If you’ve ever had to transport your horse, you’ll appreciate the logistics involved to get the horse from A to B safely and in good health. Horses compete all over, so it’s a pretty common thing these days.
But have you ever considered the sheer amount of logistics that would be involved if you had to move a thousand horses or more? Just imagine the amount of water and feed you’d need.
In 1983 a large shipment of animals, dubbed “Noah’s Ark,” was sent to the Falkland Islands to replace the animal population that was decimated by hungry soldiers during the 74-day Argentinian invasion. The cargo of livestock included twenty horses and ponies. Even though donors managed to raise nearly a million pounds for the project, it still presented a challenge to provide enough water and food for the animals on board.
Noah’s Ark was tiny in comparison to the fleet of horses that were shipped across the Meditiranian in the year 1174. An Italo-Norman force launched an attack on the city of Alexandria as part of a plot to overthrow Saladin, the then vizier of Egypt. They sailed with an impressive army that included 1,500 horses carried on 36 tarides.
And you thought you had trouble getting your horse to load into a trailer . . . imagine loading a thousand five hundred horses onto tarides! A taride is a sailing ship with oars, which could be unloaded directly onto the beach. The doors could open like loading ramps. Detailed specifications of tarides from the 13th century still exist today. They could carry between twenty to thirty horses, stalled in groups of three. The animals were supported with suspended canvas slings, to prevent slipping and falling on rough seas. Despite being able to move such a large cavalry successfully the Italo-Norman force were not able to take Alexandria.
The Bayeux Tapestry, a 230ft by 20inch Norman Romanesque Embroidery, includes one of the first depictions of this type of horse transport. The tapestry was created in the 1070’s and depicts various scenes from the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. The invasion included the impressive feat of transporting over 2,000 horses.
So, next time you have problems loading your horse into a trailer, just breathe a sigh of relief. It is only one, perhaps two. You don’t need to paddle to get there and, best of all, you’re not going into battle.