Field Artillery Training: Driving 2

Extracts from Field Artillery Training, 1914.

A driver “should be able to drive a pair of horses in any position in a gun team and make them do even work, without distressing them. He should also be able to get a fallen horse out of harness or out of a ditch.” (55)

The following General Principles apply to a team of six horses, hitched in pairs, one ridden and one (a “hand horse”) not. One driver rides the left horse (facing forward) of each pair: the lead driver in front, the centre behind him, and the wheel closest to the vehicle.

gun team Arras © IWM Q 5121 crop.jpg

Royal Field Artillery 18 pdr in France; the gunners are attaching the gun to the limber. Copyright IWM 5121.

  1. All officers, non-commissioned officers, and drivers must possess a thorough knowledge of the principles of driving and of fitting harness.
  2. Even and steady draught [pulling]  is a matter of paramount importance ; the respective weights behind teams are calculated on the assumption that every horse will do his fair share of work; this is impossible unless the driving is of a high order. If the driving is not good, neither quick manoeuvre, long marches, nor efficient transport service can be assured.
  3. When draught is even and steady every trace in the team is taut, and the horses’ heads are facing straight to the front. If, for example, an off-horse’s head is pulled inwards, his draught power is reduced and he is liable to become collar galled.
  4. The lead driver is responsible for direction, distance, and pace; it is the duty of the centre and wheel drivers to keep the traces taut and cover him.
  5. Temperament should be the first consideration in teaming horses. A slug should therefore, if possible, not be included in a team of very willing horses.
  6. The position of the horses should frequently be changed; a hand horse, for example, loses his back muscles if he is never ridden, and is also apt to acquire the habit of leaning on the off side of the bit. (102)
Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”

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