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Title: Hints on Horsemanship, to a Nephew and Niece - or, Common Sense and Common Errors in Common Riding
Author: Greenwood, George, 1799-1875
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Note

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. A list of corrections
is found at the end of the text. Inconsistencies in spelling and
hyphenation have been maintained. A list of inconsistently spelled
and hyphenated words is found at the end of the text.

Text surrounded by = was printed in a black-letter typeface in the

The following less-common characters that are used in this version of
the book. If they do not display properly, please change your font.

  ⁂  Asterism (the asterism in the original text was reversed, with a
     single asterisk at the bottom)
  †  Dagger





               A Nephew and Niece.


                   OF CAVALRY.





              =A Nephew and Niece;=

                  COMMON RIDING.



                   NEW EDITION.





  Throughout Europe there is only one style of riding _taught_         2
  That is the soldier’s _one-handed_ style                             2
  _Two hands_ should be used to the reins                              5
  A soldier’s horse must turn on the wrong rein                        7
  Common riders generally turn their horses on the wrong rein          9
  Result of this with colts or restive horses                         10
  Indications are not _aids_                                          12


  Reins at full length                                                14
  The downward clutch                                                 16
  The Grecian mode of holding and handling the reins                  18
  The side clutch                                                     20
  The two reins _crossed_ in one hand                                 21
  A rein in each hand                                                 23
  Turn to the right, and left                                         26
  The hunting hand                                                    26
  The rough-rider’s hand                                              27
  Fixing the hands                                                    28
  Use of both bridles at once                                         30
  Shortening the reins when held one in each hand, system of
    taught, and of untaught horsemen                                  30
  Use of the whip                                                     34
  Horses swerve and turn _only to the left_                           34
  Fault in “the great untaught,” two-handed, English rider            35


  Retaining, urging, and guiding indications                          36
  To make a horse collect himself                                     37
  Canter, right turn, right pass                                      38
  Left shoulder in                                                    38
  Bearing on the mouth                                                39
  The horse must be made to collect himself in turning                42
  And should not be turned on one rein only                           43
  Lady’s canter                                                       44
  The quicker the pace, the greater degree of collection              44
  French and English mistake in this                                  45
  The shy horse                                                       46
  The restive horse                                                   48
  Truth may be paradoxical                                            49


  The rider cannot raise the falling horse                            50
  Harm is done by the attempt                                         51
  The bearing-rein                                                    54
  Mechanical assistance of the jockey to his horse                    56
  Standing on the stirrups                                            58
  Difference between the gallop and the leap                          58
  Steeple-chases and hurdle-races unfair on the horse                 59
  The rider should not attempt to lift his horse at a fence           61


  There is one direction which applies to all seats                   65
  Different seats for different styles of riding                      65
  The manège and the Eastern seats are the extremes                   66
  The long stirrup is necessary for cavalry to act in line            67
  Medium length of stirrup for common riding                          69


  Directions to place a lady in her saddle                            70
  Directions to mount at a halt                                       71
  To mount in movement                                                71
  To dismount in movement                                             71
  To vault on or over in movement                                     72
  To vault on at a halt                                               72
  Circus for practising these movements                               72
  To pick a whip from the ground                                      72
  To face about in the saddle                                         73


  Place of the bit in the horse’s mouth                               74
  Principle of the bit                                                74
  Action of the common bit                                            76
  Action of the Chifney bit                                           77
  The loose eye                                                       77
  The nose-band                                                       77
  The horse’s defence against the bit by the tongue                   78
  Effect of the porte against this defence                            78
  Defence of the horse by the lip                                     80
  Defence by the teeth                                                80
  Bar of the military and driving bit                                 81
  Martingale                                                          81
  Danger does not result from power                                   84


  A side-saddle should have no right hand pummel                      86
  The leaping-horn                                                    86
  Surcingle                                                           88
  Stirrup-leather                                                     89
  Stirrup-iron                                                        90
  Girthing                                                            90
  To avoid riding on the buckles of the girths                        91


  The short rein should be used when one hand is occupied             93
  Its use to a soldier                                                94
  Its use with the restive horse                                      94
  It should not be used in hunting, or in swimming a horse            95
  Objection to it for common riding                                   95
  Used by postilion                                                   99
  Short rein of the Eastern horseman                                  96


  Colt-breaking is the best possible lesson for the rider             97
  The head-stall                                                      98
  The snaffle                                                         99
  Longeing                                                           101
  Saddling                                                           102
  Mounting                                                           102
  Sermon to the colt-breaker                                         103
  The noblest horse resists the most                                 103
  The horse has a natural _right_ to resist                          103
  The colt wants no suppling                                         105
  He wants to be taught the meaning of your indications              105
  And to be brought to obey them                                     110
  The leaping-bar                                                    110
  Fetch and carry                                                    113


  Condition depends on food, work, and warmth                        115
  So does the difference between the _breeds_ of horses              116
  The terseness of the Arab is the result of hard food               116
  So is that of our thorough-bred horse                              117
  Different _breeds_ result from different natural conditions        118
  Crossing only necessary where natural conditions are against you   119
  We do not attend enough to warmth                                  120
  We should get fine winter coats by warmth, instead of singeing     120
  No fear of cold from fine coats                                    121
  The horse’s foot should be stopped with clay                       121
  The sore ridge                                                     122
  Stable breast-plate                                                124
  The head-stall                                                     125
  Never physic, bleed, blister, or fire your horse                   126
  Food for condition                                                 126
  Rest for strains                                                   126
  Nature for wounds                                                  126
  Miles for shoeing                                                  127
  The horse should have water always by him                          127
  And should stand loose                                             128
  No galloping on hard ground, either by master or man               128
  He who cripples the horse kills him                                128


  FRONTISPIECE                                            To face Title.

  VIGNETTE                                                        Title.

  FIG.                                                              PAGE
   1.--STRICT REGIMENTAL                                               3
   2.--VARIED REGIMENTAL                                               4
   3.--REINS AT FULL LENGTH                                           15
   4.--DOWN CLUTCH                                                    17
   5.--DOWN CLUTCH, REIN IN EACH HAND                                 18
   6.--SIDE CLUTCH                                                    19
   7.--SIDE CLUTCH, REIN IN EACH HAND                                 20
   8.--CROSS                                                          22
   9.--REIN IN EACH HAND                                              23
  10.--TURN TO THE RIGHT                                              25
  11.--TURN TO THE LEFT                                               26
  12.--HUNTING GALLOP                                                 27
  13.--ROUGH-RIDER                                                    28
  14.--FIXING HANDS                                                   29




Throughout Europe there is only one style of riding _taught_; that is,
   the soldier’s _one-handed_ style.--_Two hands_ should be used to
   the reins.--A soldier’s horse must turn on the wrong rein.--Common
   riders generally turn their horses on the wrong rein. Result of
   this with colts or restive horses.--Indications are not _aids_.

When you wish to turn to the right pull the right rein stronger than the
left. This is common sense. The common error is precisely the reverse.
The common error is, when you wish to turn to the right to pass the hand
to the right. By this the right rein is slackened, and the left rein is
tightened, across the horse’s neck, and the horse is required to turn to
the right when the left rein is pulled. It is to correct this common
error, this monstrous and perpetual source of bad riding and of bad
usage to good animals, that these pages are written.

[Sidenote: Only one style of riding _taught_.]

[Sidenote: That is, a _one-handed_ style.]

England is the only European country which admits of more than one style
of riding. But in all Europe, even in England, there is but one style of
riding _taught_, as a system; that style is the manége or military
style. The military style is, and must ever be essentially _a one-handed
style_, for the soldier must have his right hand at liberty for his
weapons. The recruit is indeed made to ride with a single snaffle in two
hands, but only as a preparatory step to the one-handed style. His left
hand then becomes _his bridle hand_, and that hand must hold the reins
in such a manner as will require the least possible aid from _the sword
hand_ to shorten them as occasion may require. This is with the fourth
finger only between them (Fig. 1).

[Illustration: FIG. 1.--STRICT REGIMENTAL.]

For these reasons, as far as soldiers are concerned, I do not see how
the present system can be altered for the better, unless it be by
placing the three last fingers of the left hand between the reins (Fig.
2), instead of the fourth finger only. The reins held in this way are
as easily and as quickly shortened, by drawing them with the right hand
through the left, as if they were separated by the fourth finger only. I
always adopted this mode myself when my sword was in my hand; and I
should think it worth trial for all soldiers. My two last chargers had
been notoriously restive horses, and I could not have ridden them in the
strictly regimental mode.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.--VARIED REGIMENTAL.]

[Sidenote: _Two hands_ should be used to the reins.]

But I see no reason why, because soldiers are compelled to guide their
horses with the left hand only, and with the fourth finger only between
the reins, that ladies and civilians should be condemned to the same
system. On the contrary, I would have ladies as well as gentlemen use
both hands to the reins, whether of the curb or of the snaffle, somewhat
as the rough-rider or colt-breaker uses the reins of a single snaffle;
but the reins should enter the hands outside instead of inside the
fourth fingers, and they should quit the hands between the first and
second fingers instead of between the first finger and thumb, as will be
explained in the next chapter.

Fasten the end of a rein to the upper part of the back of a chair; pull
the reins enough to raise two of the legs off the ground, and to keep
the chair balanced on the other two. Take your reins as ladies and
soldiers are taught to take them (Fig. 1), both grasped in the left
hand, the fourth finger only between them, and (I quote from the
regulations of the English cavalry) “the top of the thumb firmly closed
on them--the upper part of the arm hanging straight down from the
shoulder--the left elbow lightly touching the hip--the lower part of the
arm square to the upper--little finger on a level with the elbow--wrist
rounded outwards--the back of the hand to the front--the thumb pointing
across the body, and three inches from it.” In this position we are
taught that “the little finger of the bridle-hand has four lines of
action--first, towards the breast (to stop or rein back); second,
towards the right shoulder (to turn to the right); third, towards the
left shoulder (to turn to the left); fourth, towards the horse’s head
(to advance).” Try the second motion: you will find it a very nice
operation, and that you are capable of shortening the right rein only in
a very slight degree; you will also find that, if the hand ceases to be
precisely opposite the centre of the body, the moment it is passed to
the right the right rein becomes slackened, and the left rein is pulled.
This is still more the case when the horse’s neck is between the reins;
the left rein is then instantly shortened across the neck.

[Sidenote: A soldier’s horse must turn on the wrong rein.]

I will not assert that the art of riding thus is impossible, though it
has ever been so to me; and though, in my own experience, I never saw a
cavalry soldier, rough-rider, riding-master, or any horseman whatever,
who turned his horse, single-handed, on the proper rein. But I may
assert that it is an exceedingly nice and delicate art. It is the
opera-dancing of riding. And it would be as absurd to put the skill of
its professors in requisition in common riding or across country, as to
require Taglioni to _chasser_ over a ploughed field. For single-handed
indications, supposing them to be correctly given--which, as I have
said, I have never known; but supposing them to be correctly given--they
are not sufficiently distinct to turn a horse, except in a case of
optimism. That is, supposing for a short time a perfectly broken horse,
in perfect temper, perfectly on his haunches, going perfectly up to his
bit, and on perfect ground. Without all these perfections--suppose even
the circumstance of the horse being excited or alarmed, or becoming
violent from any other cause; that he is sluggish or sullen; that he
stiffens his neck or pokes his nose--single-handed indications are worth
nothing. But as for riding a horse perfectly on his haunches through a
long day’s journey, or in rough or deep ground, or across country, one
might as well require infantry to make long forced marches at ordinary
time, and to strictly preserve their touch and dressing; or, still to
compare it to opera-dancing, Coulon to go through a day’s shooting with
the pas de zephir.

But correct single-handed indications, with the fourth finger only
between the reins, will not be obeyed by one horse in ten thousand. Try
them in driving. There the terret-pad prevents their being given
incorrectly, and a bearing-rein, a severe bit, and a whip, give you
every advantage in keeping your horse collected; yet you will find them
wholly inefficient. The soldier, who is compelled to turn to the right
by word of command, when the correct indication is unanswered, in
despair throws his hand to the right. The consequence is, that no horse
is a good soldier’s horse, till he has been trained to turn on the wrong

[Sidenote: Common riders turn on the wrong rein.]

Without the same excuse for it, the same may be said of all ladies and
civilians who ride with one hand only, and of almost all who ride with
two hands. For, strange to say, in turning, both hands are generally
passed to the right or left, and I have known many of what may be called
the most perfect straight-_forward_ hands; that is, men who on the turf
would hold the most difficult three-year-old to the steady stroke of the
two-mile course, and place him as a winner to half-a-length--who in the
hunting-field would ride the hottest, or the most phlegmatic made
hunter, with equal skill, through all difficulties of ground, and over
every species of fence, with admirable precision and equality of
hand--or who on the exercise ground would place his broken charger on
his haunches, and make him walk four miles an hour, canter six and a
half, trot eight and a half, and gallop eleven, without being out in
either pace a second of time, but who marred all by the besetting sin of
side-feeling--of turning the horse on the wrong rein. The consequence
is, that they can ride nothing but what has been trained to answer the
wrong indications.

[Sidenote: Result of this with colts or restive horses.]

This is something like steaming without steering. Set them on a finely
broken horse, on a colt, or a restive horse, and they become helpless
children--the powerless prisoners of the brutes they bestride. How often
does one see one’s acquaintance in this distressing situation, with
courage enough to dare what man dare, but without the power to do what
the rough-rider has just done! First comes the false indication of the
rider, then the confusion and hesitation of the horse; next the violence
of the rider; then the despair and rebellion of the horse. The finish is
a fractured limb from a rear or a runaway. The poor brute is set down as
restive and in fact becomes more or less a misanthrope for the rest of
his days. I have seen the gentle and brave, under such circumstances,
act very much like the cruel and cowardly; that is to say, first rough
an innocent animal for their own fault, and then yield to his
resistance. It is in consequence of this that we find so many restive
horses; that so few thorough-bred horses--that is, horses of the highest
courage--can be made hunters; that, in fact, almost all high-couraged
young horses become restive after leaving the colt-breaker’s hands. It
is, indeed, in consequence of this that the class of people called
colt-breakers exists at all. For if we all rode on their principle,
which is the true principle, any groom or moderately good rider could
break any colt or ride any restive horse.

No horse becomes restive in the colt-breaker’s hands; nor do any remain
so when placed in his hands. The reason is that he invariably rides with
one bridle and two hands, instead of two bridles and one hand. When he
wishes to go to the right he pulls the right rein stronger than the
left. When he wishes to go to the left he pulls the left rein stronger
than the right. These are indications which, if the colt will not obey,
he will at least understand, the very first time that he is mounted, and
which the most obstinate will not long resist. But as may be supposed,
it takes a long time to make him understand that he is to turn to the
right when the left rein is pulled, and to the left when the right rein
is pulled. And it is only the meek-spirited and docile who will do this
at all. Such, however, is the general docility of the half-bred horse,
that a great proportion of them are, after long ill-usage, taught to
answer these false indications, in the same way that a carthorse is
brought to turn right or left by the touch of the whip on the opposite
side of the neck, or the word of the driver; and indeed such is the
nicety to which it may be brought, that you constantly hear people boast
that their horses will “turn by the weight of the reins on the neck.”
This, however, only proves the docility of the horse, and how badly he
has been ridden. For a horse which has been finely broken should take
notice only of the indications of his rider’s hands on his mouth, not of
any side-feeling of the reins against his neck.

[Sidenote: Indications are not _aids_.]

By _indications_ generally, I mean the motions and applications of the
hands, legs, and whip, to direct and determine the paces, turnings,
movements, and carriage of the horse. I have used the word throughout
instead of _aids_, as being more explanatory and certainly less liable
to abuse. For common sense tells us that a horse receives no aid from a
pull in the mouth with a piece of iron, or a blow with a whip, or a kick
in the side with an armed heel, however these may indicate to him the
wishes or commands of his rider. I have also used the term _bearing_ on
the horse’s mouth instead of _appui_, since to those who do not
understand French appui will convey no meaning at all,--and to those who
do understand French it will convey the false ideas of the necessity and
power of the rider to _support_ his horse. I promise my pupil every
_aid_ and _support from_ his horse. But I beg him not to think of
offering either aid or support _to_ his horse. I beg him to believe that
the horse carries the rider, and not the rider the horse. But this we
will discuss in another chapter. That the horse supports the rider is
common sense: that the rider supports the horse is the common error.



Reins at full length.--The downward clutch.--Grecian mode of holding and
   handling the reins.--The side-clutch.--The two reins crossed in the
   hand.--A rein in each hand.--Turn to the right, and left.--The
   hunting hand.--The rough-rider’s hand.--Fixing the hands.--Use of
   both bridles at once.--Shortening the reins when held, one in each
   hand, mode of taught and of untaught horsemen.--Use of the whip.--Horses
   swerve, turn, and refuse _only to the left_.--Fault in “the great
   untaught,” English, two-handed rider.

[Sidenote: Reins at full length.]

To practise the indications of the hands, take the bridle which is
attached to the chair at full length (Fig. 3), with the tips of the four
fingers of the left hand between the reins at the centre, the first and
fourth fingers detached to facilitate their working on the rein proper
to each; the hand pendant, with the back to the front, and balance the
chair on two legs.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.--REINS AT FULL LENGTH.]

If the length of the rein suits, it may be so held in long rides when
the horse is going quietly at an extended walk, for directly as the
slowness of the pace is the length of the horse, and so should be the
length of the rein. The horse is at his greatest length when standing
still, and if you force him to collect himself then, he will be uneasy
and fidget.[16-*] But the reins must never be loose. The bearing on the
mouth, however lightly, must still be felt; and if the horse, in
attempting to stare about, as colts and ill-ridden horses will, should
throw his head to the right, it must be stopped by the feeling of the
tip of the fourth finger on the left rein; if he throws his head to the
left, by the feeling of the first finger on the right rein. But provided
that the bearing on the horse’s mouth, and this power of keeping his
head straight, are preserved, a horse cannot have too much liberty under
the circumstances supposed. To turn to the right both reins must be
pulled, the right the strongest, by feeling the tip of the first finger
towards you; both legs must be pressed, the left the strongest; the whip
shown on the left. To turn to the left the reverse indications.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.--DOWN CLUTCH.]

[Illustration: FIG. 5.--DOWN CLUTCH, REIN IN EACH HAND.]

[Sidenote: Down clutch.]

[Sidenote: Grecian mode.]

To take up the reins use the downward clutch[16-†] (Fig. 4); that is,
place the two first fingers of the right hand between the reins at the
greatest convenient distance, and slide them smoothly back. Repeat this
movement, changing from hand to hand, and keeping the chair balanced and
steady. This clutch is excellent for a straight-forward, _hot_ horse; it
shortens the reins any length at one movement, with a very low, steady
bearing. Two hands may be used (Fig. 5). I conceive this to be the
Grecian mode of holding and handling the reins (see frontispiece and
vignette, from the Elgin Marbles), except that the Greeks had one
finger between the reins instead of two; and they held the reins,
whether together or divided, between the thumb and the second finger.
The first finger was thus detached, and used only for guiding, by which
very distinct indications may be given on either rein when both are in
one hand.

[Illustration: FIG. 6.--SIDE CLUTCH.]

[Sidenote: Side clutch.]

At a walk, with a quiet horse, this _down_ clutch may be turned into the
_side_-clutch (Fig. 6 and Fig. 7); it is nearly the same as the English
mode of driving, but the right rein is uppermost, which facilitates the
dividing the reins and placing them together again, and when the reins
are in the left hand, the right rein quits the hand between the second
and third finger. This allows you to hold one rein while you slip the
other, besides that the left rein is not disturbed in taking the right
rein in the right hand, and in returning it to the left hand.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.--SIDE CLUTCH, REIN IN EACH HAND.]

[Sidenote: Cross.]

But the following position (Fig. 8) is the foundation of all fine
handling, and therefore of all fine riding.

And if the pupil will only thoroughly acquire this one movement he shall
have my leave to consign the rest of my book “protervis in mare Creticum
portare ventis.”

[Illustration: FIG. 8.--CROSS.]

[Sidenote: Rein in each hand]

We will call this movement cross, because the reins, when in one hand,
are crossed inside the hand. Take the left rein with the three last
fingers of the left hand, so that it enters the hand outside the little
finger, and quits the hand between the first and second finger. Place
the right rein in the left hand over the first and second finger, so
that it enters the hand outside the first finger and quits the hand
between the second and third finger, so that the whole hand is between
the reins where they enter the hand, and the second finger is between
them where they quit the hand. Fig. 9 shows the rein in each hand.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.--REIN IN EACH HAND.]

At every change from hand to hand the reins may be shortened to any
extent. To lengthen them they must be slipped while a rein is in each
hand, turning the two fore fingers towards you. You cannot pay too much
attention to practising the cross from hand to hand on the balanced
chair. There should be nothing approaching to a jerk or shake of either
rein. Neither rein should be for an instant loosened, but an equal
tension kept on both, and both should be of precisely equal length when
crossed in one hand. Be assured, however childish it may appear to you,
this practice will teach you the true principle of handling your horse,
and will give to the bearings and indications of your hands on his mouth
a delicate elasticity and resilience resulting from the play of every
articulation from the tips of the fingers to the shoulders. At the same
time if power is required, instead of having the left hand only, with
the fourth finger only between the reins, by taking them in the full
grasp of the hands it allows you to employ the whole strength of both

[Illustration: FIG. 10.--TURN TO THE RIGHT.]

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--TURN TO THE LEFT.]

[Illustration: FIG. 12.--HUNTING GALLOP.]

[Sidenote: Turn to the right and left.]

[Sidenote: Hunting and rough-rider’s hand.]

[Sidenote: Fixing the hands.]

The cross together with the rein in each hand should be so constantly
going on as to give the appearance of playing with the reins whenever
anything like riding and handling is required. In fact, he who can use
his reins in this manner with a riotous horse, without disturbing the
bearing is a rider, he who cannot is not. Fig. 10 shows the turn to the
right when the reins are crossed in the left hand, with the use of the
whip. Fig. 11 the turn to the left. Fig. 12 for holding the horse to a
hunting or racing gallop on a snaffle is the same as Fig. 9, but with
the fists closed. Fig. 13 is the same in a different position. It is the
rough-rider’s hand for working a horse up and making him collect himself
with a snaffle. And this is the only case where a little _working_ of
the bit on his mouth (the scier le bridon of the French) is to be
allowed. Fig. 14 is the same, with the thumbs fixed on the back of a
chair. If a thumb is fixed in this way behind the lower part of each
pummel, the lady acquires a hold which no horse can force; at the same
time it gives the lowest possible and the steadiest possible bearing.
The hand should be as open as is possible and as much closed as is
necessary. Modifications of this position, with the hands closed, are
used in holding the horse to his gallop in hunting and racing.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.--ROUGH-RIDER.]

[Illustration: FIG. 14.--FIXING HANDS.]

[Sidenote: Use of both bridles at once.]

To use the two bridles at once, that is, the four reins, place the
little fingers between the reins, the snaffle inside, the curb outside.
Let them quit the hands over the first finger, the thumb on them. In the
left hand, the snaffle to the left of the thumb, the curb to the right.
In the right hand the snaffle to the right, the curb to the left. This
keeps them distinct, and allows the power of slipping or dropping
either, by pressing the thumb only on the other. The two bridles should
be always in two hands, except when placed together to shorten them. In
a _storm_, that is, till you have time for nicety, treat the two bridles
as if they were one.

[Sidenote: Two handed shortening the rein, taught and untaught.]

The mode of shortening the reins in two-handed riding, which I have seen
rough-riders use, and which I have seen recruits taught when using the
single snaffle in all riding-houses, civil or military, foreign or
English, and which is detailed in the école du cavalier in the French
cavalry ordonnance, is wholly vicious. There are no directions at all
given for this in the treatise on military equitation in the regulations
for the English cavalry, nor have I ever met with any in any book,
foreign or English, except in the French ordonnance. To shorten the
right rein on the French system, bring the thumbs together, take the
right rein with the thumb and first finger of the left hand, the thumbs
touching, raise the left hand, and let the right rein slip till the
thumbs are one inch apart. With the right rein thus, one inch shorter
than the left, when it is required to shorten the left equally, by
management you may bring the two thumbs together again without loosening
the left rein. I say, by management, you may do so, but the chances are
that the longest rein is invariably thus slackened previously to being
shortened, and consequently, that the bearing on the horse’s mouth is
disturbed. But supposing it possible to manage this by an inch at a
time, it is quite impossible to manage it at a greater distance. If,
therefore, you have to shorten both reins a foot, you cannot effect it
without twenty-four operations. This is not at all an unlikely
occurrence in riding unruly horses, for such horses are commanded by
being made to bend or collect themselves. Their most frequent defence is
jerking their heads away and extending themselves; and the facility of
adjusting the length of the reins to the degree in which they extend or
collect themselves, makes the difference of whether you can ride such
horses or not. If, in riding a half-broken, hot, or violent horse, he
jerks his head down so as to draw one rein six inches longer than the
other, it is impossible to bring the thumbs together without slackening
the longest rein--at the moment you wish it tightened--four or five
inches. I need not dilate on the effect of this in riding such a horse
as I have supposed.

This French military system, then, of shortening the reins in two-handed
riding is actually ridiculous. But a ridiculous system is better than no
system at all. And except this French system, I know of _none taught_
save those which I have attempted to teach in this chapter.

What mistakes are made in this way, even by the _finest untaught_
horseman, are shown in the last paragraph of this chapter.

In all the practices enjoined above, the hand which quits the rein
should slide along it _behind_ the hand which receives the rein. And in
all these positions the hand should always be at right angles with the
reins; you then have the play of all the joints. If the hand is in the
same line with the reins, the play is only from the elbow.

The thumb should not be used where delicacy is required, since it acts
in a contrary direction to the fingers, and entirely stops the play of
all the joints of the hand and fingers. Close your thumb on your fingers
and you will see.

Where power is required, the change from the utmost resilience to the
utmost rigidity is effected in the time necessary to close the fists.
Every gradation, however, between the closed fists and the tips of the
open fingers is at the option of the rider.

[Sidenote: Use of the whip.]

Gentlemen having a leg and spur on each side of the horse to urge and to
guide him, should ride without any whip at all if the horse has been
subjected to the leg, so as to have the right hand as free for the reins
as the left: there should be no such thing as “_a bridle hand_.” If a
whip is carried, it should be as light as possible. It should be held up
like a hunter or a rough-rider, not down like a jockey; and so
completely between the _hand_ and the thumb as to leave the _fingers_
free for the reins. To carry that _club_ called the handle of a hunting
whip is a frightful enormity. The excuse is, to open gates; but if you
put your horse’s side against a gate, it is better opened by the hand,
but keep your leg from your horse’s side. The _fingering_ of the reins
should not be impeded even by thick gloves; as thick muffettees as you
like, but no gloves thicker than kid.

[Sidenote: Horses swerve and turn only _to the left_.]

[Sidenote: Fault in English two-handed riding.]

The action of the whip, by the turn of the wrist, on either side of the
horse, is of every importance in lady’s riding, in colt-breaking, in
riding the restive horse, and I had well nigh said, in hunting and race
riding. For how often do we see the race lost by a swerve _to the left_
(attributed to distress). The hunter invariably refuses by turning _to
the left_. The restive horse invariably turns _to the left_. Have all
horses joined in Holy Alliance to fight on one plan? If not, why do they
all turn _to the left_? Because the whip is only used _on the right_.
There is, however, another cause which acts in conjunction with this.
Even our finest two-handed English riders (who, in my opinion, are the
finest riders in the world), when they use the right hand on the right
rein, continue to hold both reins with the left hand, and they slip the
right rein a little through the left hand in order to place both hands
even. This is a most vicious habit. When they quit the right rein to use
the whip, or to throw the arm back at a fence (another most vicious
habit), by their system of holding and handling the reins they have not
the power to place _the lengthened_ right rein _short_ in the left hand.
Alas! poor horse! He is then pulled to the left by the left rein, driven
to the left by the whip on the right, and then abused for answering
these _natural_ indications, which he has been trained _habitually_ to


[16-*] This is one reason against an _unalterable_ bearing-rein.

[16-†] Have mercy on this _little_ word, _great_ reader, and do compound
a sesquipedalian clutch for me, out of digitus and δάκτυλος.



Retaining, urging, and guiding indications.--To make the horse collect
   himself.--Canter, right turn, right pass.--Left shoulder in.--Bearing
   on the mouth.--The horse must be made to collect himself in
   turning.--And should not be turned on one rein only.--Lady’s
   canter.--The quicker the pace, the greater degree of
   collection.--French and English mistake here.--The shy horse.--The
   restive horse.--Truth may be paradoxical.

[Sidenote: Retaining, urging, and guiding indications.]

There are three sorts of indications, retaining, urging, and guiding.

[Sidenote: To make the horse collect himself.]

The indications of the hands are of two sorts, guiding and retaining.
Those of the legs and whip are also of two sorts, guiding and urging.
Suppose a horse standing still with full liberty and fully extended. If
the retaining indication of the hands only are given, he will go
backward in a loose and extended form. If, on the contrary, the urging
indication of the legs or whip only are given, he will move forward in
a loose and extended form. If these two opposite indications (that is,
retaining and urging) be given equally at the same time, the horse will,
as it is termed, _collect_ himself; that is, being pulled backward, and
urged forward, at the same time, in obeying both indications a sort of
condensation of the horse results, he bends his neck and brings his head
in, and brings his haunches under him. If both indications are continued
and increased, the horse will _piaff_, that is, continue collected, in
motion, without progressing, or he will make the courbette or terre à
terre or rear. If both indications are discontinued, he will resume the
extended position of repose. If, again, from this position, both
indications are given, but the retaining the strongest, the horse will
go backward in a collected form. If both are given, but the urging
indication the strongest, he will move forward in a collected form, at a
walk, trot, or canter, according to the vivacity with which the
indications are given.

[Sidenote: Canter, right turn, right pass.]

As far as this is clear enough. But now come some niceties which I am
puzzled to explain. If the retaining and urging indications are given,
but the right rein is felt the strongest, which is the guiding
indication of the hand to the right, and the left leg is pressed the
strongest, which is the guiding indication of the leg to the right, the
horse should either turn to the right, or canter with the right leg, or
he should _pass_, that is, cross his legs and go sideways to the right,
bending and looking to the right. When the _same_ indications are given
it seems monstrous to require the horse to discover which of three
_different_ movements is required of him. In practice the skilful
horseman finds no difficulty in making himself clear to his horse, by
different modifications of the indications, and of the position of his
weight. In theory I can give no rules for it _short enough to be read_.

[Sidenote: Left shoulder in.]

When the horse is passing to the right, if the indications of the legs
are continued the same and those of hands reversed, that is, if the left
rein is felt stronger than the right, the horse changes from right pass
to “_left shoulder in_” (in towards the centre of the school) that is,
he continues to cross his legs and go sideways to the right, but he
bends and looks to the left. As the hands alone make this change, they
may be said to guide here. If, from the left shoulder in, the
indications of the hands are continued the same, and those of the legs
reversed, that is, if the right leg is pressed stronger than the left,
the horse changes from left shoulder in to left pass, that is, he
continues to look to the left, but crosses his legs and goes sideways to
the left. As the legs alone make this change they may be said to guide

These are useful lessons, and, together with reining back, should be
taught to all horses and all horsemen. Tie a string from eye to eye of
the snaffle behind the horse’s chin, hold his head by this against a
wall, and make him pass, the head leading, by showing him the whip. Make
him do the same mounted in obedience to the leg, with the snaffle as in
Fig. 13.

[Sidenote: Bearing on the mouth.]

When the horse is in movement there should be a constant touch, or
feeling, or play, or _bearing_ between his mouth and the rider’s hands.
It is impossible to bestow too much pains and attention on the
acquirement of this. It is the index of the horse’s actions, temper, and
_intentions_. It _forewarns_ the rider of what he is about to do, and by
it the rider feels _muscularly_ without mental attention whether his
horse requires more liberty or more collecting. And it is impossible
that in this bearing on the horse’s mouth, or in the indications of the
hands and legs generally, or in shortening and lengthening the reins,
the rider can be too delicate, gradual, smooth, firm, and light. The
hands should be perfectly free from any approach to a jerk, a loose
rein, or uneven feeling on the mouth. The legs should be kept from any
action approaching to a kick, except when the spur is given; that should
be always present, and when used should be given smartly and withdrawn
instantly, but the pressure of the legs should be perfectly smooth and
gradual, though, if necessary, strong.

If good riding is worth your attention do not think these things beneath
your notice. For the acquirement of the bearing on the horse’s mouth,
the turning your horse on the proper rein, smoothness of indications,
and, in shortening the reins, the power of making your horse collect
himself, and the working together of your hands and legs, are the unseen
and unappreciated foundation on which good riding stands. These, and not
strength or violence, command the horse. With these your horse will rely
on your hand, comply to it, and, without force on your part, he will
bend to your hand in every articulation. Without these, however
unintentionally on your part, you will be perpetually subjecting him to
the severest torture, to defend himself against which he will resist
your hand, poke his nose, and stiffen his neck, and every other part of
his body. The horse can endure no greater torture than that resulting
from an uneven hand. This is known to every hack-cabman. Every
hack-cabman has hourly experience that a _job_ in the mouth will compel
his jaded slave into a trot, when the solicitations of the whip have
been long unanswered.

The single case in which a jerk in the mouth is admissible is when your
horse is about to kick, and some one is within reach of his heels. The
jerk causes him to throw up his head, and he cannot without difficulty
raise his croupe at the same time. But except to save life or
limb--supposing no one within reach--hold your hands high, and pull
severely, but smoothly; do not jerk. This will in general be sufficient
to prevent his kicking, but it is better that your horse should
occasionally kick than that he should always go as stiff as a stake,
which is the inevitable result of jerking.

[Sidenote: Collect the horse to turn.]

[Sidenote: Do not turn on one rein only.]

To keep the horse when in movement to a collected pace, the opposite
indications of urging and retaining him must be continued. This working
together of the hands and legs and the power of making the horse collect
himself are also most essential in turning. A horse should never be
turned without being made to collect himself--without being retained by
the hands, and urged by the legs, as well as guided by both. That is, in
turning to the right both hands should retain him, and the right guide
him by being felt the strongest, both legs should urge him, and the left
guide him by being pressed the strongest. The rider should also lean
his weight to the right, and the shorter the turn and the quicker the
pace, the more the horse should be made to collect himself, and the more
both he and his rider should lean to the right. This is well seen, when
a man standing on the saddle gallops round the circus. There the man
must keep his position by balance alone, and were he not to lean
inward--were he for a moment to stand perpendicularly, he would be
thrown outside the circle by the centrifugal force. In turning suddenly
and at a quick pace to the right, unless the rider leans his weight to
the right, he will in like manner have a tendency to fall off on the
left. If, by clasping his legs, he prevents this, his horse will be
overbalanced to the left when turning to the right. It is bad, in
turning to the right, to run into the contrary extreme to the one-handed
system, and, slackening the left rein, to haul the horse’s head round
with the right rein only. The horse’s head should not be pulled farther
round than to allow the rider to see the right eye; both legs, and
particularly the left leg, should then urge the horse to follow the
guiding rein.

A lady, till very skilful, should ride with one bridle only at a time.
The other bridle should be knotted loosely, and should lie on the
horse’s neck.

[Sidenote: Lady’s canter.]

The indications for a lady’s horse to canter are an _over_ collection
and a tapping on the mane with the whip; that is, take your reins _too_
short in the left hand, and tap the horse’s mane till he canters. When
off, if the reins _are_ too short, take one in each hand, turn the fore
fingers towards you, and let the reins slip. If the horse goes freely up
to your hand, keep a rein in each hand. If not, return the right rein to
the left hand, and keep the whip ready to urge him up to his bit. If a
lady has her reins at full length at a walk she should clutch, cross,
canter. If the lady has her reins already crossed in the left hand at a
walk, she should by two changes place them _too_ short in the left hand
before she uses the whip.

[Sidenote: The quicker the pace the greater collection.]

[Sidenote: French and English mistake here.]

Every change of pace from slow to quick should be indicated to the horse
by a greater collection; the “bride abattué,” and the “reines
flottantes” system is a great mistake. So is the direction to the
English cavalry (quoted p. 6), to advance the little finger to make the
horse advance. To make the horse advance the reins should be tightened;
he should be made to collect himself, or he will advance in a loose and
extended form.

On account of ease to the rider, a lady’s horse is only permitted to
canter with the right leg. He should never be cantered circles to left,
or turned at a canter to the left, as unless the horse shifts his leg it
will be an unfair exertion to ask of him. Cantering circles to the
right, in open ground, where the horse has nothing to bias him but the
indications he receives from the rider, is an admirable practice for a
lady. An occasional race--who can canter slowest--is also good practice
both for horse and rider. This must not be often repeated, nor must the
horse be forced from a fair canter into a hobble or amble. Parade riders
are too apt to be contented with wooden paces provided they are short.
This is very vicious. Really to collect himself, a horse must _bend_
himself. We cannot too often repeat Ovid’s line,--

    _Flectitis_ aut freno _colla_ sequacis equi.

With horses obstinately addicted to the left leg, which is frequently a
result of being longed only to the left, it is a good plan to canter
them side-footed to the right, that is, on a level line, on the side of
a hill which rises to the right. In this case a very slight slope will
incline the horse to take his right leg, and on the side of a steep hill
he can scarcely avoid it.

[Sidenote: The shy horse.]

There are three gradations in riding the shy horse. A man who pulls his
horse’s head towards what he expects him to shy at, and uses violence,
_makes_ his horse shy. A man who leaves his horse’s head entirely loose,
_lets_ his horse shy. And a man who turns his horse’s head from what he
expects him to shy at, _prevents_ his horse from shying. Do not imagine
that there will be any danger of the horse getting into trouble on the
side opposite to what he shies at: the very contrary will be the case.
If, indeed, you pull his head towards the object of his alarm, and
oblige him to face it, there is every probability that he will run
blindly backward from it. And while his whole attention is fixed before
him, he will go backward over Dover cliff if it chance to be behind him.
Under such circumstances you cannot too rapidly turn your horse’s head
and his attention from the fancied, to the substantial ill. But on
common occasions the turning his head from what he shies at should be as
gradual and imperceptible as possible. No chastisement should be allowed
in any case. If he makes a start, you should endeavour not to make a
_return_ start. You should not, indeed, take more notice of a shy than
you can possibly avoid; and unless the horse has been previously
brutalised, and to re-assure him, you should not even caress him, lest
even that should make him suspect that something awful is about to
happen. The common error is the reverse of all this. The common error is
to pull the horse’s head towards the object of his fear, and when he is
facing it, to begin with whip and spur. Expecting to be crammed under
the carriage-wheel, the horse probably rears or runs back into a ditch,
or at least becomes more nervous and more riotous at every carriage that
he meets. Horses are instantaneously made shy by this treatment, and as
instantaneously cured by the converse of it. It is thus that all bad
riders make all high-couraged horses shy, but none ever remain so in the
hands of a good horseman.

[Sidenote: The restive horse.]

There is a common error, both in theory and practice, with regard to the
restive horse. He is very apt to rear sideways against the nearest wall
or paling. It is the common error to suppose that he does so with the
view of rubbing his rider off. Do not give him credit for intellect
sufficient to generate such a scheme. It is that when there, the common
error is to pull his head _from_ the wall. This brings the rider’s knee
in contact with the wall, consequently all farther chastisement ceases;
for were the rider to make his horse plunge, his knee would be crushed
against the wall. The horse, finding this, probably thinks that it is
the very thing desired, and remains there; at least he will always fly
to a wall for shelter. Instead of _from_ the wall, pull his head towards
it, so as to place his eye, instead of your knee, against it; continue
to use the spur, and the horse will never go near a wall again.

[Sidenote: Truth may be paradoxical.]

To pull a horse _from_ what he shies at, and _towards_ the wall he rubs
you against, are very paradoxical doctrines. But, ὁ μῦθος δηλοῖ, the fable
shows, that truth _may_ be paradoxical--that we _can_ blow hot and blow
cold with the same breath; and it was only the brutal wild man of the
woods who drove the civilised man from his den, for performing the feat.



The rider cannot raise the falling horse.--Harm is done by the
   attempt.--The bearing rein.--Mechanical assistance of the jockey to
   his horse.--Standing on the stirrups.--Difference between the gallop
   and the leap.--Steeple-chases and hurdle-races unfair on the
   horse.--The rider should not attempt to lift his horse at a fence.

[Sidenote: The rider cannot raise the falling horse.]

There is no more common error than to believe that the rider can hold
his horse up when he is falling. How often do we hear a man assert that
his horse would have been down with him forty times if he had not held
him up; that he has taken his horse up between his hands and legs and
lifted him over a fence; or that he has recovered his horse on the other

These are vulgar errors, and mechanical impossibilities. Could ten men,
with hand-spikes, lift the weight of a horse? Probably. Attach the
weight to the thin rein of a lady’s bridle. Could a lady lift it with
the left hand? I think not; though it is commonly supposed that she
could. A pull from a curb will indeed give the horse so much pain in the
mouth that he will throw his head up, and this so flatters the hand that
its prowess has saved him, that the rider exclaims “It may be
impossible, but it happens every day. Shall I not believe my own
senses?” The answer is, No, not if it can be explained how the senses
are deceived. Otherwise, we should still believe, as, till some few
centuries ago, the world did believe, that the diurnal motion was in the
sun, and not in the earth. Otherwise we must subscribe to the philosophy
of the Turk, who

    “Saw with his own eyes the moon was round,
      Was also certain that the earth was square,
    Because he’d journey’d fifty miles and found
      No sign of its being circular anywhere.”

[Sidenote: Harm is done by the attempt.]

But these errors are not harmless errors. They induce an ambitious
interference with the horse at the moment in which he should be left
unconfined to the use of his own energies. If by pulling, and giving
him pain in the mouth, you force him to throw up his head and neck, you
prevent his seeing how to foot out any unsafe ground, or where to take
off at a fence, and in the case of stumbling you prevent an action
practically dictated by nature and theoretically justified by
philosophy. When an unmounted horse stumbles, nature teaches him to drop
his head and neck; philosophy teaches us the reason of it. During the
instant that his head and neck are dropping the shoulders are relieved
from their weight, and that is the instant in which the horse makes his
effort to recover himself. If by giving him pain in his mouth, you force
him to raise his head and neck instead of sinking them, his shoulders
will still remain encumbered with the weight of them; more than this, as
action and reaction are equal and in contrary directions, the muscular
power employed to raise the head and neck will act to sink the shoulders
and knees. The mechanical impossibility of the rider assisting his horse
when falling may be demonstrated thus: no motion can be given to a body
without a foreign force or a foreign fulcrum. Your strength is not a
foreign force, since it is employed entirely on the horse. Nor can it be
employed on the foreign fulcrum, the ground, through the medium of your
reins; as much as you pull up, so much you pull down. If a man in a boat
uses an oar, he can accelerate or impede the motion of the boat, because
his strength is employed through the medium of the oar on the water,
which is a foreign fulcrum. But if he takes hold of the chain at the
head of the boat, his whole strength will not accelerate or impede the
motion of the boat, because there is neither foreign force nor foreign
fulcrum. His whole strength is employed within the boat, and as much as
he pulls backward with his hands, he pushes forward with his feet. The
baker can lift his basket, but not when he is himself in it.

[Sidenote: Bearing-rein.]

All the arguments which I have heard adduced against the doctrine here
laid down would also go to prove that a horse cannot fall which has a
bearing-rein and a crupper, that is, whose head is tied to his tail. Sir
Francis Head’s observations on bearing-reins, in the “Bubbles of the
Brunnen,” are quite philosophical. They should only be used for purposes
of parade, or to acquire greater power over a difficult _team_, or
_loosely_ to keep cart-horses “out of mischief.” Sir Francis’s
observations are also true of the harness used by the peasantry of
Nassau which he describes, but this arises from the poverty, not the
philosophy of the peasants; those among them, who have money enough to
buy smart harness have the most elaborate bearing-reins that I have ever
seen. One, a chain, from the lower part of the collar, which binds the
horse’s chin to his breast, and another over the upper part of the
collar, along and above the back to the tail, independent of the
terret-pad and crupper. This is tying the horse’s head to his tail with
a vengeance.[54-*] To be consistent, the opponents of the theory which
I have laid down should act on this principle--though I have never known
them go quite so far. Sed quis custodes custodiet ipsos? What is to
prevent the tail from falling forward with the body? They indeed argue,
“Surely if you throw back the weight of the shoulders over the croupe of
the horse, you relieve his fore-hand, and diminish the chance of his
falling.” This is rather to propose a new method of preventing a horse
from falling, than to prove the advantage of pulling at the mouth while
he is falling; for if it is of any advantage to throw your weight back,
then the less you pull at the mouth the better, for the more you pull,
the less you are at liberty to throw the weight back. But, in truth, it
is of no advantage to throw the weight back when the stumble is made. If
a position is previously taken up on the croupe of the horse, the
pressure will be less on the fore-hand than if you were placed in a
forward position. But during the time that the position is in the act of
being shifted, that is, during the time that the horse is falling, the
act of throwing your own weight back produces an exactly equivalent
pressure forward, in all respects the counterpart of your own motion
backward, in intensity and duration. It is useless to dwell on this
subject, or to adduce the familiar illustrations which it admits of. It
is a simple proposition of mechanical equilibrium, and any one who is
conversant with such subjects _must_ assent to it.

[Sidenote: Mechanical assistance of jockey.]

The question whether a jockey can mechanically assist his horse, does
not rest on the same footing. I believe he can, thus. If a man sits
astride of a chair, with his feet off the ground, and clasps the chair
with his legs, by the muscular exertion of his lower limbs he can jump
the chair along. The muscular force is there employed on the foreign
fulcrum, the ground, through the medium of the legs of the chair. The
muscular action strikes the chair downward and backward, and if the
chair was on ice it would recede, so also would the feet of a horse in
attempting to strike forward. If the chair was on soft ground, it would
sink, so also would a horse, in proportion to the force of the muscular
stroke. But if the resistance of the ground is complete, the reaction,
which is precisely equal and in a contrary direction to the action, will
throw the body of the man upward and forward, and by clasping with his
legs he will draw the chair also with him. But he can only accomplish in
this way a very little distance with a very great exertion. If the
jockey made this muscular exertion every time that his horse struck with
his hind feet, his strength would be employed on the foreign fulcrum,
the ground, through the medium of his horse’s bony frame. Thus the
jockey would contribute to the horizontal impulse of his own weight, and
exactly in proportion to the muscular power exerted by the jockey, the
muscular system of the horse would be relieved. At the same time no
additional task is thrown on the bony frame of the horse, since, if the
jockey had not used his muscular power on it in impelling his own
weight, the muscular system of the horse must have been so employed. It
is true, that not much is done after all with a prodigious exertion, but
if that little gains six inches in a hardly contested race it may make
the difference of its being lost or won. Thus an easy race is no
exertion to a jockey, but after a hardly contested one, he returns with
his lips parched, his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth, and
every muscle quivering.

The working a horse up with both hands on his mouth is easier to the
jockey than using the whip, and more effective in rousing the horse to
his greatest exertion.

[Sidenote: Standing on the stirrups.]

What is called “standing on the stirrups” consists chiefly in bringing
the weight forward on to both thighs. In this position the rider has a
greater power of adjusting the balance of his weight to the movements of
his horse. In racing it is practically proved to be _essential_. And it
is of infinite service to the horse in the long and severe galloping of

It is surprising that the English are the only people who rise in the
stirrup at a trot; it is not surprising that other nations are beginning
to follow their example.

[Sidenote: Difference between the gallop and the leap.]

In galloping, the horse’s legs catch the eye most when they are from
under him, and he is drawn with all four from under him. In truth, his
hind legs are under him when his fore legs are from under him, and his
fore legs are under him when his hind legs are from under him; his hind
feet pass over where his fore feet rested, so that from footprint to
footprint he clears very little _space_. In fact, owing to what is
called _leading_ with one leg, the line between his two fore feet and
the line between his two hind feet are by no means at right angles to
the line of his direction; so that the greatest distance from footprint
to footprint is not nearly half his stroke. The leap differs from the
gallop not only in the greater _space of ground_ cleared by the feet,
but in the greater _space of time_ for which the feet quit the ground;
this last difference is of more importance than might be imagined.

[Sidenote: Steeple-chases unfair on the horse.]

Antæus was not peculiar in his dependence for strength on contact with
his mother earth. In leaping, neither man nor horse can draw breath
while in the air, that is, from the time the feet leave the ground till
they again touch it. But _quick_ breathing (the creber anhelitus) is
not only a consequence of distress for wind, but it is a vital necessity
when distressed for wind. And the impossibility to draw breath when off
the ground is the reason of the death of horses in steeple-chasing and
hurdle-racing; they die of suffocation. The reason is a sufficient one
for the discontinuance of such racing and chasing.

A mounted horse will overtake a dismounted horse, his superior in speed.
It is the common error to suppose that this results from the mechanical
assistance of the rider. The real reason is, that the dismounted horse
goes off, like an inexperienced jockey, at his utmost speed. I do not
believe that a horse can do this for more than a hundred yards without
being distressed for wind (and I speak from experience with Mr. Drummond
Hay’s barbs at Tangier, which were trained to the feat). The rider
starts at a pace which he knows his horse can keep, and the dismounted
horse, though he gains on him at first, _comes back to him_ as the
jockeys say: for a horse which has been distressed for wind in the first
hundred yards, will not arrive at the end of a mile nearly so soon as
if he had gone the whole at the best pace he could stay at. Here the
assistance from the rider is mental not mechanical.

When mounted it never happens to any horse but an arab or a barb to go
his best _muscular_ pace. What we call best pace is the best pace a
horse can stay at for _wind_. If a common hack were started fresh for
the last hundred yards against the best horses in England when finishing
their race, he would have it hollow.

[Sidenote: The rider should not lift his horse at a fence.]

Woe to the sportsman who ambitiously attempts to lift his horse
mechanically over a fence on the principle discussed above; he is much
more likely to throw him into it. He had better content himself with
sitting quietly on his horse, holding him only just enough to keep his
head straight and to regulate his pace, and trust the rest to his
horse’s honour. The horse should feel sufficiently commanded to know
that he _must_ go, and sufficiently at liberty to know that he _may_ use
all his capabilities. The body should not previously be thrown back, but
as the horse springs, the lower part of the rider being firmly fixed in
the saddle, and the upper part perfectly pliable, the body will fall
back of itself; and with strong jumping horses, or at down leaps, the
shoulders of fine riders will constantly meet their horse’s croupes.

A bad horseman throws his horse down, which a good one does not. That
is, because the bad horseman hurries his horse over hard or rough
ground, or down hill, or over loose stones--allows him to choose his own
ground--lets him flounder into difficulties, and when there, hauls him
so that he cannot see, or exert himself to get out of them, and
expecting chastisement, the horse springs and struggles to avoid it
before he has recovered his feet, and goes down with a tremendous
impetus. If he has to cross a rut to the right he probably forces his
horse across it when the right foot is on the ground. In this case,
unless the horse collects himself and jumps--if he attempts to step
across it, the probability is that in crossing his legs he knocks one
against the other and falls. The reverse of all this should be the case.
If you have not sufficient tact to feel which of your horse’s feet is
on the ground, you must allow him to choose his own time for crossing,
which will be when the left foot is on the ground.

You should habitually choose your horse’s ground for him, for,
notwithstanding his often vaunted sagacity and safety, the wisest among
horses will, to avoid a moving leaf, put his foot over a precipice. This
will become as easy to you as choosing your own path in walking. If your
horse has made a false step, or is in difficulties, you cannot leave him
too much at liberty, or be too quiet with him. The only notice to be
taken is to re-assure him by caressing him, if you see that he expects
chastisement from previous brutal treatment.

I will add that you should habitually prevent your horse out-walking or
lagging behind his companions; he is either very unsociable or a bad
horseman, who does not keep abreast of his companions. Besides, horses,
being gregarious, are apt to follow one another. This should not be.
Your horse should be in perpetual obedience to the indications which
your hands and legs give him, and to nothing else. These indications
should not only decide the pace which he is to take, but deal out to him
the rate at which each pace is to be executed, and also determine his
carriage during the performance of it; that is, the degree in which he
is to collect himself, or the degree of liberty which is to be allowed


[54-*] Of all stupid appliances of man to his horse, the most dense is
the Austrian and south German mode of driving the einspanner or single
horse or a leader. The rein goes single from the driver’s hand, and
divides into two at the horse’s neck. The driver, therefore, has no
power of making a distinct indication on either rein: and to turn, he
whips and jerks till the horse guesses his meaning.



There is one direction which applies to all seats.--Different seats for
   different styles of riding.--The manége and the Eastern seats are the
   extremes.--The long stirrup is necessary for cavalry to act in
   line.--Medium length of stirrup for common riding.

[Sidenote: One direction for all seats.]

There is one direction which, I think, applies to all seats. Turn the
thigh from the hip, so as to bring the hollow to the saddle; this places
the foot straight to the front, with the heel out and the toe in.
Trotting without stirrups, on the thigh only, with the heel down and the
toe up, shoulders back, a snaffle-rein in each hand, like a rough-rider
(Fig. 13), is the best possible practice for sitting.

[Sidenote: Different seats for different styles of riding.]

[Sidenote: Manége and Eastern seats the extremes.]

Farther than this I abstain from giving any particular directions about
the seat; because, though I consider the rules here laid down for the
hands as applicable to every species of riding (I have excepted the
soldier with his weapon in his right hand), I think there is a peculiar
seat proper to many different styles of riding. The extremes of these
are the manége and the Eastern styles, both admirable in their way, and
perfectly practical, but each wholly inapplicable to the performances of
the other.

[Sidenote: Long stirrups are necessary for cavalry.]

What can be more perfect than the seats of M. de Kraut and the Marquis
de Beauvilliers, in De la Guérinière’s work, or the engraving of M. de
Nestier? But I do not think that a man in such a seat would look well,
or perform well, in a five-pound saddle, over the beacon course: still
less that he could lay the reins on the neck of a well-bred horse, and
at full speed lie along his horse’s side, and with his own body below
his horse’s back, prime and load a long Persian gun, jump up and use
both hands to fire to the right or left, or over his horse’s croupe; or
that he could wield a long heavy lance with the power of a Cossack; or
at full gallop hurl the djerrid to the rear with the force of a Persian,
and again, without any diminution of speed, pick it from the ground. On
the other hand, his peculiar seat renders the Eastern horseman so
utterly helpless in the performances of the manége, that he is unable to
make his horse rein back, or _pass_ sideways a step. And I have seen
three hundred Mussulman troops from the northern parts of Persia (each
of whom would perform forty such feats as I have mentioned) take more
than an hour to form a very bad parade line, in single rank. When one of
them was the least too far forward, or had an interval between him and
the dressing hand, however small, as he could neither make his horse
rein back, nor pass sideways, he was obliged to ride out to the front,
turn round to the rear, and ride into the rank afresh, and so in
succession every man beyond him. This was an affair of seat; the Eastern
horseman’s leg does not come low enough to give his horse what are
called _sides_.

On _sides_ depend reining back and passing; on reining back and passing
depend _closing_ and _dressing_, and consequently the power of acting in
line. On _sides_ also depends the _central_ wheel of threes _on their
own ground_. This is an invaluable attribute to cavalry, regular or
irregular. On the plain, the central wheel of threes affords the only
true principle of correcting intervals between squadrons, regiments, or
brigades, whether in line or in line of columns. Threes also supply the
most perfect principle of retiring in line in the presence of an enemy,
with the power of instantly showing front, provided that (according to
regulation) leaders are appointed to the rear, the same as to the front.
In the defile, for advanced or rear-guard movements, threes alone afford
the power to occupy the entire width of a lane, road, street, or defile,
with the perfect facility of constant and instant alternation of
retiring and advancing. Without some _central_ wheel, columns or
divisions occupying the width of a road or street, _can not retire_; or
when retiring, cannot show front to the enemy. With reining back and
passing (and they are easily acquired) irregular cavalry might move with
the precision of regular cavalry.

I should say, that the most perfect seat for the manége should be
shortened for the soldier to give him power with his weapons; that the
military rider should take up his stirrups when he goes hunting; the
hunter the same when he rides a race; and for tours de force, I consider
the short stirrup-leather and the broad stirrup-iron of the East
indispensable--they give, in fact, the strength of the standing instead
of the sitting posture. The Cossack retains this standing posture even
at a trot; few Eastern horsemen allow that pace at all, but make their
horses walk, amble, or gallop.

[Sidenote: Medium for common riding.]

The English hunting seat is, in point of length, the medium of those
mentioned; and perhaps that seat, or something between that and the
military seat, is the best adapted to common riding. It unites, in a
greater degree than any other, ease, utility, power, and grace.



Directions to place a lady on her saddle.--Directions to mount at a
   halt.--In movement.--To dismount in movement.--To vault on at a
   halt.--Circus for practising these movements.--To pick a whip from
   the ground.--To face about in the saddle.

[Sidenote: To mount a side-saddle.]

To mount, a lady should place her left hand on the pummel or leaping
horn, the right hand on the off side of the cantle, or as far towards it
as possible, and should seat herself between her two hands; she should
give the left foot, this should be kept precisely under the weight; if
it is given forward (which is the common error) each person is pushed
backward one from the other. This should be practised on any piece of
furniture; the man should use both his hands, and in this way a weak
person may put up the heaviest weight. You may put a man of fifteen
stone on the top of a door with the greatest ease,--try if you can do
this in any other way.

[Sidenote: To mount at a halt.]

[Sidenote: Or in movement.]

To mount, a man should place his left shoulder to his horse’s left
shoulder, so as to look to the horse’s rear; take your whip, reins, and
the mane in the left hand, with the right hand take the lower part of
the stirrup-leather between the fore-finger and thumb, the little finger
on the upper part of the stirrup-iron; take a hop forward facing the
saddle and turning your toe to the horse’s front _without touching his
side_, take the cantle with the right hand and up. If the horse moves
on, he only spares you the previous hop, and by walking or running
backward with him you may mount almost at a gallop. In taking the right
stirrup, avoid touching the horse with the spur, or even pressing him
with the leg. If he has been made shy by such usage, place your left
hand on the pummel, and with the right hand place the stirrup on the
foot, keeping both legs from the horse’s sides.

[Sidenote: To dismount in movement.]

[Sidenote: To vault on or over in movement.]

[Sidenote: To vault on at a halt.]

To dismount in movement, lay the reins on the neck, one or both knotted
short; take the pummel with the left hand the cantle with the right,
pass the right leg over the neck, shift the right hand to the pummel,
and as you descend, the left hand to the flap. With the strength of both
arms throw your feet forward in the direction in which the horse is
going, this may be done at a gallop. If it is wished to vault on again,
while the right hand holds the pummel take the mane with the left, and
without taking a step you may go up or over, the quicker the pace the
easier. It is difficult to jump on to the saddle at a halt, the easiest
way is to take the mane as directed for mounting and to jump from the
left foot, the right hand coming on to the pummel as you descend into
the saddle.

[Sidenote: Circus for practice.]

To practise these movements, form a circus by placing wattle hurdles on
end, leaning outward against the _shores_ or staves; take the stirrups
off, tie a string over the flaps and the horse’s head loosely to this--a
man with a driving whip in the middle. Circus riding, I believe,
originated in England, in the time of our grandfathers; in Germany it is
called “English reiten.”

[Sidenote: To pick a whip from the ground.]

To pick a whip from the ground, take the pummel with the right hand,
place the side of the left foot against the girth, the toe between the
horse’s elbows, bring the back of the right leg on to the top of the
saddle, and let yourself down to the full stretch of your right arm;
this is very easy at the halt, still easier on the move, _if your horse
is quiet_. If you fail, you only dismount on your hands instead of your
feet, which on turf may be done innocuously at a canter.

[Sidenote: To face about in the saddle.]

To face about in the saddle place the palms of the hands on the pummel,
throw your legs out horizontally over the horse’s croupe, turn and come
into the saddle facing to the tail. If M. Cui Bono remarks that the last
two feats are, like others which I might detail, useless, I answer, that
the practice of no feat of activity or strength is useless. Activity and
strength, the unctæ dona palæstræ, form a firm assurance against perils,
not only to your own life but to the lives of others.



Place of the bit in the mouth.--Principle of the bit.--Action of the
   common bit.--Action of the Chifney bit.--The loose eye.--The
   noseband.--The horse’s defence against the bit by the tongue.--Effect
   of the porte against this defence.--Defence by the lip.--Defence by
   the teeth.--Bar of the military and driving bit.--Martingale.--Danger
   does not result from power.

[Sidenote: Place of bit in the mouth.]

To give the bit its most powerful action it should be placed so low as
only just to clear the tusks in a horse’s mouth, and to be one inch
above the corner teeth in a mare’s mouth. The curb-chain should be so
tight as not to admit more than one finger freely between it and the
chin; these rules are simple, and should be attended to by all riders; a
horseman should no more mount with his bit improperly placed, than a
seaman should set sail with his helm out of order.

[Sidenote: Principle of the bit.]

A twitch round the lower jaw, under the tongue, on the _bars_ or parts
of the mouth _bare_ of teeth, is perhaps the most certain, powerful, and
severe instrument to hold a horse with, and it may be tightened till it
becomes a dreadful implement of torture. Next to this is what is called
the dealer’s halter, which is merely a narrow thong of leather in like
manner tied round the lower jaw, under the tongue, but incapable of
being tightened or slackened like the twitch. The bit is a most
ingenious attempt to grasp the lower jaw by the same bare parts, with
the capability of contracting or of perfectly relaxing the grasp, by the
application or withdrawal of the powers of the lever. This is the
intended action of the bit,--the philosopher’s stone,--after which all
bit-projectors and bit-makers have laboured; the obstacles to be
overcome are various and perhaps insuperable, and indeed could the
powers of the lever be employed on such exquisitely sensitive parts as
the bare jaws, when within this iron vice, perhaps no hand could be
found sufficiently delicate to use them. By pressing your finger-nail
against your own gums, you may form some idea of the agony such an
implement would have the power of giving to a horse; anything
approaching to harsh, hard, handling with it would drive him desperate,
and force him to throw himself over backward; the idea of lifting his
weight by such parts grasped with iron is absurd, still more
preposterously barbarous that of arresting the headlong impetus of a
falling horse by them. Fortunately the power of the rider is here very
limited, and the horse defends himself against it by throwing his head
upward and backward, and thus the rider only breaks his horse’s knees
instead of his jaws.

[Sidenote: Action of common bit.]

[Sidenote: Action of a Chifney bit.]

But a common bit placed in the common way never touches the horse’s bars
at all, it is usually placed higher than as directed above, and, as it
pivots on the _eye_ (that part to which the headstall is attached) when
in use, it rises in the horse’s mouth--higher directly as the length of
the _cheek_ (the upper part of the branch or side of the bit) and inside
the mouth it has a mixed action, on the fleshy part of the gums above
the bars, on the lips, and (owing to the narrowness of the porte) on
the tongue. Outside the mouth, the bit acts on the coarse part of the
two jawbones, above the fine part of the chin, where the two jawbones
meet, where the curb-chain was originally placed, and where it should
act; and I consider this sort of upward _grating_ action as calculated
to excite, rather than to restrain a horse. A Chifney bit, as it pivots
on the mouthpiece, avoids this; its action is quite independent of the
headstall, and is precisely on the parts where it is originally placed.

[Sidenote: The loose eye.]

The square-cut eye of the regimental bit greatly impedes its action,
besides cutting the leather of the headstall; to remedy this, about a
quarter of a century ago, I placed on the bit of the 2nd Life Guards
what has since received the name of “the loose eye,” and I am proud to
see it still where I placed it. It was not intended for common bits; the
round eye and the snap hook give them perfect freedom of action. “The
loose eye” has, however, become common on common bits.

[Sidenote: The noseband.]

A noseband prevents the cheek of the bit and of the headstall from
going forward, and so impedes the true action of the bit. To close the
horse’s mouth, in order that a high porte may act against the roof of
the mouth, is a monstrous notion. I had the honour to abolish nosebands
in the 2nd Life Guards.

[Sidenote: Defence against the bit by the tongue.]

[Sidenote: Effect of the porte.]

The horse employs his tongue as a defence against the bit, passively as
a cushion to protect the more tender parts on which the bit is intended
to work, and actively he uses the muscles of the tongue, in resistance
to it: this may be proved by using a straight mouthpiece, or one arched
upward or downward, but without a porte. From under these a horse will
never withdraw his tongue, and he will go with a dead bearing on the
hand, though equal, that is, not more on one side of the mouth than on
the other. Even a very narrow porte, not a quarter the width of the
tongue, will suffice, when pressure is used, to defeat this defence, and
completely to engage the tongue within the porte. But being then much
compressed, it will sustain a great part of the leverage, and the horse
will endeavour still more to make his tongue the fulcrum of the bit,
and to relieve his bars from that office, by protruding his tongue, and
thus forcing the thick part of it within the porte. If the porte is made
wide so as to allow space for the tongue, the corners formed by the
porte and the cannons (those parts between the porte and the branches)
are apt to work injuriously against the bars, and also to slip quite off
them, which makes the action of such bits uncertain, though they are
very effective and severe if the mouthpiece is no wider than the horse’s
mouth. But the mouthpiece which gives complete room for the tongue, and
yet brings the cannons into perfect contact with the bars, is that of
which M. de Solleysell claims the invention, and which he describes as
“à pas d’asne, with the porte gained from the thickness of the heels.”
Let the mouthpiece be in width four inches inside, this I believe, will
be sufficient for most horses, since the part of a horse’s mouth where
the bit should work is narrowest, and the cheeks should consequently be
set outward. Let the entrance to the porte, between the heels be
three-fourths of an inch, and let the porte open laterally to two and a
half inches inside.

[Sidenote: Defence by the lip.]

But when the tongue is perfectly disengaged from the bars by the porte,
the horse will still defend them by drawing his lip in on one side,
interposing it between one bar and one cannon of the bit, and pulling on
one side of his mouth only. It is the common error to attribute this to
nature having formed one bar stronger than the other; but these and
other tricks are not to be looked on as the results of natural defects,
but as habitual defences against the pain caused by a hard, harsh
bearing on the horse’s bars; with a smooth and gentle bearing he will
not take to them, or will discontinue them. For callous bars Xenophon
prescribes gentle friction with oil! and the practice of the Augustan
age of the manége, recommended by Berenger was to amputate that part of
the tongue which a horse protruded or lolled out!

[Sidenote: Defence by the teeth.]

One of the most common defences against the bit is taking the _leg_ (the
lower part of the branch) of the bit with the corner tooth. This is
easily counteracted by a lip-strap. It should fasten _round_ the leg of
the bit, so as to slide up and down, and should be tight enough to be

[Sidenote: Bar of the military and driving bit.]

The reason for the bar at the lower part of a driving bit or a military
bit, is to prevent the horse catching his bit over his neighbour’s
reins. The French cavalry ordonnance, in discussing the merits of this
bar, does not seem to be aware of its origin and meaning.

[Sidenote: Martingale.]

If the theories here laid down are true, it will result that the common
bits are best for the common run of coarse hands, as being less severe,
from their action being divided and on less sensible parts; and also,
that they should be curbed more loosely, and placed higher in the
horse’s mouth, in proportion to the degree of coarseness to be expected
in the rider’s hand. So although a martingale spoils hands, it may be
used as a defence, that is, supposing the necessity of mounting a high,
harsh hand on a susceptible horse. In this case an easy snaffle with a
running martingale will at least counteract the height of the hand, and
the friction will to a certain degree steady and counteract the unequal
bearing on the horse’s mouth. A low smooth hand is the only true
martingale: this will never be acquired as long as an implement is used
which tends to permit harsh, high handling with impunity to the rider.

The snaffle, even of a double bridle, should be sewed to the bridle; it
is safer for leading, and it is only the curb bit which you wish to have
the power of changing. The reins should be thin and supple, they will
last the longer for it; for reins break from being stiff and cracking,
and suppleness of reins is essential to delicacy of hand.

As the collected paces of the parade are not in vogue in England, a
gentleman rarely has occasion for his curb at all, except to train a
horse for a lady, or in the case where a commanding power is required
over a horse who, by bad or cruel handling, has become a puller, or
habitually restive, or whose animal impetuosity or ferocity leads him
to attack his neighbours. In such a case a Chifney bit, with the
mouth-piece described, with half the length of leg, and a third part of
the weight, will be found more effective than a clipper bit; and at the
same time that weight is got rid of, danger is avoided, which, with
branches running far below the horse’s mouth, is very great in going
through living fences or coverts.

With such a bit, so placed, I have seen the taper tips of the most
beautiful fingers in the world constrain the highest-mettled and hottest
thorough-bred horses, and “rule them when they’re wildest.” It is an
implement which will give to the weakest hand the power of the
strongest, which most of the strongest hands cannot be trusted to wield,
and which, if ladies’ hands are light, equal, and smooth, will give them
the power of riding horses such as few men might venture to mount.

[Sidenote: Danger does not result from power.]

Provided the indications from the hand are true and gentle, no danger
to the rider nor resistance from the horse will result from power, but
on the contrary, safety to the rider and obedience from the horse. This
is the only mode of accounting for the fact that there are thousands of
hands which perform to admiration in driving, with the most severe bits,
but which are quite unfit to be trusted in riding with anything but a
snaffle bridle; for, in driving, the terret-pad prevents false
indications on the bit, therefore to ensure true ones being given, two
hands are used, or when one only, two fingers are placed between the
reins instead of the fourth finger only, consequently the horse obeys
the slightest touch, and consequently his mouth and the driver’s hand
become mutually more light; but put the driver and driven together, as
rider and ridden, with the same bit, the reins in one hand, and the
fourth finger only between them, and what will follow? The rider gives a
wrong indication; the horse turns the wrong way, or stops; the rider
insists, and applies force; the horse rears; one or both fall
backwards; the blame is laid on the severity of the bit, instead of the
wrong application of it, and the brute force of the rider.

And observe, that it is power which I advocate, and not force; “’Tis
well to have the giant’s strength, but tyrannous to use it like a



A side-saddle should have no right-hand pummel.--The leaping
   avoid riding on the buckles of the girths.

[Sidenote: No right-hand pummel.]

[Sidenote: Leaping horn.]

A side-saddle should have no right-hand pummel; it is useless to the
seat, and impedes the working of the right hand on the reins. The
appearance when mounted is infinitely improved by the absence of it. The
saddle should have what is called a third pummel, or leaping-horn. In
case of any unusual motion of the horse, such as leaping, an ebullition
of gaiety, or violence from any other cause, by pressing upwards with
the front part above the left knee, and downwards with the back part
above the right knee, a wonderfully strong grasp is obtained, much
stronger than the grasp obtained by the mode in which men ride. This
will be quite clear to you if, when sitting in your chair, you press
your two knees together, and afterwards, by crossing them over, press
them, one down and the other up. Besides this, when a man clasps his
horse, however firmly it fixes the clasping parts, it has a tendency to
raise the seat from the saddle. This is not the case with the clasp
obtained in a side-saddle; and, for a tour de force, I find I am much
stronger in a side-saddle than in my own. There is no danger in this
third pummel, since there is not the danger of being thrown on it; more
than this, it renders it next to impossible that the rider should be
thrown against or upon the other pummels. In the case of the horse
_bucking_, without the leaping-horn, there is nothing to prevent the
lady from being thrown up; the right knee is thus disengaged from the
pummel, and all hold lost. The leaping-horn prevents the left knee from
being thrown up, and from that fulcrum great force may be employed to
keep the right knee down in its proper place. If the horse, in violent
action, throws himself suddenly to the left, the upper part of the
rider’s body will tend downwards to the right, the lower limbs upwards
to the left. Nothing can counteract this but the bearing afforded by the
leaping-horn. This tendency to over-balance to the right causes so many
ladies to guard themselves against it by hanging off their saddles to
the left. The leaping-horn is also of infinite use with a hard puller,
or in riding down steep places; without it, in either case, there is
nothing to prevent the lady from sliding forward. It has also the
advantage that, should one rider like it, and another not, it is easily
screwed on or taken off.

[Sidenote: Surcingle.]

[Sidenote: Stirrup leather.]

[Sidenote: Stirrup-iron.]

The saddle should be kept in its place by the elastic webbing girths,
and not, as the common error is--probably from the facility of
tightening it--by the hard, unyielding, leather surcingle. The use of
this surcingle is to prevent the small flap on the off side from turning
up, and the large flap on the off side from being blown about with wind;
and it should not be drawn tighter than is sufficient for these
purposes. The part coming from the near side should not be attached, as
at present, to the small flap, but to the lower part of the large flap
on the near side. This will leave the small flap on the near side loose,
as in a man’s saddle, _and will allow liberty for the use of the spring
bar_. It will also lessen the friction against the habit and leg, by
rendering the side of the saddle perfectly smooth, except the
stirrup-leather. To lessen the friction from that I recommend a single
thin strap, as broad as a man’s stirrup-leather, instead of the present
double, narrow, thick one. Of three sorts of single stirrup-leathers the
smoothest is with a loop to go over the spring-bar, and with an
adjusting buckle just above the stirrup-iron: or the strap may take off
and on the iron by a slip loop, and passing over the spring-bar as
usual, be fastened, and its length adjusted, by a _loose_ buckle, which,
though it is only attached to the strap by the tongue, is perfectly
secure. For hunting I always use a single strap, sewn to the iron, with
a =D= above the knee, and with a double strap and buckle between the =D=
and the spring-bar. The lady’s stirrup-leather, which passes under the
horse’s body, and is fixed to the off side of the side-saddle, is
supposed to prevent the saddle from turning round. This is a mechanical
error. But the great objection to this sort of stirrup-leather is, that
it cannot with safety be used with the spring-bar; for when off the bar
it remains attached to the saddle, and acts as a scourge to the horse. I
once saw a frightful instance of this. The lady’s stirrup-iron should be
in all respects the same as a man’s, and, to make assurance doubly sure,
it should open at the side with a spring. This might be useful in case
of a fall on the off side, when the action of the spring-bar of the
saddle might be impeded. But if the stirrup is large and heavy, it is
next to impossible that the foot should be caught by it. It is the
common error to suppose that persons are dragged owing to the stirrup
being too large and the foot passing through it, but the reason is its
being too small and light, it then sticks to the foot and clasps it by
the pressure of the upper part of the stirrup above the foot, and the
lower part on the sole of the foot.

[Sidenote: Girthing.]

A side-saddle should be girthed very tightly, since a lady sits only by
the saddle. The girths should always be felt _after_ the weight of the
rider is in the saddle. The girths of a man’s saddle should never be
tight. The inner girth only should loosely hold the saddle; the outer
girth is merely a safety girth, in case of the inner one giving. This is
of consequence for the horse’s breathing in galloping, since his ribs
must expand every time he inhales, or draws breath.

[Sidenote: To avoid buckles of girths.]

I think that one holder on each side of a man’s saddle should be placed
as far forward, and one on each side as far backward, as possible
without showing beyond the outside stirrup flap. This separates the
buckles of the girths, and makes a smooth flat bearing for the thigh of
the rider. The girths must cross from the front holder on one side to
the back holder on the other; or they may be passed through a loose loop
below to prevent their separating. The double-stirrup leather and the
riding exactly on the buckles of the girths, are great abominations. I
go farther in this way myself, and cut off the inside girth flap
immediately below the tree of the saddle. It is wholly unnecessary when
the buckles of the girths are removed from under the weight of the
rider. The absence of this inner girth-flap gives a much firmer, and to
me a much pleasanter, seat; while to the horse the saddle is much
cooler, and a little lighter. If, on trial, this is not liked, the
girth-flap is easily sewed on again, or the holders are still more
easily replaced. It is very rash to recommend even the smallest possible
change which one has not tested well; and I have never tried dividing
the girth buckles with the side-saddle. But I should think that if they
were divided on the near side only, with a loop to keep the girths
together below, it might be an improvement.



The short rein should be used when one hand is occupied.--Its use to a
   soldier.--Its use with the restive horse.--It should not be used in
   hunting, or in swimming a horse.--Objection to it for common
   riding.--Used by postilion.--Short rein of the Eastern horseman.

[Sidenote: Should be used when one hand is occupied.]

If you have anything to carry which entirely occupies one hand, and
which occasionally may require both, such as an umbrella in wind, or an
over-fresh horse to lead at a quick pace, tie up one or both reins; it
obviates the possibility of a horse, wild with his head, drawing the
reins through the hand, and consequently the necessity of using both
hands to shorten them. At the same time, being held with the breadth of
the whole hand, at the centre, distinct single-handed indications can be
given on the reins.

[Sidenote: Its use to a soldier.]

[Sidenote: Its use with the restive horse.]

A soldier should go to single combat with one of his reins in this way.
To have to use his sword hand to shorten his reins may make the
difference of life or death to him. In the case of his adversary gaining
his left rear, by dropping the reins the sword is instantly shifted to
the left hand, and the short rein is instantly grasped with the right
hand at the proper length. As the soldier is only trained to use his
sword with his right hand (this might be remedied by my sword exercise),
it is not likely that his left hand should be a match for his
adversary’s right, but he will at least be able to keep his adversary at
a distance by striking or pointing at his horse’s head. This would be a
hopeless affair with the right hand, particularly for a cuirassier. To
be able to present a pistol to the rear with the left hand would be
invaluable in such a case. The power to drop and instantly resume the
short rein also allows two hands to be occasionally used to the lance or
carbine; a skirmisher therefore should have one rein tied up. A pulling
horse may be ridden with one or both reins tied, also a restive horse;
his usual mode of resistance is running back and rearing, because from
fear of his falling backward chastisement usually ceases then. In such
a case quit the reins, lay hold of the mane with both hands, ply both
spurs, even while the horse is on his hind legs, and the moment he flies
from them, the reins are seized in the mode to be used most powerfully
without requiring any adjustment. If the horse will not answer the spur,
with the left hand hold the mane, and with the right ply the whip under
the flank even when he is on his hind legs.

[Sidenote: Should not be used in hunting, or swimming a horse.]

The reins should never be tied in hunting, or in swimming a horse,
since, by catching across the neck, they act like a bearing rein, and
oblige the horse to carry his head up and his nose in. In hunting this
would bring his hind legs on his fences, and oblige him to leap from the
top of his banks and _to land all fours_, instead of extending himself
and letting himself down gently. In swimming it obliges him to keep his
whole head and neck out of water; I very nearly drowned a horse in this
way in the Serpentine.

[Sidenote: Objection for common riding.]

[Sidenote: Short rein of the East.]

[Sidenote: Used by postilion.]

For common riding the objection is that you cannot lengthen or shorten
the rein; therefore, to give more liberty, or to shorten the rein, the
hand must go from or to the body. If, therefore, the reins are tied so
that the hands should be at a convenient distance from the body when the
horse is collected, they would be at a very inconvenient distance when
he is extended. To remedy this, in the East, where the short rein is
very universal, the double part of the bridle is prolonged by a single
strap; this strap is used as a whip, and hence the whip of the Hussar
attached to the reins; hence, also, as I imagine, the Austrian driving
rein described page 54. When fossil remains of the extinct postboy shall
be discovered, it will be seen that he used the short rein, and with
great propriety; since his horse may be said to have been always “au
trot,” and needed only one degree of collection.



Colt-breaking is the best possible lesson for the rider.--The
   head-stall.--The snaffle.--Longeing.--Saddling.--Mounting.--Sermon to
   the colt-breaker.--The noblest horse resists the most.--The horse has
   a natural _right_ to resist.--The colt wants no suppling.--He wants
   to be taught the meaning of your indications.--And to be brought to
   obey them.--The leaping-bar.--Fetch and carry.

[Sidenote: Colt-breaking the best lesson for riding.]

The very best lesson for a horseman, young or old, is colt-breaking; and
if in the attempt the _young_ horseman fails to do the colt justice, he
will at least do him less injury than the country colt-breaker, or the
generality of grooms.

I shall detail the plan of an _old_ horseman; though, perchance, its
want of “dresses, scenery, and decoration” may offend, my chief
implements being a stick, some string, and some carrots.

I have always said that the colt is half broken when he will come to
your whistle or call in the field, and eat carrots out of your hand; and
that he is quite broken when you have got the head-stall on him.

[Sidenote: The head-stall.]

The colt _should_ wear a head-stall from the earliest days, and be held
by the head while he is rubbed and caressed. If this has been neglected,
get him into a loose box; take the front off the head-stall, described
page 125. Do not (as is the common error in this and in bridling) face
the colt, and hold out the head-stall with both hands, as if you
_wished_ to frighten him; but keep the head-stall in your left hand,
caress the colt with your right hand, and, with your right shoulder to
his left shoulder, pass the right hand under his jaws on to the front
part of his head. Bring the left hand up to the right, and, with a hand
on each cheek-strap, pass the top over the ears on to the neck, _if you
can_. Fasten the throat-lash tight enough to prevent its being rubbed
over the ears. Tie a piece of cord, a yard long, to the off side, D, of
the head-stall; pass the cord through the near side, D. Accustom the
colt to see and to be held by this. It is very powerful, as it forms a
slip knot round his nose, and prevents his pulling with the top of his
head; and it keeps the two cheek-straps back, which otherwise might
injure the colt’s eyes. When he is used to the short cord, tie a long
knotted cord to it. Use gloves when you first take the colt out, and
place yourself so that if he bolts you may pull him sideways gradually
into a circle.

[Sidenote: The snaffle.]

To get him to lead, place him between you and a fence; keep abreast of
his shoulder, and show the stick towards his croupe. When he is
subjected to the cord, take a snaffle-bit with a piece of string to each
eye (what is called a =T= is best), tie it to the off side, D, hold the
nose-band with the right hand, take the snaffle with the left, induce
him to open his mouth by passing the thumb between his lips on to the
_bars_ (part _bare_ of teeth), place the snaffle in his mouth, and tie
it to the near side, D. If you have any difficulty, a long string may be
used to the near side of the snaffle, and passed through the D. If the
colt runs back you still hold him with the snaffle under the jaws. When
bridled tie a piece of string from eye to eye of the snaffle, so as to
hang under the chin; fasten the long cord to this and lead him by it,
and use him to be held by this chin-strap. By the common method, he is
never held by the mouth till he is mounted.

Next tie a piece of cord round his girthing place, the two ends on the
ridge of his back. Make a rein of string and tie it with these ends just
tight enough to prevent the colt grazing; you may then pick grass and
give it to him, whistling at the same time. He will soon follow you
loose, play by your side, leap fences, and come to your whistle like a

To accustom the colt to be tied by the head, pass the long cord over a
gate, and slacken and tighten as may be required.

Ask leave of the colt to hang your tackle in his hovel; or if he lives
in a field, lay it in the hedge to be ready whenever you can spare time
“to go for a walk” with him.

For these lessons, and as far as possible for all lessons, the law
should be dulcia sunto; but after teaching your child its alphabet in
ginger-bread, the time must come when he must go to school.

[Sidenote: Longeing.]

The simplest act of obedience is longeing. In longeing you should walk a
circle inside the colt’s circle. The long stick should be constantly
held up towards his croupe, to keep him on, but ready to be shown
towards his head to keep him out. When you stop, and lower the stick,
the colt comes in for a piece of carrot. The long cord should never be
tight. If the colt’s head is pulled in and his croupe driven out of the
circle, mental sulks and muscular mischief must ensue. Nothing so surely
generates spavins, curbs, and thorough-pins. When skilful, you may make
the colt change without stopping, or longe a figure of =8=. This may be
done, even without the long cord, by the centripetal force of carrots
and the centrifugal force of the stick. When this is done in the open
field it looks like mesmerism or magic. When in this way you have made
the colt thoroughly to love, honour, and obey you, the saddling,
mounting, and riding, follow almost of course.

[Sidenote: Saddling.]

[Sidenote: Mounting.]

Without stirrups, and with only one girth turned over the seat, place
the pummel of the saddle on your right shoulder, and your right hand
under its cantle, caress the colt with your left hand, and do not
attempt to put the saddle on him till your left shoulder touches his.
When girthed tie the string surcingle over the saddle; besides holding
the reins, it now prevents the flaps flying up. When used to this, use
him to the stirrups. Mount in a loose box with three girths, the head
tied loosely to the saddle and a second snaffle bridle. Fill your
pockets with tares or hay and feed him from his back. Out of doors mount
while the colt is browsing a hedge. Quiet riding must do the rest, the
main thing to keep the colt straight on, or to turn him, being the stick
shown instantly on either side by the turn of the wrist.

Thus far the _practice_ of colt-breaking; and in this way the colt will
be very easily _tackled_: I do not expect so easily to tackle his rider,
but I will try.

[Sidenote: Sermon to the colt-breaker.]

[Sidenote: The noblest horse resists the most.]

[Sidenote: Has a _right_ to resist.]

As Lord Pembroke remarks in his admirable treatise, his hand is the best
who gets his horse to do what he wishes with the least force, whose
indications are so clear that his horse cannot mistake them, and whose
gentleness and fearlessness alike induce obedience to them. The noblest
animal will obey such a rider, as surely as he will disregard the
poltroon, or rebel against the savage. I say the noblest, because it is
ever the noblest among them which rebel the most. For the dominion of
man over the horse is an usurped dominion. And in riding a colt, or a
restive horse, we should never forget that he has by nature the _right_
to resist; and that, _at least, as far as he can judge_, we have not
the right to insist.

When the stag is taken in the toils, the hunter feels neither surprise
nor anger at his struggles and alarm; and indeed he would be very
unreasonable were he to chastise the poor animal on account of them. But
there is no more reason in nature why a horse should submit, without
resistance, to be ridden, than the stag to be slain--why the horse
should give up his liberty to us, than the stag his life. In both cases
our “wish is father to the deed.” And if our arrogance insinuates that a
bountiful Nature created these animals simply for our service, assuredly
bountiful Nature left them in ignorance of the fact. And it is to the
sportsman and the colt-breaker that we must apply, if we wish to know
whose victims are the most willing. Not to the cockney casuist, whose
knowledge of the stag is confined to his venison, and who never trusts
himself on the horse till it has been “long trained, in shackles, to
procession pace.” If he did, he would find that the unfettered
four-year-old shows precisely the same alarm and resistance to the
halter as the stag does to the toils; and in breaking horses, the thing
to be aimed at, next to the power of indicating our wishes, is the power
of winning obedience to those wishes. These, and these only, are the two
things to be aimed at, from the putting the first halter on the colt, to
his performance of the pirouette renversée au galop--which is perhaps
the most perfect trial and triumph of the most exquisitely finished
horsemanship, and in which the horse must exert every faculty of his
mind to discover, and every muscle of his body to execute, the wishes of
his rider.

[Sidenote: The colt needs no suppling.]

[Sidenote: He wants to know your meaning.]

[Sidenote: And that he must obey.]

It is a vulgar error--an abuse of terms--the mere jargon of jockeyship,
to say that the horse needs _suppling_ to perform this, or any other air
of the manége, or anything else that man can make him do; all that he
wants is to be made acquainted with the wishes of his rider, and
inspired with the desire to execute them. For example, among the
innumerable antics which I have seen fresh young troopers go through,
when being led to and from the farrier’s shop, I have seen them perform
this very air, the pirouette renversée au galop to the right, round the
man who leads them; I have seen them perform the figure perfectly, with
the exception that, instead of the right nostril leading, the head and
neck have been straight on the diameter of the circle. At the same time
détacher l’aiguillette, and mingle courbettes, ballotades, and even
cabrioles with it,--combinations which La Broue, the Duke of Newcastle,
De la Guerinière, or Pellier would scarcely dream of. This a horse will
do in the gaiety of his heart, and without requiring any suppling; take
the same horse into the school, follow him with the whip, and try to
_make_ him do it, he will think you a most unreasonable person; he will
by no means be able to discover your meaning, and will, if you press
him, finish by being exceedingly sulky. Mount him, and try to indicate
your wishes to him through the medium of your hands, legs, and whip, or
if you prefer the terms, to give him their _aid_ and _support_. I will
venture to say that you will be nearer two years than one, before you
can get him to do what he has not only done but done for his own
delight. In the mean time, if during his two years of _suppling_ you
have never given him a false indication or ever forced him, he will be
no more stiff than when he first began to be _suppled_. But if, as a
million riders out of a million and one would have done, you have been
in the constant habit of doing both, the horse will long ago have become
as stiff as a piece of wood. Is it to be supposed that the best suppled
manége horse is more supple than the colt at the foot of his dam? Can
any one who has watched his pranks think so? How often have I been told
by a rider to observe how supple his horse’s neck had become! That he
could now get his horse’s head round to his knee, whereas he could not
at first accomplish more than to see his horse’s eye. If the same horse,
loose, wished to scratch his shoulder or his ribs, would he not
forthwith do it with his teeth?

When a cabriolet or cart is turned in a narrow street or road, the horse
is forced to make half a pirouette, without any questions being asked as
to his capabilities or suppleness; and the rein being pulled strongest
on one side, the whip applied on the other, the shafts to prevent his
turning short, and with evident reason why he cannot go a-head, he sees
what is required, and does it without difficulty; but the same horse
will not do the same mounted, in the middle of a grass-field, with
nothing but his rider’s _aids_ to bias him, or to indicate what is
required of him. Why? either because he can’t understand your _aids_, or
you can’t enforce obedience to them: these will be the reasons, not his
want of suppleness.

The great thing in horsemanship is to get your horse to be of your
party--not only to obey, but to obey willingly. For this reason a young
horse cannot be begun with too early, and his lessons cannot be too
gradually progressive. The great use of longeing is, not that it supples
your horse--it is a farce to suppose that--but that, next to leading, it
is the easiest act of obedience which you can exact from him. In this
way it is an admirable lesson.

[Sidenote: The leaping-bar.]

Placing the colt between the pillars of the stall is admirable as a
lesson of submission and obedience; by degrees he may be even cleaned
there. The brush acts as the urging indication; the reins inform him
that he is not to advance; the result is that he collects himself to
the bit. Here, then, the common theory would make him to be taken up and
collected, not between the hands and legs, not “dans la main et dans les
talons,” but dans the sides of the stall and dans the horse brush. It is
precisely the same as putting the horse between the pillars in a manége,
which is an admirable explanatory practice to a horse. With the whip in
skilful hands, the sides of the stall give infinite advantage over the
pillars in the manége; both teach the horse the same lesson, namely,
that when urged up to the bit--that is, when urged and retained at the
same time--these contradictory indications mean that he is required to
collect himself. Anything which facilitates the understanding of this
bit of information is of infinite value; for the colt, like the satyr in
the fable, is apt to kick against this blowing hot and blowing cold at
the same time. Mount the colt, and try these opposite indications; he
will do anything but obey them, anything but collect himself. If you
insist, he will resist. He will end in overt acts of rebellion, or at
least in dogged sulks; and that from not understanding, or not choosing
to obey your _aids_, not from want of suppleness. Let art supple the
temper and understanding of the colt, and leave nature to supple his
limbs. By holding the colt’s head against a wall by the chin-strap, he
may be made to pass sideways to either hand by showing him the whip. He
should also be taught to rein back; this is best done in a narrow
gangway. The leaping-bar is a good exercise of obedience. The bar itself
should be only six feet long; the posts which support it should be four
feet six inches high; the side-rails thirty feet in length, and they
should slope down to three feet; they should rest on the tops of the
posts, and be flush with them, and perfectly smooth, so that the long
cord may pass freely over them without catching. The colt should walk
half way up the gangway, thence a slow trot. Pass the reins of the
snaffle through the left eye of the snaffle, and fasten the long cord to
them. Hold the right rein close to where it passes through the eye, it
will clasp the lower jaw like a slip-knot and give you great power. All
over-fresh horses should be led in this way; without it a horse will
pull with the top of his head with force sufficient to beat any man.
Keep the bar low, or even on the ground, as long as the horse is

The whole affair of colt-breaking is an affair of patience, you cannot
have too much forbearance: put off the evil day of force. Forgive him
seventy times seven times a-day, and be assured that what does not come
to-day will to-morrow. The grand thing is to get rid of dogged sulks and
coltishness; of that wayward, swerving, hesitating gait, which says,
“here’s my foot, and there’s my foot;” or, “there is a lion in the
street, I cannot go forth.” This is the besetting sin of colts; and this
it is which, on the turf, gives so great an advantage to a young horse
to have another to _make play_, or _cut out the running_ for him. For
this indisposition to go freely forward results as well from their
seeing no necessity to give up their will to yours, as from their
incapacity to perceive and obey the indications of their rider without
swerving, shifting the leg, &c., and additional labour to themselves.
All this is spared to the young horse by the follow-my-leader system.

Everything should be resorted to to avoid alarm on the colt’s side and
force on the man’s, and gradually to induce familiarity and cheerful
obedience--to reconcile him to the melancholy change from gregarious
liberty to a solitary stall and a state of slavery. I should say that he
is the best colt-breaker who soonest inspires him with the animus
eundi--who soonest gets him to go freely straight forward--who soonest,
and with least force, gets the colt without company five miles along the
road from home. Violence never did this yet; but violence increases his
reluctance, and makes it last ten times longer. Indeed, it causes the
colt to stiffen and defend himself, and this never is got rid of. It is
true that by force you may make him your sullen slave, but that is not
the object; the object is to make him your willing subject. Above all
things, do not be perpetually playing the wolf to him; deal in rewards
where it is possible, and in punishment only where it cannot be
avoided. Be assured that the system will _answer_.

    Crede mihi, res est ingeniosa _dare_.

It is, no doubt, our duty to create the happiness and to prevent the
misery of every living thing; but with our horse this is also a matter
of _policy_. The colt should be caressed, rubbed, and spoken to kindly.
He should be fed from the hand with anything he may fancy, such as
carrot, or apple, or sugar, and be made to come for it when whistled to
or called by name.

    “Quis expedivit Psittaco suum χαιρε?...

[Sidenote: Fetch and carry.]

On an unlittered part of the stable, with the horse loose, throw pieces
of carrot on the floor; he will learn to watch your hand like a dog.
Then tie a piece of carrot to a piece of stick. When he lifts this push
a piece of carrot between his lips where there are no teeth, and take
the stick from his mouth. He will soon learn to pick up your stick,
whip, glove, or handkerchief, and to bring it in exchange for the
reward; or when mounted, will put his head back to place it in your

Stand on the outside of a door which opens towards you. Show the horse
carrots through the opening: he will push the door open to get the
carrot. By always repeating the word “door,” he will soon open or shut a
door at command, or a gate, even when mounted.

These may be “foolish things to all the wise,” but nothing is useless
which familiarises the horse, which increases the confidence and
intimacy between him and his rider, or which teaches him to look to man
for the indications of his will, and to obey them, whether from fear,
interest, or attachment.



Condition depends on food, work, and warmth.--So does the difference
   between the _breeds_ of horses.--The terseness of the Arab is the
   result of hard food.--So is that of our thorough-bred
   horse.--Different _breeds_ result from different natural
   conditions.--Crossing is only necessary where natural conditions are
   against you.--We do not attend enough to warmth.--We should get fine
   winter coats by warmth instead of singeing.--No fear of cold from
   fine coats.--The foot should be stopped with clay.--The sore
   ridge.--Stable breastplate.--The head-stall.--Never physic, bleed,
   blister, or fire.--Food for condition.--Rest for strains.--Nature for
   wounds.--Miles for shoeing.--The horse should have water always by
   him.--And should stand loose.--No galloping on hard ground, either by
   master or man.--He who cripples the horse kills him.

[Sidenote: Condition depends on food, work, warmth.]

For perfect health and condition three things are necessary, good food,
work, warmth. For appearance a fourth may be added, cleaning. To suppose
cleaning necessary for health is nonsense. Do you clean your sheep?--the
stags in your park?--or the horses young and old in the breeding stud?
But, speaking liberally, a horse which is not worked cannot be clean and
a horse which is worked and clothed cannot be dirty. A horse cannot be
clothed too heavily summer or winter short of perspiring.

[Sidenote: So does the difference between breeds of horses.]

But it is not only that the present passing condition of the horse
depends solely on food, work, and warmth, but the permanent structure
and stature of the horse depend on them; that is, the difference between
what are called different _breeds_ of horses depends solely on these
three things.

[Sidenote: The Arab the result of hard food.]

The Arab has a legend that his horse came from the stable of King
Solomon. From the book of Kings it appears that Solomon was a great
horse dealer. He imported them largely from Egypt, and he supplied
certain kings with them. The merchandise which he received from Arabia
is enumerated, and though it is not stated that he supplied horses in
part payment for this merchandise, it is not improbable that he did so.
Speaking liberally, in Arabia the sole food of the horse is barley and
straw; and the terseness of structure of the Arab may be said to be the
result of three thousand years of hard food, if we reckon only from the
_modern_ horse-keeper King Solomon. Fuerant autem in Egypto semper
præstantissimi equi. And, shades of Bunsen! how many thousand years of
hard food shall we add to the account for our horses’ Egyptian ancestry?
Moses and Miriam sang their dirge on the shore of the Red Sea, in the
reign of a _mediæval_ Pharaoh, but their “early progenitors,” as Mr.
Darwin would phrase it, might have enjoyed the barley of the _ancient_
King Menes. To hard food we must add early work, for the Arab is worked
at two years old.

[Sidenote: So is our thorough-bred horse.]

Our thorough-bred horse, the descendant of the Arab, has been bred under
the same natural conditions somewhat improved; that is, he has had
_better_ hard food in unlimited quantity, he is earlier trained, the
goodness of both sire and dam are proved to an ounce, and performance
only is bred from. What is the consequence? In Evelyn’s days Arabs and
barbs raced at Newmarket. In later days, in the give and take plates
there, winners are recorded of thirteen hands high, and the size of a
stud horse of fourteen hands was advertised. Now, if a horse is under
sixteen hands his size is not mentioned, and all the world is our
customer at £5000 or £6000 a horse. And if more people had the skill to
ride him, the merits of the thorough-bred horse as a hunter would be
better known; though, indeed, under any circumstances, it is but the
sweepings of the training stable which descends to the hunting field or
private life.

[Sidenote: All _breeds_ result from natural conditions.]

The first axiom of the breeder is--est in equis patrum virtus--“Like
produces like.” But the second axiom is, “The goodness of the horse goes
in at his mouth.” The moral is, that like produces like only under like
natural conditions. Turn out all the winners of the last ten years to
breed on Dartmoor or in Shetland; what would be the betting about a colt
or a filly so bred for the Derby or Oaks? The qualities of the
race-horse--the accumulation of thousands of years--are lost in the
first generation. Continue to breed him under these conditions, and the
finest horse in the world, or that the world ever saw, becomes a
Dartmoor or Shetland pony, worth £5 instead of £5000. Such are the
changes worked by natural conditions; though with Mr. Darwin they count
for nothing, or for next to nothing.

In the permanent fat pastures of the temperate and insular climes, the
horse is built up to eighteen hands high, with a width and weight
infinitely more than proportionate to his height, if we compare him to
the southern horse. In the arid south, by no contrivance of man or
“natural selection” can a horse of _weight_ be produced; though you may
breed the terse horse of the south in the north by keeping him on terse

[Sidenote: Crossing not necessary.]

Crossing is only good where you wish to breed animals against natural
conditions, as heavy horses on terse food, or Leicester sheep on the
downs, or small Alderney cows on rich pastures. Then, the more the breed
is crossed by animals bred under favourable natural conditions the
better. No horse is so bred in-and-in as our thorough-bred horse and
the Arab, and, of course, all _pure_ breeds must be bred in-and-in.

[Sidenote: We do not attend enough to warmth.]

The above effects of food and work are evident and well understood. But
we do not sufficiently attend to warmth. We see that if the
finest-coated Arab or thorough-bred horse is turned out year after year,
he will get a winter coat as thick as a Shetland pony. But besides this,
nature thickens his skin; the hide of the southern horse sells higher
than that of the northern horse, because it is thinner. Change the skin
of a horse for that of a rhinoceros, will he race or hunt as well?

[Sidenote: Warmth instead of singeing.]

Mr. Darwin does not seem to be aware that the horse changes his coat! or
that there is any difference between his summer and winter coat! or that
the new coat of the same individual comes thick directly he is exposed
to cold. Fine winter coats should be got by clothing and warmth, not by
singeing and cold. Starvation itself is not more terrible than cold.
Nature comes to the rescue of the out-door horse, but frightful
enormities result from singeing horses in the winter, and leaving them
to shiver in the stall inadequately clothed, to say nothing of the
frightful figures which result.

[Sidenote: No fear of cold from fine coats.]

Fear not your horse suffering from cold because he is stripped to work.
Do not labourers strip to work? If a horse had a coat thick enough to
keep him warm when at rest in winter, he could not hunt in this without
being sweated to death any more than he could with four or five blankets
on him.

[Sidenote: Stop foot with clay.]

Fire and water are equally disastrous to the horse’s skin. Allow neither
singeing nor washing above the hoof, and even this only for
_appearance_. For there is no more reason for washing the horse’s foot
when he is kept in a stable, than there is when he is kept in a paddock.
But there are good reasons for keeping his foot full of dirt in the form
of clay in the stable. Without it he fills his foot with the contents of
the stall, which the shoe holds there. Now, which is worst for the foot,
dirt or dung? Nothing can be more injurious to the frog than this.

But, alas! all is right, even with the master, provided that there is
not a speck on the _outside_ insensible horn; and perhaps that is oiled
and blacked (!) when the horse is brought out, while _inside_, the soft
frog is left night and day soaked and saturated with the most frightful
horrors. Hence the most fetid thrushes, and hence the contracted heel;
for the contracted heel is the consequence, not the cause of the rotted

The clay should not be mixed up with any of the horrors which grooms are
so fond of. Besides defending the frog from the highly injurious juices
of the stall this gives a _natural_ support to the interior of the foot
which the _artificial_ shoe deprives it of.

[Sidenote: The sore ridge.]

Every joint of the backbone or spinal bone is surmounted by a _spine_.
These are sharp and topped with gristle, and will not support weight,
still less attrition. Hence the necessity of the wooden _tree_ of a
saddle, and even of a terret-pad to bridge the _ridge_. The old plan of
fastening the horse’s clothing, taken from the Persians, was by
_rolling_ a long strip loosely round and round him; hence our name of
_roller_ for the stable surcingle. This avoided injury to the ridge:
the objection is the trouble. The bridge or _channel_ of our roller is
_never_ effective, and _every_ stabled horse has a _sore ridge_. This is
a great calamity to him as well as to his master.

The play of the ribs in breathing saws the sore; he is disinclined to
lie down because the roller is tightened by this position. The groom
puts his hand towards the ridge; the ears go back and a leg is lifted.
The horse gets a kick in the stomach or a blow with the fist, and
becomes shy in the stall as well as vicious. In cleaning him underneath,
the groom rests his hand on the sore ridge and the horse dashes his
teeth against the wall, and lashes out from pain; he becomes shy to
saddle, shy to girth, shy to mount, and he hogs his back, and perhaps
plunges when you are up.

[Sidenote: Stable breastplate.]

I have used two remedies; first, a more efficient bridge. Let the pads
of the channel be deep and _steep_ towards each other and die off on the
side from each other, set them wide apart and have the channel clear.
The common error is to stuff the channel, which increases the evil.
Next a loose roller, but this involves the necessity of a breast-girth
to prevent the roller going back under the flank. If the breast-girth is
loose it falls below the breast and is burst by the legs of the horse in
getting up. If it is tight it pulls the roller on to the rise of the
withers. I have used, and I recommend a breastplate on the principle of
a hunting breastplate. The bearing should be only from the top of the
neck to the lower part of the roller; a long upper strap to prevent it
falling forward when the head is down, should take off and on the
channel by a slip loop. The lower strap is also taken off and on the
roller with a slip loop. The breast-piece buckles or ties on the near
shoulder. When taken off, it pulls out of the lower strap, and remains
attached to the channel by the upper strap; the lower strap remains
attached to the lower part of the roller.

I wish my pupil would make a model with my favourite bit of string, and
then call the saddler to his aid. He may have it of scarlet, if he is
fond of ornament, of webbing bis Afro murice tincta, or of scarlet and
gold if he likes.

The roller must keep the cloths forward; if they are fastened tight
across the chest, the horse bursts them in getting up or in putting his
head down.

[Sidenote: The head-stall.]

The head-stall should have a buckle on each cheek-strap; the throat-lash
should be sewed to the top, and should have a buckle on each side. If
the horse slips his head-stall, take the throat-lash out of the front,
and you may buckle it almost as tight as a neck-strap, which is the
safest of all fastenings. The objection is that, when a horse has to
raise heavy logs in the stall for each mouthful of hay, the strap wears
his mane. For this reason a front is used to the head-stall; it however
then wears the horse’s head, and is the origin of what is called
pole-evil; the bone of the nose is often worn through by the nose-band,
forming abscesses _inside_ the nostrils. Small horses and ponies are
particularly liable to this, in getting their hay from high racks. These
are reasons for horses standing loose where this is possible. A quarter
of a century ago I had the honour to arrange the head-stalls of the 2nd
Life Guards as above, and I am proud to see them still in use.

[Sidenote: Never physic, blister, or fire.]

On no occasion and on no persuasion give your horse physic, or bleed
him, or blister him, or fire him, or let the blacksmith have anything to
do with any part of him which is more sensible than the callous crust of
his hoof.

[Sidenote: Food for condition. Rest for strains. Nature for wounds.]

Condition depends on food, not physic. Rest is the cure for sprains and
strains. Nature cures wounds unless prevented by _art_. Nature stops the
bleeding by the glue of the blood coagulating about the wound;
_staunching_ with cloths wipes this off and promotes the bleeding. Lint
assists, but when Nature has formed a plaister over a wound it should
not be interfered with or _washed_; leave it to come off of itself.
Where great discharge ensues wash it off _sound_ parts, and grease them
to prevent the skin coming off. Don’t believe in what is called “_proud
flesh_.” The granulations of new flesh are always called so, and burnt
off as fast as they grow by corrosive sublimate or “oils as’ll cut a
broomstick in two.”

[Sidenote: Miles for shoeing.]

As a brother officer of the 2nd Life Guards has published a perfect book
on shoeing, and as he did me the honour to dedicate it to me, I have
only to say that on that subject I am completely “Miles’s boy.”

[Sidenote: Water always by the horse.]

About a quarter of a century ago I recommended in print that all horses
should have water by them in the stall: it is now so universally the
practice, that I need not here repeat the reasons for it. I have not
heard of any horse drinking till he burst, though all grooms assured me
that all stabled horses would do so.

It is distending food, not drink, which forms the large carcase. Food
takes long to digest, but it is astonishing how quickly what the horse
drinks is absorbed. The late Mr. Field having a horse condemned to die,
kept him two days without water, gave him two buckets, and killed him
five minutes after. There was not a drop of water in his stomach.

[Sidenote: The horse should stand loose.]

A horse should have a loose standing if possible; if he must be tied in
a stall it should be flat. A horse cannot stand up hill without muscular
exertion, and the toe constantly up, and the heel constantly down,
induces ruinous distress to the back sinews.

[Sidenote: No galloping on hard ground.]

[Sidenote: He who cripples the horse kills him.]

Do not let your groom gallop your hunter on the hard ground in autumn;
and my last word shall be a petition on this subject to master as well
as man--to deprecate a piece of inhumanity practised, indeed, as much by
ladies as by gentlemen--the riding the horse fast on hard ground. I pray
them to consider that horses do not die of old age, but that they are
killed because they become crippled, and that he who cripples them is
guilty of their death, not he who pulls the trigger. The practice is as
unhorsemanlike as it is inhuman. It is true that money will replace the
poor slaves as you use them up, and if occasion requires it they must,
alas! be used up. But in my opinion, nothing but a case of life and
death can justify the deed. If the ground is hard and even, a collected
canter may be allowed; but if hard and uneven, a moderate trot at most.
One hour’s gallop on such ground would do the soundest horse
irremediable mischief. Those who boast of having gone such a distance in
such a time, on the ground supposed, show ignorance or inhumanity. Such
feats require cruelty only, not courage. Nay, they are performed most
commonly by the very horsemen who are too cowardly or too unskilful to
dare to trust their horse with his foot on the elastic turf, or to stand
with him the chances of the hunting-field. And such is the inconsistency
of human nature, that they are performed by persons who would shudder at
the sight of the bleeding flank of the race-horse, or who would lay down
with disgust, and some expression of maudlin, morbid humanity, the truly
interesting narrative of that most intrepid and enduring of all
gallopers, Sir Francis Head. But compare the cases. In the case of the
race-horse, his skin is wounded to urge him to his utmost exertion for a
few seconds, from which in a few minutes he is perfectly recovered, and
ready, nay eager, to start again. In the case of the wild horse of the
Pampas, he is urged for two, three, or perhaps five hours, to the utmost
distress for wind, as well as muscular fatigue. He is enlarged, and in a
day or two he is precisely the same as if he had never been ridden. But
in the case of the English road-rider, though no spur is used, unfair
advantage is taken of the horse’s impetuous freedom of nature, his
sinews are strained, his joints permanently stiffened, he is deprived at
once and for ever of his elasticity and action, and brought prematurely
a cripple to the grave.


APRIL, 1861.





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Transcriber’s Note

The following errors were corrected:

  Page      Error
  fn. 16-†  δάχτυλος changed to δάκτυλος
  33        resiliance changed to resilience
  49        δήλοι changed to δηλοῖ
  Ads p. 6  Wordsworth s changed to Wordsworth’s

The following words had inconsistent spelling and hyphenation:

  breastplate / breast-plate
  Guérinière / Guerinière
  headstall / head-stall
  manège / manége
  mouthpiece / mouth-piece
  noseband / nose-band

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