Cavalry from Hoof to Track: The Quest for Mobility (War, Technology, and History)

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Extremely dense read; if you're used to digging in to academic texts, you'll breeze through this. If like me you have ADHD, you'll probably put it down before finishing the first chapter. Edward Chamberlin Drawing on archaeology, biology, art, literature, and ethnography, Horse illuminates the relationship between humans and horses throughout history.

It shares stories of horses at work, at war, and at play, in paintings, books, and movies, and ponders the intelligence of horses, their skill and strength as well as their grace and beauty. A good overview to help you dive deeper into research, but some content is really under-researched and thoughtlessly perpetuates myths that I'm working on taking apart with the Horse Writing series. So take it with a grain of salt. How Animals Shaped Human History by Brian Fagan Animals, and our ever-changing relationship with them, have left an indelible mark on human history. From the dawn of our existence, animals and humans have been constantly redefining their relationship with one another, and entire civilizations have risen and fallen upon this curious bond we share with our fellow fauna.

Brian Fagan unfolds this fascinating story from the first wolf who wandered into our prehistoric ancestors' camp and found companionship, to empires built on the backs of horses, donkeys, and camels, to the industrial age when some animals became commodities, often brutally exploited, and others became pets, nurtured and pampered, sometimes to absurd extremes. Through an in-depth analysis of six truly transformative human-animal relationships, Fagan shows how our habits and our very way of life were considerably and irreversibly altered by our intimate bond with animals.

Among other stories, Fagan explores how herding changed human behavior; how the humble donkey helped launch the process of globalization; and how the horse carried a hearty band of nomads across the world and toppled the emperor of China. With characteristic care and penetrating insight, Fagan reveals the profound influence that animals have exercised on human history and how, in fact, they often drove it. The Majesty of the Horse: It pays homage not only to the physical splendor of the horse--its grace, beauty, strength, and adaptability--but also to its remarkable diversity.

Equestrian specialist Tamsin Pickeral traces the evolution of many different horse breeds from the dawn of written history to the present day. Eighteenth-Century Masculinity and English Horsemanship by Monica Mattfeld In this study of the relationship between men and their horses in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England, Monica Mattfeld explores the experience of horsemanship and how it defined one's gendered and political positions within society.


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Men of the period used horses to transform themselves, via the image of the centaur, into something other—something powerful, awe-inspiring, and mythical. Focusing on the manuals, memoirs, satires, images, and ephemera produced by some of the period's most influential equestrians, Mattfeld examines how the concepts and practices of horse husbandry evolved in relation to social, cultural, and political life.

She looks closely at the role of horses in the world of Thomas Hobbes and William Cavendish; the changes in human social behavior and horse handling ushered in by elite riding houses such as Angelo's Academy and Mr. Carter's; and the public perception of equestrian endeavors, from performances at places such as Astley's Amphitheatre to the satire of Henry William Bunbury. Throughout, Mattfeld shows how horses aided the performance of idealized masculinity among communities of riders, in turn influencing how men were perceived in regard to status, reputation, and gender. Brother Mendel's Perfect Horse: Man and beast in an age of human warfare by Frank Westerman Frank Westerman explores the history of Lipizzaners, an extraordinary troop of pedigree horses bred as personal mounts for the Emperor of Austria-Hungary.

Following the bloodlines of the stud book, he reconstructs the story of four generations of imperial steed as they survive the fall of the Habsburg Empire, two world wars and the insane breeding experiments conducted under Hitler, Stalin and Ceausescu.


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  • But what begins as a fairytale becomes a chronicle of the quest for racial purity. Carrying the reader across Europe, from imperial stables and stud farms to the controversial gene labs of today, Westerman asks, if animal breeders are so good at genetic engineering, why do attempts to perfect the human strain always end in tragedy? DiMarco For more than four thousand years, the horse and rider have been an integral part of warfare. Armed with weapons and accessories ranging from a simple javelin to the hand-held laser designator, the horse and rider have fought from the steppes of central Asia to the plains of North America.

    Understanding the employment of the military horse is key to understanding the successes and the limitations of military operations and campaigns throughout history. Over the centuries, horses have been used to pull chariots, support armor-laden knights, move scouts rapidly over harsh terrain, and carry waves of tightly formed cavalry. DiMarco discusses all of the uses of horses in battle, including the Greek, Persian, and Roman cavalry, the medieval knight and his mount, the horse warriors—Huns, Mongols, Arabs, and Cossacks—the mounted formations of Frederick the Great and Napoleon, and mounted unconventional fighters, such as American Indians, the Boers, and partisans during World War II.

    The book also covers the weapons and forces which were developed to oppose horsemen, including longbowmen, pike armies, cannon, muskets, and machine guns. The development of organizations and tactics are addressed beginning with those of the chariot armies and traced through the evolution of cavalry formations from Alexander the Great to the Red Army of World War II. In addition, the author examines the training and equipping of the rider and details the types of horses used as military mounts at different points in history, the breeding systems that produced those horses, and the techniques used to train and control them.

    Finally, the book reviews the importance of the horse and rider to battle and military operations throughout history, and concludes with a survey of the current military use of horses. War Horse is a comprehensive look at this oldest and most important aspect of military history, the relationship between human and animal, a weapons system that has been central to warfare longer than any other. More than two hundred Oriental horses were imported into the British Isles between and With the horses came Eastern ideas about horsemanship and the relationship between horses and humans.

    The Horse Travel Handbook, a field guide drawn from its parent edition The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration, is the most authoritative work of its kind and contains the hard-earned wisdom gained by hundreds of Long Riders during centuries of equestrian travel.

    The concise, easy-to-use volume covers every aspect needed to successfully complete a journey by horse, including how to organize the trip, plan a route, choose the proper equipment and purchase horses. Traditional challenges such as loading a pack saddle, avoiding dangerous animals, fording rivers and outwitting horse thieves are covered here along with ingenious solutions to modern dilemmas like crossing international borders, surviving vehicle traffic and negotiating with hostile bureaucrats.

    This handbook covers all aspects of equine welfare including feeding, watering, saddling and health care. Technical details such as daily travel distance, where to locate nightly shelter and ways to avoid cultural conflicts are among the hundreds of specific topics examined. A thick, info-packed volume that's perfect for a writer's reference shelf. Most of the information is current to the last century, but writers crafting long-distance journeys in earlier time periods will need to account for the same struggles like weather, terrain, borders, and keeping a horse in good health over a long journey.

    Equestrian travelers are invited to join after they've completed a single continuous ride of miles or kilometers. Their Stories from the Road section contains accounts of travels all over the globe, and their History of Equestrian Travel page is riveting. You can find information on equipment, routes, trails and borders, and just about everything you could possibly want to know about long-distance travel by horse.

    In their first-hand accounts, the Long Riders detail what distances they limited themselves to each day, what measures they took to ensure the health and safety of their horses, how they handled the logistics of their journeys, and much more. The Long Riders also publish books of some of the travel accounts in their archive, which you can find on their books page ; there are a great many so I won't list them all here. However, after two and a half years on horseback with two of his trusty and tough steeds, this daring trekker lived to tell his best-selling tale.

    He traversed rivers and mountains in hurricanes and hail storms, stopping to stay the night with farmers and villagers in huts who often shared their mysterious and superstitious tales. A Manual of Pack Transportation by Charles Johnson Post Published in , this book contains outdated information from a modern packer's perspective, but is a terrific look into the packing techniques of the era. The author includes specifics on how heavy a load a mule should carry, and for what distances over what terrain, and what sort of manpower might be needed to manage them all.

    He also details equipment, teaches a great many knots and hitches, and even diagrams how to fix a litter for an injured man onto a mule.

    The information is not appropriate for pack journeys in all eras, but has plenty of specifics for those writing in this time period, and for the needs and concerns in the hauling of loads by pack animals. The full book is available on archive. Its success depends largely upon the careful selection and training of personnel and pack animals. The employment of correct packing and march techniques is essential. The following topics are included in this field manual: From the Hittites to Persia to the Seleukid Kingdom in Mesopotamia, in Egypt, Thrace, Rome, Byzantium, Arabia, and Scythia, horses contributed to economic prosperity and played a part in technological advancement.

    Hyland also considers their presence in the Steppe, among the Hun tribes, in China, and among the early Celts.

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    Her vivid account, which ranges from c. His guide offers not just insight into the techniques and horses of his day, but also timeless advice on topics like selection of a suitable horse, starting the education of a young horse, the training of a groom, and even how to keep from being cheated by a horse-trader. It's a fascinating look into a distant past with advice that carries through to the present. Project Gutenberg Audio version: LibraVox The Art of Horsemanship: Xenophon and other classical writers by A. Nyland Xenophon was an ancient Greek soldier who lived from around BC.

    His "Art of Horsemanship" is his work on selecting and educating horses. It was not the first work of its kind, an earlier being that by Simon of Athens. Though Xenophon's works are available free in the public domain links above , if you'd like a print or ebook copy, this one stands out. It pulls in plenty of other sources and excerpts, and is evidently a new, more nuanced translation. The additional sources can definitely give you great ideas for where else to look for primary sources from the ancient world.

    The Horse in the Ancient World: From Bucephalus to the Hippodrome by Carolyn Willekes The domestication of the horse in the fourth millennium BC altered the course of mankind's future. Formerly a source only of meat, horses now became the prime mode of fast transport as well as a versatile weapon of war. Carolyn Willekes traces the early history of the horse through a combination of equine iconography, literary representations, fieldwork and archaeological theory.

    She explores the ways in which horses were used in the ancient world, whether in regular cavalry formations, harnessed to chariots, as a means of reconnaissance, in swift and deadly skirmishing such as by Scythian archers or as the key mode of mobility. Cavalry in Ancient Warfare by Phil Sidnell Cavalry were an important part of almost every ancient army, yet modern writers have neglected them in favour of the infantry of the Greek phalanx and the Roman legions. Warhorse seeks to correct this injustice. Phil Sidnell challenges the common view that ancient cavalry were useful for scouting and raiding but left the real fighting to the foot soldiers.

    In fact, he argues, they were often used in a shock role and proved decisive on many occasions. The famous victories of great generals such as Alexander, Hannibal and Julius Caesar could not have been won without a full appreciation of the battle-winning potential of the cavalry. The Beginnings of Mounted Warfare in Asia and Europe by Robert Drews In this wide-ranging and often controversial book, Robert Drews examines the question of the origins of man's relations with the horse.

    He questions the belief that on the Eurasian steppes men were riding in battle as early as BC, and suggests that it was not until around BC that men anywhere - whether in the Near East and the Aegean or on the steppes of Asia - were proficient enough to handle a bow, sword or spear while on horseback. After establishing when, where, and most importantly why good riding began, Drews goes on to show how riding raiders terrorized the civilized world in the seventh century BC, and how central cavalry was to the success of the Median and Persian empires.

    Drawing on archaeological, iconographic and textual evidence, this is the first book devoted to the question of when horseback riders became important in combat. Comprehensively illustrated, this book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the origins of civilization in Eurasia, and the development of man's military relationship with the horse.

    From the Age of the Kings to the Death of Justinian the Great by Raffaele d'Amato From the time of the Bronze Age, the warriors of all tribes and nations sought to emblazon their arms and armor with items and images to impress upon the enemy the wealth and power of the wearer. Magnificently decorated shields were as much a defensive necessity as a symbol of social status. Equally, decorative symbols on shields and armor defined the collective ideals and the self-conceived important of the village or city-state its warriors represented.

    Such items were therefore of great significance to the wearers, and the authors of this astounding detailed and extensively research book, have brought together years of research and the latest archaeological discoveries, to produce a work of undeniable importance. The Armies of Ancient Persia: The Sassanians by Kaveh Farrokh Throughout most of the classical period, Persia was one of the great superpowers, placing a limit on the expansion of Western powers.

    It was the most formidable rival to the Roman Empire for centuries, until Persia, by then under the Sassanians, was overwhelmed by the Islamic conquests in the seventh century AD. Yet, the armies of ancient Persia have received relatively little detailed attention, certainly in comparison to those of Rome. This work is the first of three volumes though chronologically the last that will form the most comprehensive study of ancient Persian armies available. The Sassanians, the native Iranian dynasty that ousted their Parthian overlords in AD , developed a highly sophisticated army that was able for centuries to hold off all comers.

    They continued the Parthian's famous winning combination of swift horse archers with heavily-armored cataphract cavalry, also making much use of war elephants, but Kaveh Farrokh interestingly demonstrates that their oft-maligned infantry has been much underestimated. Anderson Cataphracts were the most heavily armored form of cavalry in the ancient world, with riders and mounts both clad in heavy armor. Originating among the wealthiest nobles of various central Asian steppe tribes, such as the Massegatae and Scythians, they were adopted and adapted by several major empires.

    Usually armed with long lances, they harnessed the mobility and mass of the horse to the durability and solid fighting power of the spear-armed phalanx. Although very expensive to equip and maintain not least due to the need for a supply of suitable horses , they were potential battle winners and remained in use for many centuries. Erich B Anderson assesses the development, equipment, tactics and combat record of cataphracts and the similar clibinarii , showing also how enemies sought to counter them.

    This is a valuable study of one of the most interesting weapon systems of the ancient world. The development of warfare in any society provides an evocative glance into the lives and deaths of our predecessors. This is never more the case than with that most enticing of ancient civilizations, Ancient Egypt. Follow Rebecca Dean through the fascinating world of mysterious figures such as Tutankhamun and Nefertiti, examining not only the history and development of ancient Egyptian warfare, but the weapons used and the way they were handled. Swords, axes, and daggers are the weapons of choice here, as ancient Egyptian warfare is brought vividly to life through the exciting use of experimental archaeology.

    By examining and testing replicas of real-life artifacts, just how deadly these ancient Egyptian weapons were can be seen. Looking closely at the nature of such weapons also brings to life the formidable women who, on occasion, grasped power in a male-dominated world. Read on to discover more about this fascinating subject. Dawn of the Horse Warriors: Chariot and Cavalry Warfare, BC by Duncan Noble The domestication of the horse revolutionized warfare, granting unprecedented strategic and tactical mobility, allowing armies to strike with terrifying speed.

    The horse was first used as the motive force for chariots and then, in a second revolution, as mounts for the first true cavalry. The period covered encompasses the development of the first clumsy ass-drawn chariots in Sumer of which the author built and tested a working replica for the BBC ; takes in the golden age of chariot warfare resulting from the arrival of the domesticated horse and the spoked wheel, then continues down through the development of the first regular cavalry force by the Assyrians and on to their eventual overthrow by an alliance of Medes and the Scythians, wild semi-nomadic horsemen from the Eurasian steppe.

    As well as narrating the rise of the mounted arm through campaigns and battles, Duncan Noble draws on all his vast experience as a horseman and experimental archaeologist to discuss with great authority the development of horsemanship, horse management and training and the significant developments in horse harness and saddles. The Medieval Horse Medieval Warhorse: From Byzantium To The Crusades by Ann Hyland Previous works on the medieval cavalry arm have generally been confined to the battle record of the Western heavy cavalry. This book examines the entire world of the medieval warhorse, how the animals were bred, trained and doctored, as well as their use in combat.

    Cavalry from Hoof to Track by Roman Jarymowycz - Praeger - ABC-CLIO

    Mounted warriors of all classes are covered, both in Europe and among the Persians, Arabs, Turks and Mongols. The numerous illustrations depict the horse as represented in medieval manuscripts and sculptures, saddles, bridles and spurs, and a collection of photographs showing modern horses of surviving medieval breeds. Hyland offers extensive coverage of medieval horses at war in both East and West, including ground-breaking research on the use of the horse by the Anglo-Saxons. Her text is supported by a glossary of equestrian and veterinary terms, comprehensive bibliography, and index of horse-related subjects, making for a unique blend of historical scholarship and professional equestrian expertise.

    The Medieval Horse and its Equipment, c. The wealth of medieval finds excavated in London in recent years has, not surprisingly, included many objects associated with horses. This catalogue illustrates and discusses over four hundred such objects, among them harness, horseshoes, spurs and curry combs, from the utilitarian to highly decorative pieces. London served by horse traffic comes vividly in view.

    The introductory chapter draws on historical as well as archaeological sources to consider the role of the horse in medieval London. It looks at the price of horses and the costs of maintaining them, the hiring of 'hackneys' for riding, the use of carts in and around London, and the work of the 'marshal' or farrier.

    It discusses the evidence for the size of medieval horses and includes a survey of finds of medieval horse skeletons from London. It answers the key questions, how large a 'Great Horse' was, and why it took three horses to pull a cart. This is a basic work of reference for archaeologists and those studying medieval artefacts, and absorbing reading for everyone interested in the history of the horse and its use by humankind.

    Ann Hyland discusses the working horse, warhorse, horse breeding and trading and the whole infrastructure of grooms, farriers, wheelwrights and cordwainers which kept the medieval equine world running. Military Service and the English Aristocracy under Edward III by Andrew Ayton The mounted, armoured knight is one of the most potent symbols of medieval civilisation; indeed, for much of the middle ages the armoured warhorse was what defined a man as a member of the military class. However, despite the status of the knightly warrior in medieval society, the military service of the later medieval English aristocracy remains an unaccountably neglected subject, and the warhorse itself has never attracted a major study based upon archival sources.

    This book seeks to open up new fields of research: Dr Ayton is primarily concerned with the inventories and related records for Edward III's reign, a period which witnessed significant changes in the organisation of the English fighting machine. Indeed, even as late as Waterloo, one of the key issues the French faced was that they couldn't hit the British square formations with artillery and disrupt them sufficiently for their cavalry to make effective charges.

    Because being in square protects you from cavalry, but you were really screwed if the enemy could bring infantry or cannon to fire on you. For cannon, the square presents a mass of men that would be easy to hit. If close enough, grapeshot would have destroyed it. The only hope for the infantry in square would be to hold out until they could be reinforced since if they broke out of the square, they would be easy pickings for the cavalry. Apparently not out of range. Apparently the French had a few problems hitting the squares with artillery in part because they were out of line of sight.

    So the answer is something like a combination of in the longish side of range, poor coordination on the part of the French and geographical layout of the battlefield. When Ney launched his attack, he did it because he believed that Wellington was withdrawing and having your cavalry harass a retreating and broken enemy was standard during this period. Wellington, though, was actually pulling back a bit behind the ridge on which the British had taken position And out of sight of French artillery and was certainly not broken.

    So, it was a mistake on Ney's part, and really shows why combined arms are important. This is why Ney charge is so critized, he sent the cavalry without any support, nor possibility or a future support in form of artillery or infantry. This map shows the situation.

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    I think bannockburn would be a great example of a battle where pikes made the cavalry almost irrelevant. The difference now was that the schiltrons had learnt mobility and how to keep formation at the same time. The English squadron was broken, some seeking refuge in the nearby castle, others fleeing back to the army. I would also counter that the Battle of Falkirk is a great example about how combined arms and tactics demolish anti-cavalry tactics. William Wallace's schiltrom strategy was packed insanely tight and was unassailable by cavalry.

    Ultimately, as Falkirk tells us, trained or experienced men pointing out spears do stop cavalry just fine, but archers working in unison with disciplined cavalry mop up the spears just fine. I think the emphasis on the discipline and training of the troops is critical. I mean, imagine horses charging at you, possibly fully armored. Not a lot of men could stand in line, brace their spears, and face that down. The cavalry charge was an extremely effective psychological weapon that oftentimes broke lines before they hit them.

    I mean, you have accounts of cavalry charges literally shaking the ground. I don't have access to a decent database because I'm at a CC right now, but I found this forum post:. Was quite concerning feeling the ground shake as the 12 polo horses charging towards us, yet being in the middle of a well disciplined mob gave a lot of comfort as you were in a very solid mob of packed pikemen.


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    • I'd appreciate if someone would just run a database search for something like "cavalry charge shake ground. Basically, the point that I'm trying to make is that giving a spear to a group of men wouldn't do much against cavalry unless they were disciplined, well trained, and had a good deal of experience or a solid group of experienced men to keep order in the line too.

      Cavalry from Hoof to Track

      Regarding your psychotic horse comment: Then the panicked French fled to the safety of the other square, but in doing so broke up the formation and the dragoons came in with them. Bernard Cornwell has Sharpe fictional character say that the correct thing to do is to shoot your own men in that situation. I don't think we fully appreciate the weapon that the horse was either.

      These horses were not only bred for combat, but trained. They were taught to ignore the clamor of battle. They moved constantly to avoid being hamstrung. They would rear up to strike with their hooves and would even bite people. While I haven't heard of it referenced directly, it would be surprising to me if they weren't also taught to charge home through small gaps in a line. The spear was certainly effective as a deterrent against cavalry, but it was not the "I charge my Yari Samurai into your Katana Cavalry and win" effectiveness that the Total War series like to portray.

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      As you've mentioned, if spears were that effective against cavalry, then surely cavalry would have died out a long time ago, especially when your typical Medieval levy were equipped with spears. The conclusion, logically then, is that the spear by itself was not the ultimate anti-cavalry weapon, but rather how it was used alongside compatible weapon systems. Indeed, spears by their lonesome have never fared well against cavalry, unless there were unfavorable factors that weighed against the horsemen's favor.

      The weight and momentum behind a well timed cavalry charge is immense, especially when the rider and steed are also clad entirely in some form of armor. Hell, even during the zenith of the pike and shot age we have reports of heavily armored gendarmes charging into pike blocks and shattering them. Cavalry from Hoof to Track. Cavalry and the Lace Wars. Cavalry Becomes an Operational Arm. From Balaclava to Gettysburg. A photo essay follows page Toward an Epiphanic Moment. The Horse within Blitzkrieg.


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