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So the idea is that most people use horses, but in this deserted mountain range, people have had to adapt to rams, so the breeding, domesticating and all of that has been handled over generations.

Now, much like dogs to wolves & horses to wild horses, Rams have been trained to be ridden over mountains and into war, up steep cliffs and thin ledges, pretty much all the normal ram stuff with people riding them.

Would this be possible? Would there actually be any technical advantage in warfare if this were medieval times? Would horses being taller stand a better chance? And would rams even be able to support the weight of a rider in the first place? Or would they just buckle under the weight? Could they evolve to support the weight? Mainly, I just want some pros and cons to using rams in warfare, it seems like a good idea, but it might be a horrible one. I don't think feeding them would be a problem though, they eat almost anything I think.

I also had the idea of them ramming horses, and possibly breaking bones, but that might have been a bit of an extreme idea. I just wanted to know my limitations on the matter. And I always like to think of dogs, they all came from one animal, but have been bread to as little as jack russels to hunt foxes down in there holes and as big as Karelian dogs for bears. So I always wonder what selective breeding for certain traits can do to make things possible.

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  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean with mid-evil times? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Aug 25 '18 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ Rams are way too small to carry adult humans. Maybe rams mounted by dwarfs or children? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 25 '18 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ Like the middle ages, castles and horses, knights... Honestly I wonder what comes to your mind when I say that... I mean autocorrect gave me the wrong correct, it was really medieval, but is it that confusing? $\endgroup$ – WolvesEyes Aug 25 '18 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ Have people forgotten the Roi-Tanner sheep cavalry saving the army of Twodor from the Narcs of Fordor? $\endgroup$ – abarnert Aug 25 '18 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch The middle of the Evil Times. Obviously. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Aug 26 '18 at 0:37
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EDIT: Was thinking goats, not sheep. Revised accordingly.

So, yes it's possible. Yes, it would definitely give you an advantage in rugged terrain. Many historical forces used mules and donkeys instead of horses in mountainous terrain specifically because horses couldn't handle the slopes as well.

It WOULD require a significant breeding effort over time. Sheep aren't nearly as smart as horses are, and a mount you want to use for anything except a pack animal needs to be at least SORT of clever. So you'd need bigger, smarter sheep.

Now, that said, you wouldn't be able to put a man on a sheep's back and have it go up and down a mountainside the way wild unladen bighorns do. Any sheep-rider calvary you'd have would want to travel very light, and based on both the limitations of the sheep themselves and the kind of terrain you'd be operating in, they'd be a calvary in a more Asian tradition: Using mobility and ranged weaponry rather than spear charges en masse.

Is that what you were looking for?

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  • $\begingroup$ More or less, I had this idea in my head of sending them over mountains, but I guess your right, balance and maybe weak rocks would come into play. I also had the idea of them ramming horses, and possibly breaking bones, but that might have been a bit of an extreme idea. But yeah your anwser is pretty spot on, I just wanted to know my limitations on the matter lol. $\endgroup$ – WolvesEyes Aug 25 '18 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ "Rams" are male sheep, not goats. Male goats are called bucks or billies. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 25 '18 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Wolveseyes sheep OR goats, you'd want agility, not force. I mean, I think you've got a nifty idea, but you shouldn't be thinking of giant rams slamming into horses in jousting combat imho, you should be thinking of some poor column of armored knights getting absolutely annhilated by lightly-armored guys riding bighorn sheep or mountain goats who can just dance around on steep slopes the horses can't climb and rain arrows and spears and such down. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 25 '18 at 19:57
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    $\begingroup$ @MorrisTheCat Thanks, I defiantly like your ideas, i'm starting to feel confident that it could still play a strong role in the story, thank you for your time! I am defiantly a fan of the extreme or all out war, so that's why I have to reality check, I can hand waive, but I am not a fan of it unless absolutely needed. Even then, I'd sooner abandon the idea lol. $\endgroup$ – WolvesEyes Aug 25 '18 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ @WolvesEyes -- I think this muttonry (like cavalry, only with sheep) is a fantastic idea! There are so many variables you can play with to make this whole thing work! You've already assumed domestication: why not similarly assume a slightly smaller sized mountain folk, lightly armoured and agile with the bow and atlatl to go with? They could devastate heavy cavalry in a high pass. A male bighorn, for example, can weigh up to 300 pounds and his horns can weigh two stone each. Some varieties can be even huskier, weighing in at 500 pounds. That's only half the size of an average riding horse. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Aug 26 '18 at 3:31
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There's a reason ancient armies used chariots and not shock cavalry (mounted knights): it took a lot of selective breeding to convert the relatively small wild horses into the beasts called destriers (war horses).

Before heavy cavalry, the books say "the Huns rode ponies", "the horses during the Dane invasion of England weren't larger than ponies" and so on.

A destrier outweighed its rider 7 to 1. And they weren't very tall, but horses are very heavy, to the point a pony the size of a St. Bernard is twice as heavy as the dog.

I have looked it up and "Rams are typically 5 to 6 feet tall (1.5 to 1.8 meters) from head to tail, and weigh 262 to 280 lbs. (119 to 127 kilograms), though they can grow to over 300 lbs. (136 kg)". That means you need your rams to be at least three times heavier than ours are until they are good cavalry.

And we use horses for more reasons: they have long lives (15 years compared to the 10 of a ram), good speed (40 km/h-25 miles/hour, rams are half as fast) and good endurance. I don't know the endurance of a ram, but sheeps can't run longer than two hours and make around 16 miles in that time.

So you need a lot handwavium for making plausible ram mounts. Unless you train them to pull chariots.

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    $\begingroup$ Why would you need them to run fast, cover long distance, or pull a chariot in a mountainous environment? The whole reason to use a Ram in the first place would be to leverage the greater agility they have on rugged slopes, so you wouldn't want something like a destrier, because you'd never be using shock calvary or heavy armor in the first place. The pony-sized mounts the Huns used would be just fine for military use in rugged mountains. You would only need them to carry the weight of a lightly armored small man, maybe 200lbs, rather than what a European warhorse had to be able to do. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 25 '18 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer, I'm really starting to reconsider using them now, I got the idea when I read that Russia tried to train moose to overtake the world but the plan was abandoned in world war two, the article said because planes became widespread by then but idk. Edit - Morris I like you & your answers, you keep changing my mind on this topic. $\endgroup$ – WolvesEyes Aug 25 '18 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ @MorrisTheCat Ok, you can forget about speed and endurance. Still, ponies are massive compared to rams and can carry much more weight. "the weight of a lightly armored small man, maybe 200lbs" isn't a little thing. It means the ram has to bee at least 600 lbs. just to carry it for short times. $\endgroup$ – Alberto Yagos Aug 25 '18 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ @WolvesEyes Maybe moose could work. I don't know how they run, but from their shape, they could do it with a straight spine as a horse. Rams run also with fairly straight spine (opposed to dogs, for example), although they alternate sides of legs: they advance front and rear legs of one side and then front and rear of the other side instead of advancing the two front legs and then the two rear legs, that would make very uncomfortable to ride them. However, if you really want to use rams for a history, just tell they work well as mounts. Bear cavalry is a stupid idea, too, but it looks awesome. $\endgroup$ – Alberto Yagos Aug 25 '18 at 20:50
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    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind also that these mountain folk have already domesticated some breed of sheep. Presumably, this means the animals are already large enough to take the weight of a warrior and her kit and still be agile in very rough terrain. Given the constraints of the question, I don't think you've really answered to the "limitations on the matter" so much as offer a "reality check". (Had WolvesEyes asked for that, I'd be more inclined to agree with you!) $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Aug 26 '18 at 3:39

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