Secrets of the Dead

Training Hannibal’s Military Horses


Hannibal sustained huge losses.

His men and animals scattered across the gorge.

The horses proved to be a liability in the mountains, and their panic only made the attack worse.

But they were a crucial military weapon that Hannibal could not do without.

Half of them belonged to his elite mounted force.

The Numidians were light cavalry, they came from North Africa.

They were lightly clad and famously rode without saddles and even without bridles.

They used just a simple neck rope, that''s all they had.

The Numidians were armed with fist-fulls of javelins riding at the enemy and throwing their spears.

They were hit and run troops.

Riding without a saddle, because it hadn''t been invented, riding without a bit, and a bridle, is challenging.

Only possible on a fantastically trained horse like this.

The fact that the Numidians actually went into battle like that is mind-blowing.

Can''t imagine they must have had such control, such a relationship with their horses.

This horse should follow me.

So without any tack, without bridles and stirrups, and all of that sort of thing, he''s silent, it''s stealthy, it''s the perfect horse for scouting.

Imagine them in the Alps, if you''re going over treacherous terrain, you can get off and the horse will follow you.

On Hannibal''s journey the Numidian cavalry were frequently sent ahead to gather intelligence or find routes.

But there''s another skill they had to give them the element of surprise.

They would lay their horses down, it''s perfectly comfortable for the horse.

There he goes Look at that.

Just think how useful that is if you''re a scout, you can get really low behind the tall grasses and scout the enemy''s camp, count their numbers, then they can simply get on their horses.

They were the eyes and ears of Hannibal''s invasion force.

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