Over the long weekend, I visited the small, but really wonderful Neue Galerie
in NYC, including its collection of (mostly) Renaissance arms and armor.
On display were several full suits of armor that looked like they were designed for a wee fellow--maybe 5'3 or 5'4". Changes in nutrition and medicine have allowed significant increases in stature in the past 500 years. At 6'1", I'd look like a giant in comparison.
Also on display were two complete sets of barding
, or horse armor. The barding was mounted on full-size horse mannequins--I'm no expert, but armor seemed to be properly sized for what seemed to be a life size horse model.
It's clear that the riders have grown over the past five centuries--did their mounts? On the one hand, horses have pretty much been eating the same thing since forever, and I'm not sure a nobleman's horse would have gone malnourished.
On the other hand, holy smokes, the human suits of armor perched on those horses practically looked like a modern person riding an elephant.
What's the scoop? I have no doubt that armored skirmishes were (literally) awesome, but if the horses were as big as they seemed in this exhibition, it must have been terrifying.