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"Quality of riders during the 17. century" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

Gunther von Kessel11 Oct 2020 10:53 a.m. PST


Here I want to ask how good the riders in this Era were themself, as this might not have had just an direct impact on the fighting abilities of the troops but also on keeping the horse itself battle ready.

An indicator might be the upbringing of the rider. Here are a few theories and questions about this:

A young noble probably got way more training than a commoner, be it in riding, fighting in the saddle and horsekeeping. Also I imagine that the knightly spirit of the past might not have complete vanished and there might have been still plenty of recruits.

But would they have been enough? The armies of this time were usually way larger than their medieval counterparts and as such inexperienced recruits would have been used to fill up the formations.

So how was the training of these soldiers?
Who served in which units? In which quantities? And how did the different riding abilities affect tactics on the battlefield?

And finally: Was there a manual or military treatise about all this?

Source for questions is the thread about horsekeeping by the way.

On to an interesting discussion. 🙂

cavcrazy11 Oct 2020 11:12 a.m. PST

I would think that you if you were someone who grew up on a farm or you lived in the country away from the cities or larger towns you were probably pretty good on a horse. I can't imagine that training wasn't provided considering you are going to have a human being ride a very large animal into total chaos.

Gunther von Kessel11 Oct 2020 11:27 a.m. PST

Interesting point,
but his only applies to people who had actually a horse on their farm and if the owner allowed them to ride it. Many still used oxen as horses were too expensive.

But it is definitely worth to take a look at the commoness of horses in the civilian life at this time.

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2020 3:18 p.m. PST

I'd imagine there were grooms and stable boys responsible for taking the horses out for exercise if his lordship was otherwise occupied. Post riders would also not have been upper class, yet familiar with horses. Every so often, you might come across a noble who announced he was going to raise a regiment of well trained riders, and specifically recruited this sort of folk.

High prestige units, like the King's Mousquetaires in the Dumas novels, might be composed largely or entirely of junior members of the nobility. Usually, I suspect young nobles became officers.

I'm sure there was some sort of training for new cavalrymen. During the American Civil War, Union cavalry went through training, and they found that horses sometimes learned the bugle calls before their riders. So, you have problems like the rider leaning for a left turn, then falling off when the horse turned right in response to the bugle call. Still, by the time the war had been going three or four years, the factory boys from the big cities of the North had learned to ride as well as the Confederates who grew up riding horses, and were instrumental in the success of the pursuits after Nashville and Petersburg.

If I recall correctly, 19th Century European mass armies expected it to take two years to train an infantryman and three years to train a cavalryman. Not exactly applicable to your query, but it should give you some idea.


skipper John11 Oct 2020 3:22 p.m. PST

I think the peasantry of the time were more apt to be given a pointy stick than a horse and sword.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2020 12:23 a.m. PST

I think the poor performance of early Parliamentary cavalry in the English Civil War may reflect how hard it was to train an effective horseman.
The Eastern association horse focused on discipline and hard training, which lead to their excellent performance against the vaunted Royalist cavalry in the later war.

Stoppage12 Oct 2020 3:45 a.m. PST

Don't bother training them yourself – buy them in already trained.

Phone: 0800-MERCS-4U.


* Professional officers
* Reiters

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2020 8:36 a.m. PST

+1 for Stoppage.


Gunther von Kessel12 Oct 2020 12:03 p.m. PST

Stoppage, Mercenaries also have to be trained to ride too. 😉

Greiber, I hope you mean months and not years for the training!

But here something else: I found a riding crash course that claims to train beginners in nine days. At the end they should be able to ride out on there own, hopefully without killing themselves or the horse!

Of course they would not be on the level required of an cavalry man, but it might be an indicator for the training speed in the regiments. Maybe Greiber is right about his three months for training cavalry.

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