The horses used by the Light Dragoons were typically medium sized or small by today’s standards  ( 15 hands or less) and about 1000 lbs.   Some effort was made to use only dark colored horses for the troopers, but when remounts were scarce, bays, chestnuts, and gray,  horses were better than no horse at all.
As part of a large body of cavalry, a horse in good condition could cover 20-25 miles per day carrying 250 lbs (or more) of rider and equipment.  A distance of 40-45 miles a day would constitute a forced march.  The smaller the body of cavalry involved, the quicker the rate of march could be.  Whatever distance had to be covered, cavalry had to be prepared to go into action at once and deliver a charge.  The charge might then be followed by an even faster pursuit of the retreating enemy. Cavalry regiments were often supported by a baggage train-horse or ox drawn wagons that carried supplies.  However, part of the usefulness of cavalry lay in its ability to act independently of the slower components of the army.  Therefore, dragoons were also issued other equipment, including a feed bag, saddle bags, canteen, blanket roll, & picket line, which enabled them to be relatively self-sufficient. The dragoon horse might easily carry more than 250 pounds in rider and equipment. 
       In the 18th century, the horses of the 17th LD were property of the Crown.  Each dragoon was issued a horse along with the other accoutrements of the regiment. Officers were expected to provide their own horses and saddler.  As re-enactors, each dragoon in the 17th  provides their own horse, but aside from that we strive to maintain accuracy without sacrificing safety and humane treatment.  With few exceptions, the horses used in our regiment are appropriate in type, color, size and temperament for their roles in the re-creation of 18th century cavalry. Our horses vary in breed from Quarterhorses, Morgans, Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, and warmbloods

      It was also common practice to dock (partially amputate) the tail of horses, as is done in some breeds of dogs to this day. The horse’s tail is normally about 1 foot long.  It is covered with long hairs that may make it appear much longer.  Docking the tail deprives the horse of his natural ‘flyswatter’ and many people think it also deprives him of one of his most beautiful features.  So why do it?    Various reasons have been set forward to explain the practice.  Period references indicate that the operation was thought by some to ‘strengthen the back’ of the horse; there is no scientific basis for this theory and it may not have been widely believed even at the time.  Horses with docked tails are easier to harness, but this does not explain docked tails in riding horses.  The real reason for docking tails was probably more fashion than function.  This practice is less common today and is in fact illegal in some countries.   For our purposes, we often place a great deal of weight on the writings of Hinde.  In his book, "Discipline of the Light Horse," Hinde indicates that both are acceptable in selecting mounts . . .  we do not encourage our members to dock their horses.
     Warfare is not kind to people…or horses. Before they even got to the battlefield, many horses were lost to injuries and diseases. It has been estimated that only a third of the horses sent as remounts from England survived the long sea journey to America.  When it comes to actual fighting, horses instinctively fear things like loud noises, confusion, smoke, crowds of people rushing around, flapping flags, not to mention blood, that are regularly encountered in battle.  The fact that horses can be used in warfare at all testifies to the trust that can develop between a horse and its rider.
     At a modern reenactment there is no live ammunition, but there are gun shots,  cannons, black powder smoke, flapping flags, and crowds of people.  The horses who help us recreate the 17th LD have to learn to tolerate all of that.  Part of the fun of our recreation is learning how to work with our horses, much as the original 17th Light Dragoons would have done.