More horses may be purchased
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
Freighters bringing in supplies for the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage company bring word from Cheyenne that Luke Voorhees, superintendent of the company, has agents out buying an additional 600 horses.
Most of the horses will be purchased at the horse markets in St. Louis, Mo. From his previous experience operating stage lines Voorhees preferred his six-horse stage teams to be made up of pairs well matched in color and size. The "lead" team was usually smaller than the others, then comes the "swing team" slightly larger; and then the "wheelers" a fine sturdy pair usually weighing about 1200 lbs each. Sometimes they may use a team of only four or even two horses.
Each team had its own particular set of harness which was cleaned by the stock-tender after each run. Horses were shod at least once a month or oftener if needed. Good drivers kept the horses looking sleek and "filled out," not just because they saw to it that they were fed well, but because they knew how to handle the animals on the road and how to keep them properly harnessed.
A loosely hitched six-horse team would permit the driver to have free play with the reins. With such an arrangement he could get the best pulling power with the least amount of strain on the animals. A poor driver soon had the horses "dead on their feet." Luke Voorhees kept a poor driver no longer than was absolutely necessary.
Each stage driver's "drive" or "run" was from 40 to 60 miles in length. Horses were changed several times during a "run" depending upon the character of the country. The coaches usually went through to the end of a run where they were checked for repairs.
(Information source: The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express routes by Agnes Wright Spring)