William H. (William Harding) Carter.

Horses, saddles and bridles online

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Vebster Family Library of Veterinary Medicine
lumirtings School of Veterinary Medicine at
utts University
!00 Westboro Road
Jorth Grafton, MA 01536

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Entered according' to act of Congress, in the year 1895


Sixth U. S. Cavalry

in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington

Copyright, 1902, by Colonel WILLIAM H. CARTER
Assistant Adjutant General

Copyright, 1906, by General WILLIAM H. CARTER
United States Army


The first edition was published in 1895. At that time the ces-
sation of Indian hostilities and consequent absence of active field
duties had begun to change the old and familiar conditions of
army service.

Those officers who had neither the experience of frontier ser-
vice, nor the opportunities possessed by the veterans of the Civil
War, to observe the operations of large bodies of troops, found
need of more detailed instruction in many branches of their pro-
fession, to keep pace with modern progress and be prepared for
the emergency of sudden war.

The service schools filled much of this want and, year after
year, the graduates returning to their regiments with progressive
ideas, gave abundant proof of the opportunities afforded to dili-
gent and ambitious young officers to acquire a knowledge of ele-
mentary technical details as well as of the higher branches of
military education. With the increase of the army, following
recent military operations in the various and widely separated
parts of the world, the limitations of the service schools com-
pelled the establishment of garrison schools.

The amplification and fulfilment of the schemes of Generals
Sherman, Upton and others, who, following in their footsteps,
and recognizing the value of their initial efforts, have made it not
only possible for each and every officer to thoroughly qualify him-
self for the important duties of his profession but have made it
inexcusable for him not to do so.


The original of this volume was prepared with a view to better-
ment of instruction and a wider dissemination through the service
of a knowledge of some elementary facts and principles essential
to the well being and efficiency of the mounted branches of the
army. Ignorance and neglect of essential principles have on many
occasions reduced mounted organizations to so low a state of
efficiency as to cause an army to lose the full measure of success
from pursuit after a hard fought battle.

There are many excellent books on the history, breeding, train-
ing and veterinary treatment of horses as well as on horsemanship
in general. This volume is not intended as a treatise on equita-
tion, but because of the narrow line of demarcation and with a
view to greater usefulness in the wider field into which it has
entered, some information usually found in books on horseman-
ship has been introduced.

In this edition an effort has been made to perfect the work by
a rearrangement and amplification of the original volume and by
the addition of matter suggested by recent experience. It has
been frequently suggested that students could more quickly learn
the volume if it were paragraphed as a manual. This the author
has been unwilling to do because experience has taught him that
no abiding knowledge of such a subject can be acquired by such
means. Many excellent manuals upon this and kindred subjects
have been published in America and England. Failing as they
do to arouse any interest in the general consideration and history
of the subject, such manuals are soon cast aside and others take
their places to meet in their turn the same fate.

Photography has been used as far as possible, because of the
natural tendency to exaggeration in drawn illustrations. A glos-
sary of terms has been added at the end of the volume to facilitate


an understanding of the very important subjects of conformation
and soundness.

A great many publications have been consulted. It has not
been practicable to give proper credit in each instance, but a gen-
eral acknowledgment is here made.

The author records his deep appreciation of the facilities for
observation so courteously afforded him during his visits to var-
ious military establishments in England, Europe, and Japan, and
of the kindness of those who aided and encouraged him in the
preparation of the original volume and of the revised editions.

Partial list of publications consulted:

\/ Horses and Stables. (Fitzwygram.)
\The Exterior of the Horse. (Goubaux and Barrier.)

Diseases and Injuries of the Horse. (Kirby.)

JSeats and Saddles. (Dwyer.)

The Horse in Motion. (Stillman.)
N Parfait Marechal. (Par de Solleysol, Ecuyer, MDCXI.)
'"-^ Principes de Dressage et D'Equitation. (Fillis.)

L'Equitation Actuelle. (Gustave Le Bon.)

Traite D'Hippologie. (Jacoulet et Chomel.)
: Modern Horsemanship. (E. L. Anderson.)

Training Cavalry Horses. (Garrard.)

How to Buy and Sell. (Howden.)

Horses and Riding. (Neville.)

Principles of Riding. (John Allen.)

Riders of Many Lands. (Dodge.)

Bridle Bits. (Battersby.)

Practical Horse Shoeing. (Fleming.)

Records of the Rebellion.

Journal United States Cavalr>' Association.

Journal Royal United Service Institution. (British.)


Reports Quartermaster General, 1861 to 1866.

Report of Chief of Cavalry, 1863.

Report on Diseases of the Horse. (Department of Agri-

Report on Agricultural Grasses and Forage Plants of the
United States (Department of Agriculture).

William H. Carter.



Introductory i

I. The Cavalry Horse 8

11. Framework of the Horse Mechanically Con-
sidered 58

HI. Gaits of the Horse 66

IV. Bits 80

V. Bitting and Training 107;

VI. Saddles 127

VII. Seats 136

VIII. Modern Cavalry and Its Equipment 159

IX. Endurance of Horses 206

X. Age of Horses 223

XL The Horse's Foot 241

XII. Stable Management 258

XIII. Veterinary Supplies and Prescriptions 2'j'j

XIV. Diseases and Injuries 307

XV. Forage 357

XVI. Transportation of Horses by Rail and at Sea. . 380

Glossary 402


The development of the modern rifle, with its flat trajectory and
long range, led theorists to proclaim that frontal attacks, even by
infantry, were things of the past and that cavalry must henceforth
be relegated to reconnoissance and orderly duty. Men high in
authority, dreaming of future wars, foresaw the troop horse and
the army mule displaced by the bicycle and automobile. Since
the beginning of the epoch which notes the modern de-
velopment of firearms, nations have seen much of war in widely
separated theaters of campaign, and experience has not justified
the views of the theorists.

Armies are retained in peace to be in readiness for war. So,
in war, cavalrymen reason that in every campaign of real import-
ance, there comes a supreme moment in battle, or immediately
thereafter, when the presence of a well-trained and fit body of
horsemen is worth all the cost of their maintenance during years
of peace. This condition of fitness for great and prolonged exer-
tion can best be brought about by a general diffusion through all
grades of that technical knowledge which makes each link of the
chain fulfill its function.

It is not unusual in service to hear intelligent men, who have
not given the subject much consideration, express sneeringly their
disapproval of the great care which cavalry officers insist shall be
given to animals at all times, yet history evinces beyond possible
refutation that full success has often been just out of reach of an
army because of the abuse of horses by those who had failed to
•comprehend some very elementary cavalry principles.


Theoretical knowledge is of value in any profession; it comes
with study and not by instinct. In no other subjects is it more
necessary to have theory and practice go hand in hand than in
those which concern cavalry. Books alone cannot convey a
knowledge of the powers and endurance of commands under
varying conditions of service.

A knowledge of horses, saddles, and bridles is of more import-
ance to the cavalry officer than to any other rider, because good
bitting, saddling, packing, and riding are what make up the
efficiency of cavalry, and provide for an economical administration
of that important arm. Actual experience on the march is the
only method of testing the value of saddles and other equipments,
and the capacity of horses to carry their riders and packs without
breaking down.

Even those familiar with war have little appreciation of the
enormous numbers of horses and mules required to replace those
used up by armies during actual field service.

The Quartermaster-General in his report for the year ending
June 30, 1864, says :

" It appears, therefore, in practice, that the quartermaster's
train of any army requires, on the average, one army wagon to
every twenty-four or twenty-five men, and the animals of the
cavalry and artillery and of the trains will average one to every
two men in the field.'*'

It should be remembered that this was written long after the
extravagant ideas of transportation which prevailed during the
early part of the war had been eradicated.

Ignorance as to the great expense necessary for the proper
maintenance of cavalry became so apparent during the first two
years of the Civil War that, in an order establishing the Cavalry


Bureau, published by the Secretary of War at the close of the
Gettysburg campaign, the following paragraph was inserted :

" The enormous expense attending the maintenance of the
cavalry arm points to the necessity of greater care, and more
judicious management on the part of cavalry officers, that their
horses may be constantly kept up to the standard of efficiency for
service. Great neglects of duty in this connection are to be attri-
buted to officers in command of cavalry troops.

" It is the design of the War Department to correct such
neglects, by dismissing from service officers whose inefficiency
and inattention result in the deterioration and loss of the public
animals under their charge."

Under the circumstances the establishment of the Cavalry
Bureau was an urgent necessity. It at once became a potent factor
in the conduct of the war, systematized and improved the remount
purchases for the large bodies of cavalry in the field, and
materially aided in making possible their succession of victories
during the last eighteen months of the war.

The inspection of remounts is a very important duty and the
care and intelligence with which it is performed have a marked
effect on the efficiency of the service. With proper care in the
inspection and purchase of horses, sound and healthy animals are
generally procurable.

When bought imder contract the price paid by the government
for horses is usually fixed by the lowest bidder. It is not there-
fore to be expected that ideal animals will be presented for
inspection, but only such as the contractor can procure at a lower
price than he himself receives. There will be a few first-class,
many fair, and a superabundance of indifferent and mediocre
horses presented.


Those sometimes called upon to decide the good points or
defects of horses may not be naturally endowed with the peculiar
qualifications necessary for the solution of the problem. Those
whose duty may require them to perform this work, may by
intelligent observation, education, and experience, obtain a satis-
factory degree of proficiency, especially if possessed of natural
aptitude and not swayed b}^ prejudice and fashion. The faculty
of judging implies not only attention but a well-balanced ability
for comparison.

It cannot be expected that every officer will become perfect in
so difficult a matter as the inspection of horses, but with proper
encouragement the service should be able to supply an ample num-
ber of trained officers to meet all demands in peace or war.

During peace the manner of purchase is not so important,
except that a system should be established which will need no
change in time of war. In war a Remount Bureau is a necessity.
It should, therefore, be maintained in peace so that the lessons of
war may not be lost. It should be under charge of a competent
officer who should control the general policy as to remounts, and
have at all times a list of officers and veterinarians qualified and
available for duty in the remount service.

Experience in Europe and India has clearly demonstrated that
military horse breeding farms are enormously expensive, when
the number of misfit colts is considered, and are altogether inade-
quate to meet the demands of modern armies. One or two
European governments continue to provide a portion of the horses
for their cavalry from their own breeding establishments or by
acquiring first rights of purchase through the grant of free service
of the stallions retained by the government for that purpose.

This system has been repeatedly urged for adoption in America^


but there are so many good reasons for not doing so, that it is safe
to conclude that the horses required for public service will con-
tinue to be purchased from private breeding farms. With so
unlimited an agricultural country, there should never be any lack
of suitable horses of any class for which there is an active demand
at fair prices. It is not necessary for the government to breed
horses for cavalry purposes. Equally as good, if not better,
results may be obtained by training a large number of officers to
the duty of inspecting and selecting the best animals produced on
American farms, and buying them from breeders whenever
possible. In a conflict of such dimensions as the Civil War, the
number of animals required could not have been furnished by a
reasonable number of government breeding establishments.

The horse, if selected with care and properly used, is capable of
rendering long and valuable service. A knowledge as to how to
develop his full capacity for making hard marches while still re-
taining his health and vigor does not come intuitively, but as a
matter of experience and keen observation. The merest lout who
can ride fairly light, may take a horse over an immense distance
in a single ride, but he will, in all probability, expend the entire
vital force of the animal, and leave him a broken-down, spiritless
wreck at the end of his journey.

There is an infinite amiount of hardship and drudgery connected
with service in the ranks of any cavalry. It is necessary, there-
fore, to have not only ability to ride and intelligence to reconnoiter,
but capacity in both man and horse to sustain long-continued exer-
tion of the most arduous character. If either man or horse
becomes exhausted or loses spirit, the effect is soon felt by the

The trained horse of the high school is not regarded as the ideal


animal for service, but too great stress cannot be laid upon the
value of the riding school as a means of bringing all the men and
horses to an average state of efficiency. Some men, and horses
also, are very slow to acquire that individual instruction which is
so essential to correct maneuvering in large bodies.

History teaches that successful cavalry action, whether it be
battle, raid, or strategic march, is invariably attended with a loss
of horses greater than the corresponding loss of men. In cam-
paigns of magnitude, especially at distances from depots which
prevent broken-down animals from being turned in for recupera-
tion, the loss must be replaced by untrained horses. It is a recog-
nition of this invariable experience in the United States which
causes the War Department to demand that cavalry officers them-
selves shall instruct the men and train the horses, rather than
place dependence upon riding-masters and remount training
depots. The great need in the American army is the develop-
ment of the latent ability in young officers, to enable them to
disseminate through the various regiments a more general and
accurate knowledge of military horsemanship and horsemastership.

The cavalry comprises a class of riders from which a great
degree of uniformity is demanded. The necessity arises from the
existence of a special and narrowly defined object to be attained.
The possibility of accomplishing it exists only when both men and
horses are selected with reference to this object. Some men are
born riders, and if taken in service young soon adapt themselves
to cavalry riding. Such men are usually of a peculiar build, which
combines strength and vigor, with lightness and dexterity, and
possess that peculiar temperament which enables them to train
horses to perfection.

All men are not so gifted, and in order to train this large


majority, the officer should acquaint himself with everything that
pertains to the horse. The presence in the ranks of untrained
riders is bad in peace and criminal in war, but every army has
them. In order to neutralize the effect of their ignorance, good,
well-fitted saddles and bits are prime necessities. It is the pain
and excitement caused in young, nervous horses, by powerful bits
in the hands of thoughtless or poor riders, which make them de-
generate into plungers and bolters. Curb, spavin, broken knees,
and other injuries may frequently be traced to the same cause.
Horses thus injured are condemned and sold for a mere trifle, and
the indifferent rider is placed on another animal, not infrequently
to repeat the same experience through ignorance.

With peace conditions and unlimited time it requires only
ordinary care to gradually instruct both men and horses so that
large bodies of cavalry may be marched and maneuvered with
sufficient accuracy to justify the expectation of success in battle.
The rate at which remounts must be supplied, however, when hard
marches, with insufficient forage, and battle losses are encoun-
tered, makes it clear that all the men must be taught to manage
horses untrained for military purposes, to the end that cavalry
commands may perform their full duty in active campaign. The
ability to stick on a runaway or bucking horse is of secondary
importance to the knowledge of horsemanship which makes it
possible for a commander to maneuver and fight large bodies of

No more costly or humiliating lessons were learned during the
Civil War than those relating to cavalry service. The enthusiasm,
patriotism, intelligence, and courage of the American cavalrymen
were proven on many fields, but bitter experience taught them that
those desirable qualities do not alone command success. Training,
discipline, and patient work are more potent than patriotism,
coupled with ignorance and lack of experience.



Inspection of Cavalry Horses. — Remarks on Judging Horses. — Nomencla-
ture of the Horse. — The Skeleton. — The Superior Muscles.— The Ex-
terior Regions, — Examination of the Horse. — Relations Between
Dimensions of Certain Parts. — Examination in Detail as to Form. —
The Head ; Neck ; Withers ; Shoulders ; Back ; Ribs ; Chest ; Lower
Line of Chest and Belly; Fore Legs and Feet; Hind Quarters; Tail;
Body. — Detection of Lameness. — Artillery Horses. — Examination for

The qualifications, as to general character, age, height, and
weight of animals for the public service are fixed from time to
time by the War Department.

The inspection of cavalry horses is conducted by officers and
veterinarians detailed for the purpose. The knowledge required
by the inspecting officers is such as will enable them to form a
correct judgment concerning the adaptability of the animal for
service, as shown by his breeding and conformation. Only the
horses which pass this examination are submitted to further scru-
tiny of the veterinarians who make the detailed examination for
soundness. »

Inspecting officers are responsible in general for a determination
of all questions as to conformation, quality, size, action, and suit-
ability of an animal for the service for which intended. The
veterinarian's duties relate particularly to questions of age, health,
and soundness.

The form of a horse determines to a great extent his fitness for
service, and enables a fair prediction to be made as to his various
qualities, provided he is sound. It requires judgment, much
instruction, and long practice, to correctly estimate the relative


value of various points, and to determine whether the good
qualities counterbalance existing or probable defects.

Good points in a horse are not mere matters of beauty, but
shapes which, on mechanical principles, are likely to answer the
required ends. However, shapes which may be objectionable for
one class of work, are not necessarily so for another. Thus small
'' chunky " or pony-built horses are better for work in the moun-
tains, than larger and longer coupled horses.

Remounts for cavalry must have certain qualifications, the most
important of which are the possession of sufficient mobility to
execute tactical maneuvers at varying degrees of speed and the
ability to stand hard service while carrying great weight. It
should be constantly borne in mind that cavalry horses are
required to carry loads on their backs averaging about one-fourth
their own weight.

In purchasing thousands of horses to meet a great emergency
conformation and soundness are the things to which attention is
mainly directed, but there are some other requisities, however,
which are absolute essentials in a saddle horse worthy of the
name. The most important of these are a gentle disposition ; a
good mouth ; regular and easy gaits, without stumbling, interfer-
ing or over-reaching; courage and ambition, without being
nervous or fidgety ; of proper size to carry the weight, which for
cavalry service requires a horse about fifteen to fifteen and three-
fourths hands high, and weighing from 950 to 1 100 pounds.

While useless to search for perfection, it is well to study all the
points of the ideal horse, in order to promptly recognize them
when seen. The points taken together constitute the form, which
must not be confounded with particular attitudes assumed by the
horse, for an animal whose conformation is perfectly adapted to
service, will frequently assume such awkward positions while
standing in a stall, or at the picket line, as to entirely deceive any
but a well-trained eye.





The points of a horse are observed more quickly when he is
brought beside an animal selected as a model. As soon as a horse
is found which is a suitable model, he should be retained at hand
for comparison.

In conducting an examination of horses, he who possesses a
knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the animal will have
a great advantage over one who does not.

A general knowledge of the construction of the skeleton and
the superficial layers of muscles is very desirable, but it is not at
all necessary for ordinary purposes to burden the mind with the
names of all the bones and muscles.

Figure i represents the celebrated racehorse " Eclipse," pro-
nounced by high veterinary authority to be perfect. The form
of the skeleton is indicated in outline. The nomenclature of the
skeleton is as follows :

1. Zygomatic arch. 24.

2. Eye cavity. 25.

3. Face bones. 26.

4. Incisor teeth. 27.

5. Molar teeth. 28.

6. Lower jaw. . 29.

7. Atlas, 1st vertebra of neck. 30.

8. Axis, 2d vertebra of neck. 31.

9. Cervical vertebrae (5). 2> -

10. Spinal processes of back. 2>2>-

11. Dorsal and lumbar vertebrae. 34.

12. Sacrum. 35.

13. Tail bones. 36.

14. Shoulder blade. 27-

15. Acromion process, 38.

16. Hollow of shoulder blade. 39.

17. Upper end of arm bone. 40.

18. Arm bone or humerus. 41.

19. Elbow bone. 42.

20. Cartilages of the ribs. 43.

21. Ribs. 44.
22. ' Haunch. 45.
23. Haunch bone.

Great trochanter.

Small trochanter.

Thigh bone.


Radius or fore-arm bone.

Carpal or knee bones.


Cannon bone.

Pastern bone.

Sesamoid bone.

Small pastern bone.

Upper end of leg bone.

Online LibraryWilliam H. (William Harding) CarterHorses, saddles and bridles → online text (page 1 of 24)