built black troop horse in its glory.note the severely docked tail.
Cavalry mounts always have a tension between the desire for the biggest horses possible to sweep all before them and the general rule that the larger the horse the less well it stands fatigue and privation.
The original English Cavalry horse at the beginning of the 17C was the Great Black which stood at 16 hands. JamesI and CharlesI imported Arab Stallions through which the breed was altered under Charles II. The heavy Lanarkshire black breed and the importation of black Flemish stallions particularly by William III meant that by the beginning of the 18c the Black Horse was the standard English war horse coming in at about 15 hands.
However the ideal was not always met even in peace time as this advertisement from 1677 shows,"Stolen near Paddington, three geldings belonging to His Majesties Guards all between 15 and 16 hands. One dark grey, another dark brown, the other an old dark bay, blind in one eye flat footed and long legged.
By the end of the first decade of the 18c the number of dragoons employed had increased dramatically. In England from 7 to 18 regts, in Russia from 1 to 24, and in France from 14 to 43. In the same period the Dragoons increasingly dropped their role as mounted infantry and were expected to function as battle line cavalry, albeit 2nd rate. The cheaper cost of maintaining a dragoon is often seen as the main force for change, a troopers horse cost about £15 while a dragoons could be purchased for as little as a third of this. However the difficulty in maintaining a supply of horse of the size needed for cavalry troopers must have made it very tempting to raise mounted regiments from the lesser sized and often tougher breeds more widely available.
When it comes to painting the horses I shall follow the general rule that proper cavalry has black horses and Dragoons have a mixture of chestnut and bay. Unless of course we have specific information to the contrary.I am not sure what I will do about British horses tails, Cadogan insisted upon a brutal docking within three inches of the root. However I am as reluctant to mutilate my lovely Les Higgins castings as I would be with the real thing.