Roman Cavalry

Ride With Us

We occasionally get enquiries from riders interested in riding for Comitatus. We thought it would be useful to put out the existing guidelines to all.

Comitatus gives members the opportunity to experience different aspects of late Roman life. These include riding as Romans. Anybody is welcome to have a go regardless of their skill and experience. Primarily we ride at stables in East Yorkshire, with a large outdoor school and fields.

Riding With Authentic Tack
While many of us own our own equipment and saddles, the group own traditional reconstructions of Roman four-horned saddles, and a steppe saddle which started to make an appearance in the 4th century. We generally try and ride horses that conform to the size and shape of Roman horses. They are normally under 15 hands and preferably smaller.

New riders are given the opportunity to get used to various horses before being introduced to the period saddles and tack. The yard is a relaxed place to ride, with safety being the primary consideration. Remember that Romans don't use stirrups.

Comitatus aims to use and display accurate reproduction cavalry equipment. But we also learn and demonstrate the skills of the Roman cavalryman. After a while you will be expected to start collecting your personal equipment. On top of the standard clothing, arms and armour, it is necessary to have a cavalry shield with the insignia of the Equites Taifali, the elite cavalry unit we represent.

Equipment And Skills
Members use recurved bows, bow cases, arrows and quivers, javelins and quivers, plus various spears and lances. You must ensure that you and your mount can carry this equipment comfortably during displays. Rather than have equipment passed to you to demonstrate, we prefer riders to carry what they need, as would actual 4th century horsemen. We want you to really look comfortable with your equipment, and be used to using it.

Riders will hopefully master the contos, horse archery, javelins, combat against single infantry opponents and against "shield walls". They must do all this in appropriate dress which normally involves armour, a helmet and carrying a shield. Horse archery and the contos means riding not only without stirrups but without reins as well. This all takes practice and riders must be prepared to train regularly.

Several times each year the group will put on public displays. Performing for the public in a strange arena is not easy and it is not for everybody. A client funds these events, and we owe it to them and ourselves to put on the best show possible. We do not am to give everybody a ride, but rather aim to put on a perfect display with three, sometimes four riders. Our "first string" best riders are teamed up with whatever horses they feel will enable them to perform to their utmost.

Comitatus riders are not separate from the rest of the group. They are expected to take part in events just like every other member. This includes taking part in infantry displays etc. It means we all work as a team, and doesn’t lead to an “us and them” mentality.

As a group our members are sometimes paid expenses for turning up to selected events. Our riders are paid in line with everybody else. But sometimes our riders do ride for other people, especially if Roman riders are required.

When everything works and the sun is shining the rewards easily outweigh the hard work.