Never Interfere With The Enemy While He Makes His Mistakes



Underestimating your enemy and overestimating your own capabilities has been a major reason many battles and wars have been lost. The battle of Hattin in 1187 is a prime example of the mistakes to avoid when facing an enemy similar to the one we face today.

The Seljul Turks had defeated the Byzantine Empire, and the Holy Land was now under the control of the Mohammedans. Christian leaders were offended, and Pope Urban II called for a crusade to take back the Holy Land from the control of the Muslims.

There were several disorganized crusades and multiple raids, most used the opportunity to enrich themselves if the opportunity arose, despite moral purpose and intent.

Several groups carved out kingdoms and had established treaties with the Muslims. They were content and living in harmony, until a new group of crusaders would arrive and create mayhem. The Battle of Hattin was the culmination of a disregarded treaty. The leader of this particular crusade, Reynald Chatillon raided a trade caravan, capturing significant loot and prisoners. The Christian leader of the area, King Guy of Jerusalem, was unimpressed and demanded the return of the loot and prisoners. Saladin, the Muslim leader of the area made the same demand.

Reynald refused to comply and Saladin assembled an army. th

During the crusades, the Christian forces relied on heavy cavalry in the form of large draft type horses carrying heavily armored knights with heavy weapons. This type of cavalry could run through and destroy infantry formations, and run down the stragglers. They were supported by crossbow men and spearmen as infantry support.

A massed cavalry charge of heavy horses was an awesome weapon if there was discipline and if you can make contact with the enemy. The Christian knights lacked discipline and they were about to engage an enemy that was disciplined and had no intention of being run down by slow clumsy horses.

Unfortunately, the infantry was considered to be of a lower social class and insignificant by the aristocratic knights. This attitude invariably weakens the morale and loyalty of the lower classes, but the knights had confidence in their ability to defeat the enemy. No one doubted their courage, it was never in question; however, overconfidence can lead to mistakes in judgement and the Christian army made repeated mistakes in

The Mohammedans relied on a professional light cavalry from Egypt and Syria, they were well-trained, specializing in fast well coordinated manuevers. There was also an irregular cavalry of local Bedouin, Turkish, and Kurdish horsemen. They wore a lighter chain mail armor, rode lighter more nimble horses, and carried a shield with either a bow or lance. They were experienced with hit and run tactics and experienced in hand to hand combat, with a system of discipline and a chain of command.

The Christians were drawn from all over Europe and spoke several different languages, communication, discipline, and a sense of command were all

The battle started out poorly. The Knights Templar and The Knights Hospitaller, both monastic orders of monk knights, were in the field with a total of 140 knights and the Grand Masters of both groups, along with 350 infantry men. Their mission was to resolve an issue between King Guy and Count Raymond of Tripoli.

Saladin sent out a reconnaissance force of Saracen cavalry numbering 6,500 to observe the Christan forces and determine their capabilities.

The two mis-matched groups ran into each other. Hungry for battle, the knights left their infantry group behind and charged the enemy recon group.

The result was inevitable, the warrior monks were annihilated, except for three men, including the Grand Master of the Knights Templar.

The Muslim recon force continued on with their mission.

Remarkably, the crusaders stood with Reynald, who had violated the treaty and left the peaceful crusaders vulnerable to unnecessary war. The Christians decided to stage their forces at Acre, just northwest of Jerusalem. There were 2,200 knights, including a remnant of Hospitaller and Templar knights, 650 local knights from various kingdoms, and an assortment of mercenaries who were seeking fortune and position. The mercenaries were professional fighters, but their loyalty to the commanders was dubious. There was a local cavalry of converted Christians called Turcopole numbering 4,000 and an infantry of 32,000.

The crusaders had a secret weapon, the cross that Jesus was crucified on was to be carried in front of the army. This particular relic was supposed to make the soldiers invincible. Whether it gave the crusaders over confidence or their stupidity overwhelmed the mystical qualities of the relic will never be

The Saracens had the castle of Tiberias under siege. The castle, under control of the wife of Raymond, was well-defended and in no danger of being overrun. Raymond knew his wife and the castle were secure for the immediate future. Time was on the side of the crusaders, they could afford to wait for the battle to be brought to them and have the advantage of a tired enemy.

Unfortunately, Raymond’s sage counsel was ignored. King Guy wanted to engage the Saracens immediately and defeat them as quickly as possible.

The Saracens were camped 6.2 miles away, across a waterless desert. King Guy insisted on marching thousands of horses and tens of thousands of men across the desert into a refreshed enemy; this was stupidity that bordered on insanity, but the plan was put into motion. King Guy did opt for pushing through a more indirect route through the Wadi Hammon, on the off chance that they might find water, against the voices of others who counseled that they should attack using the most direct route.

Saladin’s scouts reported the route and his cavalry began to harass the front and rear guards of the crusader convoy using his fast and mobile mounted skirmishers. The only defense was to deploy the Turcopoles; their equipment and horses were light enough to counter the harassing strike and run attacks.

Saladin concentrated his forces to exhaust and destroy the Turcopoles, leaving the rest of the crusader force to be destroyed at leisure by the Saracen cavalry.

After the Turcopoles were killed or driven away, the only defense was to keep the knights and their horses in a protective ring of infantry. They were still 1.25 miles from the intended battle area and a source of water when they decided to camp without water. It was lunacy to stop without water, horses require at least five gallons of water and the men required at least a liter, but the troops were too exhausted to continue. The formidable column had been whittled down to the point of barely being a fighting group.

Water was still two miles away, it was imperative the next morning to get to water as soon as

The Mohammedans were resupplied by camel trains during the night, and were refreshed the next morning.

The Christians gathered their resolve and pushed toward the village of Marescallia with its wells. The Muslims set up blocking forces to keep the Christians from reaching water once again.

Saladin had executed the perfect battle plan, don’t commit to a battle until the enemy has exhausted itself and victory is assured. The Christians were exhausted, they were too far forward to retreat, and were effectively neutralized by lighter, supposedly inferior forces. Saladin was patient, he knew he would achieve victory, but he desired victory with minimum cost. The elements of battle were now under his control, and he let the Christians continue to destroy their own army.

The Christian infantry grew tired of being nothing more than targets for the mounted archers, their frustration and thirst drove them to run for the Sea of Galilee, visible on the horizon.

Again, the Muslims blocked their desperate bid for water. They retreated to two hills called the Horns of Hattin and refused to rejoin the knights and the main battle.

Raymond was ordered to attack the enemy and try to break through with two hundred knights. In theory, this was the only option, and it would have worked if the enemy was stationary, but the Muslim horsemen just faded away from the force of the charge and sent barrages of arrows into the knights.

Raymond was wounded in three places and had not been able to make contact with the enemy. The horses were exhausted, an inglorious death seemed imminent. Raymond led the remnant of his army toward Tyre, and Saladin seemed content to let him escape.

The remaining knights charged the Saracens and had the enemy fade to the Christian flanks and reward the foolish gallantry with a continuous barrage of arrows. Some of the knights reached Acre, possibly as many as 300, but the rest were driven onto the Horns of Hattin with the remaining infantry. King Guy pitched his tent in the center to establish a command center and a defensive position. The Christians were still capable of inflicting casualties, if the Saracens charged, but Saladin was content to let them feel the full measure of their thirst and

The Saracens set fire to the brush on the hillside and compounded the misery of the Christians, but they held their position and launched an occasional ineffectual counter attack.

Eventually, they were overrun and King Guy surrendered, along with Reynald and 150 knights. There were so many prisoners, they ran out of rope to secure them. Saladin executed Reynald and all the Knights Templar and Hospitaller he could identify. The Turcopoles were all executed as traitors. The remaining soldiers were sold into slavery, causing a glut and depressed prices on the slave market.

King Guy was ransomed for a king’s ransom and Raymond’s wife was spared after she surrendered the castle.

The victory was complete, and serves well for those who study military tactics. The old adage of, “Do not interfere with your enemy while he is making a mistake,” still holds true today. In our own multiple wars being waged without a strategic plan for victory or even success, we seem to be willing to arm our enemies to fight foreign leaders our politicians disapprove of, just to install those who only want to destroy us and consolidate positions of power. Presumably, we want to curry favor with our enemies, while they wait with bemused patience like old Saladin; they are content to watch, while we make multiple mistakes and hasten our own defeat and thdemise.

Epilogue: During the past few weeks, I have been researching the genesis of the American cowboy and his horse. It has been a wild ride, and I think I have learned more information about horses than I ever dreamed was possible. My study has included styles of riding and stock handling of the old world and cavalry tactics from the Greek and Roman eras to modern times. I have a lot of material for new articles and a few surprises, like a theory on why specific horse breeds and riding techniques controlled or directed the course of history for the last 2,500 years. I hope you enjoy the history. There will be discrepancies on numbers of troops and reasons for situations, but in general, the history is fairly accurate.

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Glad I dropped in to catch this one, Skook. The destruction at Hattin was so complete, it led to the 3rd Crusade. Good choice of Hattin as an excellent example of the maxim usually attributed to Napoleon in an 1805 discussion.

World leaders are watching a non-existent foreign policy implode. The disarray is palpable. Closing 19 embassies and Putin are just the crop of the week. Now we find out that Jarrett was in charge and making the decisions on Bengazi. Why are we not surprised that she’s running the Nation?

Looking forward to your coming insights from history.

O-U-T-S-T-A-N-D-I-N-G! original post, Skook. You captivated me from start to finish. Will look forward to more.

@MataHarley: @James Raider: Thanks guys, I realize the essay is unorthodox, but it became a passion for me. History comes alive when it is illustrated with personalities and the drama of survival and death. So many people reject history because it was taught with a passion you would associate with memorizing bar codes. I know, I was subjected to the same dehumanization and senseless memorization. Hopefully, teachers will realize that history can become interesting with a little effort. It would be far more beneficial learn less history well, rather than learning massive quantities that are forgotten completely when the semester is completed.

Thank you for the encouraging words, I feel more confident with my efforts because of your input.

so far in Afghanistan we have kilkled about 30,000 Taliban at a cost of 1.5 trillion. This works out to 50 million per Taliban.
It also cost us about 1 million per year to keep a soldier in Afghanistan, and each year it takes 50 soldiers to one Taliban.
Afghanistan will continue to be the graveyard of empires.
Still waiting for an update on that coffee shop that the four women opened in Iraq but since women’s rights under the new Iraqi religious government have declined I am not too optimistic about their commercial venture

@john: If you’re trying to make a point, you have failed… again I might add.

Good read Skook, thanks!

Once again Skook. Memorizing!

BTW: As one who realizes you know a hundred times more about the horse than myself (old racetrackers like you and I are almost gone my friend), I would at first say I find it amazing you state “It has been a wild ride, and I think I have learned more information about horses than I ever dreamed was possible.” Yet any one with an open mind would realize I would be wrong. You have always shown the want and the need to learn and in turn have taken the knowledge, new or old (and in turn, willing to change your mind if proven wrong) and combining it with your life’s experiences you weave a tapestry in your writings combining history with the present. That in itself is a great gift, but the fact is, your articles are not only informative, educational and entertaining, but they are in fact thought provoking and one reading them with anything akin to an open mind will learn! One can not ask more.
Kudos my friend!

If you want a movie version, watch “Kingdom of Heaven” directed by Ridley Scott of `Gladiator` fame. You can observe the arrogance, the horrible tactics, and the dearth of water. Christian Jerusalem fell because of this debacle.
In the various wars that the Israelis have fought over the last 60 years, all their military hydrate themselves early in the morning. The orders are- one gallon of water before 8 am. The overconfident Arabs were without proper footwear, water and POL. Most of the officers were MIA. History repeats itself.

Six point two miles, a nice hike for those of us with snow on the roof year round, but doable. Most horses can trot all day, a slow trot will yield two miles every six minutes, but could your infantry keep with their equipment and could the heavy horses carry the weight? Remember, they would be fighting a battle during the entire forced march.

The desert horses, the Arabs and Barb forerunners, (considerably different horse than the Arab of today, a breed can change radically in six horse generations, when human ideas of fashion are used to judge horseflesh)could gallop between 50 and a hundred days with little feed or water. They were not only capable of such feats of endurance, they were expected to do it on a regular basis. The weaker animals died along the way, and the horse tried to breed the good horses to good horses and kept their fingers crossed, but since castration wasn’t practiced, breeding was often haphazard; survivors were bred to survivors, those with vigor remained alive to breed more durable horses.

The camel caravans carried prodigious quantities of water in containers made from the hind leg skins of horses. These solved the problem of water containers. The horsemen of the day were a little less squeamish about using horse parts for survival.

The fast light cavalry using hit and run harassing tactics proved to be more effective than heavy cavalry. The European heavy cavalry is only effective if you have a more sedentary enemy who tries to stand up to these behemoths. Then the cavalry is a meat grinder, but when the enemy refuses to engage, they are impotent. When a heavy cavalry meets a similar force, the knights with the most endurance who can swing a sword, mace, or lance the longest will endure.

This is why the European knight was still considered an effective strategy or weapon, they met each other on the field of battle and tested themselves against each other under a chivalric code of silliness.

In the desert and semi-desert, these tactics were considered laughable. The lessons are obvious and can be applied to modern warfare, not to say the horse is a viable weapon, but his motorized equivalent is possible, and certainly the tactics of the Bedouin still apply in modern warfare.


I know this may sound silly but I have learned a surprising amount from watching “Manhunter”. I had never had a good idea of the limitations on the terrain a horse can safely negotiate and at what speed.

Most fascinating was the horse’s sensory abilities. Their scent and hearing especially supplements that of the rider. I’m not clear on their night vision, however. Is it true that they can smell water or is that only for mules?

A biggie historical question: Around when did the all-important stirrup appear in the West? I gather the horse was a much more limited platform before that innovation and the war chariot was the preferred application for horses.

@oil guy from Alberta:

Yup. The Israelis wrote the book on a soldier’s water requirements in desert warfare. Unfortunately, in the 2006 Lebanese cluster-foxtrot they broke their own rules and suffered considerably from thirst. Alas, that wasn’t their only mistake during that pooch-screw. It’s what happens when you start believing your own legend and start getting complacent.

@Doramin: It doesn’t sound silly, not at all. A horse can climb an almost vertical slope, but don’t ask them to navigate large boulders. When it is real steep, get off and hold onto the tail. He will pull you up some amazing grades.

When crossing wild rivers, you should be able to read the currents better than him and help him, if you can’t and ask him to do stupid things, you will lose his respect. His eyesight isn’t good for distance, but can detect the slightest movement.

His sense of smell is better than your hunting dogs and hounds. When you cross the trail of a predator that can kill a horse, (grizzly, cougar, wolf) they always know which way the animal is headed, the canines are wrong on the direction half the time. They will run for an eighth of a mile before they figure they are going the wrong way. The horse always knows which way the dangerous animals are traveling, they are looking. We depend on seeing tracks and reading sign, but if you blindfold a human and put his nose in the track, he cant tell you which animal made the track, let alone which way it is headed.

I’ve seen horses get a scent of a grizzly from a mile away, they couldn’t see the animal, but when the wind shifted, they knew where he was. A human can easily see a grizzly from a mile away, forget smelling him until he is thirty feet away and after he has been feeding on carrion.

Horses know when there is no bottom to gravel and they can detect logs under deep snow, don’t ask me how. They also have a biological computer chip for finding grass, water, camp, or your home ranch. At night, pull your hat down over your eyes and duck down over your horse’s neck, he can see almost better at night and he will get you home. Just hope you don’t run into a love sick moose looking for a little romance. That behavior spooks horses and me as well.

The chariot was limited to terrain, with little or no suspension, a small bump could toss driver and bowman for quite a ways. Hannibal used chariots with the extended axles to supposedly slice legs, but one man one horse with a bow or several javelins seems a more economical use of horseflesh. Aiming a bow at four horses or even two is almost guaranteeing a hit. Lame up one and the harness mate or mates become useless. The bow was an awesome weapon until the repeating rifle was invented. That was the end of the mounted archer, bur for 2,500 years, they were lethal.

I will be publishing stories in the future that will explain my personal observations, in the mean time, please trust that I can prove all this stuff with a savvy mountain horse, but nearly all horses, even city horses have the instinct and will surprise you with the knowledge they have stored in their DNA

@john: Still waiting for an update on that coffee shop that the four women opened in Iraq but since women’s rights under the new Iraqi religious government have declined I am not too optimistic about their commercial venture

I don’t know what specific coffee shop you speak of, john…. nor do I know that the success of a single business run by women in Iraq is the harbinger for women entrepreneurs in the future. But if I assume you actually do care about women business owners in Iraq, what you may want to consider is not some arbitrary and imaginary newly created wall from the post OIF Iraqi government, but the physical and financial logistics of rebuilding that country’s infrastructure, economy and education system.

i.e., a July 2013 article in the Iraq Business News INRE women notes that the Iraqi women suffer from lack of education. Then you can add the increased violence with AQ stepping up their pot stirring, hoping to recapture their historic Caliphate capital in the wake of the US withdrawal.

The reason for the decline in women’s rights and increase of abuse during the OIF was because that conflict drew the Islamists from surrounding nations like flies to honey. These radicals killed and punished far more of their peer Muslims, especially women, than they did US soldiers. Women took to traditional Islamist dress for protection.

The nation is trying to reverse that trend of fear by their women, and Iraqi Labour and Tourism Syndicate has again started up their “Make-up, Hairdressing and Fashion Show”. Indeed, some of the 2013 Iraq fashion designers have put out stunning creations.. none of which resemble plain and concealing burqas.

Then again, violence and continued destruction of infrastructure during war and civil uprisings isn’t good for any business, no matter the owners’ gender’s. So a genuine starting point for analysis would be that yes, the gender gap of business ownership in Iraq exists for many reasons, not excluding some traditional Muslim values and education.

But as the article notes in the final paragraph, the plight of women entrepreneurs in Iraq may be intrinsically tied to the nation’s rebuilding of their public and private education system, set to roll out in the coming year. Decades ago, it was one of the area’s highly touted system, but has suffered serious decline thru wars and sanctions. During the OIF, many scholars left the country leaving a gap in those qualified for teaching higher education. This has left a generational gap of Iraqis growing up thru these decades, and a much higher illiteracy level than the country used to have.

This study by Geopolicity on Iraq’s educational recovery will give you both a historical overview, and a glimpse of their future plans. If you’ll notice, they have as part of their mission statement a focus on girls’ education.

Just because one single female owned coffee shop succeeds, or doesn’t, isn’t a reflection on how Iraqi women will fare in the future for business endeavors. Their economic and educational plight, not so different from their men’s, will take time to be remedied. Just like in the free world of the US, the women business owners will always have a lesser number.

But there is no indication that the nation is reverting to keeping women in veils and uneducated post Saddam. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

@Skookum, when you started talking about the natural instincts of the horse as protection, my mind wandered to llamas. You have no idea the bizarre reactions when I suggest that llamas make a great guard animal against predators. So I started wondering about the feasibility of trail adventures including both horses and llamas as pack animals and guards.

Ran across this article from horse and man about combining the two. Apparently mixed results, depending upon how familiar a horse is with the the critters. Seems many are afraid of them if never exposed. Odd since the llama is a great guard for any kind of livestock herd.

@MataHarley: Llamas and donkeys are both quite popular around here (SW Oklahoma) to guard against coyotes.

Around here too, Scott. I often see them pastured with horses. The only trouble I’ve ever heard from those equestrian owners is that when they want to pull a horse out of the herd by a lead line, occasionally the llama attempts to get puffy since he’s trying to keep the herd together. Makes you wonder if the Australian Shepherd dogs are in fear for their livelihood. LOL Then again, the llamas protect them too.


Oooh! Oooh!

I recall an article from a few years ago about the use of llamas as pack animals by the Israeli Border Police. Llamas apparently have an excellent power-to-weight ratio as pack animals and are especially good in rough, broken country. Furthermore, they are ideal for stealthy patrols as they are exceptionally quiet. No neighing, hee-hawing or bellowing…and no ringing of horseshoes on stones. Add to that their camel-like ability to store water in a dry climate and you have the perfect package.

Now as to horses. I understand the reason the famous nineteenth-century U.S. Army camel experiment was a failure was because horses simply cannot stand to be around camels or any other members of the family Camelidae? You say they can be gradually familiarized?

Ah, john.
Taking your lead from our actuarial president, Obama.
He once said the actuary view of medical aid to Americans: ”Maybe you’re better off, uhh, not having the surgery, but, uhh, taking the painkiller.” (and forego trying to be CURED by getting a Pacemaker).
He more recently said, ”The odds of dying in a terrorist attack are a lot lower than they are of dying in a car accident, unfortunately.”

So, counting the cost is oddly important to Obama sometimes.
Not all the time.

Like ObamaCare calls for a total of 117,800 to 122,500 IRS agents!
That’s between 5 and 6 doctors per IRA agents!

Like spending more on school children (actually to the pensions of retired teachers) is good when the state with the lowest $$/student has the best schools in the USA.

Like squandering a $trillion on ”shovel-ready infrastructure jobs” that not only didn’t exist but now he wants another trillion $$ to dredge our GULF ports like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida…..none of which are even ON the GULF.

@Doramin, apparently there are many instances of horses and llamas co-existing. (can’t speak to camels, but I think the llama and alpaca are more even tempered). Almost all say that it takes a few days to “introduce” themselves, so to speak. i.e. a few equestrians put them in adjacent paddocks but with a shared water trough. Then they start introducing them in to the same pasture after a bit of acclimation.

But I think all of it depends upon the personalities of each animal. I don’t know of too many people that keep stallions anymore – major insurance/liability repercussions for that one – but I’m sure you’d run into instances where a headstrong mature horse or frisky, testosterone loaded stallion, set in their ways, may not warm up to an equally headstrong mature llama. Often getting the llamas, or horses, when they are young seems to be the best way to go so they grow up together. But I’ve observed all levels of relationships between the two.. including horse/llama play. (that’s not a sexual play, BTW… chasing each other in games of tag, so to speak ) Probably the most common result is they just don’t notice each other… not seeking each other out, but not necessarily moving away either.

My guess is you do a search with “horses and llamas” as the subject, you’ll come up with forums of personal experience all over the country. Everyone’s got a story… :0)

But yup… your first paragraph about the llamas is right on… low footprint, good for variety of terrains, quiet unless they sense a predator (sounding the llama alarm). Unlike a horse, they have good long distance vision (which is one of the reasons I thought they’d be a good trail combo). Smart, gentle, trainable…. but they don’t like to be over handled. Bad mistake for humans that do so… lots of spittal can fly. Especially the males.

I remember transporting three mature llamas… all boys… from one farm to another. Boy can they be stubborn. They don’t cotton to trailering…. but then we were strangers to them. Weren’t nasty, no spitting. But they sure were planted firmly on the ground. Pulling 500-600 lbs of resistant llama up a trailer ramp isn’t an easy task. They just had to be patiently coerced.

Drive time from one farm to another? About 2.5 hours. Time to get all three in to the trailer? One hour…. with a lot of belly laughs in between. Quite the day. I think we should have watched them for a while first, and picked out who was the herd leader. Had we got him in first, might have gone more smoothly.

@MataHarley: The camels existed in Bedouin camps with horses for a couple thousand years, guessing as to time.

I have an Irish gelding, big fellow, 17.2 hands, I imported him as a 2 YO, he is now about sixteen. He was always a little spooky, so my strategy was to stable him at an exotic animal ranch in Malibu. He nearly killed me several times. He was terrified of a 13 hand Zebra stallion, the camels scared the crap out of him when they started in on their strange noise repertoire, he could handle the long horns and Highlander cattle, but the llamas just about put him in the looney bin. I learned to ride the levade while he turned a 180 and bolted in the opposite direction. I don’t recommend this type of riding for beginners.

I rode him at that ranch for two years before giving up the idea as a lost cause.

As far as packing, a solid mountain horse can pack 140 pounds in any type of weather and well over two hundred for a short haul. It takes three pack horses to pack out a mature bull moose. You can pack out a bull elk with two medium horses and a pony. This includes the rack, but not the hide. The third smaller horse packs the back meat boned in panniers and the rack, it’s a pretty easy load. The front quarters are the heaviest and you pack those on your stoutest horse. The hind quarters will be loaded on your middle horse and with a moose they are not easy to load and lace on. If there are two men, you lace on both quarters at the same time to prevent the saddle from slipping, you can use a pack saddle or a Western saddle, but if you are by yourself you lace on one quarter and hope your saddle doesn’t slip before you lace on the second quarter, this is when britchen and a great collar are important.

I sould have a moose dressed out and loaded on the horses within two hours by myself. That’s moving, not super fast, but moving out. It’s important not to go so fast you cut yourself. If you shoot the animal at night, you dress him out and cam near the carcass, that can be a little scary.

A mature Black bear can steal a three hundred pound hog as easy as a lamb, Grizzlies won’t consider it sport, just work. I had a Grizzly kill a 1500 pound pack horse and throw him up in the air while the horse was still alive like a dog playing with a squirrel. The llama might create a ruckus if a Grizzly comes into camp, but I’ll put my faith in dogs. They can pack as much as a llama and they will never get lost. A horse will be as quiet as possible, when a Grizzly wanders into camp at night. I tie my horses to trees around camp while I sleep, they will scream like a woman if a Grizzly comes close to them, but if he avoids them, a Grizzly can peel you out of your blankets so fast it shouldn’t be legal. That’s the equine personality, and we can only train them so far.

All this stuff brings back many pleasant memories. If you head to the mountains will horses, llamas, or dogs, remember to be a survivor and think your way through situations to avoid disasters. A little bit of luck is okay, but if you depend on luck, you will die. Have a nice trip, but don’t spill fish oil on your trousers and walk through Grizzly country, unless you want someone to cash in your life insurance policy. LOL

@Skookum, so you didn’t have any luck with your particular horse getting used to llamas. Odd since he seemed to deal with the camel more easily. Who only knows with critters, eh?

Did a lot of camping in Yellowstone and bear territory. But frankly I consider Grizzly’s a whole different kind of bear, outside the norm. Not sure there’s much you can predict with them. But you’d never find me smelling like fish oil, or even the latest meal because I stood downwind from the campfire, in bear country. Nor wearing the clothes I wore when cooking/eating that food. Might as well just hang myself from a tree as bait, yes? LOL

@MataHarley: I haven’t had much experience with llamas; although, a guy once asked me to work on the teeth of some llamas. I explained about not knowing the first thing about llamas and he was okay with that.

I found out there is almost no way to get started, since they keep turning away, so I stood with one foot on one of the llama’s front feet and the llama decided I was serious and quit trying to hat up and leave. The molars are similar, but they are like cattle, sheep, goats, and camels, there are no upper incisors.

I noticed the lower incisors were too long and had the hard palate nearly boxed in, thus restricting the movement of the mandible with a restricted masticatory ability. The incisors are thin and were easy to cut with hoof nippers. I reduced them about fifty percent, and dressed them up with a mill bastard file. I did five of them and they could all started eating aggressively when I was finished.

I didn’t know it, but the guy was taking these older llamas to a sale, to unload them before they lost their value because of age. When he came back, he told me he made an extra $5,000 because they aged younger because of the dental work. He wanted to buy some more old ones and make them look younger by “Bishoping” the teeth. I told him once was enough for me, because they make prisons for guys who are greedy.

That’s all I know about llamas, but the bull camel has 8 canines instead of four. I thought that was pretty wild. I don’t trust camels, they are big and can hurt you, if they want to.

The only thing predictable about Gtizzlies is they are unpredictable.


@ilovebeeswarzone: Yes, Bees, thank you for reminding us of the tragedy in human terms, whether it was crusaders following a fool, Hitler sending troops into Russia without winter clothing or the logistics for resupply, fools sitting in the Oval office directing fire teams in Indo China, or a president who listened to Communist spies in the White House telling him to concentrate on arming Russia instead of relieving our troops in Manila and letting them die, history is nothing but a list of arrogant fools who tossed away human life to feed their own egos and fluff up their vanities.


You must be a great storyteller in regular conversation. You make history interesting, tying it together with current events.


I don’t know what specific coffee shop you speak of, john….

It started with this.

After that post, I recall John bringing it up in subsequent comments, as if he’s making some great gotcha point. 3 years later, he’s still stuck on stupid.

@Wordsmith, thanks for the clarification. Without spending much time searching, the only apparent easy references to that particular coffee shop was by Curt’s post, coming from a MEMRI original news blurb.

While john remains fixated on one particular coffee shop, the larger picture is the bigger trend. Since that coffee shop, it has become a trendy and popular young hangout, these coffee shops in Iraq. Many employ women, so that glass ceiling still remains broken.

However john incorrectly ascribes the summer wave of coffee shop bombings to the Iraq government and supposed policies, post OIF, designed to oppress women. Far from the truth.

It is Shi’ite and AQ Islamists blowing these up, labeling them fronts for brothels and places to conduct “immoral” unIslamic interaction between men and women. However the shops, unlike many, were allowed to remain open during Ramadan, and any forced closures were deemed illegal. Coffee shops in Iraq, with women employees and owners, are there to stay… but might end up as rubble when targeted in a temporary setback.

Like all places in Muslim countries, there are elected officials and law enforcement who are Islamists themselves, so scumbags like the Islamists often find a friendly, helping hand with local officials or LEOs in spotted instances. However it is not the law of the land, nor the desire of the Iraqis.

I don’t expect john to cop to the facts on this one. Doubt he’s even reading followups. Facts have a way of messing up a perfectly good partisan talking point and confirmed belief – especially when they are in error. But I will also admit that behavior is been on display by both sides of the aisle far too much lately.

Bad news for john is that the prospect for continued modern Muslim lifestyle, including Iraqi women, still looks good. Iraq was always more progressive in education and western ways than their neighbors, so this isn’t surprising. But they will have to learn how to detect and thwart the Islamists in their midst, who will not give up attempting to retake Iraq as the jewel of their Caliphate.

Fantastic battle story. Thank you for posting. Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad summarized the situation of the Frankish army as follows:

They were closely beset as in a noose, while still marching on as though being driven to death that they could see before them, convinced of their doom and destruction and themselves aware that the following day they would be visiting their graves.

Been there and done that.

@Hank Rockwell Jr: This quote got my attention:

They were closely beset as in a noose, while still marching on as though being driven to death that they could see before them, convinced of their doom and destruction and themselves aware that the following day they would be visiting their graves.

In boot camp, we had several DIs and each one seemed to have certain recruits they liked to pick on, in an effort to make them or destroy them, I suppose. I was big, strong, athletic, and motivated, consequently I had it easy and enjoyed the training.

I tried to encourage the guys having problems and help guys having problems. However, our oldest DI, a vet of three wars took one of our troubled recruits aside and told him he was going to be nothing but cannon fodder, he would be an 0311 (my MOS) and ground up like meat in a sausage grinder. Usually, the taunts and vile things the DIs said rolled off me like rain, but this one thing has stayed with me for nearly 50 years.

When your troops realize there is almost no chance to survive, and they begin to doubt the abilities of their leaders, morale plummets and the chances for victory are diminished.

I thought saying something like the DI said to that recruit was demoralizing the recruit to his very core and a big mistake and the very thing you want to avoid with a fighting force, even if what you said was true.

Thanks for that post – I knew the story, but you had a great way of bringing it back alive and with greaqt relevancy.