Sunday, January 10, 2010

My own Investigation on Horses

This was last year. It was my "investigative" research regarding horses. I was aware of the relationship of body mass, food, and work out-put relationship. This is made me really appreciate the smaller horses (ponies) and their valuable difference between their larger more Iconic "cousins".

Note: this is a much older research post. Right now, I have more cause to believe the 1/3 price difference between purchase of horses because of my study of accounting and game-theory.

I'm in vacation here in the Philippines' mountain province and former American military base, Baguio (“Bag-yo”) City. One of the only places in my country you can pay for horse rides and hikes for up to 8 hours at $8 an hour. I was talking to the horsemen who provide these services and care for the horses and here are some interesting answers that arm chair discussion should consider.

These horses are 12.2 hands high (at their hithers). They are around 550lbs (250kgs) on average and eat, at a minimum, 6kg of feed on a work day and 4kg when there is no work. Larger specimens eat as much as 8kg.

These ponies are modestly cared for and can be ridden in the lightly forested mountain trail about 8 hours with reasonable breaks now and then (to feed and to rest). I don't think this is sustainable daily. According to the care takers, these ponies can sustain a gallop of up to 5 minutes (which would require additional feed and water above the working average for the day if required). Safely a minute of gallop would be enough if the total encumbrance would be (probably) at 200lbs.

This horse would wearing riding saddle, stirrups, bit and bridle of up to 35lbs (30 to 45lbs). They can carry along with the riding gear up to 300lbs (but cannot gallop at this level of encumbrance). In all the horse would fall under the ST20 range.

Their feed is a mix of grass grown specifically for animal feed (good quality for grass), molasses, and corn grown for animal feed (bad quality for corn).

Things I can't see for my self and confirm as easily are its speed and its galloping speed (if it is x2 or x1.5 at full move). Cost wise it is not polite to ask, especially its pries too close to the costs of their profession.

The strength and working endurance of this pony is much better than the Basic Set stats. So much better that they would probably be a more common key piece of equipment if only we had a good source of prices. Arm chair speculation with a lot of discussion and hearsay woud put the horse such a pony at around $1000-1,500* (if you're familiar to the buying process). I would put their quality at around poor/cheap with a certainty that it doesnt fall under good condition. I would put HT at 10 and the speed would probably be around 6 (from 7). I think a privately own horse would be in a much better condition. These horse would fall under the 35 years old age.

*this is relatively expensive given that this is a mountain province and horses are a novelty. In a location where they are more common and widely used expect the price to fall.

More info.

A pony foal costs about P15-20,000 $300 to $400. They can be trained to ride for only a year. There was about 60 horses, many with an age of 3-15 years. Although 300lbs were the most they would carry a total encumbrance of 200lbs was the ideal. Again considering this is a novelty (they are bred for tourists than for actual work) this price would be considerably lower in places that still use horses extensively.

It just means a horse would be better performing at light encumbrance than medium (near its maximum riding capacity). Still many of the ponies would be within the ST20 range. Given that the horses need running now and then, I could only compare the speed of their gallop to my personal running speed and these sure ponies may have a ground speed 7 or 8 with a rider on light (how much faster i can guess they are compared to me running on the same ground). Probably Move 6 with ground speed 1/2.

According to our guide, these ponies are meant for the mountain terrain of the local province. Many times in the trail there were times a hiker on foot would have taken extra time negotiating, the horse seemed to have as similar challenge.

Since they were raised and trained in these paths and they had the difficulty of being in Light Enc (-1 DX) I would give them a DX 11. I would let the horse make a running DX based roll and for a faster paced hiking a hiking DX based roll.

Given our frequency of breaks and the sweat i could feel and see while I road the horse and my questions with the guide. I figure that these horses would have an average HT11. Still I think that they could easily have a HT12 if they were privately own, had better equipment, and feed.

I think given better quality feed and better care, I think these horses could be much stronger, probably ST21-22. At 21 the horse is already fit for skirmishing cavalry. At 22 they would be enough for light lancers (like the goths in the 6C gothic war with Belisarius).

IMO players should be able to purchase horses at their untrained price (1/3) their cost. Unlike a car, a horse requires familiarity and a high level of involvement with its owner. It would be only natural for a character to purchase the horse at foal costs and train it themselves. I think one can use Int based Riding check to train a horse, but Animal Handling would have a huge difference in training time. Animal Handling would probably allow a character to prevent many bad traits from setting in. Training horses with just the Riding skill would give the horse probably a bad trait, a few bad quirks and would have familiarity penalties with other riders.

Allowing players to purchase horses at 1/3 would be appropriate if they were adventurer types and those with Skill-12+ (Since these characters have horses part of their daily regiment). Other non-adventurous characters with riding-12 should pay 1/2 the cost for partial training or for the full cost for horses that can be used by anyone.

Byzantine Warhorses were roughly 7 solidi ($2,520) purchased by soldiers. Fully trained horses sold were 3x the cost (21 solidi). These were untrained since soldiers were expected to train them (Strategikon). Assuming these horses were a much more refined breed compared to the legendary horses of the Fargana Valley (Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare by Philip Sidnell) of ST13.5-14 hands, I think they would have ST23+.

Mountain Pony
ST: 16; DX: 10; IQ: 3; HT: 11.
BL: 19 (72lbs, max rider 217lbs); Will: 10; Per: 11; Speed: 5.0; Dodge: 8; Move: 6.
SM +1 (2 hexes); 550 lbs.

Traits: Domestic Animal; Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Speed 12); Hooves; Peripheral Vision; Quadruped; Lifting ST +3; Weak Bite.
Skills: Running-10; Hiking-10; Mount-10; Survival (mountain)-9*.
Cost: $1,000.

Cost per Day of Feed:

Formula: BL/8 in lbs. X1.5 for work, x2 for heavy work. Good Feed is $1 to 4lbs. It is based on BL in lbs because make it follow the energy requirement of the animal.

Ex. 18lbs ($4.5) on a heavy work day, 13lbs ($3) on a regular work day, and 9lbs ($2) on a idle day. This is good quality feed.

Feed: Good quality of Feed gives the horse +2 HT per day (10hrs) that is applicable for checks against performance deterioration and for recovering from extended periods of work. Cheap feed gives no bonus, Grass Feed -2 penalty (or worse depending on the quality of grass).

Deterioration follows the Starvation damage rules (B426) every failed check counts as an instance of missing a meal (and rest).

they can carry up to 300lbs but can't run. Consider this an "extra-effort" feat -6 (ST22).

Survival (Mountains) - use DX based for footing on mountains. This also allows them to forage in mountains

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