Horses offered mobility to the Mongols, permitting them to roam the steppes in search of pasture for their flocks, as well as to round up other horses that have been allowed to graze freely faraway from an encampment.

Riders gathering the horses together were equipped with a pole at the end of which was a special lasso. Children, who became skilled riders at an early age, assumed this responsibility on occasion.

In traditional times horses gave the Mongols the decided tactical advantage of mobility in conflicts against sedentary civilizations. They could, for example, initiate a hit-and-run raid on a Chinese village, fleeing to the steppelands and thus evading the less mobile Chinese forces.

Online Reading
"All the Khan's Horses," by Morris Rossabi [pdf], in Natural History (October 1994). Reprinted with permission from the author.

Further Reading
"Chagi's Charge," by Robert McCraken Peck, in Natural History (June 1999).

 


 
 
© 2004 Asia for Educators, Columbia University
AFE Home Main Page