These knights horses ranged in various 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.
Description of a Medieval Warhorse
The Medieval Warhorse had a dense rounded body with a broad back, strong loins, powerful hind-quarters, and long legs with dense bones. The colors of a Medieval Warhorse ranged from black, brown, bay, or gray. It sometimes had long silky hair (often white) on the lower parts of its legs. It was a massive animal measuring in excess of 24 hands tall.
Medieval Warhorse Training
The Medieval Warhorse was specially trained for use in battle or individual combat at jousting tournaments. A Medieval Warhorse needed the strength and stamina to carry both a knight and his heavy armor into battle during the Medieval times and era. The Medieval Warhorse was also trained to become a battle horse - able to inflict injury on the enemy. A Medieval Warhorse had to undergo significant training. It 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 warhorse was trained to trample the bodies of fallen enemies
- The massive warhorse was trained to bite and kick on command
Medieval Warhorse Armor - Barding
The Medieval Warhorse was protected by rigid pieces of plate armor made of both of leather and steel. Horse armor was called 'barding'. A full dressed Warhorse would be armored on the head, neck, body and chest. The rear of the warhorse would be covered with a padded cloth. Stirrups were added later. The head armor was often highly decorated and spike horns were added to the mask armor thus resembling the look of a legendary unicorn. An ornamented cloth covering for a warhorse was called a trapper.
Original Medieval Warhorse breed is now extinct
The original Medieval Warhorse breed is now extinct, but recently horses have been bred from Clydesdales and Quarter horses to reproduce a type similar to the Medieval Warhorse. They are the largest breed of horse, standing from 20 to 24 hands tall, with a thicker build than Clydesdales with less fur.