Post-classical history

§ Faint-Hearted Horses

As for faint-hearted horses and their weakness when wounded, here is an example.

The army of Damascus, which belonged to Shihab al-Din Mahmud ibn Buri, was encamped against [98] Hama, which belonged to al-Yaghisiyani, and I was there too. The Damascenes marched on us in large numbers. The governor of Hama at the time was al-Yaghisiyani’s son Ahmad, who was on Tall Mujahid.173

The chamberlain Ghazi al-Talli174 came to him and said, ‘Our infantry is spread out all over the place – you can see their helmets shining among all the enemy tents. Any moment now the enemy will charge our men and annihilate them!’

‘Then go and pull them back,’ Ahmad replied.

‘By God, the only ones who can pull them back are you and him,’ the chamberlain said (referring to me).

So Ahmad said to me, ‘You go and pull them back.’

So I pulled a hauberk off one of my attendants who was wearing it and put it on, rode out and, using my mace, I pulled our men back. I was riding a chestnut charger, one of the noblest-bred long-necked horses you ever saw. As I was pulling the men back, the enemy marched on us while there was not a single horseman outside the walls of Hama besides me. Some of our men fled into the city, thinking they would most certainly be captured; others marched beside my stirrup. Because of the narrowness of the place and the press of the crowd, when the enemy attacked us I had to rein in my horse while facing them, but when they turned around I would follow behind them cautiously. My horse was struck by an arrow in its leg, the arrow merely scratching it. But my horse fell to the ground with me astride it, then rose and fell again, with me beating it all the while.

One of the men in my escort said to me, ‘Go into the barbican and mount another horse.’

I said, ‘By God, I will not dismount!’

And thus it was that I observed a weakness in this horse that I never observed in any other.

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