning of 1 June 1773, near mid-winter in the southern hemisphere, a sailing ship named the De Jonge Thomas,[2] was driven ashore in a gale onto a sand bar at the mouth of the Salt River in Table Bay. Many lives were lost as the ship started to break up but a substantial number of survivors were left clinging to the hull. The stricken ship was not too far from dry land and many sailors attempted to swim ashore. Most of those who did so perished; the water was cold and the current from the nearby Salt River too great. Except for the very strongest swimmers, those who headed for the shore were carried out to sea.
A crowd of spectators stood on the beach. Some came to watch, others to try to help and yet others were hoping to loot the cargo that was being washed ashore. A detachment of soldiers was in attendance, to keep order amongst the spectators. Corporal Christian Ludwig Woltemade, the youngest son of the elderly Wolraad, was amongst those standing guard. As daylight came, Wolraad left his home on horseback, taking provisions to his son.
As he reached the beach, Wolraad was filled with pity for the sailors marooned aboard the wreck. Seeing that nothing could be done by those on the beach, he mounted his horse, Vonk (“Spark” in English) and urged the animal into the sea. As they approached the wreck, Woltemade turned the horse and called for two men to jump into the sea and grasp the horse’s tail. After a moment of hesitation, two men threw themselves into the water and did so, whereupon Woltemade urged the horse forward and dragged them to shore. Wolraad rode out seven times, bringing back fourteen men. By this time he and his horse were exhausted, but at that moment, as they rested, the ship began to collapse. Wolraad once more urged his horse into the water but by now the desperation amongst the sailors was tremendous. Seeing this as probably their last chance to escape before the ship was destroyed, six men plunged into the sea, grabbing at the horse. Their weight was too much for the exhausted steed; all were dragged below the waves and drowned.[3]
Woltemade’s body was found the next day, but the horse was not found.
Of the 191 souls on board, only 53 survived and of these 14 were saved by Woltemade.
Thanks to Wikipedia for photo and story

The Movie Horse

Posted on February 25, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, health, history.

During the heyday of films that featured horses, a sub-industry evolved to supply horses for movies. One of the major horse suppliers, along with providing stagecoaches, wagons, and other equipment, was Randall Ranch in Newhall, Calif. The owner of the ranch was Glenn Randall Sr., the man who trained Trigger for Roy Rogers’ personal appearances.     Assisting him were sons Glenn Jr. (J.R.) and Buford (Corky) Randall. In 2006,  Corky Randall, 75 , and trainer of The Black Stallion, remembered those early days on the movie sets and the harsh treatment of horses in the industry.

Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger   Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger

 

During early film making, horses were often were considered disposable products. If a horse was injured or killed during a particular sequence, another replaced it. If the script called for a horse to go crashing to the earth, trip wires sent it sprawling. Sometimes legs were broken in the process. Scenes where horses were driven off of the cliff to their death were tragically true to life as horses were forced off of cliffs to their death.  The major turning point came in 1939 when Jesse James was filmed, says Wheatley. The movie starred Tyrone Power as Jesse James and Henry Fonda as Frank James. In one of the scenes, a posse is in hot pursuit of Frank James. To escape them, he and the horse plunge over a cliff and into the river. The next scene shows Fonda and the horse swimming to safety in the river.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. The horse used in the scene lost its life. For the scene, says Wheatley, the horse was placed on a slippery platform called a tilt chute. At a key moment, the chute tilted and the horse went over the cliff into the water and was killed.  The on scene crew objected and told the story. Public outrage forced the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to take action. As a first step, MPAA gave the AHA legal rights to set guidelines and oversee the treatment of animals on movie sets, and eventually television programs.

Tragic death scene in Jesse James 1939 movie

Tragic death scene in Jesse James 1939 movie

There was something of a hiatus in the humane treatment of animals on production sets from 1966 until 1980. In fact,  AHA safety representatives weren’t even allowed on sets. Animals were frequently overworked and kept in unsafe environments, and the trip wires were once again used.

“Those were the dark days for horses in movies,” says Karen Rosa, director of the AHA Film and TV Unit in Los Angeles, Calif.  Then, says Rosa, the death of another horse during the filming of Heaven’s Gate spurred reform. In the film, the script called for a saddle to be blown off a horse’s back, says Rosa. Explosives apparently were used, she said, and when they went off, the horse was so severely injured that it had to be euthanized.  The Screen Actors Guild, whose members were distressed by what had occurred, stepped up to the plate by insisting on restoring the AHA’s power. In 1980, the MPAA granted the AHA sole authority to protect animals used in film and television through a contract with the Screen Actors Guild.

The result of the new protection for the equine stars is the careful preparation for horses for the roles they are chosen to play. Jack Lilley is the owner of Movin On Livestock, a motion picture barn who supplies animals for TV and film. Hired to oversee the equine handling on movies like the upcoming Magnificent Seven, Lilley ensures Hollywood’s horses are kept safe and happy. This requires patience, training, and selecting the right animals in the first place.  As with humans, not just any horse is cut out to be a star. Before a horse can even gallop on set they need to be vetted for their disposition. If a horse is too skittish, or “looky” as Lilley describes them, they might not be a great choice to bring to a bustling movie set full of flashing lights, loud noises, and frantic people. “We don’t want any of them prancing or high-powered horses,” says Lilley. “We want that type that you could put [your kids] on, and say, ‘Ride him home.’” It’s important that a movie horse isn’t startled or spooked easily, both for the safety of the riders and the animals. “All in all, the American Quarter Horse is the best. They’ve got the best disposition and nothing bothers them.” Lilley’s ranch gets a new horse around the age of five and up, and often from traditional ranches. Cowboys—real ones, not movie ones—will slowly ride the horses around a set with the lights and production pieces in place to familiarize them with the noise and action. “I like to start them on a big street scene,” says Lilley. “Pretty soon they see that nothing’s going to bother them.” Ideally they’ll acclimate to the madness of a movie set to the point of being shockingly docile. “[The ideal horse is one that] you could fall all over. If you were doing a fight, you could roll under his belly and he wouldn’t try to step on you,” says Lilley.

Pawnee Actor with horse in "Hell On Wheels" series

Pawnee Actor with horse in “Hell On Wheels” series

references: ‘The Hollywood Horse’ from: the horse.com ; Behind the Scenes with Horses from Hollywood: Atlas Obscura.com

 

 

Leg vs Back Movers

Posted on February 15, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, riding, training.
2012 Anky van Grunsven

2012 Anky van Grunsven

Gizelle Hamilton uses the biomechanic academics from Dr Gerd Heuschmann to explain the confusion connected to the training of horses when riders mix a spectacular leg moving horse for the correctly moving swinging back stride of dressage horses.

photo by Ken Braddick

photo by Ken Braddick

“A back mover is a horse who is engaged, forward moving and using their whole body correctly for their level of training. Dr Gerd Heuschmann refers to this state as “relative elevation”. A back mover has been trained in such a way that their head-neck position has been allowed to reflect the horses’ training level and progress, rather than rushing and taking shortcuts.” Her informative article will shed valuable insight on this subject: published at Sacred Horse

equi-works

equi-works