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3 Ways War Movies Lie To You About Horses

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, horses haven’t really been humanity’s friends for very long. In other words, people weren’t terribly interested in using horses for trail riding or just doing some horseback riding for fun; they were workers and nothing more. For most of history, horses have simply been a means to an end, providing transportation and help with work. Unfortunately, horses have also been a major part of wars for centuries.

When it comes to movies, horses are often misrepresented in battle situations. This is true in both historical movies and in fantasy movies, where horses are often asked to do things they wouldn’t do in real life. Let’s take a look at a few of the ways in which Hollywood has been taking shortcuts in order to make things more exciting for the viewer.

Movie Mistakes: Sacrifice Your Calvary

In order to increase the action in movies and television shows, horses are often shown as charging headlong into the front lines of footmen holding spears. Game of Thrones does this all the time, and Braveheart has famous scenes involving horses being sacrificed in order to “break the lines.”

When you stop to think about this for a second, it’s a stupid strategy that doesn’t make much sense. Why would you ride your horses directly into spears? First, you’ll be sacrificing a very expensive animal, one in limited supply that took years to train. Second, a fallen horse is likely to land and trap the leg of the rider, so you don’t really want to be riding it into a situation in which it will almost certainly topple. Even if your leg isn’t trapped, you’re still the first one to get to the enemy and they’ll kill you when you hit the ground.

Believe it or not, horses have no interest in riding headlong into a row of spears! Getting them to do so would be very difficult and something hard to train them for. In reality, the phrase “here comes the calvary” exists for a reason: the cavalry tends to come later in the battle. Calvary will watch for a weak point in the enemy ranks and then move in to exploit it. While horses might experience some resistance, they’re not ridden directly into a row of people.

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Movie Mistakes: Ride Your Best Horse Into Battle

Interestingly, kings of the past did lead their men into battle and didn’t just watch from a nearby hill as you might expect. Even more interesting, the opposing army might even avoid trying to kill the king; he was worth more alive — as a bargaining chip — than dead. Killing the king was a bad idea because then you had the entire country against you, not just its soldiers, and you’d end up with an even longer war.

So while a king might want to ride a very nice horse into battle to make him look good, he certainly didn’t want to ride his best. Knowing he’d probably survive, a king would leave his best horse at home, either for casual riding or for breeding. Rising such a prized possession on the battlefield would be like taking the crown jewels with you!

Hollywood Mistakes: One Horse For Everything

Horses will sometimes be named characters in movies. They give the lead character someone to talk to when they’re horseback riding alone, and the horse will often be with the hero throughout their entire journey.

There’s so much wrong with that! Horses have been bred for millennia to have specific jobs, but in a movie the same horse is expected to do everything. The horse might start out as a plow-puller on the hero’s farm. When the hero accepts the call to action, the horse suddenly has to become a distance runner. Then they’ll have to jump to cross the castle moat. Before the big battle, the horse will have to carry the hero into battle wearing an extra hundred pounds of armor.

In reality, one horse would have trouble pulling all of this off. You need to have the right horse for the right job; our trail riding horses certainly aren’t asked to pull plows!

Ready To Get the Right Horse During Riding Lessons?

At Pink Flamingo Stables, we have the right horses ready for both trail riding and horseback riding lessons. Ready to have some fun in Lake Worth? Schedule today!