Warhorses

Common Jousting Horse Breeds

 

Jousting knights on chargers

The two most common horse breeds used for jousting during the period between the 14th and 16th centuries were warm-blood chargers which were mid-weight and trained for agility and the ability to endure prolonged effort and the more substantial destriers which were heavier, but not quite the size of the modern draft horse.

Jousting knights on destriers


Draft horses are the most commonly used horses for jousting in the present day because of their impressive presence on the jousting field.

 

Belgian Draft Horse picture courtesy of benmarfarm.com

Belgian The Belgian Draft horse or Belgian, also known as Belgian Heavy Horse, or Brabant, as it finds its origins in the Brabant region of modern Belgium It is one of the strongest of the heavy breeds. The Belgian is known for it’s kind temperament and is easy to handle. They are still used for all types of draft work, including plowing, logging, pulling carriages, hitches and sleighs. The riding of draft horses is becoming more and more common. Learn more about this breed at horsebreedslist.com

 

The Clydesdale


Clydesdale a breed of heavy draft horse originating in and named after the district in Scotland where it was created. The district system of hiring stallions was an early feature of Scottish agriculture and did much to standardize and fix the type of the breed. The Clydesdale characteristics were cultivated by the farmers of Lanarkshire, which was once known as Clydesdale. The River Clyde flowing through the area. Bred to the agricultural needs of these farmers, the commercial demand of the coal fields of Lanarkshire, and for all manner of heavy pulling on the area streets. The breed soon acquired more than a local reputation, and in time, the breed spread throughout the whole of Scotland and northern England. Today the Clydesdale is virtually the only draft breed in its native Scotland and New Zealand. It holds a commanding lead in Australia and is popular, though not the numerical leader, in Canada and the United States. The conformation of the Clydesdale has changed significantly throughout its history. In the 1920s and 30s, it was a compact horse smaller than the Shire, Percheron and Belgian. Beginning in the 1940s, breeding animals were selected to produce taller horses that looked more impressive in parades and shows. The Budweiser Clydesdales are some of the most famous Clydesdales, and other members of the breed are used as drum horses by the British Household Cavalry. They have also been used to create and improve other draught breeds.

 

The Friesian

Friesian (also Frisian) a breed of horse that finds its origins in Friesland, Netherlands. The breed’s physical form bears resemblance to that of a light draft horse, Friesians are distinct because of a beauty of movement and agility for their size.
In the Middle Ages, the progenitors of Friesian horses were in great demand as war horses in every part of continental Europe to carry knights into battle. Through the Early and High Middle Ages, they were able to carry an armored knight, but due to increases in size and weight of weapons and armor In the Late Middle Ages, heavier, draft type mounts were employed. . In the 12th and 13th centuries, some eastern horses of crusaders were mated with Friesian stock. During the 16th and 17th centuries, there was less demand for heavy war horses, as battle arms changed and Andalusian blood was added, lightening their weights and thereby rendering them more for work as carriage horses.
The breed, nearly extinct during more than one time period has survived to become the modern day Friesian horse which is growing in numbers and popularity, used both in harness, under saddle and on the field of dressage.

 

Picture by horsebreedsinfo.com

Percheron a breed of draft horse that originated in the Huisne river valley in northern France, part of the former Perche province from which the breed takes its name. Usually gray or black in color, Percherons are well-muscled, and known for their intelligence and willingness to work. Although their exact origins are unknown, the ancestors of the breed were present in the valley by the 17th century. They were originally bred for use as war horses. Over time, they began to be used for pulling stage coaches and later for agriculture and hauling heavy goods. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Arabian blood was added to the breed. Learn more about this breed at percheronhorse.org

 

 

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4 comments on “Warhorses

  1. Mike England on said:

    Modern draft breeds as they are today were developed as part of the industrial revolution which started around 1750. Until well after the first locomotive came into service in 1804 draft horses were the primary mover of massive quantities of manufactured goods produced over land and remained the most common means of transportation to and from rail yards until fully supplanted by tractor trailers after world war 2. This usage prompted breeders develop larger animals that had conformations more adapted for pulling than riding. In short the humongous animals that resulted from this period have little resemblance to the medieval warhorse.
    For the record almost all horses of European stock are related to medieval warhorses. In period you bred to the best stallion you could find and the best stallions often warhorses. A popular tale is that the Friesian breed is a descendant of the Roman Equis Maximus, however after the roman domination of Europe it is again hard to find any horses that couldn’t be equally traced to this same breed.

    I am sorry for the negative nature of this post I will try to add something more descriptive of what and actual medieval horse may have looked like.

    • I totally agree with Mike, as per usual!

      the tallest horse from the archeological record from the fifteenth century europe that i was ablke to find was from an excavation in Utrecht and was maximally 161 cm at the wither. That could be seen as exceptionally tall, btw.

      depictions and recommendations (espeially if you include slightly later writings) suggest that very colleted horses were the norm and draft built horses are not built to keep that up for long if they really achieve it at all.

  2. Mike England on said:

    This link was put together by a member of the Medieval Horse Guild some years ago.

    http://www.horseguild.com/Medieval_Horse_Breeds.php

  3. I love what you are doing here
    Very positive for the community.

    Thank you!
    Roy Cox told me about your page.

    Cheers!

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