'In dreary, doubtful waiting hours Before the brazen frenzy starts, The horses show him nobler powers;- O patient eyes, courageous hearts.'
Into Battle, Julian Grenfell, 1915
In the days of horsed cavalry, a soldier's mount was a living, breathing companion. It galloped into the jaws of death at the sound of the bugle and the nudge of spurs. It carried its rider over arid deserts, across swollen rivers, up near-sheer mountains. Whole societies functioned because of the warhorse — the Huns, the Mongols, and the tribes of the North American plains. Horses were worshipped as gods — the centaurs of ancient Greece, Tziminchak of the Aztecs, while the Roman emperor Caligula intended to make his horse a consul!
Most of us have only ever seen warhorses at the movies — the Scots Greys at Waterloo, the Light Brigade at Balaclava, Taras Bulba's Cossacks on the Steppes and Custer's cavalry at the Little Big Horn. This book celebrates the color and nostalgia of a fighting past, from eohippus the first horse to Sefton, the last warhorse injured in the line of duty. Not forgetting the stark reality of thousands of animals sacrificed for men's greed and ambition, those killed on campaign, the maimed cab-horses and fodder for the knacker's yard.