Stable Management In The Army

Regarding horse stable management in the army, some interesting instructions emanated from the War Office in 1882, and they may be useful for those who board horses in civil life:

1. The heels of the coarse-bred horses used for draft purposes should not be clipped close; the long hairs only need be removed. The practice of washing the legs and heels is most objectionable, and should be forbidden.

2. It should always be borne in mind that leaving horses to stand unattended to, when hot and sweating especially if in a draft, and when the harness or saddles are removed, is a most fruitful source of chest and throat diseases, such as pneumonia, pleurisy, etc.

3. The horse stable hours are: Morning, summer, 6 to 7, winter, 6:30 to 7:30. Midday, 11 to 1. Evening, 5 to 6.

4. When horses are picketed out in the open they do not require to be watered so often; twice a day is sufficient.

5. The rules for the division of forage should, however, be adhered to under all ordinary circumstances.

6. The horses are to be taken off the rack chain when they have finished their midday feed of oats, and the same after the evening feed.

7. The daily ration of straw per horse, as fixed by the allowance regulations, is 8 lb. When any choice exists wheaten straw should be preferred; barley straw is apt to cause skin diseases, and oaten straw is readily eaten by the horses.

8. The old bedding, when removed from the stalls at morning stables, should be well shaken up. Horses' bedding should then be placed in wind rows in the open, in ordinary weather.

9. In very hot weather, or during the prevalence of drying winds, the bedding, if too much exposed, becomes very dry and brittle, and waste ensues. To remedy this it should be placed, when thoroughly dry, in heaps.

10. During the morning, or at midday stables, the whole of the daily ration of new straw should be thoroughly mixed up with the old. By this means the old bedding is better opened up and dried, and the horses will not eat so much of the new straw.

11. By careful management the rations of straw will admit of there being bedding sufficient to "half bed down" the horses at least twice a week.

12. The warning for "Stables" should sound immediately on the return of troops from exercise or from the field, except when they return at the dinner hour.

13. "Stables" should sound 15 minutes after the return.

14. "Officers call" should sound at the same time as stables.

15. Bits, stirrups, and bright buckles may be rubbed over with an oil rag to prevent rust. This should not occupy more than five minutes.

16. The horses should be groomed and thoroughly cleaned before any man is allowed to clean his saddlery except as above.

17. Each horse, as soon as reported clean by the person in charge, should be inspected by the troop officer.

18. If passed the horseman should be allowed to get on with his kit at once.

19. When all, or nearly all, the horses in the troop are (for it is not desirable to retain officers in stables for a few idle soldiers) the troop should be reported as clean by the troop officer to the orderly officer.

20. The horses, except those that are not clean, should then be bedded down.

21. The "Feed" should sound as soon as the commanding officer is satisfied with the stable arrangements.

22. All the horses should feed at the same time. The men who are late should be withdrawn from their horses whilst feeding.

23. When the horses are fed the officers should be permitted to leave stables.

24. The saddlery should then be cleaned, under the superintendence of the non-commissioned officers.

25. One officer per troop should go round the saddlery to see that it has been, properly cleaned, about three-quarters of an hour after "Feed", or if preferred, their duty may be performed at evening stables.

26. Each horseman should be permitted to leave stables as soon as his kit is cleaned and passed by the non-commissioned officer.

27. As soon as all or nearly all the kits are clean, the non-commissioned officers should be permitted to leave stables, except one to look after men whose kits are not ready. It is not desirable that all the non-commissioned officers should be detained for a few idle horsemen.

28. A good groom who really works hard ought to be able to clean the hottest horse in summer, or the dirtiest horse winter, in an hour at the outside, and the saddlery in three-quarters of an hour more.

29. Every endeavor should be made to stimulate the individual energy of each horseman, by allowing her the advantage of leaving stable as her work is done. No horse is well cleaned unless he is quickly cleaned.

30. When the troops return at or near the dinner hour the horses should be watered and fed. The saddles or numnahs should be kept on. A numnah is quite sufficient to prevent the risk of chill to the back or loins. All doors and windows should be closed on one side of the stables to prevent through-draft while the men are at dinner.

31. Three-quarters of an hour should be allowed for dinner. "Stable Call" should then sound, and "stables" ten minutes afterwards. In other respects the duties and arrangements are the same as detailed above.

32. With regard to horses coming in from riding school at irregular hours, especially when there are rides before breakfast, the same system should be adopted.

It is not advisable to put young horses in the same stables as the old horses, because they often come in at different times and thereby disturb the regularity of the stable arrangements, and also because they require more ventilation and to be kept cooler than old horses. One
good horseman should be told off to every two young horses.