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Most cavalry units that are horse-mounted in modern armies serve in purely ceremonial roles, or as mounted infantry in difficult terrain such as mountains or heavily forested areas.

Modern usage of the term generally refers to specialist units equipped with tanks ("armored cavalry") or aircraft ("air cavalry").

The power of mobility given by mounted units was recognized early on, but was offset by the difficulty of raising large forces and by the inability of horses (then mostly small) to carry heavy armor.

Fighting from the back of a horse was much more difficult than mere riding.

The cavalry acted in pairs; the reins of the mounted archer were controlled by his neighbour's hand.

cheval 'horse') or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback.

Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms.

During the classical Greek period cavalry were usually limited to those citizens who could afford expensive war-horses.

Three types of cavalry became common: light cavalry, whose riders, armed with javelins, could harass and skirmish; heavy cavalry, whose troopers, using lances, had the ability to close with their opponents; and finally those whose equipment allowed them to fight either on horseback or foot.However, Thebes produced Pelopidas, her first great cavalry commander, whose tactics and skills were absorbed by Phillip II of Macedon when Phillip was a guest-hostage in Thebes.Thessaly was widely known for producing competent cavalrymen, and later experiences in wars both with and against the Persians taught the Greeks the value of cavalry in skirmishing and pursuit.The role of horsemen did however remain secondary to that of the hoplites or heavy infantry who comprised the main strength of the citizen levies of the various city states.Cavalry played a relatively minor role in ancient Greek city-states, with conflicts decided by massed armored infantry.In Europe cavalry became increasingly armoured (heavy), and eventually became known for the mounted knights.

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