Horses on the front lines and the legend of Warrior

Every fall, Canada remembers and honours the sacrifice of those who have served and continue to serve, our country.

Horses on the front lines and the legend of Warrior

Every fall, Canada remembers and honours the sacrifice of those who have served and continue to serve, our country.

This article is a quick look at the silent heroes of the First World War — the millions of horses that served bravely alongside British and Commonwealth Forces. It is estimated that eight million horses gave their lives in service during the First World War (1914-1918).

These horses laboured alongside soldiers performing a variety of duties, from hauling ammunition and supplies to leading the charge as cavalry mounts. Horses were shipped from across the Commonwealth to the front lines, arriving to European shores after incredibly lengthy and arduous journeys.

The conditions on the Western Front were extremely beleaguering for both man and animal. The horses faced exposure, starvation, exhaustion and the relentless onslaught of artillery alongside the troops. The relationships that developed between the horses and the soldiers were profound — there are many stories of men risking or giving their own life in order to protect their cherished mounts. One of these friendships proved so powerful it became a legend.

This is the story of Warrior and General Jack Seely. Seely arrived in France in 1914 at the age of 51 and served as British Commander to the three regiments of the Canadian Cavalry from 1915 to 1918. He hailed from the Isle of Wight, where he had served as MP. Seely was accompanied by his favourite horse Warrior, a bay thoroughbred gelding he had bred from his beloved mare Cinderella. When Warrior arrived on the Western Front, he was six years old. Warrior became an instant favourite of the troops and served as an important symbol of indomitability. Warrior was brave, fast, and tough. He was also incredibly lucky. Warrior experienced too many near-misses to count, surviving against incredible odds. Warrior carried Seely across all major battlefields of the Western Front and was one of the very few horses to return home from the Great War. Warrior’s fame as the “horse that Germans can’t kill” was cemented when he and Seely led the cavalry charge at Moreuil Wood on March 30, 1918.

Warrior was injured in 1918 shortly before the end of the war but recovered in time to take his well-deserved place in the victory parade at Hyde Park. Three years later, Warrior won the Lightweight point-to-point horse race in his hometown of the Isle of Wight. The date of this victory was March 30 — four years to the day he led the charge at Moreuil Wood.

Warrior lived out his life alongside his dear friend and fellow veteran Jack Seely. He passed away at the ripe old age of 33. His incredible life has inspired books, paintings, plays, and most recently Steven Spielberg’s 2011 film War Horse.

The story of the special relationship between Warrior and General Seely is a powerful narrative about the special bond that forms between human and horse. These powerful connections can accomplish the impossible —– something that is proven every day at the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association.

The relationship between horse and human underlies therapeutic riding, an activity that became a common practice for rehabilitating injured soldiers following the Great War.  Currently, equine-based therapies are a well-respected treatment for military members overcoming PTSD.

This Remembrance Day, CTRA would like to recognize the service and sacrifice of the members of our forces — both past and present, both human and horse.

— Contributed by Jennifer Barnes van Elk of the CTRA

 

Just Posted

Column: Snow reveals the character of a community

For every internet complainer there were two more willing to help a neighbour

Car fire destroys vehicle in Chemainus

Traffic rerouted for a short time at the Henry Road roundabout

Ladysmith walks to help others on the Coldest Night of the Year

Community asked to step up for the local hungry and homeless

Unplowed Roads parody song destined to be a classic

Move over Weird Al, Island elementary students on the same level

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read