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AuthorDanaReynolds 05-26-2013 10:51 AM

How did Native Americans ride off the sides of their horses in battle?
I hope someone can help me, I've looked all over the internet and cannot find a description of how Native Americans dropped over the side of their horse in battle to use it as a shield. I need this for a novel I'm writing.

I have read descriptions of how they could shoot from under or over their pony's neck as they hung from its side.

I only know they tied a loop in the mane to hang from and kept one heel over the spine of the horse. But where is the other leg? Is there a stirrup of some kind? Did they brace it against the stifle of the back leg as a kind of foot-hold?

If you have any resource on this at all, please let me know!

Dana Reynolds

Dustbunny 05-26-2013 11:39 AM

Than sounds like quite a trick, doesn't it? Some of us might have actually done that, be it not intentionally, and without the shooting part.

Years ago I read a book by Danielle Steele...something about a palomino (??) and the only one of her's I ever read. This character was riding and was pressing her knees or legs into the flank. I had to laugh at the mental image as she must have been holding on to the tail. So getting descriptions of what is going on correct is important...otherwise it gives great humor to some of us who are easily amused.

I hope you get the information you need. It almost sounds more Hollywood to me but what do I know? At least I know your knees don't belong in the flank.

Good luck with the book! I used to think doing that would be interesting but could never get past the really great openings. : )

dbarabians 05-26-2013 11:57 AM

There is a book Empire of the Summer Moon about the Comanche Nation and its 40 year war with the Republic of Texas and the US.
I read the book a couple of years ago and it had a very good description of how they would slide to one side while shooting arrows.
I hope that gives you a reference you can use. Shalom

Palomine 05-26-2013 02:37 PM

Many times they rode with a loop around the horse's barrel that they would slide knees under for stability as they went to one side or other.

The loop was of leather, and just loose enough for knees to fit under.

Whether or not they would also use a strap off of mane to hang with? May or may not have. And would imagine this was done more as evasive move rather than offensive.

Don't know if also would slide feet into and brace against the loop around barrel but that is what I remember reading years ago, by someone that either lived with Indians, or fought them.

If you have horse and small boy, loop leather around barrel and boost kid up and try it out...

Might also research books from that era about fighting the Indians too.

toto 05-26-2013 02:55 PM

Lol, they used a saddle? :-P

Saddlebag 05-26-2013 05:10 PM

There was no loop around the barrel. Keep in mind how fit they guys were. It's hard to believe but they could run all day and not tire and I don't mean like "out for a job" they ran with considerable speed. They were nothing but muscle and sinew. Their horses weren't built like the stocky qh. If the legs slipped off they'd just let them fall, touch the ground in mid strike and pop back up on the horse.

Saddlebag 05-31-2013 06:22 PM

Sorry about the typos. I need new glasses. "out for a jog" and mid stride and pop back up.

Corporal 05-31-2013 07:38 PM

Native Americans first ate the horse. Then, they saw Europeans riding the horse, so they stole them and taught themselves how to ride them. If one went lame or broke a leg, they ate it. No kidding.
WhenEVER they managed to steal the horse AND the saddle they used it. Smart people make what they find into things that are useful.
The Hungarian Cavalry rode a saddle without a girth. They used their leg strength to ride just like the Native Americans did.
Also, most Native Americans have assimilated into the American culture. My DH was a History major and has been writing 19th-20th century historical fiction. He has 3 books e-published and 5 more will be up very soon. (He has over 50 books in various drafts beyond these.) We were both CW Reenactors and he has read extensively about the post-CW, Indian War period. That doesn't include the period of time from when the Conquistadors had horses that got free or were stolen by Native Americans, but the condition of the horse, vis a vis a filled in back, wasn't important to them, EXCEPT that a saddle is ALWAYS more comfortable than bareback.
Movies try to replicate the way that they covered their newly acquired or inherited saddles with their own beads or shells or blankets. Wool, btw was unknown to them until the Hudson Bay Company provided blankets to sell to the natives. Wool is just as warm but much lighter than animal skins and the natives quickly adapted to their use, as well.
I suspect that you would like to write about the romantic idea of the American Plains Indian riding with a thong around the horse's lower jaw, war paint on the flanks that looks like hands, and hanging off of the side of the horse shooting at the buffalo. You can find a lot of information about how they hunted online. Visually, Frederick Remington is only as useful as late 19th century. Your best bet is to look for and read journals of the period. That's what we did. Perhaps the place to start and the easiest to find and to read would be from the Louis and Clark (1804) Expedition. They wrote about everything they saw, including the herds of Grizzly Bear. They were shooting at them for meat, as they had down for meat with Black Bear back east, but "outlawed it" bc the bears were infuriated with their shots and bc extremely dangerous, as they are today in Yellowstone Park.
Regarding other tribes, certainly the Eastern tribes rode the horse with the same tack as the Europeans.
Hope this helps you.

Wheatermay 06-01-2013 01:00 AM

Anyone very notice the old cowboy movies where the natives where Italian and rode "bareback".... but if you looked they were sitting in a saddle and had it covered with a blanket, haha!

But yea, basically, as Saddlebag had said. The would just right bareback, slide off to the side, hooking their heel, then pull themselves back. If they slide too far, they would bounce off the ground on that foot and back on. They were very fit and almost like gymnasts! I mean, how many of us can even jump on a horse the way they do? LOL it's impressive!

xJumperx 06-01-2013 02:07 AM

95 Attachment(s)
The best way I can picture is this -

These people were forced to mount 17hh horses from the ground, bareback.

If you've ever tried that, you know it takes some strength o.o

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