Figure Out How Much Weight Your Horse Can Handle
If things head south, and you think you might have to use your horse under stress at some point in the near future, keep his weight right and work his chest. A firm horse is one you can rely upon. Using a soft horse for a strenuous endeavor is not fair to the horse and is a safety hazard to you. Every horse is different. A horse with bad conformation (bone structure) can’t have much expected of him; a swayback isn’t a long distance choice. You have to have a good idea of how they function/feel best. Most preferable is a horse who can’t wait to go for a ride.
Once you’ve developed an honest assessment of what you and your horse are capable of, it’s time to figure out how much weight the horse can handle. A day trip away from home and a day back should enable you to figure out what is fair for your horse. Obviously, you should already know your horse. If you are not truly in touch with what your animal can do, don’t assume anything. Man, know thy horse! You can build most average horses into the shape for many tasks, but this may require the time to get him there. Having an idea of what you’d like to expect from your horse is probably a good idea before asking it of him.
I guess it should be mentioned that you need to know yourself as well. How does your back hold up and your legs on long rides? Potassium prevents a charley horse. Know what sustenance you need to ride. How little can you get by on, in terms of food and water? It’s better to keep everything simple. Would you be able to forage? How do you feel if water intake is somewhat restricted, or do you know where to find water all along the way? Once in the high desert between Santa Barbara and Santa Inez, it got unexpectedly hot. Fritz and Cloud got most of the water. I had to wait.
Define the mission. Do you expect resistance? Do you need to hide from road blocks? How hard up for food would most of the people be along your route? If you are traveling in a group, have you formed a rally point plan, as in, if attacked and split up we meet up one mile back on the north side of the trail or road 200 feet in from the road/trail. Your emergency rendezvous point could be closer. You must determine what you are up against.
That leads us to weapons. If things aren’t too bad and you know your route, probably your choice of handgun will probably be enough. If things have led to looting, I would want something like an HK 94 on my front. (I’d use a 3 point sling carried in the lap/ab/chest area depending upon what is comfortable to access with a collapsible stock, though you might shoot better with a 2 point sling or something of your own invention. Use whatever works for easy access and comfortable carry. A one point sling will allow you to completely detach your weapon. Know what works for you. In addition to the HK 94, I’d also want a pistol on my side.
I am an iron sites type. Use whatever you like, but make sure you know how your gear performs in the elements. If it pours, you ride. In snow, (there’s no greater peace than riding while it’s snowing) you might get tricked and think your electronics will be fine. After eight hours in the saddle, who can say. A long arm that’s not too long and easy to access can provide quick suppression fire so you can dismount and find cover; this is an essential, in my opinion. A pistol may be good for this, depending on your skill, but I would not bank on that.
I don’t know how my horse will act if fired upon. Around the noise, he’s fine. He feels my mood; I don’t know how he’ll act when I’m hugging the ground trying to pick targets while finding cover. How he will choose to act is difficult to determine. I would hope he’d run from the gunfire and stop a fairly reasonable distance away. I can’t tell until it happens, and it’s hard to drill. I would hope to push him in the right direction before sending him off and dropping to the ground. I can’t say how we’ll react in such a situation.
Fritzy gets keen and one pointed, zeroing in on the attacker. He knows how to crawl until ready to attack, but practice is not the same as reality. So who knows. Training must always be fun. When someone acts badly, a bark, low growl, and then concentrated stare is his response so far. You can’t know how any animal will act when it happens, even the two-legged kind. Fritz is level headed enough to wait for a command before acting, which is fine for the real world. I don’t know how he’ll be if he has to decide on his own. I hope we never get to that place.
If people are starving, they get dangerous, even irrational. They may become amoral. Others live by the rule of God. Clearly Genesis states to make your meat of the fruit of trees and herbs, yet man found the excuse to eat all sorts of things. Daniel would rather die than eat pork. Now an Imam has stated that holy warriors can eat the flesh of their enemies if food runs out on the battlefield. I don’t think so. Who knows what people will do depending upon the circumstances. Some will be more easily corrupted. Who knows what the imam of Milwaukee, Detroit, or Minnesota is telling his people is allowed by a fatwa. I just don’t know, but it doesn’t sound too Halal/Kosher/righteous to me.
The righteous, conscience-oriented people are not who we have to worry about under most circumstances. The fanatic who does not follow the 12 commandments is a greater threat than you might imagine, even if they swear religious commitment to God and His law. The law will just not change at our convenience. Let us hope our mettle is not tested. Atheists claim humanism as their saving grace and morality; look at China.
What is all too clear, is that it is better to bug in, to hunker down, and not leave the security of your homestead or castle. However, who knows what life will throw at you. You may be forced out of your safe domicile to rescue others, to put an end to evil, or to preserve and protect the Constitution. Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.
If things go amoral, then I would want a 12 gauge in a scabbard on the side of my saddle, in addition to all else I have. You will need a rig (vest, MOLLE set up for mags and ammo that you are comfortable with). I recommend a Portuguese bull fighting saddle. It is the best all-around battle saddle. The European-made ones are better than the Brazilian ones. It locks you in for repeated shotgun use, enabling you to keep a firm seat and control of your horse.
You can hunt boar with lance easily. For lance, cup your palm under the lance, resting the lance on the forearm, above and outside the elbow. When you strike your target, your arm falls to your side. The lance is away from the arm, stuck in the target. Practice on hay bales first, then a round archery target, and finally on target animal forms. The lance should be 10′ or longer, and can be an 8 footer. If you have to hunt silently, the saddle lends to proficient lance use and gives perfect form for archery with a quiver on your side. The lance is also a combat weapon. (See youtube: Victorian cavalry drill, and “tent pegging” at Fort Rinella from Lindybeige).
I used to be able to take 12 good shots a minute at a full gallop, though I haven’t paid attention to what my time is lately. With a quiver on both sides of my waist, I can shoot targets on both sides, ahead or behind, thoughtlessly with precision. I use thumb rings on both thumbs. I don’t wear the Grecian form. Believe it or not, they are made of sterling silver, replicas of one found on an English renaissance era shipwreck; proving that most modern archery is tainted by ignorant presumptions of Victorian era pretenders to the art, who were in all fairness trying to piece together a forgotten art. (There are plenty of archers better than me who do just fine shooting Grecian style, to be fair.) I have even seen the gravestone of a Roman horse archer depicted using a thumb ring.
I shoot from the chest, don’t aim or at least even spare a thought about aiming. You can only carry one lance, so the arrow helps finish off the target, if need be. I generally practice on targets up to 50 yards distance. (There isn’t a good youtube video on horse archery, but you can get a poor idea of what it is by watching the ones listed.)
With the bull fighters saddle, your leg contact with the horse is full for complete control of the animal. He knows what you want, with the slightest of signaling. It locks you in for jousting, and keeps you solid if someone tries to pull you out of the saddle. You must be able to control your horse without your hands, if you hope to survive. (Remember, keep heels down!)
The ankle comes up a bit as the knee goes down a bit allowing for light pressure from the knee. I sit straight when I want him to sidestep to the left, using the pressure of my entire right leg to move him to the left (kind of a light full leg squeeze with the leg bent at the knee) and my foot gently tapping in the direction I want to go. My head turns to the left with this command when I want him to turn left, with my hips creating forward motion, and lightly kneeing him to the left, while using my shin, foot, and ankle to bend him into a good shape for the left turn, all while shooting arrows. These prompts should be so subtle that most people on the ground will not notice them. That keeps you friendly with your horse. Trust between you and your animal must be effortless.
The same applies to long gun, or if you want to shoot pistol two handed. Learn and practice the techniques of control with legs and body signals other than the hands. People rely too much on their hands and reins these days. Develop a system of signals with your horse. Dressage was designed for the horse soldier, but most have not been exposed to the method. You can develop you own technique and commands. Most important is what works consistently. Find the point where the ride is smooth before you fire. At this point, I don’t even think about it.