Alexander the Great’s great horse (shame about the stirrups)

I was watching Andrew Marr’s otherwise excellent History of the World, episode 2 – Age of Empire the other day (I’d recorded it, not sure when it was originally on) and there was a fabulous re-enactment of Alexander the Great, as a boy, taming Bucephalus, a magnificent but wild black stallion. Alexander alone had noticed that Bucephalus was afraid of his own shadow. Turning him round, the boy was able to quieten the horse when experienced horse-trainers had all failed. The horse was sleek, black and beautiful and Alexander simply leaped onto his back and rode off.

So far so good.

But a later clip shows Alexander, now grown up and conquering people and their lands hither and thither across the world. And you can just glimpse some metal stirrups…… Alexander’s time was around the fourth century BC.  Stirrups were developed some centuries later – and the first ones were simple leather loops for the big toe, certainly not full steel stirrups.

You can read more about horses in film and TV in my ebook Lights! Camera! Gallop