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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Aug, 2009 7:41 pm    Post subject: Medieval Warhorse size         Reply with quote

Okay a guy I know is claiming that Medieval Warhorses were only 14 hands high. I argue that throughout the ages (AD 1- present day) there have always been horses 15-16 hands high.

So does anyone have any sources to help me?
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Aug, 2009 7:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This topic may be of help: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=15169
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Aug, 2009 5:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Read Andrew Ayton's "Knights and Warhorses".
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Peter Lyon
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Aug, 2009 11:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ann Hyland's book (despite some faults and biases) are good sources -The Horse in the Ancient World; Equus; The Horse in the Middle Ages; The Medieval Warhorse ; and The Warhorse 1250-1600.

The short answer is that you are both right. Earlier medieval (11th century) warhorses could be, and often were, 14 hands, and the early Mongol armies used strings of even smaller horses, but particularly from the 14th century there were active programs to breed larger horses that would consistently reach 15+ hands and be able to carry more weight of rider and armour. These larger horses had also existed in the Roman world, but required consistent efforts to keep the breeds large by careful stud management. After the Roman stud system broke down, horses reverted over time to the smaller sizes, so by Carolingian times they were back to mostly 13-14 hands.

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Christopher VaughnStrever




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Aug, 2009 11:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am sorry for the elementry question, Though as I skimmed over the other articles I find myself asking; What do the number of hands mean?
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Luke Zechman




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Aug, 2009 12:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A hand is a unit of measurement that is used to measure the height of a horse from the ground to the withers (front shoulder). It was originally the length of a mans hand but today it is a standardized to be 4ins. I found this information using wkipedia.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Aug, 2009 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If it's standardized, is there a reason to use the archaic system? Why not say the horse is 60" high?

M.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Aug, 2009 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
If it's standardized, is there a reason to use the archaic system? Why not say the horse is 60" high?

M.


Tradition and " horse people " are probably used to visualizing the size of a horse in number of hands high. Wink

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Aug, 2009 2:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Or, conveniently, a Hand is 10 cm... so you can use it interchangably, without having to do any counting...
When we are talking of replacing archaic units Wink

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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Sun 23 Aug, 2009 9:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs-The basis of all warhorse size is your stud system and Logistics. A 15-16 hand horse Cannot find enough food foraging for itself. Mongol and similar horses can. Heavy warhorses are grain fed, and that is why when the Roman Army logistics system broke down the stud system failed. "To march, first you must feed" as the duke of Wellington used to say.
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Peter Lyon
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Aug, 2009 1:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
Sirs-The basis of all warhorse size is your stud system and Logistics. A 15-16 hand horse Cannot find enough food foraging for itself. Mongol and similar horses can. Heavy warhorses are grain fed, and that is why when the Roman Army logistics system broke down the stud system failed. "To march, first you must feed" as the duke of Wellington used to say.


Well said, and this is also why the huge horses (18 hands or taller, 1000+ kilograms) that are often used today for tournaments and riding, would not have been used much on campaign in the medieval and ancient worlds, even if they had existed (which they didn't - but that is a discussion for another day). By the time battle was joined, either these horses would be in poor condition (if not dead and eaten), or they would have consumed an enormous amount of hard feed which would require significant logistical efforts to supply.

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Jonathan Blair




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Aug, 2009 5:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Or, conveniently, a Hand is 10 cm... so you can use it interchangably, without having to do any counting...
When we are talking of replacing archaic units Wink

Yes, when will you all get back to using inches and feet and hogsheads and ....?

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