Description of Irish Cavalry
Regardless of their origins, the horsemen usually wore iron helmets and chainmail or akhetons (i.e., padded body armor), and were armed with javelins and spears wielded overarm – instead of couched underarm like lances. They rode light, unbarded Irish horses rather than knightly destriers, and, lacking both saddles and stirrups, instead balanced themselves precariously on pillows tied across their mounts’ backs. Each such cavalryman was customarily accompanied by one or more unarmored ‘horseboys’ (servants or squires) who rode into battle on his spare horses. Irish cavalry was consequently incapable either of charging or standing against formed foot or heavier horse, and therefore employed skirmishing tactics. However, there are several indications in contemporary sources that Irish nobles sometimes dismounted to fight on foot. On such occasions, the well-armed nobles would have made a significant addition to the unarmored footmen that formed the bulk of medieval Irish armies.