Equestrian Survival For Bugging Out, Recon, Rescue, Projection of Force, or Hunting- Part 1, by R.M.
Assess Your Horse’s Capabilities and Temperament
We all love to think of our horses as part of the family. Some might love their horses. Let me begin by saying that before you do an overnight or longer trip away from all the comforts of home, you need to honestly assess your horse’s capabilities and temperament. Temperament is key here. I am careful to choose the horse for the job. I prefer traveling far with my dog as well. He is a great scout, level headed, and loves to ride. He often hunts for himself, but I always bring food for him. Mind you, once horse and dog are out for four or five hours, their temperament smooths.
I have made my horse aware of the terrain. He can surf down a steep mountain trail with loose scree or find his way home five hours out, through thick forest on his own, while I relax in the saddle. Trained in the Colorado and California mountains and holding his own in the hunt lands of Virginia, he can practically walk over a four foot fence, loves the hunt, stays placidly tied at the range, and he’s a good old boy, who loves to travel.
I also practice martial arts on horse and need to give him a half hour ride to smooth out before a fight, and he loves to tussle. I realized that much of my experiences through the years might serve some or just be an interesting read, so I thought I’d share them.
As you can see, a horse is not a pet; he is a companion. I feel the same way about my dog. I’ve only taken him to shutzhund level 2 (look to Helmut Raiser. I don’t know if we’ll ever make it to level 3. It’s a united effort; we both have to learn how to train, and we’ve learned a lot already. He has a good bite, won’t let go of the sleeve until told, is not afraid of the stick or punches. He’s okay in a fight, loves kids and to play, and is an excellent tracker. He has that concentrated stare that makes a person back off. The goal, of course, is not to fight. My horse is used to Fritz (my Alsatian breed dog) being in the saddle. He shares the saddle with me when he tires, and Cloud (a big 16 1/2 hand Appy) doesn’t mind a bit. Fritz has been a regular at the range. Gunfire is a normal occurrence to him.
Cloud has been around the same noise and is more bothered by critters in the woods.They are both reliable troopers. He’s kept a cool head around rattlers and was unbothered by a 4′ tall owl in a tree not 12′ away. When a wild boar broke into the corral, it was pandemonium. There were four horses on about the same acreage. it seems the other horses freaked out. Cloud had a hoof print on his hind, but he seemed to keep a cool head. Now he’s always on an 18-acre pasture, where there is plenty of room to move and no incidents. Fritz has his own copse of trees/bushes where he brings deer he catches right next to the 18-acre pasture. I never have to buy bones for him to gnaw on.
Though endurance riders like smaller horses, I prefer a larger horse, which has no problem carrying gear, supplies, weapons and ammo, my dog, and myself. It adds up. The point being, know what your horse is capable of. Flash (a mustang) is a better jouster and is good around gun reports, but he can’t handle as much weight. Fighting sword to sword and wrestling doesn’t bother either horse, but these days it’s hard to find anyone who knows how to do those things. (Julia Thut of the international mounted combat alliance has some good youtube videos.) The best partner I had for that moved to Arizona, but I can still find some friends for jousting. Both horses are trained in dressage. (You can’t use a sword on horse well without it) They are also elegant and sophisticated in their skills. People are amazed that western horses can do what they do. I get more offers for them than I can count. For bugging out, reliability and temperament are what you are in need of most, as well as the ability to carry the load you pose them with.
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Photo credit: Adventure Specialists