Horses on Nova
Horses are the preferred means of land transportation on Nova for all purposes except long-distance freight (for which mules are preferred). Novans breed horses for many purposes, and therefore classify them by the type of work they have been bred for rather than their actual breed.
The following chart may provide a useful reference chart for comparing Novan horse types. Horses are ranked on a relative scale of 1-5, where 1 indicates the worst performance on the list and 5 indicate the best.
For a typical horse of the type:
- Cost is a relative indication of how much the horse will tend to cost, both to purchase and maintain. Cost is a function not only of how difficult the horse is to breed and how healthy it tends to be, but also of its required performance. For instance, war horses must be at their physical peak as a matter of safety, and thus tend to consume more of an owner’s resources than a simple work horse.
- Strength is a relative indication of the horse’s ability to push or pull great weights for a short period of time.
- Agility is a relative indication of the horse’s ability to change direction quickly.
- Speed is a relative indication of the top speed the horse can sustain at its various gaits.
- Comfort is a relative indication of how smooth the horse’s gait is, and thus how comfortable it is to ride (or be carried by, as in a cart) for extended periods of time.
- Endurance is a relative indication of how long the horse can exert itself.
- Capacity is a relative indication of how much weight the horse can carry for extended periods of time.
- Will is a relative indication of how spirited the horse is: how likely it is to attack in battle, and how easily frightened it is.
The destrier, or “great horse,” is the rarest and most expensive of war horses. Destriers are bred for maximum combat effectiveness over a short period of time. They are compact but hugely muscled for explosive acceleration and wheeling, and tend to be very high spirited. However, destriers tire quickly. For this reason they are almost never a knight’s only, first, or even primary war horse. Destriers are purchased by knights who can afford to have a specialized horse to ride during jousts or have brought up when a battle is at its most critical moment – but in those critical moments, no type of horse serves better.
The courser is the most common choice of war horse for wealthy knights. Coursers are somewhat smaller and less agile than destriers, but have considerably better endurance and are faster over the long haul. This makes them better suited than a destrier to be a knight’s primary mount in battle.
The rouncey is sometimes reviled as a poor knight’s war horse, but it is in fact the most common war horse on Nova. Rounceys are a jack-of-all-trades type, suitable for use as a war horse, riding horse, or pack horse and are commonly used in all those roles.
The hobby is a light war horse often used by skirmishers. It is smaller than a rouncey and less suited to heavy combat, but affordable and quick.
The palfrey is the cream of riding horses. Palfreys naturally amble instead of trot, giving them a gait that is very easy on the rider and relatively fast yet can be sustained for long periods of time. Nobles value palfreys in peacetime as much as destriers are valued for war or tournament. In fact, many knights who can afford palfreys bring them to war, so that they can travel quickly to battle yet arrive as fresh and rested as possible.
The jennet is a smaller ambling riding horse, and is valued for all the same reasons. A jennet’s smaller frame cannot carry as heavy a load as a palfrey, however, for which reason jennets are used as riding horses primarily by ladies or young children. Jennets are also sometimes used by light cavalry, since they allow lightly equipped soldiers to stay in the saddle longer (and thus cover more ground) than do other types.
The sumpter is the common pack horse, bred for the ability to carry loads over long distances. Sumpter horses require more feed and are not as hearty as mules, but they do travel faster than mules. Thus, long-haul trade caravans principally use mules, whereas sumpter horses are preferred for shorter private trips or as military baggage animals.
The draught horse is a heavy labor type, even more heavily muscled than a destrier but without the great horse’s explosiveness or disposition. Draught horses are the beasts of choice for heavy, plodding work such as plowing farmland, clearing fields, or hauling logs.
The wagon horse is a medium work horse bred for carrying medium loads or larger loads in wagons, either singly or in a team. Wagon horses are not quite as strong as a draught horse, but they are faster, making them better suited to hauling vehicles.
The cart horse is a variation on the wagon horse type that is bred for a smoother gait. This makes the cart horse a superior choice for carrying passenger vehicles such as carriages and horse litters.
Return to the main page