Training horses for WWI (The Role of Women)

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Training horses for WWI (The Role of Women)

Post by Dandi » Sat Mar 13, 2004 3:59 pm

I'm new, so I apologize if I'm repeating. I've read some of your discussions and think you may be the experts I've been searching for. I'm writing a young adult novel about young women (and men)who trained horses for WWI, both those civilian depots in England, and the U.S. remount posts, such as the one in Fort Reno, OK, where gentler methods of horse training were used. If anyone can help, I'd be so grateful! Thanks-Dandi

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Mar 13, 2004 4:47 pm

This isn't really an answer to your question, but these are a series of links to other Remount threads. There's quite a few Remount threads, but a lot of them would not pertain to your question.

Also, you may want to look down in the Reviews and Commentary section of these forums, as there is a review on a book on the Remount Service. I have not read the book, but several people here have, and they may information that may be of interest.

This is not an answer to your question, but these are current (non-archived) threads dealing, in some fashion, with the Remount Service:

The first one is a recent one, and isn't quite a Remount topic, but is worth looking at:

topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3090

topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2140

topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2170

Archived General Forum Threads:

This first one was a question for another author:

topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=1172

topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=1149

On Ft. Robinson:

topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=1022

On Ft. Reno's horses:

topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=694

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Mar 13, 2004 6:17 pm

This one was linked in by Todd on one of the ones above and is a good one:

topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=563

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Mar 13, 2004 6:20 pm

By the way, you've mentioned remounts in the US and in the UK, but are you looking for one particular army and branch, or just the topic in general? That is, the UK purchased a huge number of horses in the US and Canada in the war for its own use, and horses in all armies went to the artillery, and even the infantry, in addition to the cavalry.

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Mar 13, 2004 10:05 pm

Originally posted by Dandi
I'm new, so I apologize if I'm repeating. I've read some of your discussions and think you may be the experts I've been searching for. I'm writing a young adult novel about young women (and men)who trained horses for WWI, both those civilian depots in England, and the U.S. remount posts, such as the one in Fort Reno, OK, where gentler methods of horse training were used. If anyone can help, I'd be so grateful! Thanks-Dandi

Dandi
In pondering it, I have to ask a sincere question, not meaning to be anyway disrespectfu in any fashion. Were there female horse trainers in WWI?

I'm under the impression, perhaps incorrectly, that training remounts was a male dominated industry in that era. Indeed, it is my impression that, like the Army itself, it was male dominated throughout its history.

This is not to suggest that women did not ride, nor that women who rode were not associated with the Army. That would certainly be incorrect. Women did participate in various equine events on military posts. Photographs of officers' wives riding, and sometimes of women in other capacities, are not uncommon. Indeed, I've run across photographs of a nurse at F. E. Warren who obviously participated in riding events over a number of years, and I've run across a female rider riding the horse of legendary service rider Hiram Tuttle, who is only identified as a friend of Tuttle's. But actual Remount riders seem to have been largely civilian male contractors, with some Army Remount personnel as well.

Anyway, I"m curious if I'm off base here, and goodness knows I've been in error many times in the past, and would sincerely like to know if I've missed something here. Certainly many horse trainers today are female, and there'd be no reason they could not have done that in the past, but for the conventions, potentially, of the times.

Pat

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Post by Joseph Sullivan » Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:29 am

I am with you, Pat. My understanding of the times is that the remount stations and training functions did not have active female participation. I would be fascinated to learn otherwise.

On the other hand, I have seen photos of and read countless references to women riders, some of the superb, at Army contests and horse shows, and have in my collection military horse show programmes with many women named as competitors. George Patton's daughters were excellent and highly competitive. Social life on post for all branches, but especially cavalry, included a great deal of riding, from Sunday Hunts to pleasure rides and picnics. WOmen participated fully in all of this, except Polo.

I am not aware of the gentler methods at Ft. Reno, and would be highly interested to learn more.

In general equitation and training methods were in a state of change and experimantation before and after WW1. The influence of the forward seat was spreading. Refined methods of horsemanship were taking hold in the cavalry, although as Jim Ott points out, there was a somewhat schitzoid approach as the former schools of indoor and cross country riding were reconciled to each other --or not. We went from a rather crudely trained monted force that had through experience learned a vast amount about endurance and long travel, to a more polished and refined, but aso more contained cavalry. As the French, and later Franco-Italian methods had a growing influence on our mounted forces -- as we sent more and more officers to the great schools at Saumar and Tor de Quinto, our training and riding techniques certainly became both gentler and biomechanically better.

Joe

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Post by Dandi » Sun Mar 14, 2004 12:38 pm

I was so excited to find that some of you had taken the time to answer my questions! Thanks so much. I'm humbled by your knowledge and fully admit my ignorance. I will be following every lead and every topic on this site.

I'd love to know more about the actual training of the horses during WWI at these remount posts, such as the one in Fort Reno. What I know about their gentling methods comes from the Washington Post archives. In an article dated Nov.4, 1914, from Leavenworth, KS, but appearing in the Post on Nov.5, the Fort Reno remount depot is praised for its gentle handling of horses there. The article is: TRAINING U.S. HORSES WITH KINDNESS PROVIDES FINE REMOUNTS FOR TROOPS, and the article claims that "Kindness and gentleness" is the motto of the institution. "...men are graded according to their ability to carry on their work on this basis of kindness and gentleness to horses." Spurs and quirts are barred. Voices are kept low and hands are gentle. "So effective has been the work at these remount stations that they have become famous throughout the service for their sound, tractable, fearless and well-trained horses."

You're right--I have no hint of women involved in the training. How I would love to discover more! But in another Post article from 1915, the British "civilian outposts" were described, places where horses they'd purchases were held and readied for battle. The article stated that one of the outposts was run efficiently and staffed entirely by women. That's an outpost I wish I could track! The other mention of women is in Lawrence Scanlan's intro to THE MAN WHO LISTENS TO HORSES. He says: "During the First World War, a "reclamation camp" was established in England to deal with 'untamable' army horses. Otherwise slated to be destroyed, the horses were entrusted to horse-wise young women, the daughters of wealthy country gentlemen, who had lived around horses from childhood. The ladies did as Sioux boys had done: they rode into deep water where the horses soon became docile. It never failed."

So, that's it--all I know. Any ideas for tracking some of this?

And thanks again! Dandi

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Post by Philip S » Sun Mar 14, 2004 2:06 pm

Welcome to our discussion group Dandi. You ask some very interesting questions.

Cavalry horse training is misunderstood and misrepresented. It was actually quite systematic. The army was well aware of the necessity of kindness and stressed it in its manuals. Horses after all were expensive and difficult to replace.

The following is from “Munsey’s Magazine,” 1905, “The American Cavalry Horse” by Capt. Wilmot E. Ellis:

“The Rarey system plays an important part in the training of the American cavalry horse. It is an elaborate and detailed system formulated before the Civil War by John S. Rarey, a famous American horse-breaker of his day. With slight modifications, it has been embodied in the United State Cavalry Drill Regulations, and is employed to subdue stubborn animals. It is also brought into general use in the latter stages of training, to complete a cavalry charger’s education, and to impress upon him once for all that man is master.

One of the most useful of these advanced exercises is the throwing of the horse. The animal is first equipped with the surcingle and watering-bridle. The trooper attaches one end of a long strap to the pastern of the off fore-leg, and passes the other end through a ring on the top of the surcingle. The horse’s near fore-leg is then tied up by means of a short strap. Taking the free end of the long strap in his hand, the soldier places himself opposite the animal’s croup on the near-side, and urges his mount to step forward. As it does so, the trooper pulls on the long strap, which brings it to its knees. When it ceases to plunge, the trooper leans back on the strap, and the horse will gradually lie down on the near side.

The horse is prevented from rising by passing the reins under the surcingle and pulling his head to the right if he makes any attempt to change his position. Before allowing him to rise, the straps should be removed from his legs. After several repetitions of this exercise, the horse will usually lie down without making it necessary to use the straps.”

Obviously this technique while quite effective and humane should only be practiced by a skilled trainer. It is shown in the movie “The Horse Whisperer” and Monty Roberts (wrongly) describes it in criticizing his father. Nancy Bowker wrote of a biography “John Rarey” Horse Tamer.” It is available in paperback. A good discussion of the process and a copy of Rarey’s book is on this web site:
http://www.rarey.com/sites/jsrarey/

Below are several illustrations of this process in the cavalry:

Image

Image

Image

Image

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Post by Dandi » Sun Mar 14, 2004 2:14 pm

Philip, thanks for the great pictures and information. I guess when I'd read about that form of horse-taming, it conjured up other images than the ones you've sent. On the other hand, I suppose the method could be misued--as could most methods. I wonder if the Fort Reno training center was at all influenced by Native American horse handling.

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Post by Ron Smith » Sun Mar 14, 2004 7:22 pm

Originally posted by Dandi
Philip, thanks for the great pictures and information. I guess when I'd read about that form of horse-taming, it conjured up other images than the ones you've sent. On the other hand, I suppose the method could be misued--as could most methods. I wonder if the Fort Reno training center was at all influenced by Native American horse handling.

Dandi
Dandi

It is unlikely that Indian influence was active in doctrine for the training of Army horses even at Ft. Reno. Although a number of Indians were employed on the Post and it could be logically assumed that some of their style did come into play. It must be remembered that only a few miles North of the parade field a major battle took place between the US Army and the Indians, feelings today are still rather touchy in that area. Societal attitudes were vastly different and intolerant compared to today.

I have interviewed some Ft. Reno Remount troops and the system has much more influence from Europe, mostly France and Italy than anywhere else. Many of the men at Ft. Reno had working cowboy back grounds and that came to influence some methods as well. Real cowboys are systematic and sensible with the training and not over handed and abusive.

We had officers in attendance at Saumur all throughout the latter part of 19th century and heavily in the 20th century and by then also at Pinerolo and Tor di Quinto in Italy. The lessons learned at these schools and others by US officers had a greater overall impact than most any other program.

The photos Phillip posted of the laying method are still employed in the UK by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery Trainers (AKA RoughRiders).

In regards to training methods we were realtive newcomers to the scene compared to France, Prussia and Great Britain. We quickly overcame that aspect and became one of the leading forces in horsemanship/horsemastership.

Officers of the US Army of note left diaries and memoirs that often relate to training methods that is now touted by some "horse experts" as the method of new design. The manuals used at West Point in the 1840's bear witness to that fact as well. The gentler methods were employed as far back as the 1650 's by Baroque era trainers such as Pluvinel and his peers. Also Xenophon's works express the same methods to a great degree.

In WW I it would have been a real test to prepare as many horses as were required for line duty in any capacity considering the need for mounts aa they were. But considering the skills and rationale of the trainers I would venture to guess they stayed true to the course.

I can see where Great Britain may have employed women in working horses as they female population of GB had a impact on the workforce during both world wars. But I can not see the US Army employing women in that capacity overseas given the attitude then of the US society and the restricitions of having women in combat theaters. For GB women it was home, but for US ladies it was a war zone.

Regards,
Ron Smith

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Post by Joseph Sullivan » Sun Mar 14, 2004 7:52 pm

Dandi:

We have several regular British participants. They might know more about the use of women across the pond. It would not surprise me a bit. The British were so completely involved in the war that the use of girls who grew up on horseback as remount station staff would make a lot of sense. It is not mentioned in the one book I have on the subject of British Ww1 remounts, entitled THE HORSE AND THE WAR, but the absence of mention certainly does not mean that it was not done. I, too would love to learn more about it.

Horsemanship is unusual in that it is an intensly physical activity (now sport) in which men and women can compete on completely equal terms. Top cometitors in either gender need to be built and wired right, but after that, it is a level playing field.

Joe

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Post by Dandi » Mon Mar 15, 2004 8:02 am

Thanks again. There's so much to learn. I'll do a search and try to find that West Point manual.

Any ideas on how to get in touch with the British experts you mention?



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Post by Joseph Sullivan » Mon Mar 15, 2004 8:49 am

The Englishmen in question will see this thread sooner or later and chime in. If they don't in a couple of days, we can email them to see if they have been lookng.

One thing we didn't mention before is that the French influence on our methods was so pervasive that most of our manuals were near direct translations from theirs. We sent many officers to their school, starting with a few after the turn of the century.

You might make a plausable story line about a daughter of the regiment, so to speak, whose officer-father was one of those sent to France to the cavalry school at Saumar. As a cavalry daughter she would have had every opportunity to be wel trained and ride extensively, and her father could have taught her the methods coming out of France. Perhaps they did a tour at a remount station. She would have been very solidly grounded. Later perhaps, while in England for some reasons with friends who were volunteering at the remount station, she with the true cavalry spirit in feminine form, pitched in...

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Post by Trooper » Mon Mar 15, 2004 5:58 pm

Joe,
You ought to take up writing novels - you clearly have a talent for it.
I'm sorry to say I know nothing about this topic and have been lurking with interest. John M. might be the man.
Dusan

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Post by Ron Smith » Mon Mar 15, 2004 7:37 pm

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Dandi</i>
<br />Thanks again. There's so much to learn. I'll do a search and try to find that West Point manual.

Any ideas on how to get in touch with the British experts you mention?



Dandi
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Manual is:

The Horseman
Work on Horsemanship
containing
PLAIN PRACTICAL RULES FOR RIDING, AND
HINTS TO THE READER ON SELECTION
OF HORSES
to which is annexed

A SABRE EXERCISE
FOR MOUNTED AND DISMOUNTED SERVICE

by
H.R. HERSHBERGER
Instructor of Riding at the U. S. Military Academy

With Cuts, Illustrating the various Kinds
of Bits, Paces or Gaits of the Horse, and
Practices For the Accomplished Horseman

New York:
Henry G. Langley, 8 Astor House
1844



This is an informative manual and is well written. It would behoove (sp?) many to read it and let some of it sink in.

As Joe mentioned our equine training system/s were almost entirely French in design and application and that influence remained for over 100 years. Kearney and Hardee were at Saumur in the 1840's as an example.

Regards,
Ron Smith

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Post by Joseph Sullivan » Mon Mar 15, 2004 8:30 pm

Dandi:

The original Hershberger is no simple matter to find, and costs more than a few sheckels. However, some of us have copies and it might be possible to run a xerox if you have enough interest. It has been in the public domain since the beginning of the War Between the States, so no copyright problem exists. However, it will not give you much of immediate use to your story line.

Joe

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Post by Joseph Sullivan » Mon Mar 15, 2004 8:32 pm

And I always thought that to behoove was to endow with horselike feet?

Joe

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Post by Pat Holscher » Mon Mar 15, 2004 9:37 pm

Wow, I had not checked in since Saturday, this thread has certainly developed.

I'd like to learn more, if anyone acquires additional information, on the British female manned stations mentioned by Dandi. That is a story I'm wholly unaware of, and would be interested in learning more about.

This thread has developed so much that there's no longer anything I can really contribute. I'll chip in a few minor odds and ends, for what it is worth.

On the training of horses, one thing that must be kept in mind is that the US Army had undegone a large change after the close of the frontier era. During the frontier era the acquisition of horses was sometimes local, along certain accepted standards. Indeed, the Army sometimes acquired "range horses" during this period, which were right off the western ranges and probably fairly green. I've never read anything on it, but this would suggest that the training of horses was fairly local at that time as well. Probably more or less within a unit, in some circumstances. Also, the standard of horsemanship, ironically, was probably not as high during the frontier era as it would later be. Certainly ems were less equipped for more advanced riding, as they were often using only a curb bit, for example.

After the close of the frontier the emphasis on horsemanship, and the Remount system, developed. I mention this as Ron is correct in noting the European influences were increasing at that time, and it is unlikely that Native Americans had a signficant role in US Army horsemanship. Indeed, in photographs of the turn of the previous century, it is notable that all Indian tribes had acquired Western tack, and it is not unusual to see photos of Native Americans in 1900 to 1910 in which they are equipped much like cowboys. So, it would seem probably in terms of equipment that the influence may have been the other way around.

I'd recommend checking out the book Photographing Montana by Donna M. Lucey. The reason I recommend this is that while the book is not on this topic, it depicts the work of Evelyn Cameron, an Englishwoman, hunter and horsewoman, that may be of use to you. Cameron depicts some topics which approach being those you are touching upon, including photos of cowhands breaking horses in that era, and of female ranchers and horsewomen in Montana from 1894 to 1928. While it is largely forgotten now, the Boer War and WWI created huge horse booms in the Rocky Mountain West of the US and Canada, and this book shows what people actually looked like in this era.

Pat

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Post by Pat Holscher » Mon Mar 15, 2004 10:26 pm

Following up on my last post, but on an unrelated item, I dimly recall reading somewhere that women may have played a role in the forestry corps personnel sent to the UK by Canada during WWI. I can't recall the name this enterprise went under, but Canada sent a fairly significant number of personnel over to Europe in WWI for the purpose of logging, which in those days was a horse driven enterprise. We don't think of logging as a wartime exercise, but in actuality WWI consumed some fairly substantial stands of timber.

Anyhow, I once ran across an item which briefly discussed women attached, in some role, to this work in Scotland I can't remember anything else about it. In fact, these individuals may actually have served in this organization in WWII.

Do any of you Canadians have any data on this? If yes, perhaps a new thread might be interesting, and I can try to locate one of the older ones on it.

Pat

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Post by Dandi » Tue Mar 16, 2004 12:07 pm

Well, I've been trying to post today, but my server seemed to bounce off yours. Just wanted to thank all of you for the information (including plot ideas!). Although I've published a lot of books for young adults and children, this is only my second historical fiction. So I'm a novice in research and am following every lead gratefully. Some of my deadends have ended on the steps of the British Imperial War Museum, where it sounds as if they have quite a collection of manuscripts and documents. Has anyone been there?



Dandi

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