Chicken Fight

We’re going to try something a little different this week. I was discussing with my friend Cody the time honored question of “how many 10 year olds do you think you could beat in a fight?” Obviously, in a weapons-free environment, I think I could take anywhere from 15 to 20 as long as it wasn’t an ambush. First of all, it is essential to win the fight quickly, they have both more numbers and deeper energy reserves than I do. So my strategy would be to capitalize on my greater strength and more complex strategic mind. Step one is to use my superior reach to keep them at a distance, then as they start to overwhelm and move in, step two is to grab one and swing him (or her, I don’t discriminate when it comes to matters of survival) at the others to maintain the safe distance. Between these two steps, I think I could easily take out at least two thirds of their attacking force. Once my opponents (it’s easier when I call them opponents, kind of takes away some of the sting of the fact that I’m discussing fighting children) realize the strategy and start keeping their distance, I would throw the bludgeoning tool at one and dive in and attack the two standing closest to each other, bringing my number of opponents down to no more than 4. From there it’s over, because if you can’t take out four 10 year olds, what are you even doing with your life?

So during this conversation, Cody mentioned that he and his friends once took it up a notch and began debating whether they would rather fight a horse-sized chicken, or one hundred chicken-sized horses, and that’s where my imagination took hold. So this week is a little different, but I don’t think it will disappoint. I’m going to discuss both ideas, and present strategies for both before ultimately coming to a decision on which I would rather fight. Let’s go on this journey together.

When it comes to the idea of 100 chicken-sized horses, there are a few stipulations that need to be addressed. First off, do these horses have horseshoes? What type of horse are they? The Arabian and Quarter Horse are two of the most popular breeds in the world, with the Arabian prized for its endurance and the Quarter Horse known for its burst speed over short distances. I think both would present their own challenges in combat, but I can’t imagine whoever owns a tiny horse farm having multiple breeds. Especially when this insane scientist training those horses to fight humans, it’s unlikely they would have time to do a lot of animal husbandry. Instead, I feel like he or she would have worked to create some kind of mutant combination of the two, slightly decreasing the main stat, but increasing the lesser. It would be a well rounded tiny horse, with decent endurance but dangerous speed. Also, do you like how I turned this into a mad scientist situation rather than just me killing a bunch of tiny animals? That’s how I feel better about this entire scenario. However in a “mad scientist breeding miniature fighting horses” scenario, of course the horses will have steel horseshoes on.

The obvious strategy in this fight is to use my superior height and weight to establish early dominance. Horses are relatively easy to disable, one broken leg is enough to put a horse completely out of commission. The horses will also struggle with combat since their lack of reach means they will have to move deep into my range in order to inflict any injury. Also, most of the common ways a horse can injure a person are related to their size, and are therefore irrelevant in this scenario. Foothills Medical Centre in Alberta conducted a review of common horse related injuries, and a full 80% of the injuries were related to falling, crushing, or being stepped on. Only 8% of the injuries noted had to do with being kicked, and even that is partially size related, since a horse hoof is like a giant fist. So I believe very little strategy is actually required when fighting 100 chicken-sized horses. You can run in and kick, stomp, and smash at will. Even if they knock you down, any horses you land on are likely taken out of the fight. It is just too easy to eliminate a horse, and too difficult for them to do any return damage.

Horses are very intelligent creatures that learn quickly. However, they are not very strategically minded, and in a brawl like this it is unlikely that their intelligence will come into play much. They aren’t hunters, so it will likely not occur to them to use flanking or attack in waves. Instead they will probably bunch up and hold back, then periodically rush. This style of attack against a larger target with greater reach and sounder strategy is a recipe for disaster for the horses.

The largest horse breed (by average) is the Shire, and I assume that’s the type of horse the mad scientist would have bred the chicken to the size of. The largest horse in recorded history was a Shire named Mammoth who stood at 7.2 feet tall. For the sake of this piece, we will assume this is what the mad scientist was aiming for with his chicken experimentation.

A horse-sized chicken is inherently more dangerous than a chicken-sized horse. A chicken’s beak and talons are already unpleasant when it is normal sized, make that proportionate to a 7 foot tall chicken and there is real danger there. Add to that the literal wingspan of a chicken and this is a pretty serious opponent. The average chicken is about 17.7 inches tall, with a wingspan of us to 23.6 inches. That is a 33.3% greater wingspan than height. Now imagine that on a 7 foot tall chicken. That is a 9 foot, 4 inch wingspan, meaning each wing is nearly 4 feet long.

The jury is still out on the intelligence of chickens. It is a common trope that chickens are incredibly stupid creatures, and this is supported by my experiences with them. I had roommates with pet chickens when I lived in Berkeley (because of course I did). Those two chickens were nasty, dirty, bad tempered creatures not smart enough to realize that I was feeding them. They were so busy “protecting their territory” that they didn’t realize I’d put food down in front of them. When I went back inside, they still wandered around not eating until one of them tripped over the bowl and realized there was food in it. In addition to that general stupid behavior, it is important to notice that these chicken-sized chickens tried to fight me, a fully grown adult male. A smarter animal would have retreated. My cat hides when my friends come over, and she has teeth and claws and is also the cutest most perfect thing in the world so who would ever want to hurt her? Umm . . . I mean . . . yeah. Cats are cool, I guess.

That being said, new research is starting to indicate chickens are actually fairly intelligent. Studies from the University of Padova in Italy and the University of Adelaide in Australia have recently demonstrated that chickens have a great deal of intelligence and potentially even empathy. Because of these studies but also my personal experience, I am leaving intelligence out of this section of the debate.

I know that after all of that it seems pretty grim, but there is some good news. First, chicken wings are not terribly strong. Chickens struggle with flight, meaning their wings are actually weak enough that they have trouble supporting their own body weight. So while it has the reach, I think I could take a few hits without suffering severe damage. The beak and talons are more serious, but the chicken wings are not jointed in a way that is conducive to close quarters combat so if I get in close enough to worry about the beak and talons then the wings have really been taken out of play entirely.

There is one other trait that would give me an advantage when fighting a horse-sized chicken. Chickens, like most birds, have hollow bones. This is not a completely accurate statement, but “hollow” is the easiest way to describe the decreased density due to the compact tissues being less thick. The bone makeup of a chicken means it will take less effort to do serious injury to it. So while the talons and beak are dangerous, if I can get around them it isn’t unbelievable that the fight could end fairly quickly. My strategy against the chicken would be to try to dart in quickly and go low, diving at its legs. This could end very badly if the chicken is able to dodge or peck down fast enough, but I don’t see another way to go. With its wingspan the chicken could easily hold me at bay until I run out of energy, then rush in and end the battle. My only chance is to go for a blitz attack and try to end it quickly.

It is because of that last part that I have to concede that I would rather fight one hundred chicken-sized horses than one horse-sized chicken. The chicken fight is just too unpredictable, and there are too few win conditions. Fighting the horses, while not an easy fight, would be easier and have a more clear cut path to victory. And that’s what it’s all about. I have to defeat the horses so I can get to the mad scientist’s lair and stop him from whatever he’s doing. I assume it’s something diabolical, I didn’t really flesh the scenario out past the mutant animals portion. I’ll figure it out and get back to you. That’s all for now, love and kisses!

 

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