Use of Horses in Re-enactment

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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RTB
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Post by RTB »

Hi all, I've been away on a course, and this thread comes up!
There has been some good points brought up. I agree with Chickun. The cost of keeping horses is large, and you have the disadvantage of not being able to put them in the garage over winter! The cost of moving them is also large. More fuel to pull the trailer, more space req. due to personall kit, and horses kit. The route planning can also be a pain in the *rse, sometimes adding hours onto the journey (inc. lower towing speeds).

Organisers on the whole (with the exception of EH and The Armouries) don't tend to use the horses to the full potential, and just see "the Joust". Jousting, after the first few passes, is as exciting as watching paint dry.
As for horse types, we try to match for the period. Although the two greys we used for Roman troopers mounts and Celtic chariot have now been retired, we have replaced them with Fells. These will give us much more flexabillity.

Kit is always a sticky one. A few years ago you could get away with a GP saddle covered with a sheepskin. I have even seen people riding with hard hat, modern riding boots, crop and nylon "tabbard". These days the rest of the re-enactment scene is very good with kit, so why can't the horeses? We are very lucky to have our very own saddler and leather worker, other groups aren't so fortunate. The best saddle to convert is the British cavalry UP saddle, however these are like rocking horse poo! A Portugese style saddle are easier to get hold of, but I think look a bit strange in the earlier periods.

There was a mention about horse/rider combos. Personally I don't like the idea of just showing up and getting on a horse and doing it in front of the crowd (ooerr!). You've got to get to know the horse beforehand, just to see what they are capable of. Another thing is that you should be there to show off the horse, NOT the other way around.

About eliteism, I can only say that the horses take up a lot of time. You look after them, and then yourself, so you can only get to the beer tent later on, and have to leave early to get up for the horses. I personally don't see ourselves as above anyone else in re-enactment, it's just sometimes mixing is hard to do when you're away some distance from the main camp, and still working.

I love mixing it up with the infantry. Anyone who went to Bannockburn this year, or who saw Dan of Brittania's interpretation of Bouddica's rebellion at Stoneleigh, would have seen how effective a properly choreographed cavalry/infantry interaction can be. All it needs is a little planning.

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Chickun
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Post by Chickun »

When I said "elitism" I didn't mean it on the part of the rider towards foot soldiers, what would perhaps be more accurate to say is that it can cause possible resentment within a group, some people seeing the horses as "flashy" and detracting from other activities...Somebody once said to me that artillery can have a similar effect.

Regards the horse and rider knowing each other - totally. Sitting on a riding school horse once a week for 6 months is not, IMHO, a qualification to take a spirited, well schooled horse onto a battlefield into an equestrian activity that I'd equate to hunting in levels of danger, possibly even more so. A decent rapport with the horse will give you (and it) alot more confidence and will therefore make things run alot smoother and safer.
Last edited by Chickun on Fri Nov 11, 2005 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by zauberdachs »

One of my favourite re-enactment moments so far was being charged by knights. It's a movie moment, when you can really believe that you are transported into the past. :D
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Alan E
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Post by Alan E »

Cat wrote:Having been involved in Cof St G in its infancy, I believe it does have a website but it is still under construction.

My view of horses in re-enactment is astonishingly similar to the chap that just suggested some 'ordinary' amblers, palfreys etc. Walking, working horses. Maybe the pack animals would need a huge event to make work (although one event I know of has a horse and cart come round to rubbish collect!), however wouldn't it be novel to hire some nice, elderly dozy beasts to sling some packs over, and stroll around a 'fayre' with? Horses that people can pet, and who will smile nicely for photos.

Or howabout a middle class wife ambling around the stalls with her wares in panniers, on a nice natured pony? Again, specifically there for the public to stop and talk with. Or a parson on a palfrey...or or....or...

I love the fact that we have horses in re-enactment but think that we are only showing the Lotus/Porsche/Sherman tank side of mejeevil equestrianism.
It's drifting towards battle-re-enactment again - :shock: there's more to portraying the historical than battles guys :roll: :oops: : Does anyone see a way to do more of this type of demo ?
RTB wrote: Organisers on the whole (with the exception of EH and The Armouries) don't tend to use the horses to the full potential, and just see "the Joust". Jousting, after the first few passes, is as exciting as watching paint dry.
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Chickun
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Post by Chickun »

Alan

Totally agree there is alot more to history than the battles; in fact the battles (certainly in England) were largely something that affected "other" people on the whole, so by modern re-enactors focusing on battles it gives a skewed perception of late medieval history....anyway that's for another thread.

It all boils down to cost: If employers aren't willing to spend on having a flashy equestrian combat demo that would undoubtably bring the public in, they are not likely to pay for pack animals unless there is a specific requirement for them. Yes they'd be absolutely fantastic, but they'd not be economically viable unfortunately, and that is what drives alot of it...

As for carts, yes, not enough. I have a good m8 who does 17th C along with his parents. His Dad was a very competent carpenter, worked in the building trade and could therefore get cheap materials, and he made a really nice looking 17th C cart. It was made out of the wrong wood I believe (pine) but was the cheapest he could get, and it still set him back a grand for the materials. It was only because he had a flat bed truck that he could actually get it to events. This was without any horses to pull it, so with a team of horses the logistical and economical problems would be very challenging, unless you won the lottery or were otherwise minted in some way.
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Post by Medicus Matt »

We wanted to set up our Horsey LHE stuff at Kelmarsh this year. This consists of a load of sturdy woven willow panels which we use make a good sized pen to keep the two horses in when they're not on the field. We've got loads of 'fentic equipment (buckets, shovels, rakes plus the farriers equipment) as well as stands for all of the tack. It gives the public a chance to come see the horses and tack close up, talk to the riders etc and usually draws a big crowd.

We were surprised then when EH told us that it wouldn't be possible, not because of the LHE itself but because it would mean moving the horses through 'public' space in order to get them to the arena for the display. If clients won't allow two well trained horses in the control of two very experienced riders to move from one part of a field to another through public space, what chance that they'd allow horses to take an active role in depictions of civilian life. I don't think that this would be an issue for EH alone. I would imagine that any organiser who has to fill in a Risk Assesment would have grave reservations about having horses of any sort moving in anything other than a contained environment (we have set up the horsey LHE at EH events,but only where the horses can move directly from the LHE to the arena)?
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zauberdachs
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Post by zauberdachs »

Alan E wrote: It's drifting towards battle-re-enactment again - :shock: there's more to portraying the historical than battles guys :roll: :oops: : Does anyone see a way to do more of this type of demo ?
You know, not being funny, I'd never really thought about that before. The battle fixation, that is.
Do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory. For truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be true - Nennius, 8th century

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RTB
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Post by RTB »

I completely agree with the battle/war fixation. There's plenty of images you could do without the marshal context.
I'd personally like to see one of my horses pulling a narrowboat. Also, up untill the 1950's horses were used to "shunt" wagons in the numerous shunting yards around the country. That would be an ideal image for these WWII events you see at preserved railways.
Unfortunatley organisers are either too short-sighted or have no imagination. You're there for the day, and only get an hours slot to do your stuff, so you could fill in the rest of the day wandering about doing something else. Even if it is LH and answering questions.
A lot of it, I think, is down to the insurance implications, and the thought of someone getting trodden on by 250kg of horse isn't pleasant for them (or to me for that matter!), however if carefully planned, could work well.

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Post by lord roos »

Wolf in Shadow wrote:destrier.org I think,dunno about C of STG.I'm more o fa b**ger than a bug.Prefer to let people look myslef.True,you can get some wierd and wonderful results on giggle.
Cavalry of St George don't have a web site at present,some of the members are at present working on one.
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Post by lord roos »

Chickun wrote:When I said "elitism" I didn't mean it on the part of the rider towards foot soldiers, what would perhaps be more accurate to say is that it can cause possible resentment within a group, some people seeing the horses as "flashy" and detracting from other activities...Somebody once said to me that artillery can have a similar effect.

Regards the horse and rider knowing each other - totally. Sitting on a riding school horse once a week for 6 months is not, IMHO, a qualification to take a spirited, well schooled horse onto a battlefield into an equestrian activity that I'd equate to hunting in levels of danger, possibly even more so. A decent rapport with the horse will give you (and it) alot more confidence and will therefore make things run alot smoother and safer.
Agreed,which is why Cavalry of St George & Destrier train at the stables where the horses they actually ride on the field are kept.It is also the reason why my horse is on working livery 70 miles away from where I live!

Cost.........To give a ROUGH idea of cost;
£75 per day per horse(£100 for a 'jousting' horse),£1.50 per mile transport(irrespective of how many horses are being carried),Wages for the groom &/or driver.So, for our show at Bromham this year it cost just over £1000 for four horses for the weekend.

What should be remembered is that at both Bosworth & Blore Heath this year a substantial contribution to the expense was met by the riders themselves to subsidise the event organisers rather than lose the chance to ride.
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DomT
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Post by DomT »

Cost.

Black company have a number of Horses and Cav trained riders in our ranks (i'm one for a start) but there's no way I'm hauling my Giant Economy sized hayburner from Cornwall. I suspect the others feel much the same.

We gave it a go a few years back and along with the hassles of arranging ground crew and getting all the kit together it just didnt work out for us.
However a few of the more centraly based horsey types might still give it a go.
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horses in re-enactment

Post by Timothy Dawson »

Yes please, more horses in medieval re-enactment. Who is up for a late twelfth century tourney group to give those appalling Jubbly Jousters (not to mention all that over-done C15th stuff) some competition?

OTOH, on the subject of breeds, as has been observed, there are far too many horses being used which are much too large, at least for the earlier middle ages.

But, still ... more horses in medieval re-enatment!

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Post by latheaxe »

Gotta agree with you there Tim...More clubs should be encouraging and embrasing members who want' to include Horses in there events... :wink:

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Post by SueDudley »

Although It's C17th, you might find this cavalry site interesting:
www.wallershorse.co.uk

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Post by Brendan C »

Tim

Fully agree with you on the size of horses being used in early medieval shows, though recommend you check out ERA's late Roman cavalry display - right size, great tack and more than happy to talk to the public about the training and tactics used.

A 12th century tourney with horses? Would be superb to do

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Post by WorkMonkey »

I saw 4 roman cavalry men at Wroxeter once, put on a very good show for the crowd, very entertaining.
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Re: horses in re-enactment

Post by Rod Walker »

Timothy Dawson wrote:Who is up for a late twelfth century tourney group
Do it. It is great fun.

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Brendan C
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Post by Brendan C »

Rod

Seriously impressed and bloody envious

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latheaxe
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Post by latheaxe »

Hey Rod...Been on your website before matey....Weldone! :wink:

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Post by Cat »

<sigh> also jealous.

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Post by BraveAnimal »

Aah! I have found the horsey people! I am just getting into this reenactment stuff and would like nuffin better as to enter it with my pony!

I am still trying to find my niche, whether it be Viking or maybe Irish? Though I would love to at least once break a 14th century lance.

I am tring to read Ann Hylands book the Horse in the Middle Ages to get a good historrically correct image of the horse in medieval times. I would also like to find out a bit more about horses in Anglo-Saxon /roman england/scotland/ireland.

Any tips and suggestions are welcome..

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Post by BraveAnimal »

Aah! I have found the horsey people! I am just getting into this reenactment stuff and would like nuffin better as to enter it with my pony!

I am still trying to find my niche, whether it be Viking or maybe Irish? Though I would love to at least once break a 14th century lance.

I am tring to read Ann Hylands book the Horse in the Middle Ages to get a good historrically correct image of the horse in medieval times. I would also like to find out a bit more about horses in Anglo-Saxon /roman england/scotland/ireland.

Any tips and suggestions are welcome..

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Post by Brendan C »

Work out exactly what period you want to use your horse in, then ask around.

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Post by craig1459 »

If you are into the medieval period, I found the Destrier site quite interesting

http://www.destrier.org.uk/
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Post by BraveAnimal »

Thanks! I foudn that one allready! Also got in thouch with teh only dutch group, stichting HEI. They are 14 th century I think.. The tournament style.

I would like to find out a bit more about turn of the century times, celts, vikings, saxons and how they used the horses. It is pretty hard to find some stuff about that period, concerning horses/ponies. Maybe that's the reason why everyone is doing the Tournament times?

As my pony is just under 14 hands taal I reckon he will look a little bit comical in the midst of the larger breeds that are used for jousting. though in truth the medieval horse was rather small bred.

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Post by Thomas Hayman »

BraveAnimal wrote:
As my pony is just under 14 hands taal I reckon he will look a little bit comical in the midst of the larger breeds that are used for jousting. though in truth the medieval horse was rather small bred.
While a teensy bit on the small side, thats roughly the right height. I've been well informed by my tournament friends that 'medieval' horses weren't the big shire horses everyone makes them out to be.
I'm sure if you Email Dom sewell from Destrier showing an interest you could get much of the info you'd need about horses. www.destrier.org.uk
Also, if you're ever near the armouries, the interpreters are knowledgable people.

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Post by Chickun »

Don't know that much about the earlier stuff, but the "average" height of skeletons from London and Scottish sites is 14-14.2hh, so you're not far off. 16hh is the max, and 15-15.2 considered a "good" height for a warhorse.

I have some academic papers about cheek pieces and bits from pre-roman to saxon; alot of them were made from bone/horn with wooden "bits". I'll dig it out when I get home.

Also I know that there is a really big find of "viking" horses somewhere - hundreds of 'em, with all the data out on the internet. Had the link but changed computers several times so it's copied onto a cd somewhere! Anyway I will endeavour to have a look around.

PM me if you want to chat; would personally like an "all periods" horse forum myself!
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Post by BraveAnimal »

Or at least a topic on this forum!

I think I will PM you!

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Post by little_red_mare »

if you get the chance go to the racehorse museam in newmarket as they have the saxon horse ans tack found in the area on display it is truley wow
OH and you can play on the race syimulator its fun but for a training aid very odd as it doesnt match any gait i know of

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Post by BraveAnimal »

oh wauw.. must google now on racehorsemuseum and newmarket...

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