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George Hill




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2005 4:06 am    Post subject: Horse leg armor?         Reply with quote

Has anyone ever seen armor for the legs of a horse? Espeically the front legs?
To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Russ Thomas
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PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2005 7:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A very good question ! The German armourer Kunz Lochner ( ob. 1567), is known to have made a horse armour that went all the way down to the feet, though unfortunately none of this armour survives. I seem to remember seeing a sort of horses greave somewhere, but off the top of my head I cannot honestly remember where, though it may well have been oriental, Persian or something ? The best place to look would be in 'Stones glossary of the use and decoration of arms and armour', if it exists, or existed, it is quite probably in there. I will have a hunt around and see what I can come up with Happy

Regards as ever,

Russ

The famous Augsburg armourer Lorenz Helmschmied (ob.1516), made a complete head to foot harness for a horse for the Duke of Burgandy ( the future Emperor Maximillian I ), again no pieces of this survive, but there is evidently a painting showing the emperor on a horse which is wearing this armour. It is in the Kunst Historisches Museum , Vienna.
Happy
R.

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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Tue 02 Aug, 2005 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George, I'll have to agree with Russ that although there is some, there just wasn't much. ffolkes shows some in "The Armourer and his Art" (which offhand I think is either Helmschmied or Lochner, not sure which if either) but for the most part it wasn't bothered with.

Most of the danger to a horse in combat is from either projectile weapons (especially arrows and quarrels) and pole-arms. The crupper and flanks cover the hind end of the horse to protect from dropping arrows (which was the favorite way of the English for dealing with French cavalry: send LOTS of arrows on a high arc to drop onto the horses from above), while the peytral and chamfron protect the horse's breast and fore-head from pole-arms. The crinolet protects his neck from slashes from above.

There was of course the heavy Oriental Horse such as in the form of the Cataphracts that draped maille over their horses (and was later copied by the Crusaders, I do believe) that would provide a great deal of protection for the legs of the horses from various weapons. In fact the simple cloth caparison would go a long ways towards this as well.

The main threat that might come to a horses legs would be from a footman with a sword, but my impression is that since the primary tactic of cavalry is to thunder down on infantry in a solid line with lances bristling, there isn't much opportunity for any footman to leap out of harm's way and cut down the horse's legs with a great sword, a la Hollywood. He might leap out of the way of one horse, and into the path of another. He ought to land about 15+ feet away. Big Grin

I hope that this in some way helps you with your question.

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Aug, 2005 5:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:
George, I'll have to agree with Russ that although there is some, there just wasn't much. ffolkes shows some in "The Armourer and his Art" (which offhand I think is either Helmschmied or Lochner, not sure which if either) but for the most part it wasn't bothered with.


Yes... Thanks. The thing is I first wanted to see if it existed.

Then there is the question of it's popularity. I just finished Oakshott's "A knight and his armor" and he happened to mention that a great deal of the armor that survives in museums is from several harnesses peiced togeather due to the trouble of missing peices.

It's not likely some peices would be less likely to survive then others, and it's quite possible that horse leg armor was one of the peices more likely to not survive, as it might be more likely to rust, and required care as it would be more exposed to plants, (such as grass) which would be damp in the morning... And thus less of it survives. (Destroyed not by the ambitions of the enemy, but by morning dew.)

Still, I mostly wanted to establish it's existance. Settled an arguement I have with a friend. Now then, if anyone has any photos, I would be most obliged.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Hisham Gaballa





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Aug, 2005 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This probably not what you had in mind, but it is horse armour, and it does partially cover the horse's legs Happy.



The picture is from "An Historical Guide to Arms and Armour" by Stephen Bull and Tony North.
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Aug, 2005 2:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cool pic, Hisham!

Here's another one, nabbed from the thread on the Frazier Museum elsewhere on this forum, of a representation of an English Knight in full kit, with his horse in a full length Caparison.

Cheers!

Gordon



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"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Aug, 2005 3:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon;

How would a horse react or tolerate wearing a Caparison which may have been padded like a Gambison as far as heat dissipation: I guess the horse wouldn't have much choice about it, but an overheated horse might not perform well on a battlefield.

Leg armour might also have a greater negative effect on the horse, increasing fatigue, than an equal weight of armour distributed elsewhere on the horses' body.

Leg armour might also be difficult to strap to a horses' legs securely without overtightening and if loose at all would be very annoying to the horse.

A long maille or scale skirt might be a better solution.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Aug, 2005 3:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean;

From my experience with horses, I would say that they'll get used to whatever it is you train them to deal with, but if it isn't fitted "just so" I think that articulated plate armour would be a serious pain for a horse to have to deal with. As if you don't have enough distractions on the battlefield for a horse to deal with. Worried

I suppose that heat would be an issue to some degree, but again, something to train the horse to. Giving them plenty of water of course, and not running them all over creation on a lark. I suspect that this is one of the reasons that "light horse" who's task it was to screen and skirmish, never used such encumbrances (aside from the weight issue).

I agree that a mail skirt is probably a good workable solution if you really feel the need for protecting the horses legs. The weight would be quite a burden, but if used without padding (over the legs at least) would be cooler for certain. Otherwise the padding that Hasham posted, or just cloth to slow things down a tad, as with a caparison.

Cheers!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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David R. Glier





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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 3:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Heck, just dump water over the thing before you really get going. Nice and cool, constantly evaporating, constantly wicking away sweat... The horse will LOVE it, especially if it spends most of its time in the stables. Cool

And the horse will also enjoy wearing a big comfy sweater on those icky cold days in the spring, fall and winter. Laughing Out Loud
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon,

How big of an issue is abrasion with this kind of stuff ? I have friends who do a lot of riding (never had a real opportunity to myself unfortunately) and it seems that saddle sores can be an issue. I'd think that all of that metal would just compound the problem.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 5:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Gordon,

How big of an issue is abrasion with this kind of stuff ? I have friends who do a lot of riding (never had a real opportunity to myself unfortunately) and it seems that saddle sores can be an issue. I'd think that all of that metal would just compound the problem.


Patrick;

I would certainly think it would be an issue! I know that they put padding on the inside of the plate horse armour, but you couldn't exactly fit the armour to the individual horse (since each Gendarme was supposed to have three Destriers, but I would be surprised if he had more than one set of equestrian armour) so it would be a chore to avoid it, I'm sure.

One thing too though is that for a campaign, I would expect that they would switch off which horse had to wear the armour for the day's travel, so that way no single horse was having to bear the weight and abrasions all the time. The Gendarme of knight would of course be riding a palfrey, which is a smaller, easier-gaited horse. The page (or in an earlier day, the squire) would ride whichever destrier is wearing the armour and arming saddle. Since he's smaller and lighter than the gendarme, it would also take much of the stress from the wearing of the armour.

My experiences with doing lots of riding over a long time period is that as long as your equiment fits the horse, AND you are being careful to keep the pad/blanket clean, and brush the dirt and sweat from the horse's back daily, it's not a big deal. But then, we didn't ride at a killing pace, nor lather them up every day either. So I would think that as long as you were judicious, and the commander of the army was conscious of his horse-flesh (which if he wanted to be successful he'd best be) then it wouldn't be that big a problem. The problems would arise though for a man with only one horse on a long campaign in ugly conditions. Of course, THAT is wearing on everyone and everything!

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 7:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Gordon!

Here lately I've been thinking that I need a horse for some strange reason....................................

Laughing Out Loud

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 10:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick;

Funny thing, for some reason, I think you need one too! Great minds think alike!

Here's me and my pal Henrik playing Normans at Hastings (for a History Channel gig last Summer, in fact)

Cheers!

Gordon



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"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Aug, 2005 12:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon,

When you say you were "playing Normans at Hastings" is that a general descriptor or were you actually playing Normans on-site at Hastings? If so I'm quite envious!

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Aug, 2005 8:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick;

Sadly no, we weren't at Hastings, but rather in California (somehow the brown dry grass didn't quite match the green sward of Southern England...) However, my campaniero there, Henrik, DID go to Hastings a few years ago and rode with a conroi in the reenactment there. I'll send you something about it!

Cheers!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Ushio Kawana




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Aug, 2011 2:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Happy

I found this illust...
http://www.bible-history.com/ibh/Weapons+and+...orse+Armor

I'm interested in Medieval Arms and Armor.
But... My English is very poor ><;
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Ralph Grinly





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Aug, 2011 2:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure that no medieval warhorses ever wore any sort of armour ON their legs in battle situations Those rare armours that have something are probably late period "Parade-Only) sets. A horses lower legs are very thin skinned and boney. Chafe those legs, and you have a useless horse. Also, the horse needs to move the lower legs freely- today, you will get them wearing things like brushing boots, etc..but these are all made of fairly soft materials, not metal.
Horses DID wear loose/padded armour on their upper body, hanging down over upper legs, sometimes mail over this, very occasionally plate armour ..but not on the lower legs. Any illustrations that seem to show armour on the legs are pretty well all 'fantasy" victorian-era stuff..not based on reality
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Jakub Biblis




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Aug, 2011 12:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:
George, I'll have to agree with Russ that although there is some, there just wasn't much. ffolkes shows some in "The Armourer and his Art" (which offhand I think is either Helmschmied or Lochner, not sure which if either) but for the most part it wasn't bothered with.




That's a painting of Harnishmeister Albrecht from 1480 in Vienna Arsenal. I cannot find a digital copy of the picture or Ffolkses sketch that is in the book. It shows complete articulated horse leg harness with maille voiders. It looks a bit later than 1480 for me, but know little about horse armour and can be wrong.
The piece is very ornamental and doesn't look very practical on battlefield. I'd rather say it's a meisterstueck made to impress about the maker's skill or parade piece.

He also mentions a part of this or similar armour in the Musee Porte de Hal in Brussels described as a "cuissard for the off hock of a horse". I don't know English horse anatomy vocabulary, but judging from the included sketch it is hind upper legs protection. Again can't find a digital image.
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Ben Bouchard




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Aug, 2011 2:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that some form of fabric or leather was used just to protect a horse's legs from abrasion and impacts due bowling people over! Medicine boots/sports wraps are quite commonly used to provide extra support and protection during riding, and that's without any risk of knocking into people holding pointy things.



As others have mentioned, though, I think the chances of someone deliberately attacking a horse's legs to be comparatively minimal--I'd be more worried about accidental bumps and scrapes.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Fri 05 Aug, 2011 3:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've heard that in China select sturdy troops with good armour and large daos could be used to strike at horses legs before the heavy cavalry impacted on the massed infantry.
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