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It is fair to say that within the hobby, the horses seem to come a poor 2nd to the design & creation of the actual men themselves in cavalry/mounted officer sets.
Poor anatomy, not understanding how a horse moves at a trot, canter or full gallop, size/length of legs, body, and in the case of the new Prussian cavalry, the necks & heads.
Taking these new sets as an example, try to imagine these horses in a field grazing without bending their legs......they wouldnt be able to as their necks arent long enough!!! Even a Shetland Pony needs a neck that lets them lower their head to graze dispite their tiny height!!!
Also i think horses like to have ears!!!
Away from the animals themselves, sets often also dont seem put as much effort into the equipment used by that cavalry unit either, such as saddlecloths, bits/bridles etc.
I realise that most couldnt care less about the horses compared to the men in a set, but i think there is nothing worse than seeing a excellent sculpted and painted cavalryman sat astride a horse which just looks ridiculous.
In fact the horses themselves need proper research as different units preferred certain breeds.
This page gives some information about the French Napoleonic Cavalry and shows that a horse wasnt just "a horse" but could be expected to differ unit to unit.
The other consideration when sculpting horses perhaps is what their condition would of likely been.
I imagine a long hard march would take it out of a horse just like it did infantrymen. Then theres the artillery train horses etc.
I doubt many horses looked like an excellent example of their breed after a few marches and battles...if they lived that long.
There wasnt the emphasis on maintaining a horses diet back then as there is now.
Then there is a question of supply.
Just because a heavy cavalry regt is ment to use heavier larger horses, didnt mean they all had them if after suffering many losses and couldnt readily find such breeds, they would of got the best they could at that time in that theatre of conflict. The Peninsular War would of probably shown cavalry regiments in all sorts of a state. Not to mention whatever the predominent breed was in that area would of ended up being what the unit would of replaced their losses with.
Im just finishing off some Revell British Infantry and am just looking at the horse the mounted officer has. What I like about it is the horse looks proportionately correct, quite slim and athletic looking, an officer most likely having the money to purchase some fine horses for themselves, but most importantly the sculptor has learned that horses move their legs in what are called diagonals.
This video explains how horses use their legs better than i can put into words.
But just a simple bit of research into a horses anatomy and how they "work" wouldnt go amiss within the hobby!! Not to mention accurate horse "furniture" for that regiment. Its just a shame when excellent cavalrymen figures end up having to be placed on dreadful looking horses. Its the same as having great artillerymen stuck working a dreadfully done cannon. Hats French Horse Artillery being an example. Nice, if a little flat, figures but a awful looking cannon!!
I second this, with the caveat that it is a difficult topic for the 1/72 to cover because discussions of cavalry tactics remain some of the most controversial in all of military history regardless of era to this day. 1/32 scale horses have similar issues, which is especially problematic for equine centric topics such as the American Western frontier in the late 1800s.
Just watched a new video today that detailed quite nicely how the whole theory of cavalrymen avoiding massed charges before Gustavus Adolphus at the beginning of the 30 Years' War is likely erroneous to some extent, and similar discussions about the successful practical implementation of lancer charges throughout Medieval times have also received some challenges. And do not even get me started on chariot warfare around 1500-300 BC, good god studies of that are a complete disaster (in my opinion, which is naturally not shared by all). Far too much information has been gleaned from the Illiad and the Odyssey, which is arguably equivalent to trying to reconstruct Medieval battlefield tactics by using a Lord of the Rings script.
For the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZkjyFfmXbU