World War I irrevocably changed the view of warfare in a number of ways. The trench bogs, the introduction of tanks, weapons of mass destruction (mustard gas) and the last-gasp reliance on horses for either hauling artillery or cavalry officers through the endless mud and muck.
Animals were integral to the war effort. According to the RootsWebAncestry.com website, the US Army had six classes of animals to fulfill military hauling requirements. These were:
• For the cavalry: Active horses from 950 to 1,200 pounds
• For hauling light artillery: Strong active horses from 1,150 to 1,300 pounds
• For hauling siege batteries: Powerful horses from 1,400 to 1,700 pounds
• For hauling wheelers above 1,150 pounds or leaders above 1,000 pounds: pack and draft mules
Naturally, these animals required care and the Veterinary Corps stepped in to help out. Below, is some film footage from 1918 showing some of the various steps taken to prepare a horse for the war effort.
While today’s military veterinarians still take care of the ceremonial horses, they also look after sniffer dogs currently helping out troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.