Stables - Program Outline

Fatigue Duty

Title of Program: A Stable Environment: Stables at Fort Scott

Type of Program: Education Program

Venue: Stables

Intended Audience: Elementary Students

Tangible resources: Tack, feed, cleaning implements, grooming tools, stalls, hay

Intangible concepts:

  • Nutrition – One of the utmost responsibilities of the dragoon soldier was the proper feeding of the horses. Horses were rationed fourteen pounds of hay, six quarts of oats, and four quarts of corn per day. Prior to eating, horses were given plenty of water. Water helped the horse to digest his food and helped to prevent a disease known as colic which could be fatal if not treated properly. Therefore proper feeding of the horses was an important job.
  • Health – Since there were no veterinarians in the army in the 1840s, each soldier was responsible for taking care of his own horse if it was sick. Among the diseases common to horses, the most severe was glanders, a severe respiratory infection of the lungs and upper respiratory tract. Besides keeping the horses free from disease, other measures taken to assure the horses’ good health included providing adequate ventilation (each horse had its own stall with a window that opened), proper rest, and a clean bed of hay.
  • Cleanliness – Another important task of the dragoons was proper grooming of the horses. Grooming of the horses was performed twice a day. The purpose of grooming was to keep the horse free from skin disease and to keep it clean so that it would look impressive for parades and military expeditions.
  • Training - A major part of the horse’s day was spent in training. The goal of training was to prepare the horse for battle, so that it would not panic and run off at the sound of gunfire. Training the soldier had the same goal.

Universal Concept:

  • Preparedness, Safety - The ultimate goal of all the activity that took place at the stables was to promote the well being of the horses and provide them with a safe home. Proper feeding and grooming promoted overall health. The design of the stables provided ventilation and regular maintenance and cleaning of the stables helped to keep the stables from becoming a breeding ground from disease. Without the necessities and comforts that the stables provided, the horse would not be prepared for duty and the army would have suffered as a result.

Theme: The stables provided a safe place where dragoons could care for their horses and groom them for the task of patrolling and protecting the frontier.

Goals: The goals of this station are to:

  • Explain the important functions that took place here that promoted the well being of the horse.
  • Show how taking good care of the horse contributed to the overall success of the army on the frontier.

Objectives: After participating in this program, the student will be able to:

  • Identify features and practices in the stables that helped keep it a safe home for horses.
  • List three grooming tools used and explain the importance of grooming.
  • Name the items in a horse's daily ration and list two reasons why proper nutrition was important to the health of the horse.
  • Explain the importance of drill and define the term "running at the heads.

Suggested Activities:

  • Have some of the students use the grooming tools on the woodcut of the horse in the stables.
  • Let some of them use the wooden pitchforks to move hay from the wheelbarrow to the stalls.
  • Have some hay and oats set out and let some of the students place the hay and the oats in some of the feeders.
  • Ask one of the kids to pretend to be a horse. Other kids could pretend to groom the horse, saddle the horse, etc.
  • Demonstrate the running at the heads or other training exercise (dismounted).

Resource Management/Safety Issues:

  • Use caution when handling tools to make sure handles or the implement itself are not swung toward anyone, or positioned so that it pokes anyone.
  • If demonstrating saber, make sure to have enough room and that visitors are far enough back not to get hurt by saber.
  • Keep saber sheathed when not in use. Do not allow visitors to handle the saber.
  • Be aware that some people may be allergic to hay. Be prepared to adjust presentation accordingly.

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Last updated: July 25, 2016

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