According to Wikipedia, “a caltrop is an antipersonnel weapon made up of two or more sharp nails or spines arranged in such a manner that one of them always points upward from a stable base (for example, a tetrahedron). They may be thought of as the landmines of antiquity, useful to shape the battlefield and force the enemy into certain paths and approaches, or to provide a passive defense as part of a defensive works system. Caltrops served to slow down the advance of horses, war elephants, and human troops. They were said to be particularly effective against the soft feet of camels. In more modern times, caltrops are used against wheeled vehicles with pneumatic tires.”
Below is a historically accurate rendition. The hoof nearest the caltrop, which you can see is reaching toward the trap very gingerly, is the hoof of a highly trained member of the FECD Unit, or Force Equine Caltrop Disposal Unit. Some of these trained horses were even able to count, a feat which amused King John of Bavaria during the 11th century.
If you find yourself besieged you can just throw a bunch of caltrops out in front of your port-cullis, and you’ll find that the next time the enemy storms your walls your ears will be serenaded by the sounds of frightened horses and angry camels. The sweetest thing about a caltrop is that it has a stable base and always leaves a point up, ready to pierce unwary feet.
My children have been known to set traps for the unwary, which is why I try and be sure my feet are always paying attention. Please take note of the design of this toy.
This is a die-cast metal F-16, about four inches long. Between the tail assembly, the wings, and the landing gear underneath, there is no way this thing can land in a way that won’t cause serious damage to your foot if you tread upon it of an evening. The vertical stabilizer, the thing the rudder is on, is especially brutal. If by some miracle the plane lands on its landing gear when it falls out of the hands of a careless child, the rudder juts up violently, ready to pierce and puncture. If the plane land any other way, the rudder always rests on the ground, ensuring that the tail and one wing are always pointed perilously up.
Last night one of my children left this on the stairs.