The lance is probably among the oldest of cavalry weapons. It gives the user a chance to put all his weight and that of his charging horse into one very sharp point. A lance that can, in skilled hands, be driven right through any enemy. When coupled with the fast pace of their horses, a lancer’s charge is very intimidating. However, if the lancer does not kill his target, he leaves himself vulnerable. A long lance is less use in a melee than a sword, and a lancer is at a disadvantage once the close fighting starts, especially against well-trained infantry capable of forming square.
Historically, many nations used lancers. The French army adopted lancers with some enthusiasm, and Napoleon even included Polish lancers in his Imperial Guard. In India the lance had long been used as a weapon: lancer skills were often practiced by “pegging”, picking tent pegs out of the ground with the lance tip, or “pig-sticking”, the hunting of wild pigs or even wild dogs with the lance.