Taking a horse to war is not my idea of fun, but I have long been inspired by the achievements of warriors and their horses across the world. When not on active duty, riding and caring for their horses no doubt helped keep many soldiers sane - not only as a result of the diversion from the horrors of the front but because of the changes in their mental state brought about by having a friend amongst these noblest of animals.
Man and horse had to operate as a team and that required a very strong bond. One of the battles that always moves me is the amazing charge of the Australian Light Horse on Beersheba on 31 October 1917: 100 years ago today.
I included this event in my book and am publishing the excerpt here in honour of its 100th anniversary. It was remarkable not only because it was a "do or die" charge under horrible conditions in the face of fierce and well-entrenched opposition, but because it was a charge at all. Our Light Horsemen had never charged before - their modus operandi was to ride into position, dismount and shoot. To do something you've trained for under such conditions requires skill and grit, but to tackle something you've never done before takes true teamwork.
Here's the extract from Winning Horsemanship:
It’s team work that makes the dream work. To operate truly as a supreme team, the individual members must care as much about each other’s success as they do about their own. In a team of two, horse and horseman, the leader who is effective in communicating not only direction but a sense of purpose and a clear end goal with tact and empathy can inspire remarkable respect, loyalty and co-operation in a horse.
Lest we forget.
#beersheba #australianlighthorse #waler
From a very early age I have been able to tune in to what horses and ponies were thinking and what they were likely to do next.