Someone was telling me that cavalry can use any polearm infantry can use. Including the largest halberds and pikes that were ever used.

I would like to ask if this is feasible and true. I only know of cavalry wielding polearms about six feet long, aside from lances which could get up to 20 feet (but the 20 foot ones were hollow).

  • It depends on your defintion of "can use". Most long polearms require two-handed use (unlike a lance which can be tucked under the arm). So controlling a horse and effectively wielding a long polearm at the same time isn't going to be easy (or practical) but could be possible for a skilled rider.
    – Steve Bird
    Mar 29, 2017 at 5:06
  • Definitly not. That was the main reason of decline of heavy cavalry/ knight based war-fare in Europe. Infantry pole arms can be used by two hands, as @Steve pointed out, and also often put on ground when used in battle formations to stop a charge or just rest a heavy weapon. Mounted solders do nit have neither options.
    – Greg
    Mar 29, 2017 at 12:59
  • 1
    From my own riding experience, I'd think there'd also be a serious balance problem when you're trying to stay in the saddle while manipulating a long, unwieldy pole. I have trouble enough with just a camera at anything more than a walk.
    – jamesqf
    Mar 30, 2017 at 17:59

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia says that " Illustrations in the 13th century Maciejowski Bible show a short staffed weapon with a long blade used by both infantry and cavalry." with reference to the glaive (which is about 7 or 8 feet long).

According to lostkingdom.net, the Kontos was used by Roman and Byzantine cavalry and was essentially a 12-ft long spear. It was problematic, though. Anything that large needs two hands which means that one must steer the horse with their knees; which is probably easier with a celtic/roman saddle than with one with stirrups. http://www.lostkingdom.net/historical-polearms/ is a great link to help with your query.

In general, I don't think that pole-arms were particularly effective when wielded by cavalry (with the exception of the lance) because of how unwieldy they were. The main purpose of a pole-arm is to keep the enemy away (either cavalry or infantry) and were favored by less trained fighters. Cavalry were typically the more trained elite and their entire purpose was to close with the enemy and chase them down after they broke ranks and fled.

I hope this helps,



Look up the Sarissa on wikipedia. It is highly unlikely this could be wielded while on horseback.

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