Ancient Spanish Cavalry

A few notes about Ancient Spanish Cavalry.

Spain was rich in wild horses. The Romans described these as being of moderate size but very fast, with great stamina and beautiful (Treviño, 1986).

Spanish Mustang
Spanish Mustang

Poseidonios thought the Spanish cavalry was superior to Numidian (Treviño, 1986).

Cavalry comprised 20 to 25% of the total army size (Treviño, 1986).

Art shows shieldless cavalry in the 6th-4th centuries and usually shielded after that (Head, 1982). Initially the shield were the smaller caetrata of the Spanish light infantry. In the 3rd-2nd centuries some Spanish cavalry are depicted with a heavier style of equipment, with Montefortino helmets and larger oval or round shields (Head, 2010). This trend could have been Barcid policy to increase the proportion of their cavalry that could stand up to their Roman and Gallic enemies.

Clearly this policy (if it was) succeeded as the Spanish were part of Hannibal’s “bridled cavalry and all the heavier part of it” (Polybios III.65.6).


Head, D. (1982). Armies of the Macedonian and Punic wars 359 BC to 146 BC. Wargames Research Group.

Head, D. (2010, September). Zama Battle Day Questions. Slingshot – The Journal of the Society of Ancients, 272, p. 12.

Treviño, R. (1986). Rome’s Enemies (4): Spanish Armies 218 BC – 19 BC. Osprey.

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