1. MustWrite
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    MustWrite Member

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    Killing a horse that is hamstrung, after battle.

    Discussion in 'Research' started by MustWrite, Sep 24, 2016.

    To those with horsey knowledge, I have a character who has to kill a horse who has been hamstrung in a battle, there are no firearms in my fantasy world, so is it realistic to have him cut it's throat? Any other advice/info to share? Much appreciated!
     
  2. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Yes it is. I hope he has a sword with a strong, big blade.
     
  3. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    In real life, the three main methods in order of preference would be: lethal injection, gunshot (to the head), exsanguination (bleeding out). I'm assuming the first two aren't options in your fantasy world. What sort of fantasy are we talking - medieval, swords-and-sorcery stuff? If magic isn't an option, I guess exsanguination is the way to go.

    If you want it to be humane, the important thing is that the animal should always be knocked unconscious first (just like what is supposed to go on in abattoirs). Might someone have a warhammer or something? The right place to aim the blow would be the centre of the forehead: same as to kill by gunshot - trace a line from each eye to the base of the opposite ear, and aim in the middle of the cross where the lines intersect. This is standard for most animals and very adequate for horses, which have thin skulls. (For some animals with thicker foreheads - e.g. bulls - there are alternative targets.) If you're lucky, the stun blow will actually kill the horse, but always bleed it out to make sure.

    Once it's rendered senseless, the best way to exsanguinate it would be by 'sticking', rather than just slashing the throat. You're aiming to sever the major arteries just above the base (= 'top') of the heart, so you go into the horse's chest just above its collarbone (i.e. through the front of its chest). Rather than a big, strong, heavy sword, you'll want a very sharp blade. It'll have to be reasonably long, but not too excessive - horses have very big hearts, so the important vessels are reasonably far forward in the chest (thus easier to access as described previously). I'm talking about the common carotid arteries, which supply the brain - we're causing death by depriving the brain of blood. (The carotids are actually easy to stick a needle into accidentally when trying to inject into the jugular veins, if you don't aim far enough up the neck, so they're not too hard to hit.) It might be worth googling some diagrams if that doesn't make sense: horse, position of heart, common carotids, etc. As you'd expect, it will be a bloodily gruesome affair. (It will exsanguinate more quickly if you can hang it upside down, as they'd do in an abattoir, but I imagine that's probably out of the question.)

    Playing devil's advocate now: dealing with horses, which are very flighty animals, and in the absence of sedative drugs, etc, this is going to be tricky to do well. Even if the horse is hamstrung, it will be incredibly distressed and probably thrashing and dragging itself around with its forelimbs, and a horse is a large, dangerous animal to be up close to. Aiming that stunning blow will be difficult, and it's obviously something you'll want done right the first time. And even after an animal is officially dead, you often see muscle movements from nervous discharge - horses often paddle on their sides on the ground (sometimes even look like they're galloping), which can be dangerous to bystanders. With this in mind, you might expect such a humane euthanasia won't pan out that well; perhaps there's a pragmatic argument for 'Just kill it however you can as quickly as possible' (particularly if the characters aren't well-versed in everything I've talked about).

    Hope that helps, and good luck :) (For the record: I'm not some crazy Equus-inspired horse slaugterer. I'm actually vegan.)
     
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  4. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    The roman calvary used to carry a razor sharp dagger primarily for this purpose , later knights carried a dagger known as a misericorde which was used for this as well as for killing wounded men after battle (misericorde means mercy in french)
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    *hamstrung
     
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  6. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    upload_2016-9-26_16-2-34.jpeg
     
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  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, Jesus, man.... :bigconfused: :-D
     
  8. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    with one that small he could just use an armoured fist
     
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  9. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nearly:

    After battle I stumbled among corpses on the plateau. I used my whistle, rallied the wounded horses. The beasts limped towards me like shadows of my greatest nightmare. They chewed on stumps, they licked at tattered tails. Lame, we knew, creatures were an intense drag on a battalion's resources - forward into the warfare zone.

    Far away, Monseigneur, a crowd of warriors, they wheeled a primitive, a medieval cannon, up, on to this hillside. It would, for sure, be long distance, health and safety reasoning, but remained within killing range: a cannon-ball consolidation of the wounded horses situation.

    Finally, our only coronet trumpeteer punched, kicked a lone prisoner toward the collection of dicky donkeys, these half-horses laced over a rubble perimeter. The man, identified by misericord, was the enemy vet. We tethered this 'vet' to a dirty saddle, wiped our faces. ‘Adieu Cheveux,’ I said, and rushed to bushes. Cannonfire reverberated across the plain.

    fugit..go write.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
  10. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Considering cutting everything elses's throat usually kills them, I think that would kill a horse too.

    (Except this drunk pony. Perhaps fire? o_O) :superlaugh:
    281421__safe_rarity_animated_cosplay_nightmare-fuel_hoers-mask.gif
     
  11. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    Not really. Horses have an immense amount of blood and when the animal is injured and in shock on the battlefield, the blood does not circulate normally. Because of this a person devoted to the horse would not even consider killing him in that manner.

    I've been present when horses were severely injured and had to be humanely put out of their misery. These days a large overdose of phenobarbital is used. Even that is problematic when the animal is severely injured. It has to circulate to take effect.

    On a field of battle, most horses were simply left to die. The human casualties generally took priority.

    But in fact, most horses were in the past killed not by bleeding,, but by use of either a gun shot or a ''Bolt''.

    A bolt is a very simple device. It has a sleeve with a heavy, thick cylinder(the bolt) inside.

    Some of the newer bolts have an explosive component. But the old ones were simply hit forcibly with a heavy hammer.

    One draws a vertical line down the center line of the skull. One draws a horizontal line from the center of one eye to the center of the other eye. The point where those two lines intersect is where the bolt is placed.

    The bolt is pulled up, and hit with a hammer. This kills the horse instantly, and supposedly, painlessly.

    I don't know why a horse would be hamstrung in battle. That doesn't make much sense to me. However, in battle horses may step in a hole, fall over an obstacle or otherwise severely injure themselves. Catastrophic leg fractures, where there is injury to multiple bones and soft tissue, are more likely.
     
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  12. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    IDK either @theamorset .

    Though the OP has put himself in a position in a story that does not have guns. So being humane might not be so easy.
    And if you are correct that blood flow would not circulate naturally, then bleeding is an issue. Though I doubt in the
    a battle situation one would just so happen to have a hammer and bolt handy. That only leaves decapitation and/or
    extreme blunt force trauma to the skull. Though either of those could get a tad messy. :D
     
  13. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's the 19c farrier's tool image in this link:

    http://www.nam.ac.uk/microsites/war-horse/explore/requisition-transport-care/care/farriers/

    ...and this, 'through the ages' perspective. Seems detail is actually scarce - regards testimony and such:

    https://militaryhistoryblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/they-shoot-horses-dont-they/

    How 'bout this one, Agincourt?

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/3038684?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
     
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  14. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    I'm sorry but that's rubbish - the roman calvary for example always killed their horses in that manner - cutting the throat isnt about draining all the blood from the body its about cuttig the blood and oxygen supply to the brain - when that happens the conciousness just fades to black regardless of what is happening with the blood circulating in the rest of the body
     
  15. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Yes and no. In some species (e.g. humans) the carotid arteries are the main/only blood supply to the brain, so cutting the throat shuts the brain down quickly. In many others (including horses) the brain is also supplied by the basilar artery, which follows the spinal cord, and arises far below the level of the throat. In these species, cutting the throat will certainly kill the animal, but it won't happen particularly quickly because the brain has an auxiliary blood supply. The animal will suffer in the meantime (hence why I talked of sticking in my previous post). As @theamorset was referring to someone dedicated to their horse, I think that particular statement was fair.
     
  16. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    So we are saying that a calvary man who depends on his horse in battle isnt dedicated to it - that goes against virtually every historical source on the cavalry. I'd still say that cutting the carotid and windpipe and jugular vein will lead to unconciousness pretty quickly

    Also you do what you can, and a roman era calvary man didnt really have another choice - if you've only got a blade what else could you do

    The Marmoset is wrong on both esential points

    a) after a battle horses were generally not just left to die , the men mopping up the enemy wounded and rescuing their own would dispatch them as a matter of course and

    b) bolts /firearms were not routinely used for this because at first they werent easily available, and later when they were gun powder and shot would have been expensive and in short supply. (and bolts werent carrierd) hence why most wounded both horse and human were dispatched with a blade
     
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  17. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I'm not saying that cavalrymen weren't dedicated to their horses. They probably did the best they could with the equipment and anatomic knowledge they had (something I also recommended in my previous post). But there are certainly better methods.

    I'm saying that 'dedicated' depends on context -- which we have very little of, considering the OP has been absent since the start of this thread -- so there's little point being dismissive of other posters' statements.
     
  18. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    I know that in France, horsemeat is considered food. I don't know how far back this goes, but in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) says that the Arabs (Bedouin, IIRC) regarded camels as a source of transportation that was rapidly convertible to food. It's been a long time since I read it, but I remember one scene in which he's gifted with a prized racing camel, which he accidentally shoots in the back of the head while charging down a hill, and then shares with everyone for dinner that night. OP isn't around, but I think it would be quite plausible for fantasy cavalry to treat their horses the same way.
     
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  19. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    thats a good point - from what I've read the roman calvary were dedicated to their horses while alive but would eat them when dead if they had no other choice (they wouldnt generally kill them for food unless they were starving, but they'd eat those killed in combat ... generally after making an offering to Epona (goddess protector of horses and other equines)
     
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  20. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Sustainability-wise, it's shocking that we don't eat horse, considering how much 'wastage' there is in the racing (and other) industries, and the percentage of a horse's body that is muscle. And then we invest a heap of resources into growing animals that we arbitrarily do eat (which has an animal ethics side to it as well as the sustainability stuff). I suppose a fair bit of it goes to the knackery or the pet food factory, but still... efficiency nightmare.

    If I were a meat eater I'd have no beef with it, but for now I'll get down off my high horse. (Ta-dum tss! Thank you! I'm here till Thursday! Try the steak :twisted:)
     
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  21. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    I wouldnt want to eat a racehorse given all the weird drugs and hormones they are injected with - i'd have no problem eating a working horse though
     
  22. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Au contraire. Anti-doping in racehorses is even more (edit: 'just as'. Reflex hyperbole, oops.) rigorous than in human athletes. Think of all the gambling money on the line. Even innocuous mineral supplements (e.g. cobalt: it's an element for crying out loud) are banned, the penalties are heavy, and the scrubbing procedures (urine testing, etc, post-race) are meticulous. Reproductive technologies (artificial insemination, etc) aren't even allowed in thoroughbreds. There would be far fewer chemical residues, etc than in standard meat (which is also pretty tightly regulated). I'd be more worried about a working horse because it wouldn't be subject to all this.

    The issue with racehorses would be the pentobarb they euthanase them with -- pretty toxic by mouth to humans. So maybe they should go back to shooting them... it's just as humane, but not done because it's more upsetting to spectators.
     
  23. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Regardless of whether the animal's brain has an auxiliary supply, the drop in blood pressure has an immediate effect on consciousness. As to hamstringing, that was the main tactic of infantry against cavalry, slash the tendons and drop the rider

    I killed, not a horse, but a der, that way. The deer did not immediately die after I shot her, but could not run, and was going to take a long time to die.

    I cut her throat to put her out of her misery, using a hunting knife. I petted her head and talked softly to her to calm her. It was surprisingly difficult to get the cut started, tough skin and tendons, especially with her watching me, but she seemed to actually understand what was happening. When I hit the artery, the blood did not spurt out, but flowed copiously, about like from a water hose, but with a pulsation from her heart, seemed like several quarts, maybe a gallon. She kicked and twitched spasmodically throughout, but did not fight. I continued watching her eyes, we watched each other as the light faded in hers (took about a minute), then they stopped seeing, you knew at once it was over. In an Indian tradition, I took a handful of her blood, drank it, and thanked her spirit for giving up her life to give me life.

    For those of you who haven't hunted, you may find this revolting, but this is how it is done.
     
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