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Use of Horses in Re-enactment

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 4:33 pm
by latheaxe
With hearing quite a bit about peoples views that battles get boring for the public i wonder why horses are not used more in re-enactment.They bring more excitement and they certainly keep the attention of the public.I know Horses are used in big events but what about individual group events?Is it down to groups not being bothered?,cost or insurance?
In the States Horses seem to be used by individual groups at most events so why not here??
It would also be interesting to hear what groups would be prepared to welcome members who want' to bring there Horses to events.
I for one am considering taking a Horse to events for this season or maybe next season at the latest but it would be a waste of time if there is no place for an old nag lol... :lol: :lol: :) :D

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 4:45 pm
by tonw
There is a issue of training riders to be able to use the horse safely, effectivly, abd above all entertainingly

in the US having a horse does not seem to be that big a thing I know of a least 15

13-22 years olds who come from "middle class" families who own and ride horses.

one of my friends in the US teaches traditional horsemanship skills (riding with knees no reins) specially for re-enactments

It just seems that horses are more widespread than over here

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 5:09 pm
by Chickun

Insurance, transportation mainly. Insurance seems to be erratic and increases with more than one animal. Transport costs (if you do not have your own lorry/box is £120-£150 per day).

There are other factors such as if bringing a single animal will it be ok on it's own (horses being gregarious). Overnight arrangements, either stabling or secure paddocks at night.

Most employers are unwilling to cough up the extra 300-400 it would cost to transport the animal to an event. This is assuming that you are an owner/rider and are not hiring from a "stunt" yard.

There is also (occassionally) resentment directed at horses/riders as it is seen as "elitist". This is my experience anyhow.

Also seems to be a lot of people getting into riding, which is great except that the horses are being used are seen as expensive "props" to compliment a role, which would seem ok to a non-horsey person but anybody who has anything to do with them outside of re-enactment uses will tell you that there is a lot more to it than that. Also people seem to be getting onto horses with insufficient experience, and putting them into, what is in my opinion a challenging and dangerous environement that should be treated with a lot of respect (think how artillery is treated; horses should demand the same amount of respect).

Well that's what I think.....

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 5:26 pm
by tonw
If not more

a Cannon can be repaired a horse can not

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 5:30 pm
by Medicus Matt
Absolutely. Cost.

We've got two very experienced riders, own horses and horse lorry but getting the client to cough more cash for horses (plus the horse LHE stuff that they bring with them) is a trial.

I don't get it really as we charge a fraction of what a certain ginger EH sub-contractor charges and, once the client has seen the contribution that our horses make to our displays, both military and Living History, they're usually happy that they paid the extra.

But it is a pricey old business, having horses at shows (without factoring the loss of earnings that our two riders incur. In order to do a show they have to pass up on two days worth of instructing, and pay someone else to manage their livery yard for the weekend). But then it's not as 'spensive as it was getting all the right tack together in the first place.

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 5:38 pm
by Chickun
I've been round the houses trying to get my boy to events, but it'll just never happen so far as I can see it....It hasn't stopped me doing the "living history" side of things in terms of experimental archeology, training, etc.

Employers seem unwilling to pay the extra for horses unless it a big jousting style extravaganza(sp) etc. MM is right that horses in the right context, with skilled riders in well-researched kit being ridden impressively, really add another element to an event, and bring to life a very important aspect of history that is usually overlooked bith in re-enactment and in academic history in general.

Must admit that the best displays that I have seen are generally the earlier period ones, not really being a fan of jousting myself.

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 5:41 pm
by gregory23b
Also (not a horsey person) there certainly used to be an issue in getting the right kit for th ebeast appropriate to the period.

Has that changed chickun or is it still modern stuff dressed as oldie worlde?

Something to do with saddles being not good for horses came to mind.

I like seeing them at events, but I rarely see them as mere riding horses, they are invariably used for display, which have no problem with, just that it is often separate from say a camp or a scenario, that may well be down to not seeing that many this year though.

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 5:49 pm
by Chickun
Yes kit is hard to get and expensive. There is nothing really like a medieval saddle that is easy to acquire and I am sure that modern saddlers would be hard pushed to re-create a medieval saddle; they are very different from a standard GP(General Purpose) saddle that you could buy in any saddlery in the UK.

Stirrups are different, bits range from similar to very different, and the rest of the tack e.g bridle, crupper, breastgirth etc are again different in many ways to modern stuff.

The most striking difference is the way that the horse was ridden; it doesn't correspond to any one modern style, rather it's a mis-mash of parts of many modern ways of riding. The result I suspect of riding "evolution" in different parts of the world, on different types of horses, over time.

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 5:53 pm
by latheaxe
Does it have to come down to being paid extra or the group wont' use them?.I for one would not expect the group to pay me more for bringing a horse although donations would be gratefully accepted lol.. :wink:
Maybe i am one of the few who would be prepared to do it because i enjoy it and thinks it brings more to the group.
I think the more a group is prepared to add "extras" to its' events and keep up with new ideas' is a group that is going to survive,grow and probably come away with the best bookings... :lol: :wink:

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 5:59 pm
by Chickun
It's not that I am not prepared to do it, it's just that I cannot afford to spend £300 hiring a lorry for the weekend to benefit some employers pocket.

£300 would buy me a decent pair of clippers, or a Stubben bridle, etc etc.

Haven't got transport and can't see myself getting any in the near future, so will have to make do with riding around the farm.

Am more than happy to have a "horsey" discussion, or as I have suggested an "all periods horse thread". I personally enjoy research and making kit as much as I do going to events.

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 5:59 pm
by Alan E
What about horse types ? What are the chances of getting anything looking vaguely like the destriers, rouncies, palfreys appropriate to the period, the use and the status of the user ? Historically horses were not just used by knights of high status with chivalric training; they were also used (but different types .... How different ?) as basic transport. would something like NF ponies be more appropriate for much of the LH/ transport side ?

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 6:04 pm
by Chickun
That's another thing - choosing the right "type". No breeds as such in the medieval period, not in the formal sense, but horses with certain attributes that met the requirements of their use.

Most (and that is nearly all) travelling horses were "amblers", similar to Icelandic ponies and Peruvian paso horses that work on a completely different gait to modern horses. There were of course pack horses used for transportation.

Again, its the cost. Employers are less likely to cough up for a pack horse than they are for a flashy combat-demo horse, despite the previous being just as interesting IMHO....

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 6:05 pm
by craig1459
Perhaps there's an opening here for a specialist group based around the equestrian side of re-enactment?

I'm always wary of overstretch - a group can try to grow more than it should given the existing leadership and membership. Then you inevitably get schisms and the whole becomes less than its parts - I've seen it happen in other pursuits. Also many groups don't want to grow and are happy with the size they are.

Our petty captain is currently learning to ride - after the hoots of derision from his "loyal" troops :), I think it would be great in theory to have him and maybe other mounted troops - as to whether it is feasible is another point.

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 6:07 pm
by Chickun
There are a couple of groups that do that for 15th C, and at least one that I know that does "multi-period".

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 6:11 pm
by Wolf in Shadow
craig1459 wrote:Perhaps there's an opening here for a specialist group based around the equestrian side of re-enactment?
Good idea,maybe you could call them something original like Calvary of STGeorge or Destrier.

:wink: :wink:

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 6:12 pm
by Chickun

Your sig - not Kenny Craig is it???

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 6:21 pm
by craig1459
Thanks guys

Got any weblinks?

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 6:25 pm
by Wolf in Shadow
Lycos,Google,Ask jeeves,mamma.

C,no idea.I think the Sgt in Aliens says it,always works for me.

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 6:25 pm
by Chickun
Didn't know if you were a Little Britain fan....

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 6:29 pm
by craig1459
Thanks for being so helpful :wink:

I usually find this website is a far more efficient search engine than Google - but it does have its bugs

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 6:58 pm
by Wolf in Shadow 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.

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 7:32 pm
by colonelboris
Horses: dangerous in at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle.

That and they ruin a hell of a lot of your arrows.

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 7:34 pm
by craig1459
Thanks WIS

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 7:38 pm
by Cat
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.

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:45 am
by WorkMonkey
Horses aren't authentic! :x
For early periods modern horses are too big, and for later periods they're too small.

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 9:43 am
by Chickun
and for later periods they're too small
Whic period are we talking about? Certainly in the 15th C the absolute maximum height based on period artwork and the remains uncovered in places such as London is 16hh, and that's an isolated example. Most are 14.2hh-15hh, little more than ponies and certainly not "big" by today's standards.

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 10:46 am
by Medicus Matt
WorkMonkey wrote:Horses aren't authentic! :x
For early periods modern horses are too big, and for later periods they're too small.
Surprisingly enough, modern horses come in a variety of sizes.
We've got a couple of Welsh cobs that are about right for horses of our period.

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 11:38 am
by Scraggles
Both the above horsey groups are good, but most horse on the field go around tapping swords with each other, for reasons of safety, no interaction of horses with the soldiers, so they dont have a lot to do.

The stuff Destrier do with displays is excellent work, as a soldier, I do prefer to keep them at the other end of my stick firmly wedged in the ground :)

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:08 pm
by Medicus Matt
[quote="Scraggles"] most horse on the field go around tapping swords with each other, for reasons of safety, no interaction of horses with the soldiers, so they dont have a lot to do.

Really? How dull. :wink:
We let ours charge at us, throwing stuff, trying to hit us etc. Sometimes we run away ("Run away, run away!) but that's a waste of time coz they chase after us and cut us down so sometimes we just charge right back at 'em! Make 'em scatter (but then they just come back in to attack the flanks)

Spears, bows and lots of throwing weapons, that's the trick to making cavalry look interesting (for our period anyway). Having them come to a standstill to engage in a bit of tippy-tappy with each other or someone on the ground looks dreadful. A stopped horse is a dead horse (and rider).

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:40 pm
by tonw
Well they wont let us pull them off the horses!

Which is what I've promised to do to one of them should he even strike the back of my head as he rides past again.