Home Horse Writing – Recommended Reading

Horse Writing – Recommended Reading

If you’d like to dig further into any of the horse-related topics in my Horse Writing series, these are some books and websites that I’d recommend looking at as sources. I’ve split them into groups according to the topic, so you can use this menu to jump to any section of the reading lists:

Horse Behavior | Horses & Humanity | Traveling by HorseHorses in Ancient History | The Medieval Horse | Native Horses & The Old West | The Modern Cavalry | Horses at WorkInteresting Horses in History

Some of these are free online resources; others are books that you would need to purchase or borrow through your library system. (I have added an extra FREE marker to resources that are available online completely for free.) Many of these links are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase any of these books through my links, I’ll get a small commission for pointing you toward that resource. This helps to support my work here, pay my web hosting fees, and keeps me bringing you quality content, so please do use those links, I definitely appreciate it. Most of the book descriptions given here are the official summaries from the publishers or authors; if I have specific notes on any volume, I’ll include an “ed. note” notation.


Horse Behavior

Horse and Pony Body Language Phrasebook by Susan McBane
Horses and humans share a long, harmonious relationship stretching back thousands of years. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know precisely what every swish of a tail, every stomp of a hoof, and every whinny really means? Though horses and ponies cannot speak, they have evolved a highly sophisticated system for communication. All of the most common behavioral traits of horses and ponies are examined in detail. Learn to recognize when your horse is happy, stressed, afraid, bored, or in pain. Each spread in this practical reference book features one of 100 ways to read your horse’s signals, including postures, gestures, and sounds. Full of beautiful full-color photographs and insightful advice written by animal psychologists and behavior experts.
Ed. note: This is a very quick read and a great basic introduction to the sorts of horse gestures and behaviors that will give your written horses the ring of truth. Well worth the low price as a reference to keep on hand.
Equus Lost?: How We Misunderstand the Nature of the Horse-Human Relationship--Plus Brave New Ideas for the Future by by Francesco De Giorgio & Jose De Giorgio-Schoorl
In the 1980s, the world of riding, training, and competing with horses took a major turn with the spread of natural horsemanship, which at its most basic foundation rejects the use of abusive techniques and relies on methods derived from understanding the dynamics of free-roaming horse herds. Since then, equestrians across disciplines have incorporated elements of natural horsemanship into their work. But despite what was certainly an advancement in human-equine interaction that has improved the lives of many horses, Italian animal behaviorists Francesco de Giorgio and José de Giorgio-Schoorl dare to now ask, What if much of what we think we know about horses is, in fact, wrong? What if the premise of herd hierarchy is a myth? What if “conditioning” the horse’s behavior in the ways we’ve grown accustomed is undercutting his potential for development? What if there is another—better—level of partnership to which we can aspire? Their provocative book takes us into a dimension where we shed our assumptions of leadership, dominance, and control, convincingly showing a way forward that acknowledges that a horse, when allowed, is driven by his own inner motivation to explore and understand the world around him, including his relationship with humans.
Ed. note: You might notice my recommendations for horse behavior books are a little slim... that's because most modern horsemen are operating on what I consider an out-dated and incorrect idea of dominance-based training. This book is an exploration of a new (and very old) kind of thinking about equine cognition, social life, and behavior.
The Horse Behavior Handbook by Abigail Hogg
Using case studies, colour diagrams, tables and checklists, the book describes in graphic detail how and why horses behave as they do. It draws upon the writer's personal experience dealing with problem horses - and the issues faced by their owners and riders - and offers sympathetic, informed and intelligent advice on how to get the best out of horse and rider.
Ed. note: This book contains a lot of great information about horses in their natural state, how the ways that we keep them in captivity influence their behavior, and what their natural social activity with other horses looks like.
The Nature of Horses: Exploring Equine Evolution, Intelligence, and Behavior by Stephen Budiansky
Horses have a shared history with man going back millennia to their domestication around 4000 B.C. Yet only in very recent years have scientists begun to turn the tools of modern science on this remarkable animal that has been so wrapped up in human dreams and legends. Now modern scientific research is beginning to explain long-standing mysteries about the true nature of the horse. How well can horses really see? What causes breakdowns in racehorses? How intelligent are they compared to other animals, and are some breeds smarter than others? Does nature or nurture matter more in creating a great sport horse? What causes cribbing and other vices? In this beautifully illustrated, compelling narrative, Budiansky tells the story of the origins, behavior, intelligence and language of the horse.


Horses & Humanity

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David W. Anthony
Linking prehistoric archaeological remains with the development of language, David Anthony identifies the prehistoric peoples of central Eurasia's steppe grasslands as the original speakers of Proto-Indo-European, and shows how their innovative use of the ox wagon, horseback riding, and the warrior's chariot turned the Eurasian steppes into a thriving transcontinental corridor of communication, commerce, and cultural exchange. He explains how they spread their traditions and gave rise to important advances in copper mining, warfare, and patron-client political institutions, thereby ushering in an era of vibrant social change. Anthony also describes his fascinating discovery of how the wear from bits on ancient horse teeth reveals the origins of horseback riding.
The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion by Wendy Williams
Williams chronicles the 56-million-year journey of horses as she visits with experts around the world, exploring what our biological affinities and differences can tell us about the bond between horses and humans, and what our longtime companion might think and feel. Indeed, recent scientific breakthroughs regarding the social and cognitive capacities of the horse and its ability to adapt to changing ecosystems indicate that this animal is a major evolutionary triumph.
The Age of the Horse: An Equine Journey Through Human History by Susanna Forrest
Fifty-six million years ago, the earliest equid walked the earth―and beginning with the first-known horse-keepers of the Copper Age, the horse has played an integral part in human history. Combining fascinating anthropological detail and incisive personal anecdotes, Forrest draws from an immense range of archival documents as well as literature and art to illustrate how our evolution has coincided with that of horses. In paintings and poems (such as Byron’s famous “Mazeppa”), in theater and classical music (including works by Liszt and Tchaikovsky), representations of the horse have changed over centuries, portraying the crucial impact that we’ve had on each other. Forrest deftly synthesizes this material with her own experience in the field, traveling the globe to give us a diverse, comprehensive look at the horse in our lives today: from Mongolia where she observes the endangered takhi, to a show-horse performance at the Palace of Versailles; from a polo club in Beijing to Arlington, Virginia, where veterans with PTSD are rehabilitated through interaction with horses. With passion and singular insight, Forrest investigates the complexities of human and horse coexistence, illuminating the multifaceted ways our cultures were shaped by this powerful creature.
The Horse in Human History by Pita Kelekna
The horse is surely the "aristocrat" of animals domesticated by man. This book documents the origins of horse domestication on the Pontic-Caspian steppes some 6,000 years ago and the consequent migration of equestrian tribes across Eurasia to the borders of sedentary states. Horse-chariotry and cavalry in effect changed the nature of warfare in the civilizations of the Middle East, India, and China. But, beyond the battlefield, horsepower also afforded great advances in transport, agriculture, industry, and science. Rapidity of horse communications forged far-flung equestrian empires, where language, law, weights, measures, and writing systems were standardized and revolutionary technologies and ideas were disseminated across continents. Always recognizing this dual character of horsepower - both destructive and constructive - the politico-military and economic importance of the horse is discussed in the rise of Hittite, Achaemenid, Chinese, Greco-Roman, Arab, Mongol, and Turkic states. Following Columbian contact, Old and New World cultures are contrastively evaluated in terms of presence or absence of the horse. And Spanish conquest of the horseless Americas is seen as the model for subsequent European equestrian colonization of horseless territories around the planet.
Ed. note: Extremely dense read; if you're used to digging in to academic texts, you'll breeze through this. If like me you have ADHD, you'll probably put it down before finishing the first chapter.
Horse: How the Horse Has Shaped Civilizations by J. Edward Chamberlin
Drawing on archaeology, biology, art, literature, and ethnography, Horse illuminates the relationship between humans and horses throughout history. It shares stories of horses at work, at war, and at play, in paintings, books, and movies, and ponders the intelligence of horses, their skill and strength as well as their grace and beauty.
Ed. note: A good overview to help you dive deeper into research, but some content is really under-researched and thoughtlessly perpetuates myths that I'm working on taking apart with the Horse Writing series. So take it with a grain of salt.
The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Human History by Brian Fagan
Animals, and our ever-changing relationship with them, have left an indelible mark on human history. From the dawn of our existence, animals and humans have been constantly redefining their relationship with one another, and entire civilizations have risen and fallen upon this curious bond we share with our fellow fauna. Brian Fagan unfolds this fascinating story from the first wolf who wandered into our prehistoric ancestors' camp and found companionship, to empires built on the backs of horses, donkeys, and camels, to the industrial age when some animals became commodities, often brutally exploited, and others became pets, nurtured and pampered, sometimes to absurd extremes. Through an in-depth analysis of six truly transformative human-animal relationships, Fagan shows how our habits and our very way of life were considerably and irreversibly altered by our intimate bond with animals. Among other stories, Fagan explores how herding changed human behavior; how the humble donkey helped launch the process of globalization; and how the horse carried a hearty band of nomads across the world and toppled the emperor of China. With characteristic care and penetrating insight, Fagan reveals the profound influence that animals have exercised on human history and how, in fact, they often drove it.
The Majesty of the Horse: An Illustrated History by Tamsin Pickeral (author) & Astrid Harrisson (photographer)
Horses have played a central role in human societies for millennia, and this magnificently written and beautifully illustrated volume celebrates that long, eventful history. It pays homage not only to the physical splendor of the horse--its grace, beauty, strength, and adaptability--but also to its remarkable diversity. Equestrian specialist Tamsin Pickeral traces the evolution of many different horse breeds from the dawn of written history to the present day.
Becoming Centaur: Eighteenth-Century Masculinity and English Horsemanship by Monica Mattfeld
In this study of the relationship between men and their horses in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England, Monica Mattfeld explores the experience of horsemanship and how it defined one's gendered and political positions within society. Men of the period used horses to transform themselves, via the image of the centaur, into something other—something powerful, awe-inspiring, and mythical. Focusing on the manuals, memoirs, satires, images, and ephemera produced by some of the period's most influential equestrians, Mattfeld examines how the concepts and practices of horse husbandry evolved in relation to social, cultural, and political life. She looks closely at the role of horses in the world of Thomas Hobbes and William Cavendish; the changes in human social behavior and horse handling ushered in by elite riding houses such as Angelo's Academy and Mr. Carter's; and the public perception of equestrian endeavors, from performances at places such as Astley's Amphitheatre to the satire of Henry William Bunbury. Throughout, Mattfeld shows how horses aided the performance of idealized masculinity among communities of riders, in turn influencing how men were perceived in regard to status, reputation, and gender.
Brother Mendel's Perfect Horse: Man and beast in an age of human warfare by Frank Westerman
Frank Westerman explores the history of Lipizzaners, an extraordinary troop of pedigree horses bred as personal mounts for the Emperor of Austria-Hungary. Following the bloodlines of the stud book, he reconstructs the story of four generations of imperial steed as they survive the fall of the Habsburg Empire, two world wars and the insane breeding experiments conducted under Hitler, Stalin and Ceausescu. But what begins as a fairytale becomes a chronicle of the quest for racial purity. Carrying the reader across Europe, from imperial stables and stud farms to the controversial gene labs of today, Westerman asks, if animal breeders are so good at genetic engineering, why do attempts to perfect the human strain always end in tragedy?
War Horse: A History of the Military Horse and Rider by Louis A. DiMarco
For more than four thousand years, the horse and rider have been an integral part of warfare. Armed with weapons and accessories ranging from a simple javelin to the hand-held laser designator, the horse and rider have fought from the steppes of central Asia to the plains of North America. Understanding the employment of the military horse is key to understanding the successes and the limitations of military operations and campaigns throughout history. Over the centuries, horses have been used to pull chariots, support armor-laden knights, move scouts rapidly over harsh terrain, and carry waves of tightly formed cavalry. In War Horse: A History of the Military Horse and Rider, Louis A. DiMarco discusses all of the uses of horses in battle, including the Greek, Persian, and Roman cavalry, the medieval knight and his mount, the horse warriors—Huns, Mongols, Arabs, and Cossacks—the mounted formations of Frederick the Great and Napoleon, and mounted unconventional fighters, such as American Indians, the Boers, and partisans during World War II. The book also covers the weapons and forces which were developed to oppose horsemen, including longbowmen, pike armies, cannon, muskets, and machine guns. The development of organizations and tactics are addressed beginning with those of the chariot armies and traced through the evolution of cavalry formations from Alexander the Great to the Red Army of World War II.
In addition, the author examines the training and equipping of the rider and details the types of horses used as military mounts at different points in history, the breeding systems that produced those horses, and the techniques used to train and control them. Finally, the book reviews the importance of the horse and rider to battle and military operations throughout history, and concludes with a survey of the current military use of horses. War Horse is a comprehensive look at this oldest and most important aspect of military history, the relationship between human and animal, a weapons system that has been central to warfare longer than any other.
Noble Brutes: How Eastern Horses Transformed English Culture by Do"His lordship’s Arabian," a phrase often heard in eighteenth-century England, described a new kind of horse imported into the British Isles from the Ottoman Empire and the Barbary States of North Africa. Noble Brutes traces how the introduction of these Eastern blood horses transformed early modern culture and revolutionized England’s racing and equestrian tradition. More than two hundred Oriental horses were imported into the British Isles between 1650 and 1750. With the horses came Eastern ideas about horsemanship and the relationship between horses and humans. Landry’s groundbreaking archival research reveals how these Eastern imports profoundly influenced riding and racing styles, as well as literature and sporting art.


Traveling by Horse

The Horse Travel Handbook by CuChullaine O'Reilly
For thousands of years we have travelled on horseback but until now no one has shown us the way. The Horse Travel Handbook, a field guide drawn from its parent edition The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration, is the most authoritative work of its kind and contains the hard-earned wisdom gained by hundreds of Long Riders during centuries of equestrian travel. The concise, easy-to-use volume covers every aspect needed to successfully complete a journey by horse, including how to organize the trip, plan a route, choose the proper equipment and purchase horses. Traditional challenges such as loading a pack saddle, avoiding dangerous animals, fording rivers and outwitting horse thieves are covered here along with ingenious solutions to modern dilemmas like crossing international borders, surviving vehicle traffic and negotiating with hostile bureaucrats. This handbook covers all aspects of equine welfare including feeding, watering, saddling and health care. Technical details such as daily travel distance, where to locate nightly shelter and ways to avoid cultural conflicts are among the hundreds of specific topics examined.
Ed. note: A thick, info-packed volume that's perfect for a writer's reference shelf. Most of the information is current to the last century, but writers crafting long-distance journeys in earlier time periods will need to account for the same struggles like weather, terrain, borders, and keeping a horse in good health over a long journey.
FREE
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The Long Rider's Guild
The website of the Long Rider's Guild is an indispensable treasure trove of first-hand accounts of extremely long horseback journeys. (Equestrian travelers are invited to join after they've completed a single continuous ride of 1000 miles or 1600 kilometers.) Their Stories from the Road section contains accounts of travels all over the globe, and their History of Equestrian Travel page is riveting. You can find information on equipment, routes, trails and borders, and just about everything you could possibly want to know about long-distance travel by horse. (The author of the above volume, The Horse Travel Handbook, is also the founder of the Long Rider's Guild.) In their first-hand accounts, the Long Riders detail what distances they limited themselves to each day, what measures they took to ensure the health and safety of their horses, how they handled the logistics of their journeys, and much more.
The Long Riders also publish books of some of the travel accounts in their archive, which you can find on their books page; there are a great many so I won't list them all here.
Tschiffely's Ride: Ten Thousand Miles in the Saddle from Southern Cross to Pole Star by Aimé Tschiffely
From the southeast coast of South America through an expanse of Peruvian sands en route to the West Coast, then onward through Central American jungles and rainforest, and finally to New York, Tschiffely’s journey was considered impossible and absurd by many newspaper writers in 1925. However, after two and a half years on horseback with two of his trusty and tough steeds, this daring trekker lived to tell his best-selling tale. Tschiffely’s 10,000-mile journey was filled with adventure and triumph, but it also forced the traveler to deal with tremendous natural and man-made obstacles, as many countries in Central America were war-torn. He traversed rivers and mountains in hurricanes and hail storms, stopping to stay the night with farmers and villagers in huts who often shared their mysterious and superstitious tales. He ate dried goats’ meat in a desolate town of Santiago del Estero, watched illegal cockfights and vicious machete battles between plantation workers in Jujuy, and was healed by an Indian herb doctor in the mountains of Bolivia for his infection after excavating graves; these obstacles have captured the hearts of people from around the world. In addition to the remarkable details of his travel expedition, Tschiffely’s relationship with his horses, Mancha and Gato, is perhaps the most endearing element of the book, and his photos of the people and places he encountered make Tschiffely’s Ride the perfect travel companion for adventure enthusiasts.
FREE ONLINE
Horse Packing: A Manual of Pack Transportation by Charles Johnson Post
Published in 1914, this book contains outdated information from a modern packer's perspective, but is a terrific look into the packing techniques of the era. The author includes specifics on how heavy a load a mule should carry, and for what distances over what terrain, and what sort of manpower might be needed to manage them all. He also details equipment, teaches a great many knots and hitches, and even diagrams how to fix a litter for an injured man onto a mule. The information is not appropriate for pack journeys in all eras, but has plenty of specifics for those writing in this time period, and for the needs and concerns in the hauling of loads by pack animals. The full book is available on archive.org in a variety of formats; this book is very heavy on illustration, so make sure you grab a version that includes the illustrations, or you can check it out right there in the PDF viewer at archive.org.
FREE ONLINE
US War Department Field Manual FM 25-7: Pack Transportation, 1944
WWII-era US Army manual for using pack animals, available for free in its entirety at archive.org in their outstanding WWII Archive.
"The mission of pack transportation is to transport loads on the backs of animals over terrain which is difficult for or impassable to wheeled or track-laying vehicles. Its success depends largely upon the careful selection and training of personnel and pack animals. The employment of correct packing and march techniques is essential. The following topics are included in this field manual: selection and training of pack animals; Phillips pack saddles; packer's saddle (full-rigged); lashed loads; hanger and adapter loads; pack train (herded); pack transport with individually led animals; marches and bivouacs; and emergency methods of pack transport."


Horses in Ancient History

The Horse in the Ancient World by Ann Hyland
While the ancient world was vast and varied, the presence of the horse formed a common thread in many diverse regions. From the Hittites to Persia to the Seleukid Kingdom in Mesopotamia, in Egypt, Thrace, Rome, Byzantium, Arabia, and Scythia, horses contributed to economic prosperity and played a part in technological advancement. Hyland also considers their presence in the Steppe, among the Hun tribes, in China, and among the early Celts. Her vivid account, which ranges from c. 1350 BC to c. 640 AD, will inform and entertain.

FREE
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On Horsemanship by Xenophon
Xenophon (c. 430–354 BC) was an Athenian horseman, general, historian, and philosopher who wrote what is still a highly relevant and definitive horseman's guide, commonly called either On Horsemanship or The Art of Horsemanship. His guide offers not just insight into the techniques and horses of his day, but also timeless advice on topics like selection of a suitable horse, starting the education of a young horse, the training of a groom, and even how to keep from being cheated by a horse-trader. It's a fascinating look into a distant past with advice that carries through to the present.
Download text: Project Gutenberg
Audio version: LibraVox
The Art of Horsemanship: Xenophon and other classical writers by A. Nyland
Xenophon was an ancient Greek soldier who lived from around 430-354 BC. His "Art of Horsemanship" is his work on selecting and educating horses. It was not the first work of its kind, an earlier being that by Simon of Athens. This book also includes excerpts by Aristotle, Columella, Diogenes Laertius, Herodotos, Juvenal, Livy, Pliny the Elder, Simon of Athens, Suetonius, Theomnestus, Virgil, (and two of Xenophon's other works mentioning horsemanship,) which are relevant to Xenophon's The Art of Horsemanship. This is a NEW English translation by Dr A. Nyland.
Ed. note: Though Xenophon's works are available free in the public domain (links above), if you'd like a print or ebook copy, this one stands out. It pulls in plenty of other sources and excerpts, and is evidently a new, more nuanced translation. The additional sources can definitely give you great ideas for where else to look for primary sources from the ancient world.
The Horse in the Ancient World: From Bucephalus to the Hippodrome by Carolyn Willekes
The domestication of the horse in the fourth millennium BC altered the course of mankind's future. Formerly a source only of meat, horses now became the prime mode of fast transport as well as a versatile weapon of war. Carolyn Willekes traces the early history of the horse through a combination of equine iconography, literary representations, fieldwork and archaeological theory. She explores the ways in which horses were used in the ancient world, whether in regular cavalry formations, harnessed to chariots, as a means of reconnaissance, in swift and deadly skirmishing (such as by Scythian archers) or as the key mode of mobility. Establishing a regional typology of ancient horses―Mediterranean, Central Asian and Near Eastern―the author discerns within these categories several distinct sub-types. Explaining how the physical characteristics of each type influenced its use on the battlefield―through grand strategy, singular tactics and general deployment―she focuses on Egypt, Persia and the Hittites, as well as Greece and Rome.
Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare by Phil Sidnell
Cavalry were an important part of almost every ancient army, yet modern writers have neglected them in favour of the infantry of the Greek phalanx and the Roman legions. Warhorse seeks to correct this injustice. Phil Sidnell challenges the common view that ancient cavalry were useful for scouting and raiding but left the real fighting to the foot soldiers. In fact, he argues, they were often used in a shock role and proved decisive on many occasions. The famous victories of great generals such as Alexander, Hannibal and Julius Caesar could not have been won without a full appreciation of the battle-winning potential of the cavalry.
Early Riders: The Beginnings of Mounted Warfare in Asia and Europe by Robert Drews
In this wide-ranging and often controversial book, Robert Drews examines the question of the origins of man's relations with the horse. He questions the belief that on the Eurasian steppes men were riding in battle as early as 4000 BC, and suggests that it was not until around 900 BC that men anywhere - whether in the Near East and the Aegean or on the steppes of Asia - were proficient enough to handle a bow, sword or spear while on horseback. After establishing when, where, and most importantly why good riding began, Drews goes on to show how riding raiders terrorized the civilized world in the seventh century BC, and how central cavalry was to the success of the Median and Persian empires. Drawing on archaeological, iconographic and textual evidence, this is the first book devoted to the question of when horseback riders became important in combat. Comprehensively illustrated, this book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the origins of civilization in Eurasia, and the development of man's military relationship with the horse.
Decorated Roman Armour: From the Age of the Kings to the Death of Justinian the Great by Raffaele d'Amato
From the time of the Bronze Age, the warriors of all tribes and nations sought to emblazon their arms and armor with items and images to impress upon the enemy the wealth and power of the wearer. Magnificently decorated shields were as much a defensive necessity as a symbol of social status. Equally, decorative symbols on shields and armor defined the collective ideals and the self-conceived important of the village or city-state its warriors represented. Such items were therefore of great significance to the wearers, and the authors of this astounding detailed and extensively research book, have brought together years of research and the latest archaeological discoveries, to produce a work of undeniable importance.
The Armies of Ancient Persia: The Sassanians by Kaveh Farrokh
Throughout most of the classical period, Persia was one of the great superpowers, placing a limit on the expansion of Western powers. It was the most formidable rival to the Roman Empire for centuries, until Persia, by then under the Sassanians, was overwhelmed by the Islamic conquests in the seventh century AD. Yet, the armies of ancient Persia have received relatively little detailed attention, certainly in comparison to those of Rome. This work is the first of three volumes (though chronologically the last) that will form the most comprehensive study of ancient Persian armies available. The Sassanians, the native Iranian dynasty that ousted their Parthian overlords in AD 226, developed a highly sophisticated army that was able for centuries to hold off all comers. They continued the Parthian's famous winning combination of swift horse archers with heavily-armored cataphract cavalry, also making much use of war elephants, but Kaveh Farrokh interestingly demonstrates that their oft-maligned infantry has been much underestimated. The author, himself an Iranian émigré and expert in ancient Persian languages and military history, draws on the latest research and new archaeological evidence, focusing on the organization, equipment and tactics of the armies that dominated the ancient Middle East for so long.
Cataphracts: Knights fo the Ancient Eastern Empires by Erich B. Anderson
Cataphracts were the most heavily armored form of cavalry in the ancient world, with riders and mounts both clad in heavy armor. Originating among the wealthiest nobles of various central Asian steppe tribes, such as the Massegatae and Scythians, they were adopted and adapted by several major empires. The Achaemenid Persians, Seleucids, Sassanians and eventually the Romans and their Byzantine successors. Usually armed with long lances, they harnessed the mobility and mass of the horse to the durability and solid fighting power of the spear-armed phalanx. Although very expensive to equip and maintain (not least due to the need for a supply of suitable horses), they were potential battle winners and remained in use for many centuries. Erich B Anderson assesses the development, equipment, tactics and combat record of cataphracts (and the similar clibinarii), showing also how enemies sought to counter them. This is a valuable study of one of the most interesting weapon systems of the ancient world.
Warfare and Weaponry in Dynastic Egypt by Rebecca Angharad Dean
Defence. Attack. Symbolism. The development of warfare in any society provides an evocative glance into the lives (and deaths) of our predecessors. This is never more the case than with that most enticing of ancient civilizations, Ancient Egypt. Follow Rebecca Dean through the fascinating world of mysterious figures such as Tutankhamun and Nefertiti, examining not only the history and development of ancient Egyptian warfare, but the weapons used and the way they were handled. Swords, axes, and daggers are the weapons of choice here, as ancient Egyptian warfare is brought vividly to life through the exciting use of experimental archaeology. By examining and testing replicas of real-life artifacts, just how deadly these ancient Egyptian weapons were can be seen. Looking closely at the nature of such weapons also brings to life the formidable women who, on occasion, grasped power in a male-dominated world. Read on to discover more about this fascinating subject.
Dawn of the Horse Warriors: Chariot and Cavalry Warfare, 3000-600BC by Duncan Noble
The domestication of the horse revolutionized warfare, granting unprecedented strategic and tactical mobility, allowing armies to strike with terrifying speed. The horse was first used as the motive force for chariots and then, in a second revolution, as mounts for the first true cavalry. The period covered encompasses the development of the first clumsy ass-drawn chariots in Sumer (of which the author built and tested a working replica for the BBC); takes in the golden age of chariot warfare resulting from the arrival of the domesticated horse and the spoked wheel, then continues down through the development of the first regular cavalry force by the Assyrians and on to their eventual overthrow by an alliance of Medes and the Scythians, wild semi-nomadic horsemen from the Eurasian steppe. As well as narrating the rise of the mounted arm through campaigns and battles, Duncan Noble draws on all his vast experience as a horseman and experimental archaeologist to discuss with great authority the development of horsemanship, horse management and training and the significant developments in horse harness and saddles.


The Medieval Horse

Medieval Warhorse: From Byzantium To The Crusades by Ann Hyland
Previous works on the medieval cavalry arm have generally been confined to the battle record of the Western heavy cavalry. This book examines the entire world of the medieval warhorse, how the animals were bred, trained and doctored, as well as their use in combat.Mounted warriors of all classes are covered, both in Europe and among the Persians, Arabs, Turks and Mongols. The numerous illustrations depict the horse as represented in medieval manuscripts and sculptures, saddles, bridles and spurs, and a collection of photographs showing modern horses of surviving medieval breeds.Hyland offers extensive coverage of medieval horses at war in both East and West, including ground-breaking research on the use of the horse by the Anglo-Saxons. Her text is supported by a glossary of equestrian and veterinary terms, comprehensive bibliography, and index of horse-related subjects, making for a unique blend of historical scholarship and professional equestrian expertise.
The Medieval Horse and its Equipment, c.1150-1450 by John Clark
Whether knight's charger or beast of burden, horses played a vital role in medieval life. The wealth of medieval finds excavated in London in recent years has, not surprisingly, included many objects associated with horses. This catalogue illustrates and discusses over four hundred such objects, among them harness, horseshoes, spurs and curry combs, from the utilitarian to highly decorative pieces. London served by horse traffic comes vividly in view.
The introductory chapter draws on historical as well as archaeological sources to consider the role of the horse in medieval London. It looks at the price of horses and the costs of maintaining them, the hiring of 'hackneys' for riding, the use of carts in and around London, and the work of the 'marshal' or farrier. It discusses the evidence for the size of medieval horses and includes a survey of finds of medieval horse skeletons from London. It answers the key questions, how large a 'Great Horse' was, and why it took three horses to pull a cart.
This is a basic work of reference for archaeologists and those studying medieval artefacts, and absorbing reading for everyone interested in the history of the horse and its use by humankind.
The Horse in the Middle Ages by Ann Hyland
Comprehensive and illustrated study of the horse in the mediaeval and early Tudor period. Ann Hyland discusses the working horse, warhorse, horse breeding and trading and the whole infrastructure of grooms, farriers, wheelwrights and cordwainers which kept the medieval equine world running.
Knights and Warhorses: Military Service and the English Aristocracy under Edward III by Andrew Ayton
The mounted, armoured knight is one of the most potent symbols of medieval civilisation; indeed, for much of the middle ages the armoured warhorse was what defined a man as a member of the military class. However, despite the status of the knightly warrior in medieval society, the military service of the later medieval English aristocracy remains an unaccountably neglected subject, and the warhorse itself has never attracted a major study based upon archival sources. This book seeks to open up new fields of research: it focuses on the horse inventories, documents which offer detailed lists of men-at-arms and their appraised warhorses, the valuation of which is a measure of its owner's social and military status. Dr Ayton is primarily concerned with the inventories and related records for Edward III's reign, a period which witnessed significant changes in the organisation of the English fighting machine. The documents produced during this period of `military revolution' cast valuable light on the character and attitudes of the aristocratic military community at a time when its traditional role was in the course of re-evaluation.
The Warhorse 1250-1600 by Ann Hyland
Between 1250 and 1600 the horse enjoyed its maximum military importance. Hyland examines its use in the west as the knight and the barded horse reached its greates epoch, in the east, including practices in Persia, the Levant, Russia, India and the Americas during the expansion of the Spanish empire.
Charny's Men-at-arms: Questions Concerning the Joust, Tournament and War by Steven Muhlberger
The Questions Concerning the Joust, Tournaments, and War is a lost classic work of European chivalry; the only record we have of a dramatic occasion when crucial questions on the nature of war and the proper conduct of the warrior's life were posed to an audience of experts, professional men-at-arms of rank and influence. Written in the mid-14th century by the famed knight, Geoffrey de Charny, most modern scholars, perhaps sensibly, have shied away from even offering much in the way of analysis of the Questions as a whole, leading to a situation where the Questions are hardly known, even to scholars. But if Charny does not provide definitive answers about the practice of chivalry and the content of the law of arms, the Questions nevertheless do provide us something else of value - a picture of how knights, squires and other professional warriors of standing, conceived of their way of life. Completing the work he began in 2003 Jousts and Tournaments, Steven Muhlberger turns his pen to the final section of Charny's work to reveal what it tells us about how medieval 'men-at-arms' conceived of themselves as a class, at precisely the moment that their world was undergoing a series of sweeping changes that would forever change the profession of arms.
Ed. note: An excellent primary source from the writings of a 14th-century knight, with interpretation and elaboration by a modern scholar.
The Knight in History by Frances Gies
Born out of the chaos of the early Middle Ages, the armored and highly mobile knight revolutionized warfare and quickly became a mythic figure in history. From the Knights Templars and English knighthood to the crusades and chivalry, The Knight in History, by acclaimed medievalist Frances Gies, bestselling coauthor of Life in a Medieval Castle, paints a remarkable true picture of knighthood—exploring the knight’s earliest appearance as an agent of lawless violence, his reemergence as a dynamic social entity, his eventual disappearance from the European stage, and his transformation into Western culture’s most iconic hero.
Ed note: Gies has also written a number of other excellent volumes about medieval life, including Life in a Medieval Castle, Life in a Medieval City, and Life in a Medieval Village, which might help further with your medieval worldbuilding. She's also written volumes on women, family life, technology, and commerce; take a look at her Amazon author page for more.
Medieval Warrior: Weapons, Technology, and Fighting Techniques, AD 1000-1500 by Martin Dougherty
The essential visual guide to the warriors of the Middle Ages, this richly illustrated guide provides an overview of the medieval world and a guide to the typical battlefield and the armies that populated it.
The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry
by Christine de Pizan, translated by Sumner Willard
It is unexpected in any era to find a woman writing a book on the art of warfare, but in the fifteenth century it was unbelievable. Not surprisingly, therefore, Christine de Pizan's The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry, written around 1410, has often been regarded with disdain. Many have assumed that Christine was simply copying or pilfering earlier military manuals. But, as Sumner Willard and Charity Cannon Willard show in this faithful English translation, The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry contains much that is original to Christine. As a military manual it tells us a great deal about the strategy, tactics, and technology of medieval warfare and is one of our most important sources for early gunpowder weapon technology. It also includes a fascinating discussion of Just War.

Since the end of the fifteenth century, The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry has been available primarily through Antoine Vérard's imprint of 1488 or William Caxton's 1489 translation, The Book of the Order of Chivalry. Vérard even suggested that the work was his own translation of the Roman writer Vegetius, making no mention of Christine 's name. Caxton attributed the work to Christine, but it is impossible to identify the manuscript he used for his translation. Moreoever, both translations are inaccurate. The Willards correct these inaccuracies in a clear and easy-to-read translation, which they supplement with notes and an introduction that will greatly benefit students, scholars, and enthusiasts alike. Publication of this work should change our perception both of medieval warfare and of Christine de Pizan.
Ed. note: An important primary source written in the 15th century, with an updated translation and additional notes from the editors.
Knight: The Medieval Warrior's (Unofficial) Manual by Michael Prestwich
The knight is the supreme warrior of the Middle Ages. Fully armored and mounted on a magnificent charger, he seems invincible. Honor and glory await him as, guided by the chivalric code, he fights with lance and sword. This carefully researched yet entertaining book provides all the essential information you need to become a successful knight in the later Middle Ages, during the period of the Hundred Years’ War. Should you go on a Crusade? Which order of chivalry might you consider joining? What is required when you go through the ceremony of knighthood? Here are the answers to these and many more questions plus practical advice on topics such as equipment, fighting methods, and the conventions of warfare. But the knightly life is not all battles and sieges: there are also tournaments and jousts to enjoy and the world of courtly love. Based on contemporary lives and descriptions, this book—written by a leading medieval historian—paints a vivid picture of what it was like to be a medieval knight.
Ed. note: Accessible and entertaining, full of interesting details; it's not exactly a comprehensive scholarly work, but an easy read and a good time.
A Knight and His Horse by Ewart Oakeshott
Describes the horses used by knights in the Middle Ages, as well as the equipment and weapons they used in battle.
Ed. note: A volume intended for younger readers, and quite thin, but a decent short overview. Oakeshott has a number of other similar volumes on related subjects, like A Knight in Battle, A Knight and His Armor, and A Knight and His Castle, as well as a number of other more adult and scholarly volumes on the arms and armor of medieval Europe. Take a look at his Amazon author page for more.
Knights at Tournament by Christopher Gravett
Like all warrior classes throughout history medieval knights engaged in military games, partly in preparation for war and partly for pure sport. From their often brutal origins in the 10th century to the gaudy pageantry and eventual decline of the 15th and 16th centuries, tournaments were the centre of the knightly life. The image of the armoured and surcoated knight on his caparisoned charger remains the epitome of the chivalric ideal. Christopher Gravett explores the history of the tournament from its chaotic beginnings to its more formal, 'civilised' incarnation, describing the various 'events' and equipment which came into use.
Ed. note: A slim volume, but one of my favorites from my own reference shelf. Full of interesting details that I hadn't seen discussed much before, even as an enthusiast of the era since childhood. And the illustrations by Angus McBride are beyond gorgeous.
The Armored Horse in Europe, 1480-1620 by Stuart W. Pyhrr, Donald J. LaRocca, Dirk H. Breiding
The horse was an integral part of Renaissance culture, not only as a beast of burden but also as a sign of rank and status. For the nobility equitation was an essential skill, both socially and militarily. Horses played a pivotal role in warfare and often wore armor as elaborate and expensive as that of their riders.
Drawing exclusively from the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, this catalogue features various types of European horse armor dating from 1480 to 1620. Splendid examples, many of which are unpublished or rarely seen, are examined in terms of style, construction, and decoration.
Ed. note: It's a museum catalog from an exhibition at the Met, but also contains at least some information on the use of horses and horse armor. Many of the armor pieces featured, and other historical horse-related artifacts, can be seen in the Met's free image archive, and many of the images are also public domain.
The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager
The gripping, atmospheric true story of the “duel to end all duels” in medieval France: a trial by combat pitting a knight against a squire accused of violating the knight’s beautiful young wife. When Jean de Carrouges, a Norman knight, returns from combat in Scotland to find his wife, Marguerite, accusing Jacques LeGris, her husband’s old friend and fellow courtier, of brutally raping her, the knight takes his cause before the teenage King Charles VI. Amid LeGris’s vociferous claims of innocence and doubts about the now pregnant Marguerite’s charges (and about the paternity of her child), the deadlocked court decrees a “trial by combat” that leaves her fate, too, in the balance. For if her husband and champion loses the duel, she will be put to death as a false accuser.
Carrouges and LeGris, in full armor, eventually meet on a walled field in Paris before a massive crowd that includes the king and many nobles of the realm. A fierce fight on horseback and then on foot ensues during which both combatants suffer wounds—but only one fatal. The violent and tragic episode was notorious in its own time because of the nature of the alleged crime, the legal impasse it provoked, and the resulting trial by combat, an ancient but increasingly suspect institution that was thereafter abolished.
Ed. note: An engaging story that offers many details on the daily life of knights, campaigns of the era, and even travel by horseback. I've written a review of the book with more details.
Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry and Pageants in the Middle Ages by Richard Barber
The first serious study of tournaments throughout Europe reveals their importance - in the training of the medieval knight, the development of arms and armour, as an instrument of political patronage, and as a grand public spectacle.
Ed. note: A great book covering the general topic of tournaments, with a lot of detail about their social impact, different types of events, and the rules and customs of tournaments in different countries.
The Book of Horsemanship by Duarte I of Portugal, translated by Jeffrey L. Forgeng
Written around 1430, Duarte of Portugal's remarkable treatise on chivalric horsemanship, the Livro do Cavalgar (Book on Riding), is not only the sole substantial contemporary source on the definitive physical skill of the medieval knight, it is a remarkably intelligent and innovative work that still has much to offer to modern practitioners of physical arts. The book stands out from the body of technical writings that survive from the Middle Ages for its intelligence, insight, and intellectual versatility, ranging from psychological reflections on horsemanship and its implications for human ethics, to the details of how to couch a lance under your arm without getting it caught on your armor. Under the general rubric of horsemanship Duarte covers a range of topics that include jousting, tourneying, and hunting, as well as the physical apparatus of equestrianism and various cultural styles of riding. However, despite its importance for scholarship, its language and technical content have so far resisted proper translation, a need which this book fills. The introduction provides not only the background to make Duarte's text comprehensible, but for the first time offers modern audiences a systematic point of access to the subject of medieval equestrianism in general.
The Art of Riding on Every Saddle by Dom Duarte, translated by António Franco Preto
This book written by D. Duarte, a fifteenth century Portuguese King, embodies in a very unique way the spirit of knighthood. This is a result of D. Duarte’s revolutionary way of approaching this art, by focusing both combat and horse-riding techniques on the person behind these skills. Being a strong believer in the ability to improve one’s character, D. Duarte’s lessons on will power, managing fear and being one with the environment, are as relevant for today’s society, if not even more, as when they were written. Thus, the precise and straight forward way used by D. Duarte to approach these psychological and spiritual topics make this book a valuable adviser for anyone looking to progress from Martial Artist to Instructor and, finally, becoming a Teacher. D. Duarte's brilliant insights into the Human spirit are now available through this 2nd edition, which includes a NEW CHAPTER on recent research that raises intriguing questions regarding both identity of the portrait usually thought to be D. Henrique, Duarte's brother, as well as D. Duarte's own name.
Ed. note: The publisher's summary above makes this sound like more of a philosophical treatise than a book of horsemanship, but never fear: this book is a treasure trove of details on horsemanship, technique, hunting from horseback, jousting, and even teaching horsemanship. A tremendous primary source.
by Federico Grisone, translated by Elizabeth MacKenzie Tobey & Federica Brunori Deigan
Federico Grisone published Gli ordini di cavalcare (The Rules of Riding) in 1550, the first manual on manège riding, the ancestor of modern dressage. The Ordini codified a half-century of oral tradition of teaching this art and was a best seller and a welcome aid in educating noblemen at European courts in the art of the manège. Elizabeth Tobey and Federica Brunori Deigan have prepared the first modern edited English translation of the Ordini, which should interest Renaissance scholars and equestrians, and includes an introductory essay, a glossary of equestrian terms, and the transcription of the 1550 Italian first edition.


Native Horses & The Old West

Song for the Horse Nation: Horses in Native American Cultures by National Museum of the American Indian & Emil Her Many Horses
The tradition of horses in Native American culture, depicted through images, essays, and quotes. For many Native Americans, each animal and bird that surrounded them was part of a nation of its own, and none was more vital to both survival and culture than the horse.
Native American Horse Gear: A Golden Age of Equine-Inspired Art of the Nineteenth Century by E. Helene Sage
Here is the first book to cover all aspects of Native American equine tack/equipment as a single subject. It focuses on the equipment used by 19th century tribal men and women of North America. The dominant role of horses in these peoples' lives was reflected in the beautiful, practical, and artistic accoutrements made to decorate their prestigious and powerful animals. With informative text and over 200 beautiful color photos, readers will explore geographical locations and tribal characteristics, techniques, and materials used to create often beautiful horse gear. Equipment covered includes bridles, saddles, saddle blankets, saddlebags, breastcollars and cruppers, quirts, masks, and equine imagery in utilitarian objects. Cultural areas explored include the Plains, Prairie, Great Basin, Plateau, and the Southwest. Information essential to understanding variations in forms and decorative motifs amongst tribes, including trade relations and familiarization and varying geographical conditions, have also been discussed.
The Horse and the Plains Indians: A Powerful Partnership by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, photography by William Muñoz
The image of a Native American on horseback has become ingrained in the American consciousness. But the Plains Indians and the horse were not always inseparable. Once, Native Americans used dogs to help carry their goods, and even after the Spaniards introduced the horse to the Americas, horses were considered so valuable that the Spanish would not allow the Indians to have them. But soon horses escaped from Spanish settlements, and Native Americans quickly learned how valuable the horse could be as a hunting mount, beast of burden, and military steed. Follow the story of this transformative partnership, starting in the early sixteenth century and continuing today.
Horse Nations: The Worldwide Impact of the Horse on Indigenous Societies Post-1492 by Peter Mitchell
The first wide-ranging and up-to-date synthesis of the impact of the horse on the Indigenous societies of North and South America, southern Africa, and Australasia following its introduction as a result of European contact post-1492. Drawing on sources in a variety of languages and on the evidence of archaeology, anthropology, and history, the volume outlines the transformations that the acquisition of the horse wrought on a diverse range of groups within these four continents. It explores key topics such as changes in subsistence, technology, and belief systems, the horse's role in facilitating the emergence of more hierarchical social formations, and the interplay between ecology, climate, and human action in adopting the horse, as well as considering how far equestrian lifestyles were ultimately unsustainable.
Cowboy Gear: A Photographic Portrayal of the Early Cowboys and Their Equipment by David R. Stoecklein
A magnificent, full color documentary of our Western heritage, including saddles, spurs, boots, hats, and attitude. Cowboy Gear shows artifacts and collectibles from 1860 to 1920 as they were actually used by their original owners -- it's a true look into the daily lives of the men who settled the West.
Cattle Kingdom: The Hidden History of the Cowboy West by Christopher Knowlton
The open range cattle era lasted barely a quarter-century, but it left America irrevocably changed. These few decades following the Civil War brought America its greatest boom-and-bust cycle until the Depression, the invention of the assembly line, and the dawn of the conservation movement. It inspired legends, such as that icon of rugged individualism, the cowboy. Yet this extraordinary time and its import have remained unexamined for decades. Cattle Kingdom reveals the truth of how the West rose and fell, and how its legacy defines us today. The tale takes us from dust-choked cattle drives to the unlikely splendors of boomtowns like Abilene, Kansas, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. We venture from the Texas Panhandle to the Dakota Badlands to the Chicago stockyards. We meet a diverse array of players—from the expert cowboy Teddy Blue to the failed rancher and future president Teddy Roosevelt. Knowlton shows us how they and others like them could achieve so many outsized feats: killing millions of bison in a decade, building the first opera house on the open range, driving cattle by the thousand, and much more.
I See by Your Outfit: Historic Cowboy Gear of the Northern Plains by Tom Lindmier
No Hollywood flim-flam or arty photographic re-creation here. Lindmier and Mount demonstrate through the use of historic photographs what actual working cowboys of the Northern Plains wore and what equipment they used from the 1870s until 1928. These cowboys may not look like the ones in the movies, but you can bet your boots they are the real thing. The authors researched chaps, spurs, boots, and even underwear. Chapters cover saddles and horse gear as well as wagons. Over 120 historic photos and illustrations.
The Spur: History, Art, Culture, Function by David R. Stoecklein
This series of books by photographer David R. Stoecklein brings into focus a few of the most important elements of cowboy gear-boots, spurs, and buckles. The quality and superb craftsmanship of some of these exquisite pieces shine through in these images. In these pages you will find spurs from all across the West, handcrafted belt buckles, and weathered cowboy boots. There is a story behind each one that speaks of the tradition and rich heritage of cowboy life.
Saddles of the West by David R. Stoecklein
In another volume in his Cowboy Gear series, David Stoecklein's photographs trace the historic beginnings of the Western saddle and the handiwork of some of the most famous early saddle makers. These saddles range from the simplest of designs to the most ornate and hand-tooled leather creations. Modern day saddle makers build saddles for the real cowboys of the West who use them in cutting, reining, working cow horse, rodeo, and more. The images in this collection show off the skilled craftsmanship and creativity that goes into each one.
Steamboat, Legendary Bucking Horse: His Life and Times, and the Cowboys Who Tried to Tame Him by Candy Vyvey Moulton & Flossie Moulton
Candy and Flossie Moulton present the story behind this horse whose likeness is the symbol of Wyoming seen on the state s license plates and as the University of Wyoming logo. The book traces the history of the bucking horse from his youth on the Two Bar outfit of the Swan Land and Cattle Company through his rise to the undisputed World Champion Bucking Horse. Was Steamboat the horse who wouldn't be rode? Which men climbed aboard the horse? Who is the cowboy atop the horse on the famous logo on the Wyoming license tag? How is Steamboat connected to Cheyenne Frontier Days, the notorious range detective Tom Horn, and the Irwin Brothers Wild West Show? You'll find the answers here.


The Modern Cavalry

The War Horses: The Tragic Fate of a Million Horses in the First World War by Simon Butler
It is estimated that 10 million fighting men, almost 800,000 of them British, died in the First World War. Alongside this tide of human cannon fodder was formed an equally large army of horses and mules: on the Western Front alone, one million horses died. This book tells the story of the part these animals played in the war.
American Military Horsemanship: The Military Riding Seat of the United States Cavalry, 1792 through 1944 by James Ottevaere
During its time the United States Cavalry grew from a few squadrons of dragoons scattered across a vast frontier to what would become, by the end of the American Civil War, the largest body of mounted troops in the western world. During the post Civil War years the Cavalry would again become a small, but highly affective, mobile force charged with protecting American westward expansion. At the close of the 19th Century the United States would fight its first "foreign war" away from the protective shores of the United States. The Cavalry, although it would play only a minor role in the "small war" with Spain, would emerge as the mounted arm of a newly anointed world power. It would train its troopers to be excellent soldiers, competent horsemen and journeymen riders, mostly, in that order. How its troopers were taught to ride and how they sat a horse is the story of American Military Horsemanship and the American military riding seat.
Horsemen in No Man's Land: British Cavalry & Trench Warfare 1914-1918 by David Kenyon
Of what use was the British cavalry during the years of trench warfare on the Western Front? On a static battlefield dominated by the weapons of the industrial age, by the machine gun and massed artillery, the cavalry was seen as an anachronism. It was vulnerable to modern armaments, of little value in combat and a waste of scarce resources. At least, that is the common viewpoint. Indeed, the cavalry have been consistently underestimated since the first histories of the Great War were written. But, in light of modern research, is this the right verdict? David Kenyon seeks to answer this question in his thought-provoking new study. His conclusions challenge conventional wisdom on the subject – they should prompt a radical reevaluation of the role of the horseman on the battlefields of France and Flanders a century ago. Using evidence gained from research into wartime records and the eyewitness accounts of the men who were there – who saw the cavalry in action – he reassesses the cavalry's contribution and performance. His writing gives a vivid insight into cavalry tactics and the ethos of the cavalrymen of the time. He also examines how the cavalry combined with the other arms of the British army, in particular the tanks. His well-balanced and original study will be essential reading for students of the Western Front and for anyone who is interested in the long history of cavalry combat.
Riders of the Apocalypse: German Cavalry and Modern Warfare, 1870-1945 by David R. Dorondo
Despite the enduring popular image of the blitzkrieg of World War II, the German Army always depended on horses. It could not have waged war without them. While the Army's reliance on draft horses to pull artillery, supply wagons, and field kitchens is now generally acknowledged, D. R. Dorondo's Riders of the Apocalypse examines the history of the German cavalry, a combat arm that not only survived World War I but also rode to war again in 1939. Though concentrating on the period between 1939 and 1945, the book places that history firmly within the larger context of the mounted arm's development from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to the Third Reich's surrender.
The Horse Soldier, 1776-1943: The United States Cavalryman - His Uniforms, Arms, Accoutrements, and Equipments - World War I, the Peacetime Army, World War II, 1917-1943, Vol. 4 by Randy Steffen
This is the fourth and final volume of Randy Steffen's monumental work, The Horse Soldier. With this volume the work brings together—in nearly a thousand pages of text and nearly 500 illustrations—a comprehensive history of the cavalryman’s dress, horse equipment, weaponry — every item the horse soldier wore, carried, or used—from Revolutionary times to World War II. Volume IV covers the final twenty-five years—the World War I years, when the United States Cavalry fought for the first time as part of an allied force; the peacetime years, when the cavalry was largely a "show" force; and World War II, when mechanization finally outmoded the horse soldier, and the horse was traded for the tank. The cavalry became history.
Ed. note: The rest of the volumes in this series, as well as other horsemanship and horse equipment books, can be found on Steffen's Amazon author page.
Horses and Mules in the Civil War by Gene C. Armistead
Horses and mules served during the Civil War in greater number and suffered more casualties than the men of the Union and Confederate armies combined. Using firsthand accounts, this history addresses the many uses of equines during the war, the methods by which they were obtained, their costs, their suffering on the battlefields and roads, their consumption by soldiers, and such topics as racing and mounted music. The book is supplemented by accounts of the “Lightning Mule Brigade,” the “Charge of the Mule Brigade,” five appendices and 37 illustrations. More than 700 Civil War equines are identified and described with incidental information and identification of their masters.
Animals in War by Jilly Cooper
Pigeons carrying vital messages to and from the beleaguered city during the Siege of Paris; horses and mules struggling through miles of fetid mud to bring ammunition to the front in the Great War; dogs sniffing out mines for the British invasion force in the Second World War - countless brave animals have played their part in the long, cruel history of war. Some have won medals for gallantry - like G.I. Joe, the American pigeon who saved 100 British lives in Italy, and Rob, the black and white mongrel who made over twenty parachute jumps with the SAS. Too many others have died abandoned, in agony and alone, after serving their country with distinction. Jilly Cooper has here written a tribute to the role of animals in wartime. It is a tragic and horrifying story - yet it has its lighter moments too: a hilarious game of musical chairs played on camels during the Desert Campaign; and the budgie who remarked, when carried from a bombed-out East End tenement, 'This is my night out'. This is a vivid and unforgettable record of man's inhumanity to animals, but also an astonishing story of courage, intelligence, devotion and resilience.
War Horse: Mounting the Cavalry with America's Finest Horses by Phil Livingston
War Horse is the story of the U.S. Army Remount Program, which acquired well-bred stallions from private owners and placed them with farmers and ranchers across the country for breeding to selected mares. These stallions of impressive bloodlines-Thoroughbreds, Arabians, Morgans, and Lippizaners-were bred carefully, developing a cadre of military-worthy horses for the United States and its allies around the world. This book shows how these horses positively contributed to the outcome of conflicts and wars waged the world over and how the war horses also had strong civilian demand and dramatically influenced equestrian bloodlines across our country.
Brave Beasts: The Stories of the Heroic Animals that fought alongside the Soldiers in the First World War by Claire Hantson
Between 1914 and 1918, over 8 million horses died in the First World War, more than 30,000 dogs served their countries and 100,000 pigeons were flown. These are the stories of some of the brave animals that contributed to the war effort on the Western Front, and the battles they found themselves in. It is a moving testament to the bravery of the animals who fought, as well as the soldiers who cared for them.
Real War Horses: The Experiences of the British Cavalry 1814-1914 by Anthony Leslie Dawson
Many histories have been written about the conflicts the British army was involved in between the Battle of Waterloo and the First World War. There are detailed studies of campaigns and battles and general accounts of the experiences of the soldiers. But this book by Anthony Dawson is the first to concentrate in depth, in graphic detail, on the experiences of the British cavalry during a century of warfare. That is why it is of such value. It is also compelling reading because it describes, using the words of the cavalrymen of the time, the organization, routines, training and social life of the cavalry as well as the fear and exhilaration of cavalry actions. Perhaps the most memorable passages record the drama and excitement of cavalry charges and the brutal, confused, often lethal experience of close-quarter combat in a mêlée of men and horses. Few books give such a direct inside view of what it was like to serve in the British cavalry during the nineteenth century.
Horses of the Great War: The Story in Art by John Fairley
Horses of the Great War explains the contribution of countless innocent horses using superb contemporary painting by artists such as Sir John Lavery, Sir Alfred Munnings and Stanley Spencer. These works supported by informed commentary tell how the horses were rounded up; how the cavalry halted the German advance in 1914 and again in 1918; how the turks were overwhelmed in the deserts of Palestine and Arabia. Most significantly the Western Front relied on horses for supply of everything from shells and ammunition to food and water in atrocious and perilous conditions. While the vets kept the surviving horses alive and well, in the end, vast numbers were slaughtered or sold.
German Infantry Carts, Army Field Wagons, Army Sleds 1900-1945 by Wilfried Kopenhagen
First book ever published on this little known aspect of German military equipment. Shown is the wide variety of horsedrawn equipment on a variety of war fronts.openhagen
Weapons and Equipment of the German Cavalry in World War II by Klaus Richter
Shown are the weaponry, uniforms and other equipment of the German cavalry as used on all fronts throughout World War II.
Discovering Horse-Drawn Transport of the British Army by D.J. Smith
Since ancient times, horse-drawn vehicles were the primary means of transportation for military purposes. Yet it wasn't until the last decade of the eighteenth century that the civilian contractors that the British military had previously relied upon were replaced by the Royal Waggoners, a temporary transport corps that would only form on the outbreak of war. There was no permanent royal transport corps until the Crimean War in the nineteenth century. Beginning from this period, this book explores the variety of horse-drawn vehicles used by the British Army, from the general service wagons, ambulance wagons and carts, water carts, to the specialized vehicles such as the mobile pigeon loft and the traveling field cooker. D. J. Smith describes the equipment used in horse-drawn vehicles such as draught gear and harnesses, and also explains the process of wagon construction using many detailed line drawings. Illustrated with black and white photographs throughout, Discovering Horse-Drawn Transport of the British Army reveals the vital role played by these wagons and carts for centuries until the introduction of motor vehicles in the World War I gradually superseded them.
Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan by Doug Stanton
Horse Soldiers is the dramatic account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban. Outnumbered forty to one, they pursued the enemy army across the mountainous Afghanistan terrain and, after a series of intense battles, captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which was strategically essential to defeat their opponent throughout the country.


Horses at Work

The Horse in the City: Living Machines in the Nineteenth Century by Clay McShane
The nineteenth century was the golden age of the horse. In urban America, the indispensable horse provided the power for not only vehicles that moved freight, transported passengers, and fought fires but also equipment in breweries, mills, foundries, and machine shops. Clay McShane and Joel A. Tarr, prominent scholars of American urban life, here explore the critical role that the horse played in the growing nineteenth-century metropolis. Using such diverse sources as veterinary manuals, stable periodicals, teamster magazines, city newspapers, and agricultural yearbooks, they examine how the horses were housed and fed and how workers bred, trained, marketed, and employed their four-legged assets. Not omitting the problems of waste removal and corpse disposal, they touch on the municipal challenges of maintaining a safe and productive living environment for both horses and people and the rise of organizations like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In addition to providing an insightful account of life and work in nineteenth-century urban America, The Horse in the City brings us to a richer understanding of how the animal fared in this unnatural and presumably uncomfortable setting.
Horses at Work: Harnessing Power in Industrial America by Ann Norton Greene
Historians have long assumed that new industrial machines and power sources eliminated work animals from nineteenth-century America, yet a bird’s-eye view of nineteenth-century society would show millions of horses supplying the energy necessary for industrial development. Horses were ubiquitous in cities and on farms, providing power for transportation, construction, manufacturing, and agriculture. On Civil War battlefields, thousands of horses labored and died for the Union and the Confederacy hauling wagons and mechanized weaponry. The innovations that brought machinery to the forefront of American society made horses the prime movers of these machines for most of the nineteenth century. Mechanization actually increased the need for horsepower by expanding the range of tasks requiring it. Indeed, the single most significant energy transition of the antebellum era may have been the dramatic expansion in the use of living, breathing horses as a power technology in the development of industrial America.
Farewell to the Horse: The Final Century of Our Relationship by Ulrich Raulff
The relationship between horses and humans is an ancient, profound and complex one. For millennia horses provided the strength and speed that humans lacked. How we travelled, farmed and fought was dictated by the needs of this extraordinary animal. And then, suddenly, in the 20th century the links were broken and the millions of horses that shared our existence almost vanished, eking out a marginal existence on race-tracks and pony clubs.
Victorian and Edwardian Horse Cabs by Trevor May
The Hansom cab is one of the most striking images of the Victorian city, but it was not the only type of cab in use during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Much of the work was done by the 'growler', a four-wheeled cab that rattled through the streets, laden with luggage and with families eager to catch a train. Trevor May travels through the streets of Victorian and Edwardian England to trace the origins of the horse cab and the improvements in its design throughout the period, and to celebrate the cab drivers themselves, who had a reputation for quick-wittedness and repartee equal to that enjoyed by today's taxi-driver.
Ed. note: Very short volume, only 32 pages, but probably worth a look if you're writing a work in Victorian England.


Interesting Horses in History

100 Horses in History - True Stories of Horses Who Shaped Our World by Gayle Stewart
The history of man is written in the hoof prints of horses.
From Eohippus, a funny little guy who lived fifty million years ago, to a small white stallion of the Napoleonic Wars, a brave mare who dived from a fifty-foot tower into a pool of water, and a black gelding who escorted an assassinated American president to his grave – these 100 horses (including a few fabulous ponies!) tell of joy, sport, war, courage, triumph, and tragedy.
Ed. note: Written for young readers, but a great introduction to horses whose histories you might want to explore further.
Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of the World's Smartest Horse by Mim E. Rivas
Beautiful Jim Key -- the one-time ugly duckling of a scrub colt who became one of the most beloved heroes of the turn of the century -- was adored not for his beauty and speed but rather for his remarkable abilities to read, write, spell, do mathematics, even debate politics. Trained with patience and kindness by one of the most renowned horse whisperers of his day -- former slave, Civil War veteran, and self-taught veterinarian Dr. William Key -- Jim performed in expositions across the country to wildly receptive crowds for nine glorious years, smashing box office records, clearing towering hurdles of skepticism and prejudice, and earning the respect and admiration of some of the most influential figures of the era, from Booker T. Washington to President William McKinley.
This is the remarkable true saga of a truly exceptional animal -- and the no less exceptional man who led him to greatness.
Ed. note: An incredibly engaging read and a great way to immerse yourself in the history and culture of this period of amazing wonders and worlds fairs.
The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis by Elizabeth Letts
In the chaotic last days of the war, a small troop of battle-weary American soldiers captures a German spy and makes an astonishing find—his briefcase is empty but for photos of beautiful white horses that have been stolen and kept on a secret farm behind enemy lines. Hitler has stockpiled the world’s finest purebreds in order to breed the perfect military machine—an equine master race. But with the starving Russian army closing in, the animals are in imminent danger of being slaughtered for food. With only hours to spare, one of the U.S. Army’s last great cavalrymen, Colonel Hank Reed, makes a bold decision—with General George Patton’s blessing—to mount a covert rescue operation. Racing against time, Reed’s small but determined force of soldiers, aided by several turncoat Germans, steals across enemy lines in a last-ditch effort to save the horses.
Mr. Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life: A History of Racing in Twenty-Five Horses by Christopher McGrath
The audacious and inspired history of horse racing told through the bloodline of twenty-five exceptional Arabian steeds. McGrath expertly guides us through three centuries of scandals, adventures and fortunes won and lost: our sporting life offers a fascinating view into our history. With a canvas that extends from the diamond mines of South Africa to the trenches of the Great War, and a cast ranging from Smithfield meat salesmen to the inspiration for Mr Toad, and from legendary jockeys to not one, but two disreputable Princes of Wales (and a very unamused Queen Victoria), Mr. Darley's Arabian shows us the many faces of the sport of kings.
Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse by Robin Hutton
From the racetrack to the battlefield—dauntless, fearless, and exemplar of Semper Fi—she was Reckless, "pride of the Marines." A Mongolian mare who was bred to be a racehorse, Ah-Chim-Hai, or Flame-of-the-Morning, belonged to a young boy named Kim-Huk-Moon. In order to pay for a prosthetic leg for his sister, Kim made the difficult decision to sell his beloved companion. Lieutenant Eric Pedersen purchased the bodacious mare and renamed her Reckless, for the Recoilless Rifles Platoon, Anti-Tank Division, of the 5th Marines she’d be joining.
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. Three men changed Seabiscuit's fortunes: Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon.
The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts
Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a truck bound for the slaughterhouse. The recent Dutch immigrant recognized the spark in the eye of the beaten-up nag and bought him for eighty dollars. On Harry’s modest farm on Long Island, he ultimately taught Snowman how to fly. Here is the dramatic and inspiring rise to stardom of an unlikely duo. One show at a time, against extraordinary odds and some of the most expensive thoroughbreds alive, the pair climbed to the very top of the sport of show jumping. Their story captured the heart of Cold War–era America—a story of unstoppable hope, inconceivable dreams, and the chance to have it all. They were the longest of all longshots—and their win was the stuff of legend.