Horsemanship in History

Charles Chenevix Trench finds it ironical that horsed cavalry attained something near perfection just at the point when the military discipline was relegated to history.

Developments in horsemanship have profoundly influenced history. The saddletree made shock-action possible: bareback riders, as Xenophon makes clear, were far too frightened of falling off ever to close with the enemy.

The stirrup greatly increased the efficiency of the mounted man in a melee, and enabled him - as any polo-player will appreciate - to shoot more strongly and more accurately standing in the stirrups than sitting down in the saddle.

Together they enabled cavalry - heavy, armoured lancers in the West and light horse-archers in the East - to dominate the battlefield from the sixth to the fourteenth century, when infantry acquired in the long-bow a rapid-fire weapon of appallingly destructive power.

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