Ashwasena was an important part of the war in ancient India. It is the cavalry wing of the ancient Hindu army. Arthashastra describes it as Chaturangabala. A full army according to Mahabharata consists of Ratha (chariot), Gaja (elephant), Turaga (horse) and Padadi (infantry).
Ashwasena in the ancient Hindu world consisted of the best quality horses.
Ashwasena was given very important tasks in battle. Duties included overseeing the army’s discipline, protecting their sides, making the first attack, turning the army’s movement, tracking, and the like. (Arthashastra X.4)
Horses were an indispensable part of the army in ancient times. There was a special department that looked after their selection, training, and maintenance under an officer named Ashvadhyksha.
A register of breed, age, color, size etc. was kept for the horses. Particular care has been taken in the placement, training and treatment of diseases.
Horses for the cavalry had to be secured in different places that were specifically known for different breeds, such as Kamboja (Afghanistan, Kaofu from Hieun-Tsang), Sindhu (Sind), Aratta (Punjab), Balhika (Balkan states), Sauvira (Sind or Indus Delta), Papeya and Taitila (Arthashastra II30).
Western horses have held pride of place in all wars since the time of the Mahabharata, as these horses were very strong.
The horses’ ability was tested by certain measurements that Kautilya called Ashvapariksha.
The stables were built in accordance with hygiene rules, and special attention was paid to feeding the horses. War horses received special training in the various movements they needed on the battlefield.
source – – Notes from the Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume II Page 5 – IHRF
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