Friday, February 24, 2017

What is a unicorn (other than a horse with a horn)?

A unicorn is a driving configuration with two horses behind and one in front. It may be the most difficult configuration to drive and requires a very special lead horse (if you look at ads for driving horses, if the horse has experience leading a unicorn it will be mentioned).

It's also called "randem tandem" and was often used by farmers who needed to make tight turns - or if a coach needed to go somewhere and one member of the four-in-hand was lame. In some periods, also, driving unicorn was a way of showing off one's skill with the lines.

This unicorn rig is being inspected by a judge after completing an obstacle course (or before starting, I can't be sure). Unicorns are, these days, mostly seen in competition - as a way of showing off one's skill with the lines, of course. Image source Eponimm via Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What is a tandem?

In the context of driving, a tandem is two horses hitched one in front of the other. It's considered one of the hardest configurations to drive.

Image source Les Meloures via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Why is a team of four horses in two pairs called a four-in-hand?

Because correctly, when you drive a team, you hold all of the reins (yes, all four sets) in one hand.

So, you have four horses in one hand, which rapidly contracts to "four-in-hand." (And no, I'm imagining it's not easy, although I've only ever driven a single myself).

The driver in this shot has the reins in the left hand but is "assisting" with his right hand - this is top British driver George Bowman. Image source, Vickusin via Wikimedia commons.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why do modern jousters use draft horses?

Because, to be honest, we've mostly lost the "great horse" or "destrier."

Draft horses are often the only animals that can handle the weight of 100 pounds of armor plus maybe 150-200 pounds of jouster plus the weight of the barding. They are also mostly (but not always) easy to desensitize to crowd noise, rattling armor, etc.

Ring jousters and some jousters who "fake" it at RenFaires often use lighter horses.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Do stallions get ED? (NSFW)

Uh, yes. Stallions can get erectile dysfunction.

However, unlike with humans, when a horse can't get it up it is as likely to be psychological as anything else. Sexual dysfunction in stallions is often caused by management issues such as breeding fatigue (expecting the stallion to cover too many mares too quickly) or overall poor handling. In some cases, young or timid stallions may be, uh, too intimidated by the mare to perform. And very young stallions can sometimes have, uh, issues finding the hole.

Lack of performance in stallions can also be caused by pain in the back or rear legs (in other words, anything that makes mounting the mare uncomfortable or painful).

And there are also instances of a stallion simply not fancying the mare presented to him. I once knew a stallion who absolutely refused to mount pinto mares. No reason or trauma behind it - as far as anyone could tell he just found them unattractive. In these cases, artificial insemination (if legal for the breed) is often used to get around the problem.

Friday, February 17, 2017

How old a mare can have a foal?

Horses do not go through menopause and mares as old as 30 have safely given birth. However, there is a tendency for fertility to start to drop at the age of 15. Most vets do not recommend breeding a mare for the first time past this age, as older maiden mares are more likely to have complications.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What is a red bag foal?

A "red bag" foal is when the placenta separates prematurely before or during foaling. It's rare, but can lead to the death of the foal. The mare will require assistance - the red bag will cover the foal's nose and possibly cause hypoxia. Red bag foals are often weak and more vulnerable to infection.