please help advise on prep of horses for ride for research for novel - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 10-22-2016, 10:34 AM Thread Starter
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Question please help advise on prep of horses for ride for research for novel

Hi, I'm hoping someone knowledgeable can clarify basic horse care for me please. Unfortunately I don't have a horse, but I'm writing a novel with horses and I'm like to get my facts right if possible.

Currently I'm writing a scene that includes preparing the horses for a day's ride. These are working horses in medieval type setting. For this scene the horses & riders are leaving before dawn and will be riding at a good speed. I did some googling on horse care and came up with this basic procedure for preparing the horses:

"I gave them a bucket of water each while I cleaned out their feet and brushed their coats. Then a scoop of grain each, and I put on the saddle cloth and saddle, making sure thereís no wrinkles in the cloth and it feels comfortable. Then the bridle and saddle-bags."

1) please tell me if you can spot anything wrong.
2) I read that horses shouldn't be fed just before exercise, that ideally they should be fed a couple of hours earlier, but in this scenario, that would mean feeding them at 3am which doesn't seem feasible. But the alternative of not feeding them at all before a day's ride seems wrong too. They could be given some grain or a chance to graze along the way, but they'll be facing the same issue of exercise soon after. What would be the right thing to do?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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post #2 of 20 Old 10-22-2016, 11:06 AM
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3am wouldn't be too unreasonable if the had a stable boy to do it for them. Let the boy know they are riding out early and he should make sure the horses were prepared. Also, if the horses were give hay overnight they would be fine(or let on pasture but I don't think that's appropriate for most of these settings). Forage meals like grass and hay are fine before exercise, large amounts of grain are avoid (though I'm not sure if there is any factual basis for that, or if it's an old wives tales. But remember your period, old wives tales would be pervasive).
From a writer's perspective, don't feel like you have to put every detail in about the tacking process. Readers know what the Hollywood version of it is and, for most purposes, that is enough.
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post #3 of 20 Old 10-22-2016, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks ApuetsoT.

These people don't have a stable boy, so I'd like to know what they would do without getting up 2 hrs earlier just to feed the horses. The horses are free to from stable to paddock all day and night as they wish. Do horses usually graze much at night? Do you think it would be routine to give working horses hay to eat during the night?
Are you saying I should simply have her feed them hay instead of grain in the morning?

The point of the scene is that the servant who doesn't normally look after the horses does the morning routine and the description is to show she knows what to do - though I suppose I could simply say something like "she described what she had done and he could find no fault with it", but that felt lazy and bland to me. For now I'd prefer to include such details then remove them if my beta-readers find them boring.
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post #4 of 20 Old 10-22-2016, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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If she's going to feed them hay instead of a "scoop of grain" - how would you describe the measure of hay?
a fork of hay?
a bale of hay? (surely not that much)
a bundle of hay?
a sheaf of hay?
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post #5 of 20 Old 10-22-2016, 11:36 AM
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If they do have access to sufficent pasture, then additional feed may not be needed. If they were to feed, even an hour before would be fine. Toss some hay, go so some other chores, come back.

Back in these times, bales didn't exist. It was stacks and piles, so they would be forked in piles likely.

Working horses would probably get oats daily as was customary, so you would give them their usual ration.
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post #6 of 20 Old 10-22-2016, 12:07 PM
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We leave very early for work. Sometimes we leave at 3am to trailer to where we need to be. So, our custom is to feed the horses we're using at night. I also throw a flake of hay (as another said this wouldn't be the term in those days) to them while I'm saddling and give a 1/2 gallon of grain. However I also like the fact that the horse is eating while I'm saddling. Lol. My husband doesn't grain prior but after and doesn't give the flake while he saddles.
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post #7 of 20 Old 10-22-2016, 12:10 PM
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Here's what I found odd myself. Why did she give them a bucket of water? Do they not have access to water? In that case they would probably drink more than a bucket and be led to water. A saddle cloth struck me as odd as well. I don't know the terms used then though, so that could be right. The bags would go on while the horse was still tied then the bridle. At least that is the way I do it.
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post #8 of 20 Old 10-22-2016, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolfe View Post
Hi, I'm hoping someone knowledgeable can clarify basic horse care for me please. Unfortunately I don't have a horse, but I'm writing a novel with horses and I'm like to get my facts right if possible.

Currently I'm writing a scene that includes preparing the horses for a day's ride. These are working horses in medieval type setting. For this scene the horses & riders are leaving before dawn and will be riding at a good speed. I did some googling on horse care and came up with this basic procedure for preparing the horses:

"I gave them a bucket of water each while I cleaned out their feet and brushed their coats. Then a scoop of grain each, and I put on the saddle cloth and saddle, making sure thereís no wrinkles in the cloth and it feels comfortable. Then the bridle and saddle-bags."

1) please tell me if you can spot anything wrong.
2) I read that horses shouldn't be fed just before exercise, that ideally they should be fed a couple of hours earlier, but in this scenario, that would mean feeding them at 3am which doesn't seem feasible. But the alternative of not feeding them at all before a day's ride seems wrong too. They could be given some grain or a chance to graze along the way, but they'll be facing the same issue of exercise soon after. What would be the right thing to do?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
I might change that to:

"I gave each of them their morning oats and a bucket of water while I prepared them for their day's work. Brushed, cleaned out their hooves, and then the saddle and headstall. (Since it's not her regular job you could add...) I do so hope I got everything done correctly."

If they were out all night eating pasture, giving hay wouldn't be a concern. Remember, back in those days horses were tools not pets and there also wasn't nutrition knowledge we have today. I wouldn't think twice if an author wrote that they gave them a ration of grain before work.
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post #9 of 20 Old 10-28-2016, 06:58 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much to all.

Knave, please explain "A saddle cloth struck me as odd as well." - I thought this was a cloth or padding that goes under the saddle. Does it have a different name or am I wrong in including one at all?
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post #10 of 20 Old 10-28-2016, 07:01 AM
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I don't know about everywhere, but it's always been saddle blanket to me.
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