A caparison is a protective and decorative cloth covering that is draped over a horse or other animal. They are mostly utilized in parades and historical reenactments nowadays. Horse-trapper is a related phrase. The name comes from the Latin caparo, which means "cape."
Caparisons were part of the horse armour known as barding in the Middle Ages, which was worn during battles and tournaments. They were developed in the twelfth century in response to campaigning conditions during the Crusades, when local armies deployed huge numbers of archers, both on foot and on horseback. Although the blanket may not totally protect the horse from arrows, it may deflect them and reduce their damage.
On the small Carlton-in-Lindrick knight figurine from the late 12th century, an early image of a knight's horse wearing a caparison may be observed. A loose caparison shields the horse quite well against arrows, especially when paired with a gambeson-like undercloth underneath, according to modern re-enactment experiments. The coat of arms of the horse's rider was frequently embroidered on medieval caparisons.
Medieval Armoury manufactures horse clothing caparisons and reins for medieval reenactment groups and larp events. Our caparisons are fabricated in a very confortable textil for the animal, to ensure it feels like there´s nothing on him.