Tribute to those at Little Big Horn

Posted on September 3, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, history, military, riding, training.

Excerpt from the historical pages of QuarterMaster Museum

Water Carrier Ravine – Little Big Horn, Montana 25 June 1876

On 25 June 1876, the 7th Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, engaged the combined Sioux and Cheyenne forces along the banks of the Little Bighorn River in Eastern Montana. The 7th was part of a combined Army campaign to bring the Sioux to the reservations. Approaching the Indian village, Custer divided his command into three battalions; one under Captain Frederick Benteen, who took three companies and Regimental pack trains and maneuvered to the south; one under Major Marcus Reno, who launched a frontal attack against the village from the south. Then the remaining five companies went with Custer, to attack the village from the north. Every man in Custer’s command died. Reno’s attack was repulsed and he, along with Benteen were besieged for two days on the bluffs above the Little Bighorn, besieged by an estimated 3000 warriors.

Major Reno’s command attacked the village as ordered located on the plains in the background. Repulsed, Reno led his men up a ravine, losing a third of his regiment along the way. Joined by Captain Benteen, neither man knew of Custer’s fate but knowing that their own situation was desperate, ordered their men to dig in.  By the second day, the men were suffering from lack of water, especially the wounded. Survivors later described the situation: “..the sun beat down on us and we became so thirsty that it was almost impossible to swallow.”

Quartermaster Medal of Honor Recipients:

Captain Benteen called for volunteers to make an attempt to get to the river. Seventeen volunteered. Four men were selected to provide covering fire including Blacksmith Henry Mechlin and Saddler Sergeant Otto Voit, both Quartermasters. The attempt was successful. Nineteen Medal of Honors were later awarded for heroism at the Little Bighorn. Two of those went to Mechlin and Voit. These two, along with two other sharpshooters, positioned themselves on the bluffs on either side of the ravine to provide covering fire. During this engagement only one trooper was seriously wounded.

The above is a canvas at the Quartermaster Museum,Fort Lee, Virginia


Sergeant Reckless

Posted on September 2, 2019 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)

The Shying Horse

Posted on July 30, 2019 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

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

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

 

Horses for Healing

Posted on June 4, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, military, riding, therapy, training.

Combat veteran Rick Iannucci with Cowboy Up!

Photo:Melanie Stetson Freeman

On June 8,2018 the U.S. House of Representatives passed bill: HR 5895, (the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2018), which included an amendment to increase funding for the Veterans Affairs’ Adaptive Sports Grant Program for equine-assisted therapy. The amendment, introduced by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) increases funding by $5 million for fiscal year 2019. The funding will enable an expansion of services that use equine-assisted therapy in conjunction with mental health care treatment and services to veterans.

excerpts from article by April Reese in Christian Science Monitor:

For 2-1/2 years, a stream of Iraqi and Afghan war veterans – many carrying both physical and psychological scars of combat – have found their way to Mr. Iannucci’s Crossed Arrows Ranch, about 15 miles south of Santa Fe, N.M. After first learning to groom and walk the specially trained quarter horses, the vets work their way up to mounting and riding them around the arena. As the veterans bond with the horses and learn how to “read” them, they begin to heal and feel connected with the civilian world again, Iannucci says.  “Horses are so in tune with you – if you’re uptight, they’ll know,” he explains. “They coax a certain level of contemplation out of you. They demand for you to be in the now. When the vets start working with the horses, they immediately start calming down.”

Some arrive with physical disabilities, such as limited use of arms or legs wounded in combat. Others are dealing with traumatic brain injuries, a result of roadside bombs or sniper attacks. Many have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “We call it ‘post-traumatic spiritual disorder,’ because we think the thing that happens to people in war is a wounding of the spirit,” Iannucci says. “Our goal is to find that [wound] and start working on it.”

Iannucci, a compact man with a purposeful demeanor and a walrus mustache, grew up in horse-racing country in southeastern Pennsylvania. From about age 12, Iannucci trained and rode quarter horses his family kept at his cousin’s farm. After retiring from his job as a US marshal working in Colombia, he moved to New Mexico and returned to horsemanship in earnest. He bought the ranch and built a horse arena, initially to provide a place for children to ride. A few years later he started inviting veterans to come and work with the horses. Word about Cowboy Up! began to spread. Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, former director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, visited the ranch last year. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D) of New Mexico has also paid a visit. “Rick doesn’t hesitate to take on a challenge, but he’s also a very humble and patient person,” Mr. Lujan says. “The program is truly impressive. Just to see the faith these men and women have is incredible.”

 

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.

The Story of Wolraad Woltemade

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


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

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

Teaching Detail to Your Horse

Posted on January 18, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, military, riding, training.
Kyra Kyrklund on Matador Photo by Ken Braddick

Kyra Kyrklund on Matador
Photo by Ken Braddick

 

Kyra Kyrklund, six time Olympic Competitor, and well known Dressage Grand Prix trainer discusses profound instruction for advancing your horse’s training by increasing its balance through using shorter steps and attention to detail.  “You can’t have control over your horse’s balance until you have control over your own balance. When you are balanced, you are the leader who oversees your horse’s length of step, speed, rhythm and direction. To be balanced, you need to have a correct riding position–you need to be sitting equally on both of your seat bones, centered in your body and strong in your middle part.” Read her article at:   Kyra

equi-works

equi-works