The term ‘war horse’ is beyond broad. I think we all know that, but we all use it anyway. People have been using horses in war as long as we have been using horses.This topic is so flipping huge that I had to think for week or so before I could even come up with a way to get into this topic. I’ve decided to start with The English Great Horse.
Until recently we didn’t have breeds the way we do now. Yes, we kept track of bloodlines and and yes we had types. That said, a lot of the types have now been codified into breeds.
The English Great Horse would have been a destrier, the largest of the charger types. At the time the Horse stood between 15 and 17 hands (between 60 and 68 inches) at the shoulder. This isn’t the horse you would ride to battle it would carry a rider in full armor and would have been the medieval equivalent to a tank. And an eighteen wheeler, but that came later.
This horse has become the Shire horse breed and they look like this:
You can see by the picture that the breed is still used for some military uses, admittedly now in a ceremonial roles. They are also bigger than they were as a destrier. Now they start at 16 hands (64 inches). This is a video of a modern shire doing a musical dressage ride. It gives you some idea of the scope of this horse, and I loved the music.
In its old and new versions the Horse is a strong trotting animal and can go long distances. This is probably what most people think of when they think Charger and even in its larger modern draft form it is built like a riding horse writ large.
The Great Horse was the pinnacle of destriers and went on to influence many other breeds and types of war horse. Next week I will tell you about some of the other breeds and types of destrier.
Post one about me
When Horses were cars
Another Great Black Horse