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)

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.
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Bitless Riding & Driving

Posted on March 3, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, history, riding.

drivingbitlessfig3.jpg

Some Thoughts on the Hackamore
By Gwynn Turnbull Weaver

There are many different ideas floating around the country about the hackamore and how it is to be used. Its very makeup seems to be a mystery to many and its function even more elusive. How such a simple concept became so complex is beyond many dyed in the wool traditionalists but, be that as it may, some information about the hackamore is outlined here.

The snaffle bit came into play late in the game, in vaquero terms – showing up en mass when the British came onto the scene. Until then, the hackamore ushered most new mounts onto the payroll. It is no mystery to most that horses were started later in life in our not so distant past. Genetics, feed and the rigors of ranch life deemed it so. “Older blooded” horses were colder blooded horses – maturing later both mentally and physically. Feed, at least in many arid regions, fluctuated with the seasons and sparse times, along with long outside winters, held growth in check for many colts. It was not uncommon then for horses to grow substantially, well after their fifth or sixth year on earth.

What seems to stump most folks is the reasoning behind schooling the horse with the absence of a bit. Since the use of a bit is the end result down the road and since the horse has, in most modern day cases, already accepted the snaffle bit in its mouth, why then would we “change up” in mid stream and go to the hackamore? The most basic answers can be found straight from the horse’s mouth.

 

The Changing

 

One concept that fostered and continued the advocation of the hackamore was the changing nature of a horse’s mouth; particularly during the years that the teeth doing the changing are the ones directly involved with the bit. This seemed to line up with a horse’s coming four to coming five year old years. The changing of teeth marked the time a horseman did well to keep out of Mother Nature’s way and steer clear of their horse’s potentially sore and sensitive mouth.

Unfortunately, most modern-day trainers ignore the changing of a horse’s teeth. The best of horsemen are sensitive to the horse’s demeanor, ever searching for the subtle hints that indicate and instruct him on his journey. Only the keenest of horsemen, while paying attention to the messages their horse sends to them, understands that the condition of the animal’s mouth is one message he would do well to consider.

The hackamore was the obvious solution; it afforded the horseman the freedom to continue using and advancing his mount through the changing of his teeth. What most horsemen never counted on, however, was the added benefits the change offered them, while working through the differences the hackamore brought to light.

 

Horsemanship Exposed

What most good hands soon learn when using the hackamore is the simple fact that there are maneuvers and exercises that a horse might be “made” to do in a snaffle bit, but the hackamore requires that the horse be “taught” to do them.

The most valuable contribution the hackamore makes in the training process is the deficiencies it reveals in the rider. Few know or understand this principle. When using the hackamore it is essential that the rider set up his maneuvers correctly and fully support the cues he gives his mount. The rider’s body positioning, weight placement, timing and sensitivity must be correct in order for the hackamore horse to translate those cues.

The message the actual hackamore itself can offer is so subtle that the horse will feel for the accompanying cues from the rider’s legs, weight and posture to confirm the message before acting on it. If the rider is out of position or offering inconsistent cues elsewhere, the horse will quickly lose confidence in the hackamore’s cue and become muddled and confused.

This unique characteristic of the hackamore might possibly be its greatest contribution to the equine world. It requires a level of horsemanship and handiness to operate it successfully. A cowboy must know and understand all of the peripheral cues used to position his horse as he should before he can support the hackamore the way it must be supported.

The hackamore is a key phase for this reason. It trains or reinforces the concept in the rider that the horse is to be taught to respond to messages, later called signals, in the final stages of putting a horse in the bridle. It is extremely important that the rider know how to set up, support and deliver his cues consistently with all the tools he has to work with.

 

The Civil War Horse

Posted on February 10, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, history, military, riding.

unionlthaskell

from dailykos.com & the civilwarblog

Over the course of 3 days, between July 1 and July 3, 1863, the Battle at Gettysburg was fought.  When it was over, around 3100 Union soldiers had been killed.  Lee’s Army lost approximately 4,000 soldiers.  Less often commented upon is that between 3,000 and 5,000 horses and mules were killed in the engagement.  It has been estimated that at least 1.5 million horses and mules were killed during the war, and perhaps as many as 3.5 million.  For every soldier killed during the Civil War, almost 5 horses met a similar fate.

Union Lt. Haskell recounted the fate of his own horse, “Billy.”  He had been riding half asleep, which was common for battle weary cavalrymen, after a skirmish earlier in the day.  The horse was plodding along at a slow pace, and could not be made to move any faster in spite of being spurred.  Lt Haskell noted that the horse had perhaps taken a shot or two earlier in the day, but nothing to make it go lame.  Coming upon an ambulance unit after dark, he borrowed a lantern to more thoroughly inspect his mount, and found that it had been shot in the chest and was bleeding profusely, with air escaping its lungs through the wound.  In his letter he confesses:  I begged his (Billy’s) pardon mentally for my cruelty in spurring him, and should have done so in words if he could have understood me.  Lt Haskell’s horse died just moments later from its wounds, and he had no idea how long he had been riding him in such a state.

In an account of the events at Gettysburg, General Gibbons of the Union Army made this observation of the horses in Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing’s 4th Artillery Brigade: One thing which forcibly occurred to me was the perfect quiet with which the horses stood in their places.  Even when a shell, striking in the midst of a team, would knock over one or two of them or hurl one struggling in its death agonies to the ground, the rest would make no effort to struggle or escape but would stand stolidly by as if saying to themselves, “It is fate, it is useless to try to avoid it.”

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

Sharpening Your Hoof Nippers

Posted on December 8, 2017 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)

Clipping Your Horse for Winter Riding?

Posted on November 22, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, history, military, riding.

If your winter plans include clipping your horse’s coat to reduce drying time in cold temperatures,  then here are some ideas on how to use your most creative ideas to highlight your horse’s best features, (or hide the worst!).These horse owners have used drawing and stenciling techniques to transform their horse’s coats into distinctive works of art.   Happy clipping!

From the Barn Manager Blog:

This one of the New York skyline from Natasha’s Equine Spa

One of my favorites from Horse Care Courses:

From Equine Ink comes the military clip!

and the Zebra-esque look (very clever)

and also our equine giraffe coif

 

So if you thought this winter you were planning to clip something similar to this:

Perhaps now your heart is set to design something more like this:

(From the Literary Horse)

or this!

(From Horse Nation)

Good luck!

 

Images from the Past

Posted on October 10, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, history, military.

Fascinating photos from the past. Circa 1864 – 1935

Alan Pinkerton of Secret Service in Antietam, Maryland, 1864

Last of the Texas Cowboys, 1921 Cattle Drive

Will Work For Food! mule in shafts, 1935/Alabama

Lt Charles Wolsey with his horse at Brandy Station, Va,1864

1913 suffragettes go to Boston,Liz Freeman,Elsie Mackenzie,&Vera Wentworth

More photos can be found at shorpy.com

equi-works

equi-works