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"Was this standard practice? (Cavalry horses)" Topic


15 Posts

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1,486 hits since 9 Aug 2017
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Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 10:38 a.m. PST

Reading a Danish book about the battle of Helsingborg.
It makes it clear that except for the horses of the life guard horse.
The cavalry horses were only part time war horses.
When not at war the horses worked in the field on farms. Only taking part in small scale military training during the winter months.

I've always assumed that you bought horse and trained them and then used them as war horses. If a long peace happen and the horses Weren't spent they might be sold.
I've never thought that horses were only part time war horses.
Hobby war horses.
Was this standard or a Danish thing.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 10:55 a.m. PST

Napoleonic horses were full time in the cavalry.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 11:08 a.m. PST

And that's the period I've read most about.
But in those books about 17th century or 18th century I've read I've never come across any mention of this practice before

cavalry47 Inactive Member10 Aug 2017 12:09 p.m. PST

As a reservist and also Ex Regular Cavalry I love the Idea of Part Time Nags

Noll C10 Aug 2017 12:16 p.m. PST

Certainly widespread in C18th – equine equivalent of Prussian cantonists being sent home for most of the year, and a factor in poor showing of Prussian cavalry at the start of WAS, or so Duffy says.

I suspect that Revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars were too constant to allow for this sort of thing, though mobilisation of armies did involve recruiting artillery and transport horses from the plough…

attilathepun4710 Aug 2017 10:21 p.m. PST

It makes a good deal of sense really. If most of the army was furloughed for the winter, then who would there be to look after all those horses? They still have to be fed, watered, and groomed.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2017 6:58 a.m. PST

I know the Prussian cavalry did that 'farming out' of their horses a good portion of the year up to 1806 [excuse the pun, but that practice is where the phrase comes from…]

Musketier Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2017 1:19 p.m. PST

Though in the Prussian case, I'm not sure they were put to work the main idea was to let them have fresh grazing I believe, and save the state the cost of buying in fodder?
So infantry was billeted on cities and towns (barracks came later), cavalry and artillery, on the villages. It's probably the latter's draught horses mostly that would have been of use on the farms?
The Swedish army under Charles XI and XII had a similar system I think, in fact the Prussian one drew inspiration from the Swedish practice.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2017 3:38 p.m. PST

Though in the Prussian case, I'm not sure they were put to work the main idea was to let them have fresh grazing I believe, and save the state the cost of buying in fodder?

Well, according to Shannahan, Paret and others, they were used for farm work along with troopers being employed for the same work. And yes, it did degrade the horses and their use as cavalry mounts. Many troopers/horses had maybe 2-3 months a year training together, some troopers rarely getting to ride.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2017 3:56 a.m. PST

My Danish book makes a point That one of the reasons the life guard horse preformed a lot better than the regular horse at Helsingborg was that the life guard horse had professional war horses.

Royal Marine21 Aug 2017 2:24 p.m. PST

Do the professional horses need qualifications? Usually the Reserves were conscripted and hence less academically oriented ;-)

Stephen RA Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member22 Aug 2017 1:19 p.m. PST

The Scandinavian systems of "National Cavalry" developed some quite unique features during the second half of the 17th century, and some of these continued (& were imitated by other countries) until well into the following century. Troopers of these provincial regiments were selected by lot from the eligible population of their community. They were then either provided with a horse by the state or funds by 'grant of subvention' to purchase their own mount of approved breed, age, & height in hands. The men were free to employ the beast as they saw proper until summoned by the army to present both self and horse in fit and healthy condition for military service.

Phatt Rhatt24 Aug 2017 6:17 a.m. PST

The amount of horses they used in the Napoleonic Wars I don't see how they were able to feed them all when on campaign.

Chokidar24 Aug 2017 7:00 a.m. PST

..not standard practice in the Portuguese army there, pay and supply was so poor that they almost always ate the blasted things…(at least in the mid-eighteenth century)

Father Grigori24 Aug 2017 3:50 p.m. PST

I have no idea whether it was standard practice, but I once read that cavalrymen were permitted to keep their mounts at the end of the War of Spanish Succession…leading to a massive increase in the incidence of highway robbery in England.

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