know where horses are located, their numbers, and the changes that occur in them from one period to another.


From a military point of view a census should be taken annually. It would appear that the taking of it can only be done by the civil authorities under instructions from the Government. The method of making a census is a matter which, no doubt, presents some difficulty, as the statistics to be desired affect the civil and agricultural element of the country as well as the military, and from a civil point of view an annual census is scarcely necessary.

For the work of a military classification alone the addresses of owners and the number of horses they keep, according to the police census taken in 1910, gives sufficient knowledge (under certain conditions mentioned later) so long as the information is kept up to date year by year; the question is whether such information could be combined with the gathering of that so much required on the condition of our horse supply and breeding, etc.

Possibly a system might be devised on lines somewhat similar to those adopted by the Board of Agriculture, who collect information from farmers on crops, live stock and horses, by means of certain forms which are sent to them to fill in annually.

The details requiring answers on these forms might be amplified, so far as horses go, and sent to horse-owners as well as occupiers of land; or, better still, special forms, referring to horses only, might be sent out to all horse-owners, including farmers; but the forms now sent to farmers are only returned to the authorities at the farmers' good will, and the information supplied is not always correct, so it would seem advisable, in the matter. under discussion, to adopt a more compulsory attitude.

If the above idea could be carried out, and it should not be very difficult with the number of civil officials that now exist, it would be a great step in the right direction towards the country's well-being.

Given a horse census, we now come to the next step in our organisation-a military classification.


A military classification is made primarily with the object of bringing up to war strength the units of the various branches of the Army when a mobilisation takes place; it should be carried out in such a manner that there is every reasonable probability of our being able to acquire, at any time, the number of horses shown under the various headings (Cavalry, Artillery, etc.) of the

classification returns or forms; and the horses thus shown should be suitable, namely-may I be forgiven the repetition? it is important-workably sound, fit in condition, of proper age, and suitable for the branch to which they are allotted.

In these islands as compared with Continental countries there is an initial difficulty to be faced in deciding on the method of obtaining a classification; as mentioned before, on the Continent the obligation is thrown on owners, in each district or commune, of bringing their horses to a central place on a certain date for the purpose of being classified by a military commission, or board; which obviously saves time, trouble, and expense, and tends to ensure a reliable classification.

At present we are unable to do the same, therefore individual officers must travel considerable distances in order to inspect and classify horses which are dotted here and there over a broad expanse of country; and the reliability of the returns which these officers render is dependent on their individual capacity and the knowledge of horses that they possess.

It thus is very necessary that those officers who classify horses for the expeditionary force should be carefully chosen for their general aptitude, and expert knowledge and judgment of the animal required; I think it will be agreed that were the matter to refer to cattle, sheep, or other animals, only such persons as were capable of judging them would be employed to do so.

The following is an example of a suggested classification form, each form covering a double page of a book when open. The form can, if considered desirable, have extra spaces drawn for the classification of vehicles, or 'turns-out' complete; but as these refer more especially to the Territorial forces, they should be included on other forms specially drawn up for that force.

[blocks in formation]

Full instructions as to the mode of classification and a definition of the type of horse required, according to the various headings, should be printed at the commencement of the book. With regard to the form as drawn out above :

The police division in which the classified horses are stabled. should be indicated at the top of the page for guidance of the eventual purchaser on mobilisation, as he may need assistance from the constabulary; in fact, for purposes of impressment, it seems almost a necessity that the purchasers should be in close touch with that force before mobilisation commences.

Under the heading Artillery,' it should be understood that only horses suitable for gun or wagon teams of Royal Horse and Field Artillery are to be entered, of which a description has been given before. With the paucity and the growing decrease in the number obtainable of this class of horse, it is most important that a column should be set apart for its special classification, otherwise it is almost certain that horses will be allotted to the artillery which are totally unsuitable and likely to interfere with that arm's mobility. It must be remembered that the transport horse need not have the same activity, pace, or breeding as the Horse and Field Artillery animal; and that the transport draught horse is driven, and not ridden as are those of the artillery, so that almost any sort of driving horse of sufficient size, with capability of trotting for considerable distances, can be taken for light draught transport.

The pack animal should be a strong pony or cob from 14 hands to 15 hands, capable of carrying considerable weight, a better type of which cannot be found than the Highland pony that is able to carry a stag.

Before discussing the work of classification further it is as well that we should consider for a moment how the classification returns are eventually to be used, so that we may see why stress has been laid on their being reliable-i.e. that they should only show the number of horses of suitable stamp that can, in all probability, be purchased.

The returns from each county will be sent to the headquarters of the command; the officer who deals with them will be the responsible person for horse mobilisation, under the general officer commanding-in-chief, also for fixing the number of horses of the different classes to be provided by each county, and for allotting them to the places of mobilisation' according to the requirements of the units which mobilise there.

Therefore, it is of the first importance that reliance can be placed by that officer on the figures that are presented in the returns to enable him to provide, in the required time, horses suitable for the branches to which they are sent; to put it shortly,

unless horses are properly classified the troops will be supplied with inefficient and unsuitable animals.


To arrive at this much to be desired correctness of the classification returns the following general rules should be kept in mind by the classifier:

All horses belonging to an owner should as far as possible be seen, so that the number of horses worthy of being entered under the various headings can be arrived at with fair accuracy. There is, of course, no object in entering individual horses, and it is highly desirable that the number of horses set down should allow for casualties in the stable; in no case should the owner be deprived of more than half his horses, except voluntarily, so that his business may be interfered with as little as possible. I may mention that from personal experience in registering thousands of working horses in London and around I have found that, as a rule, it would be impossible to find as many as half a stable-ful,' even in picked stables, that would be fit to send on active service abroad, while many stables contain no suitable animals. The principal object to keep in view is that only such a number of horses should be entered as are suitable (as defined before) and likely to remain available for one year; this must be left to the expert knowledge and experience of the classifier, and hence the necessity of his being a carefully chosen individual. To make doubly sure of keeping his list up to date, the classifier can leave an addressed and stamped postcard with each owner, requesting that any serious alteration in his stud of horses may be notified.

Each owner should be informed as to the number and class of horses which he will have to provide on mobilisation. Really valuable horses should have their value noted in the column of remarks at the time of inspection, for information of the purchasers.

With regard to classification of horses and vehicles for the Territorial forces: This can well be done by the adjutants for their own corps with or without assistance of their officers as may be desired; but the work must be done under the guidance and superintendence of the chief classifier (who should be a Deputy Assistant Director of Remounts) appointed to the county or district, so as to avoid overlapping of horses intended for Territorial units and for the expeditionary force.

The form of classification for use with the Territorial force can be drawn up in a somewhat similar though simpler manner to that suggested above for the expeditionary force, with the addition of spaces for 'turns-out.'

Military classification is a work that must be carried out every

year; the best months, with a view to getting the number of cavalry and other riding horses in the most reliable way, would be April, May, and June, as animals are subject to considerable change of quarters towards the end of the hunting season; this time of the year also has the further advantage of providing more daylight, and probably better travelling on the roads. In saying this I am thinking more especially of the requirements of the expeditionary force.


We now come to the other steps which must be taken in time of peace arrangements for the purchase, collection, and transit of the horses to their various units.

These arrangements are more difficult to make satisfactorily than anything that has yet been considered; for the structure of our machinery is useless unless the horses can arrive at their destination in proper time; the only object with which it is built up is to ensure a rapid mobilisation; were time a matter of no great importance, then there would be no need to make elaborate preparations during the leisure of peace, and we could trust to good fortune (presuming it is known that the number of suitable horses exist) to provide the horses as in days gone by.

[ocr errors]

The Impressment Act gives the power of commandeering any horses, for which due value will be paid, but it does not lay any onus on the owner to do more than produce the animals, presumably at their stables, for inspection and sale; the registration agreement, on the other hand, wisely contains a clause. which makes it incumbent on the registering owners to deliver the horses purchased from them anywhere within a ten-mile radius of their stables. So that, as matters stand under the Impressment Act, the purchasing agents have not only to travel over miles of country to buy the horses, but have then to make the best arrangements they can for their delivery. Can this possibly be done satisfactorily when rapidity of collection is of such very great importance? In towns where animals are close together and in large numbers in one stable it may be done; but in country districts, where horses are comparatively few and far between, it would be quite impossible, and delivery from the owners' stables to the collecting stations does not always end the journey of the horses, as a large number will have to be sent by rail to those places of mobilisation' which are located in districts where a sufficient number of horses do not exist; each work of purchase, collection, and delivery to the troops must be done as rapidly as possible.

The question is how to solve the problem of purchasing and collecting the horses in the quickest way possible, in sufficient

« VorigeDoorgaan »