A fabric cover for almost all of a horse’s body, the caparison was an important method of identification.
Light linen or silk caparisons could also protect the horse from the hot summer sun, while heavier caparisons could help keep the animal warm in colder, wetter conditions.
The caparison could also cover padded textile and mail horse armour, protecting it from the weather.
In war, knights displayed their heraldic coats of arms on their horse’s caparison, making it obvious who and where they were on the battlefield. Many other men-at-arms, of course, were not knights and did not have the right to display arms. However they might use caparisons in a certain solid colour to, for example, identify all of the members of a particular cavalry squadron.