Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Little Equine Tidbit for Serious Writers

On this slow Superbowl Sunday (sorry, an endeavor in which I have only a passing interest), I just wanted to post a good resource. A while back someone mentioned that more posts about horses used for cavalry would be welcome, so I would like to share an excellent book I'm currently reading. First published in 1895, The U.S. Cavalry Horse, by General William H. Carter, is a fantastic book focused not on military tactics but on the horse itself. He talks about what a good cavalry mount needs to look and act like, and why. There is a lot of insight there into why campaigns can go wrong, mistakes made by various cavalry commanders, and how easy it is to lose the war before it ever begins due to ignorance of horses.

On a side note, I was tickled to discover that his photos of "ideal" cavalry horses are beasties directly related to my own Saddlebreds in the past. He even notes them as Saddle Horses, and they are of Denmark and Highland breeding--direct ancestors of Kalup and Vixen and Vixen's full brother, The Highland Fox. Their conformation is very typical old-time Saddlebred, and is one reason that Saddlebreds were the first choice of the Forest Service for decades for use in the back country, and were long a favorite of endurance riders. Far from being the show-ring hotbloods that most people think they are, they were bred for long days under saddle and the maximum comfort of the rider.

So, if you want authenticity in your historical setting, take a gander at this book to understand what could make your mythical campaign (in any era) go wrong or right when it comes to the horses themselves. It could even come down to your hero dismissing the mount he's offered as being unsuitable--and now you'll know why.


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