Robin Hill commenced his talk by explaining in some depth the need for horses in armies around the world at the commencement of the 1914 – 1918 World War.
They were used for transportation of supplies and of course for Cavalry regiments and for senior Commanders transport. He went on to explain that at that time the military had over a million horses and 100,000 of them were used by the cavalry. He also made the point that motor vehicles were in their infancy, were not that reliable or able to operated efficiently over rough terrain.
As the war progressed many horses were killed or injured and the problem of replacing them resulted in compulsory purchase of horses throughout the UK and purchase of them from various parts of the Commonwealth. Special Regiments were set up specifically to look after the horses and to arrange for their food and wellbeing. That each horse needed between 25 to 30 lbs of food per day and that the soldiers built up close relationships with the horses they were responsible for.
We also learned that a Cavalry soldier complete with all of his kit could weigh anything up to 23/24 stone.
Finally we learned that about half a million horses were lost over the 4 years of the war and that many were not fit to be returned back to England and were sold to Belgium for use as horsemeat. What a sad end for useful and valiant service!