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.

The Horse Who Never Came Home

Posted on June 9, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: history, military, riding.

Guest Article by Stan Isaacs: The Mystery of Paul Revere’s Horse

Revere was an on-call messenger for the American colonies. As immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” (it is full of inaccuracies, but it is a [great] public relations coup for Revere) our hero was a 40-year-old silversmith. He was taken in a rowboat on the night of April 18, 1785, across the Charles River from Boston to Charlestown. He took off on a borrowed horse of Deacon Larkin and rode almost 13 miles toward Concord, warning colonists along the way that the British were coming. He was captured outside of Lexington where a British major ordered him to give his horse to a sergeant.
“I dismounted,” Revere wrote in one of his three diaries, “the Sarjint mounted on my horse…and they told me they should make use of my horse for the night, and rode off down the road.” The noble beast disappeared into the British army and was never heard from again.
I visited the Massachusetts State Archives in Boston. They told me that the name of Revere’s horse was the question most often asked by children. The people there gave me a pained look when I mentioned Revere’s horse. I was turned over to Leo Flaherty, the head archivist. He said, “If only people would pay as much attention to important matters as they do to unimportant ones.”    This did not go down well with me you can be sure. I said, “Gee, if kids can get interested in history by learning the name of Paul Revere’s horse then they could go to the so-called important things.”

My pursuit led me as well to the Public Record Office at Kew outside London. I came upon the handwritten diary of the “Sarjint” who had taken Revere’s horse. It was a bit of a trial to decipher his handwriting on the parchment, but I could conclude that he made no mention of being given a name when handed the horse by Revere.
Upon thinking about it, that was a logical dead end because the horse was a borrowed one. It was unlikely Revere would have known its name and even if he had been told it by Larkin, it is unlikely he would have passed the name on to the British.
The trail led back to the Deacon Larkin, the owner of the horse. He, if anybody, would have known the name. That led to the one legitimate claim for the name of the horse. That name is: Brown Beauty.

This comes from a thin book entitled “Some Descendants of Edward Larkin” (Knickerbocker Press, 1930) by William Ensign Lincoln. It states, “Samuel Larkin, born Oct. 22, 1701, died Oct. 8, 1784; he was a chairmaker, then a fisherman and had horses and stable. He was the owner of Brown Beauty, the mare of Paul Revere’s ride…The mare was loaned at the request of Samuel Larkin’s son, Deacon John Larkin, and was never returned to her owner.”

Courtesy:TheColumnists.com

 

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.

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

 

equi-works

equi-works