Member Guides: Horse Guide
As Luperci begin to adopt and adapt former human technologies, Luperci domestication of other creatures has arisen. European Luperci societies, which have developed faster than the rest of the Luperci world, would have learned horse domestication stories and techniques from former working dogs. Horse domestication is slowly spreading around the world with other advancing Luperci technologies, including here at 'Souls.
Horses do make things easy when it comes to transportation, and they are fun companions to help make your character's life a little more interesting and add to your roleplaying experience. However, there are a few things you'll need to know. Make sure you read this guide thoroughly before considering a horse companion: it is always to adhere to realism! :)
On this page... (hide)
- 1. Horse Dynamics
- 2. Breeds
- 3. Obtaining a Horse
- 4. Training
- 5. General Care
- 6. Sources & More Information
- 7. Member Tips
Horses are social herd animals. Horse herd dynamics function much in the way that wolf packs do. A pecking order exists within established herds, and any new horse that is introduced may cause infighting, especially if the newcomer has a dominant personality. Much like wolves, horse combat is rarely bloody or fatal. Such confrontations of dominance usually end in a simple stand-off, with one animal acquiescing control to the other without physical confrontation.
The gender of your horse is a large factor in how it behaves. Stallions tend toward more aggressive behavior, and mares are usually calmer, though this does not mean all mares are docile and stallions are vicious.
A single stallion tends to the herd: it is his job to live on the outskirts of the herd and defend the herd from predators, alerting his mares to any dangers. Excepting during the mating season, the stallion's behavior around his herd is usually relaxed, tending to a "relaxed guard" rather than acting aggressively. Stallions sometimes tolerate an unrelated younger male rival within his herd, though the younger stallion will eventually succeed him.
Stallions are naturally dominant and are generally considered to be more aggressive and difficult to handle than mares -- some will attempt to dominate inexperienced riders. Stallions tend to have a heavier musculature and thicker neck than mares or geldings. Gelding a stallion can make for a more even-tempered, easy-to-handle animal, but it reduces the ability of the stallion to reproduce, and may not be as effective if done later in a stallion's life. The decision to geld should be made before the horse's third birthday.
The dominant mare is the actual "leader" of the herd: she is generally an older animal, and she decides the herd's direction, locations for grazing, traveling routes, and so forth. Female horses, or mares, are common for beginner horsemen. Mares are usually calmer, and respond easier to training. However, mares, while less aggressive, will not hesitate to also show their place in the pecking order by kicking and biting if they feel challenged by a newcomer. It is important to establish dominance with both genders of horse.
Foals and yearlings are not typically ridden, due to the fact that horse's bones develop slowly and the stress of carrying extra weight will adversely affect them. Riding a horse while it is too young can lead to irreparable damage in the animal: their bones and muscle structure has not yet developed to the point where the animal should be used for heavy work. The vast majority of horses are not ridden until they are three years of age.
As you may know from the Speech Guide, horses are animals capable of communicating in Low Speech. High Speech is far beyond a horse's capability. Horses are prey animals, and they aren't nearly as smart as Luperci. As a result, anthropomorphization (such as organized horse socities and communication of in-depth ideas and concepts between horses or horses/Luperci) is not possible. That being said, a Luperci capable of communicating in low speech with a horse would have a far easier time as a horse owner!
Horses are social creatures; mc_masterchef@Flickr
- Exhaling: A soft sigh usually indicates a relaxed or relaxing horse, perhaps after a threat has passed. It can also be a simple sign of contentment. Half-closing the horse's eyes is also a sign of contentment.
- Sharp Snorts: Sharp snorts are either a sign of alarm or a clearing of dust from the nostrils. If it is the former case, the horse's body will tense and its ears will lay back, along with a stiffening of the lower lip to indicate clear alarm.
- Deep, Vibrating Snorts: Long, deep snorts that vibrate from the horse's chest are a sign of extreme alarm: a horse making this noise may spook shortly.
- Whinnies and Neighs: This high pitched sound that falls in pitch as it continues is loud and is a general sound and is used as a call for contact with herd members, a warning of danger, or a sound of need.
- Screams: A scream is similar to a niegh or whinny but louder and more intense: it is a sound of fear, often given by a lost foal or separated horse. It is also heard during fighting.
- Nickering: This soft chortling noise is one that mares often give as a greeting to their offspring. This noise can also be a greeting for a Luperci, especially when it is meal time.
- Grunting: Horses grunt when they exert themselves, such as during rolling or when they are bucking or rearing.
- Squealing: Horses usually squeal when interacting with other horses. The short, excited call can mean that they are interested in playing with the horse. If paired with signs of aggression or fear, it is a call for the other horse to leave them alone and get away.
Horses are often described by color before they are described by breed. Often, horse owners do not specify breed; they will simply state color. This is especially true of horse owners uninterested in breeding, and doubly true for Luperci, who would have little verification that horses of similar description to human books are actually descended of that particulary breed. Note that the gene for true albinism does not exist in horses.
The vast range of all other coat colors are created by additional genes action upon one of these three coat colors. For example: a palomino horse is a chestnut horse with one cream dilution gene; a cremello horse is a chestnut horse with two cream dilution genes. Both have the same base coat color with different genes acting upon it to produce a variation of the base color.
Left to right: A young gray (with few white hairs), a chestnut, and a bay roan; Darkone@Wikimedia Commons
Wikipedia provides an extensive list of horse coat colors here.
- Bay: The body color ranges from a light reddish-brown to very dark brown with "black points" on the mane, tail, and lower legs.
- Chestnut: A reddish body color with no black; the mane and tail are the same shade or lighter than the body coat.
- Black: The most uncommon of horse base coats, black is noted for its lack of red pigment as well as the absence of the 'agouti factor', resulting in the even and solid spread of pigment.
- Gray: A horse with black skin but white or mixed dark and white hairs. A gray horse is distinguished from a white horse by dark skin, particularly noticeable around the eyes, muzzle, flanks, and other areas of thin or no hair. Gray is a progressive color. Foals will be born solid bay, chestnut, or black, and will generally turn fully white by six years of age.
Though horse breeds are as unique and diverse as the domestic dog, the post-apocalyptic world is not a place where they will all survive, much like dog breeds. Hardy, medium-sized animals that stand the most chance of surviving, much like dogs. Huge, muscular horses require more food in order to survive, and small, tiny horses would be more likely to be viewed as prey animals by Luperci and other predators.
Sable Island Pony
Sable Island Pony; manager_2000@Flickr
Most horses found within Nova Scotia would be of the Sable Island Pony type, some even of the very same breed. The Sable Island Pony is a landrace, and it is likely any horses of domestic or feral origin in Nova Scotia would evolve to similar states as the Sable Island pony without selective breeding.
Although the Sable Island Pony is referred to as a pony, it has a horse phenotype, and is classified as a horse rather than a pony. The Sable Island pony typically weighs about 360 kg (794 lbs) for males and 300 kg (661 lbs) for females. These horses are found primarily to the southern points of Nova Scotia, originating from Sable Island.
In 1979, the population stood at 359, and at its lowest in 1980, there were 158 horses. In 1985, there were approximately 350 wild horses living on the island. It is safe to say their numbers were at a similar state in 1988 when human populations were decimated, as the horses were declared protected in 1960, and human interference with their populations was minimal.
Nova Scotia was home to a few breeding farms, stables, and innumerable farming/personal horses prior to the extinction of humanity, however; feral horses descended from these domestic animals and not of the Sable Island Pony breed can be found within 'Souls.
It is important to evaluate the likelihood of surviving breeds: even hybrids of rarer types of horses such as the Orientals (excepting the Arabian) or the Baroque horses would be extremely unlikely in Nova Scotia, while overall popular breeds -- the Gypsy Vanner, the Thoroughbred, Quarter Horses, etc. -- would be more commonplace.
Note, however, that finding an identifiably purebred horse is unlikely, and Luperci would be guessing (at best) when it comes to the determination of that horse's breed. The horses captured within Nova Scotia (i.e., not bred) are generally grade horses -- remember that horses don't have any sort of inclination to preserve their breed and heritage as Luperci might have, and will interbreed quite willingly. It is therefore likely the horses encountered in the wild will be of a certain type but not necessarily a certain breed.
Much like the domestic dog guide, here we are grouping certain horses of similar characteristics together and evaluating the likelihood of the type surviving. When investigating a particular breed of horse, it's important to do further research as to just how commonplace that horse was. Very common horses to a particular area might have become dominant, leaving behind something very close to the human breeds.
- Feral horses such as the Banker horse, Mustang, Brumby, are very likely to have survived: they were in existence prior to humanity's extinction, and it's extremely likely surrounding horse populations ended up looking like their feral counterparts.
- Baroque horses, such as the Lipizzaner, Friesian, Andalusian, and Lusitano, are heavily muscled but powerful and agile. They are likely breeds to be cultivated by the Luperci, though these horses would not be as commonplace as some other horse types.
- Stock horses such as the Arabian horse, Mustang, Morgan horse, Quarter Horse crosses, are riding horses characterized by agility, quickness, and powerful hindquarters. They would be commonplace in the Americas, and quite likely a common capture for horse wranglers, especially in the midwest.
- Draft horses such as Percherons, Belgians, Shires, and Clydesdales, are typically large horses bred for hard, heavy tasks such as ploughing and farm labour. They would be sought after by Luperci, who would value their large stature and heavy carrying capacity.
- Cob horses such as Gypsy Vanner Horses and Welsh Cobs, are horses generally stout build, with strong bones, and large joints. Though they are smaller horses, they were commonplace during the time of humanity, often used for showing and dressage, and they would likely be cultivated by the Luperci for cart work and similar pulling duties.
- Gaited horses such as American Saddlebreds, Tennessee Walkers, and Missouri Foxtrotters are horses that have natural gaited tendencies, that is, the ability to perform one of the smooth to ride, intermediate speed four-beat horse gaits, collectively referred to as ambling gaits. They are extremely popular breeds.
- Oriental horses are the ancient breeds of horses developed in the Middle East, such as the Arabian, Akhal-Teke, Barb. They tend to be thin-skinned, long-legged, slim in build and more physically refined than other types, but with great endurance. The Arabian was a popular breed in the time of the humans, and influenced various breeds of horses over the years.
3.2.2. European Breeding
The Clydesdale is a very well-known draft horse; essjay@Flickr
Luperci are certainly capable of selectively breeding horses, much like humans prior to the 1988 apocalypse. In Europe, as aforementioned, formerly domesticated dogs passed some horsemanship knowledge along, and it is very likely these dogs would also seek to preserve breeds of particular use or appeal. Draft horses, like the Percheron, Belgian, Shire and Clydesdale, are capable of carrying heavy loads, and were likely to be cultivated carefully.
Several prominent families in the UK and France practice breeding of Shire, Clydesdale, Friesian, Gypsy Vanner, Percheron, and Belgian horses. Smaller, lighter horse breeds can be found throughout Spain and the Mediterranean, along with many more breeders. In the Americas, the port of Freetown serves as a trading post where several unique horse breeds can be found. The southwestern United States are likely to have many horses, as well.
- Heavy warmbloods such as the Ostfriesen, Alt-Oldenburg, Groningen Horse, and Gerlander are the ancestors of the modern warmbloods, and are typically bred by preservation groups to fit the pre-World War model of the all-purpose utility horse. However, most of these breeds were rare, with closed studbooks (a stud book or breed registry that does not accept any outside blood) -- these animals were something a rarity, likely absorbed into other horse populations.
- Wild horses are a special consideration. Note that there is a difference between a wild horse and a feral horse: a feral horse is a horse that was formerly domesticated, but now roams wild. A wild horse was never domesticated in the first place. The only remaining wild horse is the Prezwalski's horse, which is extremely unlikely to be kept as pets -- extremely rare and nearly extinct in the wild in 1988, their survival to this day is unknown. They are also not an ancestor to the modern horse. Additionally, non-domesticated Equus species -- such as the zebra, onager, or kiang asses -- are prohibited due to their rarity and lack of domestication.
- Ponies and small breeds of horse would be of little use to Luperci -- they would be viewed as prey animals, more likely than not! It's not impossible for a Luperci to own a pet pony, but it's unlikely, and very small ponies would not be useful for working purposes.
Horses travel in bands or herds together, and their numbers provide protection. Many horse eyes, ears, and noses are alert to the approach of any predatory creatures, including Luperci. Wolves are typically viewed as predators, and a Luperci will not be able to stroll merrily into the midst of a herd and rope up a horse. It takes some dedication and a bit of work to catch a wild horse. Mustangs can be rounded up in large pens with some teamwork.
A few 'Souls packs raise horses, and your character might be able to obtain a horse via bartering. Many packs provide inventory lists that display which characters own which horse. Try posting in the Thread Requests forum asking for someone to help you out -- alternatively, you can Private Message the pack's leadership.
Outside of 'Souls
Still another option is to trade in the Freetown area. The journey to Freetown isn't terribly long. Of course, these areas are outside of the 'Souls playable areas, and you'll have to engage in some time play to make the journey plausible, but it's certainly doable!
Some traders even come directly to 'Souls -- however, do note that these traders are few and far between. There aren't any roving traders within 'Souls with huge bands of horses -- any wandering NPC traders within 'Souls would have a few horses, at best, and their "prices" for barter would likely be quite inflated for animals of a lowered quality and non-specific breed.
All horses intended to be anything more than a simple companion (i.e., a working animal) must be trained. Horses have personalities just like people (and Luperci). Some are skittish and difficult to train, while other horses are immovably calm and easy to train. Even calm, trained horses may be wary of canines they do not know and can even spook at extremely unfamiliar situations.
This horse is displaying signs of anger and aggression; Jpereira@Wikimedia Commons
Additionally, horses require more training of an intenser variety if they are to be used for purposes such as warfare, hunting, etc. It isn't natural for a horse to charge into the thick of battle -- it's noisy and it smells like blood and fear, which is not something a prey animal such as a horse wants to experience. Obviously, it takes even more time and dedication to train a horse for these specialized pursuits.
Even when trained, most horses will still test boundaries, at least mildly, and some horses with dominant personalities will openly challenge a weak or inexperienced handler. For example, if handled with incompetence or abuse, a horse may ignore its training and attempt to nip, bite, kick, refuse to be led, or try other ways to challenge dominance. Even if a horse was previously owned and trained, a new horse must become accustomed to its new owner.
Feral animals must be taught to respect Luperci as the dominant member of the herd, and they must also understand that Luperci have no intention of causing harm. This can be very difficult to teach a wild horse. It generally takes a fair amount of work for a captured feral horse to become accustomed to canine presences. One method that might work especially well for a horse to become used to Luperci is the Rarey technique -- as this place the horse in a position of absolute submission to the Luperci, where the horse's very life is in the canine's hands, it might be a good technique to utilize.
It is easier to train a horse that was raised around Luperci (i.e., a domesticated horse). Newly foaled horses should be introduced to the presence of canines early on so they recognize them as non-threatening; handling and contact during the earliest weeks of life is extremely important toward facilitating later-life training. Like most animals, a young horse will more easily adapt to unnatural expectations than an older one, so handling of the horse from a very early age is generally advised.
No horse is born knowing how to accept commands from a rider. The initial goal of training is to create a horse that is safe for Luperci to handle (under most circumstances) and able to perform a beneficial task. A horse is not ready to be ridden until it is accustomed to all riding equipment and is responsive to basic voice and rein commands to start, stop, turn and change gaits. Attempting to ride a horse that is not ready to be ridden can result in severe consequences. Humans have died from being bucked off a horse and Luperci face similar dangers!
This colt is not ready to be ridden yet; susieblackmon@Flickr
Proper Age for Breaking
The age that horses are first ridden varies considerably by breed and discipline: race horses have small, light riders on their backs as early as the fall of their yearling year, whereas most stock horses are ridden by the age of two. Harness horses generally have a cart first put behind them at age two. The vast majority of horses across disciplines and throughout the world are first ridden at the age of three.
Breaking a horse involves weeks of work. Each of these steps will require a few days (or a few weeks, if your horse is of particularly surly temperament). It is not recommended for your character to rush through training, as this can result in an ill-mannered, difficult-to-control animal.
Quickly breaking a horse like in a rodeo -- stuffing the horse into a chute and riding the buck out of the animal -- is possible and it does work, but this method is extremely dangerous for both the Luperci and the horse in question. Neither is it very friendly toward the horse! Additionally, even if rodeo-style breaking teaches the horse to accept a saddle and rider, the horse still must undergo more training, such as how to accept commands from a rider.
For younger animals, it is a good idea to start them with the basic procedures years before they are ready to ride. The foal can be lead-broken (trained to accept a halter and a lead rope) when it is only a few weeks old. Note, however, that younger animals possess less attention span and patience for work; it isn't a good idea to train a very young horse for more than twenty minutes to a half hour per day.
- The horse must become accustomed to wearing a bridle and other tack equipment. The horse should be allowed to smell the objects and inspect them before use. Touching and handling the horse while it wears these things are essential to teach the horse that the objects pose no threat.
- The horse learns to move away from pressure: this can be accomplished by poking the horse in the shoulder or side until it moves away, ceasing the poking immediately.
- A light saddle pad or blanket on the horse's back will accustom the animal to pressure on its back. When the horse is alright with this, the saddle can be introduced, though it should be cinched very loosely at first, stirrups drawn up in case the horse bucks. When the horse accepts the cinched saddle, the rider should place their hands into the stirrups and pull down slightly to introduce the horse to the idea of pressure on its back.
- Mount the horse slowly: the rider should place one foot in the stirrup and lean their weight into it, before swinging the other leg over. If the horse moves away, start over again. When the horse is comfortable with a seated rider, repeatedly mounting and dismounting the horse accustoms it to the procedure. If the rider is not using a saddle, lay your upper body(chest) over the horse to see how they react to the weight before mounting.
- Get the horse to move by gently squeezing the legs together. Once the horse begins walking, the rider must teach it to turn by squeezing the opposite side the horse is intended to turn and pulling the reign into the turn. Stopping is accomplished by leaning back in the saddle and gently pulling back on the reins.
- A word, such as the name of the horse, or simply a word like "and..." should be used as a "half-halt," essentially to warn the horse that a command is coming. For example, to ask for walk to trot transition, one would say "and trot."
- A word other than whoa should be reserved to calm a horse (such as "easy" or "steady"), This word should be spoken in a low tone and calm manner.
- A word for praise (such as "good boy") should be used frequently whenever the horse responds correctly to a command.
- "QUIT!" should be spoken in a displeased tone when the horse misbehaves (such as he begins kicking). It should be said sharply right when a horse is not compliant. The word "no" should be avoided, as it sounds very similar to "whoa".
- A trainer may cluck or make another type of chirping or kissing sound to increase speed or impulsion. It is best to cluck when the inside hind leg begins to move forward. Overuse of voice to encourage impulsion will cause a horse to ignore the trainer.
There are various types of specialized training. A horse that knows how to carry a rider does not necessarily know how to pull a cart; each skill must be taught to the particular horse. Additionally, some forms of training take years of studious discipline for the horse to master.
Trading for horses fully broken in these advanced styles will be far more expensive than trading for a basic riding horse or even an unbroken horse. Simple, basic training can easily triple the bartering price for a horse -- advanced disciplines will make for a very costly animal.
- Herding/Ranching: Horses must be made used to the idea of wrangling a large group of animals, but this doesn't take a ton of extra training, as the majority of herding and ranching is simply riding the horse in the direction your character wants to go. Western-styled riding is useful for herding and ranching purposes -- the horse is generally trained to respond to light rein commands and leg pressures, leaving at least one hand free for the rider to utilize a lasso or other herding tool.
- Driving: Hitching equines to a wagon, carriage, cart, sleigh, or other horse-drawn vehicle by means of a harness and working them in this way requires added training. Voice commands may be especially important for horses that are used to drive carts and wagons. Horses can be driven in teams, though this requires a different sort of vehicle and often requires additional training. However, initial training of a young horse with an older, experienced horse can ease training for the younger animal.
- Charging/Warring: The horse must be made used to all manner of strange things, loud noises, crowds, and so on and so forth. A horse that does not have experience and training in this area is just as likely to buck and throw their rider. "Whether horses were trained to pull chariots, to be ridden as light or heavy cavalry, or to carry the armoured knight, much training was required to overcome the horse's natural instinct to flee from noise, the smell of blood, and the confusion of combat." A ridden war horse was trained with limited use of reins, responding primarily to leg pressure and the voice -- this frees the rider's hands for combat.
- Racing: Prior to their fourth birthday, the skeletal system of the horse has not developed completely, and there is greater potential for catastrophic injury if they are raced before their fourth year. Running and racing a horse before this point can result in a lamed horse. Racing-styled training is not very useful for Luperci, but some may race horses for pleasure.
- Dressage: This form of training has a fundamental purpose to develop a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, maximizing its potential as a riding horse. Light, minimal tack is used: this type of training often requires many years to perfect. Few Luperci will find the complex movements useful to teach their horses, but some basic training incorporated from this style of riding may be useful for some horses
An example of a western-style saddle, by evelyn_vancauwenberghe@Flickr
A bridle goes around the horse's head and includes a metal piece called a bit. The bit commonly sits in the dental gap of the horse's mouth (not between their teeth as sometimes thought). The reins are attached to the bit, and they are generally the means of controlling a horse.
Alternatively, a hackamore is a headgear that utilizes a heavy noseband of some sort, rather than a bit, most often used to train young horses or to go easy on an older horse's mouth. Like bitted bridles, noseband-based designs can be gentle or harsh, depending on the hands of the rider. It is a myth that a bit is cruel and a hackamore is gentler.
A saddle is a leather seat made to fit over the horse's back and tighten around their belly, to make riding more comfortable. Depending on the type of work a horse is intended to do, a different type of saddle should be used: for example, ranching work often requires a deep-seated saddle to provide maximum stability for the rider, whereas jumping work might require an English-styled saddle.
- English saddle: Developed to allow the horse freedom of movement. There is no horn or other design elements that stick out above the main tree of the saddle.
- Western saddle: Designed to provide security and comfort to the rider when spending long hours on a horse, traveling over rugged terrain. A very functional item was also added: the saddle "horn," which allowed other animals to be roped to the horse hands-free.
- Australian stock saddle: Developed to meet the needs of riders who spent long hours in the saddle. This is a very secure saddle for riders who ride in rough conditions or spend long hours on a horse.
Alternatively, riders may choose not to use a traditional saddle and opt instead to ride bareback. This does, however, restrict their ability to carry any supplies and requires a lot more skill on the rider's part.
If using a saddle, your horse will also need a saddle blanket to make sure they are comfortable as well. Luperci would not need to modify either of these very much, as saddle straps are often adjustable, and can be made to fit the length of their legs.
Bit: An object, usually a metal bar, placed into the mouth of a horse, held on by a bridle and used with reins to direct and guide the animal.
Breaking: Teaching a horse to accept a saddle, riding equipment, and rider.
Bridle: Headgear placed around the head of a horse that holds the bit in place in a horse's mouth, including reins, used to direct and guide the animal.
Colt: A young male horse that has not been gelded (neutered).
Farrier: A professional hoof care specialist who does hoof trimming and who also uses blacksmithing skills to do horse shoeing.
Filly: A young female horse. Normally a horse under four years of age. Any female horse that has had a foal is referred to as a mare, regardless of her age.
Foal: A young horse of either sex under the age of one year.
Gelding: A castrated male horse of any age.
Grade Horse: A horse that has only a small amount of recognizable breeding, or none at all.
Halter: A device placed on the head of an equine for the primary purpose of leading or tying the animal (US); a rope headpiece with the lead rope attached; or a rolled leather headpiece of the same pattern used for leading and showing horses with refined heads (Australia and the UK).
Hobble: A strap or other device placed around the pastern of the leg to prevent a horse (or other livestock animal) from wandering far. Generally used when there is no paddock or pen to keep the horse -- e.g., trail riding.
Mare: A mature female horse, usually four years of age or older. Also denotes any female horse that has given birth, regardless of her age.
Saddle: A device placed on the back of a horse or other equine, where the rider sits, designed to support and stabilize a rider. Comes in two main varieties, a stock saddle (western or Australian designs), and flatter types, known as English in the United States, which are used for jumping, dressage and racing.
Stallion: A mature, uncastrated male horse, usually four years old and older.
Stirrups: Paired small light frames or rings for receiving the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle by a strap, called a stirrup leather. Used to aid in mounting and as a support while riding.
Tack: Includes all the things put on a horse in order to ride them: bridle, bit, saddle, etc.
To maintain a healthy weight, a horse will generally consume about 2 to 5 pounds (0.9 to 2.3 kg) of grain and 15 to 20 pounds (6.8 to 9.0 kg) of hay a day -- on top of whatever they eat while grazing. Grain is difficult to come across for Luperci unless they are also experienced in farming techniques. Apples are readily available and can be substituted for a substantial part of the diet; additionally, some species of native grass can be used to make hay. Horses also require plenty of water.
Unless an animal can be fully maintained on pasture with a natural open water source, horses must be fed daily. As horses evolved as continuous grazers, it is better to feed small amounts of grain throughout the day than to feed a large amount of grain at one time. An average of between one and 3 acres (12,000 meters squared) of land per horse will provide adequate forage in much of the world, though feed may have to be supplemented in winter or during periods of drought.
Grooming a horse is relatively simple and allows the handler to check for injuries. Additionally, grooming is a good way to gain the trust of the animal; many types of grooming are pleasurable for the horse. Any dirt must be removed before tack can be put on or the risk of chaffing and ringworm rises greatly. The mane and tail can be brushed like hair, though this is not required on a regular basis. Bathing does not need to be a regular part of grooming.
As Luperci lack advanced medical technology, some of these conditions prove to be extremely difficult to treat. It is therefore in a horse owner's best interest to engage in preventative care and try to stop these injuries and illnesses before they occur. The inexperienced horse owner is likely to make mistakes in the horse's care, easily resulting in a dead horse!
All information following is purely intended for purposes relative to roleplaying. In absolutely no way should you rely on these statements to prevent, treat, or diagnose any illnesses. Do not take anything you read on the Wiki as sound medical advice; while it has been researched for realism, the contributors to this guide are in no way doctors and their advice and words should never be taken as such. Thank you!
Horses are prone to a variety of medical concerns, including but not limited to:
- Botflies: A seasonal parasite that leaves eggs on the horse's coat during summer grazing months. As the horse grooms, it ingests the eggs, which then hatch and move through the horse.
- Strongyles: One of the most dangerous internal parasites, Long Strongyles migrate through the intestine and into blood vessels, causing serious damage. Infected horses experience weight loss, and impaction leading to Colic. Severe infection can prove fatal. Small Strongyles are among some of the most common internal parasites that infest the stomach - during winter they can 'hibernate', and become dangerous during the spring. Horses infested with small strongyles do not often show any signs of infection, and young horses under the age of 4 are the most prone to fatal illness as they are still developing immunity to the parasite.
- Roundworms, Threadworms and Tapeworms: Most dangerous to foals and young horses. Once ingested, Roundworms attack the liver and then lungs - infested horses will exhibit a cough and nasal discharge accompanied with weight loss and a 'pot bellied' appearance. Tapeworms inhabit the intestine and can cause digestive problems and impaction colic; young horses and horses over the age of 15 are the most at risk from infestation. Tapeworms will commonly cause gastrointestinal distress, lethargy, and weight loss, and the horse may exhibit excessive pawing, attempts to lay down, and nipping at its sides. Threadworms post the least risk to most horses, as they develop a natural immunity by six months of age; however, it's most easily seen in a disrupted growth rate in young horses, anemia, and lethargy.
Parasites, generally, are an inevitability among horses. The best treatments are preventative measures - proper exercise, diet, keeping dried fodder in trays or off of the ground, regular cleaning of the environment the horse lives in, and regular grooming. Additionally, additives like diluted vinegar in water, high fiber treats like carrots, or additions of clover, thyme, mint, sage, dandelion, garlic, and ginger can help.
Digestive Issues and Colic
- Stomach Ulcers: Caused generally by improper feeding habits, or if the horse is put off of feed due to other reasons (peculiar taste, comorbidity of another illness) - Ulcers are largely preventative. As persistent grazing animals, horses have an exceptionally delicate stomach lining; the near-constant intake of food bolsters saliva production which then protects the gut. If the horse is deprived food, or its stomach otherwise goes empty, the natural poor regulation of stomach acid will result in ulcers, leaving the horse vulnerable to other issues.
- Colic: A general term for abdominal pain. There are many causes for such pain, ranging from the mild and inconsequential to the life-threatening or fatal. Can be most visibly noted by horses excessively rolling, frequent looking at/biting of their sides, kicking up towards the only belly or flank, or poor appetite and drinking habits.
In order to prevent most cases of gut injury or illness, proper feeding habits should be adhered to - exercising, turning out to pasture for regular grazing, limit grain feed, and avoid ground feeding on loose substrates to increase the odds of avoiding impactions.
The teeth of the horse grow continuously throughout its lifetime. Wild horses teeth tend to wear more evenly, while domesticated horses enjoy a diet of softer forage. Therefore, domesticated horses may need their teeth "floated" (cleaned and filed) once per year to prevent sharp points from forming on the teeth.
Leg and Foot Injury
Illnesses As Result of Injury
- Laminitis: Laminitis is the result of underlying damage or inflammation of the tissue between the hoof and the "coffin bone", resulting in sore, painful feet. Horses experiencing laminitis may be reluctant to rise from a laying position, or lean back towards their rear feet to try and alleviate pressure on their hooves in what's referred to as a "sawhorse stance". There are a variety of reasons as to why a horse can develop laminitis - digesting toxic plants, excessive sugar intake, being overweight, excessive work on hard surfaces (rock, concrete, etc) - and, unfortunately, the only mitigation once spotted is pain management. Laminitis is most common in older horses or ponies.
- Desmitis: A suspensory disease. Commonly a problem of highly athletic horses, desmitis refers to the inflammation of the ligaments, and can lead to persistent, incurable lameness if not addressed. Most cases are mild to moderate, and can be managed with stall rest and limited, walking exercise for a matter of months until the swelling reduces.
- Thrush: Thrush is a common bacterial infection as a result of poor hoof and foot care. Infected hooves will exhibit necrosis in the channel around the frog, and emit a foul odor - and severe cases will lead to tenderness, pain, and sensitivity, as well as the inability to work the horse until the foot is fully recovered (which can be a years-long process).
Leg injuries are perhaps among the worst conditions that can occur to a horse; even those that are not immediately fatal still may be life-threatening because a horse's weight must be distributed evenly on all four legs to prevent circulatory problems, laminitis, and other infections. If a horse loses the use of one leg temporarily, there is risk to the other legs during the recovery period. While horses periodically lie down for brief periods of time, a horse cannot remain lying in the equivalent of a human's "bed rest" because of the risk of developing sores, internal damage, and congestion.
Hoof Care & Shoeing
All domesticated horses need regular hoof trims, regardless of their work use. Horses in the wild do not need hoof trims because they travel large distances on a daily basis to search of forage, a process that wears their feet naturally. Domestic horses in light use are not subjected to such severe living conditions, and when the horse is not worked, their feet grow faster than they wear down. Without regular trimming, their feet can get too long, eventually splitting, chipping and cracking, which can lead to lameness.
This horse is wearing shoes; Vassil@Wikimedia Commons
Wild horses do not require horse shoes. Many forms of work, however, wear down a horse's hooves faster than the horse can grow them, which requires that the horse wears shoes. The added weight of a rider or strain of pulling a cart necessitates shoes, especially with consideration to heavy Luperci. While "barefoot horses" were somewhat common during the time of humans, few Luperci are light enough for this.
Many horseshoes were made of metal and would have survived the apocalypse: however, depending on the material, some would be unusable and others would require reworking. A titanium horseshoe, strong and extremely stable, would easily survive the apocalypse, but these would be a rarity in comparison to rusty iron horseshoes.
Shoeing, when performed correctly, causes no pain to the animal. Farriers trim the insensitive part of the hoof, which is the same area into which they drive the nails. Even a skilled farrier makes mistakes, especially if the horse moves during the shoeing process. Alternative to shoeing the horse, one might hipposandal or "boot" the horse, though this requires skill and the ability to craft a working boot.
Horses are prone to what are called "stable vices" if they are kept confined for too long a period of time with improper exercise. Keeping a horse in a tiny stall can cause undue stress and boredomto the horse. Horses should be exercised regularly and turned out to pasture as often as possible to minimize the occurrence of stable vices.
Common forms of stable vice that are particularly insidious include cribbing, a behavior where the horse grabs a board or other surface with its teeth, arches its neck, and sucks in air. This can harm the teeth and may lead to colic. Weaving and circling are repetitive movements that may cause lameness if left untreated.
Solutions to these problems when a horse cannot be let out to roam a pasture for a while (e.g., in the case of long-term injury) can be solved by placing a smaller companion animal in the horse's stall -- donkeys, goats, and even cats have been successfully utilized previously. However, the best solution is to simply allow the horse out to browse and exercise for some time each day.
Hereditary Illness and Genetic Malformities
Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis in Quarter Horses
Hyperkalemic Period Paralysis (HYPP) is a dominant gene that affects the sodium channels in affected horses, resulting in excess potassium in the bloodstream. Potassium will prompt the horse's muscles to spasm or seize at random - resulting in tremors and trembling, muscle weakness, or collapse. Severe paralytic attacks may result in cardiac or respiratory arrest in the horse, resulting in death. Horses with a single copy of the gene experience a lessened severity of the disease as opposed to homozygous dominance. Even with a single copy, however, the horse will pass on HYPP to 50% of its offspring.
Appaloosa Horses and Vision Problems
The "activation gene" responsible for the determining the spread of white of "Appaloosa" patterns, otherwise known as the Leopard Complex (LP) gene has confirmed documentation that horses possessing two copies of the LP gene will have complete night blindness. Homozygous LP genes can be recognized by "Fewspot" Leopard appaloosa patterns (PATN1), Snowcap Appaloosas, and Varnish Roan Appaloosas.
Horses that carry dominance in the PATN1 gene (Leopard Appaloosas) and Appaloosas that have higher pattern/more white content in their coat are also 8.3x more likely to experience the development of Uveitis of any kind, most commonly ERU (Equine Recurrent Uveitis). Uveitis refers to an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system begins to attack the tissue of the eyes, and will result in eventual total blindness for the horse.
Lethal White Overo Syndrome and Lavender Foal Syndrome
True white horses do not exist - most "white" horses are either a Gray horse (progressive gray gene over a base coat), a double-cream dilution, or "dominant white" (Sabino).
Overos also carry a lethality in their piebald gene, similar to merle in dogs, referred to as Lethal White Overo Syndrome (LWO). Lethal White Overo Foals that are not stillborn from a double-overo pairing are generally deaf, and pass away in the weeks after their birth due to complications, as LWO has a 100% mortality rate.
Lavender Foal Syndrome is a similar color-related disorder specific to Arabian horse bloodlines, and is linked to a dilution gene; a fatal autosomal recessive condition, Lavender Foals will exhibit severe neurological impairment that impacts their ability to stand or nurse, and can also cause seizures.
- Wikipedia - Horse Training
- Ehow - How to Break a Horse
- Wikipedia - Horses in Warfare
- Wikipedia - Western Riding
- Wikipedia - Driving (Horse)
- Wikipedia - Horse-Drawn Vehicle
- Wikipedia - Glossary of Equestrian Terms
- Wikipedia - Horse Care
- Wikipedia - Stable vices
- Suite 101 - Horse Communication
- About.com - Equine Disease and Illness
- Wikipedia - Stable Vices
- Wikipedia - Barefoot Horses
- Wikipedia - Hipposandal
- List of Horse Breeds - Types of Horses
- Sable Island Pony
- Equine Coat Color
- Wikihow - Understand Horse Communication
- UC Davis - Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP)
- Wikipedia - Impressive (horse) (HYPP cont.)
- UC Davis - Leopard Complex & Congenital Stationary Night Blindness
- UC Davis - Leopard Complex (LP) Linked to Increased Risk for Equine Recurrent Uveitis
- UC Davis - Lethal White Overo
- Wikipedia - Lavender Foal Syndrome
- BIG Horse Discussion
- Playing a Horse Character
- Wild Nova Scotia Horses?
- Horse Speech?
- Horse Tack Discussion
- Stalled vs Free-Range Horses
- Horsetesting.com's Calculator: This can help you determine probable coat colorations for a foal of two different horses, which is certainly useful if your character breeds them!
- Horse Color Genetics by Despi is available for those interested in learning about horse colors and how likely it is for horses to pass on those colors to offspring.
- Equine Coat Colors by SheWolff
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