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Did Roman Cavalry usually ride with a saddle or not? I have researched it and some say always and some say no, so what are the reenactors opinion?
Could you give us the name of your sources so we could read the interesting ideas therein.
Smile

There are a few threads already running on cavalry which you will find helpful.You may want to check out our own website to shed some light on the subject.
Wow that was quick, my sources were roman-empire.net, trajan20.freeserve.co.uk, and some others that I need to find the URLs, I'll get back when I find them. Thanks.
Would it be correct to say that the Romans employed Numidian riders who are claimed to be even lighter than the red indian for they did not even have a bridle simply a rope around the horses neck which they used to direct their mounts.
Good evening Brian,

I have often seen representations of Numidian's using a neck strap and a stick to guide their mount. I'm sure some riders can still do this today.

One mare I rode last Autumn would respond to touches on her neck. It was really enjoyable, since I could direct her using a large cavalry scutum on one side, and the spear on the other.

Generally, hot blooded horses may respond like this. Short dumpy cobs will not. But this is a generalisation.
John I was at a Gig near Utrect in Holland many years ago and there was a German rider who was doing just what you mention and his mount was just fantastic, he was simply changing hands left and right and he had that horse behaving like a pussycat.
Some say the Comanche were perhaps the best light cavalry in the world at their time, and they did not use bits, either, just a rope bridle, pretty much like a hackamore. According to some, they simply trained their horses more (or at least in a different way) than most moderns, so that the horse responded to smaller stimuli than US Army cavalry. The Comanche were astonished that the Army horses had to have steel bits and their riders spurs to make things happen on the field. Of course, that may all be exaggeration.

History is always true, but the historian is not always truthful. Some have one agenda or another to present, then, and perhaps also now.

In a kid event, I once rode (and believe me, I'm no horseman) a big brown mare, while I was carrying a rawhide shield, long spear, and "typical Hollywood" plains Indian feather headdress. The horse would have none of it, and utterly refused to walk out of the corral. Didn't want to be seen with the likes of me, I guess. So they brought out another horse, I mounted, then they handed me the costume bits one at a time, so he wouldn't get spooked.

Along the ride to the camp where I was to make the presentation, he looked back, saw the feathers and shield, and bolted! He stopped short just as we entered the campsite to the amazement and amusement of all the boys present. They thought I'd galloped in on purpose. I wasn't in control one bit--I was hanging on so I didn't eat the dirt. That day cured me of a lot of things, but I was glad for the Western saddle's supporting horn, and good stirrups. The bridle and bit were useless. I pulled back hard, and the horse just bowed his neck and kept running, finding every low branch he could in an effort to scrape me off his back. Found out later that the horse's name was "Satan". Figures.

Now back to Rome. Sorry.
David That just shows how intelligent horses can be for when I was young and worked down a coalmine, I did work for some time with these small ponies and at the end of shift me and my mates would somtimes ride the things back to the stables for we were 5 miles out under the North Sea.
These clever little horses when we were layed out on their back to clear the roof which was low would look for a place where we were going from straight roof girders to arched ones, they would then run you right into the corner where you would slide over the horses ass and be face down in the dust listening to the harness chains rattle as he ran off and left you to walk. Well you can imagine the choice words and it was not woo boy!!!
I used to ride bare back out at my uncles farm. My cousins 2 horses were pretty competative, so once my cousin started to gallop/lope, my hose followed.....
talk about holding on..........

came off once when he detoured through a rape field and my horse went down on it's knees....I was hanging on to her neck getting jolted farther down with each stride after she regained her step....finally had to let go before I ended up hanging under her and getting stepped on.....that was an experience... :oops:
Is there any info about the methods used to break and train horses in ancient times?

My guess is that they used more of a "gentle break" (based on building trust between horse and rider) method than the standard cowboy style (which is basically, "I'm the boss, and you better act like it, or else). That way is faster, but leads to "dumber horses" some say. But what do I know? I'm barely smarter than the horse in the first place, most days. :lol:
I think people were more animistic, or in touch with nature, so to speak, back then, so I would agree wit hthe gentle approach, abit like horse whispering maybe?
Quote:Is there any info about the methods used to break and train horses in ancient times?

My guess is that they used more of a "gentle break" (based on building trust between horse and rider) method than the standard cowboy style (which is basically, "I'm the boss, and you better act like it, or else). That way is faster, but leads to "dumber horses" some say. But what do I know? I'm barely smarter than the horse in the first place, most days. :lol:
Xenophon urges gentle methods to train horses in his famous book on horsemanship . But I don't know how typical he was. We know some animals were treated very harshly.
Alexander was known for breaking his horse gently too, IIRC
I had the job one time to break a pony in for work in a coalmine the expert horse keeper we had came with me for a week and we of course used the gentle method, that was the last horse I ever worked with and he was realy good I could turn him around on a six pence piece even tho' he was carrying Limbers good old Cappie
http://www.scran.ac.uk/packs/exhibition ... avalry.jpg

this is a section of Trajans column which both answers and refutes the idea that cavalry had saddles.
if you look closely you can see some form of light weight cloth underneath the riders but it is hardly
like a modern saddle...
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