Riding & packing with horses in the Antarctic
Not sure what forum this falls in...:?
Came across a couple of articles on the use of horses during the exploration of the Antarctic:
South Pole Ponies - The Forgotten Story of Antarctica’s Meat-Eating Horses
"While Jackson did take dogs, he also brought four Siberian horses with him to explore this inaccessible part of the world, thus setting the stage for a remarkable set of equestrian events which would later conclude in Antarctica.
During Jackson’s journey in Franz Josef Land with his robust horses, it was 30 degrees below zero. Yet he travelled “night and day” for twelve days with a sledge weighing 700 pounds, covering 240 miles along “abominable tracks.”
“And such are the courage and stamina of these hardy little Russian horses that although we had only given them two rests of two hours each during that time they were full of spirit at the end.”
He later writes, “We had travelled 470 miles in seven and a half days; and I think this speaks volumes for the little Russian horses. We had two sledges, and one horse to each sledge; we went at a spanking pace nearly the whole way, yet they trotted into camp as fresh as paint.”
In his book, Jackson recalled how one of these animals, a mare named Brownie, “appears to be doing very well on her miscellaneous diet. In addition to her regular feed of Spratt dog biscuits and hay, she shares the scraps left from our meals with the dogs, and very frequently helps herself to their polar bear meat, and shows a fondness for picking at bird skins lying around the hut.”
(A Thousand Days in the Arctic by Frederick George Jackson, published by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1899.) "
Polar News Explorersweb - the pioneers checkpoint
Shackleton set off for the Pole with three comrades and four of the original ten horses. Each of the Manchurian horses pulled a twelve-foot sledge carrying an average of 650 pounds. Like Jackson before him, Shackleton praised his horses.
He wrote, “compared to the dog, the pony is a far more efficient animal, one pony doing the work of at least ten dogs and travelling a further distance in a day…
…It was trying work for the ponies but they all did splendidly in their own particular way.”
The harsh weather and unforgiving terrain caused the men and horses to struggle alike through the cold and snow. Nevertheless, Shackleton made a startling observation. The horses preferred to eat the meat-based ration rather than the traditional fodder. They even threw corn out of their nosebags, scattering it on the ground, in anger at being denied the Maujee ration.
Polar News Explorersweb - the pioneers checkpoint
Prior to his fatal departure to the South Pole, Scott had written to the British army authorities in India asking them to authorize the use of mules which had been specially trained in the Himalayan Mountains. In accordance with that request, seven of these carefully trained mules travelled from India, down to New Zealand, and on to Antarctica. Accompanying them was special equipment based on ideas formulated in the Tibetan Himalayas. This included equine snow shoes and tinted snow goggles.
These valuable animals accompanied the rescue party, led by the surgeon Dr. Edward Atkinson, which set out to locate Scott and his missing men. The snow shoes sent from India worked so well that the mules were able to cross crevasses with them.
In a special equestrian report later authored by Atkinson, he stated that “the mules covered nearly 400 miles and were in such good fettle they could have done it again…..They were obviously stronger and better trained than the ponies and would have done even better than the ponies and pulled longer distances.”
(Notes on the Ponies and Mules used during the Terra Nova expedition of 1910-12 by E.L. Atkinson)
"There are ten ponies to be exercised every day and they seem to get fresher every time they go out, and seals have to be killed and skinned. There is constant work on the sea-ice, collecting fish and other animals for scientific work, taking soundings and measuring the tides. With the care of the dogs and ponies, meteorological observations, night watch for Aurora, working up the results of last season's sledging and preparation for the coming season, there is not much spare time . . ."
Antarctic Exploration: History of the Pursuit of the Pole
"Horse Snowshoes discovered in Scotts hut."
VintageWinter - Did the 1912 Captain Scott South Pole expedition fail because they didn't use thier horse snowshoes?
And here I thought a friends horse that liked to eat fried chicken was an oddity.
Maybe one of our vet/vet techs can sound in on this. I had always assumed an herbivores stomach wouldn't process meat.
Wonder where they got polar bear meat in antarctica..........
It turned out that Amundsen, who did make it to the pole, used dogs.
Those must have been some really hardy ponies!
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