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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Fri 11 Dec, 2009 12:45 pm    Post subject: Warhorse questions         Reply with quote

it's pretty common knowledge that Milites and Men-At-Arms rode stallions and that those stallions were battle-trained (Ripping off peoples face's, lashing and kicking with their hooves, biting, picking people up and carrying them off in their teeth, etc.)

My question is. How were those stallions trained? What methods did they use? Was it by a system of kindness, patience and reward or abuse? And how did they keep these horses under control? I would think that a horse that mean would a challenge to feed and excerize, much less armour, and saddle.


Can anyone help me?
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Sat 12 Dec, 2009 9:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess no one could help me? Sad
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
Joined: 16 Nov 2008

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PostPosted: Sat 12 Dec, 2009 10:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, from what I know, there are not many texts from any period that tells one how to train a 'war horse'; however I know this, a friend of mine who is trying to break into the jousting circut has basically said to me (it should be noted he's a horse breeder) is that just having a decently good horse trainer can really help.
Then again, I'm talking out of my arse, so I'm far from an authouroty on this subject Laughing Out Loud

Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
Host of Crash Course HEMA.
Founder of The Van Dieman's Land Stage Gladiators.
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János Sibinger




Location: Hungary/France
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 5:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greetings!
I have no Idea how these horses could have been trained. One of my teachers had a horse, wich used to work with the riot police. He said, that it had some ,,tricks" that other horses did not know, for example kicking wit his rear legs for order.
Poor Árgyélus is not whit us any more, but one day I saw a film about the training of the riot police horses, and I think that only riotpolice uses horses for ,,martial" tasks nowadays. They showed interwiews with the officers too, they said that being patient and calm is really important. (Romans used small, calm animals. Anyways, horses are said to be very sensitive animals, especially mentaly.) All of them seemed to be calm people, who really love their horses ( the horses serve as long as they can, if they are too old, they are removed from the service to a nother stable) I don't know, if themedeval steeds and their owners had such bond between them, I don't know, how long did these horses live. These animals are said to be very intelligent, a lot of stories prove this, so I don't think so that inteligence would be a problem, even if you want a horse to do something that is quite unnatural of them. I think every nation has got it's own culture connected to horses, I barely even know the Hungarian, where the csikós (prular: csikósok) teaches horses to do incredible things.
This is Just an opinion, I never had experience with horses, and these are only tougths.

Sorry for the bad Englizh! Wink
John
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Daniel Sullivan




Location: California
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 11:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,

Try Wikipedia; Spanish Riding School. This may help a little.

Have seen these superb animals in action twice, during a U.S. tour many years ago and a few years back while in Vienna. Even though I was able to talk to a few of the riders and expressed an interest in how they were trained, I couldn't seem to get much of an answer. This was probably due to the language barrier rather than caution about "trade secrets"....

Until my visit in Vienna, I was always under the mistaken impression their movements were based on the training used for war horses.in the Medieval era. Wikipedia also has a statement disputing this legend. But, being hard headed, I still believe there is a bit of truth here.

Have heard all kinds weird tales, i.e. cruelty, kindness, killing of other animals within sight, etc. Don't think we will ever know for certain how these horses were trained or acclimated to war.

Cheers,
Dan
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Zac Evans




Location: London
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 1:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Of course, its difficult to say with any real accuracy what was and was not done, as the medieval era was a long one by any measure, and the amount of horses used across that time across medieval europe would have been huge. No doubt some trainers were cruel, but I would think most were kind but firm, which is what usually gets the best result from horses. Your horse needs to feel safe with you, but know you are in charge, otherwise you will probably both end up dead. No doubt by our standards some of the things done would be seen as cruel when they were not seen so at the time.

One example of this, is the suggestion that horses were put in stables with bloody carcasses when foals. This would be seen by some people nowadays as abuse, but that isn't the case from a medieval viewpoint. Horses normally freak out at the smell of blood as they are prey animals, and so blood generally means a predator is about. By making the foal associate the smell of blood with home and mother they don't freak out any more and therefore its actually safer for the horse in battle than if they started running all over the place at the first hint of blood.

Another good example is the bits and spurs used by knights when in battle. (example) Truly horrific by modern standards, but once in battle, if the horse doesn't do exactly what its told then both horse and rider will end up dead.

These examples of "being cruel to be kind" show the difference in how horses were viewed. As a weapon of war, it was necessary that horses undergo inconveniences so that both horse and rider are more likely to survive the engagement intact. Nowadays, such harsh measures are not needed as what we do is for sport and recreation rather than life or death.

If you want more information on what is done nowadays to train horses for re-enactment then you could always contact Jeffrey Hedgecock link or those at tournament stud: link.

Hope this helps.
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Matthew Fedele




Location: Auburn, NY USA
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PostPosted: Mon 14 Dec, 2009 4:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't recall any historical accounts of warhorse aggression, but know from drilling with them and their riders it takes about a day for them just to get used to approaching a mass of humans (wearing steel, carrying 16' pointy things, and smelling of smoking match, etc.) You also have to get them used to gun fire just like you would with a hunting dog.

I asked one of these riders once if it was the horse or the rider that refused to charge a pike formation and he said it was the rider's choice. You can train a horse to do almost anything if you reward it for the action you train it for.

Prost,
Matt

Edited for poor spelling
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Justin H. Núńez




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PostPosted: Mon 14 Dec, 2009 7:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Check out Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, un rejoneador. Essentially he fights bulls on horseback. The suppleness of his horses is incredible. The passes required to fight bulls are essentially the same as fighting foot soldiers, or at least very similar. Horses have a certain language and instinct and that has remained unchanged, essentially, for centuries. If you look at the various illustrations available to us you will see a great variance in riding styles, in which I see hints at varying degrees of horsemanship. We must remember that then as now, there are people that can spen their entire life in the saddle and never learn the language of the horse. it depends on the individiual's awareness. In other words some people spendyou their whole life riding and riding wrong.
A note on the severity of medieval bits and spurs. Their severity again depends on the rider's touch and contact with the horse not on our own perceptions of severity. For some people any curb bit is savage and for some it is not enough. I know people who ride "Californiano", in the old California style, big sharp spurs and a spade bit. But there is an art to this and with proper training, their hands and horses are far less savage and light than most people I have seen riding with a snaffle bit.
I know that this does not answer your question specifically, but it might give you a direction. And yes, check out the Spanish Riding School. Find "The Complete Training of Horse and Rider" by Alois Podhansky, former Head Rider at the School.; but more importantly, follow the methods of working horses, and yes I mean cowboy horses, and bull fighting horses (not just those in the ring), because that's what war horses were: high dollar work horses.

"Nothing in fencing is really difficult, it just takes work." - Aldo Nadi
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Dec, 2009 6:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a fair number of accounts and artwork demonstrating horses attacking in combat situations so I think it is likely they had some training. Now that said this would likely have taken place along with the rest of their training simply to not turn and run from the sounds of battle. Since we do not know how they really for sure did any of this it would be hard to go further but we do have the results of this training.

RPM
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Dec, 2009 10:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks! Big Grin Cool

But that still doesn't answer my question of how someone would be able to saddle and mount a horse that aggressive, much less groom, exercise, feed, shoe, tend to its wounds, etc.
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Justin H. Núńez




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Dec, 2009 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben P. wrote:
Thanks! Big Grin Cool

But that still doesn't answer my question of how someone would be able to saddle and mount a horse that aggressive, much less groom, exercise, feed, shoe, tend to its wounds, etc.


I honestly don't think that it was a too terrible a problem and if it was there are ways to deal with it (nose twitch, cross tie, hobbles, etc. that do no damage if used correctly. would you really want to damage your $80,000 horse?). I have ridden some horses that make you sweat bullets while you saddle and then once you get on they are as good as gold and others that are golden to saddle until you step on and then if you move your left pinky toe wrong they blow up. It really all depends on their handling when they are young. You can train a horses to have off and on buttons. They know when they are working and when they are not. If our ancestors knew anything at all about horses they would have known that every horses is different and not all stallions are fit for war. You can't a berserk horse in the middle of a fight. The aggression is a result of training and even then I don't think that it was used that much. I think that Oakeshott suggested that in the XVth cen. the horse had become more of a mobile platform from which to fight down upon the foot soldiers. Then there are the Middle Easterners who seem to have preferred mares for war because they are more level headed but not lacking in aggression (we used to say that for roping mares are ideal because stallions could only think of the mare they saw on the way in to the arena, the gelding didn't know what was going on, but the mares typically said "gimmie the cow NOW!"). Of course there a thousand exceptions to this. It all depends.

"Nothing in fencing is really difficult, it just takes work." - Aldo Nadi
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Zac Evans




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Dec, 2009 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You don't want an agressive horse. Rather you want a horse that is intelligent and will do what its told. Watch this from 3:24:

link

Thats a good warhorse. One that won't let you down.
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Dec, 2009 6:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Zac Evans wrote:
You don't want an agressive horse. Rather you want a horse that is intelligent and will do what its told. Watch this from 3:24:

link

Thats a good warhorse. One that won't let you down.


Stallions are pretty agressive and that was what the Man-At-Arms used in battle and they are mentioned in plenty of battles, biting, kicking, going 'all airs' etc. And an aggressive violent horse is exactly what I'd want in a fight
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Justin H. Núńez




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Dec, 2009 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If one wants to go the "aggressive" route, then yes yet that be ridden and trained too. I sorry if I keep bringing it up, but 19th century cowboys rode horses that were "tame enough" but still had alot of fight in them still. Essentially what you want is a nice blend of the two, trained to do what you need when you need but not lost instinct to still remember how to fight. I have seen horses so "broke" that they are "broken" and could not even deal with any type of aggression from another horse.
Rally I think that we could theorize from to the next century about this, it's fun though.

I was thinking, there must be some Arabic texts out there that deals with this, as well a some Spanish texts.

"Nothing in fencing is really difficult, it just takes work." - Aldo Nadi
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Zac Evans




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Dec, 2009 3:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben P. wrote:

Stallions are pretty aggressive and that was what the Man-At-Arms used in battle and they are mentioned in plenty of battles, biting, kicking, going 'all airs' etc. And an aggressive violent horse is exactly what I'd want in a fight


They're not trained to be aggressive, they're trained to fight. Any martial artist will tell you its a big difference. You use Stallions because they will be less likely to run away, and are more intelligent than geldings, which can be a bit detached from what you're asking. These together mean that you have a horse you can teach to fight much easier.
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János Sibinger




Location: Hungary/France
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PostPosted: Thu 17 Dec, 2009 11:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!
I tought a lot about this topic lately. I think that if you had the grumpiest, meanes (Or most mean? Big Grin ) horse oin the whole wrold, it sitll will not be a predator! And a hot-headed, stubborn steed is the last thing you want in a battle. Furthermore if your horse was so savage, it easily could harm your foot soldiers (friendly ,,fire"). Yes, the stallion's personality might be an advantage, but the main reason, why they might have used them is their stronger buildup. A stallion is mouch stronger, faster and tougher than a mare. I think that this was the main benifit of these horses. Of course the grumpier parsonality was an advantage too. But if a horse was too capricious, it had no chance to became a real steed, becouse this characteristic might have costed the life of the horse and the rider.

Cheers! John
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