Steel Horses

The Lord Strathcona’s Horse Regiment still keeps some horses, like Starbuck pictured here, for ceremonies.
(Photo: Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians))

Horses have been a part of war for centuries. Strong and loyal, they bravely served alongside men around the world. Here in Canada, the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Regiment was formed in the Prairies in 1900 and its soldiers and horses were sent to fight in the South African War.

During the First World War, however, the role of horses changed a lot. Cavalry charges became almost impossible on the rough battlefields with their trenches, barbed wire and machine guns. To help break through the enemy lines, the Allies invented tanks, a new war machine that could plow through obstacles. The first versions actually looked like water tanks and that is how they got their name!

Unlike us horses, the first tanks were slow, clumsy and made a lot of noise. Although they could run over barbed wire, cross trenches and offer some protection for the soldiers, they were easy targets for artillery fire. Tanks would be improved, though, and they are still being used a hundred years later.

Horses were needed for transporting things but were not used as much in attacks. Regiments like the Lord Strathcona’s Horse had to adapt and use tanks instead. The unit went on to serve in the Second World War, the Korean War, and in military efforts in Egypt, Cyprus, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Did you know?

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the famous war poem In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian army doctor John McCrae in May 1915 during the First World War.

Bonfire Jr. the horse

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Date modified: