Sergeant Reckless

Posted on April 11, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military, training.
preparing for transport

preparing for transport

Photo: Library of Congress  Sgt Reckless in Korean War

During the Korean War (1950-1953), Sergeant Reckless, a pony sized, 14 hand mare believed to be of Mongolian descent, became famous for her unescorted trips carrying munitions to the front lines. She carried rifles, ammunition and supplies for the Marines as a pack horse, and her commitment and reliability to her work earned her lifelong recognition.

In 1953, during a five-day test known as the Battle of Outpost Vegas the little sorrel mare transported a total of 9,000 pounds of shells. In one day alone she made 50 trips, packing ammunition up the hill and carrying wounded soldiers down. With the exception of the first trip or two, she made these journeys solo, with no human  leading her. The savagery of that battle was legend. “Twenty-eight tons of bombs and hundreds of the largest shells turned the crest of Vegas into a smoking, death-pocked rubble,” it was written at the time.  The artillery was firing at the rate of 500 rounds per minute!

“Enemy soldiers could see her as she made her way across the deadly ‘no man’s land’ of rice paddies and up the steep 45-degree mountain trails that led to the firing sites,” according to the fan site SgtReckless.com, which goes on to quote Sgt. Maj. James E. Bobbitt recalling, “It is difficult to describe the elation and the boost in morale that little white-faced mare gave Marines as she outfoxed the enemy bringing vitally needed ammunition up the mountain.”

Lt. Eric Pedersen found the mare at a Korean track where she racing under the name Ah Chim Hai, or Flame-in-the-Morning.  He purchased her for $250. As the story goes, the young boy that owned her, Kim Huk Moon, was reluctant to sell his beloved horse, but wanted the money to buy an artificial leg for his sister, who had stepped on a land mine. Her new name, Reckless,  was derived from a  new weapon, the recoilless rifle anti-tank gun.

Once recruited to the Korean war front her division soon discovered to watch their supplies. She was known to sneak into food bags and devour their contents. In addition to a morning cup of coffee, she loved cake,  Coca Cola, Hershey bars and all candy), and was famous for escaping her pasture and sneaking into tents for a warm night’s sleep. Sgt. Reckless includes among her many military honors two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.  Reckless died in May 1968 at the age of 20 at her home at the Marine Corps’ stables in Camp Pendleton, CA.

reckless2

 

(thanks to the equestrian news)

Second Careers for Older Horses

Posted on April 2, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, therapy, training.
Author riding 25 year old Morgan Mare

Author riding 25 year old Morgan Mare

I once had an instructor who firmly believed that we don’t pick our horse, the horse chooses us. Whether that be true or false, purchasing or accepting the gift of a horse from someone is one of those decisions that compares with finding the right relationship, or the best job. First of all, it calls for a clear and honest evaluation of  both our intended use for the horse and of our goals, such as the strategies for training, if needed, and are we equal to that task. Ignoring this simple process has left many a hopeful horse owner with post-purchase blues.  Secondly, the number of horses rescued from squalor or brutality indicates the need for correct assessment, not just of our riding skills, but also our available funds and time to spend with our horse, and our ability to provide a clean, natural environment once we accept the horse as our own.

Every level of rider will find their equal level in a horse when it comes to matching talent for talent, skill for skill. Horses range to each extreme in temperaments and athletic ability. But one of our most valuable resources in the horse industry is the older horse.  These seasoned campaigners are one of the best catches for children, novice, handicapped, or elderly riders. The older, more traveled horses provide safe, predictable interaction for novices learning their way through the horse world. The slower pace of the beginner, whose focus is on position and saddle competence rather than on high level, show-quality performance, is an easier pace for the older horse. The elementary curriculum also provides a job for a functionally impaired horse, who may have arthritis or soft tissue weakness.  How often we discover that the new schedule gives old chronic injuries the time to heal, and our impaired horse is much sounder and healthier.  An extremely aged horse who can no longer be ridden can still live out its remaining years serving as a companion for foals, breeding mares, or convalescing horses.

Choosing a horse in its late teens or early twenties still offers many years of opportunity for a rider to continue to learn from their horse. I once had a friend who accepted the gift of a 26 year old horse and found it to be the perfect companion for an occasional ride. He had never ridden or owned a horse before but his horse carried him around the mountain trails of his home with ease and with perfect manners.  This same horse lived to be 31 and my friend still reminisces about the five years they spent together camping out in the mountains. But his happiest moments, he said, were those just spent hanging around the barn with a beer and his favorite horse buddy.

A Brief look at the US Cavalry

Posted on April 1, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, riding.

 

Sargeant Reckless the battle horse

Sargeant Reckless the battle horse

Ever wonder what happened to the famous US Cavalry? They were once the backbone of  authority and protection for citizens living in the wilderness states. Where are they now?

“The last of the 1st Cavalry Division’s mounted units permanently retired their horses and converted to infantry formations on 28 February 1943. However, a mounted Special Ceremonial Unit known as the Horse Platoon – later, the Horse Cavalry Detachment – was established within the division in January 1972. Its ongoing purpose is to represent the traditions and heritage of the American horse cavalry at military ceremonies and public events.” (Wikipedia)

The US still maintains a Caisson Division which remains with the Army’s “Old Guard” Unit. Here are their website facts:

  • “The Old Guard” is the Army’s oldest active Infantry Regiment.
  • The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard” is the Army’s premiere ceremonial unit and escort to the President of the United States.
  • Soldiers in the unit represent Soldiers throughout the world in ceremonies in the National Capital Region.
  • The Old Guard’s Soldiers are in Arlington National Cemetery daily rendering final honors for our fallen heroes both past and present.
  • The Old Guard Soldiers are tactically proficient in their soldiering skills.
  • Besides their ceremonial duties, Soldiers in The Old Guard stand ready to defend the NCR in the event of an emergency.
  • The Old Guard companies have deployed overseas in support of Overseas Contingency Operations, and are currently serving in Iraq.

In a recent interview at the Joint Base Myer-Hendersen Hall, Va,  Staff Sgt. Travis Wisely, infantryman with the U.S. Army Caisson Platoon, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (aka. The Old Guard), explained: ” These horses are treated with the same respect as any Soldier in this barn because they work just as long and just as hard as we do. Their standards of professionalism are just as high as the Soldiers that ride them.”  Wisely has adopted some of the horses who have served their country and earned retirement. “I feel so strongly about these horses finding the right owners,” he explained. Then added, “I wish I could adopt the entire barn..”  The Old Guard retires Caisson horses through an adoption program that allows civilians as well as military personnel to provide homes for these animals after their consecrated service. Are they forgotten once they’ve retired?  “Even after they are gone from the stable, their legacies will live on,” said Wisely. “Their careers here with the regiment will never be forgotten.”

One such famous war horse was the well known Sgt Reckless, the marine war horse who retired at Camp Pendleton, Ca. Reckless served in the Korean War and saved many American soldiers by transporting both equipment and wounded soldiers on her back through dangerous battles all on her own.

“..the little sorrel had to carry her load of 75-mm. shells across a paddy and into the hills. The distance to the firing positions of the rifles was over 1800 yards. Each yard was passage through a shower of explosives. The final climb to the firing positions was at a nearly forty-five-degree angle. Upon being loaded, she took off across the paddy without order or direction. Thereafter she marched the fiery gauntlet alone.Fifty-one times Reckless delivered her load of explosives.” (Saturday Eve.Post,1953)

 

Reckless and her combat trainer, Sgt. Joseph Latham.

U.S. Special Forces on horseback in Afghanistan, 2011.
From “Horse Solders: The 21st Century” by Doug Stanton


Mules;the other war horse

Posted on by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, riding, therapy.

A post from “civilwartalk.com” in honor of the indomitable war-mule:

army mule

On the evening of October 28, 1863, during the Chattanooga campaign, Confederate troops under the command of General James Longstreet attacked the Federal forces of General John W. Geary. General Joseph Hooker had left Geary’s troops to guard the road along which ran the “Cracker Line,” the round-about route by which Union troops were forced to supply occupied Chattanooga. Although the fighting was disorganized and confused, it raged until 4:00 the following morning and ended in Confederate failure to break the Cracker Line.One of the more enduring and amusing stories to emerge from the Battle of Wauhatchie concerns a purported “charge” by a herd of Union mules, who broke loose from their skinners and dashed headlong into Confederate lines. In his account of the engagement, which appears in Battles and Leaders, overall Union commander Ulysses S. Grant claimed that Southern troops under General Evander Law mistook the runaway mules for a cavalry charge and fell back in confusion.This poem, an obvious parody on Alfred Lord Tennyson’s famous “Charge of the Light Brigade,” was probably composed shortly after the incident and gained widespread circulation.

Half a mile, half a mile, Half a mile onward, Right through the Georgia troops

Broke the two hundred.

“Forward the Mule Brigade! Charge for the Rebs,” they neighed. Straight for the Georgia troops, Broke the two hundred.

“Forward the Mule Brigade!” Was there a mule dismayed?

Not when their long ears felt All their ropes sundered.

Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to make Rebs fly.

On! to the Georgia troops, Broke the two hundred.

Mules to the right of them, Mules to the left of them, Mules behind them

Pawed, neighed, and thundered.  Breaking their own confines,

Breaking through Longstreet’s lines –  Into the Georgia troops,

Stormed the two hundred.

Wild all their eyes did glare, Whisked all their tails in air

Scattering the chivalry there, While all the world wondered.

Not a mule back bestraddled, Yet how they all skedaddled  —

Fled every Georgian, Unsabred, unsaddled, Scattered and sundered!

How they were routed there By the two hundred!

When can their glory fade? Oh, what a wild charge they made!                                                       All the world wondered.  Honor the charge they made!                                                      Honor the Mule Brigade, Long-eared two hundred!

Photograph, poem, courtesy of the Denver Public Library, Western Heritage Collection.

Remembering the Pit Pony

Posted on March 26, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, health, history.

An article from: Making Sense of Mining
pitpony3
Horses have been used for many years in different industries to help provide power or transportation. Coal mining was no exception, with horses used to transport coal from the pit site to local users. Horse-powered engines (gins) were commonly used both in agriculture and in mining. They were used in some cases to replace manual winding up and down shafts, the horses being able to lift
heavier loads and for longer periods. The use of steam power, firstly for pumping and later for winding coal and men, had an impact on horse use at the pit surface. Steam winding was used extensively by the 1840s, but in common with many other pit innovations, older gins continued to be used at some small mines well into the twentieth century. After the 1842 Act which prevented
children under the age of 10 and women from working underground, horses and ponies were used more to pull tubs of coal and materials
underground, where roof heights allowed. Gradually, though, much of this work was done by haulage engines, particularly on long, straight roadways.
pitpony2
The number of working ponies reached a peak just before World War I, with 70,000 ponies in 1913. After this the number declined, firstly due to the demands of the War, and after that, as more machines were introduced. This meant that by 1932, only 32,000 ponies were used by mines. In 1947, the coal industry in the UK was nationalised. This made the process of modernisation quicker, and so fewer ponies were needed. By 1962, only 6,400 ponies were used underground, and the number continued to drop. In 1978 there were only 149 ponies employed to work underground. A very small number of mines continued to employ ponies until the 1990s.
pitpony1

Twist vs Bend

Posted on March 23, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, riding, therapy, training.

from: Science of Motion. Author Jean Luc Cornille
Question- Chazot looks beautiful in both these pictures, but you said there was a problem with his position. Can you explain what is wrong and how to fix it?

-Question by Helyn

Jean Luc’s response:

Jean Luc Cornille training Chazot

Jean Luc Cornille training Chazot

Well, the problem starts at the first picture. I am asking him to bend the thoracic spine to the left. Chazot is not then optimally ready for such bending. He starts to bend left but does not really bend the thoracic spine. Instead, he is contracting the middle of the neck on the left side. The neck contraction is only the visible part of the iceberg. It is due to the fact that he is not properly coordinating lateral bending and transversal rotation. The neck contraction is barely apparent and the picture still looks good.

Meda by Science of Motion

Media by Science of Motion

The next frame shows the evolution of the wrong vertebral column’s coordination. Chazot could have corrected himself. Instead, he does increases the contraction of the middle of the neck and is now twisting the cervical vertebrae. This torsion is placing his nose to the right and is shifting is thoracic spine to the right. This torsion also disconnects the proper coordination of the main back muscles and Chazot is slightly extending the thoracic spine. His reactions demonstrate that he is not bending the thoracic spine properly. He is in fact combining lateral bending and inverted rotation. The solution is to go back straight on shoulder fore until proper lateral bending of the thoracic spine is recreated and then try again the shoulder in. This reaction exposes one of the major side effects of the outside rein concept. Quite often, acting on the outside rein does turn the horse’s nose toward the outside. This abnormality shifts the thoracic spine to the right and therefore shifts the weight on the outside shoulder. In such case, the outside rein is creating the problem that it is supposed to fix.

Due to the fact that feedback corrections are relatively slow, this series of event is happening too fast to be corrected through the usual process of feedback correction. The two frames are 100 of a second apart. The horse nervous system is using predictions, allowing it to deal with event occurring faster than the speed of normal feedback correction. Prediction means that the horse’s brain predicts the coordination for the upcoming effort. This equine neurological capacity underlines the inefficiency of an equitation based on correction and submission. Instead, clever riding is using the privilege of the human intelligence, which is the capacity to use past experience for better future. Instead of punishing the horse for the error, which is obsolete since the error is already in the past, the rider needs to register the error, analyzes it and use the information to better prepare the horse for the next strides.

See you in a few strides.

Jean Luc

 

Horses and Humans

Posted on by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history.

a reprint from National Geographic (for our young readers)

 

Fast Facts

Type:
Mammal
Diet:
Herbivore
Size:
Height at the shoulders, 30 to 69 in (76 to 175 cm)
Weight:
120 to 2,200 lbs (54 to 998 kg)
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
Illustration: Horse compared with adult man
Horses and humans have an ancient relationship. Asian nomads probably domesticated the first horses some 4,000 years ago, and the animals remained essential to many human societies until the advent of the engine. Horses still hold a place of honor in many cultures, often linked to heroic exploits in war. There is only one species of domestic horse, but around 400 different breeds that specialize in everything from pulling wagons to racing. All horses are grazers. While most horses are domestic, others remain wild. Feral horses are the descendants of horses brought by Europeans more than 400 years ago. Wild horses generally gather in groups of 3 to 20 animals. A stallion ( mature male ) leads the group, which consists of mares (females) and young foals. When young males become colts, at around two years of age, the stallion drives them away. The colts then roam with other young males until they can gather their own band of females. The Przewalski’s horse is the only truly wild horse whose ancestors were never domesticated. Ironically, this stocky, sturdy animal exists today only in captivity. The last wild Przewalski’s horse was seen in Mongolia in 1968. 

 

 

 

Feeding The Angry Horse

Posted on March 6, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, handicap, health, history.
toddler with horses (from simply marvelous wordpress)

toddler with horses (from simply marvelous wordpress)

Toddler entertaining horses

(Photo from Simply Marvelous WordPress)

Horses love to eat.  Having daily turnout time where they can graze connects them back to the time of their ancestor’s nomadic life.  Wild horses still walk and graze for miles in rocky terrain foraging for food.  Of course, domesticated horses are not dependent on wild foraging. Grazing is more of an activity, since the bulk of their day is confined to a small area where they eat, sleep, and watch over the fence for entertainment.  Most horses have been instructed and guided from birth to understand interaction with humans. They even prefer the company of their owners rather than standing alone all day.  The horses in the photo above are clearly enjoying the attention the toddler is giving them. These horses can be trusted not to bite or kick when someone approaches them, or hands them a treat, even if that person is a wandering toddler.

But feral horses, or horses who spend their formative years trapped in neglect or abuse, develop a view of humans as predators. Young horses, or newly caught wild horses, trapped with owners who withhold their food, shout at them, or inflict pain through harsh training methods, these horses cannot distinguish the human from any other predator who threatens their safety. This is why they resort to using defensive behavior. They become biters, kickers, and chargers.  To onlookers, such an animal looks (and is) too dangerous to be around. If the horse is part of a herd and fears for the safety of the herd, it will use deadly force to protect its mates.  At mealtime, you will see this behavior escalate in horses who fear that having their head down makes them vulnerable to attack.  These are the types of horses who become dangerously defensive eaters.  Can this kind of horse ever become safer?   Yes, these horses can be rehabilitated, but not overnight, or in one training session. The behavior that took years to imprint needs length of time to unlearn. If the handler understands the reason for the horse’s behavior they can begin a new track of training that will replace the horse’s fear with confidence. To isolate this type of horse and apply even more physical force on the assumption that this will induce submission only serves to engage more brutality.

I once cared for a rescue horse who was so dangerous at feeding time we could only drop the food over the gate then run! He bent his metal gate by body-slamming it at full force, several times. If grazing in the pasture he was off limits to visitors as he would charge and attack anything that wandered inside his pasture, including dogs or other horses.  But within two months he had changed.  While he ate, I could blanket him, lift and inspect his feet, put on his halter, or brush him.   He learned to wait for strangers to put down his food while he stood politely nearby. How?

Horses are blessed with the gift of curiosity and the ability to change when they no longer feel threatened. Therefore their daily environment can be structured to engage their attention and focus, and to subtly integrate humans as a partner and not a threat.  Something as simple as having them watch you carefully place several piles of hay in remote areas, and their water in a far away corner, so that they must search and find when turned out to pasture, activates their curiosity. Placing tarps and ground poles on the ground for them to learn to walk over, requires them to use their reasoning powers and serves to build their confidence. If their owner is there to cheer them on with each new discovery it will begin to build a bond of trust between them.   Graduating from there to learning the comfort of being brushed, sensibly handled, blanketed or saddled, encourages the horse to let go of the defensive mechanisms he depended on for survival.

In the case of my foster horse, when he relaxed enough to show a desire for attention, to be petted and touched,  I  agreed to do so only on the condition that he be eating while I patted him.  Once he became comfortable with that I added cleaning his paddock while he ate. Then I added putting on a blanket, lifting a hoof, and even brushing, while he ate. The process took many weeks, but in view of the many years he will have as a trusted companion in his permanent home, the time is minimal.
Most animals react with defensive behavior because they have felt compromised and endangered at some point. Correcting the cause of their defensiveness, that is, fixing whatever it was that made them feel afraid, just as we correct the cause of an illness or lameness,  can restore harmony.

Leg vs Back Movers

Posted on March 5, 2018 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

The Shying Horse

Posted on January 20, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military, therapy.

photo courtesy of: Your Horse Co.UK

It is the classic story of the horse who ran back to the barn. In every crowd is a person who remembers the time they rode a horse who spooked and ran away. “I’ll never ride again!”, they confess.  Unlike a bicycle or a skateboard, the horse is a living creature with the ability to think and observe. This means they are capable of reacting to whatever they see. Riders cannot control the random events in the woods or the ring where they ride, nor predict the reaction of the horse to those events. But it is possible to minimize the reaction of the horse by pre-training them to respond to guidance from the saddle. The historic mounted cavalry was highly successful in training their horses to charge straight into battle regardless of the noise and confusion. The average horse can be trained to understand that the rider’s directions are a priority over any instinct to run away. This pre-conditioning will bring momentary hesitation when the horse discovers a wild deer or a motorbike out on the trail. This hesitation gives the rider a chance to reassure the horse before he loses control.

However, occasionally you encounter a horse who stubbornly resists any training efforts and continues to spook and leap sideways at every noise. They are displaying a learned behavior rather than an instinctual reaction. We call these types of horses ‘shyers’.

photo:Linda Parelli teaching horse to focus

The habitual shyer is a menace for its rider. The constant bolting or sideways leaping to get away from imagined danger unseats the rider and can leave a loose horse on the run. To develop safer behavior in these horses it helps to determine the reason for their continual disruptions. While there may be several factors involved, here are three basic reasons why horses develop the habit of shying: aggression, insecurity, or the rider. Let’s look at these individually.

Aggression.   Over the centuries, the horse’s job was to carry soldiers through battle. Through the trials of war, certain breeds of horses demonstrated the ability to be warriors in their own right. They quickly grasped the need to charge, bump, or even trample down the enemy troops. They didn’t flinch as they took a stab from a bayonet or a bullet in the flesh, but continued into the thick of battle with wounds that were often fatal. These breeds still exist today and carry the genetic code of their ancestors. They excel in police work where they are asked to intervene and redirect the public through bumping or stomping into unruly crowds, or in search-and-rescue work where they must crash through rocky, wooded terrain in search of criminal escapees or lost hikers. These ‘warrior’ horses fit very well and yield very quickly to a forthright, commanding personality who assumes control such as the policeman riding on mounted patrol. But when ridden by an indecisive rider who avoids confrontation, the horse will assume control. Centuries of breeding make the warrior horse dominant and vigorous. Without a dominant rider, disaster is immanent. These horses will develop the habit of shying because they need an object to be overpowering and a reason to charge forward.  It is best to always have a job for these horses to keep them occupied.

Insecurity.  The oversensitive, insecure horse is clearly the opposite of our warrior horse. Ever fretful and in need of a soft touch and kind word, they refrain from the overt action of the bolder horse. They are generally the quieter horses in the corral who follow the lead of the warrior horse. When ridden they prefer a soft seat from the rider and perfectly fitting equipment. Beware of using bits too harsh for their mouth assuming it makes them easier to control. It will only elevate their hyper-tension, making them squirm and spin until the problem is fixed.  Sensitive horses do their best trail work with a dominant horse as a mentor. They ride behind their mentor, who shows them how to walk over rough footing, cross water in creeks, or step over tree trunks that may have fallen across the path. If they aren’t guided in this way, they often develop skittish behavior, shying at every leaf that scuttles across the path because they are too afraid to be out on their own. This is why the rider of sensitive horses finds their role to be more of a cheerleader, building the confidence of the horse and convincing the horse to work for them. Once their confidence is won, these horses are nearly indefatigable. They display a brilliance and intuitiveness in show competitions and ring work that never wanes. The complex work of dressage or the split second timing of stadium jumping are equal to their level of focus and intelligence. This is why so many of these horses compete at the international and Olympic level. They are best matched with the analytical, ambitious person with long range, competitive goals, rather than wandering through wooded trails.

Riders.  Developing your competency in the saddle is a life-long necessity. Each decade brings changes in physical abilities through the aging process that we need to adjust in both ourselves and our horses that we ride. If you love your horse you’ll want to be sure that your position in the saddle is balanced and easy to be carried around. This correct posture in the saddle is your best protection from the unpredictable, shying horse. Equally important is matching your interests and personality to that of the horse.  If your horse is constantly shying on the trails and nothing is fixing it, you need to analyze the personality of the horse and see if it fits with yours. It may be time to find a horse that better suits your personality. If you want to keep your horse in spite of its problems, consider help from a professional who can work with you and your horse. Their suggestion to change your saddle posture, or the saddle you ride in, could make a big difference. Riding should always be adventurous and fun. With a little homework, you can make your rides outstanding!

Olympic Rider Kyra Kyrkland on Matador

equi-works

equi-works