For better mobility, some light cavalrymen, such as the legendary Polish hussars, wore half armor. The hussars, an elite branch of the Polish army, went into battle in glittering armor on magnificent horses, seldom losing a battle though they were many times outnumbered by the enemy. Recruited from among the wealthiest of Poland’s nobility, the hussars were accomplished horsemen, famous for the huge “wings” worn on their backs or attached to their saddles.
These wings were made of wooden wing-shaped frames with eagle feathers inserted into the back rims. The thunderous noise made by the flapping of these extra appendages during a charge was meant to frighten the enemy horses. Known as “winged horsemen,” the colorfully costumed hussars also wore leopard or similar animal skins in the style of cloaks over the pauldrons (shoulder pieces) of their armor.
Info and photo via The Art Institute of Chicago