Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Modern horse breeds for re-enactment Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next 
Author Message
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2009 8:31 pm    Post subject: Modern horse breeds for re-enactment         Reply with quote

There has been interest in which horse breeds that are currently available make good representations of medieval war horses. I thought I would make it a separate topic from discussion of historical horses.

Brian Downing wrote:
Hello everyone, this is my first post on myArmoury and since I am a horse owner and medieval weapons collector, I couldn't resist joining in!! I find this post very fascinating, since I have done a lot of research on horse breeds prior to buying horses, since I wanted to find a horse that approximates an old European warhorse. I definitely agree that most modern sporthorses probably would not make suitable medieval warhorses, particularly most of the European and American warmblood breeds. They are rather tall, averaging 16 + hands and they also tend to have a "refined" ie light build bone structure. One breed that was mentioned in the beginning of the post, the Friesian, was originally used as a warhorse. The Friesian is a small draft horse, but it is also renowned for it's tremendous agility, particularly in relation to it's build. One other thing that I came across when I was trying to decide which modern breed would best suit me that I had not considered was disposition. Some of the other breeds mentioned, particularly the Arabian are very fractious. I would think that the calmer disposition of some of the draft breeds would probably be better for a horse that someone wanted to count on during a calvary charge, especially for the less wealthy knight, who may not be able to afford to have better mount training. Most of the early European horse breeds are related to a primitive horse called the forest horse, which was the tallest (15 hh) and heaviest of the three primitive breeds that all modern horses are decended from. This would seem to lean more toward the heavier draft animals being more commonly used as warhorses, particularly in the earlier periods in European history. The Morgan was the other breed I had considered, since they are known for their gentle nature and tremendous strength and endurance. They are an American breed however, and would of course not have been available to a medeival knight.Happy


I would nominate the Cob. It's really a 17th century mix now, and has some Thoroughbred intertwined with it. The Norman Cobs look great to me, but I don't know how they are for riding.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
JE Sarge
Industry Professional



PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2009 10:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My personal favorites are the Percheron and Belgian breeds. Though not as nimble as other breeds, they have a great temperment.
J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
www.crusadermonk.com

"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
View user's profile Send private message
Justin H. Nez




Location: Hyde Park, UT
Joined: 24 Aug 2007
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 142

PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2009 10:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you've got the $ why not go for a Spanish-Norman? Actually They are not that expensive. I had a rope horse that a lot more than some of those.
"Nothing in fencing is really difficult, it just takes work." - Aldo Nadi
View user's profile Send private message
Brian Downing




Location: Charlotte, NC
Joined: 27 Feb 2007
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 2 books

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Sun 04 Jan, 2009 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I were doing a heavy cavalry re-enactment, and I could afford one, the Friesian would be my first choice. A good compromise is the quarterhorse/draft cross. For more lightly armored cavalry, I would go with the quarterhorse, an appendix quarterhorse or one of the European arabian lines (they tend to be a little easier to handle and have a thicker build). I eventually bought two quarterhorse/ paint horses as a good compromise, since I wanted an agile horse that is easy to handle that I could practice mounted archery with.
View user's profile Send private message
Gordon Frye




Location: Kingston, Washington
Joined: 20 Apr 2004
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,191

PostPosted: Sun 04 Jan, 2009 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Someone in an earlier post on the other thread had a good point, in that there were different horses for different uses. Within the structure of a compagnie d'ordonnance of the 15th-16th Centuries, an homme d'armes was required to have some five horses: three were suitable for the Charge, one was his standard riding horse, and the fifth was for his servant to ride. And it was the expense of these warhorses which made heavy cavalry so hideously expensive.

One of the quotes I recall from my readings on the French Wars of Religion was the statement that a good warhorse cost some 50 golden "Double Louis". These I believe were two ounces of gold, which at present market prices would be worth between $1500 and $2000 each, for a total price of $7500.00 to $10000.00 per warhorse. That's about the same price as a high-level sport horse costs today. I would posit that things haven't changed all that much in regards to such, other than the fact that such prices would be WAY out of the reach of a poor farmer, husbandman or soldier! But if you consider that an homme d'armes was required to own THREE such horses (not that in a campaign he would manage it, but he had to at least begin the campaign with three serviceable warhorses), along with two lesser horses, full armour and camp equipments, and of course servants to keep it all in good shape, things got expensive fast.

Lesser, but still considered "heavy" cavalry such as cheveaux lgr (or Demi-Lancers), Pistoleers and the like could get by with much less expensive but still powerful horses. Harquebusiers or mounted crossbowmen even less expensive horses, and the various forms of hobilar and mounted infantry only required that the horse put one foot in front of the other for a period of time to be useful. If you get into such light cavalry types as Jinetes and Stradiots, then you start talking about light, fast horses of the Barb and Arab style, meant for long scouts and very active campaigning.

The suggestion above concerning a Spanish-Norman would to me seem to be pretty close to the ideal for a top-of-the-line War Horse for Heavy Cavalry, in the form of a Stallion of course. Large and durable, yet with a certain quickness and the aggressiveness of the stallion that would be necessary for attacking other horses and men. Another fine breed would be the pure Andalusian. Perhaps somewhat smaller, but still heavy and quite active, and descended from the line that carried Spanish and Austrian men-at-arms into battle for centuries. And as noted above, the Friesian would also be a fine choice. Of course in the day they chose based upon "type" rather than breed, but since that's what we do these days, there it is.

Note: my own "War Horse" which I use for Jousting etc. is a Belgian/Percheron/Quarterhorse mix (16.2hh), which get's you just about the same horse as a Spanish-Norman. Calm and fairly deliberate, but somewhat more spirited than a pure draft horse (sometimes... Worried). My best "Cavalry Horse" though is my little Appendix Quarter Horse (15.2hh). Much more agile, he would be far better in the melee and certainly on a scout. But for a charger when I'm in full armour, the big boy is the one. As a friend who plays Polo said: "He'd be hard to get ON the ball, but once you got him there, they'd never get you off of it!"

Cheers!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
Stanley Watts




Location: CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Joined: 18 Feb 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2009 12:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The trouble with the Friesian is, that whilst the breed looks very gothic and oh so right, as a breed it is oh so wrong. The breed the Fritzland, is a relatively new breed and was developed as a funeral horse. The problem was in the C19th the breed, through various reasons went through a real decline. Such a decline that by the 1930's it was down to a handful of covering stallions. The breed was effectively extinct. In Holland, a group of farmers decided to save the breed from the brink. There was not enough of a gene pool left in the breed so they introduced Oldenburg (west fritzland), stallions into the line to eek out the gene pool. Now, whilst they try hard to suppress it you now get Bay horses popping up. The Oldenburg is a much more powerful horse and was the chosen military horse of the German Cavalry in the C19th and C20th. However, in all ways it would be regarded as a modern warm blood in look and behaviour.

If I had to choose myself a modern horse to be my heavy medieval war horse, there is few that can match the Percheron. This is the horse taken down by the Vandals into Spain. Indeed the name of Andalusia started off as Vandalusia and this heavy horse was introduced into the much lighter local stock to make the Andalusian a la brida. This can be seen in how both breeds develop in such a similar manner though the foal stage. So as I said the Horse of Perch would be my choice.
View user's profile Send private message
Gary Teuscher





Joined: 19 Nov 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 704

PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2009 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
there is few that can match the Percheron


Would not this be awful heavy for re-enactment horse? From what I know, today's Percheron and the breed used as a warhorse in the past have little in common.

Still would look impressive though, if not accurate Big Grin
View user's profile Send private message
Stanley Watts




Location: CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Joined: 18 Feb 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2009 2:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I take your point ion accuracy iff we are talking about the Percheron of the modern show ring. Indeed I believe that this breed holds the world record for the heaviest horse. However, I have purchased a good few of these from breeders to use as medieval war horses. When I say I have purchased a good few of these, I am not talking about this behemoth loved by the modern breeders but the horses that they feel have not made the grade. This means they are sold much cheaper as almost a waste product. What I have bought from them has been free moving lighter (for the breed than expected), horses around 16:1-2 hhs. Unlike other heavy horses available, the Percheron is a very free moving horse that is not 'into the ground' but 'over the ground'. A real mover. As far as the need for strength coupled with a turn of speed, surely this is the need for both war and the Lists. The need for a horse to turn on a sixpence yet carry a fully comparisoned knight is a difficult thing to juggle. With regard to weight, I know this is a moot point. But, if we take Harry the 8ths tilting armour we can work out the man inside. If we weigh the suit, then stick ontop King Harry's weight, then add his saddle, harness, and weaponary we come to a weight of 200 kg x 2.25/lb = 450 lbs!! If we take the equation of Gen Smith and Col Gen Rosenberg of load to horse weight we come to an enormous horse weight of 1 metric tonnes = 1000 kg = 2250 lbs for the horse!! However, this equation was written up for the campaign cavalry mount of the late C19th. If we back off on the weight by say 200 kg (450 lbs) we still end up with a horse of some size to carry the weight required of him at speed. If we look to a modern thorobred as an extreme of a hot blood who is tall but skinny, we are talking of an animal of around 500 kg. So it does not take much imagination to add another 225kg to this animal to see what we would have. A horse around 16 hhs of middle to heavy weight who is nimble yet able to take shock into itself on impact. It maybe of interest that I have done the calculation to work out the impact on the point of a coronel on the end of a lance, based on 2 horses running at each other at a list. It worke out at 26,000lbs/ft2/ftsec. on an area the size of an old silver dollar!! This would be like being hit by a 20 mm cannon shell, or balancing a 16 wheeler truck balancing on its nose resting on your chest. Eek! No wonder we are talking about 6 to 8 girths plus pectoral plate plus crupper etc to spread the load. The turning motion through the saddle would be huge. Not the sort of impact you would want to hand out to a light horse with no bone. Poor thing would end up knocked into the circle seats Laughing Out Loud

It may again be of interest, but about 5 years ago I moved forward with a breeder of Andalusians to try and breed a renaissance war horse taking the blood of an andalusian stallion to the bone of a percheron mare. However, like a lot of such ideas it never got beyond finding the horses. Such is life.

I do love debates like this. So much fun.
View user's profile Send private message
Ben Potter
Industry Professional



Location: Altadena, CA
Joined: 29 Sep 2008

Posts: 342

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2009 9:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I had the choice I'd go with:

Light war horse: andalusian (from my years shoeing horses they are some of my favorites, really calm and inteligent) there are some that come from some island (sorry can't remember which one) that are amazing.

Halflingers are another good choice but a little on the light side.


heavy war horse (draft type): clyds-shire,

Fjords are just plain awsome (and pirod athentic all the way back to viking times, and (no one will know unless you tell them) they also look like mongol horses.

Ben Potter Bladesmith

It's not that I would trade my lot
For any other man's,
Nor that I will be ashamed
Of my work torn hands-

For I have chosen the path I tread
Knowing it would be steep,
And I will take the joys thereof
And the consequences reap.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Rod Walker




Location: NSW, Australia.
Joined: 05 Feb 2004

Posts: 212

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2009 4:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We use a variety of breeds and sizes.

In the black is our 14.3hh Arabian and in the stripes is our 14.3hh Percheron x Stock horse.
http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh17/Capta...horses.jpg

Dancer, our Arabian again.

Cheers

Rod
Jouster
www.jousting.com.au

"Come! Let us lay a lance in rest,
And tilt at windmills under a wild sky!
For who would live so petty and unblessed
That dare not tilt at something, ere he die?"
--Errantry, John Galsworthy
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Rod Walker




Location: NSW, Australia.
Joined: 05 Feb 2004

Posts: 212

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2009 4:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Crusader, my 16.1hh PRE.
http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh17/Captayne/cru4.jpg
Again.
http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh17/Captayne/cru2.jpg

and Martel, our 15.2hh Thoroughbred.
http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh17/Captayne/t7.jpg

Cheers

Rod
Jouster
www.jousting.com.au

"Come! Let us lay a lance in rest,
And tilt at windmills under a wild sky!
For who would live so petty and unblessed
That dare not tilt at something, ere he die?"
--Errantry, John Galsworthy
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Gary Teuscher





Joined: 19 Nov 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 704

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2009 6:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stanley Watts wroter:

Quote:
But, if we take Harry the 8ths tilting armour we can work out the man inside. If we weigh the suit, then stick ontop King Harry's weight, then add his saddle, harness, and weaponary we come to a weight of 200 kg x 2.25/lb = 450 lbs!! If we take the equation of Gen Smith and Col Gen Rosenberg of load to horse weight we come to an enormous horse weight of 1 metric tonnes = 1000 kg = 2250 lbs for the horse!! However, this equation was written up for the campaign cavalry mount of the late C19th. If we back off on the weight by say 200 kg (450 lbs) we still end up with a horse of some size to carry the weight required of him at speed.


I've read that a horse should be able to carry about 25-30% of it's weight.

Did find this interesting document re: Col Gen Rosenberg: http://www.secondcavalry.org/Weights%20Carried%20By%20Cavalry.doc

The one thing I would say though was he was at the lighter weight school of thought apparently.

Another two things that could effect the weight issue

1) Knights functioned in a different role than later cavalry. While later cavalry was used a lot for recon and skirmishing, knights (generic term for middle ages european heavy cavalry) were used predominantly as main battle line units. Maybe some recon/skirmishing, but this would likley have been left to lighter armoured cavalry if any were available, or the lesser armoured cavalry. The difference in tactical roles plays a great deal here IMO. Knights are not running around scouting and skirmishing, but taking their spot in a set battle line.

The type of cavalry tactics used in the 19th century were far more similar to that of mongols or other steppe peoples.

2) Knights (and others including steppe peoples) had a handful of horses a piece. If the riding horse was ridden to a battle, the warhorse (or one of the warhorses) was used in set piece battle. Plus there were spares. My knowledge of 19th century mount practices is not great, but to my knowledge a cavalryman did not even have 2 horses assigned to him, he was to move in both a strategic and tactical sense on the same mount. I do know the steppe peoples also had multiple mounts, though I'm not sure if there was a differentiation between riding and warhorse.

I just think that with these large differences in logisitcs and tactics the weight a horse was to bear given by 19th century cavalry treatises would be different from the practices employed by knights. Sounds like the 20% was not very well adhered to even in the 19th century, I think I'd still be comfortable with those 25-30% numbers.

Of course, some riders in full harness might be to big for most horses to carry comfortably Big Grin
View user's profile Send private message
Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,685

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2009 7:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Of course, some riders in full harness might be to big for most horses to carry comfortably


Even though I assume you meant this in jest it brings up a point I've often wondered about. I'm a weight lifter, working out five to seven days a week. I stand six feet even at 245 pounds and wearing my 11th century kit I'm right up around three hundred pounds. I wonder what kind of horse I'd need to carry my big butt around for any length of time?
View user's profile Send private message
Rod Walker




Location: NSW, Australia.
Joined: 05 Feb 2004

Posts: 212

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2009 7:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am 120kgs fully armoured up for the joust in my Gothic Harness. The 14.3hh Arabian in my pics carries me all day without a problem in joust after joust.
Cheers

Rod
Jouster
www.jousting.com.au

"Come! Let us lay a lance in rest,
And tilt at windmills under a wild sky!
For who would live so petty and unblessed
That dare not tilt at something, ere he die?"
--Errantry, John Galsworthy
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2009 7:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A lot of this comes down to how stout the horse's build is, and how strong its legs are. Height of the horse is not really my idea of the correct way of looking at it. Many riders weighing much more than 200 lbs do ride a fairly short (13 hands) but stout team penning style (quarter horse cross bred) very hard for 15 to 20 minutes in American rodeo style competition. (It is not that different from early medieval era people in mail riding a Barb cross breed.)

The current saying of 25% of horse's weight (recommended limit of rider and gear) is usually in the context of several hours of trail riding, with "average" to cool temperatures. If the temperatures are really hot (over 100 F), I have had "pay for ride" trail ride outfitters refuse to let me ride (while my wife and kids went on) because I weigh over 200 lbs. In cooler weather, they don't bring the issue up.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
Gary Teuscher





Joined: 19 Nov 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 704

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2009 7:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Even though I assume you meant this in jest it brings up a point I've often wondered about.
.

Well, sort of in jest, but somewhat true as well. Look at King Harry - 450 lbs of man, armour and gear. at the 25% number you still need an 1800 lb horse, or a 1500 or so pounder if the 30% number is used. My guess at 25% the horse is fine, at 30% he can still carry the weight but might not move the best.

I know William the Conqueror rode an andalusian - I would think even a large one of these was no more than 1200-1400 pounds. Put King Harry on him and we are looking at a horse that might be straining a bit. I know Harry and his gear is from a later period than William, but go head to toe mail with a rather large man and you will be about the same weight. Still probably functional for a straight line battle charge, but not the best for skirmish/recon/hit and run raids.

Quote:
I am 120kgs fully armoured up for the joust in my Gothic Harness. The 14.3hh Arabian in my pics carries me all day without a problem in joust after joust.


What does the Arab weigh Rod - 1000-1100 pounds or so?

Edit- Was just thinking about something. In the cavalry guide above, my guess is the breakdown of horses over a campaign was an issue. Makes sense why a knight would ride his less expensive riding horse, not his primary warhorse. Even if there was only a small chance of breakdown, a knight would far rather have this happen to his riding horse due to simply economics. For a campaigning cavalry army in the field in the 19th century, this would also be a concern. And without a lot of spare mounts, with horses carrying a slightly heavier load than they should over long distances and having a slightly greater chance of breakdown is a quick way to lose a portion of a cavalry force due to attrition.
View user's profile Send private message
M. Eversberg II




Location: California, Maryland, USA
Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Reading list: 3 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,435

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2009 11:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Quote:
Of course, some riders in full harness might be to big for most horses to carry comfortably


Even though I assume you meant this in jest it brings up a point I've often wondered about. I'm a weight lifter, working out five to seven days a week. I stand six feet even at 245 pounds and wearing my 11th century kit I'm right up around three hundred pounds. I wonder what kind of horse I'd need to carry my big butt around for any length of time?


Something like a 1,200 pound horse.

M.

This space for rent or lease.
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger ICQ Number
Stanley Watts




Location: CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Joined: 18 Feb 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2009 1:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary,

I am with you all the way on this weight thing. As you say both Rosenberg and Smith both advocated a 20% ratio. Like Nolan they were only interested in what the horse could carry in the field. Smith said, a horse carrying more than this could not survive a campaign. The was born out in the Boar War with massive losses attributed in part to this. However, horses did successfully carry more than this. We must also take onboard we are not (normally), carrying out an ardous campaign - mind you that is just what my group does Wink . So I am with you all the way on a load to weight ratio of 25-30%. As for going over this, may I draw an analogie that you can lift a truck on a car jack - for a little while - but if you stand there long enough you can watch it buckle.

It is a side interest that the weight maximums of the British Horse Society at their riding schools fit well into the above equations.
View user's profile Send private message
Stanley Watts




Location: CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Joined: 18 Feb 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2009 1:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared,

You are correct on weight/height. The obvious is a good shetland is more than capabale to carry a shetland farmer. He may not be tall (the horse that is), but is built like a brick sh-- house Big Grin

Years ago I did a thing for NARES which was a chart to work out a horses weight. It not only covered the girth measure but also size of horse.

Here it is below:

If you reproduce it in A4 format (sorry we use European paper size here), you should find it works.

It keeps saying it is too big (story of my life). If anyone knows how to get it to fit in I am happy to email it to you so you can stick it up.
View user's profile Send private message
Stanley Watts




Location: CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Joined: 18 Feb 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2009 6:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Me on my tbxcd. I hope being in C17th kit is not a downer lol.


 Attachment: 144.98 KB
[ Download ]
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Modern horse breeds for re-enactment
Page 1 of 3 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum