A report on Horses in warfare

Scotland Forever! [crop] depicting the cavalry charge of the Royal Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo.
A soldier in World War I with his mule.
Chariots and archers were weapons of war in Ancient Egypt.
Haniwa horse statuette, complete with saddle and stirrups, 6th century, Kofun period
The "War Panel" of the Standard of Ur
A Qin dynasty sculpture of a chariot with horses and rider from the Terracotta Army unearthed near the tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shihuangdi, Xi'an, China, 3rd century BC
Depiction of a Sasanian Persian Cataphract from Taq-e Bostan
Life-size model depicting c. 1850 horse artillery team with a light artillery piece
A horserider of probable Xiongnu origin: the rider wears a hairbun characteristic of the oriental steppes, and his horse has characteristically Xiongnu horse trappings. 2nd–1st century BC. Excavated in Saksanokhur (near Farkhor), Tajikistan. National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan.
Manuscript illustration of the Mahabharata War, depicting warriors fighting on horse chariots
Yabusame archers, Edo period
Spanish and Moorish light cavalry (jinetes) skirmish at the 1431 Battle of La Higueruela
A re-imagination of Louis III and Carloman's 879 victory over the Vikings; Jean Fouquet, Grandes Chroniques de France
Jousting is a sport that evolved out of heavy cavalry practice.
Chasseurs of the Guard (light cavalry) to the left and cuirassier (Heavy cavalry) to the right, at the battle of Friedland.
"Napoleon I with his Generals" by Ludwig Elsholtz. This painting shows light cavalry horses which come into use as officer's mounts in 18th- and 19th-century Europe.
Kanem-Bu warriors armed with spears. The Earth and Its Inhabitants, 1892.
Native Americans quickly adopted the horse and were highly effective light cavalry. Comanche-Osage fight. George Catlin, 1834
Confederate general Robert E. Lee and Traveller. Cavalry played a significant role in the American Civil War.
Australian Imperial Force light horsemen, 1914
Polish Cavalry during a Polish Army manoeuvre in late 1930s.
A memorial to the horses that served in the Second Boer War.
U.S. Special Operations Forces, members of Task Force Dagger, and Afghanistan Commander Abdul Rashid Dostum on horseback in the Dari-a-Souf Valley, Afghanistan, in October 2001.
US Air Force Special Operations Command Combat Controller Bart Decker rides a horse in Afghanistan in the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Mounted police in Poznań, Poland
Horse Cavalry Detachment of the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division demonstrating a mock cavalry charge at Fort Bliss, Texas

The first evidence of horses in warfare dates from Eurasia between 4000 and 3000 BC. A Sumerian illustration of warfare from 2500 BC depicts some type of equine pulling wagons.

- Horses in warfare
Scotland Forever! [crop] depicting the cavalry charge of the Royal Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo.

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French 4th Hussars at the Battle of Friedland, 1807

Cavalry

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French 4th Hussars at the Battle of Friedland, 1807
A trumpeter of the Representative Cavalry Squadron in the Polish Army
A Polish winged hussar
Assyrian cavalry
Parthian horseman, now on display at the Palazzo Madama, Turin
Warrior's departure; an Athenian amphora dated 550–540 BC
Tombstone of a Roman auxiliary trooper from Cologne, Germany. Second half of the first century AD
Reenactor as a Roman auxiliary cavalryman
Chinese caltrop jar
Mongols at war 14th century
A bas-relief of a soldier and horse with saddle and stirrups, from the tomb of Chinese Emperor Taizong of Tang (r 626–649), c 650
The Qianlong Emperor in ceremonial armor on horseback, painted by Giuseppe Castiglione, dated 1739 or 1758
A mounted samurai with bow and arrows, wearing a horned helmet. Circa 1878
In the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani, Japanese cavalry moving down a mountain-side
Manuscript illustration of the Battle of Kurukshetra
Coin of Chandragupta II or Vikramaditya, one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta empire during times referred to as the Golden Age of India
Rajput warrior on horseback
Akbar leads the Mughal Army during a campaign
Horse-mounted Normans charging in the Bayeux Tapestry, 11th century
A 13th-century depiction of a riding horse. Note resemblance to the modern Paso Fino
A Hussite war wagon: it enabled peasants to defeat knights
Arab camelry
A Moroccan with his Arabian horse along the Barbary coast
Kanem-Bu warriors armed with spears in the retinue of a mounted war chief. The Earth and Its Inhabitants, 1892
Knighted cavalry and noblemen, painting by Jan van Eyck (c. 1390–1441)
Husarz (Polish Hussar) by Józef Brandt
Cavalry charge at Eylau, painted by Jean-Antoine-Siméon Fort
British infantry formed into anti-cavalry squares at the Battle of Quatre Bras
The charge of the Venezuelan First Division's cavalry at the Battle of Carabobo
"The Thin Red Line" at the Battle of Balaclava, where the 93rd Regiment held off Russian Cavalry
Monument to the Spanish Regiment of light cavalry of Alcántara
The charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman
19th Lancers near Mametz during the Battle of the Somme, 15 July 1916
Algerian spahis of the French Army 1886
Union Cavalry capture Confederate guns at Culpepper
Italian cavalry officers practice their horsemanship in 1904 outside Rome
Austro-Hungarian cavalry, 1898
German cavalryman in September 1914, German South-West Africa
Dead German cavalry horses after the Battle of Halen - where the Belgian cavalry, fighting dismounted, decimated their still mounted German counterparts
A British cavalry trooper in marching order (1914–1918)
German dragoons, armed with lances, after the capture of Warsaw, August 1915
Lithuanian lancers training in the 1930s
Turkish cavalry during mopping‐up operation 1922
Polish uhlan with wz. 35 anti-tank rifle. Military instruction published in Warsaw in 1938
A German cavalry patrol in May 1940, during the Battle of France
Mongolian cavalry in the Khalkhin Gol (1939)
U.S. Special Forces and Combat Controllers on horseback with the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan, which frequently used horses as military transport
Italian Army regiment “Lancieri di Montebello” (8th) on public duties in Rome 2019
Horse-mounted color guard from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow
A cavalryman of Hakkapeliitta, the Finnish cavalry of Thirty Years' War, featured on a 1940 Finnish stamp
Mongol mounted archer of Genghis Khan late 12th century.
Tatar vanguard in Eastern Europe 13th–14th centuries.
Manikin of a Safavid Qizilbash, showing characteristic red cap (Sa'dabad Palace, Tehran).
Persian Zamburak.
Ottoman Sipahi.
An Ottoman Mamluk cavalryman from 1810, armed with a pistol.
Akinci of the Balkans.
Ottoman Ghazi cavalrymen during the Battle of Nicopolis.<ref>{{cite web|last=Lokman |url=http://warfare.atwebpages.com/Ottoman/Ottoman.htm |title=Battle of Nicopolis (1396) |year=1588 |work=Hünernâme |url-status=dead |archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20130529094441/http://warfare.atwebpages.com/Ottoman/Ottoman.htm |archive-date=2013-05-29 }}</ref>
Washington National Guard cavalry pictured in Tacoma, Washington in 1907.
French cuirassiers, wearing breastplates and helmets, parade through Paris on the way to battle, August 1914.
Spanish light cavalry (cazadores) during the Rif War 1921.
Polish PZL W-3 Sokół of the 66 Air Cavalry Squadron, 25th Aeromobile Cavalry Brigade.
The mounted President's Bodyguard of the Indian Army
French Republican Guard – 2008 Bastille Day military parade
The President's Body Guard of the Pakistan Army, 2006.
Troopers of the Blues and Royals on mounted duty in Whitehall, London
Turkmenistan ceremonial cavalry in the Independence Day parade 2011
A Mongolian military horseman, 2013
Representative Cavalry Squadron of the Polish Army on military parade in Warsaw, 2006

Historically, cavalry (from the French word cavalerie, itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback.

A 'bred back' Heck Horse, said to resemble the now-extinct Tarpan

Domestication of the horse

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A number of hypotheses exist on many of the key issues regarding the domestication of the horse.

A number of hypotheses exist on many of the key issues regarding the domestication of the horse.

A 'bred back' Heck Horse, said to resemble the now-extinct Tarpan
Replica of a horse painting from a cave in Lascaux
Equus caballus germanicus front leg, teeth and upper jaw at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
The early stages of domestication were marked by a rapid increase in coat color variation.
Chariots of Ramesses II and the Hittites in the Battle of Kadesh, 1274 BCE
A Luristan bronze horse bit
Depiction of a mounted warrior from the Pazyryk burials, c. 300 BCE

From there, use of horses spread across Eurasia for transportation, agricultural work, and warfare.

Arabian horse

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Breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula.

Breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula.

A purebred Arabian stallion, showing dished profile, arched neck, level croup and high-carried tail
Mounted skeleton of an Arabian horse, showing underlying structure of breed characteristics including short back, high-set tail, distinction between level croup and well-angulated hip. This specimen also has only 5 lumbar vertebrae.
Arabians are noted for both intelligence and a spirited disposition
A gray Arabian; note white hair coat but black skin
A chestnut rabicano Arabian horse
A tobiano patterned National Show Horse, a type of partbred Arabian
An Arabian horse in the desert. Antoine-Jean Gros, c. 1810
Carl Raswan pictured on an Anazeh warmare
Hittite chariot (drawing of an Egyptian relief)
"Mameluck en Attaque" 18th-century painting by Carle Vernet
Battle of La Higueruela, 1431. Spanish fighting the Moorish forces of Nasrid Sultan Muhammed IX of Granada. Note the differences in tail carriage of the various horses in the painting. The Arabian's high-carried tail is a distinctive trait that is seen even in part-blooded offspring.
Several noble families of Poland became major breeders of Arabian horses. Eustachy Erazm Sanguszko, painted by Juliusz Kossak.
Lady Anne Blunt with her favorite Arabian mare, Kasida
Washington Taking Control of the American Army, at Cambridge, Massachusetts July 1775. Copy of lithograph by Currier & Ives, 1876.
Exhibitor from Syria holding an Arabian horse at the Hamidie Society exhibition, World's Columbian Exposition, 1893.
The Arabian stallion Hector, or "Old Hector" was an early import to Australia whose bloodlines are still found today in the pedigrees of some Australian Thoroughbreds.
A postage stamp from the Soviet Union featuring the Arabian horse
The Darley Arabian, a foundation sire of the Thoroughbred.
An Arabian horse in "native" costume, used in both exhibition and competition
Rudolph Valentino and Jadaan. Publicity shot for The Son of the Sheik, 1926

The Arabian also developed the high spirit and alertness needed in a horse used for raiding and war.

Mounted on a destrier, Richard Marshal unseats an opponent during a skirmish.

Destrier

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Mounted on a destrier, Richard Marshal unseats an opponent during a skirmish.
Caparisoned horses competing in a joust from the Codex Manesse

The destrier is the best-known war horse of the Middle Ages.

Ottoman Sipahi heavy cavalry, c. 1550

Heavy cavalry

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Class of cavalry intended to deliver a battlefield charge and also to act as a tactical reserve; they are also often termed shock cavalry.

Class of cavalry intended to deliver a battlefield charge and also to act as a tactical reserve; they are also often termed shock cavalry.

Ottoman Sipahi heavy cavalry, c. 1550
Early 16th-century French gendarmes, with complete plate armour and heavy lances
Spanish Heavy Cavalry - Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain
Alexander the Great on horseback
The oldest known relief of a heavily armoured cavalryman, from the Sasanian Empire, at Taq-i Bostan, near Kermanshah, Iran (4th century)
Northern Wei heavy cavalry
A recreation of a medieval joust between heavily armoured knights at a modern Renaissance fair
Contemporary depiction in the Liber ad honorem Augusti, of Dipold of Acerra, an early 13th-century knight, when the knight was undisputed master of the battlefield
Mongol heavy cavalry in battle (13th–14th century)
Christian the Younger of Brunswick in the armour of a cuirassier
A re-enactor dressed as a Winged Hussar, who served as the heavy cavalry of the Polish Commonwealth
French cuirassiers, 19th century

Although their equipment differed greatly depending on the region and historical period, heavy cavalry were generally mounted on large powerful warhorses, wore body armor, and armed with either lances, swords, maces, flails (disputed), battle axes, or war hammers; their mounts may also have been protected by barding.

Polish-Lithuanian light cavalry during the Battle of Orsha in 1514, by Hans Krell

Light cavalry

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Polish-Lithuanian light cavalry during the Battle of Orsha in 1514, by Hans Krell
The famous Charge of the Light Brigade, in the Battle of Balaclava in 1854 (painted by William Simpson in 1855)
Mongol soldier on horseback, preparing a mounted archery shot
French 4th Hussar at the Battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807. "Vive l'Empereur!" by Édouard Detaille, 1891.
Polish cavalry at the Battle of Somosierra in Spain, 1808

Light cavalry comprised lightly armed and armored cavalry troops mounted on fast horses, as opposed to heavy cavalry, where the mounted riders (and sometimes the warhorses) were heavily armored.

A 14th century depiction of the 13th century German knight Hartmann von Aue, from the Codex Manesse.

Knight

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Person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state or representative for service to the monarch, the church or the country, especially in a military capacity.

Person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state or representative for service to the monarch, the church or the country, especially in a military capacity.

A 14th century depiction of the 13th century German knight Hartmann von Aue, from the Codex Manesse.
A Norman knight slaying Harold Godwinson (Bayeux tapestry, c. 1070). The rank of knight developed in the 12th century from the mounted warriors of the 10th and 11th centuries.
The battle between the Turks and Christian knights during the Ottoman wars in Europe
David I of Scotland knighting a squire
The miles Christianus allegory (mid-13th century), showing a knight armed with virtues and facing the vices in mortal combat. The parts of his armour are identified with Christian virtues, thus correlating essential military equipment with the religious values of chivalry: 
The helmet is spes futuri gaudii (hope of future bliss), the shield (here the shield of the Trinity) is fides (faith), the armour is caritas (charity), the lance is perseverantia (perseverance), the sword is verbum Dei (the word of God), the banner is regni celestis desiderium (desire for the kingdom of heaven), the horse is bona voluntas (good will), the saddle is Christiana religio (Christian religion), the saddlecloth is humilitas (humility), the reins are discretio (discretion), the spurs are disciplina (discipline), the stirrups are propositum boni operis (proposition of good work), and the horse's four hooves are delectatio, consensus, bonum opus, consuetudo (delight, consent, good work, and exercise).
Tournament from the Codex Manesse, depicting the mêlée
Elements of a harness of the late style of Gothic plate armour that was a popular style in the mid 15th to early 16th century (depiction made in the 18th century)
Page from King René's Tournament Book (BnF Ms Fr 2695)
The Battle of Pavia in 1525. Landsknecht mercenaries with arquebus.
Fortified house – a family seat of a knight (Schloss Hart by the Harter Graben near Kindberg, Austria)
The Battle of Grunwald between Poland-Lithuania and the Teutonic Knights in 1410
Pippo Spano, the member of the Order of the Dragon
The English fighting the French knights at the Battle of Crécy in 1346
Miniature from Jean Froissart Chronicles depicting the Battle of Montiel (Castilian Civil War, in the Hundred Years' War)
A modern artistic rendition of a chevalière of the Late Middle Ages.
A battle of the Reconquista from the Cantigas de Santa Maria
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The Battle of Pavia in 1525. Landsknecht mercenaries with arquebus.

The lords trusted the knights, who were skilled in battle on horseback.

A young rider at a horse show in Australia

Equestrianism

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Equestrianism (from Latin equester, equestr-, equus, 'horseman', 'horse'), commonly known as horse riding (British English) or horseback riding (American English), includes the disciplines of riding, driving, and vaulting.

Equestrianism (from Latin equester, equestr-, equus, 'horseman', 'horse'), commonly known as horse riding (British English) or horseback riding (American English), includes the disciplines of riding, driving, and vaulting.

A young rider at a horse show in Australia
Lusitano riders of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, one of the "Big Four" most prestigious in the world, alongside the Cadre Noir, the Spanish Riding School, and the Royal Andalusian School.
Equestrian tour on traditional local breed, Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of Iceland
Musicians riding horses, Tang dynasty
Prehistoric cave painting, depicting a horse and rider
A Welsh pony in fine harness competition
Small herd of rough stock in Texas.
Girls and their horses preparing for a polo game
By the 1930s and 1940s most horse riding had become occasional and leisurely or competitive rather than being the common method of transportation it had been for centuries before
Western horsemanship attire, and style of riding at a trot.
Cutting horse competition. The horse, on its own, is preventing a cow the rider cut from the herd from returning to the herd. Notice the rein-hand of rider is down on the horse's neck.

In ancient times chariot warfare was followed by the use of war horses as light and heavy cavalry.

A dressage-style English saddle

Saddle

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Supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth.

Supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth.

A dressage-style English saddle
A saddle from the Yi ethnic minority province in Yunnan province, China. Saddle has a leather base with lacquer overlay.
Western saddle at Garza County Historical Museum in Post, Texas, United States
Parts of an English saddle
The tree of a western saddle
Reconstructed Roman military saddle (four-horn design)
A saddle commonly seen in the 16th and 17th centuries
The English hunting saddle
A Hunt Seat style English saddle
A Western-style saddle
A McClellan cavalry saddle, used by the United States Army in the late 1800s
A Central Asian saddle from Kashgar, China.
Japanese saddle
A sidesaddle
Comparison of the undersides of a western saddle (back) and an English saddle (front)
Ottoman saddle with shabrack according to tradition captured at Vienna in 1683 by the Mikołaj Hieronim Sieniawski. Czartoryski Museum

This invention gave great support for the rider, and was essential in later warfare.

Charge of the French 4th Hussars at the Battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807

Cavalry tactics

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For much of history, humans have used some form of cavalry for war and, as a result, cavalry tactics have evolved over time.

For much of history, humans have used some form of cavalry for war and, as a result, cavalry tactics have evolved over time.

Charge of the French 4th Hussars at the Battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807
A 13th-century Mongol saddle cover
Battle of La Higueruela (1431) between John II of Castile and Muhammed IX, Nasrid Sultan of Granada
Polish hussar formation at the Battle of Klushino 1610 – painting by Szymon Boguszowicz 1620
The death of King Gustavus II Adolphus on 16 November 1632, at the Battle of Lützen
An Ottoman Mamluk, from 1810

Chariot tactics had been the basis for using the horse in war.