I always get very annoyed if a writer is sloppy with maps and travel-distances.
E.g. "They left city Y and arrived in city X 5 days later." When you look at the supplied map Y and X are a 1600 kilometers apart. Must have been really special horses.
So I like to avoid doing the same. Problem is that I don't know much about long-distance traveling by horse. And finding info on the Internet is very hard or my Google-Fu is failing completely on this one: All I can find is enduro-racing for horses and speed-records for horses. Neither of which is relevant for my problem.
To get to the actual questions, first some background:
For a story in a Fantasy setting (late Medieval/early Renaissance world) I have a group of 8 people traveling by horse. The travel is going to take them 6 weeks. This duration is a given to make several parallel time-lines match up in the story. I like to keep the traveling as realistic as possible. Presume earth-like conditions.
Travel is subject to the following constraints:
- This is the only "magic/fantasy" aspect: The rider and his/her horse are magically bonded. This means the horse and rider can't be separated by more than a kilometer. The horse can't be abused or ridden to death: this would mentally unbalance the rider. So the horses need to survive the journey and arrive in reasonable condition. Each rider needs to ride his/her own horse. Due to the bond riding a different horse is impossible.
- The riders and horses are accustomed to prolonged long-distance travel, but the horses are not specifically bred for this. They are high-quality riding horses, but not physically exceptional in any way.
- Riders travel light (couple of saddle-bags, blanket). Majority of luggage, armor, food-supplies and camping gear goes on the pack-horse(s). Pack-horses can be replaced as needed. At most 1 pack-horse per rider.
- Assume travel in summer in temperate climate. 20-25 Celsius during the day. At night at least 10 Celsius. About 18 hours of daylight. Weather is mostly dry, with the occasional light rain or maybe a short thunderstorm.
- The party will often
usuallycamp at night in the open. Horses will be able to find sufficient feed and water. At least every 4th or 5th day the party will encounter a village or town with an inn or a caravanserai so they can spend the night in comfort. In such places they can also buy supplies and pack-horses. A farrier is available in such places too.
(This item is slightly edited to clarify that an inn is less frequent than camping, but there wont be more than 5 days between inns.)
- Terrain is mostly flat or gently rolling plains. Some hills, but they are not steep. Woodlands, prairie, pastures and fields near villages/towns. The roads consist of hard-packed dirt or a dirt-gravel mix and are in decent condition. After rain they will dry out quickly so one can presume the travelers won't have to deal with heavy suction mud.
Now for the actual questions:
- How much distance can I expect the party to cover on average per day? (Bear in mind they will have to travel continuously for 6 weeks.) I can add a few resting days if needed for the benefit of the horses.
I have a great deal of leeway with the map (like adding an inland sea or impassable mountain range) so I can easily make the route match up to the kilometers required.
- What would the typical traveling-day look like? I have no idea how fast the horses would actually go. How many resting-breaks would be needed during the day? How long would those have to be?
I'm hoping for some enlightenment on the subject so I can construct a convincing "travel-blog" for this story.