Sunday, August 23, 2009

Question from Nicole - Horse breeds

I was wondering what horse breeds were commonly used during Tudor times. I know that Henry VIII was fond of Brabs, but what horses did other people use for pleasure riding and hunting?


Elizabeth M. said...

Horses were not really classified by breeds, as they were by their geographic origin and their use. Palfreys were used as riding horses, chargers were the typical horses used in war, cart horses and pack horses were used for hauling goods and people. A type of charger was a Destrier, which were noted for their strength and speed. They were popular mounts also in jousting. Coursers were mainly used in battle because of their strength and speed. They were more popular than Destriers and less expensive. Another horse, called the Rouncy, was a riding horse that could also be used in battle. The Rouncy was basically your all-purpose horse that could be used for anything. Palfreys were well-bred and expensive, and were the preferred horse of the nobility for hunting, riding, and ceremonial processions with all the trappings. Jennets, bred from horses native to the area of Spain from im[ported Barb and Arab stock. They were small and fine-boned, and highly-prized as ladies' mounts, and were also used by the Spanish as cavalry mounts.

Elizabeth M. said...

Continuing on--
It is a misnomer that heavy draught horses had to be used as the mounts for knights in armor. Full armor weighed up to 90 pounds, and given the weight of a man, who were smaller in Tudor times, a big, strong courser would have filled the bill. Henry VIII, and indeed many European monarchs before and after him, enjoyed racing horses, and kept stables of "racehorses." However, these were not the Thoroughbreds we know today. The Thoroughbred had its origins in the 18th century, with the importation into England of three stallions--the Byerly Turk, imported in the 1680s, the Darley Arabian in 1704, and the Godolphin Arabian in 1729. All Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds today trace back in to one of these three stallions, who were bred to native English mares to form the foundation of the Thoroughbred breed. Thus we come to Eclipse, a great-great grandson of the Darley Arabian, whose line os the dominant one today; Matchem, a grandson of the Godolphin Arabian; and Herod, a great-great grandson of the Byerly Turk. Henry VIII bred horses for racing, and used stock from the Far East, but they were not Thoroughbreds as we know them. Thoroughbreds being named such as their must, in their pedigree, be traceable in all lines to stock accepted in the stud books of their country of birth. That is a simplistic definition. Some American horses of the 19th century caused some problems, notably Lexington, who had some unknown elements of his pedigree, and this caused Britain and other countries to label him and his descendants half-breds because of this.

entspinster said...

Draft horses (like the "Flander's mare" Anne of Cleves was compared to) were valued for war, but not for riding. They were used for heavy hauling. Cannons and mortars might weigh several hundred weight each. They were sometimes hauled through mud up to the axle of the gun carriage. If the mud got deeper than that, all you could do was pray that it would NOT rain any more. Cannon balls, often of shaped stone, also took a lot of haulage. In Henry's one real campaign on the continent, he brought along a portable bakery with brick ovens, and a number of forges with heavy anvils.

He also specified that all available artichocks be reserved for him alone. Despite this obsessive concern with supplies, the army still ran short of food and drink. There was no such thing as a lasting campaign that did not run short.