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War horse

From Academic Kids

War horses are horses specially trained for use in battle or individual combat (see also: Jousting).

A war horse's training would generally address its responsiveness to being controlled without reins, tolerance for the noises of battle, and its adaptability to weapons and armor the rider would be using. In addition, some war horses were trained to kick on command, thus becoming weapons in the extended arsenal of the warriors they carried. A common misconception is that a war horse is simply a horse in armor. In fact, much training was required to overcome the horse's natural aversion to the smell of blood, and its natural disinclination to trample a person.

Prior to the development of plate armour, small, agile horses were trained for use in battle by various cultures for both cavalry and horse archers.

During the Middle Ages, large horses with the strength and stamina to carry both a knight and his heavy armor into battle were highly prized. In addition to size, these horses were selected for speed and trainability. The expense of keeping, training and outfitting these specialized horses prevented the majority of the population from owning them.

In contrast with the medieval knights' Great Horse, most modern breeds are small and fast. However, modern breeds of draft horse such as Belgian, Percheron and Shire horse descended from the huge horses that carried armored knights and were often armored themselves.

Metaphorically, a war horse is a standard of the musical repertory, usually a 19th-century symphonic work, dependable but somewhat threadbare from familiarity, like "Beethoven's Fifth." It can also be said affectionately of a person; Robert E. Lee is said to have referred to James Longstreet as his "Old War Horse". When used in this sense the term often implies that the recipient is dependable, if a bit lacking in imagination.

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