Samurai Horses

As someone into Japanese history, I always wondered something- why didn’t the Japanese make more extensive use of horses during their wars? I knew they made some use of them, but nowhere near as much as people from other countries did.

Since there’s a horse element to this week’s part (and the coming parts) of my story “The Inuyama Rebellion” I thought I’d look up something on Japanese horses of the Sengoku (Warring States) period.

What I didn’t expect to find was the reason why Horses weren’t used much in Japan by the Samurai the way they were in many other parts of the world. They used them, but only in fairly small numbers, and I’d always wondered why. Well apparently the answer is that Japanese native horses are actually pretty small.

Text: Thoroughbred/Japanese Horse

This meant that they had a very limited ability to carry a Japanese Samurai (much less one in full armour) for long distances and thus were apparently only used by commanders and messengers in war. The Japanese apparently didn’t even bother to have actual mounted cavalry units per-se.

Here are pictures of Samurai and horses for comparison-

 

The last picture (painting, really) shows a clear-ish view of what a saddle of the period looked like too. (And this is likely the style of saddle Masato would be using in the story.)

Rob

One thought on “Samurai Horses

  1. Intressting!
    But the horses in europe during the 15th century wasn’t bigger actually. The knights had quite small horses, that needed to carry up to 150 kg in war. And it’s entirely possible for those small horses to go to war with heavy armor. But for this, it’s need to be well trained, and this knowledge wasn’t available i Japan what I know. Or, I think, the need of horses wasn’t that big, because the samurais weapons seems to more effective than the european ones. However, it’s a very intressting subject!

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