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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Throwing Horses: 1900

Throwing Horses: 1900

Orchard Lake, Michigan, circa 1900. "Cavalry detachment, throwing horses. Michigan Military Academy." Detroit Publishing glass negative. View full size.

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So who won

These guys throwing for height, or distance?


Here we see the unfortunate aftermath of testing the horseapult. Stick to cats, gentlemen. They're lighter and also angrier when thrown.


It is interesting to note the various handlers' attitudes towards their horses; the man in the foreground seems to have a compassionate bond with the animal, by the placement of his left hand. I would like to think that he grew up around horses, as many men of that era did.


No saddles. Interesting.

Nothing New

Gleason's Horse Book, 1832.

I am a great believer in throwing horses, and would recommend that every horse should be thrown for this reason, that it takes the conceit out of them, and gives them to understand that man has more power than they have. If used by men of good judgment and patience, all young horses can be thoroughly brought under control by this manner of handling.

Household Words, Oct 16, 1858.
Charles Dickens.

Amateur Horse Training

There is nothing new in throwing horses down; it is an expedient which has been resorted to as far back as records go, for the purpose of performing surgical operations. It has usually been performed by fettering the animal's forelegs, and then pulling them violently from under him by ropes in the hands of half-a-dozen stout fellows. Since the Rarey-plan has been made public, research, almost antiquarian, has shown that forty or fifty years ago, a method was devised by which a man could throw a horse down single-handed; and so, too, strapping up a horse's leg has been an old expedient for dressing, shoeing, or mounting a restive horse.

Neigh indeed

Perhaps my connection to this circa 1900 photo is not too extraordinary, but my late father, born in 1913, often regaled me (well, "bored" was the word I used then) with tales of doing this exact same maneuver with his cavalry horse as a member of the Kentucky National Guard in the late 1930s.

I remember thinking then how much easier it was to get our dog Bojo to lie down. A horse? That was crazy talk coming from the old man.

A Great Example

If you're looking for a scene like this in a movie, check out the sequence in John Ford's movie "Rio Grande" where the Apaches are chasing Trooper Tyree. At one point Tyree, played by the great Western actor, stunt man and rodeo cowboy Ben Johnson takes his horse down like this as a barricade.


No animals were harmed in the making of this picture.

Never Fails

Private Smith! WHY is YOUR horse different?! Go back and practice with the dog UNTIL you can GET IT RIGHT!

A Dog Face Soldier

Even the dog knows the drill.

They shoot horses don't they?

Not only as barricades to be shot. I am thinking that they also kept their horses down to make a lower profile with bullets and arrows flying around during attack. That horse was the cowboy's only avenue of escape. As a bonifide geezer of the cowboy movie and TV watching days of westerns, I'm sure I saw it done by either Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, The Cisco Kid, The Lone Ranger or Zorro. Or did it go back to Hoot Gibson or Ken Maynard? You can't find better proof than that!

N. Y. Giants Revisited

Those horses are faking; they're not really injured.


Great dog.

Survival Skill

The photo documents horse soldiers practicing what was once a necessary defensive skill. If your unit was attacked in open country, sometimes the only available cover was, unfortunately, your horse. This maneuver was illustrated by R. F. Zogbaum for "The United States Army," an article by Francis V. Greene that appeared in the November, 1901 issue of Scribner's Magazine. The painting depicted "The Defeat of Roman Nose by Col. Forsyth," a historical battle that took place during the Plains Indian wars in northeast Colorado in 1868.

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