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A FEW STEPS IN THE TRAINING OF REMOUNTS – OR HOW TO KEEP WELL THE HARD WAY – When a batch of remounts arrived the other day. Panorama Photographer Emmett Griggs went over to the 74th F.A. Bn., corral to record the subsequent events. Top row, Sgt. Ralph Wilson of “C” Battery, holds, while Pvt. Lloyd Knox, “B” Battery gets out of the way of a fast one while grooming. Next, when you have a horse following you around like Corporal Wayne Sanderson “C” Battery, has, half the battle is won. Mounting a remount, as demonstrated by Pvt. Max Christensen, “C” Battery, it is a delicate process, and dismounting, as demonstrated by Corporal Louis Bullock, bottom row left, takes practice. In the next photo Pfc. David Sweetser calms a remount while Corporal Ralph Putman harnesses for the first time, and last, Private Joe Rodriguez Jr., gives the same horse his first lesson in pulling drag. It’s all in the day for the remount details of the 74th, 75th, and 76th Field Artillery Battalions of Fort Ord. DLIFLC & POM Archives

Thrills, Spills in Training of Horses in Field Artillery

By Pfc. Spencer Castel
Fort Ord Panorama Staff Writer
Friday, November 28, 1941

Take several details of hard-bitten field artillery and mix well with 200 or so remounts in a corral and you have the ingredients for one of the liveliest shows to be seen in the everyday routine of Army life at Fort Ord.

What amounts to a continuous three-ring rodeo has resulted from this very mixture in the stable area of the three horse-drawn outfits on this post… the 74th, 75th, and 76th Field Artillery Battalions. After two weeks the show still goes on and will continue for some six to eight weeks, or until the recently arrived horses, called remounts, are given the official okeh as being sufficiently trained to go on duty.

To those unfamiliar with horse-outfit doggerel it might be well to explain here that a remount, besides being the most fractious, stubborn, unpredictable four-footed beastie extant, is a horse that has been purchased by the Army, branded, and let loose upon wholly unsuspecting artilleryman. True, he gets a general conditioning at a remount station prior to assignment to a unit, but opinion among the men of remount details here reveals a tongue-in-cheek attitude toward that allegation.

Section Important Selected for their ability to handle horses, men of a remount detail are generally regarded as crosses between broncobusters and a father confessors. Where the transformation occurs is entirely up to the horse. Often, what goes on between horse and man in the early stages of training is of a highly personal nature. Disagreements are frequent . . . the language beautifully descriptive. On a recent visit to the 74th corrals the writer was introduced to some of the choicest vituperation he ever encountered, sadly unprintable here.

The initial step in training remounts amounts to a sort of social get-together of man and horse, or man versus horse, as the case maybe. Oats are served out of pocket as a welcoming gesture. Here patience is truly a virtue, with the man on the patience end in an endeavor to get across to the horse that he means him no harm, that he is his friend. Occasionally these budding romances are violently ruptured by a well-placed iron shot on the back nine and negotiations are temporarily disrupted. It is here that a field artilleryman learns the difference between diplomacy and tact, ie: It may be diplomatic to attempt to talk a horse out of laying one on you, but when you can get the hell out of there before he does, brother, that’s tact!

Grooming is next
Once a semblance of familiarity has been established horses and men are re-introduced all around and the next step in the training is begun. This is known as grooming but has been referred to as a lot of other things. Soldiers on remount duty refer to it as the “Hospital-Here-I-Come” shift or the “You Can’t Brush Me Off” reverse, and from what I saw it’s no sissy’s job. Lucky indeed is the man who escapes this phase unscathed. Grooming is to most horses what short-arm is to most dog-faces . . . it don’t hurt but it’s annoying as hell. I saw one horse react to his first grooming as through he were being tickled to death, twitching and shaking with what impressed me as equine laughter. Others expressed violent objections in various ways, assault and battery predominant.

Next comes the blanket maneuver, when a horse finds himself under wraps for the first time. This is a warm-up to saddling and saddling is a warm-up to riding and ought to give you an idea as to what riding is. Once mounted, the rider has no redress. Polite formalities are over. Sometime the rider has been known to fall off out of sheer amazement over the fact that his mount did not immediately begin plunging and pitching. The element of surprise is ever present in remount training, since a horse that stands quietly while grooming and disports himself gently in all other ways may react violently to be ridden. I saw one rider describe a prefect parabola in the air after mounting up on a horse that had peacefully submitted to all previous ministrations.

Real work starts
Harnessing comes next, and with it, more grief for the soldier. Once the horse has been accustomed being harnessed, he is hooked into a sled, or drag, which he is induced to pull around the corrals and stable area. It is his first taste of work, and like any good soldier he generally doesn’t like it. It is unanimously agreed, however, that he has more leeway in the matter of displaying this dislike than a private has. He can, for instance, kick his tutor in the face and get away with it.

The final step in conditioning of draft horses brings them to the stage of being hooked into the carriages with other horses. By this time Station Hospital is crying for more beds and fresh supplies of liniment to care for remount detail victims.

And another batch of remounts has graduated.

DLIFLC & POM Archives

SO THIS IS CALIFORNIA – Eighty-three new horses direct from the Army Remount Station at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, were given an official welcome by the Fort Ord artillerymen last week. Arriving Monday were 150 more from the Remount Station at Fort Reno, Oklahoma. It’s rodeo day every day now in the 74th, 75th, and 76th Field Artillery Battalions. (November 21, 1941 Fort Ord Panorama Newspaper) DLIFLC & POM Archives

DLIFLC & POM Archives

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U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group is a group of individuals that are concerned about the preservation of the History of the Veterinary Corps, Remount Service and Cavalry or wherever our country’s history is being lost in conjunction with our beloved “Horse and Mule”. There is no cost to join and membership is for life. We believe by uniting together in numbers we will be a more powerful force to be heard. Our membership list is private and only used to contact our members. Email us and become a member.

Greg Krenzelok

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