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Title: The Barb and the Bridle - A Handbook of Equitation for Ladies, and Manual of - Instruction in the Science of Riding, from the Preparatory - Suppling Exercises
Author: Moustache, Vielle
Language: English
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                    THE BARB AND THE BRIDLE;

A HANDBOOK OF EQUITATION FOR LADIES, AND MANUAL OF INSTRUCTION IN THE
SCIENCE OF RIDING, FROM THE PREPARATORY SUPPLING EXERCISES ON FOOT, TO
THE FORM IN WHICH A LADY SHOULD RIDE TO HOUNDS.

            _Reprinted from_ "The Queen" _Newspaper._

                   By "VIEILLE MOUSTACHE."


    LONDON:
    THE "QUEEN" OFFICE, 346, STRAND.

    1874.

    LONDON:
    PRINTED BY HORACE COX, 346, STRAND, W.C.



[Illustration: THE LADY'S HORSE.]



INTRODUCTION.


Having received numerous applications from ladies desirous of
information, as to the true principles and practice of equitation, I
venture to put before the public, in book form, a series of articles
which appeared originally in the columns of the _Queen_ newspaper on
ladies' riding.

Commencing with the calisthenic practices so necessary to a young lady
before beginning her mounted lessons, these papers enter into every
detail (less those of the _Haut École de Manége_) connected with the
science of riding as it should be acquired by all who wish to become
efficient horsewomen. As the rules laid down are precisely those upon
which I have successfully instructed a great number of ladies, as my
experience is of many years' standing, and acquired in the best schools
in Europe, I trust the following pages may prove useful; for, while it
is quite true that neither man nor woman can learn to ride by simply
reading a book on the subject, still a carefully-compiled manual of
equitation is always a ready means of refreshing the memory upon points
of importance in the art, which, however clearly explained by the oral
instruction of a first-class master, may yet in time escape the
recollection of the pupil.

"VIEILLE MOUSTACHE."



THE BARB AND THE BRIDLE.



CHAPTER I.


Riding, considered as a means of recreation, as a promoter of health, or
as the best mode in which to display to the greatest advantage beauty
and symmetry of face and form, is perhaps unequalled among the many
accomplishments necessary to a lady.

Out of doors croquet may be interesting as a game, and fascinating
enough when a lady has an agreeable partner, but as an exercise
physically its healthfulness is doubtful.

There is too much standing about, often on damp grass, too little real
exertion to keep the circulation up properly, and too many intervals of
quiescence, wherein a lady stands perfectly still (in a very graceful
attitude no doubt) long enough in the chill evening air to create
catarrh or influenza.

Archery, although a far more graceful exercise than croquet, is open to
the same objection as regards danger of taking cold.

Skating, though both healthful and elegant, is so seldom available as
scarcely to be reckoned among the exercises beneficial to ladies.
Moreover, it is attended with considerable danger in many cases.

_To be well_ is to look well. Healthy physical exertion is indispensable
to the former state, and in no way can it be so well secured as by
riding. Mounted on a well-broken, well-bred horse, and cantering over a
breezy down, or trotting on the soft sward, on the way to covert, a lady
feels a glow of health and flow of spirits unattainable by any other
kind of out or in door recreation.

That the foregoing truths are fully appreciated by the ladies of the
Upper Ten Thousand is abundantly proved by the goodly gathering of fair
and aristocratic equestrians to be seen in Rotten Row during the London
season, and at every fashionable meet of hounds in the kingdom in the
winter time.

Nor is riding confined to those only whose names figure in the pages of
"Burke" or "Debrett." Within the last twenty years the wives and
daughters of professional men and wealthy tradesmen, who were content
formerly to take an airing in a carriage, have taken to riding on
horseback. And they are quite right. It is not (with management) a bit
more expensive, while it is beyond comparison the most agreeable and
salubrious mode of inhaling the breeze.

The daughter of the peer, or other great grandee of the country, may be
almost said to be a horsewoman to the manner born. Riding comes as
naturally to her as it does to her brothers. Both clamber up on their
ponies, or are lifted on, almost as soon as they can walk, and
consequently "grow" into their riding, and become at fifteen or sixteen
years of age as much at home in the saddle as they are on a sofa. In the
hunting field they see the best types of riding extant, male and female,
and learn to copy their style and mode of handling their horses, while
oral instruction of the highest order is always at hand to supplement
daily practice. To the great ladies of England, then, all hints on the
subject would be superfluous. Most of them justly take great pride in
their riding, spare no pains to excel in it, and are thoroughly
successful.

In fact, it is the one accomplishment in which they as far surpass the
women of all other countries in the world as they outvie them in
personal beauty.

A German or French woman possibly may hold her own with an Englishwoman
in a ball room or a box at the opera; but put her on horseback, and take
her to the covert side, she is "not in it" with her English rivals.

Although the advantages and opportunities I speak of, however, render
words of advice upon female equitation unnecessary to ladies of the
_sangre azul_, I trust they may be found useful to others who may not
have had such opportunities.

In the upper middle classes nothing is more probable than the marriage
of one of the daughters of the house with a man whose future lot may be
cast in the colonies, where if a woman cannot ride she will be sorely at
a loss. Unlike the ladies of high degree above alluded to, the daughter
of a man in good position in the middle class will often not have
opportunities of learning to ride until she is fifteen or sixteen, and
by this time the youthful frame, supple as it may appear, has acquired
(so to speak) "a set," which at first renders riding far from agreeable;
because it calls into action whole sets of muscles and ligaments
heretofore rarely brought into play, or rather only partially so. Hence
the unpleasant stiffness that always follows the first essays of the
tyro in riding of the age I speak of, and which painful feeling too
often so discourages beginners that they give up the thing in disgust.

Now this unpleasant consequence of the first lessons may be easily
obviated by the following means. Bearing in mind that pain or stiffness
is the result of want of _supplesse_, the first desideratum is to
acquire this most desirable elasticity. To accomplish this, three months
before the pupil is put on horseback she should begin a course of
training in suppling and extension motions on foot, precisely similar to
those drilled into a cavalry recruit in the army. No amount of dancing
will do what is required. Even the professional _danseuse_, with her
constant exercise of the _ronde de jambe_, never possesses that mobile
action of the waist and play of the joints of the upper part of the
figure so thoroughly to be acquired by the exercises I speak of, which
also have the further greater advantage of giving development and
expansion to the chest. I therefore respectfully advise every careful
mother, who is desirous of seeing her daughters become accomplished
horsewomen, before taking them to the riding master (of whom more
hereafter), in the first place to employ a good drill master.

Possibly, the young ladies may have had drill instruction at school;
but experience tells me that such instruction is too often slurred over,
or only practised at such long intervals that its effect is confined to
causing the pupil to walk upright and carry herself well--a very
desirable matter, but not all that is requisite as a preparation for
riding.

Drill, to be effective for the above purposes, _should be practised
daily_. The course of instruction should begin with very short lessons,
lasting not more than twenty minutes at first; but these, _given in the
presence of mamma_, should be _most rigidly and minutely carried out,
otherwise they are useless_. They should gradually be increased in
length, according to the strength of the pupil, until she can stand an
hour's drilling without fatigue. The course should include instruction
in the use of dumb-bells, very carefully given. The weight of these
should in no case exceed seven pounds for a young lady of fifteen or
sixteen, and may judiciously be confined to three and four pounds for
those of a more tender age. The great use of dumb-bells is to give
flexibility to the shoulder joints and expansion to the chest. The first
lessons should not last more than five minutes, and in no case be
continued an instant after the pupil exhibits the slightest symptom
(easily discernable) of fatigue.

Of the course of drill instruction, the lessons called the "extension
motions" are the most effectual in promoting flexibility of the whole
figure; but they must be gone into by very gradual and careful
induction, and their effect will then be not only beneficial, but
pleasant to the pupil.

As it is possible that this may meet the eye of some lady who resides
where no eligible drill master is available, I propose in my next
chapter to give a programme of the exercises I speak of, which may then
be practised under the superintendence of the lady herself or her
governess. But in all cases where the services of a competent and
thoroughly practised drill master are to be had it is always best to
employ them.

Simple as the instruction may appear, the art of imparting it has to be
acquired in a school where the most minute attention is paid to every
detail, where nothing is allowed to be done in a careless or slovenly
manner, and where (so to speak) the pupil is never asked to read before
he can spell. It is this jumping _in medias_ with beginners in riding
that so often causes mischief and disgusts the pupil, who begins by
thinking that it is the easiest thing in the world to ride well, but
when she is put on horseback finds to her dismay that it is anything but
easy until acquired by practice and thoroughly good instructions.



CHAPTER II.


I proceed now to describe the suppling and extension exercises I have
before alluded to.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

These are simple enough in themselves, certain not to be forgotten when
once learnt, and easy to impart in the way of instruction. Their great
efficacy depends, however, upon the judgment with which the instructor
varies them, so as to call into action alternately opposite sets of
muscles and ligaments, as it is by such a process only that complete
_supplesse_ can be attained. The first suppling practice is performed as
follows: Place the pupil in a position perfectly upright, the heels
close together, the toes at an angle of 45 (military regulation), the
figure well drawn up from the waist, the shoulders thrown back, chest
advanced, the neck and head erect, arms hanging perpendicularly from the
shoulder, elbows slightly bent, the weight of the body thrown upon the
front part of the foot.

Then the instruction should be given thus: On the word "one," bring both
hands smartly up to the full extent of the arms, in front and above the
forehead, the tips of the fingers joining (Fig. 1); on the word "two,"
throw the hands sharply backwards and downwards until they meet behind
the back (Fig. 2). This exercise should be commenced slowly, and
gradually increased in rapidity until the pupil can execute it with
great quickness for several minutes consecutively. The object is to
throw the shoulders well back and give expansion to the chest.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

[Illustration: Fig. 4.]

Second practice.--On the word "one," bring the hands together (from
their position perpendicular from the shoulder) in front of the figure,
the tips of the fingers joining (Fig. 3). On the word "two," raise the
hands, still joined, slowly above and slightly in front of the head, to
the full extent of the arms (Fig. 4). "Three," separate the hands, and,
turning the palms upwards, lower them to the level of the shoulders, the
arms fully extended (Fig. 5). Simultaneously with the lowering of the
hands the heels should be raised slowly from the ground, so as to bring
the weight of the body upon the toes. On the word "four," lower the
hands gradually to the sides, carrying them at the same time well to the
rear (Fig. 6). The heels are also to be lowered to the ground as the
hands are carried backwards. This exercise should always be done slowly,
as its object is the gradual flexing and suppling of the shoulder and
elbow joints, and giving mobile action to those of the feet. In using
dumb-bells the first practice with them may be identical with the above,
the dumb-bells being grasped firmly in the centre.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.]

[Illustration: Fig. 6.]

Third practice.--On the word "one," close the hands firmly by the sides;
"two," raise them up quietly, bending the elbows until the hands are
touching the points of the shoulders (Fig. 7); "three," carry the hands,
still firmly closed, forwards and upwards, to the full extent of the
arms, well above and a little in front of the head (Fig. 8); "four,"
bring the hands with a quick, sharp motion down to the level of the
shoulders, carrying the elbows well to the rear (Fig. 9). The first two
motions of this exercise should be performed very slowly, the last very
rapidly. It can also be practised with advantage with the dumb-bells,
and is then of great service in strengthening and developing the muscles
of the chest and arms.

[Illustration: Fig. 7.]

[Illustration: Fig. 8.]

There are a great many other suppling practices, but the above, varied
occasionally by the use of the dumb-bells, will be found sufficient for
all practical purposes.

Coming now to the extension exercises, I select the third as being most
effective. 1st motion. Bring the hands together in front of the figure,
as in the second suppling practice, the points of the fingers joining,
the whole frame erect and well drawn up from the waist. 2. Raise the
hands slowly above the head to the full extent of the arms, turn the
palms of the hands outwards, and lock the thumbs together, the right
thumb within the left (Fig. 10). 3. Keeping the body, head, and neck
perfectly erect, place the head between the arms, the thumbs still
firmly locked together. 4. _Keeping the knees perfectly straight_, lower
the hands, and bend the back gradually and very slowly forward and
downwards, until the points of the fingers touch the instep (Fig. 11).
5. Raise the body and head (the latter still between the arms), quietly
up in the same slow time, bringing the hands again well above the head
(Fig. 12). 6. Lower the hands gradually (turning the palms upwards),
first to the level of the shoulders, making a momentary pause there, and
then quietly to the sides, carrying the hands in their descent from the
shoulder as much as possible to the rear, while the weight of the body
is thrown entirely upon the front of the foot.

[Illustration: Fig. 9.]

[Illustration: Fig. 10.]

In this exercise all depends upon keeping the knee joints perfectly
straight, and the head, in the bending-down movement, as much as
possible between the arms.

The object of the practice is to give suppleness to the waist, freedom
to the knee joint by well suppling the ligaments at the back of the
knee, and at the same time to expand the chest. For these purposes, if
carefully and judiciously carried out, it is most effective, calling
alternately upon every portion of the frame wherein suppleness is
indispensable to easy and graceful riding.

[Illustration: Fig. 11.]

[Illustration: Fig. 12.]

Great care should be taken not to hurry this lesson, and if the pupil is
of a figure that renders it difficult for her to reach her instep in
bending down, it should not be insisted on; but it is necessary that she
should bend the back as much as possible _without bending the knees_, as
any yielding of the knee joint destroys the whole value of the exercise.

To perform the above named practices comfortably, the pupil should wear
a loose dress which throws no constraint upon any part of the figure.
Slippers, too, are better than boots, as the latter confine the foot and
ankle too much for complete liberty of movement.

The duration of any of these lessons should at first be carefully
proportioned to the strength of the learner, and gradually increased as
to time day by day, until she can stand an hour's work without fatigue;
but be the lesson long or short, it should be practised every day.

It will be found that, with plenty of fresh air and walking exercise,
the pupil, by the aid of these suppling and extension practices, will
develope rapidly in elasticity of movement and in general health, and
that a couple or three months of such preparation will help her very
much as an introduction to her course of equitation.

Any good drill master who might be employed to "set up" a young lady
would most likely teach her all the above, and much more; but I have
ventured to detail these practices, assuming that a family may be
located in a neighbourhood in which no such man is available, in which
case the exercise can be imparted and superintended by the governess of
the family. These ladies are always clever and intelligent enough to
master in a few minutes such very simple details as those above
described.

Before quitting this subject a word about gymnastics may not be out of
place. Many heads of families consider them highly beneficial when
practised with bars and similar apparatus. My experience induces me to
differ from this notion, and I believe my view of the matter would be
borne out by the highest medical authority.

For boys even, gymnastic exercises should be most carefully watched, in
order that no undue strain should be thrown upon the yet unset muscle
and cartilage of the frame. For young ladies I believe gymnastics to be
not only unnecessary, but injurious, and that every practical result
desirable can be arrived at by the use of such exercises as I have
endeavoured to describe, varied occasionally by the moderate use of the
dumb-bells, a few minutes of which at one time is always sufficient.
Where there is a number of young people together, there is sure to be a
tendency to outdo each other whenever physical exercises of any kind are
introduced; and, while it is easy enough to control the pupils in the
simple suppling practices I speak of, it is very difficult for any but
the most experienced persons to determine how far a young lady may go
without injury to herself in the exercises of the horizontal bars or
trapeze ropes. If any kind of gymnastic exercises are allowed for a
young lady, the best, in my opinion, are those practised with the
"Ranelagh," because no hurtful strain can possibly be thrown upon the
pupil; and for boys I believe the Ranelagh to be a first-rate invention,
as is also the "Parlour Gymnasium," and several others on similar
principles, which ignore the practice of the bars.

The full practice of the gymnasium, however, for young men whose frames
have attained a certain amount of maturity, is no doubt good if not
carried to excess. I speak, however, only of young ladies of tender age.

Assuming then, that our pupil has been prepared for riding as above
described, let us proceed to consider the style of dress most suitable
for her early attempts in the saddle. For very young ladies, say under
twelve years of age, I believe in hair cut short in preference to
flowing locks, because the latter are very apt to blow into the eyes and
seriously interfere with riding. For the very juvenile equestrian tyro,
the hat should be one that fastens under the chin with ribbon or
something _that is not elastic_. Nothing is more important in beginning
with young people on horseback than to give them confidence, and nothing
so completely puts them out as anything loose about the head. For young
ladies over fifteen or sixteen, hats which are fastened to the hair may
be worn. But, having regard to the progress of the pupil rather than to
appearance, I recommend every beginner, no matter what her age, to leave
no doubt about the security of her headdress. As regards riding habits,
to begin with, while they should fit sufficiently to indicate the
outline of the lady's figure, all tightness should be avoided. Tight
habits are very sightly to the eye; but, in common with tight corsets,
steel or whalebone anywhere about the dress is fatal to that perfect
liberty of movement so essential to success in a beginner.

Loose jackets of course should not be worn, because the instructor would
be unable to see in what form his pupil was sitting. Nothing is better,
in the first place, than a jacket, of any coarse material the rider
chooses, made in the ordinary form, with plenty of room, especially
about the waist and shoulders. The skirt should not be too redundant or
too long, as in the latter case it is apt to get trodden on by the
horse, and in windy weather blows about, to the great annoyance of the
rider. A skirt that reaches about 12in. below the foot is amply long. As
to breadth, it should be just large enough to give space to move easily
in. A more voluminous garment is unsightly. The skirt, made independent
of the jacket, should fasten under it with a broad band. No clothing
should be worn under the skirt except riding trousers. Under-skirts of
any kind will utterly spoil the appearance of the fair equestrian, and
render her ride one of discomfort.

Riding trousers, the making of which should only be entrusted to people
who are well accustomed to it, may be made of cloth or chamois leather,
booted with cloth.

The boots, whether Wellingtons (if they are not out of date), side
springs, or lace boots, should be made purposely for riding. Fashion is
imperious, and that of the present day dictates a boot with a very high,
narrow heel, and a waist which is almost triangular; both are quite
unsuited for riding. The heel of a riding boot should be quite as broad
as the foot of the wearer, and should come well forward into the waist,
after the manner of a man's hunting boot, and the waist itself should be
perfectly flat, so as to give a firm level bearing on the stirrup-iron.
A sharp, narrow-waisted boot will be found not only impossible to keep
in place in the iron, but will hurt the sole of the foot very much.

Of spurs (very necessary in an advanced state of proficiency, and
inadmissible, of course, to a beginner) I shall say something hereafter.

Of gloves, the best kind for riding is a dogskin glove or gauntlet _two
sizes too large_. Six and a-half kid gloves do not admit of sufficient
freedom in the hand properly to manipulate the reins.

The pupil should be provided with a straight riding whip which is not
too flexible, because with a very supple whip she may inadvertently
touch the horse at the wrong time and upset him.

Having said thus much as to the equipment of our fair tyro, I leave all
observations as to dress fit for the hunting-field, or such promenade
riding as that of Rotten Row, for a future paper, and proceed to say
something about that very important consideration, the matter of the
riding master.

In the first place, then, it is necessary that the professor of
equitation should be one who has been regularly brought up to his
business. If such a man is not within reach, then I submit that it is
better to entrust the riding education of the young lady to any staid
middle-aged gentleman who is a thoroughly good horseman, and who will
undertake the task _con amore_. If the gentleman has daughters of his
own, all the better. I do not recommend young men for the office,
because, naturally enough, they are more likely to be engrossed with the
charms of their pupils than the progress they are making with their
riding. Youthful preceptors, too, have a tendency to "make the pace a
trifle too good," and there are not even wanting instances where they
have "bolted" with their pupils altogether. This by the way.

To return to the professional riding master. I may add that, in addition
to thoroughly understanding his craft, he should be a man of education
and a gentleman. Of such men there are several in the metropolis; in the
provinces they are few and far between. In most of our fashionable
watering-places one sees very neatly got-up horsey-looking men, duly
booted, spurred, and moustached, tittuping along with a small troop of
young ladies, who, with their skirts ballooned out with the fresh breeze
from the "briny," and "sitting all over the saddle," are making
themselves very uncomfortable, when they could have enjoyed the bracing
air just as well, for less money, in an open fly. The riding master, in
all probability, has promoted himself from the office of pad groom. He
knows how to saddle and turn out a lady's horse, and how to put the lady
into the saddle; he knows, also, the cheapest market in which to go for
fashionable-looking screws upon which to mount his customers. There his
qualifications as a riding master end. The inductive steps by which a
lady should be taught, the reason for everything she is asked to do, the
"aids" by which she should control her horse and establish a good
understanding with him, are all sealed mysteries to the stamp of man I
speak of. From such men and their ten-pound screws there is nothing to
be learnt in the way of riding.

Assuming, then, that some of my fair readers may be so placed as to
render access to a professional riding master impossible, I have
ventured upon this brief manual of "Equitation for Ladies," because I
believe that there are many gentlemen, good horsemen, who would
willingly undertake the teaching of their young friends, but that the
former are unacquainted with the readiest way of going to work. Let me
hope that the following may be of use in such case, both to preceptor
and pupil. Addressing myself first to the former, let me advise him to
be guided from first to last by the following maxims: 1st. Never do
anything to shake the confidence or nerve of your pupil, and never give
away a chance of doing it to the horse she rides. 2nd. Never talk to her
about lesson No. 2 until she thoroughly understands lesson No. 1. While
tittuping hacks are useless, and it is necessary to have an animal, even
for a beginner, that has still plenty of life, vigour, and action in
him, such a horse requires to be thoroughly well-broken to carry a
woman, and should have plenty of work, so as to do away with the
possibility of his flirting when she is mounted. It should be borne in
mind that, although a woman who has had years of practice will be
equally at home on almost every horse upon which you can put her, yet
only a particular stamp of animal is adapted to carry her in her earlier
essays.

Let me endeavour to give my idea of him. In height he should be from
15.2 to 15.3. A very tall woman may look better on a taller horse, but
it is rarely that one finds an animal over 15.3 with the requisite
proportions to ensure good action. Colour is of little account, except
that grey horses in the summer time part with their coats so freely as
to spoil a lady's habit. Quality is indispensable. A three-part-bred
horse, however, is the best, because he is likely to have more substance
in the right place than a thoroughbred. A good blood-like head and neck
are warranty for fashion. Good shoulders, in the ordinary acceptation of
the term, are not always good shoulders for a lady's horse, because
while they should be clean and sloping as to the scapula, the withers
should not be too fine. A little thickness there causes a side saddle to
fit better for the comfort of the rider. There should be plenty of depth
in the girth and rare good back ribs, for a woman's riding calls very
much on a horse's power. A short back is not conducive to ease for the
rider, whatever it may be as to the staying powers of the horse. On the
contrary, what is generally called a long-backed horse carries a lady
most pleasantly; but there must be plenty of power in the quarters,
muscular upper thighs, and strong hocks. The quarters, too, should be
good, and the setting on of the tail such as finishes the topping of the
horse well, and gives him a fashionable appearance. If conjoined to the
above-named points he stands on moderately short legs, with plenty of
bone, and has good round and sound feet, he will be found as nearly as
possible what is required.



CHAPTER III.


If a horse has been broken, so as to be obedient to the hand and leg of
a man, and steady to sights and sounds, it is considered by many that
the animal has only to be ridden with a skirt, and accustomed to strike
off without hesitation with its off legs in the canter, and it is fit to
carry a lady.

This is a great mistake. It is true that teaching it to canter
collectedly with its off legs is necessary, as well as habituating it to
the skirt, but there are other and important matters to be considered
which are too often overlooked.

In the first place, a man, to break a horse properly for a lady, must be
sufficiently well up at his craft to train the animal to obey the
lightest possible application of the aids of the leg; because a lady,
having but one leg to the horse, cannot give him the same amount of
support that can be given by a man, who applies both.

To supply the absence of the leg on the off side, in the case of the
lady, the only substitute is the whip. But all men accustomed to
breaking know that the effect of the whip is altogether different from
that of the leg, and that while the whip is occasionally necessary to
rouse a slightly lazy horse, and put him into his bridle, in the case of
one very free, or at all hot, the whip must be used with great caution
by a lady. As I have remarked elsewhere, most young horses are inclined
to strike off in the canter with the near leg, which is most unpleasant
to the fair equestrian. To correct this, the breaker applies certain
well-known aids, which it is unnecessary here to repeat. But in order to
confirm the horse in his lesson of cantering with his off leg, the man
must give the animal a considerable amount of support with both his own
and both hands. If this is continued after the horse is advanced to the
stage of breaking where the trainer begins to fit him for a lady, and
carried on until she rides him, he will be far from a pleasant mount to
her, because, missing the support of the man's legs, the horse will not
understand the light and delicate ones which the lady will use. It is
necessary, therefore, that the breaker should accustom his charge
readily to obey the slightest indication of the rider's will, and then
ride him in a side-saddle, in precisely the same way as he will
afterwards be ridden by the lady.

I remember once seeing a man, really a capital rider in his own way,
giving a lady a lesson on a horse of her own which he had broken for
her. Both master and pupil were sorely puzzled--the former because the
horse would not obey the hand and leg of the rider, as directed by the
master, and the pupil, by finding that all she was doing produced an
effect diametrically opposite to that which was intended. Perhaps the
horse, too, was as much puzzled to know what to be at as either rider or
master.

The animal was a very shapely chesnut, nearly thoroughbred, very
good-tempered, but full of courage. Evidently he was unaccustomed to
carry a lady, and was beginning to give indications that his temper was
getting up. The object was to canter him to the right round the school,
"going large," as it is technically called. He had trotted to the other
hand well enough, and the young lady had ridden him fairly; but when
turned to the reverse hand, and the word "canter" was given, he
evidently missed the support afforded by the legs of a male rider. When
pressed gently forward to a shortened rein, he stepped very high in his
trot. "Touch him on the right shoulder with the whip sharply, miss,"
said the riding master. In answer to the sharp cut of the whip, the
horse jumped off passionately in a canter, with his near legs first--a
dangerous thing when going round the school to the right. "Stop him,
miss," said the preceptor; "take him into the corner, bend his head to
the right. Now the leg and whip again." The same result followed--the
lady flurried as well as her horse. The riding master at last took the
lady off, and mounted the horse himself; but he rode with a man's seat,
not a woman's. The horse cantered collectedly and well into his bridle
when the master asked him. "You see, miss, it is easy enough," said the
master; "a little patience, and you will do it presently." But the
second essay of the lady was as unsuccessful as the first; nay more so,
as the horse was getting very angry. "What can be the reason?" at last
said the lady, halting her horse; "I must be very stupid." "It is some
peculiarity in your hand," said the master, soothingly; "it will be all
right by-and-by." "Do you think," said the lady, deferentially, "that
the difference of seat--your leg on the right side--has anything to do
with it?" "Not a bit," replied the preceptor. But it had all to do with
it, and eventually the lady had to be put upon an old school hack for
her ride in the park, leaving her own horse at the riding school.

When the lady was gone the master observed, "Most extraordinary thing! I
can't get this horse to do wrong, and Miss A. cannot get him to go a
yard." "Did you ever ride him in a side-saddle?" I inquired. "I?
Certainly not," was the answer; "no man can break a horse in a
side-saddle" (this was true enough as regards the early stages), "and,"
continued the professor, "I can't ride a bit in a side-saddle." The
latter observation settled the matter in my mind; for it has been always
clear to me that, if a man cannot acquire a true and firm seat himself
on a side-saddle, it is impossible he can teach a woman to ride. He may
teach her to sit square and upright on an old horse that has been
carrying women for years, but "going about" on such an animal is not
riding--my idea of which, as regards a lady, is, that on a horse still
full of courage and action (though not too fresh or short of work) the
rider should be able, by the application of aids sound in theory and
practice, to render the horse thoroughly obedient to her will. This is
riding. Cantering along upon an old tittuping hack is merely taking
horse exercise in a mild form.

As regards a man riding in a side-saddle, I may say that some years ago
a young friend of mine, now deceased--than whom there never was a better
man with hounds--hunted in a side-saddle for three or four seasons
before his death. He had injured his right foot so badly in a fall as to
necessitate amputation at the instep, and he preferred the side-saddle
seat to the awkward and disagreeable feeling occasioned by trusting to
a cork foot in the off-side stirrup. Some of your readers may probably
remember the dashing youngster I allude to, who was always to be seen
going true and straight in the front rank, when he hunted eighteen years
ago with the Royal Buckhounds. I can safely say that the horses he rode
in his side-saddle were the perfection of ladies' hunters, and that he
was one of the best instructors of female equitation I ever met.

I repeat, then, that before a horse can be pronounced fit to carry a
lady he should have been ridden in a side-saddle for some time by a man.

Riding in this way, the breaker's first object should be to make the
horse walk truly and fairly up to his bridle, without hurrying or
shuffling in his pace, than which nothing is more unpleasant to a lady,
especially if she is engaged in conversation with a companion. Of course
it is indispensable that a horse should be a good natural walker, but at
the same time the animal should be carefully taught to work right up to
his bit in this most important pace; action in the others can then be
easily developed.

In the trot the breaker should gradually accustom the animal to go with
the least possible amount of support from the leg. This he will easily
do by using a very long whip, and, when he feels the horse hanging back
from his work, touching him lightly on the hind quarters instead of
closing the leg.

In the foregoing I am assuming that the horse has been previously well
broken, mouthed, and balanced to carry a man. To teach a horse readily
to obey such delicate aids of hand or leg, as a lady can apply, I have
found the following method most effectual: Use a side-saddle which has
no head crutch on the off side; this gives more freedom of action to the
right hand. Ride without a stirrup; your balance is sure then to be
true. Use a long whip, and wear a spur on the left heel, furnished with
short and not very sharp rowels. Make your horse walk well, and trot
well up to his bridle, with as little leg as possible, touching him
sharply with the spur if he tries to shirk his work. The long whip on
the off side will prevent him from throwing his haunches in. Before
cantering, collect him well. Keep his forehand well up, and his haunches
under him. Keep his head well bent to the right; take him into the
corner of the school or _manége_; then, keeping him up to his work
rather by the aid of the spur and whip than by the leg, strike him
lightly off to the right. A sharp touch of the spur behind the girth,
and a light firm feeling of both reins, the inward the strongest, will
cause him to strike off true. Where no riding house or walled _manége_
is available, the above may be successfully carried out in a small
paddock, having tolerably high fences and corners nearly square.

_Manner_ in riding the horse at this stage of his breaking is of vital
importance. The hands, while kept well back, should be light and lively;
the whip and spur (never to be unnecessarily applied) should be used so
as to let the horse know that they are always ready if he hangs back
from his work; and the rider, sitting easily and flexibly in the saddle,
should ride with spirit and vivacity, making much of the horse from time
to time as he answers with alacrity to the light and lively aids
applied. A dull rider makes a dull horse, and _vice versâ_. Gradually, a
well bred, good tempered animal will learn to answer smartly to the
slightest indication of the rider's will, and while giving a good
_appui_ to the hand, will convey a most enjoyable feeling from his
well-balanced elastic movement, without the necessity of strong or rough
aids. In a very brief time the long whip can be dispensed with, and all
inclination to throw the haunches in will cease. The animal has then
acquired the _aplomb_ necessary to fit him for the lady equestrian. He
should then be taught by gradually inductive lessons to walk quietly up
to his fences and jump freely, his haunches well under him; and
subsequently to execute his leap from a steady, collected canter,
without rush or hurry.

During the latter part of each lesson he should be ridden with a skirt
or rug on.

He should then be accustomed to all kinds of sights and sounds, from the
rattle of a wheelbarrow to the pattering file firing at a review, and
the loud report of a great gun; and especially he should be habituated
_to having all sorts of colours_ about him.

I well remember seeing a fine horse, that had been some time in the
breaker's hand, and was perfect in his mouth and paces, put a general
officer and his lady into a complete fix. The lady went to a review,
having been assisted into her saddle by her husband in his mufti costume
before he dressed for parade. After the review, the lady dismounted to
partake of luncheon in a marquee, and, after the repast, the general
proceeded to put his wife on her horse; but the gallant steed by no
means understood the dancing plume of red and white feathers in the
officer's cocked hat, and he would none of him. He snorted, pawed the
ground in terror, ran back, and did everything but stand still, although
he had stood the marching past and firing well enough. Unluckily the
groom had been sent home, and there was nobody in mufti on the ground
who could put the lady on her saddle. Even when the general took off his
cocked hat, the horse, having taken a dislike to him, would not let his
master come near him. Finally, as there was no carriages on the ground,
the lady had to walk a considerable distance, her horse led by an
orderly. The above goes to show that to make a horse perfect for a lady,
nothing likely to occur in the way of sights or sounds should be
overlooked. If the horse possesses the requisite power and form to fit
him for a hunter, and the lady for whom he is intended graces the
hunting field with her presence, the animal should be ridden quietly in
cubhunting time as often as possible, in long trots, _beside_ the hounds
going to covert, and accustomed gradually to the music of the "sylvan
choir," to stand quietly at the covert side, and take no heed of scarlet
coats. If the horse has been otherwise well broken, the above is simply
a question of time and patience.

Let me now say something with regard to saddlery and appointments. The
most important of these, of course, is the side-saddle, as to the form
of which considerable diversity of opinion exists.

My own experiences induce me to believe in a saddle which is as nearly
as possible _flat_ from between the pommels to the cantle; any dip in
the stretcher of the tree, while it renders the lady's seat less secure,
has also the effect of throwing her weight too much upon the horse's
forehand, and thus cramping his action. When a lady has acquired skill
and confidence in her riding, a saddle with a very low-cut pommel on
the off side is best, because it not only admits of the rider getting
her hands lower (for which occasion may frequently occur), but on the
off side it gives the lady and the horse a far better appearance, the
high off side pommel spoiling the graceful contour of figure in both.
Worked or plain off-side flaps are matters of taste, and have nothing to
do with utility. The stirrup should be a Victoria, well padded. The
leather should be fitted on the near side, in a similar manner to a
man's stirrup leather, and be quite independent of the quarter strap.
The reason for this is obvious. If you fit a lady's stirrup leather ever
so carefully after she is up, you cannot tell how much the horse "will
give up" in his girth after an hour's riding, or even less; and the
leather which takes up on the off side may give to the extent of three
or four holes, thereby greatly incommoding the rider, especially if she
is in the hunting field and has to jump her horse, as it is ten to one,
although she has the power of pulling up the leather herself, if, in the
excitement of the chase, either she or anybody else will notice the
rendering of the leather, and a drop leap may bring the rider to grief,
whereas the near side arrangement is a fixture, and always reliable. For
really comfortable riding, I believe also that it is quite as necessary
that a saddle should be made in such proportion as to _fit the lady_, as
that it should fit the horse. Even a thoroughly accomplished horsewoman
cannot ride easily in a saddle that is too short from pommel to cantle,
or too narrow in the seat. In either case, both discomfort and ungainly
appearance are the result; while to a lady of slight _petite_ figure, a
saddle too long from front to rear is equally unsightly, though possibly
not quite so uncomfortable to the rider. Broad girths of the best
materials are indispensable. There should be three of them. The quarter
strap or girth should lead from the near side fork of the tree to a
buckle piece attached to a ring on the off-side quarter, the ring giving
the quarter strap a better bearing. A crupper should never be used; a
horse that requires one is not fit for a lady. Saddle cloths are
unnecessary to a carefully-pannelled saddle, and hide the symmetry of
the horse. Breastplates or neck straps may be used for hunting, or the
fitting of martingales (necessary sometimes). But the less leather
about the horse, where it can be dispensed with, the better he will
look.

As to bridles, as a rule, I maintain that a lady's horse properly broken
should ride right into an ordinary double bridle, bit, and bridoon, the
port of the bit proportioned to the contour and setting on of the
horse's head and neck, as should also be the length of the cheek piece
and jaw of the bit; while the question of a plain or twisted bridoon or
snaffle must be regulated by the hand of the rider and the mouth of the
horse. For park or promenade riding, fashion of late years inclines to a
single rein bridle or "Hanoverian," or hard and sharp. No doubt they are
very sightly and neat in appearance; but with a high-couraged horse they
require very nice and finished hands, and in the majority of cases, in
my humble opinion, are safe only for the most accomplished female
riders.

I leave the question of bridle-fronts, bound with ribbon of pink, blue,
or yellow, to the taste of my readers; when neatly put on and fresh,
they look gay in the park. But either there or in the hunting field, I
believe more in the plain leather front, as having, if I may so express
it, a more workmanlike appearance.

Having now endeavoured to describe the best preparations on foot for the
pupil, the style of dress most suitable for her first lessons in
equitation, the stamp of horse a lady should ride, the training he
should undergo for the special service required of him, and the kind of
saddlery and equipment he will travel best in, in my next chapter I will
attempt briefly, but minutely, to detail the first step in the riding
lesson proper, namely, the form in which the pupil should approach her
horse in order to be assisted into the saddle, and the mounting motions,
all of which are of great importance, as each motion should be executed
gracefully, without hurry, and in a well defined and finished manner.
Nothing connected with riding stamps the style and _tournure_ of a lady
more than the fashion in which she mounts her horse and arranges her
habit; it ought, in fact, to be a matter as carefully looked to by the
instructor as her mode of entering a room would be to a master of
deportment.



CHAPTER IV.


The manner in which a lady should approach her horse in order to be
assisted to mount should be carefully looked to by the instructor.
Anything like hurry, while it is calculated to render the horse
unsteady, is at the same time ungraceful, and the beginning of a bad
habit always to be avoided.

Everything in the way of mounting or dismounting a horse, either by a
lady or gentleman, should be done with well-defined and deliberate,
although smart motions. This precision once acquired is the good habit
which becomes second nature to the rider, and is so highly indicative of
good manners in equitation.

To some persons the formula I am about to describe may appear too
punctilious, and possibly carried to too nice a point of precision. But
my idea is that in all these matters it is well to begin by _overdoing
them_ a little. We are all more or less prone to become careless in our
carriage and bearing, both on foot and horseback, as we grow older;
therefore overdoing them a trifle with young people may safely be
pronounced an error on the right side.

I have frequently heard the remark that it is of no consequence how a
man or woman gets upon a horse, provided they can ride when once up. I
maintain that graceful riding is true riding, and that if it is worth
while to ride gracefully, it is equally worth while to mount gracefully.

Let us then suppose the lady to be dressed and ready for her ride in
school or _manége_. She should take the skirt of her habit in the full
of both hands, holding her whip in the right; the skirt should be raised
sufficiently to admit of the wearer walking freely. Then she should walk
from a point in the school at right angles with her horse quietly to his
shoulder, and face square to her left, standing just behind the
animal's near elbow and parallel to his side. Thus facing to the front,
and still holding her skirt with both hands, she should pass her whip
from her right hand into the left, and "make much of her horse" by
patting him on the near shoulder--the best method anybody (man or woman)
can adopt as a first step to acquaintance with a strange horse; at the
same time she should speak soothingly to her new equine friend. The
horse should be held by a groom standing in front of him, and holding
him by both reins. On the assistant approaching to lift the pupil to the
saddle, the lady should return the whip to the right hand and drop her
habit. She should then take the snaffle or bridoon rein in the centre
with the left hand, at the end close to the buckle piece with the right,
and draw them through the left until she has a light and equal feeling
upon both sides of the horse's mouth. The right hand should then be
placed firmly on the near side upper crutch of the saddle, the snaffle
rein held between the pommel and the hand, the whip in the full of it.
The left hand should then grip the reins, and the lady should resume her
position square to the front, without moving her right hand or relaxing
her grasp of the pommel of the saddle. The assistant (who should be _a
gentleman_, not a groom) should then stoop low enough to place both his
hands locked together in such a position that the pupil can place her
left foot firmly on them, the left knee slightly bent. At the same time
she should also place the flat of her left hand firmly on the right
shoulder of the assistant, keeping her arm perfectly straight. The
instructor should then give her the following directions: "On the word
'one,' bend the right knee; on the word 'two,' spring smartly up from
the right foot and straighten the left knee." If the pupil executes
these movements simultaneously, keeping her left elbow perfectly firm
and the arm straight, the assistant can lift her with the greatest ease
to the level of the saddle, where, firmly grasping the pommel, she has
only to make a half turn to her left, and she is seated sideways on her
horse. The assistant should then straighten the skirt down, and taking
the slack of it in his left hand, lift it over the near side upper
crutch while the lady turns in her saddle, and facing square to her
point, lifts her right knee over the pommel, bringing her right leg
close to the forepoint of the saddle, with the leg well drawn back, and
the toe raised from the instep. The assistant should then place the
lady's foot well home in the stirrup. Before raising the right knee over
the pommel, the lady should lift the snaffle reins with her right hand
high enough to admit of her moving the leg without interfering with
them. The right knee being firmly placed between the pommels, and the
left foot in the stirrup, the pupil should then place her right hand
with the snaffle reins between the finger and thumb and the whip in the
full of the hand, firmly on the off-side pommel of the saddle. She
should then draw her left foot well back, and getting a firm bearing on
the stirrup, raise herself well up from the saddle, leaning forward
sufficiently to preserve her balance. She should then pass her left hand
back, and pull her skirt well out, so that there remains no ruck or
wrinkle in it, and then quietly lower herself down to the saddle again.
This act of clearing the slack of the skirt is one which it is so
frequently necessary for the lady to execute when riding that she should
practise it frequently in her early lessons. It is true that when the
assistant first places her on the horse he can arrange her habit as she
rises from the saddle; but, for some time, until she has acquired
firmness and perfect balance, her habit will inevitably ride up,
particularly in trotting, and it is necessary that she should learn to
be independent in this respect of the gentleman who attends her.
Moreover, as to arrange the habit gracefully requires considerable
practice, it should form a distinct part of the lesson at first when the
horse is standing perfectly still, afterwards at a walk, and finally at
a trot. In cantering it cannot be done.

Having arranged the hind part of her skirt, the lady should then take
the front in her left hand, and pull it well forward, raising her right
knee at the same time, to insure that she has perfect freedom of action
for it. The left knee should then be placed firmly against the leaping
crutch (or, as it is generally called, the third crutch) of the saddle;
although with saddles devoid of an off-side pommel, it is, in fact, the
second crutch. This important adjunct to a lady's firmness and security
in riding should always be most carefully looked to by Paterfamilias
when purchasing the saddle, and by the master after it is bought. I can
well remember when the third crutch was unknown; and in these days, when
its efficiency has been so abundantly proved, it really seems marvellous
how ladies years ago could not only ride well without it, but even
acquit themselves creditably in the hunting field. The secret of the
matter, however, lies in this: First, although there was no third
support for the rider, the off-side and near-side pommels were much
closer together than those now made; the off-side one was well padded,
and in most cases where ladies rode hunting it was usual to have an
extra pad, which fitted on to the off-side crutch, and again narrowed
the interval, according to the size of the lady, until her leg fitted
tightly between the two crutches, thus giving her a very firm hold with
the right knee. Nevertheless, it is evident that only the truest balance
would enable the fair equestrians of those days to maintain their seats.

When a young lady is first put on horseback, I believe in anything that
can give her confidence, and for this purpose the third crutch is
admirable, because she finds a firm purchase between the crutch and the
stirrup. As this hold, however, is apt to degenerate into a complete
reliance on the third pommel, it is necessary in a more advanced stage
of the lessons in equitation to use a saddle without any such support
for the pupil. The third crutch, when forming part of a side-saddle,
_should never be removed_, as is too frequently done by grooms for the
purpose of cleaning the saddle. The crutch itself is so constructed as
to screw into a socket in the tree. By constantly screwing and
unscrewing it, the thread of the screw wears out; in fact, this will
occur much sooner than would be supposed. The consequence is that, let
the lady or her assistant turn the third crutch to what angle they may
in order to suit the length and formation of the lady's leg, the crutch
will not remain in its proper position, but is continually shifting,
turning, and wobbling, to the great discomfort of the rider; nay, I have
seen more than one case where the crutch has turned edgeways to the
rider's leg, and caused severe pain and bruising of the delicate limb.
Let it be a strict injunction then, to your groom, "Never unscrew the
third crutch;" and if you find the support shifting in its socket,
shift the groom as soon as possible, and send the saddle to the saddler
to be firmly fixed in.

Why saddlers should fit these supports to turn at all, I can see no good
reason. Some men, it is true, say that in putting a lady on horseback it
is necessary to turn the third crutch round, so as to prevent it from
catching the skirt; but for my own part I could never find any necessity
for this, or any difficulty in clearing a lady's skirt when lifting her
to the saddle. In purchasing a side-saddle, I repeat, the greatest
judgment is necessary as regards the third crutch; while it should be
long enough to give a good purchase and be well padded, it should be but
_slightly curved_. A crutch that forms a considerable segment of a
circle is both inconvenient and dangerous--inconvenient because it is a
support of this description (if any) that is in a lady's way in
mounting, and dangerous because, if in the hunting field a horse should
chance to fall with his fair rider, she would be unable to extricate
herself from her fallen steed, inasmuch as the nearly half-circular
crutch would completely pin her leg to the horse. It is, in fact, almost
as dangerous as if a man were to strap himself to his saddle (which, by
the way, I once saw a very determined hunting man do when suffering from
weakness in one leg). He had no opportunity, however, of testing his
experiment, as the master of the hounds very judiciously told him that,
if he persevered, he (the master) would take the hounds home.

Nor is there any possible use in the enveloping of the leg by the thick
crutch of the side-saddle. With the slightest possible bend, the support
is sufficient if the rider sits fair and true in her saddle, while
plenty of stuffing is necessary to avoid bruising the leg, especially in
leaping. These "stumpy-looking" third crutches are certainly less
sightly in the saddle-room than the more circular ones; but I submit
that, inasmuch as it is not seen when the lady is up, it is of more
consequence to consult her comfort and safety than the eye of the groom.

When the lady has arranged her dress to her satisfaction, as above
described, the next section of the lesson should consist in teaching how
she should take up her reins; and here again the greatest care should
be taken by the instructor that this is done coolly and _gracefully_,
without hurry or "fumbling." A great deal of trouble in this way may be
saved by the instructor teaching the lady how to take up her reins on
foot. Thus, take an ordinary double bridle, let a lad hold the upper
part of the head-stall in one hand, and the bits in the other, and stand
opposite the pupil. Hang both reins over your left arm just as they
would rest on the neck of the horse, the curb rein underneath, the
bridoon rein above. Let the pupil then take hold of _both reins_ at the
end with the right hand; place the second finger of the left hand
between the bridoon reins with the nearside rein uppermost, and the
little finger of the same hand between the curb reins, the near-side
curb rein uppermost. Let her then place both bridoon and bit reins
perfectly flat over the middle joint of the forefinger of the left hand,
and drop the end of the reins over the knuckles, then close the thumb
firmly down on them. She will find then both bit and bridoon reins
equally divided, and an equal facility of causing them to act on the
horse's mouth, according to the direction in which she turns the wrist
of her left or bridle hand proper, or assists it with her right hand,
according to the aids hereafter to be described. The mode of holding the
reins above laid down is called in the French school "Mode de Paysanne,"
or civilian method. The military fashion, which is far more elegant, but
not so well adapted at first for a beginner, is as follows.

The pupil takes the end of the bridoon reins between the finger and
thumb of the right hand, and passes them over the full of the left, or,
to render the explanation still more simple, passes all the fingers of
the left hand between them, the off side rein above, and the near side
one below; the buckle piece on the knuckle of the forefinger, the rest
of the rein hanging loosely down. Let the lady then take the bit or curb
reins between the finger and thumb of the right hand, and pass the
little finger of the left between them, the near side rein uppermost.
With the right hand then let her draw the reins through the left,
until--keeping the left hand perfectly quiet--she has a light, almost
imperceptible, feeling on the horse's mouth. Let her then turn the bit
reins over the middle joint of the forefinger of the left hand, and
close the thumb down closely and firmly on them. The reins will then be
precisely in the form in which a dragoon's reins are arranged when he is
riding a finished horse at a field day or elsewhere. This method is
therefore called the "mode militaire." But inasmuch as only a
highly-finished horse can be ridden on the bit rein alone by an equally
finished rider, in order to assist the latter, and to prevent the horse
unduly feeling the action of the curb on his mouth, it is necessary that
the rider should draw up the bridoon reins so as to obtain an equal
feeling upon both bit and bridoon. Nothing can be more simple than to do
this, as the rider has only with the right hand to take hold of the
bridoon rein on the left or near side of the buckle or centre, and draw
it up until the part passing under the lower edge of the hand is of
equal length with the bit reins. She then closes her left thumb on both
reins, and shortens the right bridoon rein until it is of equal length
with the others. The rider has then an equal feeling of all four reins.
She should then hold the ends with her right hand, and let the reins
slip through the left until both hands are drawn back close to her
waist, the wrists slightly rounded outwards, the back towards the
horse's head, and the elbows drawn slightly back behind the waist.

The instructor having placed the pupil's hands, should then proceed to
correct her general position. The figure should be well drawn up from
the waist, shoulders perfectly square and well thrown back, head and
neck erect, the upper part of the arm hanging almost perpendicular from
the shoulder, the elbows well back, so that a thin rod would pass
between them and the waist; the obvious reason for this position of the
hands and elbows being that, if they are allowed to go forward, the
whole flexibility of the waist--upon which depends the comfort, grace,
and security of the pupil's riding--is destroyed, and the lithe figure
of the fair rider becomes rigid and wooden in appearance, and stiff in
action.

The upper part of the figure being thus placed, the master's attention
should be directed to the position of the feet and legs. That of the
right leg I have already described. The left leg, with the knee well
bent, should be placed firmly against the third crutch, the heel well
sunk, the toe raised from the instep, the foot at first well home in the
stirrup. By well stretching down the heel the rider braces all the
muscles at the back of the leg, and this, joined to drawing the figure
well up from the waist, secures that true balance so indispensable to
good riding. The right leg should be well bent and drawn back as near as
possible to the left leg.

This should be the position at a walk, the aids for which, and the turns
I leave for another chapter.



CHAPTER V.


Let me now offer a few remarks on a subject upon which considerable
diversity of opinion exists, namely, whether the teaching of a young
lady in riding may or may not be entrusted to a female professor of
equitation in preference to a man. At the first glance, there seems to
be good reason for preferring the tuition of the lady but, on careful
consideration, I believe most of those interested in the matter will
agree with me that, under many circumstances likely to occur, one lady,
however good a horsewoman herself, is likely to be quite unable to
render the desired assistance to a pupil, conceding, at the same time
that, as regards the details of dress, the opinion of a lady who has had
long practice in the saddle may be very useful.

In the first place, the placing of the pupil on the horse and taking her
off cannot possibly be as well done, to say the least, by a lady
instructor as it can by a gentleman; neither would the performance of
such an office be graceful or convenient to either. Secondly, all that
portion of the instruction which should be given by the instructor on
foot while the pupil is on horseback can be better given by a man who
understands his business than by a lady, because, although the tone of
voice in which the instruction is conveyed should be kindly, and the
manner cheerful and encouraging, a degree of _firmness_ and
_conciseness_ is necessary, which few ladies possess, for the reason
that the art of teaching riding, like riding itself, requires a
considerable practice and long drilling into the instructor in a school
where smartness of diction and expression form part of the education of
an intended professor of equitation. Thirdly, assuming both instructor
and pupil to be in the saddle, a lady, although thoroughly mistress of
her own horse, is unable to aid her pupil as easily as a man can.

In the early lessons given (the instructor being on horseback), it is
necessary that the latter should be close enough to the pupil's horse on
the off side to be able at any moment to place the hands of the learner,
to check any exuberant action of the horse by laying the left hand
firmly upon the reins; and in the first essays made by the pupil in the
trotting lesson, to assist her by the left hand of the instructor placed
under the right elbow of the beginner.

And finally, should any necessity arise during a ride for dismounting
the pupil, a lady instructor labours under this difficulty, that having
dismounted herself, and both pupil and teacher being on the ground, the
act of mounting again by two ladies, unattended by a man, is one of
considerable difficulty and possible danger.

From the very necessity of her position in the saddle, a lady teaching
another cannot, without inconvenience to both legs (the left
especially), approach near enough to her pupil's horse to assist the
latter with her left hand, because her left leg is always in danger of
coming in contact with the other horse; while on a windy day the skirt
of her habit is likely enough to be blown into his flank, and thereby
make him unsteady. Not long since I saw two ladies who were riding,
unattended by a man, in a very awkward predicament. Both are practised
riders, possessing capital seats and hands, and are equal to any
contingency likely to occur as long as they are in the saddle; nay, one
of the ladies is, I believe, the most accomplished horsewoman I ever
saw. Her seat is both fine and graceful to a degree; her hands
perfection, her nerve first-rate, and her experience in riding even
difficult horses with hounds considerable. This lady was the elder of
the two; her companion was considerably younger, but although a very
accomplished rider, she lacked the experience of her friend. Something
had gone amiss with the younger lady's saddle, and both ladies
dismounted to arrange it. The elder was quite equal to this, for I have
seen her many times saddle and bridle her own horse, and with one that
would stand quietly (being herself exceedingly supple and active), she
can put her hands on the upper pommel and vault into the saddle without
any assistance. But in the case I allude to she was completely fixed.
Her horse was a chesnut thoroughbred, only four years old; and,
although, despite all difficulty I believe, had she been alone, she
would have succeeded in mounting, her friend and her horse placed her in
an awkward dilemma. She was compelled from time to time to use one hand
to disengage the folds of her habit, and she had to hold both horses,
even if her friend could have gained her saddle unassisted. Neither
horse would stand still; the one, as is invariably the case in such
little difficulties, setting a bad example, which the other was not slow
to follow. To hold two horses, keep clear of her own habit, while the
horses were shifting their positions continually, and give her friend
even the least help in mounting, proved too much even for the
highly-finished lady equestrian, and as the _contretemps_ occurred on a
lone country road, I believe they would have been compelled to lead
their horses a considerable distance, had I not chanced opportunely to
arrive. In such places as Rotten-row a lady instructor may get on
tolerably well with her pupil, because, in case of any mishap, there are
plenty of men always at hand who know what a horse is; but in
out-of-the-way country places it is very different. The British rustic,
whatever other good qualities he may possess, is not celebrated, as a
rule, for over politeness to ladies--strangers particularly. In proof of
the above, there is a story current in this neighbourhood which is
likely enough to be true, although I cannot vouch for it myself. The
tale runs thus:--A lady (one of the daughters of a noble house) having
married, had gone abroad with her husband, and been absent from the home
of her early days so long that the uprising generation of young people
about the estate knew her not. She was taking a ride one day unattended,
and mounted on a steady cob, had been visiting the long-cherished scenes
of her childhood, when she came to a very awkward bridle gate, seated on
which was a juvenile "wopstraw" in duck frock, leather leggings, and
wideawake. The boy jumped down and opened the gate for the lady, at the
same time taking off his hat. Now the fair recipient of this delicate
attention was well aware of the fact that the village people on the
paternal estate were celebrated in the county for their rough manners to
strangers, ladies forming no exception, so she was agreeably surprised
at the exceptional good behaviour of the youngster, the more so as she
was quite sure he did not know her. Taking a shilling out of her purse
she gave it to him, observing: "You are a very good boy," and added,
laughing, "I am sure you were not born at D." (the name of the principal
village on the estate). But to the donor's horror the youngster,
grasping his hat firmly in one fist and the shilling in the other, with
a fiery glare of indignation in his fat face and flashing eye, replied,
"Thou be'st a loyar (liar), I wor."

_Verbum sap._ All rustics are not so ill behaved as the one above
mentioned. But as very few of them will go far out of their road to
assist a stranger, it is as well that ladies riding in remote country
parts should be attended by a gentleman; and I repeat, for all purposes
of instruction, the attendance of a man will be found far more efficient
than that of a lady.



CHAPTER VI.


The frontispiece represents the stamp of horse best calculated to carry
a lady, and is a very truthful likeness of a five-year-old horse, named
Prince Arthur, a son of the celebrated racehorse Stockwell, his dam a
half-bred Arab mare.

The subject of the plate, therefore, has some of the very best English
blood in his veins, in conjunction with that Eastern strain from which
in all probability our magnificent British thoroughbreds derive a
considerable proportion of their power of endurance, or, in turf
phraseology, their staying quality.

The horse is a first-class hack, as good a performer over the great
Leicestershire pastures and formidable oxers which so often bar the way
in that sporting county, as he has already proved himself in the
_manége_; and, as he possesses, in addition to true and most elastic
action, fine temper and indomitable courage, I venture to present his
likeness as my type of the sort of animal adapted either for Rotten-row
or to hold his own in the "first flight" over a country.

A common error is that any weedy thoroughbred, too slow for racing, and
without the "timber" and substance to enable him to carry a 10-stone man
to hounds, is good enough for a lady's riding. There can be no greater
mistake. While quality and fashion are indispensable in a woman's horse,
strength and substance are equally necessary. As I have before observed,
the very conditions upon which the comfort and safety of a lady's riding
depend, leave her horse without that support in his action which he
would derive from the riding of a good man; while, however true the
balance of the lady may be, still the horse's powers are called upon in
a long ride, either on the flat or over the country, in a way which
tests him severely. There must therefore be plenty of wear and tear in
the right place--great strength in the loins, a back _not too short_,
aided by strong and well-arched back ribs, which are at the same time
not too closely locked up.

The Arab horse proper, despite his great capability of endurance, his
symmetrical contour and extraordinary sagacity, is still a trying mount
for a lady unaccustomed to him. With great power in his hind quarters
(as a rule), he is short in the back, low and short in front of the
saddle. The consequence is that from his powerful back action, he
pitches too much in his collected paces to ride pleasantly to a woman,
although when striding away at top speed he is easy enough.

On the other hand, the English horse that possesses length enough to
enable him to travel easily under the fair equestrian too often has the
length in the wrong place, and cannot stay--a defect fatal to enjoyable
riding for a lady, at all events in the hunting field.

It is to the admixture of Eastern and Western blood, therefore, that one
has to look for symmetry of topping conjoined to length in the right
place, power, and substance.

I now proceed to say a few words as to the "aids" to be employed to put
the horse in motion. In order to impress these thoroughly upon the
memory of the fair tyro, the preceptor should adopt a form of question
and answer to the following effect:

Q. What are the aids to make a horse walk?--A. A pressure of the leg to
his side, at the same time easing the hand.

Q. How is the hand to be eased?--A. From the wrist; the arm being kept
perfectly steady, and the little finger yielding towards the horse's
neck.

Q. How many lines of action should the little finger of the bridle hand
move on?--A. Four. First, towards the waist; second, towards the horse's
neck; third, towards the right shoulder; fourth, towards the left.

Q. What are the objects of these motions?--A. First, to collect, halt,
or rein back the horse. Second, to give him facility of moving forward.
Third, to turn him to the left. Fourth, to turn him to the right. The
upper part of the rider's figure to be slightly turned from the waist,
by bringing forward the right shoulder when turning to the left and
_vice versâ_, in order to enable her to move exactly on the same line as
the horse, and so to preserve completely her due _aplomb_ or balance in
the saddle. The above, in a slightly modified form, is the instruction
laid down in the "Military Aid Book," as is the following.

Q. What is meant by a light hand?--A. An almost imperceptible easing and
feeling of the bridle hand, so as to preserve the natural delicacy of
the horse's mouth.

The foregoing, however, while it indicates correctly and concisely what
a light hand is, is scarcely explicit enough for a beginner. I believe
the best definition to be this: when a horse is "light in hand,"
according to the technical meaning, it should by no means be understood
that he has so delicate a mouth that he fears the action of the bit in
it. On the contrary, having in his breaking been fairly balanced, the
greater part of the weight on his haunches, and ridden well up to his
bridle, he should admit of a steady _appui_ between his mouth and the
rider's hand, while he bends in the poll of the neck.

Thoroughly balanced, and bending as above described, his mouth yields to
the action of the rider's hand, and is "light" in the true sense of the
principles of equitation.

A great deal of nonsense is talked about ladies' hands being so much
more light and delicate than those of a man. The truth is, that,
assuming both male and female rider to be equally practised in the
saddle, there is no difference whatever in the feeling or _appui_ given
by the horse.

Thoroughly habituated to obey certain indications conveyed to him
through the medium of the bridle reins and leg or other aid of the
rider, he will answer to them precisely in the same manner to a lady as
he would to a man; while, on the other hand, if these indications are
not given with well-defined clearness and precision, he will not answer
to anybody's riding.

There is a point, however, as regards the action of the hands, to which
I beg to call the particular attention both of young ladies commencing
their lessons in equitation and of gentlemen (non-professional) who may
undertake the task of teaching riding.

A great difference of opinion exists as to whether the action of the
bridle hand should be from the wrist only, or whether (spring like, if I
may use the expression) the "give and take" action should be conveyed by
the upper part of the arm being quite mobile at the shoulder joint and
in conjunction with the forearm, the latter kept, however, close to the
side, and moving easily and freely to the horse's action. The latter
theory is warmly advocated by many thoroughly experienced horsemen and
professors of female equitation, who maintain that to teach a young lady
to keep the arm firm to the side, in the manner adopted in the military
riding school, is not only to give her a rigid wooden appearance on her
horse, but also to destroy the proper flexibility of her figure.

On the other hand, some instructors--those especially who are veterans
of the cavalry _manége_--insist that firmness of the arm should in all
cases be rigidly demanded.

My experience induces me to come to a conclusion which is midway between
these opposing theories.

In the first lessons given to a lady on horseback it is well to insist
upon her keeping the arm steady, because otherwise she is ready not only
to yield her hand to every movement of the horse, be that yielding right
or wrong, but gradually and imperceptibly to herself her hands will
steal forward until they are eight or ten inches in front of her, the
consequence being that the muscles of the waist become rigid, and the
flexibility of her figure at its most important point, as regards
riding, is lost, while the hands remain in the awkward and ungainly
position I allude to.

For the above reason, therefore, it is desirable to inculcate firmness
of the lower part of the arm to the side in the early lessons; the hands
drawn back close to the waist. And, in order to make this form of riding
more easily comprehensible to the pupil at her first essay, the
following will be found highly effective:

Let the instructor stand in front of the horse, and taking the bridle
reins one in each hand, let him caution the pupil _not_ to yield to him
if he pulls against her. Let him then take a quick, sharp pull at the
reins in the same way as a horse would when trying to get his head free
from the rider's control. The master will find that, despite the
caution, both the pupil's hands will come forward at once; and if this
action on the bridle had been executed by the horse instead of his
master, the former would have gained his first step in having his own
way, and, for instance, from a collected canter could increase his pace
at his own will. Now, there is nothing more important in the action of
the hand in controlling the horse than firmness and instantaneous
decision in yielding or maintaining the _appui_.

"If" (say some theorists) "a horse pulls against you, drop your hand to
him." This is rather a vague expression, which, in fact, conveys no real
meaning to an inexperienced person; among horsemen it is intended to
convey that you should yield to the horse whenever he pulls or takes a
liberty with the hand. Now, the direct reverse of this is the course to
be adopted by all riders who wish to acquire good hands. When a horse
endeavours to forereach upon the rider, the latter, instead of yielding,
should close his hands firmly on the reins, and keep the arms perfectly
steady, _without pulling an ounce_ against the horse; at the same time
closing his leg with equal firmness. In the next stride or two the horse
will yield to the hand, which should instantly yield to him; and thus he
learns that you are master of him, and goes well together, or, as it is
technically called, collectedly and within himself; whereas if the hand
is freely yielded whenever he takes a liberty or romps for his head, in
a very brief time he will be all abroad, and going in any form but that
best for himself or his rider.

To ensure firmness and steadiness of the hands, however, equal firmness
and steadiness are requisite in the arms, and, for that reason, the
pupil should be taught to keep them close to the side; an additional
reason being that, if this is neglected, a beginner, as it were,
disconnects the figure from the waist upwards, and loses her true
balance. When the pupil has had sufficient practice to ensure steadiness
in the saddle, the injunction as to arms perfectly steady may be
relaxed; and gradually, while there is no lateral motion of the arm from
the side or sticking out of the elbows, the lady will learn to give easy
play to the shoulder joint without destroying the neatness of her
riding or her power to fix her arms for a moment if the horse tries to
get his head away. In short, my theory is that it is impossible for the
pupil to learn the true _appui_, or acquire what is usually called a
light hand, until she has acquired a steady one. It is easy enough to
tell her to "give and take" to the cadence of the horse's action; but
the precise moment at which to do this must be made clear to the learner
by some well defined and easily comprehensible rule. I submit that the
readiest way of defining it is that I have attempted in the foregoing.
Having carefully given the above instruction, see that the pupil is
sitting fair and true in the saddle, and be careful to correct any
tendency to throwing forward the right shoulder, which is both inelegant
and destructive of balance. See that the right knee is in a firm, but
still flexible form on the upper pannels. Caution the pupil while she
draws her figure well up from the waist to stretch the left heel well
down; and let her then, keeping her hands perfectly quiet, press the
horse forward into a walk with the leg, while she yields the little
finger from the wrist only. Let her make the horse walk freely out, but
up to his bridle, the whip being applied, if necessary, on the off
shoulder if he hangs back behind his work.

Nearly all young people, when first put on horseback, are anxious to be
off in a canter at once, and it is a sore trial to their patience to be
kept at a walk. But there can be no greater mistake than to allow them
to canter a horse until they have learnt the "alpha" of their
business--that important lesson, how to make a horse walk true and fair.

This accomplished, "going large" round school or paddock, the pupil
should be carefully instructed how to turn her horse square to the right
or left, and to rein him back. And in order to make the instruction as
clear and concise as possible, again, in a modified form, the "Book of
Aids" may be called upon. The formula there laid down, in the shape of
question and answer, is as follows:--

Q. How do you turn a horse to the right or left?--A. By a double feeling
of the inward rein, retaining a steady feeling of the outward. The horse
kept up to the hand by pressure of both legs. The outward by the
strongest. Now, as in the case of a lady, there is no right leg to
support the horse, in turning, he is liable to lean upon the hand; the
rider should close the left leg firmly, and touch him lightly on the
off-side with her whip, which will at once cause him to keep his
forehand up and his haunches under him. After being once or twice so
corrected he will turn carefully, without hurry or coming on his
shoulder.

The pupil should then be taught to turn her horse right and left about
in the centre of the _manége_, the aids being simply continued until the
animal faces the reverse way, the pupil turning her horse upon his
centre in the middle of the _manége_, instead of his haunches, as at the
side. Plenty of practice should be given in making these turns, because
by them the pupil learns to bring up the right or left shoulder
according to the hand turned to, the right shoulder in turning to the
left, and _vice versâ_; and this should be most carefully attended to by
the master, otherwise the body of the pupil is moving on one line and
the horse on another, and in case of his flirting the pupil is already
half-way out of her saddle. Too much attention therefore cannot be given
to this vital point in the _aplomb_ for this obvious reason--if a lady
once acquires the habit (which unfortunately too many do) of allowing
the horse to turn without "going with him," it is quite on the cards
that some day a horse, a trifle too fresh, may jump round with her. If
the above principle of "going" with the horse has been thoroughly well
taught her in her early lessons she will have no difficulty in
accompanying the action of the horse, if she even fail in checking it;
but if she is permitted so to sit as to be looking over her horse's left
ear when she turns him to the right, she is leaving the question of her
seat entirely to the generosity of the steed. And it may be as well to
say at once that, with the best intentioned, broken, or mannered horse,
it may be laid down as a golden rule in riding to leave nothing to his
generosity. Horses are very keen in their perceptions, and can detect in
a manner little suspected by the inexperienced when they have one at a
disadvantage.

Reining back may be practised from time to time. To do this well, again
clearly defined instructions should be given. First the horse should be
halted. Thus: A light _firm_ feeling of both reins, to check his forward
movement; the leg closed tightly at the same time, to keep him up to the
hand; the reins to be eased as soon as the horse is halted. The aids for
reining back should then be explained as follows: Closing the hands
firmly on the reins, the rider should feel the horse's mouth as though
the reins were made of silken thread instead of leather, and close her
leg quietly to keep him up to the hand. There should be no dead pull at
the horse's mouth, but the reins should be eased at every step he takes
backwards, which, if the aids are smoothly and truly applied, he will do
without throwing his haunches either in or out. In the early lessons the
pupil should not be allowed to rein her horse back more than two or
three steps at a time. The use of reining back is to bring the greater
weight from the horse's forehand to his haunches, to collect him and
make him light in hand. (See "Aid Book.") It is also of great use in
assisting the pupil to correct her own _aplomb_ in the saddle, and
acquire a true _appui_ on the horse's mouth. Every movement of the hand
of the rider, however, and every step of the horse, should be carefully
watched by the instructor. The horse should never be allowed to _hurry_
back, as that will at once enable him to get behind his bridle.

These lessons at a walk, the turns to the right and left, turns about
and reining back, should be continued until the pupil executes them with
precision. Her position should be rigidly attended to, all stiffness
avoided, and nothing in the shape of careless sitting allowed to pass
unnoticed. I repeat, the early lessons should, if anything, be a little
overdone in the way of exactness, because any careless habit acquired at
such a stage is most difficult to get rid of afterwards. When the pupil
is thoroughly _au fait_ at her walking lesson, she should commence the
next important section, that, namely, of learning to trot, the formula
of which I will endeavour to explain in my next chapter, concluding this
with a description of the form in which a lady should dismount, and the
assistance that should be afforded by the master.

Having halted the horse in the centre of the school, his head should be
held by a steady groom. The lady should then pass the reins from the
right hand to the left, and quietly lift her skirt with the right hand
until she can easily disengage her right knee from the upper pommels. At
the same moment her left foot should be disengaged by the assistant from
the stirrup, and her skirt from the near-side pommel or third crutch.
The lady should then drop the reins on the horse's neck, and having
disengaged her right knee, turn quietly to the left in her saddle, and
face the assistant. She should then with both hands take up the slack of
her habit until her feet are quite clear of it, otherwise, on alighting
she is liable to trip and fall, possibly right into the arms of the
assistant, which is not, by any means, according to rule.

Having gathered up the skirt, the lady should then carry her hands
forward about eight or ten inches from her knees, and rest both her
hands firmly on those of the assistant, who should raise them up well
for the purpose. It remains only then for the lady to glide smoothly
down from the saddle, and, slightly supported by the assistant, she will
alight easily and gracefully on _terra firma_. Some riding masters have
a fashion of taking a lady off her horse by placing both hands on her
waist and allowing her to throw her weight forward upon them. Such a
practice is _outré_, inelegant, and unsafe, because the lady is likely
enough to throw more weight forward than the master anticipated, in
which case both may come to the ground, to the great discomfiture of the
fair equestrian.



CHAPTER VII.

THE TROTTING LESSON.


This, once thoroughly mastered, gives the pupil confidence and security
on her horse, and is the great inductive step by which she learns the
value of balance. Some years ago it was considered that if a lady could
sit her horse gracefully at a walk, and securely at a canter, she had
accomplished all that was correct or necessary in female equitation.
Trotting was altogether ignored, for the simple reason that ladies found
it extremely difficult to do, and impossible to find anybody who could
help them out of their difficulty by teaching them the right way. In
those days most of the riding masters were men who had been instructors
in the cavalry. In that arm of the service, trotting according to
regulation is quite a different thing to the easy rise and fall seat
practised by civilians on horseback. It is a necessity in cavalry, in
order to preserve the dressing in line, that a man should sit down in
his saddle at a trot, and allow the horse to shake him fair up and down
in it. If the rising seat were allowed, it would be impossible to
preserve anything like dressing. This shake-up, or "bumping" seat,
however, as men out of the army call it, is by no means so distressing
as some people imagine, unless the horse is unusually rough in his
action.

The reason is that the military trot is taught upon the principle of
balance. The man sits fair down on his seat, and, keeping his knee
forward and his heel well down, does not cling to the horse by muscular
grasp; consequently the bumping, so terrific to the eye of the civilian,
is scarcely felt by the soldier, and in continental armies, where rough
trotting horses are exceptional, the motion or jolt is scarcely
perceptible. There are a great many popular fallacies about military
riding--as, for instance, that a dragoon rides with a very long
stirrup; that his seat is insecure; that the bumping gives a horse a
sore back; and that, except a sailor and a tailor, a dragoon officer is
about the worst horseman to be found. This is not exactly the place to
enter into any controversy on the subject; but I may as well observe at
once, and I do so because I am sure the old soldiers are not altogether
despised by the ladies, even in this non-military country, that all the
foregoing are so many mistakes. A dragoon, any time within my memory,
rode just the same length as a man does over a country--that is to say
that, measuring the cavalry man's leather and iron by the length of his
arm and hand, which is the right length for a civilian, you have exactly
the cavalry regulation length. The stirrup of a lancer indeed is
somewhat shorter than that used by most hunting men. Finally, an
acquaintance with the _habitués_ of such places as Melton would prove to
unbelievers in the riding of cavalry officers that the names of most of
the men who go to the front in the hunting-field, and keep there, are to
be found in the "Army List." I have been tempted thus to digress by
having referred to the military riding school, from which in former
days, most, if not all, the riding masters who taught ladies came. Now,
although I stand up (as in duty bound) for the military system of riding
_per se_, it does not produce the right man to teach a woman to ride, if
the experience of the preceptor has been acquired in the riding school
only. Excellent as is our system (or, rather, the German system, for it
is imported from the Prussian service), for making a man a first-class
dragoon, as regards anything connected with a lady's seat or the
principle of her balance, it is useless.

As regards her hands, or the application of the "aids" of the _manége_,
it is highly beneficial, because nothing can be more clear or concise
than the simple rules laid down in military equitation for the
application of the "helps," by which a horse's easy movement is
controlled and regulated. It was principally to the want of men who
could teach a lady to ride, however, that the absence of a trotting in
the side saddle was to be attributed "lang syne."

It is altogether different now. Riding masters took to riding across
country, and their daughters took to it also, naturally. Awkward spills
occurred; and long journeys home after hunting, all done at a canter,
terribly shook the horse's legs and the temper of the head of the
family. "Why the deuce can't you let your horse trot?" I once heard the
worthy sire of a blooming girl of sixteen say to his daughter, who was
pounding away on the hard road on the _retour de chasse_. "For God's
sake let him trot, Carry. You'll hammer his legs all to pieces. Why
don't you let him trot?" "Because, pa, he won't let me trot," was the
unanswerable reply. True enough; Carry knew nothing about it, and there
was nobody to tell her. She was riding on a saddle that fitted neither
her nor her horse. She had no third crutch, and she had a slipper
stirrup (that worst of abominations in ladies' saddlery). Looking back
at those days, the only wonder to me is, how ladies managed to ride at
all. That they did ride is certainly proof (if any were wanting) of
their courage and perseverance under difficulties.

The necessity for trotting having become apparent as ladies took more to
riding, it at length called the attention of one or two thoroughly
practical men to the subject. The first of these, I believe, was the
celebrated steeple race jockey, Dan Seffert, who had been a riding
master in his early days, and who was equally at home in the _manége_ or
between the flags over a country.

The running made by Mr. Seffert was soon taken up by other first-class
horsemen, among whom were Mr. Oldacre, and Mr. Allen, of Seymour-place.
The third crutch was added to the side saddle, and numerous improvements
effected in it, which rendered trotting not only practicable, but
pleasant and easy to a lady, provided she was taught the right way. I
believe we owe the third crutch and padded stirrup to Mr. Oldacre, a
first-class judge of female equitation; but I am not quite certain upon
this point. The saddle having been rendered practicable for the purpose,
the next thing requisite was a comprehensible and simple set of rules,
by which the lady could be taught to trot, without distressing either
her horse or herself. To whom these rules owe their origin is
immaterial; as to their efficiency, such as they are, I have found them
highly so, and therefore beg leave to submit them to your readers.

After the usual walking lesson (abridged, however, to allow more time
for what is to follow), the pupil should ride her horse to the centre of
the school, and halt him there, so that the instructor has perfect
facility of getting at the horse on any side, and seeing the exact form
in which his pupil moves. The lady should then be instructed to take a
firm hold with the right knee on the upper pommel of the saddle,
grasping it well between the thigh and the lower part of the leg, and
carrying the latter well back, with the heel sunk as close as possible
to the left leg. By sinking the heel well, she will give great firmness
to her hold with the right leg upon the upper pommels. To accomplish
this, however, she should get well forward in her saddle, and care
should be taken that her stirrup is not too short, otherwise she will be
thrown too far back to enable her to take the necessary grip with the
upper leg. The left leg should then be well drawn back, the front of the
thigh pressed firmly against the third crutch, the left heel well sunk,
and the toe raised from the instep, because a firmness is thus given to
the leg and thigh which would otherwise be wanting. The body, from the
waist upwards, should be inclined slightly forward, and the angle at
which the left foot is drawn back from the perpendicular line from the
knee to the foot should be regulated by the inclination of the body
forward, so as exactly to balance it.

Having placed his pupil in this position, and seen that her hands are
well drawn back and arms firm, the instructor should then _take her foot
out of the stirrup_, and give the following concise instructions: "On
the word 'one,' raise the body slowly from the saddle as high as
possible." Now, to do this without the aid of the stirrup can only be
accomplished by keeping the heel well down and the leg back (in the
first place, in order to balance the body), and then raising the figure
by the action of the right knee and its grasp upon the upper pommel. At
first the pupil will find this difficult, even when the horse is
perfectly motionless, and when the riding master assists her by putting
his left hand under her left elbow; but after a few efforts she will
succeed. This is the first step in learning the rise with precision.
Having accomplished it, the pupil should not lower herself again to the
saddle until the instructor gives her the word "two," when she should
lower herself as slowly as she rose.

If she has been well tutored in the extension and suppling practices
alluded to in my second chapter, she will understand what "one, two"
time means in this way as well as in dancing, and her knowledge of
balance on foot will assist her on horseback. These rising and falling
motions should be continued until the pupil executes them with
precision, fair intervals of rest being allowed. The master should then
place the lady's foot again in the stirrup.

The absence of this support in the previous lesson will have prevented
the pupil from leaning to the near side, and throwing her weight out of
the perpendicular--a most pernicious habit, which ladies who try to
learn their trotting in one lesson are very apt to fall into, and it is
a fault very difficult to correct. In fact, the main object in beginning
without a stirrup is to avoid this error.

With the support of the stirrup the pupil will find the act of rising
and maintaining an upright or slightly bent forward position (the figure
raised well up from the saddle) a comparatively easy matter, and the
lesson should be continued thus for a quarter of an hour longer. However
trying to the patience this riding without gaining ground--"marking
time" in the saddle--may be, the lady maybe assured, that it is by rigid
attention to such minutiæ only that she can become a first-class
horsewoman, and that she is in reality losing no time.

When we hear the singing of Mme. Titiens, or recollect the unrivalled
dancing of Taglioni, we are apt to forget that with all the natural
talent of these great artistes, it was close attention to rudimentary
elements that laid the foundations of their excellence. It is so in
riding, to excel in which is far more difficult than in dancing. It is
those only who are content with mediocrity who ignore detail. We come
now to the second section of this lesson, in which the pupil will begin
to find the first fruit of her previous exertion. The master having led
her horse to the side of the school, should give her instruction to walk
him freely out, riding him, however, well up against the snaffle, if
necessary for this purpose using her whip sharply. The horse will then
take fairly hold of her hand, and give her a good _appui_. The rising
and falling should then be continued at a walk, and assisted by the
impetus given by the horse's forward motion, and the stirrup, the pupil
will find her work still easier than when the horse was at a standstill.

The instructor should now count his "one," "two," in different times,
allowing a longer or shorter interval between each word, according to
whether he means to convey to the pupil the notion of quick sharp action
in the horse, or long dwelling action. Thus, when the horse trots, he
will be able to count his time in exact accordance with the animal's
movements. Be the time quick or slow that he counts, he should exact
rigid conformity of action in the pupil; because this harmony of motion
to the counting is as important to success in the riding master as it is
to the music master. Time and cadence in action are vital points in
equitation.

As soon as the instructor is satisfied that his pupil can easily
accommodate her action to his word, he should prepare to test both in
the trot. But if he takes a week to get the pupil to do the two previous
lessons (one of them even) properly, they should be continued until she
does it; nobody can spell until he knows the alphabet.

To carry on the lesson in the trot, the instructor should mount a cob or
pony of such height as will admit of his easily placing his left hand
under the right elbow of the pupil. He should ride with his reins in his
right hand, and be sure that the horse he gets on is a perfectly steady
one.

He should now put plenty of vivacity into his own manner; he will then
easily impart it to his pupil and her horse. The latter should be
smartly "woke up" if at all behind his work--pressed up to the bridle
with whip and leg, and "made ready" to increase his pace at any moment.
The master should then caution his pupil that on the words "Prepare to
trot," she should strengthen her grasp on the upper pommel, her pressure
against the third crutch, and well stretch down the left heel, while she
carries back the left leg, and inclines the body slightly forward from
the waist, arms very firm, fingers shut tight on the reins; and while
the body inclines forward there should be no outward or lateral
curvature of the spine, nor should the head be dropped. The shoulders
pressed well back, and the hands close to the waist, will give firmness
and suppleness to the whole figure. Directly the master is satisfied
with the pupil's position, he should place his left hand under her right
elbow, urge his own horse smartly on, and give the word "Trot," on which
the pupil should, without altering her position or yielding her hand,
touch her horse smartly on the shoulder with the whip; he will then trot
forward. At the first step he takes the master should help the pupil up
with his left hand, and commence counting his "one," "two" in exact
accordance with the horse's action. In nine cases out of ten the lady
will succeed, with a fair stepping horse, in catching at the first
attempt the rise at the right moment, and the increased impetus given by
the horse will assist her, while her preparatory lessons in rising and
falling will now prove their value.

Should any failure, however, attend the first effort, both horses should
again be brought to the walk; the lady should be allowed to re-arrange
her habit, and recover from the inevitable flurry which attends any
failure of this sort. Patience, concise explanation, and cheerful manner
on the part of the master will presently find their reward. All ladies
do not possess great nerve, but most of them have great courage and
perseverance, and after a false start or two they get on their mettle,
and are sure to catch the true action. When once they have it, the
master should make the pace sharp and active three or four times round
the school, which is long enough for a first attempt. A couple more
turns of equal duration should terminate the first trotting lesson. The
lady should walk her horse round the school until both are cool, make
much of him by patting him on the neck, and then be taken off. Day by
day the instructor can slightly increase the length of the lesson,
always beginning it, however, as above described, until the rise and
fall of the pupil at a trot is perfectly true and fair. There should be
no twist from the waist, the shoulders perfectly square, every movement
in exact harmony with the horse's action. After the lady can rise and
fall in the saddle unaided by the master, he is better on foot, because
he can stand behind his pupil, and at once correct any fault in her
position or riding; and no fault, be it remembered, however trivial,
should be allowed to pass uncorrected.

For some time the lady should continue trotting out round the school,
riding altogether upon the snaffle and sending her horse well up against
it. There should be no "give-and-take" action in the hand in this case;
but while she does not pull the weight of a feather against her horse,
she should make him maintain the _appui_ by taking well hold of her
hand; his trot will then be regular and fair.

After about ten days or a fortnight of such practice, the master may
commence the third section of his trotting lesson, namely, that in which
the pupil begins to collect her horse, raise his forehand, and bring his
haunches under him.

The first step in this should be to ascertain that the lady is not
dependent upon the horse's mouth for any part of her firmness in the
saddle, or, more correctly speaking, to see that her balance is right
unaided by the bridle, because, although perhaps imperceptible to the
rider (man or woman), the _appui_ of the mouth has more to do with the
seat than most people imagine. In good schools of equitation men tell
you "There are no hands without legs." True, and if we were to ask many
a good man that we see crossing a country to ride over a big fence
without a bridle we should perceive that there are few seats without
hands. It is to correct the tendency to trust for support to the horse's
mouth that the efforts of the instructor should now be directed.

To carry this out, he should be mounted upon a horse of about equal
height to that of his pupil, on the off side, and close to whom he
should place himself. He should direct her to drop her reins entirely,
and then take them in his left hand, riding his own horse with his
right. He should then instruct the lady to place her hands behind her
waist, the right hand grasping the left elbow, as described in the
suppling practices. Cautioning her again as to firmness of grasp and
good balance, he should then urge both horses into a smart trot, and
keep them going round the school two or three times, carefully watching
the action of the pupil, and if he perceives the least indication of
distress pull up immediately. The exertion necessary to execute this
lesson is severe if the pupil has not been well suppled before being put
on horseback. If she has, there will be considerably less effort in it;
but, in any case, on first practising it, the fair tyro requires every
encouragement to persevere, because in doing one thing well, she is very
apt to forget another. Constantly reminded as to her position as the
trot goes on, she will succeed in doing all well. After two or three
such turns (the arms of course disengaged during the interval), the lady
should take up her reins again; this time the curb and snaffle reins of
equal length, and in the form (No. 1) described in a previous chapter.
She should then trot her horse freely out round the school, and she will
find the full benefit of her recent drilling without reins, inasmuch as
her seat will be many degrees firmer, and her balance more true, leaving
her more liberty of action in hand and leg to apply the necessary aids
to her horse in the coming lesson, in which at a well-regulated and
collected pace, she will learn to turn him in any direction at her will,
to rein him back, to make the inclines and circles, and prepare him for
the cantering lesson by finally riding him in his trot entirely on the
curb rein, and throwing him well upon his haunches.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE TROTTING LESSON (_continued_).


I come now to the final section of the trotting lesson--that which,
thoroughly acquired, I may term the thorough base of the matter. Having
satisfied himself that his pupil has command of her horse, steady seat
and hands, and true balance when riding equally on the snaffle and curb,
the master should proceed to instruct her as to the mode of arranging
the reins so as to ride on the curb alone.

As this has been already described, it is needless to repeat the
formula. I may observe, however, that, in order to give increased
facility of action to the bridle hand, and avoid anything like sudden
jerk or rough pull upon the horse's mouth, it is best for the lady to
retain the end of the curb reins between the fore finger and thumb of
her right hand, by doing which she is enabled, keeping her left hand
perfectly steady, and opening and closing the fingers, to give easy play
to the reins. Without this she would find riding on the curb alone
difficult at first with the left hand only, because all the motion must
come from the wrist, and considerable practice is necessary to
accommodate this motion exactly to the action of the horse. Care should
be taken that the elbows are kept well back, so as to preserve the
suppleness of the waist, and by this time also the pupil ought to have
acquired sufficient steadiness in the saddle to admit of her giving easy
play to the upper part of the arm at the shoulder joint. But until
complete firmness of seat is gained this should not be attempted,
because in the case of a novice it disconnects the figure, and
interferes with the horse's mouth materially. The most rigid attention
also should be given to the pupil's general position, and the firmness
and correct placing of both legs--the heels well down, the upper part of
the body well drawn up from the waist, "the whole figure pliant and
accompanying every movement of the horse" (see "Military Aid Book").

The lady should commence the lesson by walking her horse two or three
times round the school; and it is here, by close attention, that she
will learn that light hands are neither "heaven-born" nor impossible to
acquire. On pressing the horse forward with her leg or whip, so as to
make him walk up against the curb, it is possible her hand may be a
little heavy, and that the horse may resist it. In this case, if not
cautions and carefully watched, she will let her hands go forward. It is
for the instructor to take special care of this, and point out to his
pupil how she can ease the reins through her left hand by the aid of the
right, so as to catch the true _appui_, without yielding altogether to
the horse. In other words, she should allow sufficient rein to go
through her hand to enable the horse to walk freely forward; and then,
closing her fingers again firmly, make him go up to every hair's breadth
of rein she has given him, and fairly against the curb. There should not
be a particle of slack rein. In fact, it may be received as a sound
principle in riding that there should never be slack reins, no matter
what the pace. If you give your horse the full length of the reins even,
make him go up to them.

When once the lady has gained the above-named _appui_ (the right hand
assisting the left), she should be instructed to halt her horse lightly
on his haunches preparatory to reining back. And again she should do
this by drawing the reins through the fingers of her left hand with the
right, keeping the former perfectly steady, and drawing her own figure
well up, in order to avoid any tendency to lean forward. On the word
"Rein back," which should be given in a very quiet tone of voice, and in
the exact cadence in which the master desires his pupil to move her
horse to the rear, the lady should feel both reins lightly but firmly
for a moment, closing at the same instant her leg so as to keep her
horse's haunches under him, in the manner before described when using
the snaffle only, but in the present case with greater care and
precision. _Lightly_ and _firmly_ feeling the curb reins while pressed
by the leg, the horse will take a step back. The reins should be yielded
the instant he does so. Two or three steps back are sufficient, when the
word "Forward" should be given, preceded by the caution to close the
fingers firmly on the reins, and, with whip and leg, keep the horse well
up to his work. Feeling this amount of constraint laid upon him, the
horse will be inclined at any moment to canter. But here the tact of the
master should be exhibited in instructing his pupil to release the horse
from his fore-shortened position, by allowing about six inches of rein
(or more, if necessary), to pass through her left hand as she presses
the horse forward into a free trot (about eight miles an hour). All her
firmness of seat will be necessary now, because any irregular action on
her part will cause her hand to become heavy, and make the horse canter.
The great thing is, not to continue trotting on the curb-rein alone too
long. Short lessons often repeated, and intervals in which to correct
everything are best for pupil and instructor.

When the lady can accomplish trotting out for twenty minutes without
allowing her horse to break, she should then be instructed to collect
him to a slower pace, bringing him more upon his haunches, and with his
forehand more up. This requires the nicest tact and discrimination on
the part of the rider, perfect steadiness in the saddle, and firm
pressure of the left leg; while the reins should be drawn through the
left hand with as much care as though the lady feared to break them. The
shortened pace should be smart and active, and the horse so collected as
to be ready to turn to the right, or left, or about, or make the
inclines at any moment. All these exercises should then be practised in
the same order as when the pupil rode, assisted by or on the snaffle
only.

After the lady has performed these to the satisfaction of the master,
she should bring her horse to the walk and be instructed to carry the
end of the curb reins, which she has held hitherto in her right hand,
through the full of the left hand, and place both reins (the off-side
one uppermost) over the middle joint of the fore finger, and close the
thumb firmly on them. The end of the reins should be dropped to the
off-side of the horse, and hang down outside the off-side crutch; the
whip (with the point _downwards_) kept quiet. Raising the point of the
whip, when a lady is trotting a horse on the curb alone, and unassisted
by her right hand, is very apt to make him break, because the point of
the whip is always in motion, and causes the horse to turn his eye back
at it.

The instructor should now carefully place the lady's bridle hand, with
the wrist rounded outwards and the thumb pointing square across the
body, the back of the hand towards the horse's head, and the little
finger turned upwards and inwards towards the waist, the arm perfectly
firm, and the wrist quite supple--as in this case it is from the wrist
only that every indication to turn, to halt, or rein back is given,
aided by the whip on the off side and the leg on the near side. The
pupil can then be taught to turn her horse to either hand, or about, at
a walk, without any motion of the bridle hand perceptible to a
looker-on, although perceptible enough to the horse. In turning to the
right, the little finger should be turned down towards the left
shoulder, and the back of the hand turned up. This movement will shorten
the right rein, and cause it to act on the right jaw of the bit. The
whip should be closed firmly (not with a blow) just behind the flap of
the saddle on the off side. The left leg supporting this will cause the
horse to turn square to his right. Exactly the reverse movement will
turn him to the left. Right or left about, aids continued, until the
horse has reversed his front.

The trotting lesson may then be gone through again, the pupil riding
entirely with the left hand. But in beginning these lessons care should
be taken to let them be very short, because, in spite of all previous
supplying, considerable constraint is thrown upon the wrist at first.
Any yielding to the horse is accomplished by turning the little finger
towards his neck, while to collect him simply the little finger is
turned up again towards the waist. But the fingers and thumb of the
bridle hand must be kept firmly shut upon the reins, otherwise the hand
becomes heavy and uneven in its action.

By lessons, gradually increased in length, the pupil should be
accustomed thus to ride her horse throughout the trotting lesson, and
trot him out, riding with one hand. It is not usual for ladies to
continue for any length of time riding in this form; but it is highly
necessary that they should be thoroughly well practised at it, otherwise
an important part of their course of equitation will be neglected. The
same may be said of the bending lesson, previous to cantering. It is
rarely put in practice by any but professional female equestrians. But a
lady ought to be thoroughly acquainted with its formula, because it
teaches the principle upon which a horse acquires his _souplesse_, which
is just as necessary to his freedom of action and pleasant riding as the
early suppling lessons of the pupil herself were conducive to her own
progress.



CHAPTER IX.

THE BENDING AND CANTERING LESSON.


According to the ordinary acceptation of the term, a horse is supposed
"to bend well" when he arches his neck, yields to the bit, and uses his
knees and hocks freely. This alone by no means conveys an adequate idea,
however, of what is meant by bending a horse in the scientific sense.
The "Military Aid Book" supplies the following question and answer,
which gives in a very concise form a better notion of the matter.

Question: What is the use of the "bending lesson"?--Answer: To make the
horse supple in the _neck_ and _ribs_, to give free action to his
shoulder, and teach him to obey the pressure of the leg.

It will be seen, then, that "bending a horse" really means rendering him
supple in every portion of his frame, and especially in his ribs and
intercostal muscles, as it is suppleness in that part that gives him the
lithe, easy motions so pleasant to the rider.

I have before observed that I do not consider an intimate knowledge of
the "haut école de manége" indispensable for ordinary riding purposes,
either for a lady or gentleman. But, although the "bending lesson"
thoroughly carried out may be said to be the very gist of "_haut école_
riding," even in its _simple form_, unaccompanied by the higher aids, it
is of great service in rendering a horse docile and obedient to hand and
leg, and for that purpose is always resorted to in our schools of
military equitation.

Now, although I do not expect every lady to acquire the art of suppling
her own horses, still a knowledge of the "bending lesson" will make her
thoroughly acquainted with the reasons why a horse renders ready
obedience to her aids of hand and leg; and, on the contrary, why he
resists them.

Stiffness (as it is technically termed) has more to do with what is
commonly called restiveness than most people imagine. A horse is asked
to do something that calls upon him to bend or supple a joint in which,
even in early youth, he is still far from supple. He cannot do it. The
rider perseveres, and the horse resists. Whereas, when he is thoroughly
suppled, he does not know how to disobey his rider (supposing the latter
to know what he is about). If a lady, therefore, will pay close
attention to the instruction of her master, she will discover that her
horse will obey her more readily, and move with more ease to himself and
her, when she applies her aids "smoothly" (without which the bending
lesson cannot be done), than by the application of sudden or violent
indications of her will. For it must be borne in mind that a double
bridle is an instrument of great power in a horse's mouth, and that what
may seem light handling to the uninitiated rider may be rough to the
horse. A fair amount of practice, therefore, in the above-named exercise
will have the effect of rendering a lady's hands remarkably true and
steady; and, although the lesson may be a little trying to the patience,
the pupil will find her reward in increased confidence and proficiency.

For all practical purposes the "bending lesson" proper may be divided
into two sections, namely, the "passage" and the "shoulder in," all
other movements of the lesson being simply variations from the above
named. The "half passage" may be looked upon as an introduction to the
"full passage," but admits of being practised with facility at an
increased pace at the trot or canter, and at the latter is a very
elegant exercise. To begin with the "shoulder in." Let us suppose a
horse standing parallel to the boards at the side of the school. To
place him in the desired position it is necessary to bring his forehand
in, so that his fore and hind legs are placed upon two lines, parallel
to each other and to the boards, and then to bend his head inwards at
the poll of the neck. No more correct idea, I believe, can be conveyed
of the position than that given in the "Aid Book," which furnishes the
following answer to the question, How should a horse be placed in
"shoulder in"? "Ans.: When a horse is properly bent in 'shoulder in,'
the whole body from head to croup is curved; the shoulders leading, fore
and hind feet moving on two lines parallel to each other, hind feet one
yard from the boards."

Again. "Q. What are the aids for working this lesson?--A. On the word
'right or left shoulder in,' the horse's forehand is brought in by a
double feeling of the inward rein, the outward leg closed, so as to
bring the horse's hind feet one yard from the boards."

The outward rein leads, the inward preserves the bend; a pressure of the
inward leg (of the rider) compels the horse to cross his legs; the
outward leg keeps him up to the hand and prevents him from swerving. The
horse should be well bent in the pole of the neck, and well kept up to
the hand with the outward leg, the shoulders always leading.

It will be seen from the above that the rider compels, or rather
_coaxes_, the horse, by very firm and steady aids, to move with his
forehand well up, and his whole figure bent (neck and ribs), with his
feet moving on two distinct parallel lines--the effect being to call
upon every important joint, and thoroughly to supple the ligaments and
tendons, as well as to create muscular development, in a way similar to
that of gymnastic or extension exercises in the human being. With young
horses in training it is necessary to watch this lesson very carefully,
and never to "ask too much" at one time, because any forcing of it would
certainly result in restiveness; the strain, even with naturally supple
horses, is considerable, and must not be persevered with one moment
after it is evidently painful. Of course, in the case of a lady
practising the lesson, it must be done upon a horse that has gone
through a long course of teaching, and to whom, therefore, the movements
cause no inconvenience. But even here the pupil will find that she must
use her hand and leg with firmness, steadiness, and decision, without
hurry or impatience, or the horse will not answer to her.

The movement must be executed very slowly, and at first only by a few
steps at a time, because, however _au fait_ at his work the horse may
be, the pupil will find considerable difficulty in continuing to apply
the aids.

In working the "shoulder in" to the right, it is necessary for the
master, after putting the horse and rider in true position, to place
himself on the horse's off side, when he should give the word, "Right
shoulder in--march!" The lady then, firmly closing her left leg to keep
the horse up to the hand, should keep her right hand well back and low
down close to the saddle, lead the horse off with the left rein, and
close her whip to his ribs on the off side, just behind the flap of the
saddle.

If the horse has been accustomed to work the lesson, with a lady he will
obey these aids. But in some cases it is necessary for the master (to
supply the absence of the right leg of a man to the horse), to push
firmly with his left hand against the horse's ribs to move him off. The
rider, while leading the horse off with the left rein, should keep up a
continual, light easy play of the right rein, so as to preserve the bend
inwards. The instructor should count "one, two," in very slow time, as
the horse moves first his fore and then his hind leg. After a few steps
onward the horse should be halted, by the rider feeling both reins, and
closing the whip firmly on the off side. He should then be made much of
and moved on again. A quarter of an hour is ample for the first lesson.

After the pupil understands and can apply the aids for the "shoulder in"
(riding on the snaffle), she maybe taught to do it on snaffle and curb
together, and then on the curb alone, when she will find the nicest
balance in her seat and the most careful and delicate manipulations of
the reins necessary--joined, however, to distinct and perceptible
feeling upon the horse's mouth. And on moving her horse forward she will
find that her hand is true and steady.

The "shoulder in" having been neatly done, the lady should rein her
horse lightly back and ride him forward, _making the corner_ of the
school quite square, and then halt at the centre marker. On the word
"right half passage," she should turn the horse's head square down the
centre of the school, and exactly reverse the aids by which she worked
the "shoulder in"; that is, she should lead the horse off with the right
or inward rein, well balancing and assisting its power by the outward
one; with her leg she should press the horse until he places one foot
before the other, gaining ground to his front, and obliquely to his
right at the same time, until he arrives at the boards, when he will
completely have changed the hand he was working to, and at a canter
would, if necessary, be called upon to strike off with the left leg
instead of the right.

After executing the "half passage" correctly, the pupil may practice the
"full passage," the difference between which and the "shoulder in" is
again concisely explained in the "Aid Book."

"Q. What is the difference between the 'passage' and 'shoulder in'?--A.
In the passage the horse bends and looks the way he is going. The
outward are crossing over the inward legs, and the inward rein leads. In
the 'shoulder in' the horse does not look the way he is going. The
inward are crossing over the outward legs, and the outward rein leads."

"Q. What is the difference between the full and half passage?--A. In the
'full passage' the horse crosses his legs. In the 'half passage' he only
half crosses them, placing one foot before the other."

The pupil will find the passage much more easy to execute than the
"shoulder in," though, I repeat, no horse would do the former up to the
hand as he ought to do unless he has been well drilled in the latter.

The greatest care on the part of both master and pupil is indispensable
to carry out this lesson. The slightest inadvertence or false movement
is at once answered on the part of the horse by his taking advantage of
it and putting himself in a wrong position, whereas if he is carefully
ridden, and kept well up to the hand, the subsequent cantering lesson
will be much more easy to perform.

It must be clearly understood, however, that for a lady to attempt to
execute the "bending lesson" by written directions alone, and unaided by
the vigilant superintendence and oral instruction of a first-rate master
would be a mistake. Clear and concise as the language of the "Aid Book"
is, it is impossible for any man writing such directions to indicate the
precise moment at which each movement of hand and leg is to be made, any
more than the man who writes the score in music can regulate the hand of
the instrumental executant of it. There must be energy, patience, and
close attention on the part of the pupil; vigilance, patience, temper,
and thorough knowledge of his craft on the part of the instructor.
Master and pupil thus in accord, the latter will derive great advantage
and insight into the elegant accomplishment she is endeavouring to
acquire, while anything like carelessness on either side will be fatal
to the utility of the lesson. It should be thoroughly well done or not
at all.

After the careful execution of the above lesson, the pupil should
prepare her horse for cantering by reigning him back lightly on his
haunches; touching him if necessary smartly with her whip, in order to
put him well up to his work. A step or two back (_well up to the
bridle_) is sufficient, when she should move forward, and the instructor
should give her the aids for cantering; which (once more to quote the
simple language of the "Aid Book") are as follows: "A light firm feeling
of _both_ reins to raise the horse's forehand, a pressure of both legs
to keep his haunches under him, a double feeling of the inward rein, and
a stronger pressure of the outward leg, will compel the horse to strike
off true and united."

The above of course is intended as instruction to a man; but
substituting a light tap of the whip on the off shoulder for the
pressure of the inward leg of the man, and very light for strong aids,
the instruction holds good in the case of the lady.

Now, I have observed before that a horse to be thoroughly broken to
carry a woman should be taught to answer to very light aids, and
require, in fact, very little leg in order to understand and answer to
the indications of his rider's will. If this has been properly carried
out the lady will have no difficulty in striking her horse off to the
right, _true and united_, which means in cantering to the right (as
nearly every hack and lady's horse does) with the off fore, followed by
the off hind leg.

A charger or "high _manége_" horse--which must use either leg with equal
facility, and go to the left as well as the right--in cantering to the
former hand will go with the near fore, followed by the near hind, and
be still "true and united" in his pace. When he goes with the near
fore, followed by the off hind, or _vice versâ_, he is "disunited."

A point of vital importance to be looked to by the master is that his
pupil at her first attempt at cantering her horse is perfectly cool and
self-possessed, and that she applies her aids _smoothly_, without hurry
or excitement, for so great is the sympathy of the horse in this
respect, that flurry on the part of the rider is sure to cause
passionate, excited action in the horse. The manner of the master has
much to do with this; while it should be such as to keep his pupil and
her horse _vif_ and on their metal, he should be careful not to crowd
the former with too much instruction at once. Her position should be
corrected before she is allowed to strike her horse off. Care should be
taken that her arms are firm, and hands well back. The waist should be
bent slightly forward, which will give it more suppleness. She should
have a firm grip of the upper crutches, both heels well down, and at her
first effort she should ride equally upon the snaffle and curb reins. To
do this (assuming that she is riding with her bridle in military form),
it is only necessary that she should draw up the slack of the near-side
snaffle rein with her right hand until it is level with and under the
near-side curb rein; then carry the snaffle rein thus shortened over the
middle joint of the forefinger of the left hand, and shut the thumb
firmly on them. She can then place the slack of the off-side snaffle
rein for a moment under the left thumb, while she places the rein
between the third and little finger of the right hand, brings the rein
through the full of the hand over the middle joint of the forefinger,
and closes the thumb firmly on it. The whip should be held in the full
of the hand, the point downwards.

With her hands and figure in the above-named form, the lightest
application of the aids ought to strike her horse off "true and united;"
but if by any chance he takes off with the wrong leg or "disunited," as
may sometimes happen with the best broken horse, from a little
over-eagerness or anxiety on the part of the pupil, or a little
unsteadiness of hand, the master should cause her to bring her horse
again to the walk, and reassure her--taking care, however, on these
occasions that she never "makes much of" or caresses her horse, which
would tend to confirm him in a bad habit, but reins him back, and again
puts him up to his bridle.

It is a rare occurrence when a horse (thoroughly well-broken) strikes
off incorrectly; but I am endeavouring to write for every contingency.

Assuming the horse to have struck off smoothly to the instructor's word
_Ca-a-n-te-r_--which should be given in a quiet, soothing tone of voice,
and drawn out as if every letter were a syllable--the horse should be
allowed to canter freely forward, although without rush or hurry. The
pace should not be too collected at first; the military pace of
manoeuvre is about the correct thing; eight miles an hour or
thereabouts; the cadence true; the horse well ridden into his bridle,
and in this case _yielding to the bit_--because, in cantering, it is
necessary to have an _appui_ upon the mouth, quite different from that
to be maintained in trotting, in which it is best for the lady that the
horse should feel her hand fairly and firmly, and that there should be
little "give-and-take" action of the latter. In cantering, on the other
hand, an easy give-and-take play of the hands is indispensable, to cause
the horse to bend in the poll of his neck, yield to the hand, and go in
true form. By this time the pupil should have acquired sufficient
firmness and _aplomb_ in the saddle to justify the instructor in
commencing to impart to her that mobile action and flexibility of the
upper arm at the shoulder joint, which may be regarded as the artistic
finishing of her course of equitation. But it will not do to commence
this (so goes my experience) at the outset of the cantering lesson,
wherein at first it is best to insist upon firmness of the arms,
otherwise the pupil is most likely (imperceptibly to herself) to allow
her hands to glide forward, and thus destroy the flexibility of her
waist, which is a point always to be most carefully watched. It is
possible that at first the figure of the pupil, from over-anxiety to
maintain her position and ride her horse correctly at the same time, may
be somewhat rigid; but complete flexibility cannot be expected at once.
It must be remembered that, although the action of cantering in a horse
is much easier than trotting, still it is novel to the rider, who
moreover has to keep her horse up to his work.

It is not the case of putting a young lady upon an old tittuping hack
that can do little else than canter along behind the bridle and "drag
his toe" at a walk. A horse that has any action or quality in him, and
has been taught to trot up to his bridle, requires "asking" to canter,
and in the early efforts of the pupil requires keeping to his work a
little after he has struck off in his canter, otherwise he will drop
into a trot again. Such a horse, however, is the only one upon which to
teach a lady to ride. The easy-going old hack above alluded to is fit
only for an invalid to take the air on. At the same time it is asking a
good deal from the pupil in her early cantering lessons to keep her
horse up to his work, and to maintain her own position correctly; and if
she exhibits a little stiffness or formality (if I may use the
expression) at first, it may fairly be passed over until increased
confidence permits the master to give his attention to what I may
perhaps call the "unbending" of his pupil. After a few days' cantering
as above described, the lady may begin to collect her horse; and by this
time also she should be fitted with a spur, of which the best I know is
Latchford's patent. An opening in the skirt on the inside is necessary.
The shank of the spur should not be too short, otherwise it is very apt
to cut holes in the habit. The pupil, when the spur is first fitted on,
should be cautioned to keep her left toe as near the horse's side as the
heel, in order to avoid hitting him when he does not require it; and,
indeed, the wearing of the steel aid is in itself a good exercise as to
the true position of the left leg, while the blunt head of a Latchford
(when not pressed hard to the horse's side) does away with any danger.

The use of the spur in a lady's riding is objected to by some; but I
cannot consider any rider (man or woman) worthy of the name who cannot
use one and be safe enough in the saddle at the same time. One objection
to spurs for ladies is, that they are apt to do all sorts of mischief in
the event of the lady being thrown from her horse. Now, the latter is a
contingency which (except in the hunting field) I do not admit as
possible, if the lady has men about her who know their business in the
horse way. If she has not such people about her, she is better without
spurs decidedly; and there is another thing she is better without,
namely, a horse of any sort.

If a horse is properly broken, and has a man about him who will give him
plenty of work, and keep him from getting above himself, and his fair
owner has been as well taught as her horse, she ought to be as safe on
his back as in her brougham, in any kind of riding, except in
exceptional cases in the hunting field. By exceptional cases I mean
where a lady, unaccompanied by a good pilot, takes a line of her own
when hounds are going fast in a big grass country, and rides (jealous of
the field) at impracticable places. In such case she is likely enough to
get down, horse and all. But even so--and I have witnessed more than one
such accident--I have never found that the lady got hurt by the spur
when she wore the sort I allude to; and again, I think it is only just
to that clever loriner, Mr. Latchford, to say that he has invented a
lady's stirrup which renders danger from it in the event of a fall next
to impossible--certainly she cannot be dragged by it. In this stirrup
there is no opening at the side by means of springs or complicated
machinery of any sort. It requires neither diagram or drawing to
describe it, because it is the perfection of mechanism--extreme
simplicity. One has only to imagine an ordinary stirrup, rather
elongated than usual from the opening for the leather, the bottom bar
broad and flat; the latter perforated with two holes. Within the
above-named stirrup another, a size smaller, but fitting nicely into it.
On the lower side of the bottom bar of the inner stirrup two
projections, or obtuse points of steel, which fit into the holes of the
lower bar of the outer stirrup. Now, as long as the lady is in her
saddle the inner stirrup must, from its mechanism, remain in its place;
but in the event of her being thrown her weight acts upon the lower part
of the outer stirrup, which turns over and releases the inner stirrup
entirely.

To return, however, to the question proper of spurs for a lady, I must
say that they are of the greatest assistance to her when, having
acquired the necessary degree of steadiness on her horse, she desires to
"wake him up." Too much whip is a bad thing. In riding in the country a
lady must perforce have to open a bridle gate sometimes for herself,
and if she is always using a whip to liven her horse up, she will
find it difficult to get him to stand still, even while she opens the
lightest of gates. As regards the pupil in the school, I repeat she
should be habituated to wear a spur as soon as her progress justifies
it.



CHAPTER X.

THE CANTERING LESSON (_continued_).


Having satisfied himself as to the proficiency of his pupil in cantering
"going large"--that is, round the school or _manége_,--the attention of
the instructor should next be directed to teaching her to make the turns
and circles, and execute the "half passage" with precision.

The use of these exercises is to confirm (while riding upon both snaffle
and curb reins) the steadiness of hand and seat and true balance of the
rider, because, although these may appear good enough while a lady is
riding her horse on a straight line, or only with the turns at the
corners of the school, many shortcomings will be detected when she
attempts to turn him square from the boards, or asks him to make a true
circle, in which the hind legs follow exactly over the same track as the
fore legs.

To commence this lesson in proper form, the pupil should collect her
horse, by reining him quietly back, then move him forward well up to the
hand, at a walk and at a smart active pace. When she arrives at the
centre marker at the end of the school, the master should give the word
"down the centre," when the rider should turn her horse square to the
right (assuming, as is usually the case, that she commences her lesson
to that hand). The aids for turning at a walk having been already given,
it is only necessary to say that the turn down the centre requires only
a trifle stronger application of the left leg, to counteract any
tendency of the horse to throw his haunches outwards, and that, looking
steadily to the centre marker at the other end of the school, the pupil
should sight that marker well between her horse's ears, and ride true
and straight to it, taking care, by closing the leg in time, that the
horse does not cut off any of the ground, but plants his near fore foot
close to the boards and makes the corner equally square, because
whenever a horse is allowed to "cut the corners off" he endeavours to
get behind the bridle, and generally succeeds. The pupil, therefore,
should be cautioned in time by the instructor, and if she fails to make
good every inch of ground, the word "halt" should be given and the horse
reined back. Arrived about midway down the school, the turns to the
right should be made square from the boards, the horse's haunches kept
under him so that he does not hit the side of the school with his hind
feet. His doing which is at once a proof that he is out of hand. Arrived
at the centre of the school, the words "right turn" should be given
again, instead of allowing the pupil to ride right across the school to
the boards on the opposite side. She should then ride a couple of
lengths down the centre, and again turn her horse, by word from the
master, square to the right, and once more to the left, when arrived at
the boards. This, repeated two or three times, is a good preparation for
executing the circle; in order to facilitate the correct riding of
which, the master should cause his pupil to halt her horse at the side,
and himself walk over the ground he desires her to ride over. If he does
this correctly, the pupil will find little difficulty in riding the
circle with precision.

Starting from a point close to the boards, a couple of horses' lengths
in front of the pupil, the master should make an incline to the right,
at an angle of about forty-five, until he is half-way between the boards
and the centre of the school; he should then bring up his left shoulder,
and make another incline at the same angle to the centre of the school.
Down the centre he should walk straight, the distance of a horse's
length; again bring up his left shoulder, and make two inclines to the
side. The figure he will thus describe does not quite represent a circle
as he walks; but when the horse is called upon to move his fore and hind
legs on the same track, it will be a circle in his case as nearly as
possible. Having caused the pupil to move her horse forward, the
instructor should give her the aids for circling, which are a double
feeling of the inward rein, the horse well supported with the outward,
and well kept up to the hand by the leg.

In circling to the right, the horse to be well bent to the right, so
that the rider can see his inward eye; fore and hind legs moving exactly
on the same track, the horse not throwing his haunches out. The great
use of this circling is, that as the horse changes his direction no less
than six times in a small space, to keep him up to his work the lady
must bring up her left shoulder as many times as the horse alters his
direction. To do this, she must be quite supple in the waist, and
circling is therefore a capital practice to insure this freedom of
action at that portion of the figure. To render the lesson still more
easy to the pupil, I have found it answer well, after walking over the
ground, to mark it out on the tan with a stick. In military schools the
circle to the right or left is followed by the "circle and change," in
which, when arrived at the boards, the pupil, instead of turning the
horse's head to the hand he is working to, changes the bend, and turns
to the reverse hand. This, however, cannot be executed at a canter with
due precision without the use of the right leg, and is therefore (in my
opinion) better omitted in a lady's course of equitation, an additional
reason being that, when she is taught to make the change at a canter,
she can do it much more effectually and elegantly by the "half passage."

The circles having been neatly done, the pupil should rein her horse
back, put him well upon his haunches, and strike him off at a collected
canter, about five miles an hour, the cadence true, the position of the
rider correct.

It is at this point that the instructor should begin carefully to get
his pupil to supple herself in the saddle, while she still rides her
horse well up to his work. It should be borne in mind that a horse
cannot make turns or circles at the "pace of manoeuvre" without
considerable danger to himself and his rider, because at such a pace it
is next to impossible to keep him fairly balanced, and he is liable,
even on well-kept tan, to slip up, whereas at a very collected pace,
with his haunches well under him, there is no danger whatever, although
at first it will call very much upon the energy and close attention of
the rider. Having her horse well into his bridle, the give-and-take
action of the hand should now come gradually from the shoulder joint,
and the pupil should be frequently reminded to avoid resisting the
action of the horse in his canter, but to endeavour, on the other hand,
to accompany him in his short stride. This is to be done by simply
keeping both heels well down, the hands back, the waist bent slightly
forward and perfectly supple, and avoiding too strong a grasp with the
right leg upon the upper crutches of the saddle. The figure from the
waist upwards, however, should be perfectly erect, leaning neither
backwards nor forwards, either position being both unsafe and ungainly.

Nothing is more common than to see a lady sitting with the upper part of
her figure bent forward in a canter, and, if not overdone, the effect is
by no means ungraceful to the eye of a looker-on. But it is a habit
likely to increase in degree, and unsafe in any case, because it is
opposed to the principle of true balance.

With the shoulders well back, the body, neck, and head upright, the
waist slightly bent forward, the hands well back, and acting by an easy
play of the upper arm at the shoulder joint--sitting, in fact, with
freedom in the saddle--the action of the horse at a collected pace will
give the rider a slightly _gliding_ motion from the cantle towards the
pummels, and gradually she will thus acquire the habit of suppling
herself on her horse; ready, however, at any moment "to seize her seat"
(to use the expression of old Sam Chifney) by muscular grip if the horse
flirts or plunges, which, however, it is difficult for him to do when
going well within himself and up to his bridle.

The left leg at a canter should not be drawn back, as in trotting, but
kept close to the horse's side, with the heel down, and the foot as
nearly as possible under the knee. Of course, the above-described easy
deportment in the saddle is not to be acquired in a single lesson; it
requires considerable practice and close watching by both master and
pupil. Once learnt, however, the lady has gained another important step
in her equitation.

The length of time requisite to insure complete _souplesse_ at this
point is dependent upon several circumstances, over which the master has
only a moderate amount of control.

The figure of the pupil is an important point in the matter. If
she is naturally lithe and has been well suppled on foot, the task
will be considerably easier. If, on the contrary, she is of
a square figure--short in the neck and waist, and stiff in the
shoulders--considerably more time is requisite. But with care,
attention, and perseverance it can be acquired by all in early youth.

I know a lady who rides with both dash and judgment with hounds who is
anything but a good figure; but she began under proper tuition when she
was very young, and, although no longer so, she has preserved the
_souplesse_ and true balance acquired in her early days. Natural
aptitude, too, is of great assistance to both master and pupil, and
should be energetically developed by the former; at the same time, care
should be taken that the pupil does not overrun her lessons.

As an instance of what can be accomplished even at a first essay by a
lady gifted with natural talent for riding, I cannot refrain from
relating the following:--Some years ago I chanced to be at the school of
a fashionable riding master in London, when a class of young ladies was
going through a ride. In the gallery from which I was observing them was
also the mother of one of the young ladies who was riding, and of
another much younger, who was standing by her side watching with the
most intense interest the riding below. The younger lady was not more
than ten or eleven years old, but of a form and figure exactly fitted
for performing well in the saddle, being tall of her age, and lithe and
supple in her movements. She did not speak, but I could see from the
excitement of her manner, the glitter of her large dark eyes, and her
changing colour, that she was heart and soul with the fair equestrians.
The ride finished with a leaping lesson, and there was some capital
jumping over a gorsed bar, hurdles double and single, and an artificial
brook. The last performance completely overcame the little spectator in
the gallery. Bursting into a violent fit of sobbing and weeping, she
clutched her mother's dress, and cried convulsively, "Dear mamma, let me
ride, let me ride." The lady, quite surprised and very much affected by
the emotion and excited state of the child, nevertheless, refused,
declaring she was too young. But the young supplicant for equestrian
honours was not to be denied; she continued to implore and weep, and,
the riding master coming to her aid, the mother gave way. Her little
daughter was put on a quiet horse, and the master himself led him round
the school at a walk, but this by no means satisfied our ambitious
little tyro. "Let me trot," she said; "I am sure I can trot." The
professor was quite sure she could not, and told her so; and, to
convince her, he started the horse trotting, and ran by his side. He was
never more mistaken. The lessons the pupil had been witnessing from the
gallery must have made a strong impression on her mind; for, to the
surprise of all of us, she caught the action of the horse at the first
step, and made the best attempt at trotting I ever saw for a beginner.
Feeling that trotting fatigued her, she asked to be allowed to canter,
and this she did in very good form. But the crowning part of the thing
was, that when we were about to take her off her horse, she begged to be
allowed to have a jump. I confess, I thought the riding master wrong in
consenting to this. But again our little friend electrified us all. A
hurdle was put up, well sloped, so as to make the jump a very moderate
one, the little pupil's hands placed, and her position rectified. No
sooner had the horse turned the corner of the school, and before the
riding master had time to check her, than the girl's eye lit up just as
I had seen it in the gallery. She caught the horse fast by the head, hit
him with her heel, put down her hands, and sat as though she had been
hunting for years. It was too late to stop her, and any interference at
the moment would have done more harm than good. With my heart in my
mouth, I saw the horse go at the hurdle. He was one that had "an eye in
every toe," and did not know how to make a mistake. But his daring
little rider had roused him thoroughly, and he jumped high enough to
clear a big fence, and far enough to take him over a small brook. Just
as the horse took off, I shouted involuntarily, "Sit back;" and the
little enthusiast answered as though my voice had been inspiration. Her
lithe little figure was bent from the waist, precisely at the right
moment; and she landed safe, except that the concussion threw her
slightly up in the saddle. Her marvellous aptitude (talent the
professionals would have called it) induced the riding master to let her
make another attempt, and this time, putting her horse at the hurdle at
the same dashing pace (which, by the way, with her wonderful nerve and
confidence, made it easier for her), she sat in the saddle, as the old
groom who tended the hurdles said, "as if she had grown there," and
landed fair and true without jolt or concussion.

This young lady is now one of the most brilliant horsewomen in England.
Her genius (if I may be permitted the expression), joined to close
application and the best of opportunities of riding good horses, enabled
her in a brief space to far outstrip all her youthful competitors, and
in less than twelve months after the time I speak of she could execute
most of the "bending lesson," at a canter as well as a professional
rider, while over the country with hounds she was always close to her
pilot, than whom there was no better man. This when she was barely
thirteen years old.

Such instances of extraordinary aptitude, nerve and courage, combined
with the necessary elasticity and physical power to ride, are very rare
indeed; in fact, in a long experience of such matters, I do not know of
a parallel case. Nevertheless, if the natural dash and fitness for
riding possessed by this young lady had not been carefully watched,
moulded into proper form, and restrained within due bounds, they would
inevitably have run riot with her, and brought her to grief. It is in
such cases as the above, or rather such as tend in that direction, that
the tact and judgment of a riding master is required. If the young lady
I speak of had been allowed, and the opportunity had offered, she would
have mounted without hesitation any brute that would carry a saddle, and
mischief, of course, would have resulted.

To return to the cantering lesson proper. When the instructor has
succeeded in completely regulating the cadence of the horse in his pace
and the position of his pupil, he should give her due caution to wait
for the _last sound_ of his word, to keep her body back and her leg
close, supporting the horse well with the outward rein, and he should
then give the word, well drawn out, gently and without hurry, "right
turn," when the pupil should turn her horse from the boards with the
same aids as at a walk, but more firmly applied, and if the horse leans
upon her hand she should keep him up with her spur.

"Many a horse" (says the "Aid Book") "keeps a tolerable canter on a
straight line, but when turned he feels too much constraint laid upon
him, and leans upon the rider's hand. If at such a moment the rider
yields the reins instead of closing the hand firmly on them, turning the
little fingers up towards the waist, and closing the leg firmly, the
horse comes upon his forehand."

Concise as the above passage is, it describes exactly what occurs on
first making a turn at a canter, and it calls upon all the energy and
attention of the pupil to keep the horse up to his work. But as in other
exercises in the course of equitation, her reward will be in her
thorough command over her horse under all circumstances, because by
learning to ride him with such minute precision she is always able to
anticipate his every movement.

The first three or four turns at a canter should be made square across
the school, from side to side, and no second word should be given on
arriving at the boards; the pupil turning her horse again to the right
without any caution, and continuing to "go large" round the school until
she again gets the word to turn. This practice will teach her to be
constantly on the alert, and to maintain such a balance as will enable
her in turning to move exactly on the same line as her horse, bringing
her left shoulder up precisely at the right moment.

Three or four turns are quite sufficient for the first lesson, because
the horse before completing these must go several times round the
school, and the pupil should ride him well up to his bit. After a few
turns, smoothly and correctly made, the pupil should bring her horse to
the walk, halt, make much of him, and sit at ease.

Making much of a horse when he has performed well is always a judicious
mode of letting him know that he has been doing right; at the same it
affords him an interval of rest, which is quite necessary. This may
appear absurd to those who are accustomed to see horses continue
galloping for hours. But it must be remembered that the sort of work I
have been endeavouring to describe is altogether artificial; that the
animal thrown upon his haunches only goes through the lesson with
considerable exertion, and that if he is kept too long at it, this can
only be done by an amount of fatigue on the part of the rider which
would be far from beneficial to a lady. The object of the lesson is to
induct the pupil into a mode in which she can obtain complete mastery
over her horse. It is, as it were, a gymnastic exercise for both steed
and rider, and must not be persevered with too long at one time. After
about ten minutes' rest the pupil should again collect her horse, rein
him back, and prepare him again for cantering. She should then strike
him quietly off, and ride him very collectedly, so as to be ready to
make the circles. These should be made from about midway down the
boards; and on the last sound of the words "circle right," the pupil
should turn her horse's head from the boards, and, supporting him well
with the left leg and rein, ride in a figure exactly similar to that she
described at a walk. She will find, however, that the horse requires
considerably more support in making the circles than he did in the
simple turns. Being on the bend from the time he leaves the boards until
he arrives at them again, the nicest riding is necessary to keep his
fore and hind feet on the same track, and prevent him from throwing his
haunches out. The pace, too, should be more collected than when the
turns were made. Four miles to four miles and a half an hour is quite
fast enough, and, if necessary, the horse must be halted and reined back
several times in order to get him thoroughly collected. Two circles well
done are quite sufficient. The pupil should then again halt, "sit at
ease," and make much of her horse. By this time both he and the pupil
will have gone through a tolerably severe lesson, because the collected
pace necessary to execute it, and especially the circles, necessitates a
great deal of cantering before a beginner can ascertain the true
cadence--without which, and a considerable amount of support from her
hand and leg, it is unsafe and useless for her to attempt her turns and
circles; frequently, too, a horse will have to go several times round
the school before the instructor can see the opportunity to give the
word. Reining back again, and collecting him, call very much upon the
horse's powers, while, on the other hand, over-fatigue is specially to
be avoided as regards the pupil. After resting ten minutes or so, the
lady should conclude this lesson by walking him quietly about till he is
quite cool.



CHAPTER XI.

THE CANTERING LESSON (_continued_)--THE HALF PASSAGE AND CHANGE.


Although the last-named exercises belong, strictly speaking, more to the
curriculum of the military riding school than to female equitation,
still, to be able to execute them with precision is of great advantage
to a lady, because they teach her that by getting a good bend on her
horse, and placing him in a certain position by the application of the
proper aids, she can compel him at her pleasure to canter with either
near or off foot leading; and, although it may not be agreeable to her
to keep her horse going with the near leg, unless she is riding on the
off side, nevertheless, the practice of the half passage and change is
an admirable, and indeed very elegant, mode of acquiring ready facility
in the effective use of hand and leg. I have said before that the horse
in the "half passage" places one foot before the other, instead of
crossing his legs completely, as in the full passage. The former mode of
progression enables the horse therefore to gain ground diagonally to his
front, instead of moving upon a line at right angles with the boards as
in the latter.

The aids by which the half passage is executed are the same as those of
the "full passage," with the following exceptions. First, there is a
lighter pressure of the leg on the outward side; and in the case of a
lady it is necessary that she should use her whip on the off side behind
the saddle alternately with her leg on the near side, in order to cause
the horse to gain ground to the front, as well as to place one foot
before the other.

After starting her horse at a walk, "going large," the rider should
rein him back, collect and balance him--riding equally upon snaffle and
curb reins--she should make the corner perfectly square; and when midway
between it and the centre marker, the instructor should give the word
"right half passage," upon which the pupil should still further collect
her horse into the slow pace she used in the bending lesson, and, having
arrived at the centre marker, she should bring the horse's forehand in,
by a double feeling of the right rein; the outward leg closed, to
prevent the haunches from flying out. The inward rein leads; the outward
balances and assists the power of the inward. A pressure of the left leg
causes the horse to place one foot before the other (see Aid Book). The
whip used in alternate action with the leg will cause him to move to his
right front, towards the boards.

A very light and delicate application of the leg, in unison with a
similar application of the whip, is sufficient with a well-broken horse
to enable the rider to do the "half passage" correctly at a walk. The
point at which, strictly speaking, she should arrive at the boards is
just midway between the ends of the school; and in a properly-regulated
one there should always be a white marker on the wall, just above the
place where the sockets for the leaping bar are inserted in it.

Keeping her eye upon this marker, the rider should lead her horse's
forehand lightly with the right rein, maintaining an easy, playful,
feeling of the snaffle in his mouth, and carefully balancing his every
step with the left rein, while she presses him up to his work with the
leg and whip. The horse's head should be bent to the right, so that his
right eye is visible to the rider as she sits perfectly square in the
saddle. The pace can scarcely be too slow, but every step must be taken
up to the bridle, the horse's forehand up, and his haunches well under
him.

In no part of a lady's course of equitation is it necessary for the
instructor to pay more close attention to his pupil than in this: the
temptation to the latter to relax her position, and sit, as it were,
"all over the saddle" is great, from the difficulty she at first
experiences in applying the aids effectually, and her anxiety to do
well, causing her to twist her figure in pressing the horse with the
left leg. The horse, too, is moving with his fore and hind feet in two
distinctly different lines, which renders it far from easy, without
considerable practice, to sit fair and square in the saddle. Close
attention and quiet correction, however, will obviate all this.

Many people, I am aware, assert that riding with such precision is
unnecessary to a lady. From this opinion I beg leave to dissent _in
toto_, my idea being that a course of equitation for a lady means
teaching her everything (less the lessons of the "Haute École")
connected with the subject, and that whether she chooses hereafter to
practise the "bending lesson," "half passage," and change at a canter or
not, a thorough knowledge of them will give her a facility of riding
unattainable by any other means, and make her also thoroughly _au fait_
to the reason for everything she does in order to control the animal
under her.

Again, I can see no possible reason why the nicest precision should be
considered unnecessary in a lady's riding any more than it is in music;
and, to try back on my old simile, I submit that as the same scale is
written for a Thalberg as for the fair daughter of the house who
performs on the pianoforte for the _post prandial_ amusement of
paterfamilias, and inasmuch as the mode in which the music is performed
is dependent in a great measure upon precision and practice, so in
riding it is necessary to make a young lady acquainted with the
principles of equitation in their minutest details, and carefully to
watch that she executes them with the most rigid exactness.

To return to the half passage. On arriving at the boards the lady should
halt her horse for a moment and make much of him, then rein him back,
and again walk him round the school to the left. The half passage should
then be done to that hand, reversing the aids, and using the whip
instead of the left leg. This will bring the horse again upon the right
rein. He should now be well put up to his work, and pressed smartly off
at a very collected canter. The instructor should be most careful that
the proper cadence in pace is arrived at before he gives the word, and
should caution the pupil also that when she arrives at the boards she
should bring her horse to the walk.

To facilitate this exercise also, it may be advisable in some cases to
take the whole school instead of half of it; but in that case the horse
should go over the same ground in the "half passage" at a walk, as he
afterwards does at a canter.

When the exercise is done at the latter pace, no attempt should be made
at the first effort to change the horse at the boards. The master should
give the word very quietly directly the pupil turns the corner of the
school, and she should then press her horse well up, and turn his head
smoothly from the centre marker, applying her aids with firmness and
decision, endeavouring at the same time to prevent him from hurrying his
pace. This, however, at the first attempt, it is scarcely to be expected
that she will accomplish.

If the whole school is taken, the point of arrival at the boards should
be about a horse's length from the end, where he should be brought
quietly to a walk, the rider for this purpose keeping the body back,
turning the little fingers of both hands up towards the waist, and
drawing the hands themselves well towards her waist. The bend of the
horse's head should then be changed to the left, by allowing the off
side reins to slip through the right hand about two inches, and drawing
the near-side reins through the left hand, with the right, to an equal
extent. The near-side reins should then be passed into the right hand,
while with the left the rider "makes much" of her horse on the near
side. This, of course, should only be done if he has executed the
movement with reasonable precision, for (to repeat) perfection cannot be
expected in the pupil's first effort.

Plenty of time should be taken between these "half-passage" lessons,
because they are severe, calling very much upon the physical powers of
both horse and rider.

In order to give both a fair chance, the lesson should be again done at
a walk, then at a canter, the pupil carefully instructed on arriving at
the boards to strike the horse off collectedly _to the left_. To do this
she should quietly change the bend to that hand, carry her left foot
well forward towards the horse's shoulder, so as to use an action of her
leg reverse to that she had recourse to in striking him off to the
right. She should keep him well bent, but well supported with the
outward rein. When she has him in the corner of the school, and bent
both in his neck and ribs (which in turning and putting his off fore
foot into the angle must be the case, if she applies her whip smartly
behind the flap of the saddle, and presses her left foot to his near
elbow, keeping his forehand well up at the same time), he can scarcely
refuse to strike off with his near leg; but it must be borne in mind
that a lady cannot be expected to execute this movement with any
certainty unless the horse has been previously taught by a man to obey
the aids the lady applies as above directed. This, however, every
breaker who knows his business can easily do.

When a fair amount of proficiency is acquired in this lesson, the change
may be made from what is technically called a "half halt," which means
simply that, the horse being thrown more upon his haunches, the aids are
applied with great firmness, and the horse compelled to change his leg
without being brought completely to the walk. The degree of proficiency,
however, should be when the pupil can change her horse with certainty
after halting him.

The pace at which the half passage is done should be very collected,
and, I repeat, if the rider and horse do it only reasonably well (that
is, the latter continuing true and united in his pace, and changing
freely after being halted), that for some little time it should be
considered sufficient, and every allowance made for the fact that the
lady, unlike the male rider, cannot give support to her horse with both
legs.

Most likely at first the horse will throw his haunches out a little, and
the rider slightly lose her position. Practice and the close application
most ladies give to riding will suffice to correct all this, and in due
time the pupil will be able to execute the lesson with smoothness and
ease to herself and her horse. She will then be sufficiently advanced to
commence cantering on the curb rein alone. This, as regards finish in
the rider's hand, is in equitation what tone is in music. Every motion
of the little finger, or the slightest turn of the wrist, acts upon the
curb when it is unrelieved by the snaffle with so much more power, that
the greatest care is necessary to keep the bridle hand steady at first,
and to avoid anything approaching to suddenness or roughness of action.

This steadiness is best accomplished by causing the pupil to ride with
the reins arranged military fashion, with the snaffle reins hanging over
the full of the left hand, the off side rein uppermost, and the right
hand holding the end of the curb reins, as before described, which
affords greater facility for easing and feeling them than can at first
be expected, when the action is given altogether from the left wrist. In
the latter case, the hand without considerable practice would be far too
heavy, even when the arm was kept quite firm, and unbearably heavy to
the horse if there was any motion from the shoulder of the rider.

I must repeat that the lines of action of the little finger of the
bridle hand are four--namely, towards the right and left shoulder
respectively, according as the rider desires to turn the horse right or
left; and towards his neck and her own waist, as she wishes to collect,
rein back, or move him forward.

Now, while in trotting on the curb rein only the hand and arm should be
kept as steady as possible, in order that the horse may make a free
_appui_ between mouth and hand, "taking hold a little of the latter;" in
cantering the direct reverse of this is the case, and the hand of the
rider should give and take to every stride of the horse.

It is in the mode of timing these give-and-take motions in exact harmony
with the action of the horse that fine and finished hands consist; and I
will endeavour to give an idea of the readiest way in which this
delicate manipulation may be acquired, with as much precision as the
fair rider can exercise when pressing the keys of a pianoforte.

Let us suppose, then, that in preparing for the cantering lesson on the
curb, in order nicely to collect the horse, the reins are drawn quietly
through the left hand by the right, as above described, the object being
to rein the horse back a step or two, and balance him well with forehand
up and haunches under him. By the above-named drawing up of the reins a
firmer _appui_ is created against the horse's mouth. By closing both leg
and whip, however, while still maintaining this _appui_, the horse will
step back. The instant he does the reins should be yielded to him, and
he will bend in the poll of the neck and yield to his rider's hand. So
that the _appui_ is then scarcely perceptible. This alternate action of
hand and leg, aided by the whip, should be repeated just as many times
as it is desired to rein the horse so many steps backward, the latter
moving very slowly; a couple or three steps for the purpose above named
are always sufficient. To move the horse to the front again at a walk,
the leg should be closed, and the reins eased until he moves forward,
when he should be again collected. But if the rider desires to strike
him off at once at a canter, at the moment she eases her hand she should
apply her spur smartly just behind the girth, and touch the horse
lightly on the off shoulder with her whip. Being properly bent and
prepared, he will then strike off with his right leg first, and well
within himself; but having eased the reins as the horse takes his first
short stride forward, the rider should feel them again the next instant,
keeping her left hand well back, her arm steady, and manipulating the
reins with the right hand and the fingers of the left, so that she feels
them just as the horse's fore foot is on the ground, and eases them as
he raises it.

This may appear to the uninitiated a very difficult matter, but in
reality it is not at all so, any more than it is difficult in dancing to
keep time to music, or for the musician to count the time to himself;
and by careful watching it can be mastered as well as either of the
above, or the stroke in swimming.

Anybody who has witnessed a cavalry field day will have noticed that the
regimental band and the action of the horses both in trotting and
cantering past the commanding officer are in exact harmony; and many
people believe that the horses are taught to canter to the music. The
reverse of this, however, is the case. The leader of the band, having
himself passed through a course of equitation, knows the exact cadence
of the pace of manoeuvre, and regulates the time of the music
accordingly; but it is because he is able to count the time of the
horses' footfall so well that he is also able to set the time of the
music. In like manner the fair equestrian, with a little practice, can
learn to count the time of her horse's canter to herself, and regulate
the action of her hand accordingly.

The pupil must throw plenty of _life_ into her riding, and, while she
sits easily and flexibly as regards her whole figure on the saddle,
should keep the horse equally upon his mettle. In a riding school he
requires more calling upon than when out of doors, and more "pressing
up," as it is technically called; but when once the rider has him going,
well balanced, and bending nicely, the great thing is to "let well
alone," and not ask too much, by which she would only fret and upset
him. In bringing the horse to the walk, the pupil should be cautioned to
feel him up very gradually, avoiding any sudden jerk on his mouth. The
gradual stronger feeling for two or three strides, of the taking action
of the hand, followed by a much slighter giving of the reins, will bring
the horse smoothly to the walk. The body of the rider should be inclined
slightly back from the perpendicular.

When the lady has acquired ease and freedom in riding on the curb, the
turn, circles, "half passage" and change may be practised, close
attention being given that the aids are applied smoothly and quietly.

After a few such lessons, the pupil may commence riding with the left
hand entirely unassisted by the right. For this purpose it is necessary
first to carry that portion of the reins held in the right hand over the
middle joint of the fore finger of the left; close the thumb firmly down
on them, and drop the slack of the rein to the off side of the saddle
near the horse's shoulder.

The give-and-take action must at first be from the wrist only, the arm
being kept firm, and the hand opposite the centre of the body.

For a time this will be a little difficult, especially in turning, when
the rider has only the motion of the little finger to depend upon for
the action of the bit in the horse's mouth; but by supporting the horse
well with the leg and whip, she will find that he will presently answer
readily to her aids. In turning to the right, the hand must be turned
with the knuckles up, and the little finger down towards the left
shoulder, the whip pressed to the horse's side, and the leg kept close,
in order to make the turn square. In turning to the left, the little
finger should be directed inwards and upwards towards the right
shoulder, and the left leg pressed to assist the turn, while the whip on
the off side insures its squareness. The wrist must be quite easy and
supple. In collecting, reining back, halting, or bringing the horse to
the walk, the action by which he is restrained should again at first be
altogether from the wrist, because motion from the shoulder would be too
heavy. In yielding to the horse, nothing more is necessary than to turn
the knuckles up and the little finger towards the horse's neck.

By degrees, as the pupil learns to command her horse riding in this form
she must be instructed once more to give free and mobile action to the
arm at the shoulder joint, as when riding on both snaffle and curb
reins. But at first firmness of the arm is essential to give steadiness
to the hand. A good deal has been said about turning horses by pressure
of the rein against the neck without acting upon the metal in his mouth;
and opinions very diverse have been expressed on this point. With all
deference to the disputants, I submit that both are right and both wrong
in some respects. For instance, when the rider has the reins divided and
the hands well apart (a section of the lady equitation I propose to say
something about hereafter), if the rider turns the horse square to the
right or left he must use his legs as well as his hands, and
imperceptibly perhaps to himself (even if he has not been taught by
rule) he closes both the outward leg and feels the outward rein firmly,
in order to support the horse and prevent him from falling, which
otherwise he would be in danger of doing. Now, this support with the
outward rein causes it to press against the horse's neck, and to some
extent gives him the indication of the rider's will. But still it is
simply impossible to do this without acting on the snaffle or bit rein,
as the case may be, on one side or the other, as long as the reins are
attached to a bit of any sort. And after all, it is the leg which gives
the surest indication of the rider's will.

One sees a lad in an Irish fair riding with a flat-headed halter turned
through the horse's mouth, and, with the rope only on one side, he will
put the horse through his paces, jump him, and turn him to either hand.
There is no metal at all in the mouth, although the hemp is not a bad
substitute; but the rope being only on one side, it is evident that it
is not pressure upon the neck that turns the horse, but the action of
the boy's leg against the intercostal muscles of the horse, and the
inflection of the lad's body to the hand he desires to turn to.

Moreover, in the case, let us say of a dragoon, we will suppose at
riding school drill, it would be utterly out of the question to turn
horses by pressure on the neck and preserve order at the same time. Let
us suppose a double ride--seven mounted men on either side of a school
or _manége_. They are going large round the place, and the instructor
gives the word "Right and left turn." If each man of the fourteen were
to turn his horse by pressure of the reins against the neck, instead of
by the aid of leg and hand, the result would be that in place of making
a square turn at right angles with the boards, each horse would describe
a segment of a circle, more or less large, according to the
susceptibility of his neck, and the stiffness or otherwise of his ribs.
The consequence would be that the two sides, instead of passing left
hand to left hand through the intervals (and it must be remembered that
there is little room to spare), would be on the top of each other, and
in confusion at once. And if this would be bad at a walk, it would be
still worse at a canter. In either case it would be impossible, by the
application of such aids, to preserve the dressing. The above, I submit,
is a sufficient reason, where the utmost precision in riding is
required, why turning a horse by the action of the rein against his neck
(if, indeed, it can be done at all without the leg) is objectionable;
and another objection in the case both of the dragoon and the lady rider
is that the motions by which such aids could be applied are _too wide_
for neat and elegant riding.

Horses in their breaking may be taught to answer all sorts of "cross
aids;" but for simplicity and ease of comprehension there is nothing in
equitation so good as the system practised in the German and our own
cavalry riding schools, the proof of which lies in the fact that,
although years ago one did not get even an average amount of
intelligence as a rule in our rank and file, yet every cavalry soldier
could readily understand the simple system upon which he was taught. It
is because that system forms, after all, the basis of much that applies
to female equitation that I have so frequently quoted from and alluded
to it.

When the instructor finds that his pupil is quite at her ease, riding
her horse with one hand only, that she can do this, giving due freedom
of action to the arm at the shoulder joint, has perfect command of him,
and plenty of liberty and confidence in her own deportment on his back,
he should take her out and ride with her in the park or road, and
subsequently prepare her to extend her horse at a gallop, and commence
her leaping lessons.

At this stage a more finished style of equestrian toilette will of
course be adopted, in lien of the loose habiliments hitherto used.

I do not pretend to lay down any arbitrary rule on this subject. Much of
course depends upon the taste of the lady herself, and in this respect
English ladies are pre-eminent; a good deal also upon the judgment and
experience of those about her. But as I have good opportunities of
seeing the best types of fashionable attire for ladies' riding, I
venture to suggest some of them.



CHAPTER XII.

DRESS FOR PARK RIDING, AND THE EXTENDED PACES.


In no department of the charming art of dressing well is a lady so much
shackled by conventional usages as in her "get up" for riding. In all
other kinds of dress, from the full Court costume to simple morning
wrapper, such is the almost endless variety of style that there is
something to suit every woman, from the lady of high degree to "Dolly
Varden," and the "Molly Duster;" and the selection made is conclusive as
to the good or bad taste of the wearer. In riding dress it is altogether
different. "Chimney pot" hats, tight-fitting jackets, and flowing skirts
of orthodox dark rifle-green seem to be _de rigueur_, whatever may be
the figure, style, or complexion of the wearer. I submit (and in this
opinion I am borne out by several accomplished lady riders, to one of
whom I am indebted for the following suggestions) that this is wrong,
and that some modifications as regards shape and colour would be
advantageous both as regards the comfort of the ladies themselves, and
as a matter of taste.

To begin with head-dress. It is manifest that whereas a lady of tall,
lithe figure, with an oval Grecian style of face, and classical contour
of head, will appear to the greatest advantage on horseback in a plain
or gentleman's hat, and with her hair so arranged as to show the outline
of the head and neck, one of the Hebe style of beauty, particularly if
slightly inclined to the "_embon._," if so accoutred, would not look by
any means well. Yet one constantly sees the same sort of head-dress worn
by ladies whose general style is in direct contrast, the reason
presumably being that fashion admits of such little latitude for
choice.

Again, as regards the jacket. A lady of slight figure (for effect) can
scarcely wear anything that fits too close, consistently with her
freedom of motion; but the fair equestrian whose proportions are not
"sylph like" is badly equipped in such a garment.

To revert to the hat for the latter type of lady, the most becoming
style seems to be one with a low crown, and brim more or less wide,
according to the features of the wearer, as such hats admit of great
variety, both in material, and, what is more important, in colour; and
consequently it is not difficult for a lady to obtain that which is
exactly suitable to her both as regards feature and complexion.

Some of these hats for park or road riding, ornamented with ostrich or
other feathers, are exceedingly elegant and becoming, and protect the
skin from the rays of the sun, without any necessity for a veil, which
cannot be said of the plain black or gentleman's hat. For the hunting
field, of course, feathers or ornaments are out of place; but
nevertheless most elegant low-crowned, wide-rimmed hats, made of fine
felt and without ornament, of shapes suitable to every class of feature,
are obtainable in Melton, and I presume are equally accessible in
London.

The form of jacket most suitable for a lady whose proportions incline to
fulness is a tunic, made Hussar fashion, that is, it should have two
seams in the back and be well sprung inwards towards the waist without
fitting tight; the short skirt made full, and reaching well down to the
saddle; the sleeves wide. Broad braiding judiciously arranged on such
tunics, too, will have the effect of considerably diminishing the
appearance of redundant fulness of figure in the wearer.

Two rows of braiding, commencing at the lower edge of the tunic behind,
should bend inwards towards the waist; but instead of diverging thence
to the shoulder points, as in a military coat, should pass over the
shoulders, about midway between them and the neck, and thence be
continued with a turn (ornamental or plain) to the front of the tunic on
both sides, and reaching down to its lower extremity. There should be no
braiding round the bottom edges of the jacket. These tunics can be made
either single or double breasted, but in either case should have broad
lappets in front; and neckties of any colour suitable to the wearer's
complexion, arranged as a gentleman ties his neckcloth, and fastened
with gold horseshoe pins, jewelled or plain, are very effective. The
single-breasted tunic should be fastened with hooks and eyes, covered by
the braid; the double-breasted jacket should fasten with plain silk
buttons. The advantage of these tunics is that, while they afford plenty
of room to the rider, and while they in no way cramp her flexibility in
the saddle, they tend to diminish to a degree scarcely conceivable the
appearance of redundant fulness or squareness of form, and give a very
elegant _tournure_ to a figure that would look by no means well in a
tight-fitting jacket.

Again, neckties of moderately large pattern, and ornaments in the way of
feathers and pins, or other fastenings for the cravat, all tend to
diminish to the eye the appearance of weight and size, and as a rule,
are as becoming on horseback to ladies of full figure as rigid plainness
in habits, collars, &c., are to those of spare and delicate form. It
should be borne in mind that it is on the off side that the figure of a
lady equestrian is most critically noticed by the observer. On the near
side the skirt has a great effect in increasing or diminishing the
apparent size and form of the rider. On the off side every defect in
form or dress is patent, and it is on the off side that the gentleman
attendant rides. Close-fitting jackets, then, I repeat; plain
gentleman's hats, with or without lace lappets, and extreme simplicity
of get up, will be most effective on the off side in the case of a lady
of slight figure. The style of hat and tunic I have attempted to
describe is most suitable to those whose _physique_ is more developed.

As regards skirts, a fair amount of fullness, according to the size of
the rider, for road or park, gives a very graceful appearance on the
near side, care of course being taken that the habit is not so long as
to admit of the horse treading on it. For hunting skirts can scarcely be
too circumscribed, as long as they afford the wearer freedom of action.

A word now about colours. I repeat that except in the arbitrary dictum
of fashion there is no warranty for the all but universal prevalence of
dark rifle-green for riding habits. It must be evident that a lady who
is a "brunette" will look far better in a riding dress the colour of
which is dark chocolate or purple than she will in green of any sort;
and on the other hand a "blonde" would be more suitably attired in a
habit of a shade of light blue suitable to her complexion than in
anything of more sombre hue. Again, in the hunting field why should our
patrician ladies who grace these sporting _réunions_, with their
presence, and go as straight and well as any men, shewing always in the
front rank, be debarred by fashion or conventional usage from wearing
scarlet jackets. Scarlet is worn on foot--for opera cloaks, in shawls,
in whole dresses. Why not scarlet on horseback? I saw a lady this season
riding with one of our crack Midland packs who wore a scarlet jacket of
very fine cloth; a light blue silk cravat, fastened with a diamond
horseshoe pin; a skirt of very dark blue, and a plain man's hat of
Melton style. She was a blonde with golden hair, mounted on a bright
chestnut blood-like hunter; and, as she was of slight, lathy figure, and
rode exceedingly well, the _ensemble_ was quite charming. This lady was
the cynosure of all eyes, not only on account of her capital riding but
her dress, which I heard deprecated by some as "_too loud_." My humble
opinion was that it was exactly in harmony with the place and the sport,
most becoming to the wearer, and calculated to give _dash_ and
_brilliancy_ to the _coup d'oeil_ afforded by the field as they
streamed away after the hounds; moreover, the lady herself had that
thoroughbred stamp and aristocratic bearing that would have rendered any
innovation in equestrian costume admissable in her case. But when the
complexion and style of any lady admits of it, I can see no reason why
she should not wear scarlet with foxhounds as well as her brother or her
husband. In summer time, too, is not dark rifle-green or any dark colour
and thick cloth which attracts the rays of the sun to the certain
discomfort of the wearer an absurdity, when the fair equestrian would
look far better, because more seasonably attired, in light grey, light
blue, or even in a habit of perfectly white linen, or similar fabric?

As I have ventured to point out a pleasing alteration of conventional
dress in the hunting field, I trust I may be pardoned for describing
what appeared to me an equally consistent innovation in summer costume
for the saddle. Last summer I saw four young ladies taking an early
morning canter over a breezy down in this neighbourhood. The weather was
sultry. Three of the ladies wore habits of different shades of grey,
according to their respective complexions, the fabric evidently very
thin. Their equipment was completed by felt hats of different shapes,
exceedingly becoming. The fourth lady, who was very fair, wore a
perfectly white habit, made, I presume, of linen; the jacket edged with
a narrow light blue cord; her headdress was a yachting hat of Tuscan
straw, encircled by and also fastened under her chin with light blue
ribbon. In the front of her jacket she wore a moss rosebud. She was
riding an Arab-like blood horse, and being, like her companions, not
only well mounted, but a first-rate horsewoman, the effect was not only
pleasing to the eye and full of "dash," but, I am sure, most conducive
to the comfort of the fair riders themselves. Fashion apart, I may
fairly ask, would not these four ladies have looked equally well, and
felt as much at their ease, in Rotten Row as on the springy
Leicestershire turf? I devoutly hope yet to see some of the leaders of
fashion in the gay London season inaugurate some such change as I
venture to suggest; and certain I am if they did so, Rotten Row in the
month of May would present a brilliant Watteau-like appearance, very
different from that produced by the prevalence of sombre colours now
worn by the equestrian _habitués_ of that fashionable ride.

To return to our fair pupil (having made such selection of riding dress
as is most suitable to her style). Her first outdoor rides should be
taken on some quiet and little frequented road until she becomes
accustomed to control her horse; for there is a great difference in the
form of going of the same animal in the riding school and on the road,
as many horses that require considerable rousing in the school are all
action and lightheartedness out of doors.

On the road, especially when they are hard, walking and trotting should
be the pace, the pupil riding equally on snaffle and curb reins; the
pace free and active; the trot about eight to eight and a half the hour.

Cantering should never be practised on hard ground, as it is certain,
sooner or later, to cause mischief to the horse's legs. Where there is a
good broad sward by the roadside, as in the Midland counties, a good
stretching canter for miles may always be had where the ground is good
going. But such places are not to be found in the neighbourhood of the
metropolis; and it is necessary therefore to select some open common,
such as Wimbledon or Wormwood Scrubs, for cantering at first.

By degrees the pupil should be accustomed to ride through thoroughfares
where there is considerable traffic, and may then make her _début_ in
Rotten Row; and here I may remark that nobody, lady or gentleman, should
ever attempt riding in this fashionable equestrian resort until they
have thorough command of their horses, and, indeed, know scientifically
what riding is. The place, strictly speaking, is a ride intended for
royalty alone; and I believe I am correct in saying that the admission
of the general public to it is by no means a matter of right. Great
pains are bestowed to keep it in good order throughout the year;
especially, it is always soft and good for a horse's legs. But as a
great concourse of equestrians, male and female, is always in the Row in
the London season, and as the horses are nearly all well bred and high
couraged, there is considerable danger, both to themselves and others,
in persons with indifferent seats and hands venturing to ride in the
fashionable crowd, the danger being considerably enhanced by the fact
that such people are altogether ignorant of the risk they are running.
For my own part, after seeing some corpulent citizen rehearsing "John
Gilpin" in Hyde Park, with his trousers half-way up to his knees, and
his feet the wrong way in the stirrups, the wonder has always been to me
not that accidents occur in Rotten Row, but that there are not a great
many more.

There are adventurous ladies, too, who occasionally create a sensation
among the crowd, not at all flattering to themselves if they only knew
the sentiments of those about them; and I really think it would be a
capital plan to appoint some competent gentlemen to take charge by
turns of the Row in the London season, and order the mounted police on
duty quietly to see everybody out of it who was unable to command their
horses. Matters, since the mounted constables have been put on, are not
quite so bad as formerly; but there is plenty of room for improvement
still, both as regards dogs, pretty horsebreakers, and tailors.

At all events, I recommend any man taking a young lady into the Park in
the height of the London season "to have his eyes about him" in every
direction, lest some "dashing equestrian," male or female, should come
bucketing a horse in rear of his charge, and to keep a close watch also
upon the latter--to see that she _rides her horse_ all the time she is
in the place, keeping him well into his bridle, which reduces to a
minimum the chances of his suddenly flirting.

Elsewhere I have gone at considerable length into the subject of
possible accidents in the Park. It is perhaps necessary that I repeat
the gist of it here, which is simply that no young lady, however
accomplished a horsewoman she may be, should be allowed by her friends
to ride in the Row unattended by a male companion, who is not only a
thoroughly good horseman, but accustomed to ride beside a lady and
_anticipate_ anything in the shape of bad manners on the part of her
horse; that the attendance of a groom, who rides at a considerable
distance in rear of the lady (whatever appearance of conventional style
it may give to the fair equestrian), is utterly useless to her in case
of accident, nay, in more than one instance that I have known has been
productive of it from the groom galloping up at a critical moment, and
still further exciting the lady's horse. Finally, that no lady should
ever ride a horse of high breed and courage that has been allowed to
"get above himself," by remaining day after day in the stable, or having
insufficient work, when exercised, to keep down exuberant freshness.

There is no danger to a thoroughly good horsewoman in riding a horse
that is "light-hearted." But there is risk to everybody, man or woman,
in riding one "mad fresh," ready to jump out of his skin, as the grooms
say, in a crowd of other horses.

For my own part, of two evils, I would rather see a lady jammed into a
lane with twenty or thirty horses, after hounds had just got away, and
everybody was struggling to get out, than I would see her in the Park
unattended by a gentleman, and mounted upon a well-bred horse that was
very fresh. I do not by any means deprecate riding in the Row. It is a
splendid piece of riding ground, and relieved to some extent, as it now
is, of overcrowding by the ride on the upper side of the Park; it is a
glorious place for a canter. But I repeat, let everybody who takes a
horse there be able to ride him, and have eyes for his neighbours as
well as himself; and especially let gentlemen who attend ladies there be
always on the _qui vive_ for the adventurous Gilpins and "pretty
horsebreakers."

The canter for the Row, conventionally and wisely, should be almost as
collected as that of the riding school. It is an understood thing, in
fact, that no lady or gentleman (properly so called) "sets a horse
going" there; and trotting when practised should also be done very
collectedly, both paces admitting of the display of talent and
proficiency in equitation of the rider.

For the more extended paces, it is necessary again to have recourse to
open heath or common; and, before the pupil attempts to "set her horse
going," the difference between cantering, in the "andante" pace, and
galloping, should be clearly explained to her. The main difference in
this cantering is to some extent an artificial pace, because, when
practised collectedly, the greater weight of the horse is brought from
his forehand on to his haunches; and the shorter the pace, the more his
weight is on his hind legs. It is for this reason that very collected
cantering should not be continued for any great length of time, from its
tendency to strain the hocks, nevertheless cantering, like trotting,
cannot fairly be pronounced altogether artificial, because anybody who
has had the handling of a great number of young horses must have seen
many of them running loose who would canter the length of a paddock at
quite a short pace, both legs on the same side (generally the near
side); and I have seen a foal at a mare's foot trot, true and fair, for
a considerable distance.

Galloping, however, like walking, is a perfectly natural pace, although
it is a mistake to say that in the gallop the horse moves both fore and
hind legs together, in what is frequently termed "a succession of
jumps." That he does this in his top speed, and especially in making a
supreme effort, as in a desperate finish of a race, is perfectly true:
but it is equally certain that at half or three quarter speed he is
leading with either near or off fore leg, and that anything but a _full
speed_ gallop is simply a very extended canter. Any man who has ridden a
race must know that where the distance is great, say four miles or more,
and men do not force the pace, for perhaps two-thirds of the way every
horse (say of a score of them) will be leading with either near or off
leg, generally the former, and that a very hot excitable horse, eager to
get to the front, will _change his leg_ when he finds his rider keeps
his hands down, and his horse back. It may be said that this is not
galloping but cantering; but I beg to assure all those who maintain this
opinion that such a canter is faster than any gallop resorted to, apart
from racing, that, in short, such a gallop is a very extended canter.
Whatever the term, however, may be most applicable to it, half racing
speed is quite as fast as a lady will have occasion to ride, unless in
cases of desperate emergency. At such speed the horse has altogether a
different balance to that maintained in the short canter; and, although
he does not go altogether on his shoulders, still, to afford him freedom
of action, he must be allowed to extend his head and neck, because, if
too much bent, his action will be clambering, instead of sending him
freely to his front.

To gallop a horse in good form the lady should adopt a different
arrangement of the reins to any heretofore used. It is simply to divide
them, so that the little fingers of both hands pass between the snaffle
and curb reins, the latter under the little finger, and a little longer
than the former, the _appui_ being principally upon the snaffle,
although there should be no slack rein on the curbs. Her hands should be
kept well apart, and as low down as she can get them. The reason for
separating the hands is, that it is far more difficult for a lady to set
her hands down than for a man to do the same thing, because the front
forks of the saddle are very much in her way.

If, however, she rides with a saddle, the off side crutch of which is
"cut down," and she places her right hand outside her right knee, and
her left hand outside the near side upper crutch, she will have the
reins at nearly the same angle, and about the same feeling on the
horse's mouth, as would be obtained by a man in setting his horse going.

In order to counteract any tendency of this position of the hands to
interfere with the rider's proper balance, the left foot should be
carried well forward, while the leg is pressed firmly against the third
crutch, and an equally firm grasp of the upper crutch is taken with the
right knee. A slight bend forward of the figure from the waist upwards
is admissible, but great care should be taken by the instructor that
this is not overdone, but regulated by the angle at which the left foot
is placed. With the slight bend forward, however, there should be no
rounding of the back or shoulders, or dropping of the head. Neither
should the hands be allowed to get too forward; they will be somewhat in
advance of their position at a canter, but not be more than six or eight
inches from the body--the hands with the knuckles upwards, the elbows
only slightly bent.

The ground selected for this exercise should be well known to the
instructor--sound, good-going turf, perfectly free from rabbit holes or
rotten places. The pace should be gradually increased from a free canter
to about half-racing speed, the master making the pace himself, and
carefully watching his pupil in every stride her horse takes. The lady
should be instructed to let her horse "take fairly hold" of her, and
press him with the leg until he strides freely along in his gallop. She
should keep her hands shut firmly on the reins, and rest the former
against the saddle. The horse then, while taking well hold of her, will
not _pull_, nor will she pull an ounce against him, the consequence
being that when she desires to decrease her speed, she has only to lean
back gradually from her galloping position, bringing the body first
perfectly upright, and then inclining back at about the same angle she
previously carried it forward, raise her hands up from the saddle, and
carry them back to her waist, while she turns the little fingers inwards
and upwards towards it, which will cause her to feel the curb reins with
a double feeling to the snaffle, and in about a dozen strides she can
thus collect her horse into a steady canter and bring him subsequently
to a walk. The length and speed of these rides must be carefully
regulated by the master according to the nerve and strength of his
pupil. Without a fair amount of both nerve and physical power such
gallops should not be attempted at all. Where there is plenty of both, a
half-mile spin is admissible to begin with, and, with good going ground,
this may be increased gradually to a couple of miles. The instructor
should be very careful in cautioning his pupil to diminish the speed of
her horse by degrees and in the manner above described, especially
avoiding any sudden pull at him, or any unsteadiness of the hands.
Carefully practised, these gallops will give the pupil great freedom and
confidence in the saddle; and they are, moreover, wonderful promoters of
health.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE LEAPING LESSON.


I come now to a section of our courses of instruction, which, if not as
some suppose the most difficult to impart or acquire, is nevertheless of
great importance. The principles, however, upon which a horse "does a
fence" neatly and safely, and those upon which depend the secure riding
of the lady, once properly understood, the rest is a question of
practice, the thorough training of the horse and his complete fitness
for his task being assumed. The two latter points are, however, of such
vital consequence that I will endeavour to direct attention to several
matters connected with them, which I trust may be useful.

In the first place, then, it should be borne in mind that whereas every
horse of every breed in the world can be taught to jump, jumping comes
so aptly to some as to be perfectly natural, and no more trouble to them
with a fair weight than walking or galloping. Such horses are easily
taught to be _clever_; that is to say, to do "doubles," "in and out,"
and crooked places, with almost the surefootedness of a goat, as well as
to jump clean timber or fly sixteen or eighteen feet of water. The sort
of animal I speak of is fond of jumping, and consequently when carefully
broken learns to _balance himself_ with the greatest nicety; and,
provided the ground is sound, you cannot get him down, while he does not
know what refusing means, except in the case of utterly impracticable
places.

It is upon such horses, or those which approach the nearest to them in
their qualifications, that a lady should be mounted, not only for the
hunting field itself, but in her initiation in the riding school into
the art of riding her horse over a fence. Horses that rush at their
jump, are hot-headed, or intemperate in any way, are utterly unfit for a
lady to attempt leaping with, either indoors or out. There should be
blood and quality undoubtedly, as well as substance and power, but these
must be joined to the best of temper. Possibly the very perfection of a
horse exists in that wonderful little animal the Lamb, who has just
exhibited at Liverpool the most extraordinary feats of _cleverness_ and
endurance, coupled with splendid action, speed, and temper, ever yet
shown by any horse. The form in which, galloping at top speed, he jumped
over two horses lying _hors de combat_ right in his way, and cleared
both and their riders without further injury to any, will live always in
the memory of those who witnessed it; while his unflinching and
determined effort to win under a weight that scarcely admitted of hope
stamp the Lamb as a horse without equal in our day. In my opinion no
price in reason could be too much to ask or give for such animal.

A short time ago I had the great honour and privilege accorded me by his
noble owner of a close inspection at his private training quarters of
this unrivalled little equine gem; and I am bound to say that, although
I never quite believed in perfection of a horse until I saw the action,
manner, and general form of the Lamb, as far as my judgment or
experience goes, I freely accord to him the palm over every horse I have
seen in a lifetime spent among horseflesh in one quarter or another of
the world; but, although it is not possible in my humble opinion to find
his equal as a cross-country horse, our endeavours should be directed to
obtain for a lady hunter that which approximates most closely to the
Lamb. Let me briefly point out what are the qualities that render such
horses the fittest for carrying a lady to hounds.

In the first place, the connecting points of such an animal are so true
in their relative adjustment, that while in galloping he does not
_clamber_ or fight the air, he goes with action so safe as always to
clear any of those apparently insignificant obstacles, which too often
bring to grief a gallant-looking steed and his fair rider. When "ridge
and furrow" (as must sometimes occur) run the wrong way, he can go safe
from land to land; and this is of greater consequence to a lady's
riding than many suppose. The stamp of horse I speak of, too, will
gallop with his hind legs well under him, while he maintains a proper
balance of his fore hand without getting his head too low. He will do
his fences without rush or passion, and measure his distance to
perfection.

Secondly, his breeding gives him the power to endure through long runs,
while his temper prevents that feverish excitement so detrimental in its
reaction on a hot horse after a long day's hunting.

To return to the detail of the leaping lesson. This should always be
commenced either in a riding school or in a space so inclosed as to do
away as nearly as possible with any chance of the horse refusing. It is
not possible always to procure one that is quite a "Lamb;" and, however
well trained the animal on which the fair pupil is put, no possible
temptation to do wrong should ever be allowed to remain in his way. A
gorse-bound bar, a wattled hurdle or common sheep hurdle are all equally
good for the first attempt, care being taken not to make the leap too
high. But I do not, from experience, believe in putting the bar or other
obstacle on the ground, because the effort a well-broken horse makes to
clear it is so slight, that it puts the rider off her guard; and when
afterwards he rises higher in his jump, he is very apt to shift her in
the saddle. There is a very natural inclination on the part of a tyro in
riding, lady or gentleman (having seen a horse jump under another
person), to suppose that some effort of the hand is necessary _to lift_
the horse over the obstacle.

It should be the duty of the instructor carefully to warn his pupil
against any such effort, and in the first attempt to attend only to her
true equilibrium, while she presses the horse well up to his bridle,
keeping her hands perfectly steady, well back, and well down. She should
take a firm hold of the upper crutch of the saddle with her right knee;
sit well _into_ the saddle, and not on the back of it, because the
further back she sits, the greater the concussion when the horse
alights. She should put her left foot well home in the stirrup, and
press her leg firmly against the third crutch, while she keeps the left
knee quite flexible, and the left foot well forward. She should draw her
figure well up from the waist, which should be bent slightly forward;
and she should avoid _stiffening_ the waist, because it is from that
point that she is able to throw the upper part of the figure backwards
at the proper moment, and at the true angle, to preserve her balance.
She should direct her glance straight between the horse's ears, and well
in front of him to the end of the school, because if she looks down at
her hands or the bar, she relaxes her upright position. The horse should
be led up to the bar by the instructor, who should be able to jump
lightly over the obstacle with the horse; and another assistant should
follow with a whip, the presence of which the horse will recognise in an
instant, without any noise being made with it, and he will go at once
into his bridle, and "take hold" of the rider's hand. A groom should
hold the end of the bar or hurdle so lightly, that if the horse touches
it, it will fall; while another groom should stand in such a position,
about a horse's length to half a one outside the instructor, as to do
away with all chance of the horse swerving from any nervous action of
the rider's hand.

In jumping, at first the pupil should ride entirely upon the snaffle
rein. In fact, for early leaping lessons, it is best to put a good broad
reined snaffle in the horse's mouth, instead of a double bridle, because
it prevents any confusion about the reins, and consequent derangement of
nerve in the pupil. On approaching the bar, the latter should incline
the body back from the waist upwards, at such an angle, that a line from
the back point of the shoulder would fall about a couple of inches
behind the cantle of the saddle. This is not according to the strict
formula laid down by high-class professors of equitation; on the
contrary. "The Aid Book" tells us that "the body should be inclined
forward as the horse rises, and backwards as he alights." But I have
found in teaching _ladies_ to jump their horses that, particularly with
a quick jumping one, any such attempt would result in the horse hitting
the lady in the face with his head, and thereby thoroughly disgusting
her with leaping lessons, to say nothing of possible disfigurement or
injury. The instructor cannot be too quiet, simply keeping well hold of
his horse, making him walk close to the boards, and cautioning his pupil
to sit back--_not away from the crutches_ of the saddle, but to throw
the upper part of her figure back _the instant the horse drops his
head_. Any more instruction will only confuse her. The master should
jump with the horse, _but not hold the habit_, as is customary with some
preceptors of riding, because no man is so clever on his legs but that
some inequality in the tan or turf might cause him to stumble, in which
case assuredly he would pull the lady off her horse.

After the first jump the master is better away from both horse and
pupil. In nine cases out of ten I have found that the above simple
directions to the latter result in her landing all right, except a
little derangement of equilibrium to the front; but the easy spring of a
well-bred and well-broken horse, and the hold he takes of her hands,
reassure her. She has made her _première pas_ in jumping, and finds that
it is by no means so difficult a matter as she anticipated. In her
second attempt, if she exhibits good nerve, as most young ladies of the
present day do, the instructor need only walk up the side of the school
with her, close to the horse's shoulder, quietly correcting her if she
allows her reins to become slack, because in that case she loses the
_appui_ on the horse's mouth, which in her early attempts at leaping is
of vital importance to her. In fact, it is necessary, in order to give
the pupil confidence, that the horse should jump with a firm hold upon
her hand.

Many authorities on riding tell us that a horse's jump is simply a
higher stride of his gallop; from this notion I beg entirely to dissent.
In leaping, a horse first raises his forehand upwards with a half rear,
both feet quitting the ground at the same instant, the height he rises
corresponding to the angle at which he takes off. Secondly, from his
hind legs he propels himself forwards, both hind legs moving together,
and, if he is a good jumper, well under him. If leaping, therefore, is
to be compared to any other action of a horse, it must resemble a plunge
gaining ground to the front. There is no possible gain in teaching,
however, by comparing a horse's leap to his any other movement. Instinct
tells him what to do in order to clear his legs of the obstacle, and,
like walking or galloping, the action is by no means artificial,
inasmuch as a thoroughly unbroken young horse loose in a paddock will
jump through a gap on an ill-kept farm (if his dam makes the running)
with precisely the same action as a finished hunter; and, therefore, in
one sense I endorse the dictum once expressed to me by an Irish farmer
when I asked his opinion as to the natural paces of a horse. His reply
was, "Sure some of 'em goes no way natural, but just the way you don't
want thim to go; and there's some of thim that nothing's so natural to
as to ate a lot of good oats a man never sees the price of again. Thim's
bad ones. But if you're spaking of a good maning, rale Irish horse, the
most natural pace he has is to jump well." I quite agree, bar the word
pace, that jumping to a horse is as natural as any other instinctive
action. The weight, however, to be carried, and the mode in which that
weight is distributed at the critical moment, makes a material
difference to both horse and rider. Therefore, the early leaping lessons
should be confined to causing the pupil to do as little as possible to
impede the action of the horse, while she preserves her due balance.
Like the breaking of a young colt in the case of a pupil learning to
ride over a fence, if you ask too much at once or confuse the learner,
you obtain nothing but discomfiture.

As regards this portion of the course of equitation, it is specially
necessary to bear in mind the old French maxim, _C'est ne pas le
première pas qui coûte_. At the same time it is quite possible, if the
first step is injudiciously taken, to spoil the whole of your previous
work. Special care should be taken that the horse does not take off too
soon; and if, from any unevenness of the rider's hands or legs, he
attempts this, the instructor should be quickly at his head again, and
compel him to do his work coolly and collectedly. "The standing leap,"
as this is technically called, is considerably more difficult as regards
catching the precise moment at which to throw the weight of the body
back than the "flying leap," because in the standing leap the horse,
being nearer to the obstacle, pitches himself forward with a much
rougher action, and does not land so far on the other side of the fence;
whereas when he canters freely at it, the difference in the shock to the
rider is as great as that experienced in the pitch of a boat in a short
chopping sea, and the boat's rise and fall in a long swell, the pace
also causing the horse to take more freely hold of the rider's hand.

Complete confidence, however, must be established before a lady should
be asked to ride her horse at a fence out of a walk; and nearly as much
time should be expended over this new step in the series of lessons as
were occupied in trotting.

I have not, however, to define the principle upon which, in either
standing or flying leap, security of seat must be sought. Some say that
in leaping it is by muscular grasp only that a lady can retain her true
equilibrium in the saddle; others adhere to the notion that it is all
done by balance. Now the truth lies midway between these two theories.
It is quite possible for a man to ride over a fence by balance only.
Witness what one sees frequently in a circus, where some talented
equestrian maintains his footing on a bare-backed steed, while the
latter jumps a succession of bars. Here there is nothing to keep the
rider on the horse but sheer balance; and, of course, if this can be
done by one man standing up, it can be much more easily done by another
sitting down in the saddle, although very few men ride across country in
such form, nor indeed is it either safe or desirable to do so. The
thing, nevertheless, is quite easy. It is not so easy with a lady,
because her position on the saddle is altogether an artificial one; and,
moreover, the weight of the skirt is sufficient to render riding by
balance alone most difficult. It is by a combination of firm grasp on
the crutches, _seized_ just before the horse arrives at his fence, and a
true balancing of the body from the waist upwards, that security of seat
in jumping is obtained. A most necessary adjunct to the above, however,
is firmness of the arms, because, if the latter are allowed to fly out
from the sides, the whole figure becomes, as it were, disconnected, and
the proper _aplomb_ is lost. By taking a firm hold of the upper crutch
of the saddle with the right leg, the rider is enabled to balance her
body as the horse rises, while the pressure of the left leg against the
third crutch prevents the concussion of his landing from throwing her
forward, provided always she throws back her weight at precisely the
right moment. This requires practice, and well-timed assistance from the
instructor, thus:

As soon as the pupil acquires sufficient confidence to ride her horse
fairly up to the fence, and keep his head straight to it, the master
should stand far enough from her to obtain a good view of the whole
contour of figure of horse and rider. He should place the hands of the
latter _well_ apart, cause her to shut her fingers firmly on the reins,
which give firmness to the body; keep her hands well down and her figure
well drawn up, ready on the instant to throw the weight back. He should
then caution her to execute the last-named movement on his giving the
_single sharp word_ "Now." The pupil should then press her horse well up
against her hand, and keep his head steady and straight to the bar. The
instant he rises the instructor should give his word sharply, and the
rider will then catch the true time at which to act upon it. This
requires only close attention and watching by instructor and pupil, both
being "vif" and thoroughly on the alert. After a few efforts the lady is
then sure to find out the time without any word. I have taught a great
many very young ladies as well as gentlemen to ride over a fence by the
aid of the word given in the above form, and have found it always of the
greatest assistance both to myself and pupils. Special attention is
necessary to keeping the hands well down and well apart, and the
shoulders quite square, because there is a natural tendency on the part
of most ladies in the first leaping lessons to throw the right shoulder
forward, which not only destroys her balance but causes her to pull the
horse's head to the near side. The hands cannot be kept too quiet at
first, for any effort to give and take to the action of the horse is
nearly certain to result in the pupil checking him at the very moment he
springs forward, and pulling him upon his fence.

A well-broken horse, when put up to his bridle, will take a good hold of
the rider's hand, and if sufficient length of rein is given him will
clear the bar without the necessity of the rider moving her hands a
hair's breadth. Subsequently, when she has had sufficient practice to
feel quite at home, she can be taught how to assist him when he does a
long striding leap over water or a strong double fence with ditches on
both sides.

After the standing leap is executed neatly, and in good form by rider
and horse, the flying leap should at once be practised.

The pupil should put her horse into a steady canter, going to the left
round the school; and for this purpose the hurdle or bar should for the
time be removed, so as to enable the lady to get her horse into a good
free stride. When the instructor sees that she has her horse in proper
form, the hurdle should be put up again and well sloped, because, even
so, the horse will jump considerably higher in all probability than the
rider expects.

This is the moment at which the master requires to be thoroughly on the
alert. He should caution the lady not to let her horse _hurry_ when he
turns the corner and sees the hurdle, which many horses are very apt to
do. "Hands down," "Sit back," "Press him against your hand," and the
"Now!" at the right moment should be the concise words, given in a tone
at once lively and encouraging. The result will be a clean, clever jump,
well done by horse and rider, when the former should be "made much of."

A couple or three leaps so executed are quite enough in a school,
because nothing so worries most horses as to keep them continually
jumping at the same place, and if the leap is too often repeated, they
are apt to sulk or blunder at it.

Within the walls of a good riding house almost every kind of obstacle
can be represented which can be met with out of doors. The double, the
artificial brook or painted wall, all give the pupil sufficient insight
into the form in which a well-taught horse will negotiate any of the
fences to be met with in the hunting field; and the lady should be
carefully taught how to _stop_ and _steady_ her horse at a crooked or
cramped place.

When once the leaping lessons are commenced, one should be given every
day, either before or after the riding out. If the ride is intended to
be a long one, the jumping should be done while the horse is fresh, and
has all his powers in hand.

When the pupil can do the standing and flying leap, the in and out or
double in good form, riding on the snaffle, she should again return to
her double bridle, which should be fitted with a curb chain with broad
links; and the whole of it should be well padded and covered with soft
leather, to prevent any jar upon the horse's mouth in jumping. The reins
should be separated and placed as for galloping, the greatest care being
taken by the instructor that the curb is no tighter than just to keep
it in place, for which a good lip strap should be used, and the curb
chain fitted so as to admit the play of quite two fingers between it and
the horse's jaw. In placing the reins, the master should see that the
greater _appui_ is on the snaffle, and that after the pupil closes her
hands upon the reins she does not shift her hold of them in the
slightest degree. Having now four reins instead of two as formerly,
there will be a tendency to "fidget" with them, or obtain a better hold.
This must instantly be corrected if it occurs, otherwise ten to one but
the lady gets the curb rein too short, and pulls her horse on his fence.
At the same time there should be no slack curb rein hanging down, but it
should be of such length that, on landing, the horse can just feel the
action of the curb, and the reason for this is obvious. In school all
leaping may be accomplished on the snaffle; but in the hunting field it
is far otherwise. In deep ground a horse requires holding together, and
no lady could do this with a snaffle bridle. And, again, in a long run,
when a horse has been severely called on, he may make a blunder on
landing from a drop in a bit of boggy ground, in which case the curb
rein is necessary in aid of the snaffle. As, therefore, it is in the
school that the pupil should be prepared for every outdoor eventuality,
riding over her fences with both curb and snaffle must be practised;
and, finally, over a small jump she must be taught to ride with the curb
alone.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE LEAPING LESSON (_continued_).


It may fairly be accepted as a general rule, that a horse should not be
ridden over a fence upon the curb alone. The rule, however, has its
exceptions. One of these is the possible case of a lady being placed in
such a predicament that she has no alternative in the presence of
imminent danger but that of leaping her horse to avoid it, and in such
case it may be (and, indeed, in my own experience has occurred) when the
lady was riding her horse with a single curb bridle. If the fair
equestrian so placed lacks the necessary nerve, dexterity of hand, and
firmness of seat, she must come to certain grief. It is therefore highly
desirable that, although on ordinary occasions she should use both
snaffle and curb in leaping, she should also be thoroughly _au fait_ at
doing it, if the necessity arises, upon a "hard and sharp," or single
"Hanoverian."

Again, leaping on the curb rein only teaches the pupil the full value of
every particle of her balance and muscular grasp on the saddle, while it
also shows her that, although as a rule a horse requires to be kept well
together, there are exceptional instances in which it is necessary to
yield the hands freely to him. The above-named is one of these cases.
The leaping lessons, however, which lead up to the point of proficiency
at which the pupil should be permitted to attempt so critical and
difficult a piece of riding must be carefully and inductively given.

Assuming that the fair tyro rides her horse boldly and confidently over
the ordinary fences used in a school, and can execute an "in and out"
jump without derangement of seat or hand, the effort of the master
should next be directed towards teaching his pupil how to cause her
horse to extend himself over a jump where there is considerable width as
well as height. I must repeat that, for this purpose, a horse should be
used that is thoroughly up to his business--one that will stride freely
away and _gallop_ at his fence. The best practice to begin with, in what
I may perhaps call "fast jumping" for a lady, is at an artificial brook.

This is easy enough to arrange in a riding school. It requires only a
sheet of canvas, painted the colour of water, of such dimensions that
the people in the school can increase or diminish its width at pleasure.
This canvas should be long enough to extend from one side of the school
to the other, which can be managed by fastening the canvas to a couple
of light rollers. On the taking-off side of this artificial brook there
should be some low wattles, gorse bound, or otherwise; and these also
should extend quite across the school. There is then no chance of a
well-broken horse refusing.

Before the canvas arrangement is stretched across the riding-house, the
pupil should be instructed to set her horse going at a free striding
canter--as fast as is compatible with safety in turning the corners,
which should be well cut off in this case, the pupil riding a
half-circle at both ends of the school. After two or three turns round
the house at this pace, in order to get the horse well into his stride,
the assistants should arrange the jump while the instructor prepares his
pupil for it. And now let me endeavour to explain the difference in the
position and action of the hands of the rider necessary for a long jump
as compared with that requisite in a short one. In the latter, safety
consists in a horse jumping well together or collectedly, because in a
cramped or crooked place speed is almost certain trouble. Where, on the
contrary, there is a broad sheet of water to be got over, "plenty of
way" on the horse--sufficient speed to give great momentum to his
effort, is indispensable. In the short leap or crooked place, then, the
horse should be made to jump throughout right into his bridle; and for
this purpose the position and steadiness of hand described in the last
article, accompanied by such pressure of the leg as will keep him up to
it, is the true mode of "doing such places."

But to clear a wide jump, it should be remembered that the horse must
not only go a good pace on it, but he must be allowed to extend his head
and neck the instant he takes off. If this is neglected, the fair
equestrian, in attempting a water jump, will inevitably find herself in
the brook.

Now, a man in riding at water has this great advantage over a lady in
the same case, that, having equal power with both legs, he can force his
horse up to any length of rein, no matter how long, in reason, and
compel him to face it, thus enabling the rider to hold him through every
inch of his jump, while he gives him plenty of scope to extend himself.
For a lady to do this is impossible. Too much pressure of the left leg
or repeated use of the spur, even if counteracted on the off side with
the whip, would cause the horse to throw his haunches to one side, and
he would not jump straight. Steadiness of seat, hand, and leg are
therefore indispensable to the lady. The horse ought to be well
practised at the particular jump before she is allowed to attempt it,
and therefore should require no rousing or urging, to get plenty of way
on, for his effort. But before the pupil faces her horse towards the
brook, she should be emphatically but quietly enjoined by the instructor
to respond to his word "now" as follows: Let it be understood that her
elbows should be drawn back until they are three inches or thereabouts
behind her waist, the hands about the same distance below the elbows,
the former about six inches apart, with the fingers closed firmly on the
reins and turned _inwards_ and _upwards_ until they touch the _waist_,
the reins divided, as for galloping, but with the slightest possible
feeling upon the curb. With her hands in the above-named form she should
ride her horse to his jump, never moving them until she hears the sharp
sound of the word "Now!" from the instructor, when at the same instant
the body, from the waist upwards, should be thrown back and the hands
shot forward, the elbows following, until they are just level with the
front of the waist. As the hands go forward, the little fingers should
be turned downwards and the knuckles upwards; this will bring the middle
joints of both hands with the nails downwards against the right thigh,
about four to six inches above (or, as the rider sits, behind) the knee;
and this turning down of the nails and forward motion of hands and
elbows will give the horse free scope of his head and neck, while the
hands coming in contact with the right thigh will still maintain the
proper _appui_, and support the horse when he lands in his jump.
Although the foregoing appears prolix in description, it occupies little
time to explain _vivâ voce_; and with the instructor by her side the
lady may practise the action two or three times while her horse is
standing still before he faces his jump. The instructor should then quit
the lady's side and place himself near the brook in such a position that
he has a fair view of the horse as he takes off. The pupil should turn
her horse quietly about, and ride to the _left_ into the corner of the
school, and as soon as the horse's head is square to the jump, and
himself square to the boards, the master should give the word smartly,
"Canter." With plenty of vivacity, the pupil should immediately strike
her horse into a striding pace, keeping her hands well back and hitting
him smartly once with the spur. An assistant with a whip should also
crack it slightly behind the horse.

Let the master then closely watch the moment at which the horse's fore
feet quit the ground, and give his word quickly and sharply, and in nine
cases out of ten the jump will be a success.

The artificial brook should be arranged about two-thirds of the distance
down the school, so as to give the horse plenty of space to get into his
stride before he comes to it, while there will be sufficient room to
collect him after he lands. If he does it well the first time (and with
the above described handling he will scarcely fail to do so), and the
rider performs her part moderately well, the jump should not be
repeated. If, however, it is necessary again to go through the
instruction, the horse should not be put at the place back again, but
the end of the canvas be rolled up and the wattle removed, so as to
admit of his passing to the longer reach of the school. These lessons
should be given daily until the pupil executes them with the requisite
energy and correctness of riding, the instructor taking special care
never to ask his pupil, however, to do such jumps unless he sees that
she is quite equal in health and good spirits to the occasion. For
riding which requires any extra "dash" about it must never be attempted
by anybody if they are at all out of nerve.

After the pupil does the brook well, it may be replaced by a double set
of gorsed hurdles, placed just so far apart as to necessitate their
being done at a single jump. In this case, however, the pupil, while
giving her horse by the action of her hands sufficient scope to allow
him to jump a considerable distance, should not be allowed to ride so
fast at the obstacle, about half the speed necessary to do water being
quite sufficient; and the off-side hurdles should be so placed that if
the horse strikes them they will give way.

As a rule ladies do not perform, even in Leicestershire, over big double
fences, or very strong oxers, and the _indication_ of what is required
to do them should be sufficient for riding school practice.

As I have elsewhere observed, a horse will jump higher and further when
going with hounds than you can with safety ask him to do when in cool
blood, or when only roused to extraordinary effort by the use of the
spur or whip. And no man in his senses in the hunting field would ever
think of piloting a lady to a place which he would only ride at himself
at a pinch. Such jumps, therefore, as I have endeavoured to describe
within doors should represent the biggest which most ladies are likely
to encounter with in a fair hunting country. As regards riding over a
fence, with the curb rein unrelieved by the snaffle, the practice should
be as follows:

A hurdle should be well sloped, so as to render the leap a very moderate
one. The rider should quit her hold of the reins, which should be
knotted and fastened by a thong to the mane. A leading rein should then
be attached to the ring of the snaffle, and the horse led quietly up to
the fence, and halted. The pupil should then draw her hands back until
they are in the same position as she would place them in putting her
horse at his jump, with the hands closed firmly, which will give
steadiness to the body. She must take a determined hold of the upper
pommel with her right knee, and be ready with the figure perfectly
poised to throw her weight back at the proper moment; placing her left
thigh also firmly against the third crutch, her foot well home in the
stirrup and well forward, the shoulders perfectly square, and the waist
quite pliant. An assistant should then crack a whip smartly in rear of
the horse, without hitting him; this will cause him to spring lightly
over the hurdle. If the position of the pupil before the horse takes off
is carefully looked to, there will be little derangement of seat.

This lesson should be repeated until it is executed with precision. At
the same time, two or three jumps of this sort are quite sufficient in
one day, because, if repeated too often, the horse, missing the support
of the hand, is apt to blunder. When the lady can ride over her fence in
the above-named form, she should take up and arrange her reins, so that,
while that of the snaffle is not in the horse's way, she feels him on
the curb only. She should give him fair length of rein, draw her left
hand back to her waist, and place the right hand lightly on the left,
just in front of the knuckles; but the reins should be held military
fashion--the little finger between them, the leather over the middle
joint of the forefinger, the thumb closed firmly on it, the little
finger well turned up towards the waist. The horse must be ridden at a
smart walk, well up against the curb, until he is close enough to the
hurdle to jump. The whip must again be used, and the instructor's word
again sharply given, when the pupil should yield both hands freely,
turning the little fingers downwards, and slipping the elbows forward.
Great firmness and steadiness of seat are necessary to do this lesson
well, and considerable practice is necessary to insure complete unity of
action in the body and hands, the former being yielded quickly as the
latter is actively thrown back. To assist the pupil in her first
attempts at this portion of the leaping lesson, the curb chain should be
slackened as much as possible, and it should be one that is broad and
well padded.

As the lady acquires the requisite lightness of manipulation and
additional firmness in the saddle, the curb (link by link) may be
tightened until it is in its proper place, namely, so that it admits of
the play of one finger only between it and the jaw of the horse. But the
greatest care on the part of the instructor is necessary in watching how
both horse and rider behave before this can be accomplished.

The lesson is called technically "jumping from the hand," and once
thoroughly acquired, the pupil has little to learn, as regards indoor
work, in the way of riding over her fences. She may in that respect be
considered fit to take her place any time at the covert side, and hold
her own, under proper pilotage, with hounds, where of course she will
use snaffle and curb reins equally, or according to the temper and
breaking of her mount.

During the leaping lessons, and in fact throughout the whole course of
equitation up to this point, the pupil should be put upon as many
different horses as possible consistent with her progress, care always
being taken that she is thoroughly master of one before she is put upon
another. The action of horses varies so much in degree, no matter how
much from similarity of breed and form it may assimilate in kind, that
to attain anything like proficiency the rider's mount requires frequent
changing; otherwise, when put upon a strange horse, she would find
herself sorely at a loss.

With the exception of one practice, which in some degree resembles the
leaping lesson, we may now safely dismiss our fair pupil from technical
indoor instruction, except in the way of an occasional refresher,
whenever those about her discover any inclination to lapse into a
careless form of riding. This both men and women are so apt to do
(imperceptibly to themselves), that an occasional sharp drilling does no
harm to the most practised rider of either sex.

The final instruction to be given in the school is called the "Plunging
Lesson," and maybe briefly described as follows, premising that although
it is the bounden duty of every man who has anything to do with a lady's
riding to avoid by every means allowing her to be put on a restive
horse, yet it is always possible that, from some unavoidable cause, a
lady (especially in the colonies) may some day find herself on a
bad-mannered animal that will "set to" with her. In order, therefore,
that in such an undesirable case she may not be at a loss, it is well
that when thoroughly practised in leaping, she should be put upon a
horse that will kick smartly whenever he is called upon by the master.
Such a horse is useful for the above purpose, and is generally to be
found in most riding establishments. The trick is easily enough taught,
and requires no description. Neither is it at all incompatible with
general good manners.

The first thing, then, as regards the pupil, is to impress upon her that
whenever a horse "sets to" kicking with her, that her tactics should
consist first in keeping his head up, and, secondly, in finding him
something else to do than kick.

A horse cannot have his head and his tail up at the same time,
therefore, when he kicks, his first effort is to get his head down. This
should be immediately counteracted by the rider sitting well back,
keeping her hands up as high as her elbows, feeling the horse firmly on
the curb reins as well as the snaffle held in one hand, while she
applies the whip vigorously across his neck. This will have the effect
of causing him to keep his head up and go to the front. The same firm
treatment will be successful in most cases where a horse attempts to
plunge. But in the latter case the hand must be yielded if there is any
attempt to rear, and if the last-named dangerous vice is carried to any
length, the rider should not hesitate to take fast hold of the mane, or
put her hand in front of the horse's neck. Both rearing or plunging,
however, may be effectually prevented by the use of the circular bit and
martingale, described under the heading "Rearing Horses and Runaway
Dogs" in the _Field_ of Nov. 11, 1871. In my humble opinion, every lady
going to India and the colonies should have one or two such bits among
her outfit of saddlery, and if properly fitted in the horse's mouth, all
risk of rearing or even violent flirting is done away with. Such tackle,
however, does not prevent a horse from _kicking_, and although no lady
should ever attempt to ride one that is possessed habitually of this
vice, a sudden accession of kicking may arise in an otherwise
good-meaning horse from some ill-fitting of the saddle, or similar
casualty, causing tender back or otherwise upsetting him. Of course, no
punishment should be resorted to in these cases; but it is as well for a
lady to be able to keep her seat in such an emergency, and this she will
easily do if she keeps the horse's head up, and her leg well pressed
against the third crutch.

On Brighton Downs, some years ago, I saw a young lady thoroughly master
a kicking horse in the manner above described, accompanied, however,
with a considerable amount of punishment, most resolutely applied with a
formidable whalebone whip. No second glance was necessary to perceive
that in this case the lady was well aware of the horse's propensity, and
had come out for the purpose of thoroughly taking it out of him, which
certainly she did effectually, and as he was a vicious-looking weedy
thoroughbred, "it served him right."

But I must again enter my protest against ladies running such risks,
however accomplished they may be as horsewomen. Let them accept the
respectful advice of a veteran, and avoid vicious horses. Brutes that
run back, plunge, rear, or kick from sheer vice (and there are many that
do) are fit only for the riding of the rougher sex, and only of such of
them as have the ill fortune to be compelled to get their living by
riding. The so-called plunging lessons above alluded to, however, will
give a lady a thorough insight into the form in which to ride in case of
emergency.



CHAPTER XV.

THE HUNTING FIELD.


We enter now upon a new and important phase of our pupil's education in
the saddle. Before doing so, however, I feel bound to observe that from
time to time a vast amount of "twaddle" is ventilated on the question of
the propriety of ladies riding with hounds. All sorts of absurd
objections have been brought forward against the practice; as, for
instance, that hunting as regards ladies is a mere excuse for display
and flirtation, and that it is both unfeminine and dangerous. I believe
that these objections, made by people who never knew the glorious
exhilaration of hunting, may be very briefly disposed of. I reside where
the very cream of the midland hunting is carried on, and I perceive that
year after year the number of ladies of high rank and social position
who grace the field with their presence is on the increase; while to the
best of my belief no female equestrians _who are not ladies_ have been
seen with hounds in Leicestershire or its vicinity for some years. So
much for the stamp of woman that hunts nowadays.

As regards flirtation and display, I am at a loss to understand why
anti-foxhunting cynics should have selected the covert side, or the road
to it, for their diatribes; for there _can_ be no time for flirting when
hounds are once away. It must be manifest to every man who has the most
remote notion of what manner of people our aristocracy and gentry are,
that they will only know at the covert side precisely the same stamp of
person they meet elsewhere in society. In that society there are dinner
parties, flower shows, balls, the opera, all affording equal or better
opportunities for flirtation than the hunting field. As to hunting being
unfeminine, it is difficult, I submit, to pronounce it any more so than
riding in Rotten-row. And finally, as regards danger, I propose to show
how it can be rendered all but impossible if due care and forethought
are exercised by the male friends or relatives of the hunting lady. Let
us now, therefore, having traced out the course of instruction in the
riding school, on the road, and in the park, consider how safety is best
ensured to the beginner.

As regards the stamp of horse the fair _débutante_ of the chase should
ride, I have already endeavoured to give my idea. I have only to add
that he should be very fit for his work, the pink of condition, without
being above himself; and, finally, that no temptation as to fine action
or clever fencing should ever induce a lady to ride a hunter that has a
particle of vice about him. With the best of piloting it is impossible
always to keep her out of a crowd, where she is in a woeful dilemma if
mounted on a horse that kicks at others. I have seen this more than
once, and have heard expressions from the suffering riders that must
have been far from pleasing to refined feminine ears. I must, however,
record a special instance of politeness under difficulties which I
witnessed during the past season. Hounds were running with a breast-high
scent, the pace very fast, when the leading division had their extended
front diminished to single file by a big bullfincher, practicable only
in one place. Among those waiting their turn to jump was a lady who
always rides very forward. She was mounted on a rare-shaped, blood-like
animal, that looked all over like seeing the end of a long day, but
exhibited considerable impatience at the check. In some cases, as all
hunting people know, the difficulty is always increased to those who are
compelled to wait by a ruck of riders crowding up from the rear. The
case I allude to was no exception to this rule, and among others came a
welter middle-aged gentleman, riding a horse quite up to his weight--a
grand hunting looking animal, that appeared intent upon clearing every
obstacle in his path, not excepting the impatient ones who were doing
the gap in Indian file. The veteran, however, who was a capital
horseman, managed to pull up his too-eager steed just in rear of the
lady's horse, and was forthwith accommodated with a most vicious kick
with his near hind leg. Fortunately, the distance was too great to
admit of the stout gentleman receiving the full benefit of the intended
favour, which nevertheless made his boot-top rattle, and materially
altered the genial expression of his rubicund visage. Turning gracefully
in her saddle, the fair votary of the chase expressed her deep regret at
the bad behaviour of her horse. "I am very sorry--awfully sorry; I hope
you are not hurt," she said, in a tone which ought to have consoled any
middle-aged sportsman for a broken shin. "I never knew him to do it
before," continued the lady. "Pray don't say a word, Miss," replied the
old gentleman, taking off his hat with a genuine thoroughbred air;
"don't say a word; they are only dangerous when they do it behind."
Whether they do it "behind" or "before," kick in a crowd at other
horses, or hit at hounds with their fore feet (as some thoroughbreds
will do when excited), they are equally disqualified for ladies'
hunters, however gaily they may sail over the turf or clear the
obstacles in their way.

To proceed with our lessons. Before venturing to take our aspirant for
the honours of the chase to a regular meet of foxhounds--where she is
apt to become excited, and possibly unnerved by the imposing array of
"pink," gallant horsemen, and aristocratic ladies riding steeds of
fabulous price, dashing equipages, and thrusting foot people, always
ready to embarrass a beginner--it is best to seek out a quiet line
nearly all arable land, where the fences will be small, where there are
few ditches to be met with, and where the going on the stubble or fallow
will be good enough when the crops are off the ground. The pupil should
wear a "hunting skirt" properly so called--that is, one not too
redundant, made of strong cloth, and booted with leather about eight or
ten inches wide round the bottom. This is a very necessary precaution,
because it prevents the skirt from hanging up in the fences and getting
torn. Hunting boots also should be worn, back-strapped, tongued in at
the foot, and reaching nearly to the knee, the upper part made of thick
but very flexible leather--buckskin is the best. It is soft, and at the
same time thick enough to save the leg from a blow from a strong binder,
which occasionally hits very hard in its rebound, having been previously
bent forward by somebody who has just jumped the fence.

A "Latchford" spur of the sort before described is also requisite, and
the question of the arrangement of skirt necessary to enable the rider
to use the spur effectively has caused considerable diversity of opinion
among _cognoscenti_ on hunting matters. Some ladies have an opening made
in the skirt, through which the shank of the spur passes; and in order
to keep the latter in its place, it is usual to have a couple of strings
strongly stitched on to the inside of the skirt. These are tied round
the ankle, and prevent the skirt to a great extent from getting foul of
the spur. But this method decidedly involves a certain amount of risk,
because, in case of the horse making a blunder and falling, the lady has
not the free use of her leg. Again, there is a method of letting the
spur shank through a small opening similar to a large eyelet hole, made
of strong elastic, and let into the skirt, the point of insertion having
been previously measured when the rider is in the saddle and her left
leg and foot are properly placed as regards the third crutch and
stirrup. But a still better way is that which I have seen adopted lately
by several ladies who go very straight with hounds. It is as follows.
After the skirt has been carefully measured and _marked_ (the lady up),
an opening is made perpendicularly, large enough to admit of the lady's
foot passing through it. This opening should be made about six or eight
inches above the place where the ankle will touch the skirt, when the
left leg is fairly stretched down, the knee bent, and the heel sunk.
When the instructor has assisted his pupil into the saddle, he should
put her foot in the stirrup, and wait until she has carefully arranged
her habit; he should then take her foot out again, and the lady should
lift it high enough to enable her attendant to pass it _through the
opening_. The foot can then be replaced in the stirrup, and the spur
buckled on. The upper leather (by the way) should be broad and slightly
padded. By these means the left foot and the leg from six to eight
inches above the ankle will be entirely clear of the skirt, which will
give the rider perfect freedom of action, while the opening is not
sufficiently wide to admit of the skirt being blown clear of the leg.
This, moreover, is prevented by the leather booting; in fact, in a
well-made hunting skirt there should be no slack cloth for the winds to
play with at all.

The kind of whip to be used is the crop (without the thong) of a hunting
whip; a Malacca crop is the best for a lady, because the lightest. It
should have a good crook to it, well roughened on the outside, and be
furnished, moreover, with a roughened nail head, in order to prevent the
crop slipping when the rider attempts to open a gate. Gauntlet gloves
with strong leather tops are best, because they prevent the possibility
of the rider's hands being scratched or injured in jumping a ragged
fence; but if the lady dislikes gauntlets, the sleeve of the jacket
should be made to fasten with three buttons close to the wrist, because
the sleeves now so much in fashion, being very wide at the wrist, are
apt in taking a fence to catch and get torn, in addition to the risk of
the rider being pulled off her horse. These casualties, which of course
cannot occur with the clean-made jump taken in the riding school, are
likely enough to happen in the field, and should be carefully guarded
against.

As regards the shape and make of the jacket I have already said so much,
that I must leave it to the taste and figure of the rider, always
assuming that while she allows herself plenty of freedom of movement,
she does not wear anything too loose, or any _steel_ supports about her,
as for hunting these are highly dangerous.

As regards headgear, the same style of thing that sufficed for the
riding school may not be considered sufficiently effective for the
hunting field; and, without venturing upon ground so delicate as an
opinion or even knowledge of ladies' "coiffure," I may say that at
Melton and other fashionable hunting centres there has for some time
existed an artful combination between the ladies' hat makers and the
hairdressers, by means of which that very elegant affair the "Melton
hat" is deftly fitted with an arrangement of hair behind which is
immovable, no matter where the wearer jumps in hunting. The
hairdresser's services are first called into requisition; possibly he
imparts the "arcana" of his craft to the lady's maid; but one or other
succeeds in making such an arrangement of the hair as renders it at once
secure in riding and becoming to the style of the lady herself. The hat
with the hair attached behind is then placed on the head, and secured by
an invisible elastic band. Should any of my readers desire information
on these matters, so important to a lady's comfort in the hunting
field, I can furnish them with the names of the people in Melton and
elsewhere who can give them every detail.

Having our pupil accoutred as before described, and taken her to a quiet
farm, the instructor should pick out a line, start at a walk in front of
his charge, pop his horse quietly over the fences, and see that his
pupil does them with equal coolness and without rush or hurry. When she
can do this well, the pace should be increased to a steady canter; and
the master riding beside her should be careful that she _steadies_ her
horse three or four lengths before he takes off, always riding him well
into the bridle.

This kind of practice should be continued for some days, until the pupil
is quite at home at her work, and the master should then proceed to
instruct her as to the mode in which to make her horse "crawl" through
gaps and crooked, cramped places, and do "on and off" jumps and doubles.
The animal best adapted for this sort of practice is one that is
_clever_ rather than _fast_. An Irish horse, out of a ditch and bank
country, is preferable. But the instructor should take special care, by
first doing these "on and off" jumps himself, to ascertain that the
banks are sound; otherwise there is danger of just the worst kind of
fall a woman can have. We have lately had a lamentable instance of this
in the case of a noble lady, one of the most brilliant horsewomen in
England.

For my own part, I am entirely against a lady jumping her horse in the
field at any place where there can be the slightest doubt as to good
foothold, unless she is preceded by a man to pilot her. If the latter
gets down, he can always (assuming him to be a good workman) get clear
of his steed, whereas at these rotten places a lady and her horse are
likely to fall "all of a heap," and injury greater or less is a
certainty to the rider.

Not long since I saw a little girl, about ten years old, riding with
hounds on a mite of a pony which was as clever as a monkey. The little
heroine took a line of her own (no doubt she knew the country well), and
kept her place among the foremost for some time; presently she
disappeared, and we found her impounded, pony and all, up to the back of
the latter in a piece of rotten ground which had let them in like a
"jack in the box." Neither the pony nor his plucky little rider were
hurt, but (as they say in Ireland) that was more by good luck than good
guiding.

I maintain that children at that age should never be left in the hunting
field to their own devices, however well they may ride, and that, either
in their case or that of young ladies of riper age, they should never be
allowed to go with hounds, unless accompanied by a man who is not only a
thorough horseman and judge of hunting, but is also well acquainted with
the country he is riding over, and accustomed to pilot ladies.

After the pupil has learned to make her horse "creep" in the manner
above described--to insure success in which, however, the closest
watching is necessary on the part of the instructor, and directions
requisite in each individual case, utterly impossible in written general
instructions--she should be carefully taught to open gates for herself,
because it is nearly sure hereafter to occur that she may have to ride
at a pinch in a country place where her route lies through a line of
bridle gates, and the attendance of a man to open them for her may not
be available. Nothing is easier than for a lady to open a well-hung and
well-latched gate, the hinges of which are on the off side. Bridle gates
occur most frequently in great grazing countries, such as
Leicestershire, Warwickshire, or Northamptonshire, by reason of the
necessity of confining cattle within certain limits. The gates are
generally heavy, well poised on their hinges, and opening either with
wooden latching or iron spring ones, easily reached at the top.

If the gate is hung on the off side, all the lady has to do is to ride
her horse with his head in an oblique direction between the gatepost and
the gate, so that when she has the latter open she can continue moving
on in the same slanting direction. She should first press the end of her
crop down upon the latch, if it is a wooden one, keeping herself
perfectly upright in the saddle, and steadily seated in it. Directly the
latch lifts she should press firmly against it with the rough crook,
push the gate open, and press her horse onwards in the same oblique
direction, by which the animal's croup clears the gate sooner, and all
risk of its closing on him is avoided. If there is a long iron spring
latch to the gate, it must first be pulled open with the crop, so that
the latch rests against the hasp, and a steady purchase must then be
taken against the upper bar with the crop, and the gate thus quietly
pushed forward: this if it opens _from_ the rider. If the reverse, the
horse's head should be kept perfectly square close to the gate post,
until the latch is lifted and rested on the hasp. The gate should then
be _pulled_ open, and the horse's head inclined just the reverse way to
that adopted when the gate opens _from_ the rider. But in no case should
she _lean_ forward, or put herself out of her balance, in order to get
hold of the latch or the gate itself, and she should be particularly
careful that the reins do not catch against the long iron hasps so
common to the gates I speak of.

Only last year, I met a lady who rides a good deal unattended, and,
seeing her about to open a gate I knew to be rather an awkward one, I
trotted on to assist her; but (possibly desiring to show me that she
could do it unassisted) she leant forward to give the gate _a lift_, and
in doing so she dropped the reins upon her horse's neck, when the animal
immediately hooked the headstall of a single curb bridle upon a long
iron hasp, and, finding himself fast to it, drew back suddenly and broke
the headstall, the bit fell out of his mouth, and the lady (utterly
helpless) had no alternative but to slip off as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, the animal was a very quiet one, or the consequences might
have been serious; as it was, we managed to change bridles, and, having
spliced the broken one, went on our separate ways. But, I repeat, one
cannot be too careful or methodical in opening gates. When one opens
from the _near_ side, the reins must be passed into the right hand, the
crop into the left, and the greatest care taken, if the gate opens _to_
the rider, to _push it_ well back behind the horse's quarters before she
moves on, riding with her horse's head _towards the hinges_. When a
near-side hung gate opens _from_ the rider, there is less difficulty, it
being only necessary after lifting the latch to push against the gate
with the crop, sitting quite upright, and giving swing enough to the
gate to enable the rider to get clear of it. But in either case, to or
from, with a gate hung on the near side the latch should first be
lifted, by using the crop in the _right hand_, resting the latch if
possible against the hasp, and then changing hands with the crop and
reins as before mentioned. If this is not done, and the rider attempts
to lift the latch with her left hand, she must change the direction of
her horse's head when the gate is open, at the great risk of bringing it
on his quarters.

These directions, like others I have ventured upon, may appear too
minute; but it should be remembered that, whereas, carefully followed
out, a lady on a steady horse accustomed to gates can open them with
safety, any carelessness may result in a bad accident, because the
steadiest horse, if "hung up" in a gate, will become furious if he
cannot instantly get clear of it. When, therefore, the pupil is well
practiced at this sort of work, and has learned to feel her way in
cramped places as well as to do her fences at a steady canter, a fair
half-speed gallop may be ventured on, the pupil setting her horse going,
and pressing him if necessary with the spur, to take his fences in his
stride, the spur being used, however, some distance from the fence. The
master should ride beside his pupil in this lesson, carefully watching
the pace of the horse and the action of the rider. A nice easy line of
about a couple of miles should be taken, and the pace maintained
throughout. A month of this kind of practice will form a capital
introductory step to hunting: and when, in the mild misty mornings of
russet-brown October, foxhounds begin to beat up the quarters of the
vulpine juveniles, abjuring her "beauty sleep," the lady may with
advantage, before the "early village cock proclaims the dawn," don her
hunting habiliments, and, under the careful tutelage of her "pilot,"
trot off to covert and see the "beauties" knock the cubs about.

This is by far the best way to begin hunting in reality. There are very
few people about at that early hour, and those only who are thorough
enthusiasts about the sport; consequently there is more time for the new
votary of Diana to get accustomed to the alteration in her horse's form
of demeaning himself. For be it known to the uninitiated that even an
old horse, that requires kicking and hammering along a road when ridden
alone, is quite a different animal and mover the instant he sees the
hounds, and will show an amount of vivacity perhaps very little expected
by his rider; while a well-bred young one requires a great deal of
riding on such occasions.

The short bursts sometimes obtained in "cub hunting" are capital
practice for a lady; while occasionally a veteran fox, some wily old
purloiner of poultry, affords a good twenty or five-and-twenty minutes,
even when the fences are blind. I recommend our pilot, however, to keep
his charge out of these latter matters, for blind jumping is always bad
for a lady.

As regards taking a beginner out with harriers, I am against it. It is
very well for invalids or corpulent gentlemen who are "doing a
constitutional;" but it teaches a young lady nothing of what is really
meant by hunting--which, however, she is in a first-rate position to
learn with the cubs.

Staghunting with a deer turned out from a cart and caught with a
whipthong, is equally inefficacious, because the hunting as a rule only
commences when the run is over. Moreover, there is always a crowd of
people who come out for riding only, and care nothing about hunting, and
these are the most likely to get into a lady's way, and bring her to
grief.

The same may be said of drag hunting, which I hold to be no place for a
lady, any more than steeplechasing.

Let us then, legitimately to inaugurate our pupil into the usages and
forms of hunting proper, stick to cub hunting until November opens the
fences and gives her a chance to prove the value of her previous
instruction.

Before closing this article, I cannot refrain from citing an instance of
the great value of a lady learning to cross the country well,
irrespective of the sport of foxhunting and its health-giving and
exhilarating effects. Within ten miles of where I write this resides a
lady, young, wealthy, and beautiful, who, although not a religious
_recluse_, is as thorough and sincere a devotee of religion as any
cloistered nun. Her whole time is spent in acts of charity, and
ministering to the spiritual and bodily welfare of the poor for miles
round her residence. No weather is too inclement, no night too dark, to
stop her on her errands of mercy and charity. If summoned even at the
dead of night to attend the bedside of a sick or dying person, as
frequently happens, she will dress herself quickly in rough habiliments
suitable to it--maybe in tempestuous weather--saddle and bridle a horse
herself if her people are not quick enough for her, and, provided with
cordials, a prayer book, and a long hunting crop, she will gallop off
the nearest way to her destination, taking the fences, if they lie in
the road, as they come; and one bright moonlight night I saw her do two
or three places that would stop half the men that ride to hounds
hereabouts. This lady, who may fairly and without exaggeration be called
the "ministering angel" of the district, does not, it is true, hunt now;
but it was in riding to hounds that she acquired her wonderful facility
of getting over the country.

The above is no sensational story. The lady, her brilliant riding, her
true religion, and her charities, are well known, and can be vouched for
by hundreds of people in this part of the world. Who shall say after
this that hunting is unfeminine?

I have a word more to add, according to promise, as regards the fitting
of the circular bit.

This bit, which can always be procured at Messrs. Davis's, saddler, 14,
Strand, is fitted in the horse's mouth above the mouthpiece of a snaffle
or Pelham bridle. It has a separate headstall, and is put on before the
ordinary bridle. It requires no reins, is secured by a standing
martingale to a breastplate, and is a certain remedy for horses flirting
or rearing when too _fresh_ (which, however, I repeat, for a lady's
riding should never be allowed).

The strap between the breastplate and the ring bit should be just long
enough to enable the horse to move freely forward, without liberty
enough to admit of his rearing.

In the next chapter I will endeavour to describe what regular hunting
for a lady means; point out the readiest way of getting to our most
fashionable packs of hounds; and how ladies residing even in the
metropolis may enjoy a day or two of good sport on this fine grass
country at the least necessary expense, may witness and enjoy hunting in
its perfection, and, if requisite, may breakfast in Mayfair or
Belgravia, have a glorious gallop over the Midland pastures, and return
to a late dinner. Of course I am aware that neither of the above-named
localities is likely to hold many hunting ladies in November. But the
fashionable quarters of London are not deserted in February, and spring
hunting is perhaps after all the most enjoyable.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE HUNTING FIELD (_continued_).


Among the many advantages afforded by the "iron road" to lovers of
hunting there is none more appreciable than the facility it affords to
those who reside in a non-foxhunting country of getting to hounds with
ease and rapidity.

Without any greater inconvenience than the necessity of early rising, a
lady who lives in Tyburnia or Belgravia may easily enjoy a day's hunting
in Warwickshire or Leicestershire, and be in her own home again in
reasonable time in the evening.

During the early spring hunting of the present year, several ladies came
to Market Harborough and Melton on these sporting expeditions, and
returned the same day thoroughly satisfied.

One party, consisting of three ladies and as many gentlemen, seemed to
me to have been admirably organised, and to be quite a success
throughout.

They left Saint Pancras at eight o'clock in the morning, in a saloon
carriage, arrived at Melton at half-past ten, and were at the meet at
eleven, with military punctuality. They enjoyed a capital day with the
Quorn hounds, left Melton at half-past six, after riding a considerable
distance back, and arrived in town at nine o'clock.

A novel and agreeable feature in the arrangement was that the party
dined in their luxurious carriage while being whirled back to the
metropolis, a first-class dinner and the best of wines having been
furnished from the hotel, and served in admirable form. After the
journey and the sport one of the ladies (I was told) held a numerously
attended and fashionable reception at her own house the same evening;
and with a brougham in waiting at St. Pancras, and a pair of fast
horses, joined to the wonderful "smartness" (if I may be permitted the
expression) displayed by the fair and aristocratic votary of Diana in
the field, I should think the thing quite possible as regarded time.

The above-named party was mounted at Melton by some friends; but, by
giving fair notice, thoroughly good and well-made hunters can always be
secured by any of the Midland hunting centres by those who do not care
to rail their own horses from London. Market Harborough is still more
accessible than Melton, being but two hours from London, and situated in
the centre of a splendid grass country, hunted by Mr. Tailby; while a
smart trot of eight miles would bring the sporting _voyageur_ to
Kilworth Sticks and the Pytchley, provided the right day was selected.
Rugby, too, is equally accessible, and boasts a fair hotel, where the
charges are not more extortionate than they are at Harborough, which is
saying a good deal. The hunting in the vicinity of Rugby, however, amply
compensates for a little overdoing in the matter of charges.

It is scarcely possible to go to Rugby the wrong day to get at hounds
within a reasonable distance, and some of the meets of that admirable
pack, the North Warwickshire, are frequently at such picturesque and
convenient trysting places as Bilton Grange--now celebrated by the
Tichborne trial, and sworn to as the place where the "Claimant" was not.
However this may be, a straight-necked and wily gentleman is generally
to be found at home, either in the plantations of the grand old demesne
or close by at Bunker's Hill or Cawston Spinney, who is tolerably
certain to lead the claimants for his brush a merry dance across the
glorious grass country to Barby, Shuckborough, or Ashby St. Leger. The
fences, too, in this part of the Midlands are just the thing for a
lady's hunting, and, while quite big enough in most cases to require a
little doing, they are by no means so formidable as those in High
Leicestershire and the Quorn country. The old-fashioned bullfincher is
rare, and double ox fences equally so, while there is a pretty variety
of nice stake-and-binders, pleached hedges, and fair-water jumping,
with an occasional flight of rails, big enough to prove that the fair
equestrian's hunter can do a bit of timber clean and clever. In fact, I
know no country I would as soon select for a young lady to commence
regular hunting in as that in the vicinity of Rugby. Combe Abbey,
Misterton, and Coton House are all sweetly English, as well as
thoroughly sporting places of meeting, and the truly enjoyable trot or
canter over the springy turf, which everywhere abounds by the roadside
in these localities, and makes the way to covert so pleasant, has more
than once been pronounced by hunting critics to be more desirable than
hunting itself in parts of England where the road is all "Macadam," and
the land plough, copiously furnished with big flint stones, such as one
sees in Hampshire. _Apropos_ of which charming country there is a
sporting tale prevalent in this real home of the hunter.

A rich, middle-aged, single gentleman, a thorough enthusiast about
foxhunting, had a nephew, a very straight-going youngster, who the
"prophetic soul" of his uncle had decided should one day be _the_ man of
the country in the hunting field, and second to none over our biggest
country; and, to enable "Hopeful" to lead the van, the veteran mounted
him on horses purchased regardless of expense. Furthermore, determined
that no casualty in the way of breaking his own neck should suddenly
deprive his favourite nephew of the golden sinews of the chase, the old
Nimrod made a very proper will, leaving all his large property to his
fortunate young relative.

Things, indeed, looked rosy enough for our young sportsman. Youth,
health, wealth, a capital seat, and fine hands upon his horse, any
quantity of pluck, a thorough knowledge of hunting, and plenty of the
best horses to carry him--who could desire more? Alas that it should be
so! even the brightest sunshine may become overcast--the fairest
prospect be marred--by causes never dreamt of by the keenest and most
far seeing among us.

At the termination of a capital season in the Midland, our youngster,
not content to let well alone, and, like that greedy boy Oliver still
"asking for more," unknown to his worthy uncle, betook himself to the
New Forest in Hampshire.

"Hopeful" was a sharp fellow enough, and he did not believe that all was
gold that glittered; but he was under a very decided impression that
wherever there was a good open stretch of green level turf it was safe
to set a horse going. Alas! the luckless young sportsman was not aware
that in the New Forest this is by no means a certainty, and one day,
when riding to some staghounds, determined to "wipe the eye" of the
field, he jumped a big place which nobody else seemed to care for, and,
taking his horse by the head, set him sailing along the nearest way to
the hounds. A lovely piece of emerald-green turf was before him; he
clapped his hat firmly on, put down his hands, and, regardless of wild
cries in his rear, made the pace strong. Suddenly and awfully as the
Master of Ravenswood vanished from the sight of the distracted Caleb
Balderstone and was swallowed up in the Kelpie's Flow, so disappeared
"Hopeful" and his proud steed; both were engulfed in a treacherous bog,
and, before either horse or man could be extricated, "the pride of the
Shires" was smothered in mud beneath his horse.

Next season, at a "coffee-housing" by a spinney side, where hounds were
at work, an old friend of the bereft uncle ventured to condole with him
on his loss.

"Sad business," he said, shaking his old hunting chum warmly by the
hand; "sad business that about poor Charlie down in Hampshire!"

"Sad, indeed," replied the veteran uncle, returning the friendly
squeeze. "Who would have thought my sister's son would have ever done
such a thing? Staghunting was bad enough," he continued, as the
irrepressible tear coursed down his furrowed cheek; "staghunting was bad
enough, but to go at it in Hampshire--I shall never get over it. As to
his being smothered, of course that served him perfectly right."

Turning, however, from the above melancholy instance of degeneracy in
sport to the pleasanter theme of the right locale in which a lady should
commence foxhunting, I must not forget Leamington, the neighbourhood of
which beautiful and fashionable watering place affords some capital
sport to those who delight in "woodland hunting." The woods at
Princethorpe, Frankton, and the vicinity, hold some stout foxes that
afford many a nice gallop, while the country is rideable enough for a
lady if she keeps out of the woods.

Leamington, too, has first-rate accommodation for hunting people. There
are, indeed, no better hotels to be met with anywhere than the "Regent"
or the "Clarendon," or more moderate charges for first-class houses;
while the "Crown" and the "Bath" afford capital quarters for gentlemen,
and ample provision for doing their horses well.

The charming Spa, moreover, is at an easy distance from Rugby, and by
railing a horse to the latter place, ready access can be had to hunting
in the open country, six days in the week.

My advice, then, to young ladies, who desire to witness foxhunting in
perfection, is to select one of the above-named localities, and to put
herself at once under the guardianship in the field of a thoroughly good
pilot who knows the country.

Words of advice to the latter are superfluous. All the men who undertake
the responsible office of guiding a lady after hounds hereabouts are
quite at home at their business, and it may be satisfactory to my fair
readers to know, that, although there are a great number of ladies
riding regularly with hounds in the North Warwickshire, Pytchley, and
Atherstone country, no accident attended with injury to a lady rider has
occurred within my recollection, which extends over a long series of
years.

The initiation at cub hunting will have given our pupil confidence, and
accustomed her to the excitement shown more or less by every horse at
the sight of hounds; and careful attention to the rules of jumping
before laid down will insure safety if she adheres carefully to her
pilot's line. It is as well, however, that she should understand wherein
consists the reason for what her hunting guide does, and what should be
done and left undone, from the time of arrival at the meet until the
_retour de chasse_.

In the first place, then, while her mentor will of course see to her
girths and horse appointments before a start is made to draw a covert,
the lady should carefully look to her own dress, head gear, &c., and be
certain that everything is in its place, and shows no signs of giving
way. But if anything chances to be out of order--if she has ridden to
the meet any considerable distance--it is best to dismount and repair
damages at once. As a rule, there are always houses available for this,
and nimble-fingered dames zealous in the service of any lady who desires
their assistance.

When the fair votary of the chase travels to the meet on wheels, I
recommend her by all means the use of a warm overcoat, of which the
Ulster is very convenient, and was very much worn for the above purpose
last season. In proceeding from the meeting place to the covert a great
thing is to keep out of the crowd--no matter how well-behaved a horse
the rider may be on--because in a ruck there is always more or less
danger of her being kicked herself. The most likely position for a good
start will of course be selected by the pilot; but it should be
remembered that to be quiet while hounds are at work in covert is a
fixed law of the hunting code; to avoid heading a fox when he breaks
away, another vital point; and no exclamation of surprise or wonder
should be allowed to escape the lips, even if a fox (as I have seen
happen more than once) should run between the horses' legs. Foxes,
though it may be assumed that they all possess a large amount of craft
and cunning, differ as much in nerve and courage as other animals; and
while one will sometimes dash through a little brigade of mounted
people, the shout of a small boy on foot may turn him back; and while
Reynard, again, will frequently rush off close to a lady's horse and
take no notice of either him or his rider if both remain quiet, the
waving of a handkerchief, or even the slightest movement of the lady on
her steed, may cause Sir Pug to alter his mind, and thus a good thing
may be spoilt. For the foregoing reasons, therefore, to be perfectly
quiet and remain steady, if near a possible point at which a fox can
break away, is indispensable. When hounds are settling on his track
great care should be taken to avoid getting in their road, or in any way
interfering with them. After they have settled, the object should be to
_go well to the front and keep there_--first, because the greatest
enjoyment in hunting, viz., seeing the hounds work, is by that means
attained; and, secondly, whenever there is a check, a lady riding well
forward gets all the benefit of it for her horse, whereas those who lose
ground at the start, and have to follow on the line, keep pounding away
without giving their horses a chance of catching their wind--a very
material thing in a quick run.

A check of a few minutes, affording a good horse time, has enabled many
a one to stay to the end of the longest run, when an equally good animal
has been "pumped" in the same thing for want of such a respite from his
exertions.

Again, a great point to be observed is to maintain such a position as
will enable the rider to turn with the hounds at the right moment;
resolutely resisting any temptation in order to cut off ground, to turn
too soon, and risk spoiling sport by crossing their line.

It should be remembered that it is quite as easy to jump the fences when
one is in the front rank, as it is when sculling along with the rear
guard, and much safer, because the ground always affords better foothold
and landing, when it has not been poached up by a number of people
jumping. This is especially the case after a frost, when the going is at
all greasy.

Even in cases when hounds slip an entire field, and get the fun all to
themselves, still those who get away well at first will have all the
best of the "stern chase."

If, fortunately, our fair tyro is well up when a fox is run into and
killed, she should carefully avoid getting too close to the hounds when
they are at their broken-up prey. There are always keen eyes about that
can discern on these occasions whether a lady has been riding straight
and well, and there will not be wanting some gallant cavalier to offer
her the tribute due to her "dash" and good workmanship, in the shape of
that coveted trophy of the chase, the brush. There may, however, be more
than one lady up on these occasions (I have seen several after very good
things), and, as a rule, the brush is most likely to be offered to the
lady of the highest rank. These trophies, therefore, are scarcely to be
counted upon as a reward for even the best and straightest riding--the
less so as of late years it has been observed that in most cases a very
stout and straight-necked fox succeeds in eluding his pursuers, and
"lives to fight another day."

In beginning regular hunting, one good run in a day for a lady should
suffice for some little time. In November the days are very short, and
often enough a fox started after three o'clock will be running strong
when darkness comes on. For a lady, and a beginner especially, it is
best to leave off and trot quietly home while there is yet daylight.

As regards "get up" or equipment, I must add to my former suggestions
that a lady for the hunting field should be provided always with a
waterproof overcoat, which should be rolled up in as small a compass as
possible, and is better carried by her pilot or her second horseman (if
she has one out) than attached by straps to the off-side flap of her own
saddle; as, in addition to spoiling the symmetry of the saddle on that
side, I have seen instances of things so attached hanging up in ragged
fences, no matter how carefully they may have been put on.

A sandwich case and flask are highly necessary also. Hunting is a
wonderful promoter of appetite, and it is not beneficial to a young
lady's health to go from early breakfast to late dinner time without
refreshment; while it is quite possible--nay, very probable in a grass
country--that she may be a long way from head-quarters when she leaves
the hounds, and in a part where refreshment for a lady cannot be had for
love or money.

The Melton people have met this requirement very efficiently. Thus, into
a very flat, flexible flask, with a screw-cup top, they put a most
succulent liquid, composed of calves' foot jelly and sherry. This flask
is accompanied by a very neat little leather case, which contains half a
dozen nice biscuits, or, in some instances, a small pasty, composed of
meat. These cases, with the flask, are made to fit into the pocket of
the saddle on the off-side under the handkerchief, and the flap of the
pocket is secured by a strap and buckle.

To roll a waterproof neatly, the following plan is the best: Lay the
garment down flat, opened out, on a table, the inside upwards; turn the
collar in first, then turn the sleeves over to the inside, laying them
flat; next turn in both sides of the coat from the collar downwards,
about eight or ten inches; then turn in the bottom of the garment about
the same distance, when it will form a pocket. One person should hold
this steady while another rolls the collar end very tightly up towards
the pocket; it will then fit into it so closely as to make a very small
and compact roll of the whole coat.

I must not omit to say that, in addition to the first-rate hunting to be
had in the Midlands, there is some good sport with hounds obtainable
nearer the metropolis, namely, in the Vale of Aylesbury, with that noble
patron of sport, Baron Rothschild. But still I must award the palm to
Leicestershire, Warwickshire, and Northamptonshire as far away superior
to anything in the hunting way to be seen in any other part of England.
In whatever part, however, the fair lover of hunting seeks her sport,
she should bear in mind that when she is once away with hounds she
cannot be too particular as to riding her horse with the utmost care and
precision, and to avoid taking liberties with him by jumping big places
for the sake of display. It cannot be too strenuously impressed upon her
mentor that, as long as the true line to the hounds can be maintained,
the less jumping that is done, the longer the horse will last; that one
big jump takes as much out of him as galloping over three big fields;
and that he should be _ridden every inch of the way_, because when
hounds get off with a good scent it is impossible to say that they may
not keep on running for a couple of hours, in which case, if too much is
done with him at first, he will inevitably, to use a racing phrase,
"shut up."

The light weight of most hunting ladies is a point in favour of the
horse; but it is more than counterbalanced by the absence of support
which a man who rides well can give with the right leg. It is the
absence of this support in the case of a lady's horse, however well
ridden, that causes him to tire sooner than he would if ridden by a
gentleman; and hence the necessity in selecting a horse to carry a woman
with hounds for having not only staying power, but two or three stone in
hand. Nevertheless, although unable to give to the animal as much help
as can be afforded by a gentleman, ladies can do much by the exercise of
that tact and judgment which is their peculiar gift.

Every lady who hunts is sure to be more or less an enthusiast about
horses, and is always, according to my experience, ready to adopt any
suggestion which tends to their well doing. I therefore venture to point
one or two matters which I trust will be found useful.

In the first place, when the hounds have settled to their fox and people
have shaken themselves into their places, the fair rider in her early
essays in the field should bestow her principal attention upon the
animal, upon which depends much of her sport. With a good man by her
side, she will run no risk from thrusting neighbours, and although she
cannot too soon begin to have "one eye for the hounds and another for
the horse," it is the latter which demands all her energies. The whole
business is exciting. The genuine dash, the vigour, the reality, that is
so striking to a novice when hounds come crashing out of covert, through
an old wattle, or bounding over a strong fence; the up-ending and
plunging of impatient young horses, the brilliant throng of fashionable
equestrians, the rattle of the turf under the horses' feet as they
stride away--all these, or any of them, are quite sufficient to warm up
even old blood, and are certain to send that of the young going at such
a pace that all rule and method in riding is very apt to be forgotten,
or thrust aside in the eager desire "to be first."

It is just at this critical moment that I would advise my fair readers
to lay to heart the necessity of controlling their excitement, because
it is at such a time that a horse, especially at the beginning of the
season (if allowed), will "take out of himself" just what he will want
hereafter, assuming a stout fox that means business to be to the front.
A soothing word or two, and "making much" of the excited steed, will
generally cause him to settle in his stride and cease romping; whereas,
if the rider is excited as well as the horse, we have oil upon fire at
once. Again, it cannot be too forcibly impressed upon ladies riding with
hounds that the latter require _plenty of room to work_.

"Place aux dames" is a rule rigidly observed by gentlemen in the hunting
field. Room for the hounds should form an equally inviolable law with
ladies in the same place. And it is the more necessary to impress this
upon beginners, because many a first-rate man who pilots ladies,
although bold as a lion over a country, and cautious to a degree as to
the line he takes for his fair _compagnon de chasse_, is oftentimes far
too modest to check her exuberant riding, and the consequence is, many
an anathema--not loud, but deep--is bestowed upon both by exasperated
masters and huntsmen.

Unlike the professional riding master, a first-rate pilot--such, I mean,
as is paid for his services--though well behaved and respectful, is
likely enough to lack much education, except such as he has received in
the saddle or on practical farming matters; and his awe of a lady,
properly so called, is so considerable as to preclude his exercise of
the _fortiter in re_ altogether, no matter how much his charge is
unwittingly infringing the rules of sport.

I saw an amusing instance of this not long ago. A lady, the widow of a
wealthy civil servant in India, having returned to her native land laden
with the riches of the East, being still young and excessively fond of
riding, purchased a stud of first-class hunters, took a nice little
hunting box in Leicestershire for the season, and engaged the services
of a very good man to pilot her. As a rule every lady rides in
India--some of them ride very well; but a rattling gallop at gun fire,
in the morning, over the racecourse at Ghindee or Bangalore, is quite a
different matter to a gallop with the Pytchley hounds. The "Bebe sahib"
(great lady) had no idea, mounted as she was, of anybody or anything
(bar the fox) being in front of her. And be it known to those who have
never been in India that "great ladies" there are "bad to talk to,"
being in the habit pretty much of paying very little attention to
anything in the way of counsel coming from their subordinates. Our
Indian widow was no exception. So she did all sorts of outrageous things
in the field in riding in among the hounds--and, indeed, before them--to
the disgust of the master and everybody else, including her pilot, who
in her case was certainly no mentor--but the latter was too well paid to
risk offending the peccant lady; he ventured a gentle hint or two, and,
being snubbed, gave it up for a bad job.

He was so severely rated, however, by the masters of hounds in the
district--one of whom declared he would take them home directly he saw
the lady and her pilot with them--that the latter was fairly at his
wits' end to know how to keep the too dashing widow within bounds.
Sorely puzzled, he sat in his spacious chimney nook one night smoking
his pipe in moody silence, his wife knitting opposite him.

"What's the matter, John?" began his spouse. "Matter!" he replied; "it's
enough to drive a man mad; Mrs. Chutnee's going again to-morrow, and, as
sure as fate, she'll ride over the hounds or do something, and get one
into trouble."

"What makes her go on so, John?" again inquired the _cara sposa_.--"Go
on! it is go on: I think that the name for it. Go on over everything! no
fence is too big for her. I like her for that, but she never knows when
to stop. Last week she knocked an old gentleman over, and he lost a
spick span new set of teeth as cost, I dare say, a matter of twenty
guineas; and the day before yesterday she lamed a hound as was worth a
lot of money, to say nothing of hurting the poor brute. I don't know
what to be at with her, and that's a fact, because, barring her going so
fast, she is the best-hearted lady ever I see."

And John relapsed into silence, blowing mighty clouds of smoke, while
his wife plied her knitting-needles. But a woman's wit, in difficult
cases, is proverbial; and in the watches of the night a bright notion,
based upon knowledge of her own sex, flashed upon the anxious mind of
the snoring John's wife. The result was as follows. Next morning, true
to time, John was in attendance to accompany the fair widow to the
field. They had some distance to ride to covert, and after a smart spurt
of a mile or two on the sward, the lady pulled her horse up to walk up a
hill.

"John," said the lady (who was in high spirits), "what do people here
think of my riding?"--"Well, some thinks one thing, and some thinks
another," was the reply.

"That's no answer," observed the fair interlocutor; "what do they say?
that is the thing. I know one thing they can't say; none of them can say
they can stop me over any part of the country, no matter how big it is."

Opportunity, says some wise man, is for him who waits. Now was John's
opportunity to avail himself of his clever little wife's bright idea.

"Stop you, my lady! no, that's just what they do all say; and what's
more, they say you can't stop yourself--that you ain't got no hands, and
your horse takes you just where he pleases, if it's even right over the
hounds."

The "Bebe sahib" was bitterly chagrined, for she prided herself justly
upon her capital hands upon a horse. She was silent for a few minutes,
and then she said, "I want you to tell me what to do, just to let these
people know, as you do, that I have hands."--"Then I will tell you, my
lady," said John, brightening up. "Just you do this: when the hounds get
away, you let me go first, and keep your horse about a hundred yards
behind me. I'll pick out a line big enough, I'll warrant, and that will
show them all about your seat and your jumping. Then about the hands; if
you please, whenever I pull up, you do the same. They say as you can't
stop your horse, you know."

"Can't I?" said the little lady, "can't stop my horse when I like! I'll
let them see that. Can't stop! I should like to know what a woman can't
do if she makes up her mind to do it."

John's wife was a capital judge; there was no more riding over hounds or
disarranging of elderly gentlemen's teeth. But the "Bebe sahib" has
taken me to the extremity of my space, and I must pull up, reserving
further observations and suggestions on the hunting field for my next
chapter.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE HUNTING FIELD (_continued_).


On reading my previous observations on Fox-hunting, it may occur to many
ladies that in order to enjoy the sport, great nerve and physical power,
as well as a thorough knowledge of the principles of equitation and long
practice, are indispensable, and that in default of either of the above
qualifications they ought not to venture into the field. This, however,
would be an extreme view of the case. It is quite true that to go
straight to hounds and take the country and the fences as they come it
is necessary that a lady should be in vigorous health, as well as a
thoroughly accomplished horsewoman. But, grant the latter condition,
those of even more delicate constitutions, and consequently lacking the
nerve and strength to take a front-rank place and keep it, may still
participate to a great extent in all the enjoyable and healthy
excitement of the chase, if they follow it out in a grass country, and
put themselves under the guidance of a man who knows that country well.

It cannot be too generally known to those who are not strong enough to
sail away with the hounds over big fence or yawning brook that one great
advantage as regards hunting afforded by a grass country is that a lady
who is attended by a man well up at the topography of the district can
generally find her way through easily opened bridle gates from point to
point, from whence, throughout the best part of even a long day, she can
witness and enjoy the sport, although she is not with the hounds; and
this without pounding on the macadam and shaking her horse's legs; for
all our Leicestershire roads are set, as it were, between borders of
green velvet in the hunting season. All that is necessary to a most
enjoyable day (if it is fine) is a horse that can get over the ground
in tiptop form--a good bred one that can gallop and stay. On such a
one, lots of grand hunting may be seen if it cannot be done by even a
timid lady who dare not essay jumping.

Turning, however, from the delicate and timid to those whose health and
physique enable them to hold their own in the front rank, I venture to
point out a possible casualty that may happen in hunting, which,
although not of frequent occurrence, may easily be attended with
dangerous results if the fair rider with hounds is unacquainted with the
means of counteracting it. I allude to the possibility of a horse in
crossing a ford, where the stream is rapid and the bottom uneven, losing
his footing. I have seen this occur more than once, both to good men and
to ladies, and the result was not only an immersion over head and ears,
but considerable danger as well. This is easily to be prevented, as
follows: The fact of a horse losing his footing in deep water is at once
apparent by his making a half plunge, and commencing to swim, which
instinct teaches him to do directly he feels that he is out of his
depth. At such a moment, if the rider confines the horse, he will
inevitably roll over in his struggle. The great thing, therefore, on
such an occasion is at once to give him his head, quitting the curb rein
entirely, and scarcely feeling the snaffle, "while any attempt to guide
the horse should be done by the slightest touch possible" (see "Aid
Book"). The reins should be passed into the right hand, with which,
holding the crop also, the rider should take a firm hold of the upper
crutch of the saddle. She should, at the same time, with her left hand
raise her skirt well up, disengage her left leg (with the foot, however,
still in the stirrup), and place it _over the third crutch_. By these
means she will avoid any risk of the horse striking her on the left heel
with his near hind hoof, which otherwise in his struggle he would be
almost certain to do. If a horse is left to himself he will swim almost
any distance with the greatest ease, even with a rider on his back; and
there is no more difficulty in sitting on him in the form above named
than in cantering on _terra firma_. It is absolutely necessary, however,
to get the foot--and especially the stirrup--out of the way, otherwise
there is always danger of his entangling himself with them or with the
skirt. When the horse recovers his footing on the bottom he will make
another struggle, but the hold of the right hand upon the pommel will
always preserve the seat of the rider. To be quite safe in such a
predicament is simply a question of knowing what to do, and having the
presence of mind to do it _quickly_. To show that the necessity for
swimming a horse may occur to a lady as well as to a gentleman the
following case, I trust, will suffice.

Many years ago I was riding with a lady from the village of Renteria _en
route_ to San Sebastian, in the north of Spain. The way was round a
couple of headlands, between which was a deep bay, running up to the
hamlet of Lezo. This bay was all fine sand up to some low but rather
precipitous cliffs at the head of the inlet, but at the extremity of
either headland careful riding was requisite by reason of rough rocky
places. On the occasion I allude to the tide was flowing when we rounded
the first point. Having been long accustomed to the place, however, we
both considered that we had ample time safely to turn the other
extremity of the bay; but a lively spring tide, aided by a brisk
north-easterly wind, caused the sea, running in through the narrow gut
of "Passages," to increase in velocity to such an extent that we were
completely out in our reckoning. Seeing the tide gaining rapidly on us,
we set our horses going at top speed over the level sand, racing (as it
were) with the "hungry waters" for the distant point. When we neared it,
however, I saw at once that it was hopeless to attempt rounding it, for
our horses were already above the girths in water, keeping their feet
with difficulty on the level sand, and I knew that to try to keep them
on their legs on the shelving and rocky bottom at the extremity of the
point would result in their rolling over us. There was nothing,
therefore, for it but to try back, endeavour to regain the head of the
inlet, and make the attempt, however difficult, to clamber up the steep
but still sloping face of the cliff. Long before we reached our point,
however, both horses were swimming; but they made scarcely a perceptible
struggle in doing so, as the rising water lifted them from the level
sand bodily off their feet. The lady (who was at first a little
flurried) lost no time in getting her habit and her leg out of the way
of mischief, and quickly regaining her nerve laid fast hold of the
saddle, and laughing, declared it was "capital fun." I confess, on her
account, and that of the horses, I did not think so; but encouraged her
in her fearlessness. We gave the horses their heads, and they struck out
bravely towards the cliff. As soon as they recovered their footing, the
lady, having been previously cautioned to extricate her foot from the
stirrup, slipped off her horse, the water taking her up to her waist. I
lost no time in following her example, and turning the horses loose, we
drove them at the sharp and slippery incline up the hill. Both horses
scrambled up, with no further damage than the breaking of a bridle; but
to get the lady (encumbered as she was with her wet garments) up the
steep hillside was a task I have not forgotten to this day. The face of
the cliff was studded with patches of gorse here and there, which
assisted us certainly at the expense, of my companion, of severely
scratched hands and torn gloves. But the ground was so slippery that our
wet boots caused us continually to slip back, both of us in this respect
being at a great disadvantage with the horses, whose iron shoes and
corkings enabled them to obtain better foothold. Partly, however, by
dragging, partly by cheering the lady to persevere, I succeeded in
gaining the level ground with her, while the sea broke in heavy, noisy
surges below, and sent the spray flying over us. The lady, who had borne
up bravely so far, fainted from reaction when we gained the level sward,
where the horses were grazing quietly, none the worse for their bath.
But there were three stalwart Basque peasants at work hard by, turning
up the soil with their four-pronged iron forks. Their cottage was close
at hand, and having partially revived the fair sufferer, we carried her
to the house, where she received every attention from the padrona, and
no further evil resulted, except scratches and torn garments. But while
I was sensibly impressed with the courage displayed by my companion, who
was a slight, delicate woman, I am quite certain that ignorance of the
right thing to do at the right time would have been fatal to both of us.
As the tide gained so rapidly upon us, had the lady allowed her horse to
flounder or plunge in it, she would inevitably have become entangled
with him and drowned, despite any effort of mine to save her.

I have witnessed many other instances of the facility with which horses
will extricate their riders from difficulties in deep water. Among these
I know none more worthy of record than the following.

Some years ago a large Government transport, conveying troops and
horses, was wrecked at Buffalo, Cape of Good Hope. Among the troops was
a detachment of light cavalry. The ship parted on the rocks, and despite
the efforts of the people on shore, the greater part of the troops
(officers and men) were drowned. An officer of the cavalry party,
however, determined to make an effort to reach the shore, upon which a
heavy sea and tremendous surf were breaking. He launched his horse
overboard, and, plunging quickly after him into the tumbling sea, seized
the horse by the mane, and succeeded in retaining his grasp, while the
plucky and sagacious animal gallantly dragged his master in safety
through the surf.

I repeat, then, Be always on your guard in crossing deep water with a
horse, or in fording a stream where the current is rapid. In India and
other tropical countries the necessity for being able to swim a horse
occurs more frequently than at home; and, in the monsoon time
especially, it behoves everybody who is going a journey on horseback to
be extremely careful how they attempt to cross a swollen stream, as the
freshets come down with such rapidity that I have frequently seen a
horse carried off his legs by the force of the current when the water
has not been more than knee-deep, and, when once the foothold is gone in
such places, it is extremely difficult frequently to find a place at
which to get out again, on account of the precipitous formation of most
of the banks. In any case, however, the above-named directions will be
found effectual, and the horse, if left to himself, will find a landing
place, even if he swims a considerable distance to gain it.

A point of considerable importance as regards hunting also is for ladies
to avoid riding home in open carriages, no matter how fine the weather
may be, or how well they may be wrapped up. Riding _to_ the meet on
wheels is all very well, particularly if the distance is great and by a
cross-country road, and the time short. But, after galloping about
during the greater part of the day, no conveyance home other than her
horse is fit for a lady, except the inside of a close carriage on rail
or road, and a good foot warmer at the bottom of the carriage; and if
there has been much rain, riding home on horseback is by far the safest
plan. I have frequently ridden home sixteen and eighteen miles after
dark with a lady whom I had the honour of escorting on her hunting
excursions, sometimes in very bad weather, and I can safely say that,
rain, snow, or sleet, she never took cold. After leaving the hounds my
first care was always to make for some hospitable farmhouse near the
road, or in default thereof, some decent roadside inn, where we could
have the horse's legs well washed, and the lady's waterproof carefully
put on if there was rain about. I always carried for her a second pair
of dry knee boots, carefully folded up in a waterproof havresack. These
boots were made with cork soles within and without, and, as such boots
are easily carried by any man who pilots a lady (of course I don't mean
the pilot who rides in scarlet), I specially recommend them to
consideration. The most difficult thing after riding a long day's
hunting, in which, now and again, a good deal of it will be in wet
weather, is to keep the feet warm. Throughout all the rest of the system
the circulation may be kept going by the exercise even of slow steady
trotting; but the wet, clammy boot, thoroughly saturated, it may be, by
more than one dash through a swollen rivulet, strikes cold and
uncomfortable in the stirrup iron even to a man, who has a better
opportunity of counteracting it by the use of alcoholic or vinous
stimulants. It is therefore highly conducive to a lady's comfort after
her gallop with hounds, if she has far to go home, to change her boots;
and this, with a little care and foresight on the part of her attendant,
can always be accomplished. With a dry pair of boots, a good waterproof
overcoat, and a cambric handkerchief tied round her neck, a lady may
defy the worst weather in returning from hunting.

A word now about second horsemen, in a country like this, where the
_habitués_ of it know tolerably well, if hunting is to be done in a
certain district, that a fox, given certain conditions of wind, is most
likely to make for certain points, and that if a covert is drawn blank,
the next draw will be in a certain locality, it is not difficult for a
good second horseman to be ready at hand when the lady requires a fresh
charger. But (assuming always that she can afford to have a second horse
out) nothing connected with her hunting requires more discrimination
than the selection of a second horseman. Any quantity of smart,
good-looking, light-weight lads, who can turn themselves out in
undeniable form, and ride very fairly, are always to be had, with good
manners and equally good characters; but one thing requisite is that
they should know every inch of the country they are in. Thus a lad,
however willing, from Scotland or Ireland, would be of very little use
as a second horseman in the midland district of England; and therefore
weight, up to ten stone at all events, is of less consequence than an
intimate knowledge of the topography of the surrounding country.

To have a second horse at the right spot at the right time, and with
little or nothing taken out of him, requires in most cases considerable
foresight and judgment on the part of the lad who is on him, and
therefore a fair amount of intelligence, in addition to careful riding,
is indispensable, as well as natural good eye for country. The different
form in which second horses are brought to the point where they are
required is conclusive as to the foregoing, for one constantly sees two
animals, up to equal weight and in equal condition, arrive at the same
spot, one not fit to go much further, and the other with scarcely the
stable bloom off his coat.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE CONDITION OF HUNTERS.


As the value of most of the foregoing suggestions as regards a lady
riding to hounds is more or less dependent upon the form and condition
in which the horse destined to carry her in the chase is put, I trust a
few words upon this important subject may be acceptable.

In the first place, then, experience proves that the getting of a horse
into really good condition is a work of considerable time, and that when
once the animal has arrived at the desired point of physical health
which will enable him to make the most of his powers, as a rule, it is
considered to the last degree undesirable that anything should be done
to throw him out of his form.

Many years ago it was considered that a horse that had been hunted
regularly through a season should be turned out to grass throughout the
summer, and that if he was taken up when the crops were off the ground,
there was time enough to get him fit by November; while it was
considered altogether unnecessary to give him more than one feed of corn
a day while turned out. In numerous cases I have known he had none from
April to September.

The present form of treating hunting horses is diametrically the reverse
of the foregoing. A horse once "wound up" (as it is technically called)
for hunting is generally kept up all the year round; his spring and
summer training consisting of long, slow, steady work, principally
walking exercise.

Now, my own opinion, based upon many years of experience and close
observation, does not agree with either of the foregoing practices.

The first evidently was wrong, because a horse, even running in and out
throughout the entire summer, though well kept on corn, will put up an
amount of adipose substance, which cannot be got off in two months,
with due regard to the preservation of proper quality and muscular
fibre. While, on the other hand, I believe that, although by keeping
your horse up all the year round you will bring him out in rare form in
November, yet still he will not last you so long as one that has had
fair play given to his lungs by a few weeks' run when the spring grass
is about; for, however good the sanitary arrangements of our modern
stables and the ventilation of boxes may be, the air breathed in them
cannot be so pure as that of a fresh green meadow. Men and women require
a change of air once a year at least, and everybody who can afford it
looks forward with pleasurable anticipation to their autumn holiday. Why
should the noble animal who has carried us so well and so staunchly
through many a hard run be denied his relaxation and his change of air
in the spring?

As a substitute for turning horses out for a brief run in the spring, it
is customary in some stables to cut grass and give it, varied by vetches
and clover, to the horse in his box. These salutary alteratives are good
in themselves, but there is still wanting the glorious fresh air of the
open paddock, which, when all nature is awakening from the long slumber
of winter, is so renovating to the equine system.

It is best to fetch your horse up at night, because it is in the night
when turned out that he eats the most; but the object of giving the
animal his liberty is not that he may blow himself out with grass, but
that, in addition to the purifying effect to the blood of spring
herbage, he shall also breathe the spring air unadulterated. If this is
carried out, I believe those who practise it will find that their
hunters will last them many years longer than those that are kept at
what may be called "high stable pressure" all the year round.

Prejudice, however, is strong as regards the foregoing matter, as in
others connected with the stable treatment and general handling of
horses. People are far too apt to go into extremes and adopt a line of
treatment because it is in vogue with some neighbour or friend who is
supposed to be well up on the subject, and must therefore be right in
everything he does. The best way, I submit, is to call common sense
into play, and be satisfied that the oracular friend has some good
reason "which will hold water" for what he does.

I respectfully recommend the spring run then, by all means; and, if I
may venture so far to infringe the imperious laws of fashion, I would
venture to suggest that hunters might be allowed just a little bit more
tail, for the purpose for which nature intended it--namely, to keep off
the flies, which in summer will find them out, in or out of the stable.
Extremes in fashion as to the trimming of horses are nearly as absurd as
one sees from time to time in the dress of ladies and gentlemen, and
quite as devoid of sense or reason. Who has not seen the old racing
pictures in which Diamond or Hambletonian figure with a bob tail, and
who has not laughed at the grotesque figure (according to modern notions
of a racehorse) of these "high-mettled ones," all but denuded of their
caudal appendages?

As a matter of taste and good feeling, therefore, I venture to plead for
a trifle more tail for hunters than is at present allowed. To a good
stableman it gives no trouble, and in spring and summer time it is of
great use to the horse. When the latter is brought up from the spring
run, the question of restoring his hunting form (if, indeed, he can be
said to have lost any of it) is simple enough; in fact, there are few
subjects on which more twaddle is talked than about the "conditioning of
hunters," stablemen being particularly oracular and mysterious about it.
Roomy, clean, and well-ventilated boxes, good drainage, four and five
hours' walking exercise every day, the best oats procurable given
_whole, not crushed_, with a moderate allowance to old horses of good
beans, and a fair allowance of good old hay or clover, perfect
regularity in exercise and stable times, the attendance of a thoroughly
good-tempered cheery lad who knows his business, and the total
prohibition of drugging or physicking of any sort, unless by order of a
veterinary surgeon--these are the arcana of the much talked-of
"conditioning." Some tell you that a hunter should have scarcely any
hay. I have yet to learn why not, because I am quite sure that really
good hay assists a horse to put up muscle. Of course he is not supposed
to gorge himself with it, as some ravenous animals would do if allowed.
But the same thing may be said of a carriage horse or a charger. Waste
of forage is one thing, the use of it another; and as there has been
considerable discussion of late as to the cost of feeding a horse, I beg
to say that on a fair average those even in training, requiring the best
food, can be kept, when oats are 32s. or 33s. a quarter, for 15s. a
week. I speak of course of the absolute cost of forage of the best kind.

Where horses are delicate feeders, and this is the case with some who
are rare performers in the field, the appetite should be coaxed, by
giving small quantities of food at short intervals, making the horse, in
fact, an exception to the ordinary stable rule of feeding four times a
day. A really good groom will carefully watch the peculiarities of such
a horse as regards feeding, and come in due course to know what suits
the animal, the result being plenty of good muscle, equal to that of
more hearty "doers." But stimulating drugs, I repeat, should never be
permitted. Carrots as an alterative are good, but they should be given
only when ordered by a veterinary surgeon, in such quantities as he
orders. They should be put in the manger whole, never cut up, as there
is nothing more dangerous than the latter practice in feeding, because
numerous instances are on record of horses choking themselves with
pieces of carrot.

When hunting time approaches, a little more steam as regards pace at
exercise may be put on. Trotting up hills of easy ascent serves
materially to "open the pipes," and, despite a very general prejudice to
the contrary, I maintain that, for some weeks before hunting commences,
a horse is all the better for a steady canter of moderate length every
morning. A very good reason why stud grooms as a rule object to this is,
simply because it involves a great deal more work in the stable.

If horses are only walked or trotted at exercise, one man generally can
manage very well to exercise two horses, riding one, and leading the
other with a dumb jockey or bearing reins on him; but, if the horse is
to be cantered, there must be a man or boy to every horse, and,
consequently, exercise would occupy considerably more time.

It is quite clear that the horse will have to gallop when hunting
begins, and, as all training should be inductive, it is absurd to say
that he should do nothing up to the 31st of October but walking and
trotting, while on the first day of November his owner may come down
from town and give him a rattling gallop with hounds. Surely such
extremes are not reconcilable with common sense!

Let me now say a word about washing horses, about which also
considerable diversity of opinion exists, some maintaining that the
brush and wisp alone ought to keep the horse's skin in proper form, and
others advocating washing partially.

In my time I have tried all sorts of stable management, and I believe
the truth is as follows: Nothing is more conducive to a horse's health
than washing, with either cold or tepid water. But if you adopt the cold
water system, you must be sure that it is done in a place where there is
no draught. It should be commenced in summer time. There should be two
thoroughly good stablemen in the washing box, and a boy to carry water
from the pump. The horse's head and neck should be thoroughly washed,
brushed, scraped, sponged, and leathered, and a good woollen hood put
on. His body washed thoroughly in the same way, and a good rug put on.
Then his legs equally well done, and bandaged. Let him then be put into
his box for a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes, stripped and dressed
by a man who will let his shoulder go at him, not one who will play with
him. When thoroughly dressed his coat will shine like new satin, and his
whole manner will tell you how refreshed he is by his bath. The washing
cannot be done too quickly consistent with thorough good work. Two good
men and a smart boy ought to wash, clothe, and bandage a horse in five
minutes, or they are not worth their salt.

If the cold water system is begun in summer, and regularly followed up,
it can be carried on throughout the winter, no matter how severe the
weather may be, and an incalculable advantage of the system is that a
horse so treated is almost impervious to cold or catarrh.

But to carry the treatment out, a lot of first-class stablemen are
indispensable, men who--no "eye servants"--do their work _con amore_,
and take a genuine pride in their horses. If the thing is negligently
done, or dawdled over, it is likely enough to be productive of mischief.

Where the stable staff is limited in number and not first-rate in
quality, if washing is resorted to, tepid water must be used, because
one smart man can wash a horse in tepid water in a proper washing house
unassisted. But a special veto should be put upon washing a hunter's
legs, as is too often done, outside in the yard, the horse tied to a
ring in the wall, with the cold night air blowing on him. No matter if
warm or cold water is used, whether or not mischief follows is mere
matter of chance if the foregoing bad treatment is permitted.

Briefly, then, it may be said, if you have good men about you and enough
of them use cold water, beginning in the summer and continuing it
regularly. If you are short of really good stablemen, use tepid water;
but use it in a washing box built for the purpose, and never let it be
done out of doors.



CHAPTER XIX.


Having endeavoured to mark out the course of equitation from the
preparatory suppling practices to the orthodox conventionalities of the
hunting field, I conclude this series of papers with a few hints which I
trust will be useful to ladies about to proceed to India or the
colonies.

In the first place, as regards riding habiliments, I recommend ladies
going to India to procure everything in the shape of habits, trousers,
and hats in this country. In India they cost a hundred per cent. more
than at home, and the natives can only make them by pattern. Riding
boots can be procured in the East quite as well made and as durable as
those made in England, and at a fifth of the price.

Saddlery should be taken out from England. It is also just a hundred per
cent. dearer in India. One good side-saddle, such as I have previously
described, will with care last a lady many years. Of bridles she should
take at least half a dozen double ones (bit and bridoon). Horse clothing
of any sort as used in England is not required in India.

As regards the horse itself on which the fair emigrant to the East will
take her health-preserving morning gallop at gun-fire, I must say
little. I have endeavoured elsewhere to give some idea of what Arab
horses are; and, as every lady going to India is certain to know some
male friend who is well up at buying a lady's horse, I need only say
that, if the animal purchased is a young unbroken one, the best plan is
to send him to the nearest cavalry or horse artillery station, and have
him broken precisely in the same form as an officer's charger. The Arab
dealers from whom the horse, if unbroken, is most likely to be
purchased, know nothing, and care less, about breaking, and the people
about them have the very worst hands upon a horse I have ever seen.

All riding in India, except in cases of absolute necessity, should be
done very early in the morning. The lady should be in the saddle soon
after gun-fire (five o'clock). By the time she arrives at the galloping
ground (in a large station or cantonment generally the racecourse) the
sun will be up, so quickly does it rise, with scarcely any twilight, in
India; but its rays are not then vertical, nor is the heat either
oppressive or injurious until much later in the day.

A couple or three hours' riding is sufficient for health, and the great
thing is to go home quite cool; the bath and breakfast are then most
enjoyable. Evening promenades are as a matter of fashion, and indeed, of
reason, usually attended by ladies in carriages. There are many,
however, who prefer riding on horseback again in the latter part of the
day; but experience proves that evening riding on horseback is not good,
as a rule, for ladies. Exposure to the sun on horseback, or indeed in
any way, should be specially avoided, as should also violent exercise of
any kind, that on horseback not excepted. The rattling gallop, which is
not only exhilarating but healthful in Leicestershire, is inadmissible
in most parts of India, where extremes of any kind are injurious.
Finally, I would respectfully impress upon every lady who is likely to
go to India, those especially who, having been born there, have been
sent home for their education, that they should avail themselves of
every opportunity in this country of becoming efficient horsewomen. To
be able to ride well is very desirable for a lady who is to pass her
life in Europe, in India it is absolutely indispensable; and if the
lady's equitation is neglected in early days at home, she will find
herself sadly at a loss when she arrives in India; for although there
are plenty of thoroughly competent men there who could instruct her,
their time is taken up with teaching recruits at the early time of the
day at which a lady could avail herself of their services. As regards
riding in Australia, the Cape, New Zealand, Canada, or the West Indies,
briefly it may be said that again it is best to take out saddlery from
this country, because, although it can be procured in any of the
above-named colonies far cheaper than in India, it is still
considerably dearer, and generally not so good as at home. At the Cape,
in Australia, and in New Zealand--the two former colonies
especially--long journeys have frequently to be done by ladies on
horseback; and if a thoroughly practical education in the saddle is
necessary to health, as regards a sojourn in India; it is equally so as
a matter of convenience in other of the British dependencies abroad.

Let me, then, close my humble efforts at carefully tracing out the
readiest way for a lady to become a thorough horsewoman by again
recommending them all to begin early, and to pay implicit attention to
the tuition of a first-class instructor; always to throw their whole
heart into their riding, fixing their minds rigidly on it while
learning, and never, however proficient or confident they may be,
venture, unless upon a life-and-death emergency, upon half-broken
horses. During the Indian mutiny instances occurred in which ladies owed
their lives to their nerve and courage in mounting horses ill-adapted to
carry them, and by dint of sheer determination urging them into top
speed and safety to the fair fugitives. In such desperate emergencies
there is no alternative but to accept the lesser risk; but in ordinary
cases my advice (the result of long experience) is to all lady riders,
never mount an untrained horse, and never allow your horse to become too
fresh for want of work.

A casualty which may be attended with trifling consequences to a man may
have the most serious results in the case of a lady; while I am firmly
of opinion that no such thing as an accident ought ever to occur to her
on horseback if due care and foresight are exercised by those about her,
and if the lady herself will be careful whenever or under whatever
circumstances she approaches or mounts a horse to be always on her
guard, to _ride_ all the time she is on him, to remember that in all
matters that relate to riding the homely old adage, "Afterwit is not
worth a penny an ounce" is strictly applicable, and that the golden rule
is, "Never give away a chance to your horse."

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note: Hyphen variations left as printed.





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