A caparison is a covering, or cloth, laid over a horse or other animal, especially a pack animal, or horse of state. In modern times, it is used mainly for decoration in parades and for historical reenactments.
In the Middle Ages, caparisons were part of the horse armour known as barding, which was worn during war or tournament. They were adopted in the twelfth century in response to conditions of campaigning in the Crusades. An early depiction of a knight's horse wearing a caparison may be seen on the small Carlton-in-Lindrick knight figurine from the late 12th century.
The word is Spanish, being an augmentative form of the Latin word cape, caput, "head".