Domesticated horses have been an important component to warfare for well over 5,000 years.  Heavy and light cavalry units as well as chariot and other mobilized wagons have played an important role in organized military campaigns across the world.

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Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, [LC-USZC4-1350]
In the modern era, they have been used for logistical purposes, to pull cannons and other artillery pieces and for the purpose of transportation.  The decline of the classic armored cavalry coincided with the advent of gunpowder and its evolution – but a romanticized notion of it persisted into the modern era.

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Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, [LC-USZC4-11027]
Officers and other high ranking officials heroically positioned on their steeds persisted as an image of masculinity, bravery, and honor.

It is no surprise then that horses were not just utilized on the battlefield but also depicted in propaganda posters during World War I, in varying forms.  Cavalry units were still utilized during World War I (1914-1918) although with the advent of the machine gun and tanks their role diminished greatly.

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Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, [LC-USZC4-9457]

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Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, [LC-USZC4-9847]
Despite the fact that they were not used as aggressively in direct combat, they served other important duties and often improved morale among the soldiers in the trenches.

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Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, [LC-DIG-ppmsca-50989]
Propaganda posters of the time often utilized the popularity of the animals and depicted its riders as heroic and brave.

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Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, [LC-USZC4-7567]

Posters Courtesy of the Library of Congress and the National Archives.

 

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