The rise and fall of the Mounted warrior Throughout military history, from ancient civilisations right up until World War I, the use of the horse conferred a powerful advantage in battle. Used as living weapons by their riders, they were also the primary means of advancing and extending the reach of an army before the advent of mechanised transport.
Improvements in equestrian equipment could confer decisive victory, as seen in the example of the famed rider hordes of Genghis Khan. The innovation of stirrups enabled riders to stand up in their saddle, gaining more stability and improving the effectiveness of archery attacks launched from horseback.
Improvements in horse breeds were also often practiced to develop specialised horses to suit military purposes. The Bedouin or Arabian horse is a famous example of a long history of selective breeding, and is one of the breeds ideal for cavalry work.
Meanwhile,the Parthian cataphracts of Iran developed heavy cavalry, and in Europe towards the end of the medieval period, the enormous Destrier or Great-horse was the favoured of steed of armoured knights riding into the combat.