Lance and steel bonnet

Weapons and Warfare

Border Reivers L_tcm4-565625

The Border robber was a specialist, and needed special equipment, the most important part of which was his horse. “They reckon it a great disgrace for anyone to make a journey on foot,” wrote Leslie, and Froissart had noted two centuries earlier how the Scots at war “are all a-horseback . . . the common people on little hackneys and geldings.” The Border horses, called hobblers or hobbys, were small and active, and trained to cross the most difficult and boggy country, “and to get over where our footmen could scarce dare to follow.”

Such precious animals naturally attracted legislation, particularly in England, where horses were in short supply. In the late 1500s their export to Scotland was strictly banned; Hunsdon “condemde sundry” for this treason in 1587, and complained that English gentlemen were involved in the illicit trade. It was a well-broken law in both directions, for Scotland had…

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