This companion volume to the author’s Au Galop! Horses and Riders of Napoleon’s Army follows the same format as its predecessor, concentrating on the way British cavalry of the period operated in terms of recruitment and training of both men and horses. As such, it is now far easier to compare and contrast the military equestrian systems of France and Britain than has hitherto been possible.
Major differences in horse procurement methods, the lack of centrally mandated training systems for horse and rider, widely variable abilities of regimental officers and a seeming haphazard feeding regime all contributed the British cavalry’s performance (or lack of it) in the field. This book also discusses cavalry shoeing and veterinary care, saddlery and the levels of equine attrition on campaign.
Dawson’s intention - to show reasons for the differences in approach and effects of each country’s systems - means you ideally need both volumes, but comparisons are often noted in the text of Boots and Saddles! so it’s not absolutely necessary. What is important is to understand what went on behind the scenes: what made it practically possible for two sets of horsemen to meet on the battlefields of Portugal and Spain, and this book provides answers.
Boots and Saddles! is one for the specialist, but essential reading if you have a deep interest in British cavalry of the period. You won’t find this level of detail, all in one place, anywhere else, and even those who are well-read will find a lot of source material that’s new.