The conflict in World War 1 began with cavalry forces from the major combatants. Germany and Australia/Hungary, the central powers, stopped using horses on the western front shortly after the war begun. They were continually deployed in a restricted way on the eastern front during the war. Cavalry was used extensively by the Ottoman Empire. The United Kingdom, on the allied side, usually used mounted cavalry and infantry charges throughout the war, unlike the United States who used cavalry for a limited period. Allied cavalry was somehow successful in the Middle Eastern arena possibly since the enemy was less technologically advanced and weaker, but less successful in the western front. Russia also used cavalry in the eastern front but had minimal success.
Logistical support was one of the key reasons military used horses. They were better than mechanized vehicles since they would travel through mud, however deep it was, and over rugged ground. Horses would carry messengers and pull ambulances, artillery and the supply wagons. They were also used for reconnaissance. The presence of horses increased the morale among the front soldiers though the animals contributed to the poor sanitation and diseases in camps due to their carcasses and collected waste ( Heineman Jr). The swelling difficulty of changing horses and their value became a greater concern than even the loss of a soldier. In the end, the allied barricade barred the importation of horses by the central powers to replace the lost ones, which contributed a great deal in Germany’s defeat. Even when the war about to end, the United States’ army had few horses.
At the front, horses were faced with severe conditions and suffered the brute of the war. Most of them were injured and killed by artillery fire, others injured by poisonous gases and others suffered from skin disorders like mange and respiratory diseases. Hundred thousands of horses were killed in the war and many when injured, were treated in veterinary hospitals and taken back to the front when treated. .