Writing about horses

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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A couple of interesting links I personally found valuable, especially as I know next to nothing about horses (even though I did achieve a few riding lessons a few years ago):

Gaming the Horse
Horse FAQ

The links are written for role-playing purposes, but could be mined for any writing, by the looks.
 
I also have this link about horse personalities:
http://blog.sabolichbooks.com/2011/10/horses-in-fiction-making-your-horse.html

I'm also currently checking out a couple of Kindle books on Amazon:

The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Horses (Write it Right Book 1)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005XT33HK/?tag=brite-21

Writing Horses: The Fine Art of Getting It Right
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004EYUD46/?tag=brite-21

Have just bought the first and will read through it later - the second I'll buy later as research for my next WIP as it mainly covers horse care, by the looks
 
I do know horses can't keep up a gallop. So a fit human over a day can escape from horsemen quite easily. The Romans made flat roads and light weight chariots so horses could carry a man further and faster than on horse back. Supplies and horsemen limited the speed an army could advance. If you are travelling all day on horseback, every day, then the main advantage is not walking or having to carry a pack. It may be slower progress than someone moderately fit walking.
Also feeding the horse is a problem unless you are travelling between Inns etc. If going a long distance from civilisation you thus have very many horses (or better is mules) simply carrying food. Probably a lot for the animals too.

In an unfamiliar situation the horse relies on knowing the rider who must be confident. Hence "show jumping" and similar require a partnership. Not being a horse expert I would simply ensure any distances covered are less than on foot (Messengers with remounts at staging posts are a special case and used in Babylonian Empire, very expensive!) and avoid any speculative detail.

I'm reliably informed that unlike a horse (you really need to learn to ride), a camel is somewhat easier, though extremely alarming as it stands (you mount while its sitting). You really can ride a camel with no prior experience. I'm not sure though what sorts of distances vs speeds a camel can do. They are one of the oddest animals you will read of. If they didn't exist and you made it up people would think it too unlikely. Go on, you know you want to read about Camels now.

I think any subject needs researched extensively unless only mentioned in passing. This is much easier today than 20 years ago. But you have to know a little to rule out nonsense and know what to lookup!

We have a HUGE number of horses here. Kept either by very poor in Limerick City (loose ones are hazard) or by very rich on the many "stud farms" / horsey places, horses that may race in England frequently. We also have a nearby race course. The local shop almost always has someone in boots and Jodhpurs. Our local Agri-Co-op is full of horsey stuff. Often horses are in the field across from us. Some of the poorer people race metal chariot things in the city. That can be faster than a horseback rider. Some Travellers keep horses too. But they more often have vans and the odd goat.
 
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I'm reliably informed that unlike a horse (you really need to learn to ride), a camel is somewhat easier, though extremely alarming as it stands (you mount while its sitting). You really can ride a camel with no prior experience. I'm not sure though what sorts of distances vs speeds a camel can do. They are one of the oddest animals you will read of. If they didn't exist and you made it up people would think it too unlikely. Go on, you know you want to read about Camels now.

I once did a photoshoot while riding a camel.
 
If anyone wants any help writing about horses, feel free to call on me.

I'm a retired horse vet and have ridden and kept horses all my life. I have four of my own and look after other people's horses as a business.

Happy to beta read any chapters/whole MSS to specifically look for glaring horsey errors!
 
If anyone wants any help writing about horses, feel free to call on me.

I'm a retired horse vet and have ridden and kept horses all my life. I have four of my own and look after other people's horses as a business.

Happy to beta read any chapters/whole MSS to specifically look for glaring horsey errors!
Now how to I do a bidirectional link to http://www.sffchronicles.com/threads/537708/ so offers can be round both ways? Copy paste perhaps?
 
Woo horses! :) also carriages, and flipped carraiges, and ones that tip over, and how everyone seema to misunderstand how harness works ;) some nice links Brian though some of it is rather US languaged (saddlebred etc) :)
 
I was in the room searching for something, as my housemates were watching a western.

Barely listening, I heard a character ask about someone possibly getting away on horseback. The reply: "I took the horses shoes off so he couldn't get away that way."

I then watched for a bit to make sure it wasn't a comedy. It wasn't.

I just shook my head and left the room.
 
Maybe he just wrenched half the shoe off - twisted shoes are buggers and deffo put horse out of action until removed properly and even then may have lamed the horse. But I agree mostly sounds like poop
 
Just had a thought where it might be legit then rethought as you said western. But I shall share anyway just in case of help to anyone writing stories.

Some horses (like TBs) have delicate little flower feet and go lame/footy when they lose a shoe or they get taken off for their holiday. Not a problem if not being ridden and either out in grassy field or in a box, but if that's the sort of horse you have and someone pulls their shoes and you have to ride/drive along hard road/rocky area/gravel type stuff then you could very well be screwed.
Also horses with therapeutic shoes can go lame pretty much instantly if shoes removed before problem resolved. Heart bars and the like.

Also, pulling/losing one shoe is more problematic than losing all. And some horses act like they have broken a leg when they lose a shoe, others act as if no difference. And generally once you know your horse you know if you can work them with a lost shoe or not - if so most usually they will only be worked in the arena not on hacks or roads.
 
For writing purposes, your words are good advice, @Kylara . :)

But it's doubtful many riders in the Old West used such horses. I'm not sure when the thoroughbred was introduced into North America, but they were probably reserved for racing and riders in the big eastern cities. A horse with such feet would not have been very useful out west.

The group here watches almost nothing but westerns (thank gawd I have Netflix), and I have been amazed at the glaring mistakes I hadn't noticed in my youth. (One of the most recent, just before the shoes incident, was a 1850s movie in which the bad guy quoted a few lines of Paul Revere's Ride - written in 1860.)
 
For writing purposes, your words are good advice, @Kylara . :)

But it's doubtful many riders in the Old West used such horses. I'm not sure when the thoroughbred was introduced into North America, but they were probably reserved for racing and riders in the big eastern cities. A horse with such feet would not have been very useful out west.

The group here watches almost nothing but westerns (thank gawd I have Netflix), and I have been amazed at the glaring mistakes I hadn't noticed in my youth. (One of the most recent, just before the shoes incident, was a 1850s movie in which the bad guy quoted a few lines of Paul Revere's Ride - written in 1860.)
Truth be told, most horses are of the sort she described. I grew up on a dressage farm, and knew quite a few Western and Hunter/Jumper riders, and they all do an excellent job keeping their ferriers in business shoeing horses. Even wild breeds like Mustangs wouldn't do well on hard surfaces without shoes.

That said, being you are talking about westerns, presumably it is an arid prarie, so they would likely be fine in that particular setting. It would have to be unusually rocky, and then they would be using donkeys or mules anyway. So, either way, that line is absurd (especially being they used the plural "shoes"), but feel free to react the same way when you see someone bring a wild horse onto gravel or worse, pavement. The horse would be lame in short order. Even with shoes, most riders avoid those surfaces.
 
Truth be told, most horses are of the sort she described. I grew up on a dressage farm, and knew quite a few Western and Hunter/Jumper riders, and they all do an excellent job keeping their ferriers in business shoeing horses. Even wild breeds like Mustangs wouldn't do well on hard surfaces without shoes.
Show horses, racers, those that will be ridden on hard surfaces, yes, they are almost always shoed.

But having grown up in horse country, I can tell you a fact: Most people don't shoe their horses - because most horses aren't show horses.

Ranch work doesn't require them to be shod, either - which is what most western horses were used for. Blacksmiths didn't make a living off shoeing; they made all sorts of items.

Trail horses are usually not shod, and none of the half dozen or so barrel racers I knew shoed their horses.

But why the statement was really so stupid in the movie, was: Why would this bad guy give a hoot about the horse's feet, if he wanted to escape? And why would anyone think to check the hooves in the first place?!

"Oh my, this poor horse don't have no shoes! I better find another way to escape!"

:LOL:
 
Show horses, racers, those that will be ridden on hard surfaces, yes, they are almost always shoed.

But having grown up in horse country, I can tell you a fact: Most people don't shoe their horses - because most horses aren't show horses.

Ranch work doesn't require them to be shod, either - which is what most western horses were used for. Blacksmiths didn't make a living off shoeing; they made all sorts of items.

Trail horses are usually not shod, and none of the half dozen or so barrel racers I knew shoed their horses.

But why the statement was really so stupid in the movie, was: Why would this bad guy give a hoot about the horse's feet, if he wanted to escape? And why would anyone think to check the hooves in the first place?!

"Oh my, this poor horse don't have no shoes! I better find another way to escape!"

:LOL:
Absolutely, because of the setting. There isn't much of a need because they aren't on hard surfaces. My point was, regardless of breed, horses don't do well on hard surfaces without shoes, and what makes the situation you described even more absurd is that it was likely a soft surface, and they said specifically that they removed the horse's "shoes" rather than "shoe" so it wouldn't have felt off balance.

If they really wanted to prevent the guy from escaping on horseback, they should have hamstrung the horse, shot it, or something of that sort. Of course, a horse is easier to track than a man also, so I don't know why they would want to prevent his escape on horseback in the first place, but if that is your goal...
 
Oh, and then there is the fact that if some random dude came up and tried to take the shoes off a horse, he is going to get bit, and probably kicked in the teeth. Horses can cow-kick with enough force to toss an adult and crack a skull (my mom has permanent nerve damage from a cow-kick), and their hind legs are legitimate weapons that can kill. And this assumes it doesn't rear up and trample him... So, yeah, few people who know horses are stupid enough to come up to a strange horse and try to pry off its shoes.
 

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