Barding (also spelled bard or barb) is armour for horses. During the late Middle Ages as armour protection for knights became more effective, their mounts became targets. This tactic was effective for the English at the Battle of Crécy in the fourteenth century where archers shot horses and heavy infantry killed the French knights after they dismounted. Barding developed as a response to such events.
The champron (also spelled chanfron, chamfron, chamfrein, and shaffron) was designed to protect the horse's face. Sometimes this included hinged cheek plates. A decorative feature common to many champrons is a rondel with a small spike.
The champron originated in ancient Greece, but vanished from use until the twelfth century when metal plates replaced boiled leather as protection for war horses. The basic design of the champron remained stable until it became obsolete in the seventeenth century, although late examples are often notable for engraved decoration. A champron extended from the horse's ears to its muzzle. Flanges often covered the eyes. In an open champron, the eyes received no protection. Hinged extensions to cover the jowls were chiefly used for jousting tournaments.
In full barding this consisted of two combinations of articulated lamés that pivoted on loose rivets. One set of lames covered the mane and the other covered the neck. These connected to the peytral and the champron.
Light barding used only the upper lamés. Three straps held the criniet in place around the neck. It is thought that thin metal was used for these plates, perhaps 22 gauge. Chainmail was often affixed to the crinet and wrapped about the horse's neck for additional protection.
They sometimes had openings designed to allow the rider to use spurs.
Barding was often used in conjunction with cloth covers known as caparisons. These coverings sometimes covered the entire horse from nose to tail and extended to the ground. It is unclear from period illustrations how much metal defensive covering was used in conjunction. Textile covers may also be called barding.