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U.S. Marine Corps - Small Wars Manual (1940 Edition)




Necessity for local purchase				7-21
Procurement agents					7-22
Native dealers 						7-23
Purchasing from native dealers				7-24
Minimum specifications for animal			7-25
Height qualifications 					7-26
Age qualifications					7-27
Examination for soundness				7-28
Marking of purchased animals				7-29
Use of United States bred animals in small wars		7-30

7-21. Necessity for local purchase.-a. Animals have seldom been transported with expeditionary forces to the theater of operations. Mounted detachments and pack transportation have been employed only in those areas where horses and mules were used locally and in which the supply of animals was reasonably adequate. A careful study of the theater of operations should indicate whether the type and number of animals available will be adequate for the military needs in that particular area. For special operations and for special cargo loads the type of animal procurable in the theater of operations may not be suitable. In some operations it has been necessary to bring into the occupied country United States bred mules for use in transporting pack artillery. Present pack artillery weapons cannot be broken down into loads sufficiently light to be transported on mules weighing much under 1,000 pounds.

b. The great majority of animals used in small-wars operations will probably be procured within or near the theater of operations. This section will deal, therefore, primarily with the problem of procurement in the theater of operations.

7-22. Procurement agents.-a. While procurement is primarily a supply or quartermaster function, the general practice has been to authorize units in the field to procure their own animals. Under this system the quartermaster has simply set a maximum price and advanced the necessary funds to the unit commander in the field and he, or an officer appointed by him, has acted as the purchasing agent. While this system is frequently necessary to provide animals quickly for immediate use in the early stages of the operation, it has the effect of rapidly running up the price of animals due to the fact that there will be a number of purchasing officers in the market competing for the more serviceable animals.

b. As soon as practicable, it is advisable to establish a single procurement agency with the function of selecting, purchasing, distributing and accounting for all animals procured by the Force. This should be done with a view to providing a better selection of animals, to facilitate accountability, and to effect a saving in animals and in money.

7-23. Native dealers.-It is well to utilize native dealers in procuring animals. The average cost per head thus will possibly be higher than it would be otherwise but this is offset by a saving in time and energy. Moreover, the native dealer will know where the desired types are to be found. It is most essential however, to convince the dealer at the outset that he must deliver for inspection only such animals as conform to the minimum standards.

7-24. Purchasing from native dealers.-The purchaser of native animals should determine by thorough inquiry what prices have been usual among the natives for the best types of animals. Although economy in expenditure of government funds may be temporarily subordinate to military necessity, it is never wise to pay excessive prices for animals.

7-25. Minimum specifications for animals.-a. All animals delivered for inspection as saddle animals or pack animals should have all of the following qualifications:

(1) Be reasonably sound.
(2) Have been worked under pack or been ridden enough to require little or no further training.
(3) Be mature; immature animals are useless for military purposes, no matter how sound they may be.
(4) Be of the size required for the purpose for which intended; this should be fixed only after careful consideration of the types and capabilities of the mounts available, but it will be found unprofitable to go below the minimum, once fixed.
(5) Be as nearly as possible in condition for use; it is not necessary to require that an animal be in perfect condition, but he should be able to carry his load the day of purchase.

7-26. Height qualifications.-In most small war theaters the native animals are undersized according to United States standards. Moreover, the average size varies somewhat in the various countries. An average as low as 13.1 hands has been used in past expeditions. The purchaser can soon determine, however, a fair average in height from observation of the animals he finds in use. He should then set a height standard and use this in his selection as the first step in eliminating undesirable animals from the herd the dealer is showing.

7-27. Age qualifications.-a. The dealer should be given definite age limits, as a guide toward satisfactory animals. Six to twelve years is the most satisfactory period. The animal under 6 years of age cannot endure the exertions and privations incident to taking the field. Since few matured native animals can be found that will not show the white hairs and scars of sores and injuries, the purchaser will be strongly tempted to choose immature animals in order to obtain animals free from blemishes.

b. It is better to choose older horses because they will generally have become thoroughly broken. This factor is most important at the outset because the majority of men detailed to handle them will have had little recent practice with animals.

c. The twelve (12) front (incisor) teeth afford the easiest ancl most reliable means of determining the age of a horse or mule. These teeth consist of six uppers and six lowers and, from side to center, are known as the "corners," "laterals," and "centrals." The horse (mule) has two sets of teeth:

(1) The temporary or colt teeth which are cast off when the permanent teeth erupt. This shedding of the temporary teeth begins with the "centrals" at about the age of three and is completed when the "corners" are shed at about five years.
(2) The permanent or second set of teeth. The permanent teeth have all erupted and are in wear at the age of 5 1/2 years. The temporary teeth can be distinguished from the permanents by their milk-white color. The permanent teeth stain very quickly and generally have the dull appearance of old ivory.

d. The incisor tooth in cross section is shown below:

e. Wear of the incisor teeth. The principles of age determination from 6 years upward are based primarily upon the wear of the incisor teeth. The tooth attains its greatest length the second year after eruption. During the succeeding years, teeth do not grow but undergo a regular process of destruction from wear and from the receding of the bony socket margin. As the tooth wears down, the cup finally disappears. The table surface of the tooth changes from oval to triangular and find y becomes rounded.

f. Some of the more important means used in age determination are:

(1) Loss of temporary teeth and eruption of the permanent teeth. This has been completed at the age of 5.
(2) Disappearance of the cups. All cups have disappeared at 8 years.
(3) Shape of table surface of teeth. At 10 to 12 years the centrals and laterals are triangular. At 16 to 20 the table surfaces are round or flat from side to side.
(4) Angle of incidence. The angle of incidence between the upper and lower incisors becomes more and more acute as the age increases.
(5) Space between the teeth at the gums increases as the animal grows older.

g. Procedure in determining the age. The angle of incidence and the presence or absence of temporary teeth should be noted. The mouth should then be opened and the teeth examined for cups and the shape of the table surfaces noted. The lower incisors are more reliable as a guide than the uppers.

h. The following classifications are listed:

(1) Animals under 4 1/2 years; temporary teeth present; permanent teeth erupting.
(2) Animals between 5 and 8 years ; cups present, table surfaces oval; angle of incidence about 180; all teeth are permanent,
(3) Animals over 8 years; absence of cups; table surfaces triangular or round; angle of incidence more acute; space between teeth at the gums begins to show as the animal gets older. Old horses begin to show gray hairs around the eyes and nose, and the depressions over the eyes become more sunken.

7-28. Examination for soundness.-a. The examination for soundness should be as thorough as the circumstances, the availability of trained men, and the knowledge of the buyer permit. However, the average officer can buy horses and mules without having had any special training, if he uses good judgment and buys what, he considers to be sound animals. The following points are suggested as guides, and will assist the inexperienced horse buyer until he acquires experience:

(1) Observe the horse at a halt, noting whether he is very lean or obviously crippled.
(2) Examine the head and neck. Check for blindness by looking at the eyes and by passing the hand suddenly over each eye in turn. If the horse does not blink, he is blind in that eye. Pass the hand over the head and face, and see if there is evidence of any sores or injury. See if the mouth and nostrils look healthy, and if the animal breathes freely.
(3) Examine back, noting scars or sores caused by packs and saddles. Many animals will be found with scars, but these need not be rejected, if the scar tissue appears to be healthy. In many cases, animals without them will turn out to be young and untrained, and actually less desirable. All animals with actual puffs and sores should be rejected.
(4) Examine the legs. If any variation in symmetry between the legs of a pair be found, it is safer to reject the animal unless you know enough to differentiate between temporary and permanent disabilities. Legs should be reasonably near to the same vertical plane, fore and aft, and the animal should put his weight on all of them. Joints should not be swollen.
(5) Examine feet. The feet and pasterns should not be sore to the touch. There should be plenty of horn on the hoofs, and they should not show any split or crack. The frog should rest on the ground, but since it is quite usual to pare the frog and sole, do not reject on this account, but trust the frog to grow later. Examine the coronet and press it with the fingers. A prick in the sole of the foot will sometimes result in pus breaking through at this point (just above the horny part of the foot).
(6) Examine the hindquarters, sheath, tail, anus, etc.

b. Animals which have passed these tests should be segregated from those already rejected and those awaiting examination. If no serious and obvious defects have been noted, and the animal has a general healthy appearance, an alert bearing and a reasonable amount of flesh, then have him led on a loose rope directly away from you and then directly toward you, at the walk and trot. If the animal is lame or has badly formed legs, this will usually be apparent. A lame animal "favors" the lame foot, adjusting his weight so as to put very little weight on it. Since his head is his principal means of doing this, you will see his head drop as he puts the sore foot down. If all feet are lame, the animal will trot very short and reluctantly. Most lameness is in the feet.

c. Have each animal saddled and mounted, and ridden for a short distance, to demonstrate that he can be handled. Do not require that a horse have any particular gait, except the walk, as many of the best will have been gaited in a way not suitable for military purposes, but which may be changed by training. The bargaining may well be begun now. Have the animal worked at a trot or canter for a few minutes, to see if he appears to have good wind. In this connection, the animal with a broad muscular breast is to be preferred to one with a very narrow breast, as its wind is usually better.

7-29. Marking of purchased animals. - As soon as an animal has been purchased, the animal descriptive card (Form NMC 790) required by article 21-2 MCM should be completely and accurately filled in showing all markings and pertinent data and he should be immediately branded. The customary method is to brand the animal on the left shoulder with the letters "U.S." (See par. 7-7 IDENTIFICATION.)

7-30. Use of United States animals in small wars.-When it is necessary to transport United States animals to the theater of operations, a period of recuperation and acclimatization after the sea travel will be necessary. The unnatural environment and the lack of adequate exercise incident to sea travel debilitate animals to an extent dependent upon the length and character of the voyage. After a period of recuperation and acclimatization, and after the animals have become gradually adjusted to any changes of food necessitated by the local forage supply, they should thrive practically as well as the native animals. The larger United States bred animal, being required to carry a greater load, requires a greater quantity of grain and roughage to keep him in condition. Such losses in United States animals as have been suffered in the past operations have been due principally to lack of feed and to unskilled handling.

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