The use of horses in World War I
reflected a transitional period in the evolution of armed conflict. Cavalry
units were initially considered essential offensive elements of a military force, but over the course of the war, the vulnerability of the horse to modern machine gun and artillery fire fostered interest in mechanized forces. This paralleled the development of tanks
that would ultimately replace cavalry in shock tactics
. While the perceived value of the horse in war
changed dramatically, horses nonetheless played a significant role throughout the war.
All of the major combatants in World War I (1914–1918) began the conflict with cavalry forces. Horses were used by the military mainly for logistical support during the war; they were better than mechanized vehicles at travelling through deep mud and over rough terrain. They were used for reconnaissance and for carrying messengers, as well as pulling artillery, ambulances, and supply wagons. The presence of horses often increased morale among the soldiers at the front, but they also contributed to disease and poor sanitation in camps, caused by their manure and carcasses. The value of horses, and the increasing difficulty of replacing them, was such that by 1917 it was made known to some troops that the loss of a horse was of greater tactical concern than the loss of a human soldier.
Conditions were severe for horses at the front; they were killed by artillery fire, suffered from skin disorders, and were injured by poison gas. Hundreds of thousands of horses died, and many more were treated at veterinary hospitals and sent back to the front. Procuring equine food was a major issue, and Germany lost many horses to starvation through lack of fodder. Several memorials have been erected to commemorate the horses which died. Artists extensively documented the work of horses in the war and horses featured in war poetry, Novels, plays and documentaries .
is a breed
of draft horse
. It was developed in Brittany
, a province in northwest France, from native ancestral stock dating back thousands of years. The Breton was created through the crossbreeding
of many different European and Oriental
breeds. In 1909, a stud book
was created, and in 1951 the book was officially closed
. The breed is often chestnut
in color, and is strong and muscular. There are three distinct subtypes of the Breton, each coming from a different area of Brittany. The Corlay Breton is the smallest type, and is generally used for light draft and under saddle work. The Postier Breton is used for harness and light farm work. The Heavy Draft Breton is the largest subtype, and is generally used for the hardest draft work. It has been used in military
, draft and agricultural
capacities. The Breton has been used to improve and create many other draft breeds, as well as being bred to produce mules