The Greek and Hellenistic Period

A new Tube and Yoke Cuirass - part 2

After riding in the new armour there are some interesting points to be made.

My old tube and yoke is light and comfortable, but slightly longer in the body than the new one. Over the years the pteruges have become less stiff and do not limit my ability to collapse into the horses back. It is easy to ride in, but the new tube and yoke is a better shape for me. The pteruges are much stiffer than those on the old armour, but sit higher and did not inhibit movement in any way.

The scales are tightly sewn and wired and there was little if any movement or noise coming from them. However it does take some effort to tie down the yoke, and coupled with the movement of the horse my waxed linen ties suffered structural failure. The armour is heavy, it moves when I am riding and the linen broke at the attachment points. I have moved to leather ties.

The most interesting issue for me was the extra weight when riding bareback. It made me ride in a very precise way, considering everything I was going to do, giving the horse due notice and keeping everything as it should be. The Roman saddle gives massive security in comparison and allows you to get away with a great deal. I watched Amy go around the field at light speed doing unintentional gymnastics to stay on the horse, all very exciting but not for me, I do not bend that well anymore! I went around the field at near light speed in a controlled manner.

I was sitting on a fur plus saddle cloth secured by a Vaquero girth which goes all the way around the horse, plus a skin, and my seat felt fine. I did wonder if using weapons would easily unseat me but I did not have any problems using lance, javelins or sword which was re-assuring. Our horses were not easy mounts to ride bareback, but they looked great. Amy had a lovely bay mare that a Scythian would have approved of, while I stuck to my small grey Ferrari. It was very muddy and a little treacherous at speed, but there was no way my new armour was finishing up in the mud. No doubt it will do in time.

Riding in the Illyrian, Boeotian and Pilos was a pleasure compared to most helmets. I could see and hear everything and the fact that I actually developed the last two made it even better.

I can see why fighting at a distance cavalrymen often distained armour, to make their lives easier and to ride their horses better. But there is riding and there is riding with style in an exciting manner for the crowd. Re-enactors tend to ride, but horsemen know how to thrill the crowd. As Romans we are all comfortable to really go for it and ride in an exciting stylish manner. As Greeks we concentrated on the task in hand and the showmanship was put to one side. That will change over the winter.

John Conyard