The Horsemanship chapter of the Stormwind Army Field Manual will aid you in the broader points of mounted Combat, and the finer points of caring for either your horse, or destrier. As is well known, a healthy equine companion will serve you better than one of ill foster. It is important to recognize this, as a strong bond between your steed and you will ensure a long kinship.
Equitation, or the art of horse riding, is a complex and disciplined skill. One does not pick up the traits of an experienced rider from a guide, such as this. To be a rider shall take years of perfecting, and a determination that may be unfamiliar. One cannot expect to pick up the skills in a single night, nor may they expect the best performance even after a single year. This guide will familiarize you with terms, and basics in mounted combat. They will be essential to your success, and further education on the matter. May it be known; herein are not the supplementations for a teacher. For further study, seek a master.
Disclaimer: This is a work intended for use in role-play, and should not be used for real life horse care!
- Sir Aralieass Felix Delamond, Cavalier of the Elwynn Brigade.
- Duke Maxen Montclair, Marshal of the Elwynn Brigade.
Types of Horses Edit
Before you begin your journey in the world of equitation, you must know at the bare least what you types of steeds you may encounter and their uses. Not all are trained for extended periods of battle, nor will they stand in the face of your foes. It is important to also understand your role in the army, for not every steed is a good fit for your type of combat. Despite that fact, let it be known, all horses have their purpose. Do not doubt the skill of any rider, for they will use every facet of ability they retain to best you.
Listed below are the types of horses and their descriptions:
- Stallion – a male horse.
- Mare – a female horse.
- Gelding – a neutered stallion.
- Colt – a baby stallion.
- Filly – a baby mare.
- Destrier – also known as the Great Horse, the Destrier is the go to for Knights of the Brotherhood. A Destrier is always a stallion, and always rose from foal hood for the needs of war.
- Courser – a courser is more preferred by dragoon type cavalry. The courser while lesser than the Destrier is cheaper and easily trained. Furthermore, the courser can be a stallion or a mare. A key point between them was that courser is not trained in combat cues, while Destrier are.
- Rouncey – a rouncey was essentially the same thing as a courser, though could be used for more menial application. Furthermore, a rouncey is commonly owned by the poorer folk.
The destrier, or great horse, is the most uncommon yet affective of the war horses. Trained from birth, the destrier is trained to be the most devastating of weapons, at the disposal of the more refined knights of course. They are usually stallions, though some knights prefer a gelding. The belief is that a gelding is more manageable. Only those belonging to The Brotherhood of the Horse may obtain these beasts, not only because they are special, but due to the specific cues only a knight may have refined.
In terms of horses in combat, you are left with the courser and rouncey. These two specific war horses are not trained in advanced commands. However, they are typically trained to respond to a call to charge. Despite the lack of training these horses are extremely versatile and are the most common war horse on the battlefield. Understand, these two are not the same; a rouncey comes as a cheaper horse with only bare bones training. They almost always come as mixed breeds and can be easily swapped as a work horse. The courser is never used in this capacity, and is the favorite amongst dragoons and light cavalrymen. The choice will of course have to come down to what you are looking for.
Do not fret, as each choice has it’s positives over the other. For instance, a courser is usually unarmored and is always much quicker than a destrier. As a dragoon, you could easily flank a gilded knight on his expensive horse. Beware, a flanked Knight is still no easy foe, so do not count them out so easily. The positive of a rouncey is simple, while another dragoon’s steed may be too bossy to hold all his equipment; a rouncey is used to the work load. You will be a much more mobile cavalryman with a rouncey, though your steed’s lack of training may leave you with a spooked horse. As stated before, you must consider your options carefully, especially so as a dragoon. There will be no squire to gather your things, and care for your horse, a Knight will have this among many other advantages over you.
Horse Care Edit
When caring for your new companion, it is important to first understand the essentials of its care. A horse is as complex as a new babe, just as is its care. You must consider a myriad of items before you even bring your new steed home. This section will help you better understand those finer points.
Consider the following for the care of your horse:
- What pasture your steed shall reside in, and is it free from hazards, and or fenced properly?
- Does your steed have quality grass for grazing or equivalent amount of hay?
- A horse requires an unlimited supply of fresh clean water, minerals, and salts.
- Your steed will require shelter from the elements, especially that of the rough winters.
A horse is a social beast, much as we are. Your steed will require companionship, even if it is with a lesser domestic animal such as a goat. A solitary environment can and will lead to a sick animal.
Feeding Your Horse Edit
Any human worth their salt has heard the term, “So hungry I could eat a horse.” Well, if you could imagine, a horse is quite large. So it begs the question, how much could a horse eat? The answer is about ten to twenty pounds of hay a day; this will not apply to you if your steed has access to fresh pastures year-round. It is also important to remember, not all hay is healthy for your companion, and one cannot feed just any dried fodder to a horse. When picking your hay of choice, choose something that is not dusty or molded. Hay-dust can lead to breathing complications in your steed, and mold can lead to deteriorating health and even the expiration of your trusty friend. Also ensure a good mix of oats in feed, this will ensure the best health for your steed.
A key in feeding is to find a routine and sticking to it. While it is more natural your horses eat small meals through-out the day, it is commonplace to feed them only twice. Ensure you consider the meals in conjunction with the exercise schedule; you may never feed your equine right before exercise or right after. Consider a reward after a session of training; some examples of acceptable treats are below, as well as unacceptable ones.
- Sugar Cubes
- Pitted Dates
- Sunflower Seeds
Unhealthy or Poisonous Foods:
Sheltering Your Horse Edit
Shelter is a simple concept, though of course complex in the eyes of the equestrian. To put it simply, humans have argued over what types of environment provide the greatest war-horse. Any Arathorian will tell you a stallion raised off the expanses of northern pastures are far superior to the horses bred in most other bastions of human society. The argument stems down to this, is it better to raise a horse outside with no stable or run-ins, or are sheltered steeds superior? The answer is always going to vary depending on your location. Take into consideration the land of which you reside, for instance, Arathi lacks the harsh winters that Alterac endures each year. If you experience heavy rains and snowfall, consider stables and run-in shelters for your companions. Run-ins being small sheds that your beast can escape the elements in while not being confined entirely.
Consider the following for sheltering your horse:
- Place stables in an area that may not flood.
- Build the back wall of the stable toward the most common direction of the prevailing wind.
- Build the shelter to accommodate your steed, not a cat; an equine beast is quite large.
- Ensure the ceiling is high enough that your steed won’t bump its head.
- Always build a stable from sturdy materials, simple construction is not good enough, a cobblestone base is essential.
Above all things ensure the shelter is safe, no dangerous sharp objects or loose nails.
Horse Health Edit
Perhaps the most important aspect of horse ownership and care is the health of your beast. It is important to understand the signs of an ill horse. There is little known on how to treat certain ailments and specific blight may require the merciful dispatching of your companion. This is no doubt the hardest position to find one’s self in as an equestrian. It is better to slay a horse than to allow it to suffer or persist in a crippled life.
Listed below are ailments and how they may affect your horse:
- A wound pulsing blood can be healed depending on the severity as one would treat on a person.
- Strange behavior, such as a gluttonous horse refusing food, you must know your steed, a change in routine could cause this, and if not corrected will result in death.
- Difficulty in urinating and or defecating; this will result in death and you must put your beast down to avoid suffering. Ensure a proper diet to avoid this.
- A wound that has become infected results in you putting down the beast unless cleansing magic may be applied. The remains must be burned if so. Blighted corpses may spread illness.
- A persistent cough may be a result of dusty or moldy hay, change your feed. If coughing persists, monitor, may result in you putting down beast to prevent suffering.
- Limping due to tissue injury or bone fracture is untreatable without magic. Consider a resting period in training if limping noticed. If limping persists you must put your beast down to prevent suffering. Do not push your steed through the ailment, and only put down when limping persists through a week.
- Hoof care is another essential in Horse health. Ensure proper cleaning during your grooming sessions, with a spooned pick; clean all debris from the crescent frog of the hoof each day. While proceeding with this task, check for cracks in the walls of the hoof or grease heel. If a crack is noticed you must keep your companion off their feet, or in this case hoof, until the crack heals itself. If it does not heal you must put down your beast.
It is essential that you understand your steed. A horse is a living creature, not a steam tank. A horse will not allow you to push it past the limit, and once it breaks down, cannot be repaired. Become well versed in the care of your horse before expecting it to carry you in battle.
Horse Grooming Edit
Grooming is also important to your combat companion. For instance, think how you might feel if while in combat your hair hung in front of your eyes. This of course would make it extremely difficult to face your opponent. The same applies to your steed; you must familiarize yourself with the finer points of a warhorse. Consider braiding your horse’s mane, or cutting it short, top knots are also acceptable. After exercising your horse, you must brush their hair and tail until the coat is both shiny and free of dirt and knots. This ritual will both calm your steed, and relax them. It will also undo any tension they might have in their muscles from prolonged activity. This tradition of pampering will solidify the bond between you and your beast. They shall feel more familiar with you, this increasing their comfort with commands they might not be accustomed to. Jumping a small gap is a prime example of this increased trust. Recognize that strict and regimented training will always give the best results for those types of maneuvers, though a little care can go a long way.
Saddle and Mounting Edit
The war-saddle is perhaps the most critical piece of equipment you will require for mounted combat. Let it be known, this guide is directed toward the destrier, or Knight’s horse. You will not learn the techniques needed for firing a bow from horseback. For advanced technique seek a master. To continue, the war-saddle is of pinnacle importance. One may notice that the war-saddle is much more spread out across the horse’s back, do well to consider your weight. You may already weigh an excess of two-hundred pounds, now add an extra one-hundred to account for your plates. The wide birth of the war-saddle allows for an even distribution of weight, and shock absorption. Being struck with a lance inflicts much force on you and that shock would crush steeds back on a standard riding saddle. In this section you will be familiarized with the parts of a saddle, and how to saddle your horse.
Listed below shall be the components of most horse saddles:
- Saddle Pad – the saddle pad is a soft cushion that sits beneath the saddle; it simply softens the load of both you and your saddle.
- Cinch Strap – a pair of straps, one being in the front while the other in the rear of the saddle, that fasten your war-saddle to your companion.
- Breast Collar – a strap that fastens the saddle to the breast of the horse, this assists in stability and weight distribution.
- Seat – a seat is as it claims, the center of the saddle of which you sit in.
- Cantle – the cantle is best described as a seat back. The cantle will secure the small of your back so you stand a better chance of not being dismounted, after being struck a hard blow.
- Pommel – much like the pommel of a sword, the pommel of a saddle assists in control and stability.
- Stirrup – the stirrups are straps for the rider's feet which allow for advanced cues and stabilization in thrusting attacks.
- Head Stall – part of the saddle that secures the horse's head with reins.
- Ear Piece – loops in the head stall that wrap around the horse’s ears, securing the head stall.
- Reins – leather cord used to cue direction and speed of a horse.
Now that you have a better understanding of what it is you are dealing with, it will be easier to understand the saddling of your horse. To begin, start by placing the saddle pad at the center of your horse’s back, you do not want it to be too high or low. Following, you must then place your saddle atop the saddle pad. Ensure the saddle is centered on the pad. Next you will secure both cinches, starting with the front and working to the back. Note you will fasten the breast collar last. Once the saddle is secure, you will want to apply the head stall. The head stall will have a bit, in which you must insert into the horse’s mouth. To accomplish this, slide your thumb into the crease in the beast’s maw, this will allow the bit to slide into place. Finally, secure the earpiece of the head stall, and bring the reigns to the pommel.
To mount a saddled horse, come to the left side of your equine, place your left foot in the stirrup and grab the mane with your left hand. Once you have a firm hold, lift yourself off the ground and swing your right leg over the rump of your steed. Once seated, place your right foot in the right stirrup. You are now prepared to ride, for the King!
Mounted Combat Edit
In this portion of literature, you will be familiarized with cues given to war-horses in combat. This section will not only provide you with the most basic of tactics, but also where and how to use them. This will be imperative to your survival on the field of war, as a steed’s interdiction may save your life, and that of your companion.
Horse Gaits Edit
The different speeds at which horses maneuver have specific terms that all knights must know. As living, breathing animals, horses tire and may suffer if overworked. Know your companion's limits and do not push them past the threshold that would wound or kill them from exhaustion.
Listed below shall be the vocabulary of a horse's gaits:
- Gaits – the various ways in which a horse moves.
- Ambling Gaits – various smooth-riding footfall patterns, most notably achieved after special training while a steed is being broken-in.
- Cues – another word for signals by which the rider communicates wishes to the horse.
- The Walk – a four-beat gait, it is as it claims to be, a slow paced walk.
- The Trot – a two-beat gait, possibly the most important speed in mounted combat, a quicker pace, with a variation of possibilities.
- The Canter – a three-beat gait, faster than the trot, though not the fastest you may push your equine. Most notable for being easily heard.
- The Gallop – a four-beat gait, and the fastest of them all. This is a very important speed for mounted combat, though non-essential in prolonged engagements.
Before you learn the novice level combative maneuvers, you must learn your enemy’s strategy. Your enemy will not be a jovial one; he will surround you and attempt to unsaddle you. The worst position a Knight can find himself in is being dismounted. To avoid being dragged from your destrier, maintain a constant trot. The two step beat will give unto you a myriad of opportunity to either strike, bolt forward to thrust your weapon, or even to escape in full gallop. If you maintain a trot, you will always be more successful than a mounted combatant that remains stationary.
Another key factor in mounted combat is an awareness of enemy mounted combatants. Any Knight worth their salt will do everything in their power to either disarm you, or come behind you in an attempt to puncture you between the gaps in your plate. When an enemy is positioned behind you this is called the dominant position. For you this is a very bad place to be, as you will lack visibility and all chance of fending off your opponent. Attempt a reposition or escape immediately.
Mounted Combat Cues Edit
A destrier has three distinct cues that all Knights must know. Mind you, this guide will only reference the destrier hailing from the Kingdom of Stormwind, and may still be subject to changes. As is known traditions may always change.
Listed below are three attacks a horse may perform in combat:
- The Stomp – the stomp or war stomp is simple in description, though takes years to perfect. In the war stomp, a rider will cue to his steed by digging both heels into the sides of the destrier and verbally commanding “Up.” While doing this, a rider must also pull the reins back hard. The purpose of this maneuver is to have your horse rear up and come down with both of their front hooves on your foe. It is important to remember that the main thing supporting you will be the cantle of the saddle, once at the height of the rear, release tension in the reins. If you neglect this you risk the horse falling backwards and crushing you.
- The Kick – the kick is another useful tool, and can become extremely effective in close quarters combat. The attack is best described as a defensive posturing. If your destrier is bogged down by infantry, the kick is a good way to hit infantry attempting to flank a rider from behind. It can be explained as a powerful rear kick, carried out by the horses two back legs. The injuries sustained by the receiving of this maneuver are devastating and can cause death. To cue the kick, tap your heel into the front of the right-hind leg. Simultaneously, you must lean forward, shifting the weight into the front of the destrier. With the shift in weight, pairing with the tap of the leg, your steed will react quickly as their training has assured to.
- The Charge – the charge is going to be your primary means of assaulting the rank and file of an enemy line. Before you can cue this maneuver your steed must either be stationary or in a trot. Training will not allow for a charge when walking or in a canter. The application of such a maneuver can also be useful in a full retreat, or when finding one’s self in a jam. Note, the charge is executed in full gallop, use this sparingly as your steed is not a furry steam tank. Eventually they will become winded and will become unresponsive to commands. To initiate the charge, tap the flanks of your destrier with your heels twice, and hard. You must also simultaneously whip the reins and verbally command, “Hyaah.” Give the command firmly, and loud enough to be heard. Do not scream the command, as this may confuse your destrier.
Mounted Combat Arms Edit
A wise man once said, “The best defense is a good offense.” To put it simply, you are a warrior, and a warrior does not run in the face of adversity. You will finally learn the weapons of which you most commonly use, and how to use them. It is imperative to understand, this guide will not drill the hours of training into your skull, nor will it produce inklings of muscle memory. As a mounted combatant, you must train hard, and often. Seek a mentor, as they can critique your forms and stances. It will be up to you to figure out how comfortable you are with each weapon, but you should be familiar with them before seeking a life of a dragoon or cavalier. These will be the tools of which war is most commonly carried out, do not arrive unprepared.
Listed below are weapons commonly used in mounted combat:
- Cavalry Sabre – With the advent of light cavalry supplementing the mounted knights of old, sabres were devised which lend themselves to the fast-paced combat of dragoons and enlisted cavalrymen. Mass produced and cast from steel, the blade of a cavalry sabre is curved such that it may perform swift cuts unto enemies from horseback. Due to the prestige and effectiveness of light cavalry in modern warfare, the cavalry sabre has become synonymous with formal dress. Many young nobles of Stormwind practice academic swordplay with these niche weapons.
- Arming Sword – Arming swords are often employed as the sidearm of choice for mounted knights. Intended to be used with a heater shield on horseback, arming swords are best utilized for slashing foes at full gallop—though they may be utilized on foot in close-quarters combat. Lighter than a broadsword yet larger than a shortsword, the arming sword is a quick and nimble weapon not to be underestimated. Many knights choose to name their swords in ceremonial practice.
- Longsword – The signature weapon of a knight, the longsword is an elegant two-handed weapon characterized as having a cruciform hilt with a long grip and a straight double-edged blade. A quality longsword is difficult and expensive to produce. Effective use of a longsword also requires significant skill and training, allowing nothing less than ideal form and fitness to swing the blade about. It is for these many reasons that longswords remain somewhat rare among the ranks of Army units, often seen only in the hands of knights or officers.
- Lance – The Lance is a devastating weapon utilized in combat by knights during the initial charge into the fray. These weapons often break upon contact with an enemy and thus most knights bring as many as possible with them when going on campaign; often, only one can be brought into combat at a time. Due to the short life expectancy of the weapon, those who wish to become knights must master its use against both mounted and unmounted foes to make the most of its potential.
Knights are instructed in the way of the lance first and foremost. The lance is and will be your first weapon to strike an opponent and must be held in the right hand. Your objective will be to aim for gaps in the armor, and attempt to unsaddle your enemy, if he is on horseback. If your enemy be on foot, you must aim for the head. A smaller target yes, but the best opportunity to deal a lethal blow. When charging your opponent with a lance, bring your steed to gallop, and brace! You will need full speed to puncture heavy plates. When aiming to strike an enemy on horseback, the dominant position is not always the best option, consider a frontal assault. It will allow you to easily unsaddle the opposition. Ensure when striking, that you aim your lance across your body, only thrusting at the last moment. If you are of steady hand, you will hit your intended mark. Do your best to only thrust a lance on your right side while charging infantry. If you strike at a mounted rider by your right side you risk being disarmed, if not by the impact, than most assuredly by the experienced rider’s ability to deflect your lance.
Consider this, you are being trailed by an opponent with a lance, what are you to do? Fret not; this is an easily correctable situation. While your opponent pursues you, you must have the heart to slow your steed from a gallop to canter. While simultaneously slowing, you must aim your lance over your left shoulder, while also reigning your steed in a silhouette to your left. Once turned about, charge in full gallop! This must be a judgment call, as not every gap allows for such a move. You must expect the same maneuvers from your adversaries, do not be taken aback when confronted by a trained rider. Mounted combat is every bit an intimidation game as it is a physical one.
The longsword is one of the most praised of the mounted weapons, and that of knighted humans. The long sword is as every but lethal as it is devastatingly versatile. An important thing to remember is that the long sword is used much as the lance is in mounted combat. Do not believe your opponents will be clashing and clanging blades with you. War is not the glorified stories you read in the tales of the boasting kings men of time passed. In mounted warfare, the longsword is a shorter version of the lance with more application. A slashing attack will not breach the thick iron plate of a Knighted opponent, nor will it heavily affect armored infantry outside of bruises. The potential of the long sword should not be overlooked all that being said. The blade can easily deflect a lance, opening up a hole in the guard of an enemy rider. It also allows for easy sustainability in short trots, when charging has no longer become an option. A lance is too long for the fodder of crowded infantry and cavalry combat.
War is ever changing; you no longer see lines of infantry and the cavalry alone. Strewn across the fields of combat are weapons of war, siege devices and the traps of wily sappers. You must be familiar with this concept, though do not allow it to discourage you. The one thing the cavalry will always maintain above all else is shock and awe. You must be mobile, and maintain decisive decision making skills. Stagnation on the field will be your death sentence, keep charging forward!
This guide has been designed to educate you enough, that you may seek further knowledge, with strong basis of which to operate from. You will find that your most important ally will forever be your steed. They will carry you into war, and the Light willing, away from it. Treat them well, and they shall reciprocate. In Arathor they say that there is no better way to learn to fight than in war, many would disagree. Do not allow your ego to interfere with proper preparation. You must train the cues for combat with your steed daily, instruction must become instinct. The swing of your blade must become muscle memory, and you must strike with lethality!