Dogs may be man’s best friend, but the horse is mankind’s most useful one. Before domestication of the horse, travel was limited to foot or vessel. War was fought on foot. Most people rarely traveled beyond the villages they were born in. Carts and ploughs were pulled by dogs or oxen.
Once horses were domesticated, the world was forever changed. Horses revolutionized travel, allowing those with equines to go longer distances. Suddenly clans were intermingling. Hunting food became easier. Farmers utilized horses for general farm work. But the most important contribution of the horse was in warfare.
Starting with Bronze Age (2100-1800 BCE) horses proved their value in battles pu;;ing chariots. It wasn’t long before men discovered the advantage of a rider against men on foot. As history progressed, so did the mounted soldier. Roman cavalry was feared in battle. Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Hernando Cortez all conquered lands from the back of a horse. Cortez gave credit to the horses in a letter to Spain.
Early Hollywood presented medieval age warriors as men wearing iron riding their great horses, galloping against all enemies. Great horse was once assumed by the modern world to be another term for draft horses. It is now argued that Great Horses were a breed upon themselves.
When talking about horses, the equine breeds are broken into three categories: the hot bloods, the cold bloods, and the rest. Hot-blooded horses are Arabians and Thoroughbreds. Cold-blooded horses are the draft horses – Shires, Percherons, Clydesdales, etc. The majority of horse breeds are warm-bloods but regardless of the blood classification, all are Equus Caballus: the domestic horse.
Archeologists digging up medieval battle sites where horse bones have been found, noted the size of the ancient horse is roughly the size of the average riding horse, 12 to 14 hands. A hand is equivalent to four inches. It can be argued that the warhorse was bigger than the average horse at 15 hands. The same can be attributed to armor made for horses: people were on average a few inches shorter back then.
Crusaders brought back horses with them from the Holy Lands. Horses were also brought over from Spain. These desert and Spanish-bred animals were mixed with local stock to improve local breeds.
The warhorse was a fighting machine, taught to fight. A draft horse generally has a placid temperament, which is unsuitable for a battle, hence the addition of the desert blood. Warhorses, as referred to as destriers, were expensive creatures worth more than the average man could afford. In fact, many knights inherited arms and armor, but they had to purchase their horses or have a horse assigned to them as part of the service agreement as a house knight. Knights often rode rouncys, an alternate horse which could be ridden in a fight if necessary, in order to save the destrier for the ‘real’ battle. Rounceys were ridden by squires. The Hobby was a warmblood horse, small and agile; it was good for light cavalry. Jennets were considered ladies horses. Palfreys were well-bred riding horses used by nobles for hunting or light rising. The common folk made do with local ponies or common stock.
Which brings us to Thaelia’s World…
Sir Braeden du Faucione’s family earns the majority of their wealth in two main ways: rents from villagers & vassals and breeding & selling horses. Sunderling Keep is held by a branch of the Faucione family as vassals to the Baron of Faucione. The current resident is Sir Lionel, older brother to Sir Edward. Jorwyck Keep is a holding of Faucione, under the watchful eye of Sir Robert, the Seneschal. Hedgewood Keep is under the care of Sir Walter of Westfield, the appointed Seneschal by Baron Faucione, SIr Phillip. Lady Gaelynn was given a piece of property by King Arken, Wilwich Manor. The Seneschal of Wilwich is Sir Quentin Bronwyn.
Braeden extends his journey back from the Livanyan Firelands to Greycliff when he decides to bring horses obtained as spoils of war with him. Braeden looks to the future, where men from all parts of Greycliff will travel to his home to purchase his family’s stock. He believes his horses will bring the highest prices at the annual Jendavi Horse Fair. His biggest concern is getting the stallions back to his home intact. The Fauciones breed destriers, rouncys and palfreys at Faucione Keep. Sheep are raised at Hedgewood. Jorwyck trains palfreys. Edward is the current generation’s horse expert. It is due to Edward’s ability to train even the most obstinate equine that Braeden gives his cousin a second chance. Braeden knows how important the gift of training is to the Faucione family, the primary reason for Edward’s throat not getting cut.
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