Perhaps the day of the war horse is gone but their legends live on. This is true of Babieca (there are numerous spellings!) the mount of the famous, or "infamous" depending upon the source, El Cid.
El Cid who lived from approximately 1043 to 1099, was the son of minor nobility in medieval Spain. He was raised in the court of King Ferdinand the Great and was a servant to the king's son. He became a renowned, feared and beloved war hero as he battled for the Spanish cause of expanding their territory. To this day, El Cid, full name Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, is a Spanish folk hero and national icon. He is the subject of numerous plays, poems, and paintings.
But what of the horse? El Cid's favorite horse was Babieca, a white Andalusian Stallion. No one really knows the history of how they came to be battle partners. One story has it that El Cid was offered his choice of any of the horses in the herd of Andalusians by his godfather, a monk at a Carthusian monastery. He chose the littlest, weakest one. His godfather thought it was such a poor choice that he exclaimed "Babieca!" which means "Stupid."
Another story is that El Cid was given the horse by King Sancho when El Cid was challenged by another Knight to become the king's champion. The story goes that Babieca was bred and raised in the royal stables in Seville and was a highly trained and loyal war horse when El Cid got him.
Whatever the truth, El Cid loved the horse and even requested that they be buried together.
A little side note: Did you know that our modern day discipline of Dressage has its origins in the training of War Horses?
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