Re-educating The Remounts
Copyright © 2013 Jennifer Marshall
This painting was inspired by the story John Skinner related to me, of how his grandfather William Skinner(always known as Bill), while in Egypt would ride a quiet horse and lead three other fresh remount horses out into the desert sands and set about re-educating them after their long sea voyage from Australia.
1692 Driver W (Bill) Skinner pre-embarkation for Egypt, 1916
“Bill arrived in Egypt in late October or early November 1915 and was
prepared to go to Gallipoli as a stretcher bearer however, as the battle
there was going nowhere it was decided he remain in Egypt and, as a
non-combatant, was only required to train as a stretcher bearer.
There were a great many re-mount horses arriving from Australia and
the men remaining in camp in Egypt were required to ride these horses
after their sea voyage. Grandfather said many of these horses appeared
unbroken and even the broken-in horses were fresh from being grain-fed
on board ship.
He said it was good to take these fresh horses out into the desert near the
Pyramids to ride them in the soft sand. They couldn’t buck much in the
soft going and even if he did get bucked off, the sand made for an easy
At some stage, the military found out he was a decent farrier so he was
detailed to shoe horses from daylight ‘til dark. He apparently said that
no matter how many horses he shod, he would look up and there were as
many more to do.
We think this is where his dislike of the military started to settle in. He
felt, as a non-combatant, he was being given extra duties while others
were being given leave or lighter duties.
In 1916, Bill was sent into Palestine driving an ambulance. The driver
would ride one of the front horses.
Grandfather did not carry a rifle or bayonet.”
John Skinner, Warwick Qld, 2013
A note from David Evans OAM Tamworth regarding this painting:
"The painting of the remount breaking in is spot on. Although that is not the way we break in / train green horses today. For your interest- here is a sample of photos taken by Bob Adams in 1916 at the Australian Light Horse camp in Egypt... rugged way to earn your Army salary. They were called ALH Rough Riders (for good reason)."
My observations:- These photos are extremely interesting. Note that these horses are all being ridden in enclosures of some kind and have a considerable audience. The skills of these Rough Riders were often pitted against the most notorious of the mounts as entertainment for the troops. Some of these Rough Riders were well known in Australia for their rough riding prowess on buckjumpers in the rodeo ring before they joined the Light Horse. Such incidents are recorded in Roland Perry's recent book "Bill The Bastard"
Note that the two riders on the left are without stirrups. Oops...Something has broken! The horse on the bottom right photo has his head free and his headstall/bridle is bouncing around his lower neck, and there are a couple of straps flapping about as he bucks. Although the rider has hold of the reins, they cannot assist in any control of the horse. However he is obviously an excellent rider and is sticking to his mount like glue!