Nursery Rhymes

Knight on a Horse

Medieval life and Times

Knight on a Horse
A Knight on a Horse was a fearsome opponent. His Warhorsewas called a destrier which were used by all the wealthy Medieval Knights. The destrier was brought to England by William the Conqueror following his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. A horse played an extremely important part in the life of a Medieval knight.

A Medieval Knight and his Horse
A Medieval knight would own several horses which were built and used for his different duties. The Medieval knight's horses ranged in variety of sizes starting with a palfrey, or an ambler, for general travelling purposes. Bigger and stronger horses were required as warhorses. The Courser was the most sought after and expensive warhorse, owned by the most wealthy knights. The more common warhorses were like modern hunters, known in Medieval Times as a Destrier.

Knight on a Horse - Description of a Warhorse
The warhorse owned by a Medieval knight had a dense rounded body with a broad back, strong loins, powerful hind-quarters, and long legs with dense bones. The colors of such horses ranged from black, brown, bay, or gray. These war horses sometimes had long silky hair (often white) on the lower parts of its legs. A Medieval knight on a horse wearing full armor required a massive animal and theses warhorses measured in excess of 24 hands tall.

Medieval Knight on a Horse - The Warhorse
A Medieval Knight on horse had a warhorse specially trained for use in battle or individual combat at jousting tournaments. Such a war horse needed the strength and stamina to carry both a knight and his heavy armor into battle during the Medieval times. Theses warhorses also trained to become a battle horse - able to inflict injury on the enemy. A Knight on Horse had to undergo significant training. A warhorse was trained to:

  • Carry a knight and respond to a Knight's commands from leg pressure rather than reins
    • A knight needed his hands to weald his weapons and hold his shield
  • A war horse was trained to trample the bodies of fallen enemies
  • The war-horse was trained to bite and kick on command

Horse Armor called Barding
Medieval war horses were protected by rigid pieces of plate armor made of both of leather and steel. Horse armor was called 'barding'. A full dressed Medieval Knight on Horse would be armored on the head, neck, body and chest. The rear of the war horse would be covered with a padded cloth. Stirrups were added later. The head armor of a warhorse was often highly decorated and spike horns were added to the mask armor  resembling the look of a legendary unicorn. An ornamented cloth covering for a war horse was called a trapper. 

Original Knight on Horse breed is now extinct
The original breeds of warhorses are now extinct, but recently horses have been bred from Clydesdales and Quarterhorses to reproduce a type similar to that used by the Knight on Horse. They are the largest breed of horse, standing from 20 to 24 hands tall, with a thicker build than Clydesdales with less fur.

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