The Conestoga Wagon

Posted on July 8, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history.
displayed at the National Museum of American History

displayed at the National Museum of American History

The Conestoga wagon was pretty, painted in a bright Prussian blue with white linen tops and large scarlet wheels. They were huge rigs, capable of hauling up to 6 tons of freight, and they would often travel in trains of up to 30 vehicles. When these huge wagons would travel down the road, there was little room for oncoming traffic, and these wagons did not yield.  These large wagons had no seat for the driver, but rather they often had a special board sticking out on the left side for the driver to stand on. Oncoming traffic would have to veer out to the right to make room for the wagon and its driver.So this is where the American tradition of driving on the right side of the road originated!

During this time, the horses were fitted with harness bells. For the header horses there were small soprano bells and the middle or swing pairs had tenor bells. A bass toned bell was fitted on the right wheelers, but the left wheelers had no bells. If a wagon became stuck, help was available but usually with the payment of one or more bell. The bells became important trophies of skill and success for the teamsters. Thus the expression “to be there with bells on” was born!

The Conestoga wagons were a larger version of what became known as the “prairie schooner” used to transport settlers in the 1800’s. The design of the wagon was reduced between 1820 and 1830, modified for family travel rather than heavy commercial hauling. These wagons were traditionally painted in subdued browns and greens, and thus was born the prairie schooners that made their way west.

from Animal-World Newsletter

First American-bred Horse

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

The Conestoga breed was a medium to heavy draft horse, developed both for pulling and riding. It had a strong body with long striding legs giving it a steady active motion. It was probably about 16 to 17 hand high and weighed around 1,550 pounds (700 kg).

The breed was descended from Flemish stallions crossed with Virginian mares, but its absolute heritage is uncertain. The Pennsylvania Dutch farmers who bred this horse were German-speaking immigrants, and the concept of a draft horse would have been familiar to them. The Dutch in the New York area had been importing heavy horses from Holland for some time, and William Penn is also said to have shipped in a load of Great War Horses, thought to be Tamerlane Horses, in the 1680’s. Either of these could have influenced the breed.

Freight was hauled by wagon across the Commonwealth roads for more than 150 years. But gradually shipping west of Philadelphia was made easier and faster by boat and canal transport, and then by train. In the early 20th century the Conestoga Horse disappeared.

Conestoga Wagon by Newbold Hough Trotter

Conestoga Wagon by Newbold Hough Trotter

circa 1910, John Shreiner with wagon & team

circa 1910, John Shreiner with wagon & team

 

thanks to: Animal World

Doma Vaquera Equitation

Posted on July 5, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding, training.

doma_vaquera.jpgby Jerrilee Streeter

Doma Vaquera is a Spanish phrase that defines the individuals in Spain who work with the cattle and bulls on the ranches and out on the hillsides. The doma vaquera is a person who has a special manner, or style, in which they dress. There is special riding tack , and a unique, individual way in which their horses are taught and ridden that distinguishes them from other riding disciplines. In Spain, some Doma Vaquera still go into the bullring to challenge the bull and still others demonstrate their skillful riding as they guide their horse in their work among the cattle. Included with the regular gear that a doma vaquero works with is the use of a garrocha. The garrocha is a long wooden pole used as an extension of the doma vaquera’s arm to activate, push, and guide cattle along the hillsides. In countries outside of Spain, the Doma Vaquera has evolved into a riding discipline that simulates the pattern work and movements of a working bullfighter mount. The rider still wears the traditional outfit and saddles the horse with the traditional gear to practice a combination of lateral jumps, sudden stops, and pirouettes which are used by today’s working doma vaqueras. There are even riding competitions where participants can show their horse’s special abilities in performing the patterns and movements of the doma vaquero horse. This includes the garrocha which, when used in the competition arena, can be an artful, breathtaking performance, especially when the rider works through the maneuvers without the use of the reins. A demonstration of this can be viewed on the La Garrocha . (To preserve the purity of the performance the link has been kept in its original Spanish format.Click video to begin)  Doma Vaquero will show an public demonstration.

for riding demo.

What Breeds Were Used In The Wild West?

Posted on June 16, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military.

Cowboys would use what ever kind of horse they could get their hands on. Most of the Texas cow horses where Mustangs and Paints, however, as you moved up towards Montana you would find larger breeds since they needed to wade through deep snow. In the Northern states they would use Mustangs, Thoroughbreds, Appaloosas, and Paints. But the breed that most people over look is the Morgan. The US Calvary liked to use a Morgan or Thoroughbred cross. Either crossed with each other or (as after the Civil War) Morgan or Thoroughbred crossed with Mustangs.

Union soldier on Morgan cross

Union soldier on Morgan cross

You will find the Quarter horse became the classic cowboy horse – medium sized, calm and steady. They moved fast over short distances, but endured well at slower paces.
Paints are very similar to quarter horses, but with a specific color pattern.

scene from movie: Dances With Woves

paints used in movie: Dances With Wolves

Appaloosas tend to be slightly smaller than quarter horses, slightly more intelligent, more stubborn, and with greater endurance. They are known for their spotted pattern, they were a very common horse with Native Americans.
Mustangs are feral horses. They were released into the wild by the Spanish colonizers, so they have the look of the Iberian horses…regal, straight nosed, highly intelligent. They tend to be quite small, and very hardy. They have very good endurance, but they can be stubborn and “hot”, having a tendency to run.
But you mustn’t overlook the prominence of the mule, which was the cross between the horse and donkey. Used as pack and riding animals the mule was found everywhere on the farms and mining hills.

mule in shafts

mule in shafts

Other horses you might have seen, were American Saddlebreds and Morgans. These were “city” horses however, and were bred for their flashy movements, smooth ride and carriage work.
Another type of horse you may have seen would be draft horses like Belgians, or Suffolk Draft, who would have been used to plow the land when landowners could afford something more than a mule.

Suffolk Draft

Suffolk Draft

The First Cowboys; the Vaquero

Posted on June 14, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding, training.

The Vaquero vaquero.jpg

The Vaquero, or Mexican cattle herder, came from Mexico in the 1800’s and eventually became employees of the cattle and horse ranches that developed in the southwest.  Two parts of the southwest were predominantly Vaquero namely, Texas and  California. In these states the parents of many vaqueros  raised their families on the ranch where they worked, and as their children became Vaqueros and married, they too raised their families there. The beef industry was a powerful market, rising to its peak in the nineteenth century. The daily duties for a vaquero required long hours of strenuous livestock management, seeing to the transportation of cattle which they drove through rugged, raw territories to the markets where they were sold and shipped. The vaquero was also responsible for the breeding, branding, and safety of all the cows and horses on the ranch as well as the maintenance of the fencing and stabling. Although the western United States was still Mexican territory during this time, the ranchers carried a lot of influence since they were the providers of the food and the mounts for the Mexican Calvary, and eventually the US Calvary.

‘Most vaqueros were men of mestizo and Native American origin while most of the hacendados (ranch owners) were ethnically Spanish. Mexican traditions spread both South and North, influencing equestrian traditions from Argentina to Canada.  As English-speaking traders and settlers expanded westward, English and Spanish traditions, language and culture merged to some degree. Before the Mexican-American War in 1848, New England merchants who traveled by ship to California encountered both hacendados and vaqueros, trading manufactured goods for the hides and tallow produced from vast cattle ranches. American traders along what later became known as the Santa Fe Trail had similar contacts with vaquero life. Starting with these early encounters, the lifestyle and language of the vaquero began a transformation which merged with English cultural traditions and produced what became known in American culture as the “cowboy”. ‘ (J.Malone, p 3)

As eastern and mid-western settlers began their migration into the western territories they watched and learned the vaquero methods of cattle ranching. They adopted these methods when establishing their own ranches. When the western territories became adopted into the United States, many vaqueros stayed on to work for smaller ranches since many of the elaborate Mexican ranches were dissolved and their territories divided.
For a rare opportunity to learn more about the history of the Vaquero from someone who had personal experience, read Jesse Wilkinson’s site:   Vaquero.

Quartermaster and Horse Keeper

Posted on June 12, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, handicap, health, history, military, therapy.
76th Brigade, 1917

76th Brigade, 1917

The land, or Army, Quartermaster Department is the unit responsible for organizing and distributing supplies to our troops. The availability and volume of materials they control provides the means for military operations. Its inception here in the United States was just before the Revolutionary War in 1775.  It became a powerful role in the equine development of our country. Our first Quartermaster General, prior to the breakout of war in 1776, was appointed by the Continental Congress whose members included two future presidents: George Washington and John Adams; it also included the business/philosopher Benjamin Franklin; and the famous freedom fighter,Governor Patrick Henry.  Their first appointee, General Thomas Mifflin, tried for nearly two years to run the new department but eventually became overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of the job, especially since the lack of supplies to provide, and roads to bring them to the troops, nearly lost the war more than once.  The first Quartermaster General resigned in 1777.
A  young Rhode Island Officer, Nathaniel Greene, was appointed his successor. Edward Payson writes of Maj. Gen Greene (in the 1950 Quartermaster Review): “Throughout the winter he [Greene] had vigorously protested against conditions in the Quartermaster General’s Department, particularly the shortage of forage for horses, hundreds of which, he pointed out, had starved to death. ”
Gifted with leadership and organization, Greene established a transportation system for stock and wagons, agents to examine and purchase animals and equipment, and multiple sites for forage depots in an effort to keep soldiers and animals from starvation while out in battle. The results had an immediate beneficial impact and strengthened our position in the war, earning the Officer some of George Washington’s highest praises.

Nathanael Greene

Nathanael Greene

The availability of horses during wartime was always a problem.  Equine casualties were grossly high, ranging into the multiples of thousands of dead horses. Because of this it was impossible to maintain enough mounts.  When regional supplies of horses available for purchase were exhausted, private horses would be seized for military use. During the Civil War, for example, the approach of Northern troops into a southern town meant raiding of the horse barns, as well as their food pantries. Many southerners used their crossbred horses for battle and left their valuable breeding horses at home. When these were seized, the bloodlines of some of our founding breeds were lost forever.
Eventually, the Quartermaster Division realized the need to establish their own equine division which would include their own breeding farms. This Division can easily be called the predecessors of the US horse industry. When the field quartermaster soldiers who had worked with both mules and horses, returned to the private sector they entered their communities with well honed horsemanship skills. They regenerated the field of horse services. Also the retired Calvary Officers left their posts to become competition judges and were a powerful influence on the core principles of horsemanship and horse husbandry, principles which are still widely practiced today. During peacetime the military equine division brought about mutual competitions, establishing  3-Day Eventing Competitions and eventually becoming international, which ultimately led to participation in the Equestrian Olympics.

June 25,1876;The Horse who Survived

Posted on June 6, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, riding.

by Diana Linkous
comanche-horse

photo: US Calvary;Comanche the war horse, after a battle in 1870

Comanche, a famous war horse, born June 25, 1861, fifteen years to the very day before the battle of “The Little Big Horn”, was a 15 hand bay gelding, thought to be part mustang and part Morgan. He was bought by the U.S. Army in 1868 in St. Louis, and sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. A handsome looking horse, he was purchased by Captain Myles Keogh  for $90 to be used as his personal mount.  In the fall of 1868, his unit fought the Comanche tribe in Kansas. During the battle the horse was wounded. Unaware, Captain Keogh continued to fight from his back until the battle was over. Afterward, he discovered an arrow broken off in the horse’s hindquarters. As a tribute, he earned the name Comanche for his bravery in continuing to carry his master despite his own pain.

In 1870 during a battle again against the Comanche tribe, the war horse was wounded in the leg. He was lame for over a month this time, but finally recovered. Then, in 1871, Comanche was wounded in battle once more, this time in his shoulder.   The cavalry was very proud of this brave horse who  recovered quickly, then bravely returned to battle despite being wounded so many times.

On June 25, 1876, Captain Keogh rode Comanche into the valley of the Little Big Horn and the battle known as Custer’s Last Stand. This time they were fighting the Soux and Cheyenne tribes, and it was the last great battle for the Native Americans. They defeated the 7th cavalry and killed every soldier. The only member of the 7th cavalry left alive after the battle was Comanche.  Comanche was found two days after the battle with many wounds, and was very weak and barely able to stand. He was taken in a steam boat to Fort Lincoln, where he was so weak he had to be supported by a sling. He was nursed back to health, once again recovering from his battle wounds.

Comanche was officially retired and it was ordered that no one would ever ride him again. His faithful groom, Gustav Korn,  seen in most photos holding the horse, stayed with him. Comanche was given the title  “the Second Commanding Officer” of the 7th Cavalry, and his only duties were to be led in the front of official parades occasionally. In December, 1890,  Gustav was called back to duty for the battle at Wounded Knee.   He was fatally wounded.  Comanche had lost his faithful friend. On November 7, 1891, downhearted from waiting for  Gustav’s return, Comanche passed away. His body was mounted and put on display at the University of Kansas, where it stands to this day.

A reader’s comment: Captain Miles Keogh was an Irish mercenary. Early in his career he had served as part of the Pope’s private Vatican Army. He was awarded a medal, that he always wore on a chain around his neck. When the Cheyenne killed him on the Little Big Horn, they discovered the medal. Recognizing it as a religious device, they left his corpse alone. His was the only 7th Cavalry KIA whose body was not mutilated. During the US Civil War Captain Keogh served on the staff of the great cavalry officer, Brigadier General John Buford (1st Cavalry Division). They intercepted the leading elements of Robert E. Lees Army of Northern Virginia in front of Gettysburg on June 30, 1863 and held them up until the rest of the Federals could arrive on the field. Hence, they were instrumental in the Union victory in that important battle. Captain Miles Keogh introduced the famous cavalry canter song “Garry Owen” to the 7th Cavalry Regiment. It remains so to this day, and the slogan and greeting among members of the 7th is “Garry Owen.” It is a very stirring tune. Aloha, Mark Mallory.

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.

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.

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

 

 

equi-works

equi-works