okay let’s talk about cavalry for a bit now you’ve watched some horses dancing (or are about to watch some horses dancing)
hint: they aren’t dancing.
firstly you need to think seriously about your earth time period and earth setting equivalent because that’s a big deal in what your cavalry looks like. mistake no. 1 is putting your lightly-armoured cavaliers on monstrous draft horses, because those seriously stopped making sense as cavalry horses as soon as people stopped wearing plate armour. (i am primarily going to be talking about post-armour cavalry in western europe). mistake no. 2 is putting everyone on stallions because lol no. mares and geldings, people. mares and geldings. (western european cavalry prefers geldings, as a general rule, but the mongols, for example, much preferred mares as war mounts for the same reasons that europeans thought they were unsuitable)
the andalucians in the video above were, by the standards of their time, heavy cavalry. napoleon had an arab pony - and no, not because he was short, look at the fucking painting he is too big for that pony
but that pony was a. brave and b. fast, like unbelievably fast, and the kind of pony that you can literally turn on a sixpence.
light cavalry is what you want for skirmishes - charge out of nowhere, fuck shit up, get out again before you even realise what they’ve done. light cavalry can’t risk getting bogged down in fighting because the horses are so small someone really determined can more or less pull them over. light cavalry are annoying as shit but they aren’t going to fuck you up the way a charge from armoured knights would
enter the heavy cavalry
the ‘traditional’ (western european early-medieval theatre, what can i say we learnt a lot from the crusades, ‘light cavalry’ is an idea we more or less stole from the arabs) tactic of warfare is to use your cavalry charge to break up a line and then mop up what’s left with the foot soldiers. all the big horsies would line up - and let’s be clear, they’re wearing armour, their riders are wearing armour, these are really big really heavy horses - and they’d get a long run up to build speed, because they weren’t fast, but by the time they hit your front lines their sheer momentum was more or less unstoppable (you had your pikemen braced in front, right? more often that not the horses would drive themselves right onto a spear because they couldn’t stop. they also often crushed or otherwise killed the person holding the spear, but meh, peasants)
here is a list of reasons why this stopped working: guns
so your heavy cavalry has to be pretty fast, and pretty manoeuvrable, but they also want to be heavy, muscle-bound horses that are going to carry that momentum once they get charging. good! fine! the spanish breed up the andalucians, the austro-hungarians the lipizzana, and you have some pretty chunky pieces of horseflesh that, if they hit your lines at speed - and they can get up some speed! - are going to hurt.
and then your cavalry is mired hip-deep in the opposition and every single one of your cavaliers has buried themselves so far into the enemy lines that they’re surrounded. shit! if only there was some way for them to fight their way out to regroup and organise another charge?
… horse dancing!
watch the video again imagining every one of those horses surrounded by footsoldiers (and being ridden rather than schooled in hand), and think about how much it would fuck you up if you were a footsoldier.
dressage: cavalry movements in disguise.
this has been your daily scheduled ‘do your fucking research’ from yours truly (next up: horse specific terminology and why you should probably look that up) (that is never coming up and i’m not writing it) (no you can’t make me)
The men’s hats, however, have no explanation.