Sixty horses will be at Beamish Museum this weekend to tell the story of First World War horses.
Horses at War, from April 13 to 15, will showcase magnificent animals demonstrating the role of horses and ponies during the First World War, both on the battlefields and on the home front.
The impressive 16th Lancers Cavalry Unit will set up their encampment in The Pit Village and give impressive displays of horsemanship. Completing the military scene here will be the 29th Field Kitchen, a horse-drawn field kitchen and farriery demonstrations.
Nearby, in the band hall, there will be the opportunity to find out about the work of The Brooke Charity, set up in 1930 by Dorothy Brooke to help ex-war horses, and still today dedicated to the welfare of working horses and donkeys.
Chris Thompson, keeper of animals and land engagement at Beamish, said: “Horses at War is one of our most popular events. Visitors have the opportunity to discover the role of horses, ponies and mules during the First World War and to see splendid animals and vehicles at work in appropriate period settings.”
Visitors can travel on a wide variety of horse-drawn vehicles and see horse-drawn military vehicles at work, including horse and human ambulances, mess cart and general service wagons.
Teams of horses will be helping the war effort on the Home Front ploughing and harrowing the fields around the museum and carting wood, coal and manure. At the pit pony stables, hard-working ponies will demonstrate how coal tubs were hauled.
One million horses and mules were sent to France in the First World War and it’s estimated that only about 60,000 returned home. Many farmers, job masters and companies had horses, wagons and carts requisitioned to join the war effort.