Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget Ours Soldiers - Humans and Horses

  Today is remembrance day.  I wished my husband a happy Remembrance Day and he quickly reminded me that it is not a "happy" day.  He said this day brings out more reflection in him than normal.  I said I thought of it as a time to reflect and remember, but be happy and thankful for what our soldiers did and do for us.  Maybe I don't quite understand like he does, he is the one in the military after all. 

  Not long ago, when we first met, we visited the National War Museum in Ottawa.  It is a fabulous display of all the wars Canada has been involved in over the last centuries.  There was a large amount of information on the horses used in each war and how critical their roles were.  It got me thinking, what would have been without the horses?  Those horses were soldiers too.  Loyal, brave, soldiers.

  The horses used in war ranged from pony types, to Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods, and even Mules.  As many Mules were used as horses in war.  These horses were cherished, the soldiers knew their worth and adored them like we do our show horses.   They were pampered in the stables and relaxed sweetly, and in the blink of an eye would be forced out and become the bravest horses in the land, galloping straight into the belly of hell and fire.

 More horses were killed in the war than I care to mention.  The numbers are staggering.  There were special vets brought in to stay at the camps and tend to the injured horses.  Many suffered shrapnel and bullet wounds.  Many died of dehydration.  They came equipped with gas masks to make it through the fog.  They all spent the last moments of their lives doing the bravest thing we have ever know.  They did it all for us, and why?  Because they are loyal, amazing animals. This solidifies my eternal love of horses. 

  The book War Horse by Michael Morpurgo has been turned into a play, which in turn, is now being turned into a Spielberg film.  The story follows a young man whose horse is sold into the Calvary.  His strong bond forces him to travel to France to enlist despite being under age.  It could be great, I hope it is.  I know it will at the very least be a tear jerker.  I want to try and get a copy of the book to read before the movie is out.

  I found some great pictures online.  The horses all look to be in top condition and turned out sharply considering the conditions. Oh what we owe them.

Here they are being loaded onto a ship.

Japanese war Mules.

Pack horses lined up.

German soldiers naked, bathing with their horses.

War horses waiting in Paris.

Horses getting loaded onto the train. The trains arrived every 10 minutes.

I love this horse.

These guys clearly love their horses.

I think this guy was pulling the raft across the river.

 Today, I would like to remember those soldiers who lost their lives for our freedom.  I give my heart to them and families who have loved, lost, and supported the soldiers come and gone.  I would like for everyone to also remember those horses who fought so loyally, so bravely, and so admirably.  We can not imagine what the world would be like without our human, and horse soldiers.


  1. Lest we forget is right. Thank you for your post on these hard working horses. Have you checked in to war dogs as well? Apparently there were a lot of them.
    Loved the pictures.

  2. The scene in Atontement broke my heart. Because horses were considered weapons of war, there have been so many times in history were they would destroy them, to prevent them from falling in enemy hands. Or like the Appaloosas for the Nez Perce Indians. The US Army took the horses away from the Nez Perce and killed many.

    I interned at the US Marine HIstorical Reference Branch. We saw many pictures of soldiers and animals. Animals have the remarkable power to heal and provide us with so much comfort. A battalion of Marines adopted a rooster and the rooster beat up a rooster of Japanese descent. For his injuries he recieved the Purple Heart. I could never uncover if that was a true statement despite it being on the photo record. Seems a little odd.

    Check out Sgt. Reckless. She was a Mongolian pony that the Marines use in the Korean war. Her story is remarkable. I think when she retired she was a Ssgt. Not sure. I kept a few pictures from my internship, because we were destroying all the duplicates. IF I remember I'll scan them.

  3. Fascinating post! I had not heard or this book or movie, but being an ex-horse rider will be very interested in it.

  4. Good post, Veronica. Horses suffered terribly in war, as did their human counterparts. But the soldiers truly cared for them.

  5. A very good post. Those horses gave their all when they had no choice. The dogs, horses, pigeons even: we owe them too much. I do recommend you read that book. It's a really easy read, geared towards little kids. Spielburg is going to do something amazing with it, I hope!

  6. Thank you for this. I'm a rider but also a songwriter currently working on a song about Sergeant Reckless, whom one of the commenters above mentioned. Her story is amazing - see I interviewed a former Marine who remembers seeing that little mare bravely making her way through gunfire - he says it was a miracle she wasn't killed.


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