Answer: Scale Armor
Some extra relevant information:
The technology that came before heavy cavalry was light cavalry. In ancient warfare, light cavalry played a crucial role before the development of heavily armored mounted warriors. Light cavalry consisted of agile and fast horsemen who were skilled in hit-and-run tactics and scouting missions.
Unlike heavy cavalry, which focused on shock value and brute force, light cavalry relied on speed, maneuverability, and ranged weaponry. They were primarily used for reconnaissance, skirmishing, and harassing enemy forces. Light cavalry units were often armed with bows, javelins, or light spears, enabling them to engage in hit-and-run attacks from a distance.
The emergence of light cavalry can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Persians, Greeks, and Scythians. These mounted warriors provided effective mobility and flexibility on the battlefield. Their speed allowed them to outmaneuver enemy infantry and harass slower-moving formations.
As military tactics and warfare evolved, the need for heavier armor and greater striking power arose. This led to the development of heavy cavalry, which featured heavily armored horsemen armed with lances and swords. Heavy cavalry played a pivotal role in the medieval period, charging into enemy lines and breaking their formations.
While heavy cavalry eventually surpassed light cavalry in terms of prominence and battlefield impact, the latter continued to serve crucial roles in reconnaissance, scouting, and swift raids throughout history.
In summary, light cavalry preceded heavy cavalry as a mobile and agile mounted force. Its emphasis on speed and ranged attacks made it an effective component of ancient armies before the rise of heavily armored and hard-hitting heavy cavalry.