Long, cross-country food?

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Long, cross-country food?

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  • What was horses fed on cross country rides in the 1800's
  • Special horse food for cross country

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    01-10-2011, 04:06 PM
Long, cross-country food?

So I'm a total non-horse person but I'm writing a novel with cavalry bits and pieces. . . .

Okay, let's say you're going on a long ride (five days) through a wilderness area in late fall and you're sure there won't be hardly anything to forage on. What should you bring? I assume you'd need to bring some hay. But what about oats? Can a horse be fed mainly oats for a hard five days through mountainous terrain?
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    01-10-2011, 04:22 PM
Normally if you are going to five days you are going to have someone driving in a truck or something with food and supplies that will meet you at your stop each night. They will have the horse hay and grain and your food too. There just is no way to carry food with you when you are riding, for the horse anyways. You can bring small snacks for yourself or whatnot. But your horse is used to eating everyday twice a day and some eat more than that. So going without food isn't really an option.
    01-10-2011, 04:40 PM
You'd need a pack horse, but I'm not sure how authentic that would be. Marching cavalries typically didn't carry hay, but foraged. Lacking forage, they relied on grain, but the grain was pretty much "emergency rations".

A horse can't possibly carry enough hay for itself for five days and carry a rider as well. With no forage an average horse will need 20 pounds of hay a day, more if he's carrying a rider in the mountains all day, plus plenty of grain to avoid severe weight loss, so you're talking 100 pounds of hay for five days for one horse. A pack horse could carry two bales, each about 50 or 60 pounds, and all the grain needed as well - but the pack horse needs to eat too. So there's just a big logistical problem with the idea of packing hay.

I'm guessing the only way to make a trip like that is to have a pack horse packing nothing but grain, as grain is very concentrated food. I don't know anything about oats. The modern grain mixes we feed our horses are very different from what was fed them 100 + years ago. I do know that feeding a horse nothing but grain for five days straight is very hard on their digestive system, but some horses would handle it okay, others would become very ill and possibly die from it.

I'd google something like "marching cavalry food for horses", and see what pops up. Nowadays we'd just take a few hundred pounds of hay in our truck, park as close to the campsite as possible, and take one pack horse out for a day or two, at most. That's extremely different from what would have been done by an army on horseback in the 1800s. You might also try googling "primitive camping horseback", and see if that gives you any ideas.
    01-10-2011, 04:45 PM
I saw an article about a man traveling cross country. Just himself and 2 horses, one ridden one for pack. He tried to carry food that both he and his horse could eat like oats and believe it or not beans. I can see the oats but not sure what a steady died of beans would do to a horse.
Any type of cornbread could do double duty for horse and human as well.

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