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Old 07-17-2008, 08:44 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default Horses, encumbrance and travelling speed

Until we get a GURPS Bestiary: Horses or at least the long-awaited GURPS Cabaret Chicks on Ice, the rules for horses in BASIC leave certain things to be desired.

Now, S.E. Mortimer's excellent Horse Sense article in Pyramid appears to be a good source of tidbits and lore about the care, feeding and handling of horses.

According to it, a horse can carry a third of its bodyweight for extended periods. I assume that this refers to the limits of what GURPS would call Medium Encumbrance. This number seems right to me and I'll use it as a reference point for the various breeds. A third might perhaps be a trifle too optimistic, with the average being closer to 25-30%, however.

Now, a typical saddle horse can carry a Medium load of 265 lbs., which nicely fits a saddle, tack and pretty much any normal rider; along with any incidental gear he might pack. That's good, but then Campaigns tells us that this normal horse weights 1,200 lbs.
If S.E. Mortimer's rule of thumb has any validity, he's either massively underpowered for his weight or his weight is off. We go with the second option, guessing that a weight of 900 lbs. might be closer to average for a historical rouncy (which the saddle horse undoubtedly is). This also has the happy result of the horse being able to carry just under 30% of his own bodyweight for extended periods, which is historically correct.

The higher number of 1,200 lbs. might be average for a modern horse that stands 16-17 hands tall, but it's not for an average weight for a riding horse for most of history.

A cavalry horse has slightly more ST than a saddle horse, resulting in a Medium load of 290 lbs. That horse, however, is listed as weighting 1,400 lbs. Even near-modern warmbloods used as light cavalry horses at the turn of the century averaged only between 880-1100 lbs. 1400 lbs. is the weight of a heavy draught horse used to pull carts, not a hunter or cavalry horse. We'll call the cavalry horse an average of 1000 lbs., which makes his carrying capacity about 29% of his weight. Acceptable, I suppose.

The 1900 lbs. Heavy Warhorse is far too heavy for any useful military purpose. I note that ST 24 gives it a Medium load of 345 lbs., which would fit nicely with a historical destrier weighting 1200 lbs. and being able to carry nearly 29% of its own weight for extended periods.

Now, I note that none of the horse templates in Campaigns include Lifting ST. Surely, though, riding and draught horses tend to have greater carrying ability than explosive strength? Should one perhaps reduce ST by a level or two and add HP and Lifting ST to the desired level of ST? Or even more than a few levels? How much Striking ST does a destrier have? How about a palfrey?

I'm pondering it, but in the meantime, good (and expensive) horses often have Lifting ST 1-3 points higher than other horses of their type.

Horse travelling speed. If we assume that the BASIC rates are unacceptably high, what rates should we use? Does anyone know if one can use the rules Hiking Distance in High-Tech without changes for horses?

How about FP? Horses are clearly able to run for longer than humans, but the abbreviated stats don't display the difference. How much extra FP should one buy for them?

Are horses often Fit or Very Fit (long recovery times after exhaustion would seem to argue against it)? What modifier should one use for their stats if they are?

Any other thoughts about horses?
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Last edited by Icelander; 07-17-2008 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 07-17-2008, 11:02 AM   #2
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Default Re: Horses, encumbrance and travelling speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
Until we get a GURPS Bestiary: Horses . . . the rules for horses in BASIC leave certain things to be desired.
I'd write this if I had the time . . . my father and brother are professional horsemen. I grew up on a horse farm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
The higher number of 1,200 lbs. might be average for a modern horse that stands 16-17 hands tall, but it's not for an average weight for a riding horse for most of history.
The horses I have experience with are American Quarter Horses. They run from 900-1200 pounds, and typically are "big" at 1200 pounds and 15-2 hands. Here's a formula.
http://www.american-saddlebred.com/asbweight.htm

I would take Basic Sets weights as somewhat on the big side (by 10-20%). Also, I find the ST a little low. As you say, Lifting ST is probably the way to add the details (partly so that horses don't have massive HPs).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
Horse travelling speed. If we assume that the BASIC rates are unacceptably high, what rates should we use? Does anyone know if one can use the rules Hiking Distance in High-Tech without changes for horses?
I based the High-Tech rates on hourly rates from historical sources, i.e., Army manuals and campaign rates from the 18th and 19th century. If one were to do the same for cavalry rates, it would be fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
How about FP? Horses are clearly able to run for longer than humans, but the abbreviated stats don't display the difference. How much extra FP should one buy for them?
I'm not sure I would. Maybe a few points for endurance horses. The common horse, no.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
Are horses often Fit or Very Fit (long recovery times after exhaustion would seem to argue against it)? What modifier should one use for their stats if they are?
Horses should have the traits if they are working horses bred for endurance work. A grass fed mare that simply chomps and lays around all day is just like an out of shape human.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
Any other thoughts about horses?
A horse's diet, breeding, and training is very important. One cannot simply train a draft horse to be a destrier, for instance. The natural courage, physical prowess, and genetic "talent" of breeds was very well recognized even at TL2-3. Gamers often assume a horse is a horse, but the truth is that careful selection and breeding was a major part of the "arms" program of kingdoms. Part of the price premium today is for genetics -- a prize winning thoroughbred can have $100,000 or even $1M stud fee. The prices seen in history books which seem insane are likely because the horse was a stud being brought in to strengthen the bloodlines of a warhorse breeding stock. Thus, finding a prized specimen and BUYING rather than just breeding a few mares to it would create this outrageous price.

Horses can be trained to fight in battle fairly quickly. Basic war training would be Quick Learning Under Pressure. More involved skills, such as teaching a horse to attack, takes much, much longer. This is normal training, accelerated by good facilities and excellent instructors.

Horses tend to bond with people. I'd take Equipment Bond with a horse to represent this.

A well-equipped knight should have a riding horse, a mule or two for supplies, a destrier for combat, and likely a spare one, just in case. This IS pricey. Speaking of prices, the Basic Set prices are too high for a riding horse in comparison to a destier. Set the riding horse at $500, and the entry level destrier at $5,000. Advance the price very rapidly for exceptional examples, or training beyond basic combat training. $10,000 to $20,000 for a fully-trained horse would probably be cheap.

Horses have personalities and quirks. They can be curious or stubborn, lazy or hard workers. The best horses enjoy what they do. They are eager to go to work and will work themselves to death if they aren't carefully managed (IQ-based Riding). Others will balk and leap at the slightest shadow or disturbance. For some, no amount of training will get them beyond this!
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Old 07-17-2008, 12:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: Horses, encumbrance and travelling speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by safisher
<snip>Horses have personalities and quirks. They can be curious or stubborn, lazy or hard workers. <snip> Others will balk and leap at the slightest shadow or disturbance. <snip>
Freakin' Arabians. Like Horse-sized cats, I swear to God.
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Old 07-18-2008, 10:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: Horses, encumbrance and travelling speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by safisher
I'd write this if I had the time . . . my father and brother are professional horsemen. I grew up on a horse farm.
Clearly, you must abandon a few of your more less productive pursuits in order to serve your fellow gamers.

D'you sleep, perchance? There's at least a six hours per day that you could be cranking out manuscripts instead of snoring, you lazy bum! ;)

Quote:
Originally Posted by safisher
I would take Basic Sets weights as somewhat on the big side (by 10-20%). Also, I find the ST a little low. As you say, Lifting ST is probably the way to add the details (partly so that horses don't have massive HPs).
How much Lifting ST, if any, would you add for the following horses:

A plain-vanilla 900 lbs. Saddle horse?

An officer's Irish thoroughbred in Britain's Peninsular Army in the early 19th century?

A service-ready French Cuirasseur's cavalry horse?

A Polish Hussar cavalry horse?

And would you reduce overall ST to keep Medium Encumbrance the same as the GURPS Campaigns stats, at least for horses that aren't more expensive than normal?


Quote:
Originally Posted by safisher
I based the High-Tech rates on hourly rates from historical sources, i.e., Army manuals and campaign rates from the 18th and 19th century. If one were to do the same for cavalry rates, it would be fine.
Using the High Tech rates unchanged for horses yields an average hourly rate of 3.6 miles for a Saddle Horse carrying a third of its bodyweight and an hourly rate of 4.8 miles for a Cavalry Horse doing the same.

How does this seem to you? As benchmarks, a the best modern prize horses can maintain a speed of almost 25 mph for about an hour, but during endurance rides, it takes about 24 hours to cross a 100 miles.

I suppose that Mount skill would be used instead of Hiking, for checks. Fit and Very Fit are extremely valuable for horses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by safisher
I'm not sure I would. Maybe a few points for endurance horses. The common horse, no.
With 11 FPs (what most common horses have) and bearing a rider (Medium encumbrance for most horses), that means that a trot can be maintained for just over 2 hours before Move is halved due to exhaustion. Horses can maintain a paced run (about 9mph for a Saddle Horse with rider or just under 12 mph for a courser) for about 19 minutes until his Move is halved. That seems rather low.

Horses should be good at medium distances, i.e. trots and paced runs, but their long term stamina when bearing a rider should not much exceed human levels.

Of course, a strong horse with a light rider might be at Light Encumbrance, which gives him significantly better Move. But to carry a 150 lbs. rider and 30+ lbs. of tack as a Light load, a horse needs Lifting ST 22, which is more than a Saddle Horse has. And the average load of a cavalry horse was far more than this bare minimum, reaching over 300 lbs. To be at Light Encumbrance with such a cavalryman and his gear requires a horse with Lifting ST 28.


Quote:
Originally Posted by safisher
Horses should have the traits if they are working horses bred for endurance work. A grass fed mare that simply chomps and lays around all day is just like an out of shape human.
But how to represent the fact that horses don't recover as fast from exhaustion as humans? Fit, after all, has the game effects of allowing a 'blown' horse to be at full capabilities again within an hour instead of two.



Quote:
Originally Posted by safisher
Horses can be trained to fight in battle fairly quickly. Basic war training would be Quick Learning Under Pressure. More involved skills, such as teaching a horse to attack, takes much, much longer. This is normal training, accelerated by good facilities and excellent instructors.
Campaigns states that both TL 3 battle training (teaching stallions to fight) and TL4+ war training (teaching horses not to bolt) takes a year and doubles the value of the mount. I find this disappointing.

What do you suggest instead? If full war training takes a year, how much time does just acclimatising horses to battle take? And how much does it cost? Add a flat fee or base it on the value of the horse?

And I assume that Cavalry Horses and Heavy Warhorses in Campaigns have Bad Temper due to selection and training for fighting. A horse that's just taught not to bolt in combat should probably not have it, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by safisher
A well-equipped knight should have a riding horse, a mule or two for supplies, a destrier for combat, and likely a spare one, just in case. This IS pricey. Speaking of prices, the Basic Set prices are too high for a riding horse in comparison to a destier. Set the riding horse at $500, and the entry level destrier at $5,000. Advance the price very rapidly for exceptional examples, or training beyond basic combat training. $10,000 to $20,000 for a fully-trained horse would probably be cheap.
Prices are very setting dependent, of course, but would a saddle horse really be available at only $500? At the very least, that would require adjustment of Pony and Mule prices as well, right?

The recent purchase of a horse by one of my PCs was quite a coup (critical Merchant skill check for bargain hunting). He got a young warhorse (not yet blooded, but already trained not to bolt) for $10,000 and a baggage hackney thrown in. It's not a destrier, more of a courser, of course.

For that lucky buy, would adding +2 Lifting ST, +1 IQ and +1 Move to the Cavalry Horse statistics be too much?

And another thing, how much would extra FP add to the cost of horses? What about Fit or Very Fit?

I've been using +10% per extra FP up to a limit of 30% more than HT. I've no idea what Fit or Very Fit should add to cost.
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Old 07-18-2008, 04:34 PM   #5
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Default Time to train a cavalry mount . . .

From the United States Army Cavalry Drill Regulations (updated to Dec. 1917), available at archive.org [specifically http://ia311308.us.archive.org/3/ite...egu00unit.pdf]

"928. Time required: The time required to train a remount thoroughly for the Cavalry service depends upon so many conditions, such as the animal's age, condition, temperament, capacity, and conformation, and the skill, zeal, industry, and ability of instructors and riders, that it can be stated only approximately. With young and undeveloped horses two years can profitably be employed. The first year's work would then include the Preliminary exercises, not mounted; Preliminary exercises, mounted; and Further conditioning and training, as embodied in these regulations ; and the second year's work, the last part, as shown, namely, Final conditioning and training. But in emergencies, such as preparation for war, mature horses of good conformation and in fair condition can be molded in about three months' time under competent instructors and ordinary riders into mounts fulfilling sufilciently well for the time being the requirements of the trooper's horse. The exigencies of active service afterwards will not prevent making up what may be found lacking. To meet such emergencies the methods and progression indicated herein for the first year's work under ordinary conditions of peace time are prescribed, and Final conditioning and training would be omitted."

Other nations, of course, had extensive experience in cavalry training, and their requirements might be different. I'd be curious to see, for example, the German or British regulations on this topic.
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Old 07-18-2008, 04:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: Horses, encumbrance and travelling speed

The 2/3 power of mass relationship given in Basic doesn't bear a lot of resemblance to reality; large creatures aren't shaped like small creatures, so while the 2/3 power is often valid within a single species, over multiple species 0.75-0.8 is more appropriate.
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Old 07-18-2008, 04:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Horses, encumbrance and travelling speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by safisher
$10,000 to $20,000 for a fully-trained horse would probably be cheap.
Doesn't this create a problem for knight characters built on a budget? Also should the value of the mount really be that much more than the riders arms and armor, or the ransom value of the knight himself?
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:25 PM   #8
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Default Re: Horses, encumbrance and travelling speed

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Originally Posted by sir_pudding
Doesn't this create a problem for knight characters built on a budget? Also should the value of the mount really be that much more than the riders arms and armor, or the ransom value of the knight himself?
A couple of medieval

A warhorse upkeep is equivalent to the Knight itself. A manor worth a knight's fee would be about 3,000 acres. 1,500 acres to support the knight and 1,500 to support the horse.

You also remember that the medieval economy dealt with a lot more in-kind deal as opposed to monetary deals. A man, newly knighted with a land grant just wouldn't be looking at a patch of improved wilderness. Likely the king would have granted an manor that was under royal control along with the horses that would go with it.

Also a newly made lord of the manor likely would have come through the ranks of service. At some point in the beginning of his career the mounted warrior would have been allowed to use and train with a horse. There are several paths this could be done. Family, a privilege granted for heroism., etc.

When the warrior is finally granted a manor likely that horse would be granted as well as the property of the new knight.

Also in times of war and rebellion there are numerous opportunities to gain one own horse and parley that into greater wealth and title as the opportunities arose.

It was mostly about who you know and what opportunities you had. Sure there was commerce in horses but it was mostly among a small class of people (the nobles) who basically knew one another. Before the horse collar (and for a long time afterwards) the oxen reigned as THE beast of burden. The horse in feudal societies was used for riding and war. After the horse collar the horse was able to be used a more effective beast of burden than oxen.
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Old 07-18-2008, 08:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: Horses, encumbrance and travelling speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by robertsconley
A couple of medieval

A warhorse upkeep is equivalent to the Knight itself. A manor worth a knight's fee would be about 3,000 acres. 1,500 acres to support the knight and 1,500 to support the horse.
I'm not all that certain your figure of 3,000 acres is applicable here. The figures I get from reading various books are that in general, the knight's fee in England was around 1200 to 1800 acres of land. The Lord's demense was approximately one third of that while the remaining 2/3rds were those of the tenants themselves.

Using that baseline, the Knight required about 400 to 600 acres to support himself and his family as well as those things required to maintain his station - arguably not just one horse, but multiple horses.

Generally speaking, if an acre of meadowland is set aside for the production of hay, you're looking at about 2 tons worth of hay over the period of 1 year. As best as I can figure, that's about 1.5 tons for the first harvesting, and about a half ton for the second harvesting - but don't quote me on that. Information on oats production is readily available such that in general, like most grains, oats can generate about a 1:4 ratio of invested seedstock to yield. If you know the horse's weight and work load, you can generally figure out what the horse needs in food. All that remains then, is figuring out the cost of horseshoes, vet needs, supplemental foodstuffs and vitamins for the horse etc. Not to mention the wear and tear requiring maintenance of the leather saddles or reins or bits etc. All that however, is incidental to the original poster's intent - which was to discuss the horse's encumberance levels, its travelling speed, etc.

One thing that might be worth considering is that well kept horses might with the right diet and care from those charged with the horses care - may grant the horse the "VERY FIT" advantage, while standard care from less than "expert" level caretakers might keep the horse from sliding into unfit. Indifferent care of the horse or bad conditions etc, might lead to the horse being allowed to slide into unfit or even very unfit. Question is - how does that affect trying to simulate a horse of any breed?

For example, if you take the benchmarks of the very best horse of the very best "run" timewise or distance wise, the question would become "What is the general average" result, and could the exceptional results be a function of fit or very fit horses attempting to do what most horses cannot? That would be like assuming that one should build stats based on the very best sprinter and wonder why those stats seem out of synch with the rest of the race's normal achievements.
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Old 07-19-2008, 12:27 AM   #10
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Default Re: Horses, encumbrance and travelling speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by hal
I'm not all that certain your figure of 3,000 acres is applicable here.
I doubled it by mistake. It is about 1,500 acres. 750 to support the knight and 750 to support the horses

Quote:
Originally Posted by hal
The figures I get from reading various books are that in general, the knight's fee in England was around 1200 to 1800 acres of land. The Lord's demense was approximately one third of that while the remaining 2/3rds were those of the tenants themselves.
I read several books on medieval life. However in general for a condensed format I rely on the good people at Columbia Games and Harn Manor. The original and secondary sources have a broad range of values.

Everything I check indicates that the research behind Harn Manor is valid although arguments could be made (and are made on the Harnforums) about the precise numbers. We are talking inches here. More importantly Harn Manor distills all this down into game terms that are easy to use.

For the purpose of these example consider $4 = 1d or 1 silver Harnic Penny.

To maintain the required horses for the Knight's Fee the Knight will need to stable at least one Warhorse at 1,800d per year, and 2 Riding Horses at 900d each or another 1,800d. That is 2400d or 10 pounds per year.

The revenue that a fief generate is not straight forward. It consists of income from Woods, Crops, and Pasture. If you are using the generalized figures from Harn Manor (they also have individual crop breakdowns then the average manor can expect 60d per acre per harvest. The livestock on pasture can be expected to yield 90d per acre per year on the average. Harn Manor can also break down the livestock if you want to go to that level of detail.

Understand that while Harn Manor uses silver pennies everywhere only a small amount is ever converted into actual coinage. The rest is "in kind" represent bushels of grain and sacks of wool.

While One Horse and Two Riding Horse means a mere 60 acre can generate the support. When you account for expense, the fact that only part of the acreage is part of the lord's demense. The minimum viable Manor for a Knight approaches 1,500 acres.

According to Harn Manor Hay yields 40d per acre, oats 42d per acres. So the amount of acreage devoted for food for the horses would be around 90 acres.

To retain a Ostler or Stablemaster cost 1,300d per year and can look after 10 horses. A knight can expect to spend 3,000d for his expenses, 2,000d for his wife, and 1,000d for each of his children.
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