Riding to Arms

Riding to Arms

A History of Horsemanship and Mounted Warfare

Charles Caramello


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Horses and horsemen played central roles in modern European warfare from the Renaissance to the Great War of 1914-1918, not only determining victory in battle, but also affecting the rise and fall of kingdoms and nations. When Shakespeare's Richard III cried, "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" he attested to the importance of the warhorse in history and embedded the image of the warhorse in the cultural memory of the West.

In Riding to Arms: A History of Horsemanship and Mounted Warfare, Charles Caramello examines the evolution of horsemanship—the training of horses and riders—and its relationship to the evolution of mounted warfare over four centuries. He explains how theories of horsemanship, navigating between art and utility, eventually settled on formal manège equitation merged with outdoor hunting equitation as the ideal combination for modern cavalry. He also addresses how the evolution of firepower and the advent of mechanized warfare eventually led to the end of horse cavalry.

Riding to Arms tracks the history of horsemanship and cavalry through scores of primary texts ranging from Federico Grisone's Rules of Riding (1550) to Lt.-Colonel E.G. French's Good-Bye to Boot and Saddle (1951). It offers not only a history of horsemen, horse soldiers, and horses, but also a survey of the seminal texts that shaped that history.


Charles Caramello:
Charles Caramello is professor emeritus of English at the University of Maryland and John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, Virginia. His books include Henry James, Gertrude Stein, and the Biographical Act and Silverless Mirrors: Book, Self, and Postmodern American Fiction.