1. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    Travelling Distances (on paper)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Leo, Jul 28, 2008.

    How far is it possible, or at least feasible, for a character to travel in a day?

    Most relevant would be travel on a horse. Can the horse walk continuously? Does it need regular breaks? If traveling over a long period of time, does it needs days off in order to rest and recuperate?
    I know very little about horses...
    Oh, and would it be necessary to have one horse to ride and one pack horse? Or can one horse carry the man and the pack?

    Travel on foot would also be useful, or in a horse-drawn cart.

    Travel via any form of modern transport (cars, ships etc.) would be slightly irrelevant, but please put it down if you have any idea, because I'd just be interested...

    THanks for your help :D.
     
  2. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dang it, where's my grandpa when I need him? He used to drive cattle on the desert, and has vast experience with that. Let's see what I can remember. I do know that if a horse is in good condition and used to hard work they can keep up a trot for most of the day, if they have appropriate rest and water stops. You can cover a very large distance in that way. In that way it's like people, some can run a marathon, and some can't even run a quarter mile. As for needing a pack horse, I guess it all depends on what kind of traveling you're doing. If you're doing say a hundred miles are you going to do it in one day or a week? If you do it in a day you wouldn't need anything more than food and water. If you had any kind of extra gear it would be completely impossible. I'm not sure if you could do a hundred miles in a day, but if you did, it would be very hard on the horse, and the rider sure wouldn't enjoy it either. The longer you travel the more gear you need. More gear slows you down quite a bit. Other things that would take more time is if you have to stop and hunt.

    On foot, I can do five miles over rough terrain with a fourty pound pack in just a couple hours, and I'm about average as far as fitness goes. That pack will hold everything I need for at least three days camping, except for the water.
     
  3. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Leo.

    To tell you the truth, you are not providing anywhere near enough info to give you an accurate or viable answer. - you really need to explain what you are looking for. Seriously.

    Also I think this should be in the research section or something.

    Here is something to consider: In colonial times Military could make about 20 - 25 miles a day traveling in formation.

    However just to put things into perspective, the marathon was run (26.2 miles) in 2 hours, 5 min and 38 seconds by Khalid Khannouchi, while it should be noted that horses can run the same distance (26 miles) in just about half the time.

    Cars have been known to travel at 250 miles per hour, boats I believe around 30 mph and jets can travel something like three times the speed of sound.

    What are you looking for? (be specific)
     
  4. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    It is possible for a house to travel 100 miles in a day with a rider, but not while herding cattle.
     
  5. Silver Random
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    Silver Random Senior Member

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    One cheating way of doing it would bewriting your travelled distances in leagues. As it says on wiki, it originated as a rough guide to the distance a person/horse could walk each hour. For a human walking, simply have how many hours you imagine them to walk in a day and have them travel that many leagues, or decide how fast you want your horses to be moving (although im not sure if they can really run for a great length of time without exhaustion, so it might be better to just have them walk) and say the distance in leagues. And the league unit wouldnt seem out of place in medieval style fantasy or medieval fiction (which i assume you are going for because of the horse).

    If you want to express it in miles, you could basically just convert it to roughly 3 and a half miles an hour, depending on the terrain or how fast you want your horses to be going.

    I dont know much about horses, but i know that you're more likely to be criticised for having them travel impossible distances or go impossibly long without rest than you are for having them rest too much. So unless it hinders your plot greatly, it'd probably be wise to play it safe; have your horses take breaks, and have a pack horse.

    Whole days off i dont think would be needed, but it probably shouldnt be travelling all day unless your characters are trying to move extremely fast and are willing to put great strain on the horses / allow them to die from exhaustion.

    And if you want to be travelling great distances, or to be carrying a lot of stuff, then i'd say your definately better off having a pack horse as well, particularly if you dont have a supply of food from villages or hunting or something while on the road.
     
  6. J Done
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    J Done Member

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    If you're walking it's possible to get at least 50 mile in.
     
  7. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    This is a very informative and insightful post.
     
  8. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    Also, even if a horse can trot for a full day solid, would I be correct in saying that the rider would need to rest quite a lot. I tried trotting on my friends horse once and its hard work!
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you need to state what kind of terrain it's traveling over and what the climate/weather is like... as well as the age and physical condition of walker, animal/s and cart...

    you're asking for specific info, but not supplying the parameters without which informed opinions can't be rendered...
     
  10. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    first off is the rider experienced. If so and he has a good horse assume that he is gonna travel roughly 80 miles a day. That is mixing it up between pushing the horses early in the day taking a break not pushing them hard in the heat of the afternoon, and just a little harder a few hours before sunset. You could do over a hundred miles in a day but would need a horse to switch cause the horse you rode would not be good again for a day or two. I think this is accurate but do not quote me a hundred percent. If you think about it though it makes sense. I can go a mile in 20 minutes walking. that would be 3 miles an hour and i know a horse can do ten miles an hour as comfortably as i do 3. so given that most would travel only an 8 hour day on horse back i believe that is accurate. Also i have been on a highway and horses can get up to 40 mph at a full gallop and can sustain that for a good ways
     
  11. Last1Left
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    Last1Left Active Member

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    I know it's obnoxious sometimes to post a link and not offer any real, original thought, but this writer covers horses in fantasy quite well. Skim down a few paragraphs and there will be a part on the distance horses can travel.

    http://fantasy.fictionfactor.com/articles/horses.html
     
  12. topper
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    It's not that hard to ride a trot, actually, when you've ridden a little and an experienced rider can do it as long as the horse can (men find it more uncomfortable). If your character is not an experienced rider, than he'll be incredibly sore. Unless the horse is something like an arabian (bred for endurance) than running for long distances is unlikely. Unless it's a heavy horse (think Budweiser horses) one person and one or two saddlebags (say, two hunderd and fifty pounds) would be all it could be expected to carry for long days.
    At a walk, the horse can go 3-4 mph and would be able to work long hours for days on end. At a trot, 8-10 mph and they would need a good rest every couple of days. A canter, 10-17 mph and most horses wouldn't be able to maintain an entire day at this pace.
    Most horse travelling was done at a walk or trot. If you've got a horse cart, then the horse would need to go no faster than a slow trot to maintain that over a long distance. And multiple horses would be much more practical for that purpose.
    (The riding also depends on what type of saddle used, but since it's a fantasy world, you can make that to your convience. Generally for travelling, bigger, more comfortable saddles are prefered.)
    If it's a warm climate, look at Quarter horses and Morgans; a colder one, Fresians or European ponies like the Haflinger; for endurance or really hot climates, I'd look at the Arabian and the Barb; if you're going to use the cart concept, Clydestales or Shires should do.
    (Eech. This got a little in-depth..Oh, well.)
    I can probably answer most questions you have about horses...
     
  13. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is awesome. I would like to get on my roof and maybe go to the store. It'd be like Snoopy... only with a real house, and machine guns attached. You never know when you'll see house robbers on the trail.
     
  14. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    Wow, great answers guys! Very useful!

    Sorry, if there wasn't enough detail, but I didn't have time to write the post in as much detail as I wanted. I'll give you some here:

    The rider is in his late 20s/early 30s, and has ridden a little before, but isn't an experienced traveler, and has rarely traveled any great distance before. However, he is in good physical condition.

    I imagine he'll over-pack seeing as he's inexperienced and doesn't know what he'll need, and besides, he has a generous expenses fund from his clients, for whom he is pursuing someone. Hence, he might need a pack-horse as well.

    He's not a particularly warm or compassionate person, so I don't think pushing a horse to its absolute limits wouldn't be beyond his flimsy moral values.

    He will be stopping at towns and villages along the way, to pick up the trail of the people he is pursuing and so forth, so changing horses isn't out of the question, and he would only need to carry a few days worth of food at a time.

    I like the hunting idea as well, I might use that.

    Terrain wise, I imagine he'll be following fairly well-used dirts track and the like, or else traveling over plains.

    What else do you need to know?
     
  15. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    Last1Left: Thanks for that article, just read though it and it was very useful :D.

    Will definitely be using some of that.
     
  16. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    Topper: Might take you up on that offer, I imagine I'll be coming up with plenty of horse-related questions pretty soon :)
     
  17. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    Cheers, I didn't know that about leagues.

    And you hit the nail on the head, I don't want to be criticized for doing something unrealistic. I want to make the story, if not particularly realistic, at least believable.
     
  18. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    There's a research section?!
     
  19. Amphisbaena
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    If he has not ridden much before I would not worry about the horses being pushed so much - anyone who has ridden a horse, no matter their physical condition, for any amount of time would relate that it makes you very, very sore.

    After the first ten miles he'll want to stretch his legs, after the first two days, he'll be walking a little stiffly. This allows, however, to subtly show the reader character development as you pepper details of his easing into being an experienced rider - that will add more realism than getting mileage correct.

    In fact, a good example of an author who has fantastic character development is Glen Cook in his "Black Company" series. I used to read alot of fantasy and science fiction - he's no Zelazny, but he has a great way of drawing you in and bringing a story to maturity.
     
  20. Kratos
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  21. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    I like that idea actually. It will help me show a different side to his character, and make him more human. Thanks.
    It will also mean I can extend the time between him setting off and him catching up with his "prey".
     
  22. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Yah, but given how much activity it gets, it might as well not exist.

    Anyway, given what you have put out, standard would be 20 - 25 as I would imagine he would be riding a quarter horse, or perhaps a Morgan if one was available.

    Note horses can get rather ornery when "pushed hard" by people that do not know what they are doing. Only truly experienced riders can drive their horses greater distances.

    Since he will be inexperienced he will want to walk most of the time with perhaps just a trotting if spooked or in a rush and if he is feeling risky he might canter.

    Riding a horse is a unique feeling and experience.

    It is not at all like riding a bike or anything like people see in the movies.
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Aww, c'mon now.

    If you use it, they will come.
     
  24. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    What could be done would be to research the movement of troops before, during and after the battles of the U.S. Civil War that took place in the 1860s.

    Although some took place via train and river, there was cavalry that scouted and most of the units marched, sometimes force, sometimes not. It would give a good guide.

    Through diaries from the generals down to the privates, and also official reports and documents, I believe the information sought could be gleaned. In addition, a variety of terrain would be involved. Such has been translated into the history books. Try The Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson for starters. I read it years ago, and it should be available at a local library.

    Also, as an aside: during the times of the cattle drives in the American West, a cowboy had more than one horse (generally three if I accurately recall), as they could not expect on one to carry them and do the job on their own--although driving cattle would be much harder on a horse (and rider) than travel. I got that from notes somewhere after reading (or watching) Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, also likely available at a local library, but while a great read, probably not as directly applicable to the research for the project under discussion.

    Terry
     
  25. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Give me some credit here - I at least mentioned it and I only 64 posts.

    (I also posted in it)
     

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