Cavalry Horse Training

Many different types and sizes of horse were used in war, depending on the form of warfare.  The type used varied with whether the horse was being ridden or driven, and whether they were being used for reconnaissance, cavalry charges, communication or supply.  Throughout history, horses played a crucial role in providing support to armies in the field.

A war horse used as a riding animal was trained to be controlled with limited use of reins, responding primarily to the rider’s legs and weight.  The horse became accustomed to any necessary tack, and learned to balance under a rider who would be laden with weapons.  Developing the balance and agility of the horse was crucial. 

Training was also required to overcome the horse’s natural instinct to flee from the noise, smell and confusion of combat.  They also learned to accept any sudden or unusual movements of humans while using a weapon or avoiding one.

This photograph shows a group of Buffalo Soldiers on horseback going through trees and snow.

2013.35.5, Courtesy of The National Archives