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Military on Horseback
 By Winniefield Park   •   10th Apr 2018   •   751 views   •   1 comments


As soon as man learned to ride horseback, they probably rode horses into battles, raids and other types of conflicts. But the earliest use of horses in battle, 3000 to 4000 years ago, was for pulling loads. Eventually the chariot was invented with a driver and soldier standing in the vehicle and this type of warfare was common throughout the ancient world. A treed saddle, and the invention of the stirrup probably helped mounted fighting along, enhancing a riderís security and balance while wielding a weapon. The speed, height and mobility of the horse made fighting more effective than hand-to-hand combat.

During the middle ages, heavy horses were used to carry fully armored knights. This type of mounted soldier lasted until the use of guns in fighting. Then, lighter, faster horses were again used. During this time, there were several types of mounted soldiers. Some carried swords, lances, bows, and eventually, light firearms. These types of mounted soldiers were used widely for raids and other types of fighting that involved quick attacks and maneuverability.

Dragoons
Dragoons originally rode their horses into battle, dismounted and began to fight. Horses allowed them to get into the fray of the fight quickly. But, eventually, the dragoons stayed on their horses and fought with swords. The name dragoon comes from a type of firearm carried by a specific French regiment. Dragoon regiments existed throughout Europe and many ceremonial cavalry style regiments still call themselves dragoons.

Hussars
Hussars were light cavalry. Itís not certain were the word hussar came from, but itís possible it comes from a Hungarian word either for a brigand for their quick and violent attacks, or it may be from the word Ďtwentyí for the fact that any landowner with over twenty acres was required to have a soldier in the kingís army. Whatever the origins, hussars dressed in colorful and elaborate trimmed uniforms. The Hussar uniform was often a tight bolero style jacket with a flowing cape, all embellished with gold braid, buttons and of course topped off with a high, fur-covered hat. There are still Hussar units around the world, but they only ride horses in ceremony, if at all. Hussars would carry either lances or swords into battle. The famous poem Charge of the Light Brigade was about a hussar brigade that carried lances and sabers

Lancers
Lancers, as the name suggests, carried long lances into battle. Against soldiers carrying swords, the lance which in some regiments could be over nine feet long, was a formidable weapon and effective in battle, especially against foot soldiers. There are still brigades that call themselves lancer, but they no longer ride horses or carry lances except for ceremonial purposes.

Cossacks
Cossacks were known to be ruthless warriors. But they were also formidable horsemen. Or should they be called ponymen? Their hardy little horses were not much more than ponies. Cossacks are most often depicted wearing loose pantaloons and robes, often red. Itís thought that the first Cossacks existed in the 15th century, and there were still mounted Cossack regiments at the beginning of the First World War. Often Russian Cossacks come to mind, but these types of warriors existed in many countries of eastern Europe.

U.S. Cavalry
During the late 18th to early 20th centuries, the U.S. Cavalry began as the U.S. Dragoons. Calvary units contributed to the American Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, Civil War, and settlement of the American west. The uniform was the familiar Stetson hat, a blue jacket and blue pants that had a distinctive wide yellow stripe down the leg. The U.S. Cavalry was divided into several non-horse regiments after World War One.

Modern methods of warfare, mainly the tank, spelled the end of any type of active horse regiments except a few such as the special forces carried out in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. But most remaining mounted regiments are for ceremonial purposes only.
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The Australian Light Horse and New Zealand Mounted Rifles fought with distinction in the deserts of Palestine during World War One. Horses both galloped into battle, and carried supplies for soldiers. Soldiers would fight in groups of four. Three would dismount and advance on foot when necessary while the fourth held all their horses ready for remounting. Most horses never returned from the desert due to quarantine worries. Some were sold to locals or to Egypt. Others were shot by their riders who couldn't bear to see them suffer a life of hard work after their service.
  Apr 10, 2018  •  765 views
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