Research & Discussion
A Short Canter Through Early Historical Riding StylesRecreating a rider from any period requires not just the correct equipment, but some sense of period riding style. To a modern rider historical riding styles can seem strange, silly or just wrong, but they can teach a great deal regarding how equipment was carried and used. There is a great difference between a horseman and rider, and it is all too easy to possibly consider the ancients as just riders. But we should not doubt their ability and expertise on horseback which in some ways is far superior to ours. Riding bareback without reins controlling the horse with the legs, voice and balance, the ancient rider could use his bow and other weapons at the full gallop in war.
Reindeer may have been the precursor to the domestic horse by 2,000 years, living across the steppe and only later moving further north. Reindeer were used to pull sledges and were certainly ridden. By 3,000 BC these nomadic peoples were going to war on horseback. Saddles and stirrups are not essential for riding the horse, but the bridle is more important. Initially probably no more than a halter and rope supplemented by a stick, the rope was eventually placed in or around the horse's mouth, with metal bits appearing around 1,300 and 1,200 BC.
The infirm and women may have ridden side saddle, as did Assyrian Kings when perhaps riding astride was not respectable. But a firm seat sitting astride the horse is the basic requirement to use weapons.
Select a link below to read about each section:
- o Xenophon and the Greeks
- o Scythians and simple saddles
- o The saddle, Romans, frames, pads and reconstruction
- o The Steppe saddle
- o Stirrups
- o Classical riding
- o The modern era
- o And finally...