Warhorses

Sep 2014
917
Texas
#31
horses were bred for a variety of traits ,

cavalry horses were either used for scouting and light cavalry work or for heavy armored fighters
the heavy duty horses were usually not ridden until battle , beside their strength , endurance and speed , they had to be brave
middle ages knight often used foul tempered stallions
they were a weapon in themselves , their diet was more particular than the light horses

possibly the oldest war horse breed , the truly magnificent akhal teke
tough as nails . survivor of one of the most hostile environment and soooo graceful

View attachment 15823
The Teke descends from a very ancient mare line but Stalin almost closed their in 1937. They came in last in his challenge. They had to ride to Moscow to save the stud.

There may be Tersk Arabian in the modern breed due to some things said by Teke breeders. A stallion they identify as Arab 26 is called Kumir in military documents. An interesting fact is the foundation sire for the Russian Orloff was described as a long backed Arabian. Sounds more like a Teke.
 
Likes: sparky
Aug 2014
4,597
Australia
#32
It is a physiological fact that the amount of energy a horse has available for work depends on the amount of energy it takes in. Grass simply does not have the energy density required for the magical stamina attributed to Mongol ponies. A horse on a grass diet has to devote so much time to eating that it doesn't have the time to devote to a significant amount of work.
 
Feb 2011
6,456
#33
Stamina isn't just about energy intake, that's why Olympic runners isn't just chugging down fat. Horses need vitamins and minerals so that the muscles can get the necessary amount of antioxidants and oats are simply devoid of that. Condensed high protein consumption also isn't good for heat and dehydration. From the Kentucky Equine Research, much of fatigue is due to dehydration and heat. Also I assume that horse breeds are different enough from each other that there can be significant differences in metabolic efficiency.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,687
Australia
#34
Horses have been used more in warfare than any other domesticated animal. Recently, I've been wondering about how horse breeds might have affected the capabilities of various armies.

Are there any surviving breeds of warhorse out there?

Has the outcome in any battle been largely attributed to the difference in quality between the combatants horses?

What traits were most prized for horses used by heavy cavalry, light cavalry, horse archers, etc?

Do we have specific descriptions of any specific breeds of warhorses?

The Waler Waler horse - Wikipedia
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,716
Sydney
#35
good on for the Walers , a marvel of stamina , speed , good temper and strength
the soviets build on the Russian breeders to develop the Budyonny horse


this was a warhorse for the 20th century
Soviets used cavalry extensively , up to the end of WW2
the open environment made it possible
they fought on foot , even though there were the occasional charge through surprised back units
horses were used for speed of movement and great autonomy behind enemy lines
didn't need fuel or road , could pass through swampy ground and were immune to infantry pursuit
since they had light artillery ,even armored vehicle could be tangled with
tanks just didn't had the range or the vision to go chasing after them
later in the war armored / cavalry detachment were used
the big advantage was that during a breakthrough the cavalry could keep pace with the armor and provide useful scouting
 
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Mar 2014
1,954
Lithuania
#36
1000- 2000 miles? How many ancient campaigns covered that distance in a single campaign season? Marching 100 miles in 2 days was extraordinary and if it could be done repeatedly would seem almost magical. Most 'armies' marched only a few dozen miles a day and quick march could be twice that fast leaving supplies behind. If the avg speed of a Mongol army was nearly the same speed as a quick march of many other armies that is quite fast.
In Central Europe a lot of campaigns took close to 1000 miles. It is something like 900 km from Vilnius to Moscow for example and quite a few armies marched both ways during one campaigning season. There is 1500 km from Crimea to Minsk and Crimean Tatars marched such distances very often for hundreds of years.

P.S. That 20 miles per day distance I have read in some Lithuanian paper on Battle of Kleck. There are letters with dates about that war, so some Lithuanian postgraduate student was able to calculate exact movement speed of Tatar army. Distance was longer than 1000 miles as far as I remember. Battle of Kletsk - Wikipedia
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,083
Dispargum
#37
It is a physiological fact that the amount of energy a horse has available for work depends on the amount of energy it takes in. Grass simply does not have the energy density required for the magical stamina attributed to Mongol ponies. A horse on a grass diet has to devote so much time to eating that it doesn't have the time to devote to a significant amount of work.
Again, we agree on basic facts but not on how those facts are interpreted. The following are based on modern Humane Society standards of horse care. Medieval Mongol war ponies on campaign did not live so well. The figures below assume a horse of 1,000 or 1,100 lbs. Mongol war ponies only weighed 600 lbs so adjust accordingly.
Here's an annual endurance race held in Dubai, UAE. The horses alternately trot and lope 100 miles in about 6.5 hours carrying lightweight jockeys. (I guess no horse runs all out at 30 mph for 100 miles).
How long can a horse gallop? post #8.
Mongol war ponies were not bred or trained for this type of competition and they carried heavier riders. I only include this link for the technique of alternating trot and lope.

A horse requires 5-7 hrs of rest per day including a minimum 30 minutes of deep (rapid eye movement) sleep. The rest hours should not be consecutive. Sleep Requirements of Horses - Kentucky Equine Research
A 1,000 lb horse burns 15,000 calories per day doing relatively little work. Counting Calories in the Equine Diet
A 1,100 lb horse burns 5,000 calories trotting for two hours. How many calories does your laminitic or foundered horse burn exercising? | Laminitis Help At 10 mph (horse | Speed of Animals) that's ten hours and 25,000 calories to travel 100 miles which is in addition to the basic 15,000 calories just to keep the horse alive. Reduce 40,000 by 40% because Mongol horses are smaller and require fewer calories to move the same distance. This leaves 24,000 calories required to trot 100 miles in a day.
A horse can eat about 1-1.5 lbs of grass per hour. Grass varies with climate and other environmental factors but has about 600 calories per lb. Pasture Grass: The Healthy Choice – The Horse I actually found several contradictory sources on calories per lb of grass. 600 is the middle figure. Counting Calories in the Equine Diet

24 hours in a day
- 5 hours to rest
-10 hours to travel
9 hours available to graze. At 900 calories per grazing hour that comes to 8,100 calories ingested which is 15,900 calories short of what is expended. Would a hungry horse eat faster and consume more than 900 calories per hour? Would a hungry horse forfiet some resting hours and use that time to graze insead? I don't know. Humans in war often get less than eight hours of sleep per night. Horses on campaign could survive similar levels of stress.

Assuming horse metabolism is the same as human - 3,000 calories equals one pound of body fat - a Mongol pony traveling 100 miles per day would lose about 5 lbs of body fat per day. That's less than 1% of his body weight. This is the equivalent of a 180 lb human losing one and a half lbs per day - noticable but tolerable in the short term. Documented examples of Mongol armies traveling 200 or 300 miles in two or three days are sustainable in the short term if we understand that at the end of these marches the horses would be tired and run down. 100 miles per day is unsustainable over the long term.
 
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Feb 2019
655
Pennsylvania, US
#38
It is a physiological fact that the amount of energy a horse has available for work depends on the amount of energy it takes in. Grass simply does not have the energy density required for the magical stamina attributed to Mongol ponies. A horse on a grass diet has to devote so much time to eating that it doesn't have the time to devote to a significant amount of work.
It seems to have more to do with how a horse digests that it takes in - many horses would starve on the diet that a pony gets fat on... I wish I were kidding. Even now, you have to restrict the amount of food a pony consumes (no grain, no treats, poor quality hay) and have a grazing muzzle on (restricts the amount of pasture and hay they take in) and exercise them regularly to keep them healthy. Many good horses would starve on this diet... but it's necessary just to keep a pony from getting too overweight and having hoof problems and founder (deadly).
 
Likes: Ichon
Mar 2014
1,954
Lithuania
#39
It seems to have more to do with how a horse digests that it takes in - many horses would starve on the diet that a pony gets fat on... I wish I were kidding. Even now, you have to restrict the amount of food a pony consumes (no grain, no treats, poor quality hay) and have a grazing muzzle on (restricts the amount of pasture and hay they take in) and exercise them regularly to keep them healthy. Many good horses would starve on this diet... but it's necessary just to keep a pony from getting too overweight and having hoof problems and founder (deadly).
Still, even though Mongolian horse is often called pony, but they are horses. They are small and if taken into account only size could be called pony, but for all the rest of characteristics they are horses. There are number of small horse breeds, Mongolian, Islandian, Samogotian. By the size they are close to pony, but they are horses. Grain diet does interesting things to horses it is not only much higher in nutrition, but also act as stimulant. Horses that get some grain have much more energy in general, which is not always good thing. :D
 
Feb 2019
655
Pennsylvania, US
#40
Again, we agree on basic facts but not on how those facts are interpreted. The following are based on modern Humane Society standards of horse care. Medieval Mongol war ponies on campaign did not live so well. The figures below assume a horse of 1,000 or 1,100 lbs. Mongol war ponies only weighed 600 lbs so adjust accordingly.
Here's an annual endurance race held in Dubai, UAE. The horses alternately trot and lope 100 miles in about 6.5 hours carrying lightweight jockeys. (I guess no horse runs all out at 30 mph for 100 miles).
How long can a horse gallop? post #8.
Mongol war ponies were not bred or trained for this type of competition and they carried heavier riders. I only include this link for the technique of alternating trot and lope.

A horse requires 5-7 hrs of rest per day including a minimum 30 minutes of deep (rapid eye movement) sleep. The rest hours should not be consecutive. Sleep Requirements of Horses - Kentucky Equine Research
A 1,000 lb horse burns 15,000 calories per day doing relatively little work. Counting Calories in the Equine Diet
A 1,100 lb horse burns 5,000 calories trotting for two hours. How many calories does your laminitic or foundered horse burn exercising? | Laminitis Help At 10 mph (horse | Speed of Animals) that's ten hours and 25,000 calories to travel 100 miles. Reduce that by 40% because Mongol horses are smaller and require fewer calories to move the same distance. This leaves 24,000 calories required to trot 100 miles in a day.
A horse can eat about 1-1.5 lbs of grass per hour. Grass varies with climate and other environmental factors but has about 1,000 calories per lb. Pasture Grass: The Healthy Choice – The Horse

24 hours in a day
- 5 hours to rest
-10 hours to travel
9 hours available to graze. At 1,500 calories per grazing hour that comes to 13,500 calories consumed which is 10,500 calories short of consumption. Would a hungry horse eat faster and consume more than 1,500 calories per hour? Would a hungry horse forfiet some resting hours and use that time to graze insead? I don't know. Humans in war often get less than eight hours of sleep per night. Horses on campaign could survive similar levels of stress.

Assuming horse metabolism is the same as human - 3,000 calories equals one pound of body fat - a Mongol pony traveling 100 miles per day would lose about 3.5 lbs of body fat per day. That's well under 1% of his body weight. This is the equivalent of a 180 lb human losing one lb per day - barely noticable in the short term. Documented examples of Mongol armies traveling 200 or 300 miles in two or three days are sustainable in the short term if we understand that at the end of these marches the horses would be tired and run down. 100 miles per day is unsustainable over the long term.
You have to remember that horses only sleep a *max* of 4 hours per day - "rest" is different than sleep. They have 20 hours in the day to work and eat...

Also, a horse will burn slightly more calories at a trot than a canter because it's a less efficient gait, the difference will become more marked as you ride longer hours. You also have to factor in any additional calories from forage (are there native legumes with beans? Are there plants other than grass included?)...

Yes, a hungry horse or a horse who has found a patch of something especially lush will eat faster than a casual grazer. It becomes more purposeful and less "grazing". ;)

With remounts factored in, it may reflect less of a caloric demand per horse than your current calculations.
 
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