The Front Royal Remount Depot
By LT. COLONEL S. C. REYNOLDS, Q. M. C.
The Quartermaster Review – September-October 1930
THE Front Royal Remount Quartermaster Depot is situated about two miles southeast of Front Royal, Virginia on the slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Depot was acquired by an Act of Congress, March 13, 1911, and was officially organized August 30, 1911. The land was acquired for the purpose of concentrating animals purchased for the Army before shipment. Construction was immediately commenced, and by the fall of 1915 the depot was in operation with adequate water supply, blue grass pastures and modern equipment for a remount depot. The advent of the War shortly after the completion of the main buildings and utilities for the operation of a remount depot, more or less slowed up the proper organization of this place as a modern remount depot. It was used during the war for concentration of a few animals purchased locally and for the concentration and instruction of purchasing boards.
In 1920, when the Army was reorganized under the National Defense Act, the functions of the Front Royal Remount Depot were made clear and specific by orders and instructions from the Office of The Quartermaster General. An adequate organization was furnished for the purchase, receipt, quarantine, and conditioning for issue of animals required by the Army in the eastern zone. In addition to the normal remount activities, which since 1920 have been well known to the service at large the Remount Service was charged with the furtherance, of the of the breeding scheme prescribed by Congress, formerly handled by the Department of Agriculture. Instructions were also issued by the Office of The Quartermaster General charging the Front Royal Depot with the functions of the Purchasing and Breeding Headquarters for the State of Virginia. This was a question of expediency and has been entirely successful.
CONDITIONING THE STALLIONS
As is well known. Virginia is the home of the half bred hunter in America. More or less scientific breeding had been going on for a number of years without stimulation by the government, and the hunter type of half bred horse raised in Virginia has always demanded a high price on the market. Due to the fact that the Office of The Quartermaster General directly has had charge of the purchasing of stallions, the Front Royal Remount Depot has been a clearinghouse for stallions used in the furtherance of the breeding scheme. The majority of the best stallions purchased by the Remount Service in the last ten years have been purchased from the eastern tracks and sent to the Front Royal Remount Depot for conditioning and shipment in carload lots to other Depots and to the western zones, where large breeding operations are carried on. As a consequence, there has been an average of about one hundred stallions per year conditioned and cleared through this Depot. This phase of remount and breeding work has placed a task upon this Depot slightly different from the other Depots, and has developed a personnel very skilled in the conditioning and handling of stallions.
The stallions placed in Virginia during this period has averaged about thirty The care and handling of stallions by horsemen in Virginia is an old story and little difficulty has been experienced in placing stallions in the hands of competent agents where they would get a full book of mares. In fact, the general trouble has not been in attempting to place stallions where they would get a full book of good mares but to select agents who would not overbreed their stallions. At the present time, it is believed that at least fifty additional stallions could be placed in Virginia with a full book of mares.
The Remount Service, however, has not attempted to place stallions in Virginia with the idea of getting a full book of mares, but to place them in new communities to further the development of this industry in Virginia. As a consequence, horsemen in the main centers of breeding activities in Virginia have acquired private stallions and the number of private stallions standing under almost the identical arrangement of those placed in the hands of agents by the Remount Service, far exceeds the number of remount stallions placed in Virginia. It has been noted by purchasing officers in Virginia during the last twelve months that the effect of the breeding in Virginia has not only placed a very high type of hunter on the market, but the type of horse available at a reasonable price for the Army is very superior to any that have been formerly purchased. There is now no difficulty in obtaining in Virginia a reasonable number of horses by remount or other thoroughbred sires provided they are bought from the farmer or dealer in small lots.
FRONT ROYAL IDEAL FOR BREEDING INDUSTRY
During the breeding season of 1929 there were paced by the Front Royal Remount Depot thirty-seven (37) thoroughbred stallions standing for public service in the State of Virginia. These stallions will average forty-five (45) mares each, making a total of 1,665 mares bred. The average number of foals that live to four years of age will be about sixty per cent of this total. A great majority of the foals that remain sound are high class riding horses, many of which go on the hunter market for high prices. It is conservatively estimated that three hundred (300) high class riding horses, raised in Virginia. by thoroughbred sires can be purchased yearly by this Depot and all indications point to an increasing number in future years. The majority of the stallions placed in Virginia remain in the hands of the same agent for five Years. The breeders have become very discriminating as to type and whenever the Remount Service place a large stallion of superior type in Virginia he generally remains with the same agent for a number of years and receives a full book of high class mares. Virginia has passed the experimental stage and the industry is on a firm practical foundation.
The Front Royal Remount Depot now occupies a place in the breeding industry not only of Virginia but the entire east, as more or less a model for the average practical horseman for experimental breeding. care and conditioning of stallions, brood-mares, foals and young stock. The hilly pastures offer beautiful grazing in the spring and fall. The abundance of springs provide plenty of the best running water from cool mountain springs. The nature of the soil develops feet on the horse that it is believed is hardly accomplished in any other part of the United States. Since the War we have learned much about remount work and breeding. Within very limited appropriations we have been able to clear fields, properly rotate them and construct temporary sheds and stables that follow the modern ideas of the breeding, care and conditioning of horses.
The Depot is now located on a modern automobile road that is much traveled by tourists. Many of the tourists are horsemen and horsewomen. The average number of visitors who are interested in the horses, who stop and inspect the Depot stallions, breeding stock, and issue stock, will exceed five hundred (500) per month. The equipment and buildings constructed in 1915 have thoroughly answered the purpose for which intended. They are still modern in almost every respect. While the original buildings are not now sufficient for the stalling of the horses handled at this Depot, use is being made of temporary buildings properly placed, which are being constructed from the experience of the past ten years in handling horses by the Army. Much good has resulted and much benefit has been obtained by the Service in the experience and teachings at the Front Royal Remount Depot during the past ten years, and a continuation of the broad policy of the War Department as to the furtherance of the breeding scheme and the purchase, concentrating, and issuing of horses should be of much benefit to the Service, to the country in time of war, and to the horse breeding industry in America.