ICA-Horse Artillery

for the preservation of Mounted Artillery knowledge, skills and abilities

Their Own Words

The Training of Cavalry Remount Horses (1852) - Nolan
A short Explanation of the New System in Questions and Answers, for the Instruction of Non-Commissioned Officers, Rough Riders, and Men.

1. In riding a young horse at what must you first aim?

I must get him to move forward.

2. What next?

To step out freely at a walk and a trot.

3. Then to render him obedient, how do you begin?

With the head and neck.

4. Why?

Because the head and neck should precede or begin every movement of the horse.

5. How do you set about it?

By teaching the horse to obey the feeling of the reins.

6. Do you do this on foot or on horseback?

I begin with the bending lessons on foot, and thus prepare the horse to obey the hand when mounted.

7. What follows?

Teaching the horse to obey the pressure of the leg.

8. How is this done?

By circling him on the forehand and haunches.

9. Is the horse then sufficiently broken in?

No. For as yet I have only reduced separately to obedience, the head and neck, the shoulders and the haunches, one after another.

10. To derive any great advantage from these several separate acts of obedience on the part of the horse, what must you do?

I must know how to combine them, and exact obedience from all collectively.

11. But how can you do this?

I can bring the horse's head home, (because he has already been taught to rein in).
I can keep his hind quarters on a straight line, (for by circling on the forehand, the horse has learnt to step to the right or left, from the pressure of the leg).
I can move his forehand, (from having circled on the haunches).
I therefore now proceed to rein back, and bring his loins into play.

12. Will "reining back" alone, then, combine the play of forehand and haunches?

Not thoroughly without the use of the spur.

13. Then in what way does the spur assist?

By the use of the spur I oblige the horse to bring his head and neck, shoulders, loins, and haunches, all into play at the same time; and by degrees I exact obedience from them collectively.

14. Explain how this is done?

I keep the horse at a walk on the straight line, his head reined in, and approaching the spur close to his sides, touch him lightly at first. This gives the horse a forward impulse, which I quietly control by keeping my hand steady, while the horse's hind legs, which he brought under him to spring forward, are suddenly kept there by the opposition of my hand. I then make much of him and caress him, ease my hand, letting him continue to walk on quietly, till by repeating this lesson, at the slightest pressure of my legs, he brings his haunches under him, and arches his neck, and is ready to spring forward, to rein back, or turn to either hand.

15. But suppose when you stick the spurs into him, he throws up his head, and dashes off with you?

This could not happen to me because I should never communicate an impulse with the leg, which I could not control with the hand. I begin by touching his sides so lightly, and taking it so coolly, neither moving hand nor leg, that the horse is never alarmed, thinks nothing of it at first, and thus I go on gradually increasing the dose, till he takes as much as is "necessary," and "cannot help himself."

16. When do you know that the horse has taken as much as is necessary?

When I feel the horse so buoyant and light under me, that I can make him spring forward, rein back, or turn to any side, with perfect ease.

17. And how is that "he cannot help himself?"

Because I have made myself master, by degrees, of all his strong places, being careful to attack them one by one, and never attempt No. 2, till I was in full possession of No. 1.

18. Then, according to your shewing, you first make yourself master of the forehand, then of the haunches, and then you combine the play of both by "reining back," and using the spur. Do you now consider yourself master of your horse?

Yes, I do.

19. When you bend your horse to the right and left, whether on foot or mounted, is it sufficient that he should champ the bit?

Not quite, he should open his mouth, and take no hold of it.

20. Do you continue these bending lessons long?

Until the horse yields and opens his mouth at the slightest feeling of the reins.

21. In "reining back," which comes first, "the pressure of the legs," or "the feeling of the reins?"

First, the pressure of the legs, and then the feeling of the reins.

22. Why?

Because the support (the hind leg) must be displaced before the weight is thrown on it. If the reins are felt first, the whole weight of the horse is thrown on his hind legs; and how can he then lift them, and step back? If he succeeds in lifting one leg, it is with a great effort, and he will fall back on it, rather than step back, and thus injure his houghs, if forced to repeat it often; whereas, by a pressure of both legs, I make him raise one hind leg, and at that moment, by feeling both reins, I oblige him to put that foot down, back instead of forward. I do not throw the horse off his balance, and he can continue stepping back, with as little effort as stepping to the front.

23. Do the hand and leg work separately?

No, they should always assist each other.

24. When circling on the forehand do you ever halt the horse?

Yes. When the leg is applied, the horse moves from it, but when the pressure ceases, the horse should no longer step from it; otherwise when he once begins passaging, he is not easily stopped; and to prevent a horse getting into this bad habit, as well as to teach him to collect himself, whenever the leg is applied, after each step in circling on the forehand, I stop him by closing the inward leg; and by a pressure of both legs, I collect and press him up to the hand, but I never allow him to hurry.

25. And now how do you pull up a horse when at full speed?

By closing both legs, and feeling both reins.

26. Do you mean to say that you pull up a horse when at speed by "the use of your legs?"

Yes. The horse is so accustomed at the pressure of the rider's legs to bring his haunches under him, that he does so at speed also, and I seize that moment to keep him there by throwing myself back, feeling both reins at the same time.

27. If you did not use your legs what would happen?

If I did not use my legs, but merely pulled at the bridle, the horse would put his head up or down, and though I should by strength of arm pull him up in time, it would be entirely on his forehand, his nose stuck out, his hind quarters up, his loins arched, and I should be thrown up and down in the saddle in a very helpless way, and thus quite unfit to act on an emergency, as the horse would be under no control.


Manual of Artillery Exercises(1875) - Equitation

An extract from the British Manual of Artillery Exercises(1875) - Equitation, p.118.

"The body balanced in the middle of the saddle; head erect and square to the front; shoulders well thrown back; chest advanced; small of the back slightly bent forward; upper part of the arms hanging down straight from the shoulder; elbows bent and lightly closed to the hips; little fingers on a level with the elbows’ wrist rounded, throwing the knuckles to the front and thumbs pointing inwards across the body; each hand holding a rein…the thigh well stretched down from the hip; the flat of the thigh to the saddle; knees bent a little. Legs hanging straight down from the knee and near the horse’s sides; heels well stretched down, the toes raised from the insteps and as near the horse’s side as the heels. A plummet line from the front point of the shoulder should fall an inch behind the heel. This is the position halted or at the walk; at a trot the body must be inclined a little back, the whole figure pliant and accompanying the movements of the horse. The position with stirrups is the same as without, the heels well stretched down and lower than the toes. The foot kept in its place by the play of the ankle and instep, the stirrup being under the ball of the foot.”

'Our Cavalry' (1912)

Major-General M. F. Rimington in his work 'Our Cavalry' 1912 says this of Horse Artillery compared with Rifle Fire:

'Those who have frequently had to rely on fire to cover a mounted advance will agree that the fire of two hundred riflemen at eight rounds a minute for five minutes is not to be compared in efficacy with the shells of a Q.F. horse artillery battery. Their comparative value would work out in projectiles as follows:
Guns Rounds Bullets Minutes Bullets
6 X 10 X 236 X 5 = 70,800.
Rifles Rounds Minutes Bullets
200 X 8 X X 5 = 8000.

That is, the riflemen fire less than 1/8th of the number of projectiles fired by a battery or 1770 riflemen shoot as many projectiles as a battery in five minutes.

It is superflous to remark on the range attained by the Q.F. gun compared with the rifle, but it is to the point to bring to notice that a Q.F. battery is controlled by one individual who is furnished with good glasses, and that the guns have telescopic sights. At a mile he will distinguish his own side. Again the battery's front is 100 yards compared to the mile front required by 1770 riflemen. The battery is in action within one minute and thirty seconds, whereas from the time the order is given a brigade of mounted riflemen will not be in action under 5 minutes at least, and will not be shooting with any degree of acuracy under eight minutes. Further, the fire of a big line of one mile in length cannot be directed, whereas a battery can be switched on and off, or so many degrees to a flank, and so on, by simple command.

It is obvious then, that in the attack of infantry, whether unshaken or shaken, the extended line charging cavalry will find their most reliable supprt in horse artillery and machine-gun fire and not in the fire of dismounted men.'

Link to "Our Cavalry"

Training Remounts TR 360-10 (1922)

Guidance to remount officers:

(1)Be systematic. - Before beginning work, fix in mind a little program of exercises for the day. Be sure that the exercises for the day are in proper relation to the work of previous days.

(2)Be patient. - Do not destroy the tranquility of horses by demanding a performance that is too difficult or by demanding it too suddenly.

(3)Be tactful and resourceful. - Take advantage of the most favorable conditions for teaching a horse a new lesson. Never try to train a fresh horse. Undertake nothing new when the horse is excited or frightened. Do not try to train the horse when his attention is distracted elsewhere. Do not give a new lesson to a resisting horse. Do not send the horse to the stable in the midst of resistances or with a lesson incomplete. Finish the lesson first and then send the horse away calm and tractable.

(4)Be moderate. - begin with the simplest movements and exercises. These understood, proceed to the next, less simple. In the early training introduce nothing complex or difficult. Use continuously the same means to bring about the same results, thus aiding the horses’ memory. Ask but little and ask it often; it is by repetition that a horse progresses. Nevertheless, do not let a horse continuously execute a movement incorrectly or in a dull, lifeless manner. Demand attention, correctness, and a carriage and action gradually increasing in style and manner, then accord a few moments of complete relaxation. Never strain the attention or tax the strength of the horse. Require no position, attitude, or movement which in itself causes the horse apprehension, discomfort, or pain. Do not let training have for its principal result restiveness or unsoundness.

(5)Be observant.- Do not attribute every resistance or failure of the horse to inattention or stubbornness. These are often due to ill-fitting bits or saddlery, to a poor rider, to a lack of condition or approaching unsoundness, to noises, unaccustomed surroundings, or even the weather.

(6)Be exacting.- Do not be content with the simple tracing of the riding-hall exercises and figures. Every such exercise or riding-hall figure has for its object to teach the horse obedience to the aids and to know how to handle himself in doing so. Accordingly, before taking the first step of a movement the horse should be placed in a position which renders the execution of the movement simple and natural. The movement will then be executed more easily and correctly.

(7)Be logical.- Do not confuse the means by which an end is obtained with the end itself. Practically all the exercises and riding-hall figures are the means by which the horse is rendered easy to manage during ordinary riding. Accordingly, do not use riding-hall exercises as a proof of training nor routine drill movements as a means of training. The first are the means by which the horse is trained. The second constitute the test and the proof of training.

(8)Be liberal.- Permit the riders to ride the greater part of the time at will, or, if on the track, without regard to distances, they then have a greater opportunity really to control and to correct the attitudes, positions, and movements of their horses. As training progresses they should, in periodic tests, be able to ride more and more accurately with fixed distances on the track, by threes in the hall, or in military formations out of doors.

(9)Be tenacious.- Never provoke a struggle that can be properly avoided. If however, a serious resistance is encountered, the rider must not evade the issue; he must emerge from the contest in entire control of the situation.

(10)Be consistent.- Throughout the course of the training, keep in mind the
fundamental requirements of ordinary marches and maneuvers and of the actual
field service. Rigidly exclude from the program every exercise that does not bear
directly upon the proper preparation of the horses for such duty. At the same time,
take care to include in the program every exercise that renders the animals more
easily managed or that actually increases their strength and powers of endurance.