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"Any worthwhile mercenary will know the value of a reliable, trained horse. Riding an animal that startles on the battlefield or loses speed quickly is a risk we will not take."
―Mario Auditore, while inspecting the horses in his army, 1454.[src]
AC horse logo

Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad on a horse outside of Masyaf

Horses are a species of hoofed quadruped mammals, which have been used as a means of transport throughout most of recorded human history.

Their presence and use was widespread throughout the Middle Ages, the Renaissance era, and the American Revolution for several purposes, resulting in a variety of breeds to match their use.

BreedsEdit

"The stable keeper gives me a short tour. He presents the different breeds - some bred stocky for labor, some wiry for travel, and of course, the unflinching steeds we will ride into combat."
―Mario Auditore surveying the horses of Monteriggioni.[src]

Three breeds of horse in particular were common throughout Rome in the early 16th century, and differed in both appearance and characteristics.[1]

ACB SP S 55 AerialAssassinationOnHorse 1280

Ezio assassinating a guard mounted on a Rouncey

The common horse, or Rouncey,[2] which was heavily laden with saddle bags, could usually be found in the Antico and Campagna Districts, with the guards riding them (possibly messengers) always pushing them into a quick gallop.[1]

The standard horse, or Jennet,[2] was mostly found in the Centro and Vaticano Districts, and they were usually ridden by civilians. Coincidentally, this horse was the fastest of the three breeds, despite being the weakest for combat.[1]

The rarest type, the armored warhorse or Destrier,[2] could be found in any of Rome's districts still occupied by the Borgia, or at stables after all of them had been renovated. Despite being the slowest type of horse, this armored breed was able to withstand more damage from enemy attacks without falling.[1]

Other slightly uncommon breeds used at the time were the Percheron, which Lucrezia Borgia used for her carriages, and two sub-varieties of warhorse.[3]

HistoryEdit

The horse and carriage were equally common modes of transportation, and indispensable for the Assassin Order from the Third Crusade until the Renaissance.[4][5]

AC horseback charge

Altaïr fighting on horseback against a Templar knight

During the Third Crusade, stables were located directly outside the Assassin-controlled village of Masyaf, and horses residing there were often used by the Assassins to traverse the expanse of the Kingdom, allowing them to reach other cities for missions or assassinations.[4]

A variety of horses could be found throughout the Kingdom as well, either in corrals or stables, or standing alone on the path with their rider nearby. During the height of the Crusades, horse-drawn carriages and warhorses were also common sights on the battlefield.[4]

As such, guards stationed along the paths of the Kingdom were always wary of horsemen, particularly if they were riding hard, or acted as if they were being pursued. With this in mind, most Assassins made it a point to ride slowly when in the presence of alert guards.[4]

Animal Husbandry

The stables of Monteriggioni

By the Renaissance, though ridden horses still held their importance, horse-drawn carriages had grown significantly in popularity. Travel stations could also be found just outside of major cities, and offered citizens safe and easy carriage rides for a fee.[5]

In the large city of Rome, horses were often used to travel between districts, and were ridden by citizens, guards, and Assassins alike, with the latter able to hijack horses from the former two.[1]

Horses also remained essential for warfare. Mario Auditore, as ruler and protector of Monteriggioni, always held horses in high regard, noting that "some of them will die alongside us; others will actually be key to keeping us alive."[3] As such, each of the Monteriggioni mercenaries was made to get to know his horse before riding out into battle.[3]

Monteriggioni, like Masyaf before it, had stables conveniently located just outside the main gate. On one occasion, Mario's nephew Ezio had to chase down his uncle's favorite horse after it escaped from these stables and returned it to its keeper.[1]

During the 18th century, horses were used to drive wagons or carriages for transporting shipments and people. In revolutionary America, peddlers also equipped horse-driven wagons to sell goods in the Frontier.[6] By the mid-18th century, horse-driven carriages were used as a mobile transport system for people, especially for nobles.[7]

Combat and movementEdit

AC horseback battle

Altaïr striking an enemy from horseback

During the Third Crusade, horses were somewhat rare off of the battlefield, and Assassins were able to use the strength and speed granted by their mounts in order to gain an advantage over their enemies. Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, for instance, could wield his sword to combat opponents while on horseback, or flee from them if necessary.[4]

However, while an Assassin's horse could outrun any pursuer and leap over most obstacles, a single sword strike could trip it and send its rider into the ground.[4]

Though horses could easily plow through crowds, pulling the horse into a rear would normally startle nearby civilians, clearing a path in the process.[4]

Ezio Auditore da Firenze was also equally skilled at riding and combat, though he could use a horse directly before or after free-running. He was able to stand on the saddle at any time, and jump from horseback onto a wall or beam. Inversely, he could also jump directly onto horseback from a nearby building, or from a parachute.[1]

Unlike Altaïr, Ezio (as well as any opponent he faced) was able to use a variety of his weapons while on horseback, both long and short-ranged; however, this excluded any heavy or two-handed weapon, the Hidden Blade and daggers.[1]

Horse combat 1

Ezio jumping from his horse to air assassinate a Borgia soldier

Though Ezio could not remain on horseback while wielding his Hidden Blade, he could perform assassinations from horseback. To do this, he would leap from the saddle to assassinate either an enemy on the ground or a mounted horseman, wherein he would subsequently steal their mount in the case of the latter. Conversely, he could also drag the rider of a horse to the ground, before using his Hidden Blade to assassinate them where they lay.[1]

Upon dismounting a horse, depending on whether or not the steed had been stolen, it would either follow its rider or flee immediately. Additionally, if their rider was in battle next to them, horses would often kick out at attacking guards, causing them to fall.[1][4]

TriviaEdit

Assassin's Creed
  • In Assassin's Creed, horses taken from within the Kingdom have a tendency to abruptly change color when passing from one region to another.
  • Richard I of England, Robert de Sablé and Altaïr are the only characters in the game to be seen riding horses.
  • King Richard's horse resembles the destrier, albeit with less or no armor plates in it. While Robert's was a destrier, being equipped with some armor plates and chainmail.
  • Though Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is the first to allow horses inside cities, early gameplay videos show that riding horses inside of a city was originally intended to be possible in Assassin's Creed.
    • In Assassin's Creed, the only horses shown inside a city are during the cutscene of Richard I exiting on horseback with his caravan from the Acre Citadel.
Assassin's Creed II
  • Horses are only used by guards in Assassin's Creed II during one mission, "Romagna Holiday", wherein they attack Leonardo da Vinci's carriage.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, if Ezio's horse falls over after galloping through several groups of people, it is possible for him to lose health or even die.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
  • Brotherhood is the first game where citizens are shown on horseback, though this leads to a minor anachronism: female citizens are depicted as straddling their horse rather than sitting side-saddle. This is historically inaccurate, as seeing a woman's legs spread apart would have been considered a most vulgar sight at the time.
  • The stables at the Tiber Island Headquarters always feature a white horse and a destrier.
  • For some reason, the amount of enemy guards riding destriers noticeably decrease if Ezio is riding that kind of horse.
  • Apprentices called by Ezio sometimes finds a nearby horse and ride off after having assassinated their targets.
  • Galloping is disabled throughout Rome, and is only possible in Viana, Monteriggioni, Colli Albani, and the Colosseo's Lair of Romulus.
    • When the game is ported to the PC, the gallop option is reintroduced.
  • Jumping from a horse onto a beam 20 times is a requirement for the completion of the Roman Thieves Guild challenges.
  • The achievement "Grand Theft Dressage" can be unlocked by stealing five horses in a row, without touching the ground.
  • Destriers cannot be found in any color but white, despite their image in the in-game manual showing a black-haired coat.
  • A minor glitch may occur if Ezio is using his sword while on horseback. If he is knocked off while attacking, once he gets back to his feet, he still holds his sword with his arm raised above his head. It remains this way, even when supposedly attacking or countering, until the weapon is sheathed.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Assassin's Creed III
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed: Unity
  • In Assassin's Creed: Unity, horses can be seen hitched to carriages in Versailles in the beginning of the game and later in front of the Café Théâtre. Just like Revelations, they cannot be ridden.
Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
  • Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is the first game in which rideable horses can be killed, dying to three to six shots to the body, or one shot to the head.
  • The achievement "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU" can be earned by shooting five horses, causing the carriages they are pulling to flip over, potentially catapulting their drivers.

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

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