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"No steed of the Empire, nor of Estalia or Tilea, could match the strength and power of a pure-bred Bretonnian horse. None of them were the equal in sheer speed, and the Bretonnians were rightly proud of them. Protected in thick layers of plate barding beneath their flowing cloth caparisons, and carrying the weight of a fully armoured knight, the noble steeds could outpace any horse in the Old World."
—The superiority of Bretonnia’s Steeds.[2]
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A Bretonnian Warhorse equipped with standard plate armour.

The Bretonnian Warhorse is the finest breed of Horse in the Old World, ridden into battle bearing magnificent, Heraldic caparisons, covering layers of steel that an Empire warhorse would struggle to carry, let alone charge with. Indefatigable, they are capable of travelling for weeks on end without rest, a feat that would bring normal steeds to the brink of exhaustion and death, but not so the noble stallions of Bretonnia...[3][4]

Overview

When the Elven colonists abandoned the Old World and sailed back to Ulthuan, some remained behind. These Elves were the ancestors of the Wood Elves of the Athel Loren. One of the Elven kindreds that stayed took their Elven steeds with them into the safety of the forest glades. Elsewhere, herds of Elven steeds roamed freely in the meadows and plains around the abandoned Elven ruins, interbreeding with wild forest ponies. This mingling of blood eventually resulted in the creation of a new breed of horse known simply as the Bretonnian Warhorse.

This new breed of horse was far superior in size and spirit than any other in the Old World. The horses of the Empire are descended from the wild ponies of the Kislevite steppes and have no blood of the Elven steeds in their veins. The warhorses of the Empire and Kislev are passable, but lack the power and spirit of the Bretonnian steed, although they are perhaps better suited to a harsher climate, while the Bretonnian breed requires the lush meadows of Bretonnia's landscape. When the Bretonnian warriors began riding into battle on the native horses of Bretonnia, they found that the horses could bear the weight of a fully armoured man and still gallop and charge over and over again without tiring. The horses were big, powerful and not lacking in stamina. The Bretonnian Knights therefore made every effort to maintain and improve their special breed. A very important factor in this was the peace pact with the Wood Elves of Athel Loren. By the terms of this pact, from time to time the Elves allow the Bretonnians to have some of their precious steeds. In this way the Bretonnian horses are replenished with fresh blood from pure Elven stock. Bretonnian knights owe their success not only to their own valour and skill, but also to the endurance and temper of their steeds.

Every pure-bred Bretonnian steed is reared to be accustomed to the din and chaos of battle, of weapons clashing and the screams of the dying. They are trained to be inured to the scent of blood, and to respond instantly to the directions of their rider. They are strong-willed and aggressive beasts, for a horse too sedate in nature would not have the necessary spirit in the heat of battle, and Bretonnian steeds are trained to kick and bite the enemy. Through long and extensive training regimes, Bretonnian warhorses are not easily panicked.[2]

Naturally, only a noble is permitted to ride a warhorse, though a few lucky and trusted peasants may be allowed to act as grooms and stablehands, and thus sleep in the same barn as one. Squires must make do with forest ponies and lesser breeds lacking the blood of the Elven Steeds. So highly valued are these beasts that a Royal Decree of many centuries standing forbid the export of these magnificent animals. The Bretonnian Knights naturally do not want anyone else to be as well mounted as they are. Even so, you would have to have the stature and nobility of a true Bretonnian Knight to ride a Bretonnian Warhorse. They do not put up with lesser warriors on their backs. 

Famous Bretonnian Warhorses

  • Tamasin - The noble destrier that carried King Charlen into battle against the Orcs at the Battle of Blood River in the land of the Border Princes.
  • Galibor - A mighty Warhorse belonging to the Grail Knight, Calard of Garamont. With powerful muscles and heavy armour, it was fearless in battle and feisty in nature.
  • The Lord of all Horses - The fabled steed of Gilles le Breton during his battles to unify Bretonnia. A part of its mane has been preserved as a revered relic of Bretonnia. Strands of this precious artefact can be woven into a horse's mane, conferring the great steed's strength and fortitude.
  • Oriel - The steed of King Guillaume and in battle it was like a raging wind, so proud and furious that the King's enemies would run in terror at the mere sight of the massive horse and its mighty mailed rider. Since then, the greatest White Stallions ridden by Bretonnian Kings can be traced back to Guillaume's own mighty steed.

Gallery

  • A Bretonnian Warhorse, belonging to a Grail Knight.

Sources

  • 1: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (6th Edition) - pg. 56
  • 2: Knight Errant, by Anthony Reynolds
  • 3: Kurt Helborg: Duty & Honour
  • 4: Warhammer: The End Times Compilation

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