Charger Horse Breed- The Ancient Warhorse

Last Updated on December 29, 2022

In ancient and medieval times, horses played a main role in wars, the type of horse varies slightly, but they are all known as the charger horse breed. The majority of chargers are heavy, powerful horses, though some are lighter. Each type of charger horse had a specific purpose.

Charger Horse Breed History

Throughout history, the warhorse was a prized possession. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, knights and their horses had to wear very heavy armor. All of this additional weight required a powerful, large horse.

While these heavy horses had the strength to carry these knights, they did not have a lot of endurance for fast work. These horses not only had to possess strength, but they also had to have enough bravery to enter a chaotic battlefield, have calm temperaments, and be loyal.

These heavy horses were carefully selected when they were young and were the most valuable type of warhorse.

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Destrier Horse

The charger horse breed isn’t just one type of horse. In fact, a charger horse is one of three types and not a breed at all. The largest, heaviest type of charger is the Destrier. The Destrier is the precursor to the draft horse. It was the largest, strongest, and heaviest type of warhorse.

The majority of Destriers were stallions, as they had a natural fight instinct, which was useful in battle. A Destrier was the most valuable warhorse. Only high-ranking knights had the privilege of riding a Destrier.

You might have noticed horses depicted in paintings of knights and battles of the Middle Ages. Most of the horses are Destriers. Because these horses did not have huge amounts of endurance, knights only rode them in battle and not across the countryside.

When knights were traveling long distances the Destrier was led at the side of another horse, to preserve its battle energy. It was common to train a Destrier to fight in battle by rearing and striking at opponents that were fighting on foot.

A knight who held a position high enough to own a Destrier also owned several other horses. This is another type of charger called a course. Buying a Destrier was incredibly expensive.

During the 11th century, large sections of land got traded for just one warhorse. The heavier Destriers came a little later. Another name for these horses is the Great Horse. 

Check out the different types of horses from Medieval times.


The course was a lighter more blood type of horse. It was similar to a modern-day hunting horse. A course had more stamina, speed, and agility.

It was also a less expensive horse to buy, so knights often owned more than one. The Spanish courses were the most prized. However, it was still valuable, and the second most expensive type of calvary horse.

To transmit messages quickly between armies, it was the course that did this job. It was also the preferred mount of kings who wanted to travel more quickly.

When not used as part of the army, the Courser was the main mount for hunting as it was the fastest type of horse of the time. It was a strongly built horse that enjoyed jumping and enthusiastically carried its rider across the countryside.

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The Palfrey is another type of charger horse. It played an important role in the armies and as a pleasure riding horse. It was a shorter horse than the Destrier and was used for everyday riding by knights. These horses had a smooth gait which made them comfortable for long-distance riding.

Even though the Palfrey was an everyday horse, it did not lack quality. The Palfrey’s smooth gait made it the preferred mount of noble ladies. It was also the battle mount for low-ranking knights.

what is a charger horse


When talking about charger horses, we have to take a special look at the Andalusians. The Andalusian was one of the most respected and prized warhorses of the period. This breed was once known as the ‘royal horse of Europe’.

The Andalusian was and still is an athletic, beautiful, and strong horse with lots of agility. It originates in Spain. Not only does it have excellent physical qualities for a warhorse, but it also has an excellent temperament and is easy to train. 

The Andalusian is one of the world’s oldest horse breeds.

Can an Andalusian Horse Barrel Race?

The Andalusian horse might not seem like an obvious choice for barrel racing, but this horse breed has many properties that make it well-suited to this sport! A good barrel racing horse combines speed with agility to be able to make tight and accurate turns. The classic barrel racing horse is the iconic Quarter horse, but several other breeds can also excel at this sport.

Andalusian horses are famous for their elegance and beauty, but they are also remarkably agile. They might not have the same turn of speed and acceleration as a Quarter horse, but they could give them a run for their money!

How Fast Can Andalusian Horses Run?

Andalusian horses are not only beautiful and elegant, but they are also very fast! These horses are not commonly used for racing, but over short distances, they can reach very high speeds. They also have considerable levels of stamina and endurance and will cover long distances at a slower pace.

Andalusian horses regularly achieve speeds of 45 mph and above. This puts them in the same ballpark as the two fastest horse breeds in the world, the iconic Thoroughbred and Quarter horse. However, most Thoroughbreds would beat an Andalusian over a distance race, and Quarter horses are likely to win in a short sprint.

How Much Does an Andalusian Horse Weigh?

Andalusian horses are tall, powerful, and incredibly elegant. The average weight of an Andalusian horse is 1,000 pounds, with geldings and stallions tending to weigh more than mares.

How Long Do Spanish Horses Live?

Spanish horses such as the majestic Andalusian have a long lifespan and tend to live between 20 and 35 years. These beautiful horses often have a long working career, as long as they avoid injury. Older Spanish horses will not be capable of the same athletic feats as their younger counterparts, but they will still enjoy participating in light-ridden work.

How Much Weight Can an Andalusian Horse Carry?

The weight that a horse can carry is normally calculated as 20 percent of their body weight. This means that a 1,000 lb Andalusian horse could carry weights of 200 lb, as long as it was fit and healthy enough to do so.

When calculating how much weight a horse can carry, it is important to factor in the weight of the tack as well as the weight of the rider. It is also vital that the rider is well-balanced and can support their body weight. Inexperienced riders often put extra strain on the back of a horse, as they can easily become unbalanced.

What Happened to Dean Martin’s Andalusian Horses?

Dean Martin was not only famous for his riding skills in the many Western movies he starred in but was also a huge horse lover himself. His favorite breed of horse was the iconic Andalusian horse, and he would breed these horses at his ranch in California. He loved horses so much that some of his favorite TV horses lived at his ranch when not performing.

The famous actor and singer sadly died in 1995, and it is not clear what happened to his horses after his death. However, we do not doubt that these beautiful horses with their claim to fame would have easily found wonderful new homes!

What is a Charger Horse Conclusion

As you can see, the charger horse breed isn’t actually a breed, but a group of horses that played different roles in the armies of Medieval times. Each type was important and valuable in its own right. It is the Destrier chargers that set the foundation for many of the draft breeds that exist today.

Do destrier horses still exist?

No, the destrier horse doesn’t exist in it’s original form anymore. The modern draft breed of horse, known as a Percheron, may have in part descended from the original destrier. However, Percherons are believed to be taller and heavier than the average destrier used to be. Shires are also supposed to be descendants of destrier, but there is some uncertainty around whether or not they can be considered true descendants. 
Modern attempts to reproduce this ancient horse breed involved crossbreeding of an athletic riding horse with a light draft type. The result is a type of horse known as a crossbred that includes both bloodlines of the two breeds. The “Spanish-Norman” is a well-known example. The Warlander is another popular crossbred.

What breed of horse did the knights ride?

The most common medieval war horse breeds were the Friesian, Andalusian, Arabian, and Percheron. These breeds of horses we’re a mix of heavy breeds for carrying armored knights, and lighter breeds for hit-and-run or fast moving warfare.
The Friesian was originally bred in the Netherlands, as a sturdy working horse, for agricultural use, and to pull heavy loads in the fields. Only later they started using the Friesian as a war horse. They were excellent cavalry horses, and served in that capacity throughout the ages. The Friesian is the horse of royalty and nobility. They are also well-liked for their beauty, intelligence, and endurance.
The Andalusian is the most famous breed of war horses. They were originally bred for cavalry, and are known to have been bred by the Visigoths. Today, they are used for both show and performance. 

Is a charger a war horse?

Medieval war horses were commonly known as chargers. There were different types of charger horses – most knights and mounted soldiers were riding coursers and rounceys while the destrier was the most well-known and well-loved war horse of the medieval era.
Why did knights use chargers? The knight used a charger in battle. He used his warhorse in order to gain more power and speed. The horse would charge the enemy with its powerful legs and it would run fast. The knight could easily control the horse and even use it as a shield. Chargers were extremely important for a knight because they were able to help the knight win battles and be victorious in fights.

What kind of horse is a palfrey?

Palfreys were considered to be noble horses with beautiful coats of a silky hair. They were highly valued as riding horses in the Middle Ages. They were used by royalty and nobility throughout the medieval ages and were prized for its speed and endurance.
Palfreys were lighter, more agile, and more comfortable than a warhorse. They were smooth-gaited and were suitable for riding long distances. They were able to carry a rider over difficult terrain. Palfreys were used in the hunt and were often employed in jousts. They were also used in war as cavalry mounts. They had been ridden by knights from early in the Middle Ages until their decline in the 15th century. The Palfreys of the Middle Ages were usually smaller than modern day horses, with a typical height of 14-16 hands.