The movie War Horse pays homage to the equine soldier. Armies all around the world throughout millennia knew the value of the war horse. Usually, the army with the largest and best trained horse cavalry won the war. But the advances in technological warfare seen in WWI -extensive trenches, barb wire, advanced firepower, bombs, and chemical bombs - cut down the effectiveness of the horse cavalry.
During WWI, horses were primarily used to haul supplies and soldiers to the front lines. Here are some photos of the real horses from WWI showing what they experienced.
Britain did not have enough horses of its own, so they had to import great numbers from all around the world. Even though the USA did not officially enter the war until 1917, they did send 1 million horses, donkeys, and mules over the Atlantic.
Most of the highly trained cavalry horses were Thoroughbreds who could run fast and jump over obstacles.
Notice the saddle and all the equipment a soldier needed for the battlefield - rifle, canteen, sleep blanket, ammunition, grain feeder or possibly a gas mask, halter, bridle.
A clear sign of how the nature of war had changed in WWI. Poisonous gas was weaponized on both sides of the war, so gas masks were developed for the horses along with the soldiers. Here are two designs pictured above.
Heavy machine guns were transported on the backs of horses.
2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. With the advances in motorized vehicles used to transport soldiers and equipment, horses eventually became unnecessary in armies by the time WWII started.
I am Amy. I love movies, TV, and horses. I grew up with horses and taught kids how to ride during my summer breaks from school. Now I am a country girl living in a city hoping to someday move back into a rural area and own a horse again.