Horses and travel times

Discussion in 'Research' started by Ouberos, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. Ouberos

    Ouberos Acolyte

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    Its been a while since I trotted a horse along a Travertine paved road at sunset and I seem to have forgotten how much distance it is possible to cover.

    Google suggests 40km a day for a fit horse walking but I wondered if there might be an experienced rider about who might know a bit about how much you could expect to push a horse before either you or the horse gets tired?

    In my scene I have unencumbered riders on fit horses who need to get to a place before dark, which I figure is around two and a half hours from when they start their ride. I'm assuming a distance of close to 20km should be achievable by pushing the horses for short bursts but If anyone might know for sure that would be great.
     
  2. pmmg

    pmmg Scribal Lord

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    There are a lot of variables to apply, such as type of horse, condition of horse, burdens upon the horse, type of terrain, weather conditions, and probably a bit much else.

    I think horses can go further than 40Km in a day, I would use 40 miles, which is a bit more.

    I think it would be useful to use that as a base number and add or subtract as you think should apply. If I was pushing the horse, I might say as much as 60 miles a day (70-80 maybe, if I was desperate and did not care for the fate of the horse), but I would add wear and fatigue upon the horse in a story, perhaps even have it break down, go lame, or die in the effort.

    I would subtract a lot for other conditions.

    Smooth terrain, roads: 40MPD
    Hilly or rough conditions: 30MPD
    Rocky/water crossings/lots of shrub: 20MPD
    Over mountains with no trail: 0-10MPD

    With cart or heavy burden, -20MDP or more.

    I don't know that you will find any hard and fast numbers on this, but it would be a fairly large chart if you did. I am not sure your readers will be keeping score, so long as its not just outlandish.
     
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  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Valar Lord

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    I'd guess that the Google figure is a day-after-day figure.
    Horse don't walk much faster than a human [we do about 6km/h I'd guess a horse is at about 8km/h] over distance.
    You can go further with trotting [etc] a horse but a horse can't keep that up for long. If it was a one-shot deal, then 20 km in 150 minutes would be more than possible. The extreme of what MIGHT be possible is something like the Grand National Race winners times. This is a horse race that fairly regularly [but thankfully, increasingly rarely] kills its competitors from falls, heart attacks, and other injuries.
    The Grand National is a 6.907 km [okay I looked this up...] jumps race [think of jumping a 1.5 to 2 m high hedge that's about as wide and then doing 29 more of them, the odd sharp turn and a 20-30 other horses trying to do the same] and the fastest winning time is 8 min 47,8 seconds. These horses finish exhausted and unable to race for week/months. But a 20km time would be around 25-26 minutes. Double that because no one can run three times the distance at the same speed and you could be looking at 50+ minutes. Add a bit more because these animals are elite athletes trained to do only races like this 2-3 times a year and your back towards the 90 to 120 min area...
     
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  4. QuietKnight

    QuietKnight Apprentice

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    From working with horses most of my life I can tell you that trotting is how we get and keep our horses in shape and a fit horse could trot for 2-3 hours no problem, but it does wear on the person riding them, unless its a slow smooth trot, in which case it would only be a little faster than a walk. If you were to push them for thirty minutes or so at a time at a slow canter and then walk them for 15-20 minutes, I'd guess you could probably cover a good 20-25 miles in 2.5 hours.
     
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  5. Dark Squiggle

    Dark Squiggle Lore Master

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    I can do better than that in an hour in traffic and with hills on my bike. I can average just over 20mph for a couple of hours. Horses are really slow.
     
  6. Ouberos

    Ouberos Acolyte

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    This is a good point regarding wearing on the person riding. One of my characters is recovering from a side wound. I have some experience of broken ribs and am pretty certain a hurried horse ride would be a teeth gritting, brow mopping experience.
    You wouldn't have any direct experience of riding a horse with a couple of recently broken ribs would you? On a scale of one to ten, where one is no pain and ten is unbearable pain...
     
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  7. QuietKnight

    QuietKnight Apprentice

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    No, I've never broken any ribs but I'd imagine it would be quite unpleasant - a slow jog might be bearable in small doses though.
     
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  8. pmmg

    pmmg Scribal Lord

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    I would make the assumption that one who lives in a world with horses as the most common means of transportation is more acclimated to riding them for long periods than those of us who are not. But, I am pretty sure being injured and on a horse would be a wearing experience. Still might be better than walking, and if things were urgent, one might be forced to just deal, but if they are not, I suspect they would not choose to ride for very long.
     
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  9. QuietKnight

    QuietKnight Apprentice

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    I would also consider the fact that riding on pavement is very hard on horses at any pace above a walk. They can end up with a number of issues which would lead to lameness, because the concussion of the hard ground sends vibrations up their legs.
     
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  10. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Dark Lord

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    100 mile endurance races, easy, and they require keeping horse heart rates in safe ranges. And that is not over flat terrain, generally.

    World record, I quick googled is 5:45:44 for a 100 mile race. Averaged 17 mph, 22mph over the last loop. I don’t know the specifics of this race, could very well be simpler terrain that endurance rides I am familiar with in the US, as it looks like it took place in the mid-east.

    The Tevis cup in the US... much more challenging for terrain to say the least... average times for the winner are 11-16 hours, it began in 1955 so it’s a pretty good thing to look up. By the way, Arabians win almost every one.
     
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