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´╗┐Title: Lectures on Horsemanship - Wherein Is Explained Every Necessary Instruction for Both - Ladies and Gentlemen, in the Useful and Polite Art of - Riding, with Ease, Elegance, and Safety
Author: Unknown
Language: English
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Transcriber's Note

A number of typographical errors have been maintained in this version of
this book. They have been marked with a [+] and a description may be
found in the complete list at the end of the text. Irregular and
non-standard spelling has been maintained as printed.


  Wherein is Explained
  In the Useful and Polite

  BY T. S.
  Professor of Horsemanship.



Address to the Audience.


Permit me to observe that the Horse is an animal, which, from the
earliest ages of the world, has been destined to the pleasure and
services of Man; the various and noble qualities with which nature has
endowed him sufficiently speaking the ends for which he was designed.

Mankind were not long before they were acquainted with them, and found
the means of applying them to the purposes for which they were given:
this is apparent from the Histories and traditions of almost all
nations, even from times the most remote; insomuch that many nations and
tribes, or colonies of people, who were entirely ignorant, or had but
very imperfect notions, of other improvements and arts of life; and even
at this day[3-*] are unacquainted with them, yet saw and understood the
generous properties of this creature in so strong a light as to treat
him with fondness and the greatest attention, sufficiently to declare
the high opinion they entertained of his merit and excellence; nay in
various regions, and in the most distant ages, were so far from being
strangers to the many services of which the Horse was capable, as to
have left rules and precepts concerning them, which are so true and
just, that they have been adopted by their successors; and as all art is
progressive, and receives additions and improvements in its course, as
the sagacity of man at different times, or chance and other causes
happen and concur: so that having the Ancient's foundation to erect our
building, it is natural to suppose that the structure has received many
beauties and improvements from the experience and refinement of latter

It is generally supposed that the first service in which the Horse was
employed, was to assist mankind in making war, or in the pleasures and
occupations of the chase. _Xenophon_, who wrote three hundred years
before the Birth of _Christ_, says, in an express treatise which he
wrote on Horsemanship, that Cyrus hunted on Horseback, when he had a
mind to exercise himself and horses.

Herodotus speaks of hunting on Horseback as an exercise used in the time
of _Darius_, and it is probably of much earlier date. He particulatly[+]
mentions a fall which Darius had from his horse in hunting, by which he
dislocated his heel: these and thousands of quotations more, which might
be produced as proofs of the utility of the Horse, in remote ages, are
truths so indisputably attested that to enlarge farther upon it would be
a superfluous labour, and foreign to my present undertaking.


First we will suppose your horse properly saddled and bridled. Take your
Bridoun-rein (if you have Bit and Bridoun) your right-hand, shifting it
till you have found the center of the rein; then with your switch or
whip in your left-hand, place your little finger between the reins, so
that the right rein lies flat in your hand upon three fingers, and your
thumb pressing your left rein flat upon the right, keeping your thumb
both upon right and left rein, firm upon your fore-finger; and in this
position you ease your hand a little and slide it firmly down the reins
upon your horse's neck, taking a firm hold of a lock of his mane, which
will assist you in springing to mount: remember that when you attempt to
mount, that your reins are not so tight as to check your horse, or to
offend his mouth, so as to cause him to _rear_, or _rein_ back, but that
your action is smooth and light as possible.

Your horse being firmly stayed, you next take your Stirrup-leather in
your Right-hand, about four inches from the stirrup-iron, and fix one
third of your foot in the stirrup, standing square with your horse's
side; next take a firm hold with your right hand on the Cantlet or back
part of the saddle, rather on the off side of it, and with your left
knee prest firm against the horse's side, spring yourself up
perpendicularly, bending the small of your back and looking chearfully
up rather than down. The next move you make is to remove your right-hand
from the Cantlet and place it firm upon the Pummel, or front of your
saddle, bearing your weight upon it, at the same time bend your right
knee, and bring your body round, looking strait over your horse's head,
letting yourself firmly and easily down into your seat, with the
shoulders easily back, bent well in your waist or loins, and your chest
well presented in front, with a pleasant uncontracted countenance.

You of course next recover or take your switch, which is done by putting
your right-hand over your left, and with a quick firm motion take it in
your right hand, holding the same perpendicularly.

Proceed us next to the adjusting the Reins, which is of the utmost use.
Supposing you ride with Bit and Bridoun, being four in number, place
them all even and flat in your left hand, exactly in the same manner as
described in taking the Bridoun in mounting; that is to say, your four
reins placed even, the one upon the other, remembering always to place
your Bridouns on the outsides, so that you may any time lengthen or
shorten them at pleasure, without putting the whole into confusion, and
cause the Bit to act alone, or Bridoun alone, or both Bit and Bridoun to
act together.

I have observed before that only your little finger should be between
the reins when only two, it is the same now four, so now your two reins
on the right side of your horse's neck lie flat upon your three fingers
in your left-hand, your two left reins placed flat upon the right, and
your thumb pressed flat upon all four. This is the only sure method to
keep your reins firm, free from confusion, and to cause them to act
properly; which any lady or gentleman will be convinced of if they will
only give themselves the pleasure to practise, as I cannot call it a

If it should be demanded why the horse would not ride as well with only
the Bridoun, without the Bit? my answer is that suppose your horse
becomes hard and heavy in hand, on being rode by both Bit and Bridoun,
where they have both acted together: you on this shorten your Bit-reins
whereby they act alone the Bridouns becoming slack, your horse instantly
becomes light in hand, as though touched by a _magick stick_, reining
his neck properly, is immediately light before, gathers himself upon his
haunches, and what appeared, but _now_ a _garronly_ sluggish beast wears
the appearance of a well dressed horse.

Well and thorough broke horses with mouths made fine and to answer the
nicest touch of feeling, are in general rode by the Bit alone, the
Bridouns hanging loose and seem more for ornament than use; but yet in
the hand of a skillful horseman are of the greatest utility; for by
handling your right Bridoun-rein lightly with your whip hand at proper
times; you can always raise your horse's head if too low, you may take
the liberty of easing your Bit-reins at times, so that playing upon his
mouth, as it were an _Instrument of musick_, you will always keep his
mouth in tune. I cannot find a juster simile than, that the Horse is the
Instrument and the Rider the Player; and when the horse is well broke
and tuned properly, and the rider knows how to keep him in that state,
he is never at a loss to play upon him; but if suffered to go out of
tune, by the want of skill in the horseman, and to imbibe bad habits,
the horseman not being able to screw him up, and tune him as before: the
Instrument is thrown by as useless, or may be sold for a trifle, and by
chance falling into able hands, that know how to manage and put him once
more together; he again becomes as good as ever: and this I have often
been a witness to. Thus much for the adjustment of the Reins in the


The principles and rules which have hitherto been given for the
horseman's seat are various, and even opposite, according as they have
been adopted by different masters, and taught in different countries,
almost by each master in particular; and every nation having certain
rules and notions of their own. Let us see, however, if art has
discovered nothing that is certain and invariably true.--The Italians,
the Spaniards, the French and, in a word, every country where Riding is
in repute, adopt each a posture which is peculiar to themselves: the
foundation of their general notions is the same, but each country has
prescribed rules for the placing the man on the saddle.

This contrariety of opinions which have their origin more in prejudice
than in truth and reality, has given rise to many vain reasonings and
speculations, each System having its followers; and as if truth was not
always the same, and unchangeable, but at liberty to assume various and
even opposite shapes; sometimes one opinion prevailed, sometimes
another, insomuch that those who understand nothing of the subject, but
yet are desirous of being informed, by searching it to the bottom, have
hitherto been lost in doubt and perplexity.

There is nevertheless a sure and infallible method, by the assistance of
which it would be very easy to overturn all these systems; but not to
enter into a needless detail of the extravagant notions, which the Seat
alone has given rise to; I will here endeavour to trace it from
principles by so much the more solid, as their authority will be
supported by the most convincing and self evident reasons.

In order to succeed in an art where the mechanism of the body is
absolutely necessary, and where each part of the body has its proper
functions, which are peculiar to that part; it is most certain that all
and every part of the body should be in a natural posture: were they in
an imperfect situation they would want that ease and freedom which is
inseparable from grace; and as every motion which is constrained being
false in itself, and incapable of justness, it is clear that the part so
constrained and forced would throw the whole into confusion; because
each part belonging to and depending upon the whole body, and the body
partaking of the constraint of its parts, can never feel that fixed
point, that just counterpoise and equality, in which alone a fine and
just execution consists.

The objects to which a master, anxious for the advancement of his pupil,
should attend, are infinite. To little purpose will it be to keep the
strictest eye upon all the parts and Limbs of his pupil's Body; in vain
will he endeavour to remedy all the defects and faults which are found
in the posture of almost every scholar in the beginning, unless he is
intimately acquainted with the close dependance[+] and connexion there
is between the motions of one part of the body with the rest; a
correspondence caused by the reciprocal action of the muscles, which
govern and direct them: unless, therefore, he is master of this secret,
and has his clue to the labyrinth, he will never attain the end he
proposes; particularly in his first lessons, upon which the success of
the rest always depend. These principles being established we may reason
in consequence of them with clearness.

In horsemanship, the Body of man is divided into three parts; two of
which are moveable, the third immoveable.

The first of the two moveable parts is the Trunk or Body, down to the
Waist; the second is from the Knees to the Feet; so that the immoveable
part is between the waist and the knees. The parts then which ought to
be without motion are the Fork, or Twist of the horseman, and his
thighs; now that these parts should be kept without motion, they ought
to have a certain hold and center to rest upon, which no motion that the
horse can make can disturb or loosten; this point or center is the basis
of the hold which the horseman has upon his horse, and is what is called
the SEAT; now if the seat is nothing else but this point or center, it
must follow, that not only the true grace, but the symmetry and true
proportion of the whole attitude depend upon those parts of the body
that are immoveable.

Let the horseman then place himself at once, upon his Twist, sitting
exactly in the middle of the saddle; let him support this posture, in
which the Twist alone seems to sustain the weight of the whole body, by
moderately leaning upon his buttock.

Let the Thighs be turned inward, and rest flat upon the sides of the
saddle; and in order to this let the turn of the thighs proceed directly
from the hips, and let him employ no force or strength to keep himself
in the saddle, but trust entirely to the weight of his body and thighs;
this is the exact equilibrio: in this and this only consists the
firmness and support of the whole _building_; a firmness which young
beginners are never sensible of at first, but which is to be acquired,
and will always be attained by exercise and practise. I demand but a
moderate stress upon the buttocks, because a man that sits full upon
them can never turn his thighs flat to the saddle; the thighs should
always lay flat to the saddle, because, the fleshy part of them being
insensible, the horseman would not otherwise be able so nicely to feel
the motions of his horse: I insist that the turn of the Thigh must be
from the Hip, because it can never be natural, but as it proceeds from
the hollow of the hip bone.

I insist farther that the horseman never avails himself of the strength
or help of his thighs, except he lets his whole weight rest upon the
center, as before described; because the closer he presses them to the
saddle, the more will he be lifted above the saddle on any sudden or
iregular[+] motion of the Horse.

Having thus firmly placed the immovable parts, I now pass on to the
first of the _Movables_, which is as I have already observed the body
as far as to the waist. I comprehend in the Body, the Head, the
Shoulders, the Breast, the Arms, Hands, Reins and Waist of the Horseman.

The head should be free, firm and easy, in order to be ready for all the
natural motions that the horseman may make in turning to one side or the
other. It should be firm, that is to say, strait, without leaning to the
right or left, neither advanced nor thrown back; it should be easy
because if otherwise it would occasion a stiffness, and that stiffness
affecting the different parts of the body, especially the back bone, the
whole would be without ease and constrained.

The shoulders alone influence by their motions that of the breast the
reins and waist.

The horseman should present or advance his breast, by that his whole
figure opens and displays itself; he should have a small hollow in his
reins, and push the waist forward to the pommel of the saddle, because
this position corresponds and unites him to all the motions of the

Now only throwing the shoulders back, produces all these effects, and
gives them exactly in the degree that is requisite; whereas if we were
to look for the particular position of each part seperately[+] and by
itself, without examining the connection that there is between the
motions of one part with those of another, there would be such a bending
in his reins that the horseman would be, if I may so say, hollow backed;
and as from that he would force his breast forward and his waist towards
the pommel of the saddle, he would be flung back, and must sit upon the
rump of the horse.

The arms should be bent at the elbows, and the elbows should rest
equally upon the hips; if the arms were strait, the consequence would
be, that the hands would be too low, or at too great a distance from the
body; and if the elbows were not kept steady, they would of consequence,
give an uncertainty and fickleness to the hand, sufficient to ruin it
for ever.

It is true that the _Bridle-hand_ is that which absolutely ought to be
steady and immoveable; and we might conclude from hence, that the left
elbow only ought to rest upon the hip; but grace consists in the exact
proportion and symmetry of all the parts of the body, and to have the
arm on one side raised and advanced, and that of the other kept down and
close to the body would present but an aukward and disagreeable

It is this which determines the situation of the hand which holds the
whip; the left hand being of an equal heighth with the elbow; so that
the knuckle of the little finger, and the tip of the elbow be both in a
line, this hand then being rounded neither too much nor too little, but
just so that the wrist may direct all its motions, place your right
hand, or the whip hand, lower and more forward than the bridle hand. It
should be lower than the bridle hand because if it was upon a level with
it, it would restrain or obstruct its motions; and were it to be higher,
as it cannot take so great a compass as the bridle hand, which must
always be kept over against the horseman's body: it is absolutely
necessary to keep the proportion of the elbows, that it should be lower
than the other.

The legs and feet make up the second division of what I call the
moveable parts of the body: the legs serve for two purposes, they may
be used as aids or corrections to the horse, they should then be kept
near the sides of the horse, and in a perpendicular line with the
horseman's body; for being near the part of the horse's body where his
feeling is most delicate, they are ready to do their office in the
instant they are wanted. Moreover, as they are an apendix[+] of the
thighs if the thigh is upon its flat in the saddle, they will by a
necessary consequence be turned just as they ought, and will infallibly
give the same turn to the feet, because the feet depend upon them, as
they depend upon the thighs.

The toe should be held a little higher then[+] the heel, for if the toe
was lowest the heel would be too near the sides of his horse and would
be in danger of touching his horse with his spurs at perhaps the very
instant he should avoid such aid or correction.

Many persons notwithstanding, when they raise their toe, bend and twist
their ankle as if they were lame in the part. The reason of this is very
plain; because they make use of the muscles in their legs and thighs,
whereas they should only employ joint of the foot for this purpose,[+]

Such is in short the mechanical disposition of all the parts of the
horseman's body.

These ideas properly digested the practitioner will be able to prescribe
rules for giving the true and natural Seat, which is not only the
principles of justness, but likewise the foundation of all grace in the
horseman, of course, the first endeavour of those who wish to become
horsemen, should be to attain a firm and graceful seat: the perfection
of which, as of most other arts and accomplishments depend upon the
ease and simplicity with which they are executed, being free from
affectation and constraint as to appear quite natural and familiar.

Therefore the immoveable parts as before observed ought to be so far
without motion as not to wriggle and roll about so as to disturb the
horse, or render the seat weak and loose: but the thighs may be relaxed
to a certain degree with propriety and advantage, when the horse
hesitates and doubts whether he shall advance or not; and the body may
likewise, upon some occasions, become moveable and change its posture to
a certain degree, as when the horse _retains_ himself, it may be flung
back more or less as the case requires; and consequently inclined
forward when the horse rises so high as to be in danger of falling
backwards; what keeps a ship on the sea steady? BALLAST, by the same
rule, what keeps the horseman STEADY? trusting to the weight of his
body: it is for this reason that beginners are first made to ride
without stirrups; for were they allowed to use them before they had
acquired an equilibrio and were able to stretch their legs and thighs
well down, so as to set firmly in the saddle, and close to it, they
would either loose their stirrups by not being able to keep their feet
in them; or the stirrups must be taken up much too short, in which case
the rider would be pushed upwards from the saddle, and the Seat
destroyed throughout; as the parts of the body like the links of a chain
depending upon one another, safety likewise requires they should ride
without them at first, as in case of falling tis less dangerous.

It is the general practice of those who undertake to teach horsemanship,
when they put a scholar upon a horse, to mix and confound many rules and
precepts together, which ought to be distinct and seperate;[+] such as
making him attend to the guidance of the horse, demanding an exactness
of hand, and other particulars, which they croud[+] upon him before he
is able to execute, or even understand half of them. I would recommend a
slower pace at first being likely to gain more ground at the ending
post, and not to perplex the scholar with _Aids_, of the effects of the
_Hand_, and more nice and essential parts of the ART: till the SEAT is
gained and CONFIRMED.

For this purpose let the seat alone be cultivated for some time, and
when the scholar is arrived at a certain degree of firmness and
confidence so as to be trusted, I would always advise the master to take
hold of the longeing rein and let the pupil intirely leave the governing
of his horse to him, going sufficiently to both hands holding his hands
behind him.

This will, I insist upon it very soon settle him with firmness to the
saddle, will place his head, will stretch him down in his saddle, will
teach him to lean gently to the side to which he turns so as to unite
himself to his horse and go with him and will give that firmness ease,
and just poize of body, which constitute a perfect _Seat_, founded in
truth and nature and upon principles so certain, that whoever shall
think fit to reduce them to practise will find them confirmed and
justified by it. Nor would it be improper to accustom the scholar to
mount and dismount on both sides of his horse, as many things may occur
to make it necessary, as well as that he cannot have too much activity
and address, for this reason tis a pity that the art of _Vaulting_ is
discontinued.--And there is another duty too essential to be omitted,
but hitherto not performed by matters, which is to instruct their pupils
in the _principles_ and theory of the _Art_, explaining how the natural
paces are performed, wherein they differ from each other, and in what
their perfection consists; which, by not joining theory with practice,
are unknown to many, who may shine in a menage, but work as mechanically
and superficially as the very horse thay[+] ride.

Having thus far said what with practice will be sufficient to form the
seat of the Horseman, I shall next endeavour to describe the use of the
bridle hand and its effects, &c.


The knowledge of the different characters, and different natures of
horses, together with the vices and imperfections, as well as the exact
and just proportions of the parts of a horse's body, is the foundation
upon which is built the theory of the art of horsemanship; but this
theory will be useless and even unnecessary if we are not able to carry
it into execution.

This depends upon the goodness and quickness of feeling; and in the
delicacy which nature alone can give, and which she does not always
bestow. The first sensation of the hand consists in a greater or less
degree of fineness in the touch or feeling; a feeling in the hand of the
horseman, which ought to communicate and answer to the same degree of
feeling in the horse's mouth, because there is as much difference in the
degrees of feeling in men as there is in the mouths of horses.

I suppose then a man, who is not only capable to judge of a horse's
mouth by theory, but who has likewise by nature that fineness of touch
which helps to form a good hand; let us see then what are the rules
which we should follow in order to make it perfect, and by which we must
direct all its operations.

A horse can move four different ways; he can _advance_, go _back_, turn
to the _Right_ and to the _Left_; but he cannot make these different
movements except the hand of the Rider permits him, by making four other
motions which answer to them; so that there are five different positions
for the hand. The first is that general position from which proceed the
other four.

Hold your hand three inches breadth from your body, as high as your
elbow, in such a manner that the joint of your little-finger be upon a
right line with the tip of your elbow; let your wrist be sufficiently
rounded so that your knuckles may be kept directly above the neck of
your horse; let your finger nails be exactly opposite your body, the
little finger rather nearer to it than the others; your thumb quite flat
upon the reins, separated as before described, and this is the general

Does your horse go forwards, or rather would you have him go forwards?
yeild to him your hand, and for that purpose turn your nails downwards,
in such a manner as to bring your thumb near your body, and your
little-finger then from it, and bring it to the place where your
knuckles were in the first position. Keeping your nails directly above
the neck of your horse.--This is the second Position.

Would you make your horse go backwards, quit the first position; let
your wrist be quite round, your thumb in the place of the little finger
in the second position, and the little-finger in that of the thumb,
turning your nails quite upwards, and towards your face, and your
knuckles will be towards your horse's neck.--This is the third Position.

Would you turn your horse to the Right? leave the first position; carry
your nails to the right, turning your hand upside down, in such a manner
that your thumb be carried out to the left, and the little-finger
brought in to the Right.--This is the fourth Position.

Lastly, would you turn your horse to the Left? quit again the first
position, carry the back of your hand a little to the left, so that the
knuckles come under a little, that your thumb may incline to the right,
and the little-finger to the left.--This makes the fifth Position.

These different Positions, however, alone are not sufficient; we must be
able to pass from one to the other with readiness and order.

Three qualities are necessary to the hand. Viz. FIRM, GENTLE, and LIGHT:
I call that a firm hand, or steady hand whose feeling corresponds
exactly with the feeling in the horse's mouth, and which consists in a
certain degree of steadiness, which constitutes that just correspondence
between the hand and the horse's mouth, which every horseman wishes to

An easy or gentle hand. I call that which, relaxing a little of its
strength and firmness, eases and mitigates the degree of feeling between
the hand and horse's mouth, which I have already described.

Lastly, the light hand is that which lessens still more the feeling
between the rider's hand and the horse's mouth, which was before
moderated by the GENTLE HAND.

The hand, therefore, with respect to these properties must operate in
part, within certain degrees, and depends upon being more or less felt,
or yeilded to the horse, or with-held.

It should be a rule with every horseman not to pass from one extreme to
another; from a firm hand to a slack one; so that in the motion of the
hand on no account jump over that degree of sensation which constitutes
the EASY OR GENTLE HAND: were you once to go from a firm strong hand to
a slack one, you then entirely abandon your horse; you would surprise
him, deprive him of the support he trusted to, and precipitate him on
his shoulders; supposing you do this at an improper time. On the
contrary, were you to pass from the slack to the tight rein, all at
once, you must jerk your hand, and give a violent shock to the horse's
mouth; which rough and irregular motion would be sufficient to falsify
and ruin a good mouth; it is indispensably necessary, therefore, that
all its opeperations[+] should be gentle and light, and in order to
this, it is necessary that the WRIST alone should direct and govern all
its motions, by turning and steering it as it were, through every motion
it is to make[+]

In consequence then of these principles, I insist that the wrist be kept
so round that your knuckles may be always directly above the horse's
neck, and that your thumb be always kept flat upon the reins. In reality
were your wrist to be more or less rounded than in the degree I have
fixed, you could never work with your hand but by means of your arm, and
besides it would appear as though you were lame; again were your thumb
not to be upon the flat of the reins, pressed hard upon your fore
finger, they would be constantly slipping away, and lengthened, and in
order to recover them you would be obliged every minute to raise your
hand and arm, which would throw you into disorder and make you lose that
justness without which no horse will be obedient and work with readiness
and pleasure to himself.

It is nevertheless true, that with horses well dressed one may take
liberties; these are motions called descents of the hand; either by
dropping the knuckles directly and at once upon the horse's neck, or by
taking the reins in the right hand about four inches above the left,
letting them slide through the left, dropping your right hand at the
same time upon the horse's neck, or else by putting the horse under the
button as it is called: that is by taking the end of the reins in your
right hand, quitting them intirely with your left hand and letting the
end of them fall upon your horse's neck, these motions however, which
give grace to the horseman, never should be made but with great
caution, and exactly when your horse is well together and in hand; and
take care in counterbalancing by throwing back your body, that the
weight of the body lie upon his haunches.

The Bit and Snaffle were they to be kept constantly in one place in his
mouth, would of course dull the sense of feeling, and become benumbed
and callous; this shews the necessity of continually yeilding and
drawing back the hand to keep the horse's mouth fresh and awake. It is
therefore self evident that a heavy handed horseman can never break a
horse to any degree of nicety, or ride one which is already broke to any
degree of exactness.

Besides these rules, there are others not less just and certain; (but
whose niceness and refinement is not the lot of every person to taste
and understand) my hand being in the first position, I open my two
middle fingers, I consequently ease and slacken myright[+] rein; I shut
my hand, the right rein operates again, resuming its place as before, I
open my little finger and carrying the end of it upon the right rein, I
thereby slacken the left and shorten the right; I shut my hand entirely
and immediately open it again, I thereby lessen the degree of tension
and force of the two reins at the same time; again I close my hand not
quite so much, but still I close it.

It is by these methods and by the vibration of the reins, that I unite
the feeling in my hand with that in the horse's mouth, and thus I play
with a fine and MADE mouth, and freshen and relieve the two bars in
which the feeling resides.

Therefore, it is that correspondence and sensation between the horse's
mouth and the hand of the rider, which alone can make him submit with
pleasure to the constraint of the bit.

Having thus explained the different positions and motions of the hand,
permit me in a few words to shew the effects which they produce in

The hand directs the reins, the reins operate upon the branches of the
bit; the branches upon the mouth-piece and the curb, the mouth-piece
operates upon the bars, and the curb upon the chin of the horse.

So far for the management of the bridle hand upon thorough-broke and
well-dressed horses. But in breaking young horses for any purpose, the
reins in all cases ought to be separated, nothing so unmeaning, nothing
so ineffectual as the method of working with them joined or held in only
one hand, this is very evident in the instances of colts, and of stiff
necked, and unworked horses of all kinds, with them it is impossible to
do anything without holding a rein in either hand, which rein operates
with certainty and governs the side of the neck to which it belongs, and
surely this is a shorter way of working than to make, or rather attempt
to make the left rein determine the horse to the right, and the right
guide him to the left. In the above instances of stiff awkward horses
this can never be done; and altho it is constantly practised with those
which are _Drest_, yet it is certain they obey, and make their _Changes_
more from _docility_ and _Habit_, than from the influence of the
_outward_ rein, which ought only to act, to balance and support, while
the inner bends, inclines, and guides the horse to the hand to which he
is to go.

This can never be done so fully and truly with the reins joined, as when
they are separated into each hand, and if double or _Running_ reins were
used instead of single as with a snaffle or[24-*] _Meadow's_ bit, they
would afford more compass and power to the horseman to bend and turn his

The manner of holding the reins high as condemed[+] by some writers,
possessing themselves with a notion that they ruin the hocks of the
horses. For my own part I do not know what those writers mean, unless by
them we are to understand the haunches; and then this method instead of
ruining, will work and assist them, for the head and fore quarters are
raised up, his weight of course is thrown upon his haunches, for one end
being raised the other must be kept down.

It is nothing more than a natural cause, which will always produce a
natural effect, for instance, ballance a pole upona[+] wall so that it
acts in equilibrium, only raise one end, the other of course must be
lowered, it is the same with a horse, as you cannot rise his fore parts
but by bringing his haunches more under him. I would here wish to remark
that horses should never be compelled by force untill[+] they know what
you wish from them, for let them be however disobedient in their
disposition, yet are all of them more or less sensible of good and bad
usage from their masters; the best method then to convey your intention
to them so that they shall understand you, is to reward them when they
do well, and to punish them when disobedient, this rule though contained
in few words yet is of universal use in horsemanship.

And Xenophon, who wrote a treatise on Horsemanship, more than two
thousand years ago, among other notable remarks, when speaking on
horse-breaking, wherein he concludes thus: "But there is one rule to be
inviolably observed above all others; that is, never approach your horse
in a passion; as anger never thinks of consequences and forces us to do
what we afterwards repent."

Begging pardon for this short but useful digression, I again observe
that such are the principles upon which the perfection and justness of
the aids of the hand depend; all others are false and not to be
regarded.--Thus far for the bridle hand, and its effects.


Addressed to the Ladies.

Among all the various writers on the art of horsemanship,
notwithstanding, side-saddles have been known and in use in England more
then[+] six hundred years ago, even in Richard's time, for in the reign
of this prince side-saddles were first known here, as it will appear
from the following anecdote, by a Warwick historian, in which he says.

"And in his days also began the detestable custom of wearing long
pointed shoes, fastened with chains of silver, and sometimes gold, up to
the knees, likewise noble ladies then used high heads, and robes with
long trains, and seats or side-saddles on their horses, by the example
of the respectable queen Anne, daughter of the king of Bohemia, who
first introduced this custom in this kingdom: for before, women of every
rank rode as men do, with their legs astride their horses."

Thus says our Warwick historian, so that side saddles appear to have
been used many centuries ago, and that formerly the female sex took the
fashion of riding like men, for which they are reprehended, by a Greek
historian, and hard indeed is the equestrian situation of the ladies,
for if they are to be accused of indelicacy for riding after the manner
of men, they are greatly to be pitied in hazarding their safety as they
do, in riding after the _manner_ of _Women_.

However as no one hath ever yet lent a helping hand in putting pen to
paper on the subject, by way of adding, if possible, to the ladies,
elegance, ease and safety on horse back; I shall without any other
apology then assuring those ladies who may please to read what I write
on the matter, is well meant, and are such ideas that have occured[+] to
me in many years study, and practice in the manage.[+]


Let the ostler or servant being on the off side the horse, with right
hand holding the bridoun reins, to properly stay the horse, and his left
hand on the part of the saddle called the crutch, by this method both
horse and saddle will be kept firm and steady, it is the riding master's
duty to examine the bridle whether it is properly placed, the curb,
chain, or chin chain in due order, the saddle in a proper place, and the
girths sufficiently tight, &c. Direct the lady then to take her whip, or
switch in the right hand, the small end of it turned towards the horse's
croup, then with the right hand take a firm hold of the pommell of the
saddle standing upright with her right shoulder square, and in a line
with the horse's left, she then bending the left knee pretty much, the
master or gentleman who asists[+] her standing facing the lady, he
stooping a little receives the lady's left foot in his hands being
clasped firm together, the lady must then be directed to straiten her
knee, being now bent, with a firmness and elasticity pressing her left
hand on the man's left shoulder, making a little spring at the same
time, by which the riding-master, gentleman, or servant, if permitted,
by paying due attention to these rules will spring the lady on the
saddle with the greatest ease and safety. _The method of adjusting the
petticoats_; I then place the lady's foot in the stirrup tho' it is a
wonder if a proper length, being guess work, as we are now to suppose
this to be the first lesson, and the stirrup cannot be properly fixed,
till the lady is in her seat, I say I then give her the stirrup,
directing she may take a firm hold with the left hand of a lock of the
horse's mane, at the same time she having a firm hold of the crutch with
the right, by which means she rises herself up from the saddle, standing
firm in the stirrup, looking rather over the off side of the horse's
neck, the intention of this is that the attendant shall adjust the coats
so as they sit smooth and easy, by pulling them round a little to the
right, then on returning to the saddle, or seat, and while in coming
down she must put her right knee over the pommel of the saddle, and by
these simple rules she will find all comfortable and easy; in regard to
the adjustment of the bridle reins, and the managing and directing the
horse by them, pay strict attention to those set down in the first
lecture addressed to the gentlemen; let the whip be placed firm and easy
in the right hand, with the taper or small end downwards, and the arm
hanging carelessly down without contraction, and when the whip is made
use off, let it be by means of the wrist, without lifting the arm from
the body, and be careful not to touch the horse with the whip too
backward as many of them will kick on their being flogged in that part,
which if it should not occasion a fall, would much alarm the young
scholar, before she has acquired any degree of ballance.


The Stirrup should be such length as when the lady sits upright and
properly on her seat, with the knee being easily bent, the heel kept
back, with the toe raised a little higher than the heel, so that the
heel, hip and the shoulder, are in a line and as upright as when walking
along, for if otherwise it is unjust and not agreeable to nature; for
suppose you are riding along the road with the foot stuck out and so
forward as the horses front of his shoulder, as is not uncommon to see
girls riding in this manner along the road in the country, as tho' they
were directing with their foot which road their horse should take, I say
this method is not only very unbecoming but very unsafe, for instance if
riding carelessly along the road with the foot and leg in this attitude
being to pass some stubborn or inflexible object on the left or near
side, perhaps before you are aware or apprised of the danger you might
have your foot and leg sorely bruised, nay even dragged from your horse,
I have seen similar instances to this, happen more than once, even when
the foot has been in a good situation by ladies who unthinkingly have
endeavoured to pass objects to the left when they could as easily have
passed those objects to the _right_, which ladies should make an
invariable rule so to do at all times, if possible; for reasons which
must be plain to any one, who will think one minute on the matter;
another inconvenience will frequently arise by suffering the leg and
foot to be in this horrid form, which is, the stirrup leather will
frequently press against the leg, so as to hurt it very much, this I
have often had beginners complain of, by saying the buckle of the
stirrup hurt them, when behold I never use a buckle to my stirrups on
the left side, as they are always fastened and buckled on the off side,
for _two_ particular good advantages which arise from it; the principal
of which is, that as the pressure or bearing coming from the off side,
it greatly assists in keeping the saddle even, especially with those
ladies through a bad habit who accustom themselves to bear hard on the
stirrup which is nothing more then[+] a habit, and want of learning to
ride the right way at first.

The other reason is, you can lengthen or shorten the stirrup at
pleasure, without disturbing the lady at all, and without even
dismounting yourself, if you are riding on the road, as the business is
done on the off side the horse, nay I have altered the stirrup often
without stopping at all.

I insist upon it therefore if the stirrup does not hang perpendicular,
or the same as when left to itself and no one on horseback, the end is
totally destroyed, for what the stirrup was designed; which is in the
_first_ place to carry the weight of, and only the weight of the rider's
leg, without which support it would soon become fatigued and tired: and
_secondly_, if you accustom yourself to carry your foot properly, as
before directed, that is your heel in a line with your hip and shoulder,
letting your foot rest even in the stirrup, carrying only the weight of
your leg, with the toe a little raised, it will never fail to assist you
in your balance, if you happen to lose it to the left, it is also ready
to save you if you should happen to lose your balance to the right, by
pressing the calf of your leg strongly and firmly to the side of your
horse, and being always near your horse's side it is a quick aid in
supporting him, and to force him forward, it is also of the greatest
use, by pressing it strongly to his side, in assisting to turn your
horse to the left, and likewise in throwing your horse's croup off when
you wish to make him go into a canter, by which means he will be forced
to go off with the right leg foremost.

And _lastly_, it is of the utmost utility in supporting you in the
continuance of the Spring Trot, a pace now greatly in fashion, and
should be practised by all who accustom themselves to ride any length of
journies, as it enables them to make some degree of speed, and by
changing their paces often from walk, to trot, and gallop, their journey
becomes less tedious to them.


And Form of the Side Saddle.

In the first place I would strongly recommend a large seated Saddle,
very high on the cantlet or back part, and a regular sweep from thence
to the front or pommell, for some saddles, more shame be it spoken, are
so small, and the seat so rounded in the middle, that to sit on them is
next to balancing themselves on a round pole, a comfortable situation
truly for a lady! I say again let me recommend a large seated saddle; I
mean let it be large in proportion to the size of the lady, and high in
the cantlet, nay I am confident that they might be contrived to
advantage, were they constructed with peaks, and the peak carried on
from the back part of the saddle to within four inches of the front on
the off side; this with the addition of a Burr, as it is called, to
support the left knee, would greatly assist the lady in keeping the body
on a good balance and sufficiently back: which might prevent many

If these hints should strike any lady or gentleman as being reasonable,
and should they be inclined to have a saddle so constructed, I should
think myself happy in explaining myself more fully on the subject.

_Now in regard to the Seat for a Lady_, I sincerely wish I was able to
prescribe a more firm _one_ than the present fashion will admit of,
however I will do my endeavour to handle it in the best manner I can;
and first let the whole weight of the body rest firmly upon the center
of the saddle, leaning nei her[+] to one side or the other, with the
shoulders easily back, and the chest presented well forward; a lady
cannot be too nice and circumspect, in accustoming herself to sit
upright, without contraction, in any part, _nothing so graceful, nothing
so safe as ease_ of _action_; do not let the stirrup carry more than the
weight of the leg, except in case of the Swing Trot, or when assisting
to keep the Ballance,[+]

Two material disadvantages arise from Ladies accustoming themselves to
bear heavy in the stirrup, and loll about, constantly twisting
themselves to the near or left side of the horse: first it destroys
their whole figure, making the same appear deformed and crooked; and if
they were to continue in the habit of riding would confirm them in such
deformed attitude, in its becoming second nature, by constant use; this
is a truth too frequently witnessed, by practising without the right

Secondly, the other disadvantage most materially affects the horse; for
by their so constantly leaning themselves to the near side, the
side-saddle being so pulled and pressed against the withers or shoulder
of the horse on the off side, keeping up a continual friction, and this
being the case, I defy all the Sadlers in the kingdom to prevent the
saddle from wringing and galling the poor beast, especially in the heat
of the summer; the only remedy is to take away the cause, by sitting
properly, and the effect ceases of course.

The notions which some Ladies have entertained, as to fear to let their
daughters be taught to Ride, least it should make them grow crooked and
awry, I insist that they are false, and quite the reverse; the cause is,
as before observed, by their contracting bad habits of their own, and
not being instructed on approved principles, so that the effect is
caught hold of, while the cause lies unsought for; from my own knowledge
and experience I could relate several instances wherein young Ladies
instead of growing crooked by learning to ride, have been greatly
relieved from those complaints, and even quite eradicated by the
practice of riding, I will here beg leave to mention an instance or two
which will serve to prove what good effects may arise from this pleasant
and healthful exercise.

A young Lady about Seventeen years of age who had been afflicted for
twelve months with a stiffness in her neck and shoulders, and it was
observable that the right shoulder was grown much larger than the left.

She on coming to the riding house to observe her fellow scholars take
their lessons, of which she became much pleased, and wished much to
learn to ride.--The governess consulted me on the matter, but said she
feared it might make her grow worse as she had been told that riding
sometimes caused Ladies to become crooked, however, by my reasoning the
matter with her she was convinced in her own opinion and caused the
young Lady to write to her parents in Jamaica, and had permission by
return of packet to ride according to my directions, which were briefly
as follows, being in the month of March, and of course rather a cold
piercing air, I advised new unwashed flannel every time she took a
lesson to be worn next the skin on the part affected, _she rode_, of
course a strong perspiration took place, she was much fatigued for the
first six or seven Lessons, however after then as she began to be
acquainted with the use of her bridle hands, as I made her use both; and
give great part of the Lessons, in small circles to right and left; the
consequence was that by persevering in this method for two successive
months the parts became naturally relaxed and pliable, and by continuing
to practice she entirely recovered her alacrity and spirits, and also
became acquainted with the art of Riding, which I hope she may long live
to practice with ease and safety to herself in her native country.

Another young Lady from the same school had a particular habit of
leaning her shoulders and neck forward, I have frequently heard it
called pokeing, and all the dancing-master's instructions had for years
been ineffectual. I believe she was more fond of riding than dancing
instructions, for the governess of the young lady before-mentioned often
asserted that the Riding Master had done more in setting her scholar
upright and keeping her shoulders easily back, in the space only of two
months, than the Dancing Master, though capable in his profession, had
been able to accomplish in three years.

I hope to be pardoned for this little digression, not doubting but those
Ladies who will give themselves time to consider the foregoing, will be
convinced that it is agreeable to reason and nature.

Now to say some little more of the SEAT, which cannot be too much
attended to, being in a great measure the foundation of safety to a
lady when on horseback, and as such I would strongly recommend the lady
being in the menage, or in any proper place, the horse being very quiet
and to be trusted to; then let the lady seat herself properly on the
saddle as before directed, _only_ without the stirrup, and not to take
the reins, leaving the direction of the horse to the Riding Master, or
to whoever she can with safety trust the government to; and in this
manner take half an hour's practice every day, as nothing will so
greatly assist in acquiring a good and just balance.

I do not advise this method to be gone rapidly about, as she may make
use both of stirrup and reins at first, and when she has acquired a
firmness and ballance in some degree, may first quit the stirrup, and in
a lesson or two, the reins.[+] remembering to go to right and left
circle alternately and progressively.[+] viz. from _Walk_ to Trot and
Gallop; I hope I need not say that the horse should be remarkably
steady, and properly broke to go in circles to right and left by the
longeing rein.

I say this method will settle and give the scholar a firmness not to be
acquired by any other means, will teach them to unite themselves with
their horse, and go along with him, it will bring about that confidence,
firmness, ease, and just poize of body which serves to constitute what
is called a perfect _Seat_, acquired by the rules of art, and agreeable
to nature, and I here beg leave to quote a few lines which the great
Berringer observes applicable to this subject, "It is astonishing to
think how this work so immediately necessary could have been deferred so
long, that while rewards were given, public trials appointed, and laws
enacted to promote an useful and generous breed of horses, no step
should have been taken on the other hand to qualify and instruct the
youth of the kingdom, of both sex in the superior art of riding; for the
getting on the back of an horse to be conveyed from one place to another
without knowing what the animal is enabled by nature, art and practice
to perform, is not _Riding_, the knowledge and utility of which consists
in being able to discern and dexterous to employ the means by which the
horse may be brought to execute what the rider requires of him with
propriety, readiness and safety, and this knowledge in the rider and
obedience in the horse should be so intimately connected as to form one
_perfect whole_, this union being so indispensably necessary that where
it is not, there is no meaning, the rider and horse talk different
languages, and all is confusion, while many and fatal mischiefs may
ensue, the rider may be wedged in the timber which he strives to rend,
and fall the victim of his own ignorance and rashness."

I have now observed such rules which with practice will form as good and
perfect a _Seat_ as the customary mode of riding will admit of. It
remains now with practice and perseverance to make perfect.


When a lady has taken sufficient practice in the menage or elsewhere, so
as to be able to steer and guide her horse, and particularly can stop
him firm and well upon his haunches, and also knows by practice how to
unite herself to the horse, provided he should stop suddenly by his own
will, an instance which frequently happens, therefore it is essential
that the rider should become sensible of every action of the horse by
that kind of sympathy of feeling which should subsist between them, so
as to know his intentions as quick as thought, in this and all other
actions he may be inclined to, which are likely to offend and endanger
the rider, or himself; I would earnestly recommend the lady to make
herself acquainted with every help so as to gaurd[+] and defend herself
on all occasions, such as her horse stumbling, shying, starting, running
away, running back, rearing, kicking, and plunging; yet horses addicted
to any of those vices are by no means fit, or should have ladies set
upon knowingly, but as a lady cannot always be so fortunate as to get
the possession of one of those hackneys we call a nonpareil, tho' every
dealer you enquire of for one will say he can sell it you, therefore
place not too much confidence in him you purchase your horse from, or
the horse himself, even after you have rode him some time, for you
scarce ever can be certain but he may play you some of those tricks,
especially if his keep is above his work, as I have always found the
best lady's hackneys require constant practice to keep them in tune.

It is necessary the lady should have a sharp eye upon the road she is
travelling, taking care by the gentle assistance of the bridle hand to
steer and guide her horse into the best, to avoid all stones and uneven
places, and never to ride near the edge of any deep ditch or sudden
precipice, for altho, heaven be praised, accidents very seldom happen,
yet if for the want of a little care and due management one should
happen in one hundred years, that one would be one too many: the lady
should pay great attention to the horse when going down a steep hill,
and endeavour to put him together and upon his haunches, and to perform
this, she must feel his mouth lightly and firmly with the bridle hand,
at the same time making use of some of the helps used to force him to go
forward, such as clicking with your voice, a gentle touch with the whip,
or the heel, so she stays him a little by the bridle hand at the same
time he is forced forwards by the other helps or aids and if properly
timed, by doing enough without over doing, he will be put together, and
of course kept on a light proper action which must be in the real action
of a trot, that is with his two corner legs in the air at one time and
two on the ground, by such means the horse will always be kept on a sure
ballance and never be in danger of falling, on the other hand if the
horse is sufferd to go loose and unasisted[+] by the bridle hand, and
the other aids as before described, when going down a steep hill he will
most commonly go into that unnatural pace called the amble which is
moving his side legs together instead of his corner legs, this pace is
very unsafe notwithstanding the ancients used arts in breaking the horse
to the amble, on account of its being so much easier than the trot, but
as it is a known maxim in physic that giving ease and performing a cure
are two different things, so here an easy pace and a safe one are as
diametrically opposite, and that the amble is an unsafe pace is easy to
be conceived by the horse losing so large a portion of his ballance, to
prove which only try these simple experiments. Take a wooden horse[+]
let his two corner legs be taken away and he will stand, but take away
his two sides leg and he falls, again one often sees at a farrier's shop
when a horse is wanted to be shod in haste, two smiths can work at the
same time, by taking each of them a corner leg, therefore how careful
should we be to keep our hackneys on a safe action, and awake under us
on all occasions.

The lady should endeavour to make herself acquainted with those objects
which horses are most subject to be alarmed at, and first of all is a
windmill in full sail, next some can never be brought to go comfortably
by a tilted waggon, especially if meeting it, others dislike asses very
much, some dislike to face a man wheeling a barrow or an umbrella
extended, an arch drain which is frequently seen to carry the water away
thro the banks in a turnpike road, its laying low and of course presents
itself very suddenly, will sadly alarm some, and any object suddenly
presenting itself is almost sure to affright and alarm any horse in
spirits,[+] I once saw a lady get a fall, by a cow suddenly presenting
its head over a hedge, yet a more steady animal never was, as I used her
four years and never knew her start either before or after; let it be
remembered that horses are more apt to be shy or start in the dusk of
the evening than in broad day light, horses with bad eyes are almost
sure to start, yet starting is not a sure sign of bad eyes, as many
imagine it, I mention these few observations in regard to starting
because horses which are most free from those faults, it may happen to
some times; as horses like men are not alway in the same temper: never
ride on a fast pace by any lane's end, or in turning any sudden or short
turn, for two reasons; first, that it is unsafe as the horse might be
subject to fall for want of being supported, and put together by
shortening his pace, and secondly by your not being able to discern the
objects which might present themselves to you so as to disturb and alarm
your horse: these little hints kept well in mind may be the means of
preventing many accidents.



[3-*] Such as the Wild Arabs, Indians, &c.

[24-*] Used by Sir Sidney Meadows.

Transcriber's Note

The following misspellings and typographical errors were maintained.

  Page  Error
    4   particulatly should read particularly
   10   dependance should read dependence
   11   iregular should read irregular
   12   seperately should read separately
   14   apendix should read appendix
   14   higher then should read more than
   14   purpose, should read purpose.
   16   seperate; should read separate
   16   croud should read crowd
   17   thay should read they
   20   opeperations should read operations
   21   to make should read to make.
   22   myright should read my right
   24   condemed should read condemned
   24   upona should read upon a
   24   untill should read until
   26   more then should read more than
   27   occured should read occurred
   27   manage should read menage
   28   asists should read assists
   30   more then should read more than
   33   nei her should read neither
   33   Ballance, should read Ballance.
   36   the reins. should read the reins,
   36   progressively. should read progressively,
   38   gaurd should read guard
   39   unasisted should read unassisted
   39   wooden horse should read wooden horse,
   40   spirits, should read spirits.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lectures on Horsemanship - Wherein Is Explained Every Necessary Instruction for Both - Ladies and Gentlemen, in the Useful and Polite Art of - Riding, with Ease, Elegance, and Safety" ***

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