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An extract from Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291
by Ian Heath

95.      MONGOL PONY

Mongol ponies were short-legged and stocky and stood only 13-14 hands high but they were, in the Emperor Frederick II's words, 'swift and at need long-enduring.' Each man had at least 2 and possibly as many as 18 horses, these apparently being ridden in rotation from day to day. They were mainly geldings and mares.

The harness depicted here is fairly typical, most horses having a plume suspended at throat or chest. The tail was normally tied or shortened and the stirrups were worn short. The saddle was made of wood, rubbed with sheep's fat to protect it against the rain.

Some were armoured or half-armoured. Carpini records leather horse-armour of 2 or 3 layers protecting the horse down to its knees, also describing horses 'with their shoulders and breasts protected', apparently with metal armour. In addition he records lamellar horse-armour and iron head-pieces. Without citing a source H. Lamb, in his 'Genghis Khan', says that the 'shock divisions' had horses 'encased in lacquered leather - red or black', by which he may be referring to Keshik units. For the probable appearance of Mongol horse-armour see figure 122 in 'Armies and Enemies of Ancient China'.

Solid coloured horses were generally preferred since they concealed the blood of both their own and their riders' wounds, white horses being generally shunned for the same reason (white horses were in fact sacred amongst the Mongols). The Baatut rode black horses, while greys, chestnuts, bays, sorrels and skewbalds are also recorded.

The Ilkhanids appear to have mainly ridden large Arab steeds.

Like all Asiatic nomads, the Mongols directed the horse with a whip rather than spurs. Such a whip can he seen suspended from the wrist of figure 84.

See also 85 Mongol Heavy Cavalryman, 83, 84 Mongol Light Cavalryman, 86 Mongol Infantryman, 90 Mongol_Standards in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath

Next: 96. CAMEL in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath

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