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Title: Horsemanship for Women
Author: Mead, Theodore Hoe
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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With Illustrations by Gray Parker

New York
Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square

Copyright, 1887, by Harper & Brothers.
All rights reserved.


 PART I.                                                          PAGE

 AMATEUR HORSE-TRAINING                                              1


    I. COMING TO THE WHIP                                           15

   II. TO HOLD THE BIT LIGHTLY (_Flexion de la mâchoire_),
         USING THE CURB                                             21


   IV. TO LOWER THE HEAD                                            25

         REINS HELD BELOW THE BIT (_Flexions de l’encolure_)        32

         REINS THROWN OVER THE NECK                                 35


 VIII. MOUNTED                                                      41

   IX. MOUNTED (_continued_)                                        48

    X. THE WALK                                                     51

         renversée_)                                                52

  XII. TO GUIDE “BRIDLEWISE”                                        55

 XIII. THE TROT                                                     58

  XIV. THE GALLOP, HAND-GALLOP, AND CANTER                          64

   XV. THE PIROUETTE, DEUX PISTES, PASSAGE                          71

  XVI. BACKING                                                      75



 ETIQUETTE IN THE SADDLE                                            87

       Dress                                                        88

       The Mount                                                    91

       Mounting                                                     92

       The Start                                                    99

       On which Side to Ride                                       100

       The Seat                                                    102

       On the Road                                                 107

       The Pace                                                    112

       Turning                                                     112

       The Groom                                                   116


 LEAPING                                                           118


 BUYING A SADDLE-HORSE                                             132

       Parts and “Points” of the Horse, Alphabetically Arranged    135

       List of Diseases and Defects                                148

 INDEX                                                             157



 Coming to the Whip                                                  6
 A good Saddle                                                      13
 A properly fitted Curb-chain                                       16
 Flexion of the Jaw--using the Curb                                 22
 Lowering the Head                                                  26
 Punishment in case of Resistance                                   27
 “Pulling the Hands steadily Apart”                                 33
 To Bend the Neck to Right or Left, with the Reins below the Bits   34
 Getting the Horse “Light in Hand”                                  35
 Pulling on the Right Rein                                          36
 Moving the Croup one step to the Right                             39
 Getting a Horse accustomed to Skirts                               42
 Showing Reins in Left Hand                                         43
 Advancing at touch of Heel                                         44
 Stopping at touch of Whip on Back                                  45
 The Walk (Colt in Training)                                        46
 Bending the Neck to Right and Left                                 49
 Moving the Croup with the Heel and Whip                            53
 Guiding Bridlewise (Turning to the Right)                          56
 The Canter                                                         65
 Ordinary Pirouette                                                 71
 Going on “Deux Pistes”                                             72
 The Passage                                                        73
 Backing                                                            76
 Reins in Hand                                                      77
 Act of changing Reins                                              77
 Leading with the Right Fore-foot                                   80
 Leading with the Left Fore-foot                                    82
 Ready to Mount                                                     94
 “One, Two, Three”                                                  95
 Placing the Foot in the Stirrup                                    96
 Position in Saddle                                                 97
 A Square and Proper Seat                                          103
 Method of holding the Reins in both Hands                         111
 Approaching a Fence                                               119
 A Water Jump                                                      121
 Rising to the Leap                                                127
 Coming Down                                                       129
 Parts and “Points”                                                136
 The sort of Horse to Buy                                          146
 The sort of Horse not to Buy                                      149




“My _dear_,” said my wife, “you don’t mean to say you have _bought
that_ horse?”

“Why, yes, indeed,” replied I; “and very cheap, too. And why not?”

“You will never get your money back,” said she, “no matter how cheap
you have bought him. Don’t keep him. Send him back before it is too

It was a sultry July morning, and my wife stood on the farm-house
porch, in provokingly fresh attire, while I held my new acquisition
by the bridle in the scorching sun; and just recovering as I was from
illness, this conversation struck me as really anything but _tonic_ in
its character. However, bracing myself up, I replied, “But I don’t want
to get my money back; I intend to train him for my own use under the

“Oh, you can never do anything with that great horse. Why, he is the
awkwardest brute I ever saw. Just look at him now!”

In fact, his appearance was anything but beautiful at that moment. His
Roman nose, carried a long way forward and a little on one side, gave
him somewhat the air of a camel; his coat showed no recent acquaintance
with the brush; and as he stood there sleepily in the sun, with one
hind-leg hitched up, he did not present at all a picture to charm a
lady’s eye. Nevertheless, he was, in fact, a reasonably well-made
horse, a full black, fifteen and three-quarter hands high, sound, kind,
and seven years old.

“He’s just horrid,” said my wife.

“Oh, that’s nothing,” said I; “that’s only a bad habit he has. We will
soon cure him of such slovenly tricks. Just see what good points he
has. His legs are a little long, to be sure, but they are broad, and
have excellent hoofs; his breast is narrow, but then it is deep; and
that large nostril was not given him for nothing. You will see he will
run like a race-horse.”

“If you once get him started you can never stop him,” said my wife.
“You know how he pulls, and how nervous he is. He will go till he
drops. You are not strong enough to ride such a horse.”

“Oh, nonsense,” said I; “you can see that there is no mischief in
him. Look what a kind eye he has! The fact is, horses are often very
sensitive; and while this one may never have been cruelly treated, yet
he has been misunderstood, and his feelings hurt a great many times a
day. Human beings are the only things he seems afraid of. As for his
awkward carriage, it is no worse than that of the farm hand who has
made such a failure of trying to use him, and who is, nevertheless,
when he stands up straight, a well-made, good-looking fellow. A little
careful handling will make that animal as different from his present
self as a dandified English sergeant is from the raw recruit he once
was. What do you think of his name? It is Sambo.”

But my wife was not to be led off on any side question, and after
intimating that such a plebeian appellation struck her as quite
suitable, she continued; “Now you know that Mr. ----” (the farmer
of whom I purchased) “knows a great deal more about horses than you
do; you must admit that, for he has been buying and selling and
driving them all his life, and _he_ doesn’t like him, or he wouldn’t
sell so cheap; and as for training him, for my part I don’t believe
horse-training can be learned out of books, as a woman would learn a
receipt for making cake. Do get him to take the horse back!”

Now I have a great respect for my wife’s opinion in general, and in
this particular case all her points seemed well taken.

The horse was tall, and I was short; he was excitable, and I hadn’t the
strength of a boy; he was very awkward, and I had never trained a horse
in my life. However, I had been reading up a little on the subject,
and feeling the confidence in myself which a very little knowledge is
apt to impart, I was determined to try my hand.

I had remarked that there was a certain French system which was, in
the several works I had consulted, always spoken of with respect as
a complete and original method, so I obtained a copy of the book, in
which is set forth the _Méthode d’Équitation basée sur de nouveaux
Principes, par F. Baucher_, and having disentangled (no easy task)
what was really practical from the enveloping mass of conceited sham
scientific nonsense, I had numbered the margin so as to make a series
of simple progressive lessons of half an hour each. The volume in
question, which was not, by-the-bye, the present improved edition, I
now produced in a somewhat dog-eared condition from under my arm. My
wife, seeing that remonstrance was of no avail, took a seat on the
veranda, so as to be ready to advise and assist, while my excellent
friends, the farmer and his wife, came out “to see the circus,” as they
said, and established themselves in suitable midsummer attitudes, with
countenances of amused expectation.

“The first few lessons must be given on foot,” said I, and spreading my
Baucher open upon the “horse-block,” I proceeded to carry out its first
injunction by placing myself, with riding-whip under my arm, in front
of the horse, which was already saddled and bridled, and “looking him
kindly in the face.” He bore my gaze with equanimity, but when the
riding-whip was produced he started violently; and when I raised my
hand to pat his neck reassuringly he threw up his head and ran back.
This evidently was not temper, but alarm. Clearly, moral suasion was
not the kind that had been used with him hitherto. In plain English, he
had been beaten on the head; and it was some time before he got over
the impression made by such ill-treatment and ceased dodging at every
sudden motion on my part.

However, a lump of sugar gave the poor fellow more confidence, and,
avoiding all brusque movements, I went on to give him the first lesson
of the Baucher series, viz., _To Come to the Whip_.

It is encouraging for beginners that this lesson, while producing
conspicuous results, is in most cases very easy. In less than half an
hour my audience was not a little surprised to see Sambo come to me
at the slightest motion of the whip, and follow me about with neck
arched, ears pricked up, and eyes lustrous with the unwonted pleasure
of comprehending and voluntarily carrying out his master’s wishes.

[Illustration: COMING TO THE WHIP.]

“Well, that’s very pretty,” said the farmer; “but what’s the good of

This criticism, it may be remarked, he continued to repeat at every
step in the horse’s education. He did not “see the good” of a double
bridle with two bits. He did not see the good of teaching the horse to
relax the muscles of his jaw and to hold the bit lightly in the mouth.
He did not see the good of suppling the various muscles of the neck, on
which, nevertheless, depend to a surprising degree the balance of the
whole body and the easy motion of the limbs. In fact, he maintained his
attitude of amused and good-natured incredulity until one day, after
about three weeks, I rode Sambo into the lawn, his neck arched and tail
displayed, and, with the reins hanging on my little finger, made him
cut circles and figure eights of all sizes at a spanking trot.

Then my good farmer gave up, and said he really would hardly have
believed it could be the same horse. What is more, he took off his own
driving horses “the overdrawn check-reins” by which he had been hauling
their noses up into as near a horizontal line as possible, and allowed
them to carry their heads in a more natural manner.

The afternoon of his first lesson Sambo was put in double harness for a
drive of ten or twelve miles, during which he annoyed me excessively by
his restless dancing and fretting, so that next morning I expected to
have to begin all over again; but, to my satisfaction, he had forgotten
nothing, and came towards me at the first motion of the whip, so that
I passed on to the _Flexions de la Mâchoire_, which we translate as
the _suppling of the muscles of the jaw_. Here I came upon my first
difficulty, and it lasted me several days. It was, however, the only
serious one in my whole course, and from subsequent experience I am
satisfied that my own awkwardness and disposition to compel obedience
by main force were the principal causes of it.

However, success soon rewarded my perseverance, and I had the
satisfaction of feeling the iron grip of the bit relax, and seeing the
nose brought in and the face assume a perpendicular position.

Without at present going further into detail, I will simply say that at
the expiration of a month, during which Sambo had been driven double
almost daily, his education for the saddle had so far advanced that
his head was admirably carried, his trot was greatly improved--his
walk always had been light and swift--he could trot sideways to the
right or left, could pirouette to the right or to the left on the
hind-feet or on the fore-feet, responding to the pressure of the rein
upon his neck or of the leg against his side, while he had become so
steady that I could fire at a mark with a pistol from his back.

All this was very satisfactory progress, especially in view of my
total inexperience, poor health, and the heat of the weather; but
there is no doubt that any active young girl of sixteen or eighteen
can do the like, for it was accomplished not by any mysterious or
difficult process, nor by any exertion of physical strength, but by
patiently following out, step by step, the processes which I am about
to describe, and which are substantially those of Baucher, adapted to
the use of a person of total inexperience, and that person a lady.

If any such, having accompanied me thus far, feels the impulse to
try to improve her own mount, I will confide to her the fact that
the incidents narrated really occurred within the last few years
not a hundred miles from New York; and I hope that the following
propositions, which are literally true, will help to encourage her
to an undertaking in which she will find amusement, exercise, and a
discipline as useful to herself as to her horse:

1. If, as is very likely, you feel a little afraid of your horse, you
may be assured that your horse is a great deal more afraid of you.

2. If you can only make clear to him what you wish him to do, he will
try his best to do it, and will feel amply repaid for his efforts by a
few kind words and caresses.

3. His narrow brain can entertain only one idea at once, and therefore
only one problem, and that a simple one, must be given him at a time.

4. Once the problem is mastered, a very little practice makes the
performance of the task instinctive, so that it will be performed at
the proper signal, even against his own will, provided his mind is
occupied with something else.

This course of lessons is prepared with these facts in view.

“But is horse-breaking a fitting amusement for young ladies?” a mother
asks, and with an air indicating that to her, at least, a reply seems
quite unnecessary. My dear madam, it is not horse-breaking we are
talking of, but horse-training, which is a very different thing. There
are, doubtless, many women who could break a colt if they chose, but it
is an undertaking which we certainly do not recommend. In the “breaking
to harness” of an untamed horse there is naturally included more or
less of training, but the essential lesson to be taught is that it is
useless to resist the will of man, for sooner or later the horse will
test the question, and put forth every effort to throw off control.
When, however, panting and exhausted, he finally submits, he has
learned the necessary lesson; and whether it be after a long fight with
a brutal rough-rider, or a physically painless struggle with an adroit
Rarey, he has learned it for life. Henceforth he accepts the supremacy
of the human race, and, unless under the goad of maddening pain or
terror, will never, save in rare instances, really rebel; obeying not
men only, but women, children, and even the very tools and implements
of man, so that a dog may lead him by the bridle. Like a spoiled child,
however, a horse will sometimes presume upon indulgence, and, to use a
mother’s phrase, will try to see how far he can go.

At such times he is best opposed not by violence, but by firmness,
reinforced, perhaps, now and then by a sharp cut with the whip, which,
given unexpectedly at the precise moment of disobedience, will have the
settling effect ascribed to the time-honored nursery “spank,” and will
bring him to his senses. Generally, however, what seems insubordination
is in reality nervousness, which requires soothing, not punishment, and
which you will be careful not to increase by fidgeting or by brusque
movements of the reins. Even when severity is needed, a reproof in a
cold, stern tone is often more effective than the lash.

Thousands of young girls, who for various reasons cannot ride in
winter, have every summer within reach horses quite as good as the
average of those at city riding-schools, but which they are never
allowed to mount.

They look wistfully at the honest animals, longing for the exercise
which would be so beneficial to their health and to their physical
development, while so delightfully exhilarating to their spirits;
but one horse is pronounced “skittish,” another “hard-mouthed,” and
so on to the end. Nevertheless, some enterprising damsel manages to
overcome all opposition, and, skirted, hatted, gloved, sets off in fine
spirits. The horse, accustomed to the resistance of a heavy vehicle,
moves forward with slow and heavy strides. Urged to greater speed, he
rolls his shoulders so that it is almost impossible to rise to his
trot. When put to the canter he pounds along the road, his hind-feet
kept far in the rear and his head swaying up and down, while, missing
the customary support of the bearing-rein, he all the time leans his
heavy head on his rider’s delicate arm, till it seems as if she would
be pulled out of the saddle. However, the fresh open air is there, and
the scenery; exercise, too, in plenty, and the pleasure of independent
movement, so that our heroine is half inclined to persevere. But,
alas! an equestrian party on well-bitted, light-stepping horses sweeps
by, casting a pitying glance at her rustic mount and helpless plight.
Mortified and discouraged, she goes home and dismounts, determined not
to try again. Nevertheless, her horse is very likely quite as good as
theirs, and all he wants is a little “handling,” as the horsemen say.
For twenty-five dollars a riding-master will turn him over to her as
docile and supple as any of them, and, with a little time and trouble,
she can do it herself for nothing.

As for the proficiency in riding requisite, it is only necessary that
you should not depend upon the reins for your balance--a common habit,
but one destructive of all delicacy of the horse’s mouth.

As the first half-dozen lessons of this course are to be given on
foot, a riding-habit would only be in the way; so go to your first
_tête-à-tête_ with your new scholar in a stout walking-dress, easy in
the waist, short of skirt, and of stuff that will bear scouring, for
frothy lips will certainly be wiped on it. Let the hat be trim, the
gloves strong and old, and the boots heavy with low heels.

The saddle should, if possible, be of the safe and easy modern pattern,
with hunting-horn and low pommel on the right side--but of course any
one which does not gall the horse can be made to do. It should have
at least two strong girths, and must be so padded with wool as not to
touch the backbone. Make sure, before putting it on, that there are no
tacks loose or likely to become so in the lining.

[Illustration: A GOOD SADDLE.]

The bridle should be a double one, with one “snaffle” or jointed
bit, and one curb-bit, each having, of course, separate reins and
headstalls. By-and-by you can use a single bridle, if you prefer, with
whichever bit you think best suited to your hand and your horse’s

The whip should be elastic and capable of giving a sharp cut (though
you may never need to administer one with it), and it is convenient to
have a loop of cord or ribbon by which it may be hung to the wrist. A
good birch switch is better for your present purpose than the usual
flimsy “lady’s whip;” and if you are in the country, it makes a good
whip to begin with, as you will probably soon wish to substitute a crop.

The place of instruction should be as retired as possible, so that
there may be nothing to distract the horse’s attention.

For the first few lessons it will be well, if you are not thoroughly at
home with horses, to have a man--some friend or attendant--near at hand
to give you confidence by his presence, and to come to your aid in case
of necessity.



Have the horse brought saddled and bridled. Walk quietly up in front of
him, with your riding-whip under your arm, and look him kindly in the
face. See that the bridle fits properly, as a careless groom may have
neglected to adjust it to the length of the head.

The _throat-latch_ should be loose enough to permit the chin to come
easily to the breast; the bits should lie in their proper place on the
_bars_, and the curb-chain should lie flat in the _chin groove_, just
tight enough to allow your fore-finger to pass under it. The _bars_ are
that part of the gum between the _grinders_, or back teeth, and the
_nippers_, or front teeth, which in the mare is destitute of teeth, and
in the horse has a tusk called the _bridle-tooth_.

It is upon these bars, of course, that the bits should lie, and the
curb-bit, according to military rule, at an inch above the tusk.
By general usage they are placed too high, the proper place of the
curb-bit being not up in the corner of the lips, but opposite or nearly
opposite the chin groove, which is just above the swell of the lower
lip. If the curb-chain is too loose the bit will “fall through,” or
turn around in the mouth. If it is too tight, or is ill adjusted, or
if, from the bits being too high, it slips up where the skin is thinner
and the bones sharper, it will give such pain that, to avoid it, the
nose will be thrust out instead of being brought in. The chain should
press below the snaffle, or the latter will unhook it. Adjust and
settle the various straps with your hand, speaking kindly to your horse
at the same time; but when you have begun to teach him, reserve all
praises and caresses to reward him when he has done well. It is a good
plan to give him a lump of sugar before you begin and after you finish
each lesson.


Now, standing in front of the horse, take both curb-reins in the left
hand at six inches below the bit, and, with the whip held tip downward
in the right hand, strike him a light blow on the breast; in about a
second give him another, and continue striking at the same interval,
looking calmly at him the while, and following him if he steps backward
or sideways.

Sooner or later, and usually very soon, he will come straight towards
you; then instantly relax his head, say “Bravo! bravo!” and stroke
him on the face and neck. You will very likely hear him give a deep
sigh of relief, like a frightened child. Give him half a minute or
more, according to circumstances, to look about and recover from his
nervousness--for you will find that his nerves work a good deal like
your own--and then begin again, allowing him after every trial a
half-minute or so of rest.

It will not be long before he discovers that the way to avoid the whip
is to come straight to you, and he will do so at the least motion of
it. Take advantage of this to make him curve his neck, put his head in
the proper perpendicular position, and bring his haunches under him,
by holding him back with the curb-reins as he presses towards you.
This lesson, to a careless observer, looks rather pretty than useful,
but is indispensable for your purpose, for it gives you the means
of preventing the horse from backing while you are teaching him the
flexions of the jaw and of the neck. It shows him, also, that the whip
is only to be dreaded when he disobeys, so that later on it will become
in your hands, strange as it may now seem to you, a powerful means
of calming his ardor and soothing his impatience, and thus sparing
your bridle-hand the sometimes excessive fatigue of restraining his

In practice it is not necessary to carry this instruction to the point
where the horse will come to you from so great a distance as shown in
the accompanying cut, though there is no difficulty in so doing.

A certain English nobleman used to say that a man was as much above his
ordinary self on horseback as he was at other times above the brutes.
Possibly more than one young equestrian, remembering the exhilaration
of some morning ride, the quickened appreciation, the redoubled
enjoyment of the beauties of nature, and of the charm of congenial
companionship, will be ready to echo the sentiment. It is only true,
however, even approximately, _when the rider controls all the forces
of the horse_, and it is the object of the present article to put this
perfect control within the reach of every one willing to take the time
and trouble to acquire it, for not daring, but calmness, not strength,
but perseverance, are the qualities requisite.

Both time and trouble undoubtedly will be required, for while, by even
a careless use of this method, your horse may be made vastly more
comfortable under the saddle, yet only by tact and patience can you win
that mastery over his every volition by which his splendid strength,
courage, and endurance will seem to be added to your own. You will
find him, however, no tiresome pupil. On the contrary, every day will
increase your pleasure both in his progress and in his companionship,
for he will soon become attached to you, and will now and then turn
his head and look at you with such an expression in his eyes that
you will think the old belief in the transmigration of souls not so
very wonderful after all. You will, besides, find in your lessons no
contemptible discipline of character, for you will have to conquer your
natural timidity in feeling your weakness opposed to his strength, to
suppress your impatience when he is slow of apprehension, to remain
calm when he is restive, and to award him your caresses, not because
his neck is sleek and beautiful, but because he has done exactly as you
directed. You will find also that they will have a tendency to improve
your seat, by taking your attention from yourself, and with it some of
the involuntary stiffness always born of self-consciousness.

A different, but equally practical, result of knowing something of
horse-training is that wherever you may be you will have no difficulty
in getting a mount--no small advantage either, as many an enthusiastic
young girl can testify as she remembers the stony look which came
over some comfortable farmer’s countenance when she confidingly asked
to ride one of his round-bellied horses. Many an owner of a trained
saddle-horse would gladly have him ridden carefully by one capable
of keeping him “in good form,” while every horse-owner, no matter
how poor his nags, dreads an ignorant rider as he does the epizooty.
Probably scores of country stable-keepers and thousands of farmers,
after a season’s experience with ordinary city riders, have vowed never
to let a woman mount one of their horses again. One of the former,
at a popular summer resort, said to the writer, “Two ladies hurt my
hosses more last summer than all the rest of the work. They ain’t no
more saddles to be found in my stable!” A neighboring farmer, who had
at first thought to reap a golden harvest from his five excellent
horses at a dollar a ride, hereupon remarked, “They hain’t no sense.
They think a horse will go like a machine, and all they’ve got to do
is to turn steam on with the whip.” Very different would have been
the verdict had the riders but possessed even a slight experience in
training, for the horses would have come from their hands improved in
mouth and gait, and almost certainly uninjured by bad usage.



Begin by assuring yourself that the horse has forgotten nothing of the
previous lesson. Do not allow him to sidle up to you upon your movement
of the whip towards him, nor to twist his nose towards you, but make
him advance in a straight line.

Now, standing at the left of the horse’s head, with your feet firmly
planted a little way apart, take the left snaffle-rein in the left
hand, and the left curb-rein in the right, at five or six inches from
their respective bits, and having brought the head into the proper
perpendicular position, pull the two hands apart with gentle but steady
force. Hold your whip, meanwhile, tip downward in the right hand, to
prevent him from running back, which can be done without relaxing your
pull by tapping him with it upon the breast.

The object of this lesson, as well as of those which follow, is to
overcome involuntary muscular contraction. In some cases, as probably
in the present one, the contractions are simply nervous, and will cease
with the mental cause; in others the muscles have grown into improper
positions, so that time will be required to set them right.


Your object at present is to get the jaw relaxed, so that you can move
it at pleasure without resistance, and this may take time and patience,
for you must not be satisfied with anything less than complete success,
or you will repent it later. At first, however, seize the slightest
involuntary opening of the horse’s mouth as an excuse to relax your
hold, caress and praise him, then let him stand a half-minute with his
head free, and begin again.

When he is submissive, and pleased with you, he will almost always show
it by gently champing his bit; but do not be deceived by a nervous
simulation which you will probably detect, and which consists in
opening the mouth a very little and immediately gripping the bit again.
You will have been completely successful when, by simply drawing on the
curb-reins, the head is brought to the proper perpendicular position,
and the bit, instead of being gripped, is held lightly in the mouth,
or, to use the school term, when the horse is “light in hand.”

This is the only lesson in the series in which it is possible (though
not probable) that your unaided strength may be insufficient; if so,
get some one to help you over the first resistance of the horse.
With care and tact, however, you will in all probability require no



Begin by repeating in proper order all that has been done at the
previous lessons. Now, having got the horse “light in hand” with the
curb, relax the curb-rein and try to keep him light with the snaffle.

He will probably begin to bear on it. If so, restrain him by successive
tugs, punishing him a little with the curb, if necessary, and always
rewarding him with praises and caresses when he does well. Avoid
any violent use of the curb, or the horse, in his efforts to escape
the pain, may get his tongue over the bit, and thus acquire a very
troublesome habit. It must be remembered that the bit being the
principal channel of communication between his mind and yours, his
whole attention is concentrated upon it, and he is almost as much
disconcerted by a sudden harsh movement of it as you would be by an
unexpected shout in your ear.

By this time your groom is perhaps watching you with interest, and
may be trusted to repeat your handling, thus saving you some time and
trouble; but, as a general thing, two lessons a day of from half to
three-quarters of an hour each, are as much as a horse can receive with



Always look over your horse before beginning your instruction, to see
that he has not met with any mishap. Observe that his eye is bright and
that he feels in good spirits; run your eye over his limbs to detect
any cut, bruise, or swelling; see that the hoofs are not cracked.

Assure yourself that he is properly groomed--one good test being
the absence of scurf at the roots of the mane; that his mouth has
been sponged out before putting in the bit, his hoofs wiped off
clean--never, however, blacked--and that he is properly saddled and
bridled. With a little practice you will do all this in half a minute,
while you are buttoning your gloves. About once a week ask after his
food and appetite, and make the groom show you his shoes; and when
the time comes for him to be re-shod (which should be at least once
a month) positively forbid any trimming of the frog or of the inside
of the hoof--any “cleaning up of the foot,” as farriers are pleased
to call it. The only part to be touched with the knife is the bottom
of the outer, horny shell, which is not half an inch thick; and even
this must be cut with moderation, never burned by fitting the shoe
to it hot--the common makeshift of lazy farriers--nor filed on the
outside, as both these operations not only weaken the hoof but impair
Nature’s arrangement for oiling and lubricating it. Should the horse
not bear equal weight on all four legs, move him a step to see if the
faulty posture may not have been accidental; and if it is repeated,
examine the “favored” leg, carefully laying your bare hand on the hoof
and joints to detect inflammation, feeling along the bones for lumps,
comparing any suspicious spot with the same part of the corresponding
leg, observing whether it is warmer or more sensitive than its fellow.

[Illustration: LOWERING THE HEAD.]

Having assured yourself that your horse is in perfect order, and
that he has forgotten nothing of your previous instruction, you will
now proceed to the lesson of the day. Place yourself on his left, or
“near,” side, take the snaffle-reins at a few inches from the bit, and
pull his head downward. Should he not yield, cross the reins, by taking
the right rein in the left hand and _vice versa_, which will pinch his
jaw sharply, and pull again till he drops his head, when you will hold
it down a few seconds, praising him the while; then raise it up, and
allow him a little time to rest.


For our young readers we give below a few of the more usual technical
terms, of which it will be found convenient to have a knowledge in the
course of these lessons:

_Amble._--A gait like pacing, but slower, in which the two legs on the
same side are moved together.

_Appel._--The gentle tug on the rein given by the horse at each step.

_Arrière-main._--That part of the horse back of the saddle, called, not
quite correctly, in this article, the croup.

_Avant-main._--That part of the horse forward of the saddle--the

_Bore._--To lean on the bit.

_Bridle-tooth._--Tusk found in the horse’s mouth, though not in the
mare’s, between nippers and grinders.

_Bucking._--Leaping vertically into the air with all four feet at once.

_Chin Groove._--That part of underjaw next the swell of lower lip in
which curb-chain rests.

_Curb._--Bit without joint, with levers at side and chain, which,
passing under jaw, serves as a fulcrum to communicate pressure of bit
to bars of mouth.

_Deux Pistes._--To go on _deux pistes_ is to advance with the body
placed obliquely, so that the hind feet move on a different line or
_piste_ from the fore.

_Elbow._--Joint of fore-leg next above knee, lying next horse’s side.

_Fetlock._--Joint next below knee.

_Forearm._--That part of leg between elbow and knee.

_Forge._--To strike the toe of the fore-foot with the toe of the
hind-foot--usually the result of bad shoeing.

_Frog._--Triangular piece of spongy horn in middle of sole of foot,
forming a cushion for the navicular bone.

_Grinders._--Back teeth.

_Hand._--Four inches (one-third of a foot).

_Hand-gallop._--A slow gallop.

_Haute Êcole--Haut Manége._--The complete course of training given in
the French military riding-schools. To translate this by “high-school,”
as is sometimes done, produces a ludicrous impression.

_Hock._--Joint of hind-leg between thigh and shank.

_Interfere._--To strike the fetlock with the foot--often caused by bad

_Manége._--Horse-training, also the training-school itself.

_Nippers._--Front teeth.

_Pace._--A rapid gait, in which the fore and hind foot on same side
move at same time and strike the ground together.

_Pastern._--Bones between fetlock and foot.

_Passage._--Moving sideways, as to close up or open the ranks, as in
cavalry exercises.

_Pirouette._--Wheeling on the hind-legs.

_Pirouette renversée._--Wheeling on the fore-legs.

_Piaffer._--A slow and cadenced trot, in which the horse balances a
certain time on each pair of feet.

_Piste._--The imaginary circle (usually, however, a well-beaten track)
three feet from the wall of the _manége_.

_Poll._--Top of head between the ears.

_Rack._--A gait somewhat similar to _single-foot_.

_Ramener._--To bring the head to the perpendicular.

_Rassembler._--To get the horse together, with his legs well under him
and his head perpendicular.

_Shank._--Parts of fore-leg between knee and fetlock, and parts of
hind-leg between hock and fetlock.

_Single-foot._--A very rapid gait, taught principally in the Western
States of America, in which one foot is put down at a time.

_Snaffle._--Bit jointed in middle, without side levers or chin-chain.

_Spavins_ and _Splints_.--Excrescences on bones of legs, usually caused
by strain. When they occur on the fore-shanks they are called splints,
and may do no harm. If on the hind-legs they are called spavins, and
usually result in permanent lameness.

_Stifle._--Joint of hind-leg between hip and hock, lying against
horse’s side.

_Surcingle._--A girth extending entirely around the horse.

_Thigh._--Popularly speaking, it comprises the two upper joints of
hind-leg from hip to hock.

_Throat-latch._--That strap of the bridle which passes under the throat.

_Withers._--Highest point of shoulder between neck and saddle.



Before beginning each lesson it is well, as has been already
recommended, to review hastily the instruction previously given.

Now place yourself on the left side of your horse, with your
riding-whip tip downward in your right hand, and with your feet firmly
planted a little apart. Take the right curb-rein in your right hand
at about six inches from the lever of the bit, and the left curb-rein
in your left at three inches from the lever, and having brought the
horse’s head to a perpendicular position, pull the two hands steadily
apart, moving the right hand to the right and the left hand to the
left, so as to pry the horse’s head around to the right by means of
the twist of the bit in his mouth. If he offers to back, stop him by
tapping his breast with the whip; if he tries to pull away his head,
hold on tight, until presently he will turn his head to the right,
when you will instantly say, “Bravo! bravo!” and after holding it so
a few seconds, bring it back to its original position. Very soon he
will take the idea, and you will bring his head around until it faces
backward, being careful to keep it always exactly perpendicular, and
not to allow the horse to move it of his own accord in any direction.


Now try to obtain this flexion with the right-hand rein alone, only
using the left hand to assist it if he fails to understand or to obey,
and also to bring back the head to its original position.

To bend the neck to the left requires simply a reversal of the process
just described, and will give you probably no trouble. Do not be
satisfied with anything else than an easy, graceful, and patient
obedience on the part of the horse. Should he back or fidget out of
his place, bring him back to it before going on, as you will find that
his associations (unconscious, doubtless) with place are remarkable,
and that any fault is likely to be repeated on the spot where it was
first committed.


When he will look backward on either side, and remain looking so upon
your drawing upon the proper rein, the lesson is perfect. The utility
of it may not appear at first, but will be evident at a later stage of
your instructions.



Take the left snaffle-rein in the left hand at about a foot from the
bit, and with the right hand draw the right snaffle-rein over the
horse’s neck just in front of the shoulder, until both sides pull
equally on the bit and the horse is “light in hand.” Then, by drawing
upon the right rein gradually, bend his head around to the right,
gently feeling the left rein so as to keep the bit straight in the
mouth and prevent him from moving faster than you wish; for in this, as
in all other cases, while he is to do exactly what you direct, he is to
do nothing more.


To bend the neck to the left, you will, of course, reverse the
operation above described, standing on the other side of the horse,
taking the right snaffle-rein in the right hand at a foot from the
bit, and drawing the left rein over the shoulder with the left hand.
Keep the horse “light in hand” all the time, and his head perfectly
perpendicular, as any twisting of the nose to one side has a ludicrous
appearance. Now repeat with the curb.




It is unfortunate that we have not in English a vocabulary of definite
terms relating to the training and riding of horses. We will for
convenience call all that part of the horse in front of the saddle the
_forehand_, and all that part back of the saddle the _croup_.

Take both snaffle-reins in the left hand at a few inches from the bit,
and standing near the horse’s left shoulder, get him “light in hand”
with the bit; and if his hind-legs are not well under him, make him
bring them forward by tapping him gently on the rump with your extended
whip, keeping the forehand motionless by your hold on the bit.

Now, holding his head so that he will not move his left fore-foot, tap
him lightly on the left flank near the hip until he moves the croup one
step to the right.

Then pat and praise him, and if he has not moved his right fore-foot,
tap his right leg with the whip to make him bring it forward even with
the left. After a little rest begin again, asking and allowing only
one step at a time, and persevering until he will move the croup one
step over to each tap of the whip, pivoting on the left fore-foot and
walking the right foot by little steps around it.


When he is perfect with the snaffle, repeat the process with the curb,
keeping his hind-legs well under him, and holding him “light in hand,”
while maintaining his left fore-foot immovable, with a delicate touch,
to resemble as much as possible the action of the rein when drawn from
the saddle.

Now repeat the process to the left, taking your stand near the right
shoulder, and, with both snaffle-reins in your right hand and the whip
in your left, proceed as before until the horse will walk one step at
each tap of the whip around the right fore-foot, which should in its
turn be kept so firmly in place as to bore a hole in the ground. Repeat
with the curb.

This lesson, which will last, very likely, two or three days, may
appear to some of no practical utility, but it is indispensable alike
to your comfort when mounted, to the safety of those who accompany
or meet you, and to the continued education of your horse. Who has
not seen an untrained animal force his rider to dismount to lift some
gate-latch which was really within easy reach, or prancing about in a
crowd, to the terror and vexation of his neighbors, or in momentary
danger of hooking his legs into the wheels of passing vehicles?

Now, if you trample on any one, or upset a light vehicle, though
you risk, and perhaps break, your own bones, yet you are liable for
damages; and this fact is so well known that a suit will be promptly
begun against you. Besides, for your own sake you must have it in your
power to get your horse’s haunches, and with them your own person, out
of danger from careless or mischievous drivers--just as a cavalryman
has to save his horse from a slash or thrust.



_To Advance at Touch of Heel and Stop at Touch of Whip on Back._--Your
horse’s education must now be carried on from the saddle, and should
he never have been ridden, it will be prudent to have a man mount him
first upon a man’s saddle, and afterwards upon your side-saddle, with
a blanket wrapped around the legs to simulate a skirt. If the previous
lessons have been carefully given, you will have no trouble in making
him stand wherever you please while you mount, nor in getting him
“light in hand” afterwards. First, however, see that the saddle fits
snugly in its place, and that the girths are good and in order. If
there are more than two, let the third be loose while the others are
tight. The writer once saw a powerful horse burst two good English
girths by a sudden bound and throw off his rider, saddle and all. If
the girths and saddle are not very strong, put a broad, thin strap--a
surcingle will do--over all.


(An example of the “flying trot.”)]

Being mounted, gather the reins all into the left hand in the following
manner: Draw the right snaffle-rein between the fore and middle
fingers, and the left snaffle rein under the little finger into the
palm, throwing the ends forward together over the first finger, to be
held by the thumb; in like manner draw the curb-reins into the palm on
each side of the ring-finger, the left rein, of course, below, and the
right above it, throwing the ends, like those of the snaffle, forward
over the fore-finger and under the thumb. Now taking the curb-rein by
the seam, draw it through your fingers till both reins fall equally on
the bit; then do the same by the snaffle, but draw it so much tighter
than the curb that the latter will hang loose, and any movement of your
hand will be felt through the snaffle. Grasp all the reins firmly, your
hand back upward, with wrist a little bent and elbow near your side, so
that if the horse, stumbling, thrust his nose suddenly out, you will
not be jerked from the saddle.


All this you will quickly get the knack of, and do as easily as you
would thread a needle. You will observe that, having the width of three
fingers between the two snaffle-reins, you can, by bending your wrist
to right or left, guide the horse as easily as with the reins in both
hands. Get the horse “light in hand” by the usual play of the bit,
first the curb, then the snaffle, tapping him on the right side, just
forward of the girth, if he fails to respond or offers to back.


Now press him just back of the girth with your left heel, at the same
time relaxing the rein a little. If he steps forward, pat and praise
him, but if not, press him more firmly, at the same time touching him
as before with the whip. When he moves forward praise him, and after a
few seconds stop him, leaning back a little and laying your whip by a
turn of the wrist on his back just behind the saddle. Then recommence,
and persevere until he will start promptly forward at the touch of the
heel, and stop at the touch of the whip on his back, keeping “light
in hand” the while. If he is very sluggish you may have to strike him
smartly for not answering instantly to the heel, but he will soon
learn not to wait for the blow. Let the heel act close to the girth,
as you will soon wish to move the croup over by the same means applied
farther back. It is well not to start with the whip, nor by chirping or
clucking, which is as likely to excite your companion’s horse as your
own, and is annoying to most people.


Accustom your horse to stop short, whether at the pull on the reins,
the touch of the whip, or the word “Whoa.”

After riding have the saddle removed, and should a puffy spot appear
on the back where it has pressed, take the hint at once and have the
padding eased over the place, or a tedious and vexatious “saddle-gall”
may result. There is no better treatment for such a spot than bathing
with very hot water. As a preventive, however, it is an excellent plan
to bathe the back with cold water, afterwards carefully rubbing dry.

[Illustration: THE WALK (COLT IN TRAINING).]

The several instruments of torture represented in the above cut are the
_dumb-jockey_ upon the horse’s back, the _cavesson_ around his nose,
and the _lunging-cord_ in the hands of the groom--to whom the artist
has very properly given the countenance of one who, had he lived in
old times, would have lent a hand at the rack or the iron boot without
wincing. The dumb-jockey has elastic reins, which are adjusted so
as to hold the head in the proper position. The cavesson is a broad
leather band, stiffened with iron, which is fastened around the nose
just where the cartilage joins the bone, so that a tug upon it causes
great pain, and will bring anything but determined vice to submission.
These appliances are usually only the resort of laziness or ignorance,
for none of them can for a moment compare with the human hand; and in
fact they effect no saving in time, for it is not safe to leave a horse
a minute alone with a dumb-jockey on his back, as he may rear and fall
over backward at the risk of his life. The writer knew of an accident
of this kind which ended the victim’s usefulness in the saddle, and he
has seen a strong and proud horse sweat profusely, with the thermometer
at ten degrees below the freezing point, while being _lunged_, _i.e._,
driven in a ring, with a dumb-jockey on.



_To Bend the Neck to Right and Left._--You can now, if you please,
substitute a stiff _crop_ for the flexible whip you have so far made
use of. Having taken your place in the saddle and got your horse light
in hand review the previous lesson; then, having your horse still
carefully light in hand and light on foot--that is, with hind-feet
well under him--draw gently upon the left snaffle-rein. When the
horse’s head has come around to your knee, keep it in that position
an instant, and then put it straight again by drawing upon the right
rein, insisting that his face remains perpendicular during the whole
operation. Now go through the same process with the right snaffle-rein,
and then repeat the whole operation with the curb. These flexions of
the neck may now seem to you of doubtful utility, but as the education
of the horse advances, your opinion will change. It is as rare for
horses as for people to have a noble and graceful carriage; and while
you cannot, of course, really change the shape of your mount, yet you
can, by care, entirely change his appearance. His various gaits you
can indeed improve, but for his _style_ he depends, nine times out of
ten, entirely upon you, and if you are indifferent he will be careless
and probably clumsy.




This gait is apt to be hardly appreciated by youthful equestrians,
whose love of excitement leads them often to prefer rapidity to grace
of motion; but it can, with a little painstaking, be made swift and
agreeable; and certainly, when light and animated, it shows off both
horse and rider to better advantage than any other. It is, besides,
an indispensable stage in the bitting of the horse; for until he will
continue “light” while starting, stopping, and turning at a walk, he
should not be put to a faster pace.

Your chief difficulty will be his propensity to drop into a jog-trot
as soon as you try to quicken his steps; but this must be overcome by
stopping him immediately and then recommencing the walk, urging him
forward with the heel and encouraging him to lift his feet quickly by
a delicate play of the bit, but leaving his head as free as possible.
This will give you occupation, probably, for several days. Do not
forget to praise him when he does well.



Having your horse light in hand and light on foot (that is to say, as
we have before explained, with his face perpendicular, the bit held
lightly, and his weight well supported on his hind-legs), tap him on
the right flank with your whip or “crop” till he moves the croup one
step to the left. Your great difficulty will be to prevent him from
moving his right fore-foot, which by careful play of the bit you must
endeavor to keep fixed to the ground, while at each tap of the whip the
other three feet move one step around it. When this lesson has been
satisfactorily learned, proceed to teach in like manner the movement
of croup to the right, pivoting on the left fore-foot, substituting,
however, for the tap of the whip a pressure with the left heel, applied
as far behind the girth as possible.


Should he not understand this pressure, interpret it to him with the
whip. As long as there seems to be any mental effort required on his
part, pause after each step to caress and praise him. Be careful to
keep him calm while learning, or he may tread one foot upon the
other, possibly inflicting a severe wound, and after dismounting
inspect his feet carefully to make sure that this has not happened.



Up to this time your horse has been guided as in driving, by a pull
upon one side of the bit, that is to say, upon one corner of the mouth,
and it is time now to substitute a simple pressure of the rein upon
his neck. The chief difficulty to be encountered is in the fact that,
as the rein is attached to the bit, the tension of it against one side
of the neck pulls the bit on that side, consequently conveying to the
horse an impression exactly opposite to that intended. This difficulty
must be overcome by patience, for this instruction cannot be completed
in a single lesson, but will have to be carried on simultaneously with
other work for a week or more. It is given by carrying your hand over,
whenever you turn, to the side towards which you wish to go, so that
the reins will press against the neck. Thus, if you wish to turn to the
left, draw on the left snaffle-rein, and as the horse answers to it,
carry your hand to the left, so that the right reins press against the
right side of the neck. This must be done with judgment, or the bit,
being pulled too hard on the right side by the tension of the rein on
the neck, will stop him in his turn. Of course you will seek as many
occasions as possible for turning, choosing, in preference, places
where your intention cannot be misunderstood, as at a corner, for
instance. There is no better spot than some old orchard, for the horse
instantly takes the idea of going around a tree, and there will be more
or less shade, and probably good turf. While he is learning this lesson
do not distract his attention by other instruction; but as soon as he
has mastered it, see that his head is always turned in the direction
towards which he is to go, for it is a habit with horses, as awkward
as it is common, to turn one way and look the other. At the same time
always lean in your saddle towards the centre of the curve you are
describing, and at an angle increasing in proportion to your speed.


Some English writers depreciate the above method of guiding the horse,
preferring to use the bit exclusively, but it is almost universal in
the United States, and its advantages for ordinary riders are numerous
and evident. Indeed, Stonehenge, a well-known English authority, says
that in “this way a horse can be turned with a much greater degree of
nicety and smoothness than by acting on the corner of his mouth.”



Writers on the horse distinguish three kinds of trot, _viz._, the
“jog” trot, the “true” trot, and the “flying” or “American” trot. In
the first the feet remain longer on the ground than in the air, and
lazy animals are naturally fond of it, while spirited horses sometimes
drop into it from impatience of walking. It is, however, apt to be
a slovenly gait, which, though easy to the rider, should hardly be

In the flying trot the horse leaps a considerable distance through
the air at each stride--evidently a mode of progression unsuited for
ladies, who must attain speed in trotting by quickening the step
without undue lengthening of the stride.

Your first care will be to prevent your horse from losing his
“lightness,” as he will be inclined to do at every change of gait or
increase of speed--and this, while often by no means easy, is yet a
task to be thoroughly accomplished if you wish for comfort or style
in the future. You will observe in trotting, as in all other gaits,
at each step a slight tug on the rein, called by some writers the
_appel_, and this you will ordinarily yield your hand to, so as to keep
a steady feeling of the mouth.

If, however, the horse begins to bear on the bit, hold your hand
firmly, with the rein just so tight that at every step he will himself
thrust his jaw against the curb. This will very likely bring him to his
senses and restore his lightness, and if so, pat and praise him; but if
not, tap him on the side with your whip, at the same time pulling on
the curb for a second or two. If he does not yield to this, repeated
two or three times, stop him short; and when, by the same method, you
have got him to relax his gripe of the bit and arch his neck, allow him
to go on again. He will dislike excessively to be stopped and started
in this way, and when he finds that he will not be permitted to go in
any way but the right one he will give up the attempt.

Do not try to succeed by giving a long, steady pull, nor by using
force, as it will do no good, and may cause the tongue to be put over
the bit--a very troublesome trick. Remember, in stopping, to lean back,
and lay your whip, by a movement of the wrist, on the horse’s back.

You will next turn your attention to your horse’s gait. As the trot
is rarely so easy that a lady can sit down to it with comfort, it is
advisable to rise in the stirrup.

This is difficult and fatiguing if the stride is too long, and you
will therefore prevent its extending too much by giving a little tug
on the rein just as each step is made, at the same time with the heel
keeping up speed and animation.

If your bitting has been thoroughly done, and your horse’s mouth
is fine and sensitive, you will probably find the snaffle best for
trotting, and you will give a steady support with it.

Keep the step quick, elastic, perfectly cadenced, and without any
rolling of the shoulders.

Should you happen to be mounted upon a horse which, from bad handling
or his own faulty conformation, is disposed to “bore,” or bear on his
bit, you will ride with the curb, taking its reins in one hand, but
in the other hand taking the snaffle, with the left rein drawn much
tighter than the right. This will have an effect quite different from
what one might expect, and will put a stop to this most fatiguing and
annoying trick.

This recipe is not found in Baucher’s book, but is said to have been
given by him verbally to his pupils, and it is really “a trick worth
knowing.” If it does not have the desired effect, however, when
practised with the left snaffle-rein, try it with the right, as the
mouth--for instance, from the effect of double harness--may not be
equally sensitive on both sides.

If you observe that the step of one foot is shorter than that of the
other, making the horse appear lame, you may be almost sure you have
fallen into the too common feminine practice of bearing too much of
your weight on one side. An even balance in the saddle is of capital
importance, and a rough-and-ready test is to observe whether the
buttons of your habit are in the same plane as the horse’s backbone,
and your shoulders nearly equidistant from his ears--points of which
you can judge as well as any one.

In the matter of the horse’s gait you must be equally exacting, not
resting so long as you can perceive the slightest irregularity or
difference between the strides. It is desirable to cultivate such
a sensitiveness to all the horse’s movements as will enable you to
know where his feet are at all times without looking, and the first
step towards this is to learn to “sit close to the saddle.” This firm
and easy seat, coveted by every rider, is attained by some with much
greater difficulty than by others. Many riders will bump about on their
saddles for thousands of miles without being “shaken into their seat,”
because they neither abandon themselves to the instinct which correctly
guides a child, nor, on the other hand, seek out and remove the cause,
in the muscular contractions of the body and limbs.

A loose sack of grain set upright on horseback does not jump up and
down, and, while it is not desirable to be quite so inert as a bag of
grain, yet a lesson may be learned from it--which is, that the lower
part of the person, from the hips to the knees, should be kept firmly
and steadily, though not stiffly, in place, while the waist, with the
back bent slightly inward, should be as flexible as possible, and the
whole upper part of the person pliant and supple, so as to yield with a
certain _nonchalance_ to every movement.

Nervous riders, like nervous horses, are those in whom involuntary
muscular contractions persist the most obstinately.

As both of the horse’s strides are equal when the trot is true, it
seems nonsense to talk, as some writers do, about the “leading foot” in
trotting; and except that few horses are so perfectly symmetrical that
both strides are equally elastic, there should be no difference to a
man on which one he “rises,” and he will therefore spare that foot and
leg which, for any cause, he may suppose to be the weaker. A lady will
without effort find the stride best suited to her.

Horses are often trained in our Western States to trot when the rider
touches the back of their neck, and to single-foot or pace when he
makes play gently with the curb-bit. These signals are injudicious,
because in harness a slight movement of the bit sets the horse so
trained to single-footing, and there is no way to communicate to him
your wish that he should trot. It is better, therefore, to give the
signal to trot by taking a firm hold of the snaffle, and laying your
whip gently on his hind-quarter while you incite to speed with your

After dismounting, observe whether your horse has _interfered_--that
is, struck one or more of his fetlock joints with his hoofs; should
the skin be knocked off, apply some healing ointment; and if the joint
swells, bathe with water as hot as the hand will bear. This is the best
remedy for all ordinary bruises and sprains.



These are treated of by some writers as distinct, the canter being
called “purely artificial;” but it will be convenient and sufficiently
accurate for our purpose to take them up together and to consider the
canter as what it in fact is--an _improved_, and not an “artificial,”
gait. Horses undoubtedly often canter in a rude way without being
taught, as may be seen often in the field, and not seldom in harness,
and you will probably have little trouble in getting your horse to do
the same. It is this natural canter which is called by country people
the “lope.” It is of importance, however, that your horse should not
change his gait without orders, no matter how hard pressed, this being
especially true if he is to be driven as well as ridden. The signal
to canter should, therefore, be such as can be given only from the
saddle. It is well not to use the whip for the purpose, but to try by
raising the bridle to lift the forehand, while stimulating at the same
time with the heel. Should he persist in trotting, do not get vexed
or discouraged, for he is only resisting temptation to do what he
has expressly been taught not to do; but continue your incitements,
raising the bridle-hand firmly at every stride till you have got him
fairly off his feet into a gallop, when you will soothe his nerves by
patting and praising him, and gradually calm him down into a canter,
lifting your hand at every stride to prevent his relapsing into a trot.
When he will canter promptly at the signal, you will get him “light
in hand” before giving it; then make him start without thrusting out
his nose, and keep him light by the means already detailed in the
lesson on the trot. Next you will bring his haunches forward under him,
which is the great point, and increase the brilliancy of his action by
stimulating him with heel and whip, while at each step you restrain
him by a gentle pull, so that he will not spring forward so far as he
intended. Persevere until he will canter as slowly as he would walk.
Your best guide will be to observe the action of some well-trained and
well-ridden horse, and to endeavor to obtain the same in yours.

[Illustration: THE CANTER.]

To _change the leading foot_ in cantering is, however, a more difficult
matter, and we will postpone the consideration of it until his
education is a little farther advanced. In the mean time you will avoid
turning a sharp corner at a canter.

The hand-gallop is simply a moderate gallop in which the ear observes
three beats,


as in the canter, but swifter; while in the extended gallop it hears
but two,


though given with a sort of rattle, which shows that neither the fore
nor the hind feet strike the ground exactly together, as they do in

_Keep to the left, as the law directs_, is an admonition on bridges and
other thoroughfares in England which has often excited the surprise of
Americans, very likely eliciting some such comment as “How stupid!”
“How perfectly ridiculous!” Yet for many centuries it was really the
only safe way to turn, whether on foot or on horseback, and as all our
fashions of riding and driving are based upon it, it is hard to see why
the custom should have changed in this country. In the olden time, when
people went about principally on horseback, when roads were lonely and
footpads plenty, it would have been “perfectly ridiculous” for a man to
turn to the right and expose his defenceless bridle-arm to a blow from
a bludgeon or slash from a hanger. Much more would it have been so had
he a lady under his care, who would thus be left in the very front of
danger, whether it might be of robbery from highwaymen, of insult from
roistering riders, or of simple injury from passing vehicles. At the
present day and in this country the danger last mentioned is the only
one really to be feared, and it is so considerable that the question is
often raised whether a lady be not safer at the right of her cavalier;
but the still greater danger in this case of her being crushed between
the horses, in case of either one springing suddenly towards the other,
has caused it thus far to be decided in the negative. There is also
always a possibility--slight, doubtless--of a lady’s getting kicked or
bitten when on the right; and it might be difficult for her companion,
without risk to her limbs, to seize her horse by the head should he
become refractory. In case of its becoming absolutely necessary to take
a terrified or exhausted rider off of an unmanageable horse, there
would probably be time for her escort to cross behind her and place
himself at her left hand.

Now that we are on the subject, we may give a word of caution as to
some other dangers of the road. Among those to the rider, the most
common is _shying_; but vigilance--and perpetual vigilance will be
necessary--will reduce this to the rank of simple annoyance. Get your
horse past the alarming object somehow, even if he has to be led; get
him up to it if you can, and then pat and praise him; never let him
hurry off after passing it; never whip him afterwards.

Rearing is less common than shying, but more dangerous from the risk
of pulling the horse over backward. To rear he must, of course, spring
up with the fore-legs, and if his intention can be divined in time it
may perhaps be frustrated by a smart stroke down the shoulder; but an
active animal is usually up before his rider has had time to think, and
the question is how to come safe down again. To this end, on no account
pull on the bit, but, without letting go the rein, grasp a thick
lock of the mane and hold yourself with it as close to the neck as
possible--which will throw your weight in the best place, and prepare
you to leap down, should it be necessary. If you have kept perfectly
calm, so that the horse has not suspected that you were frightened,
he will doubtless come down on his feet, and very likely may not rear
again. If, however, you feel his hind-legs sink under him, he will be
intending to throw himself down, and you must jump down instantly to
avoid getting caught under the saddle.

Kicking, when coming unexpectedly, is more likely than rearing to
unseat the rider. If you withstand the first assault, however, get the
horse’s head up by an energetic use of the bit, and look out that he
does not get it down again. It is needless to say that should either of
the last two tricks become a habit, it will make the horse quite unfit
for a lady’s use.

If your horse is restless and disposed to jump, or perhaps run, when
horses or vehicles rapidly approach him from behind, occupy his
attention by moving the bit a little from side to side in his mouth.

Running away is undoubtedly serious business, but all authorities agree
that the safest plan is to let the horse run, if there is room, and
that the best lesson for him is to make him continue running after he
wishes to stop. A steady pull on the bit is quite useless, and so is
any cry of “Whoa! whoa!” at first. But after a little the bit should
be vigorously _sawed_, so as to sway the head from side to side if
possible, and thus confuse him, while you speak to him in a commanding

The dangers to the horse upon the road, however, are greater and more
numerous than to yourself, but they may almost all be averted by care
and watchfulness on your part. Beware of a fast pace on hard macadam;
beware of loose stones, which may bruise the frog or cause a tedious
sprain; beware of food, water, above all, of currents of air when he is



In the _pirouette ordinaire_ of the French _manége_ the horse turns
upon one of his hind-legs, walking on the other three around it, just
as in the _pirouette renversée_ of Lesson XI. he turned upon one of
the fore-legs, around which he walked upon the other three; and now, as
then, the chief difficulty is to keep him from moving the leg which is
to serve as a pivot. The means for accomplishing this you have already
acquired, and a pressure of the heel on the one side, or of the crop
on the other, will prevent an intended movement of the croup, while
by the rein against the neck you move the forehand to the one side or
to the other. In wheeling to the left it is the left hind-foot, and
to the right the right hind-foot, which serves as a pivot. If your
horse is stiff and clumsy in this exercise it will probably be because
you have not got him together, with his hind-legs well under him, but
at best you will probably find him less supple on one side than the
other. Begin by moving the forehand but one step at a time, keeping
your horse calm, so that he may not wound one foot with the other,
holding your own person motionless, and gradually accustoming him to
slight and delicate effects of hand, heel, and whip, so that he may to
a by-stander appear to move of his own volition.


The _piste_ (literally “trail” or “track”) in the French _manége_ is
an imaginary circle lying three feet distant from the wall; which
imaginary line, however, becomes in practice a well-defined path, which
the horse soon learns to follow with little guidance from his rider. To
go, then, “on two _pistes_” is to cause the horse to advance with his
body placed obliquely, so that the hind-feet move on a different line
from the fore-feet. In the cut the horse is shown directly across the

[Illustration: GOING ON “DEUX PISTES.”]

The _passage_ is a side movement without advancing. By it the cavalry
close up their ranks, and to a civilian it is useful in many ways. Both
of these movements you are now able to execute at pleasure.

[Illustration: THE PASSAGE.]



This lesson has been deferred thus far because, while it is one of the
most practically and frequently useful, yet it is also the method which
the horse naturally takes to escape from the unwonted constraint put
upon the muscles of his neck and jaw in the course of the preceding
lessons. You have had, therefore, to be on your guard hitherto against
it; and had you taught it earlier you would have found your horse
cunning enough to pretend to believe every play of the bit to be a
signal to step back, and thus protract the instruction.

Having, then, got your horse, as usual, well in hand, lean back and
give a pull on the reins. If he steps back, well; if not, touch him
with the heel or tap his side with the crop, and when he lifts his foot
to step forward repeat the pull on the reins, when the foot will be
replaced farther back; then pat and praise him, and persevere until he
will, at each tug of the reins, move backward one step and no more.

Should he swerve to right or left, straighten him by a tap or pressure
of the crop on his right side, or by the pressure of the heel on the
left, as the case may require.

[Illustration: BACKING.]

Your horse having learned to obey the pressure of the rein upon the
neck, you may now, if you choose, adopt another method of holding the
reins. It differs from that described in Lesson XIII. in that the two
snaffle reins, instead of being separated by three fingers, have only
one--the middle finger--between them; while the curb-reins, instead of
coming into the hand between the snaffle-reins, come in below, having
the little finger inserted between them.

[Illustration: REINS IN HAND.]

This method, though formerly the one usually taught, being that adopted
by the English cavalry, has not, on the whole, as many advantages as
the other for a civilian.

[Illustration: ACT OF CHANGING REINS.]

If you have occasion to use the left hand, or wish to rest it, change
the reins into the right hand by placing the right, still holding the
whip, over and in front of the left, both palms downward, inserting
the right fore-finger between the reins separated by the left little
finger, and so on, then grasping all together with the whip, and
allowing the ends to pass out to the right.

This does not disarrange the reins, but makes it possible for you to
take them back into the left hand in an instant by passing the left
hand in like manner over the right.



You are now prepared to practise with profit a simple exercise, which
you will find interesting to yourself, and, if carefully done, very
improving to your horse. It is the riding in circles of small diameter.
Mark out a number of rings of various sizes in some pasture-field with
white pebbles or beans or small scraps of white paper, which may be
scattered at intervals of two or three feet, so that the figures may
not be remarked by the horse, but that he may receive his instruction
from you only. Let the circles touch one another, so that you may
change from one into the other, and thus turn to the right and left
alternately. Begin at a walk, then proceed to a trot, practising first
on the large circles, and then taking the smaller ones. Keep your
horse “light in hand,” and do not let him place his body across the
line, but make him follow it accurately, with his neck and body bent
around to the curve which it describes. When he is perfect in this
exercise on level ground, move to some hill-side and begin again. When
he can do figure 8’s of a small size accurately at a smart trot on a
pretty steep slope, you may congratulate your self on having made good
progress, and may begin to do the large circles on level ground at a
canter. Here comes in the troublesome matter of the “leading foot,”
and if you do not understand it, you must not be discouraged, for many
persons ride “hit or miss” their whole lives long without thinking or
knowing anything about it. The expression, besides, is misleading, and
you will do well to study up the subject first on straight lines. Get
a friend to canter beside you, and observe the motion of his horse’s
feet. You will see that the two fore-feet and the two hind-feet strike
the ground not only one later than the other, but one in advance of the
other, and that the one which leaves the ground last steps past the
other and is planted farthest forward. It is this foot taking the long
stride which is called, although it moves last, the “leading foot.”


It ought not to make any difference to the horse with which foot he
leads, nor to his rider, if a man, so long as he follows a straight
line; but whenever he has to turn, it becomes both to horse and rider
of importance--if the curve is sharp, of very great importance--that he
should lead on the side towards which he is to turn.

A little observation of your companion’s horse when turning will make
the reason clear to you. A woman’s seat being on the left side of the
horse, it is easier for her that the shoulder having the most motion
should be on the right side, and ladies’ saddle-horses are consequently
trained to lead with the right foot; the result, we may remark, often
being that the fore-foot which does most work gives out before the


The horse so trained, however, is in this way always ready to wheel
to the right; but when he turns to the left, whether carrying man or
woman, he must change and lead with the left foot; and if he has not
sense enough to do so himself, you must teach him.

This, really, is not an easy task for an amateur, especially for
the amateur feminine, who has not the efficient masculine resource
of a pair of spurred heels. Even with their aid a man is often so
embarrassed to make his horse comprehend that he gives up the attempt,
and contents himself with “slowing down” before turning, his failure
usually resulting from the insufficient previous training of the horse,
coupled with his own ignorance of the successive short steps by which
the latter may be led up to the performance of the wished-for act.

If you have been exact in the instruction hitherto given--if your
bitting has been so thorough that your horse remains “light in hand”
during all the manœuvres described in the foregoing lessons; if he
responds instantly to the pressure of the rein upon the neck, and to
the touch of the heel and of the whip upon the flank, so that you can
move the forehand and the croup separately or at the same time in the
same or in opposite directions; if he will rise from a walk into a
canter without trotting; and if, finally, your drilling in the flexions
of the neck permits you to bend his head to right or left when at rest
or in motion without affecting the position of the forehand--then your
horse is thoroughly prepared for the present lesson; and the same tact
and patience which have brought you on thus far will assuredly carry
you triumphantly through it.

First, however, you should learn to tell with which foot you are
leading, and you can do so by leaning forward in the saddle while
cantering, when you will see that the knee of the leading leg is thrown
up higher than its fellow, and by bending still farther you may see
this foot planted in advance upon the ground. If your horse has never
been trained, it is as likely to be one foot as the other. Now, the
first step to be taken is to put your horse in such a position that it
will be easy and natural for him to lead off with the desired foot,
and awkward to lead off with the other. This position is with the head
turned in the direction you wish to go, and with the croup advanced
a little in the same direction, so that the body is placed obliquely
across the line of advance. Thus, if you wish to lead with the right
foot, you keep his head turned in the direction you wish to go, while
with the heel you move the croup over two steps to the right; then,
touching him with the heel and raising the hand, you give the signal to
canter, and he will probably lead off with the right foot. If not, stop
him and try again, giving him a sharp cut with your whip just behind
the right shoulder. To lead with the left the process is reversed, the
croup being moved two steps to the left before the signal to canter is
given, a sudden dig with the heel behind the shoulder conveying to
the horse the hint to hurry forward his left leg. You can now begin
to canter on the circles you have marked out; you will, however,
at first come down to a walk before changing from one circle to an
adjoining one--which change, of course, reverses the curve, and makes
it necessary to change the leading foot.

This figure eight riding, thus, ∞, is most useful both for horse and
rider when it is carefully done. Keep the horse “light in hand,” and
above all, _collected_--_viz._, with his haunches well under him, and
always with his feet exactly in the circle and his neck and body bent
to the curve. As soon as he will lead off correctly from a walk, begin
to teach him to do so from the trot; and when this lesson has been
learned, practise him on the double circles, or figure 8’s, beginning
at a trot, and lifting him into a canter just as you pass from one
circle to the other. This will accustom him to the idea of a change
of movement at the time of a change in direction. Having got him to
canter, continue on the same circle many times around and around, then
bring him to a trot, and pass to the adjoining circle, lifting him to a
canter just as you turn into it, as before, but of course leading with
the opposite foot. Make your circles smaller and smaller, and continue
till he has had time to appreciate the importance of leading correctly;
then try to make him change at a canter, choosing for the purpose one
of your smallest figure 8’s, and indicating to him the change of foot
on the same spot and in the same way as when you began by trotting, and
you will no doubt be immediately successful.

If the horse in changing the lead of the fore-feet does not make the
corresponding change with the hind-feet, he is said to be _disunited_.
This fault must be corrected immediately, as it renders his gait not
only uncomfortable to the rider, but very insecure.



There is a large class of excellent people who feel a decided
impatience at the very name of etiquette. “It is all nonsense,” they
say, and they will give you various infallible receipts for getting
on without such an objectionable article. One admonishes you to be
“natural,” and your manners will leave nothing to be desired. Another
sagaciously defines politeness to be “kindness kindly expressed,” and
intimates that if your heart is right your deportment cannot fail to
be so too. All these philosophizings, however, give little comfort to
the bashful young person just venturing into society, for unfortunately
few of us are so happily constituted as always to think, much less
to say and do, exactly the right thing at the right time, and the
most unobservant presently discovers, very likely at the cost of no
small mortification, that the usages of society, even when apparently
arbitrary, cannot be disregarded with impunity. In the etiquette of
the saddle, however, common-sense takes so decidedly precedence of
the arbitrary and conventional that no courageous, kind-hearted,
and sensible young girl, however inexperienced, need be afraid of
committing any fatal solecism. The reason of this is that the element
of danger is never entirely absent, and that the importance of assuring
the safety and comfort of yourself and companions, to say nothing of
lookers-on and passers-by, or of the noble and valuable animal you
ride, far transcends that of observing any mere forms and ceremonies.


Fashion at present, both in this country and in England, requires
that the whole riding costume be as simple as possible, and entirely
without ornament. Formerly much more latitude was allowed, and very
pretty effects were produced with braid trimming across the breast,
a little color at the neck, and a slouched hat with long feather or
floating veil--witness the picture of the Empress Eugénie when Countess
Montijo, and many a charming family portrait besides--but now fashion
pronounces all that sort of thing “bad form,” and a word to the wise
is sufficient. The habit itself must be quite dark, or even black,
perfectly plain in the waist, with black buttons up to the neck, and
with a scant, short skirt only just long enough to cover the feet. The
cuffs and collar must be of plain linen, no color or flutter of ribbon
being anywhere permissible. The handkerchief must not be thrust in
the breast, but kept in the saddle pocket, and if a veil is worn, it
must be short and black. The hair should be so securely put up that
it will not shake down, and that the hair-pins will not work out. In
the matter of the hat more freedom of choice is allowed, and in the
country almost anything may be worn, but wherever there is any pretence
of dressing, the only correct thing is the regulation silk “cylinder,”
which, by-the-bye, usually looks better rather low in the crown, and
which is every way a pleasanter and more serviceable hat than ladies
who have never worn one are apt to imagine. About the cutting of a
riding-habit, it may be remarked, there is nothing mysterious, although
one might think so from the way it is often talked about, especially
in the advertisements of fashionable tailors, and there is no reason
in the world why any clever young girl should not make one for herself
if she chooses. The only eccentricity about it, from the dress-making
point of view, is the shaping out of a place for the right knee, so
that the skirt may hang straight and not ruck up, and this can easily
be managed at home by improvising a horse with a couple of chairs and
a rolled-up rug, putting the saddle on it, and trying the effect in
place. Be careful to leave plenty of room across the breast. A couple
of straps should be sewn inside in the proper place, so that the toe
or heel of each foot may be inserted to prevent the skirt from rising
and exposing the feet; and these straps should not be strong, but, on
the contrary, like all other parts of the skirt, and particularly
the facing, should be made so as certainly to tear loose instantly
in case of getting caught in a fall. Before leaving the habit, we
may remark that the wearer should practise gathering it up, holding
it in one hand, and walking in it at home, and if possible before a
mirror. No petticoats ought to be worn, but merino drawers, and easy
trousers of the same stuff as the rest of the habit. Beware of badly
made seams, which have a vexatious way, as many a masculine wearer can
testify, of pinching out a bit of skin at some inopportune moment. The
trousers should be cut away a little over the instep, and fastened down
under the sole with straps, which may be either sewed on or attached
by buttons inside the band, in which case india-rubber is the best
material, being easy alike on buttons, stuff, and fingers. Corsets
should be worn as usual, but never laced tight, and it would be better
that they should not have steel clasps or steel springs, which might
be dangerous in case of a fall. The boots should be easy, broad-soled,
low-heeled, and rather laced than buttoned, as less likely on the one
hand to catch in the stirrup, and on the other to bruise the foot by
chafing against the saddle. The gloves should be strong, but supple
and easy, as it is important that every finger should have free and
independent movement. Tight gloves not only benumb the hands in cold
weather, but always cause an awkward handling of the reins, and may be
positively dangerous with a fresh horse. As to the relative merits of
crop and whip, there is room for difference of opinion. By many persons
the former is looked upon as a senseless affectation of English ways,
but the fact is that with a horse regularly trained to the saddle it
is more useful than a whip, as by its aid a lady can “collect” her
horse--that is, can make him bring his hind-legs under him, in the same
way that a man does by the pressure of his calves. If, however, the
horse has never been trained, and is sluggish or wilful, a whip may be
more useful. Whichever of the two produces the better results will have
the more “workmanlike” look and be in the “better form.”


It is undoubtedly much pleasanter and more exhilarating to ride a
good and handsome horse than a poor and ugly one, a horse adapted
to one’s size and weight than one too large or too small, too heavy
or too light; but none of these points are matters of etiquette. On
this whole subject etiquette makes only one demand, but that one is
inexorable--it is _perfect neatness_. A lady’s mount must be immaculate
from ear to hoof, in coat and mane and entire equipment. It is in a
great degree their exquisite neatness that gives such an air of style
not only to English horsewomen, but to English turn-outs of all kinds,
which, nevertheless, have not usually the “spick and span new” look of
fashionable American equipages. On coming out, therefore, prepared
for a ride, take time to look your horse over swiftly, but keenly,
noting first that his eye and general appearance indicate good health
and spirits; secondly, that he has been thoroughly groomed, his mane
freed from dandruff, his hoofs washed, but not blacked; thirdly, that
the saddle and bridle are perfectly clean and properly put on. Every
buckle should have been undone and cleansed, the leather suppled,
and the bright metal polished; the girths, three in number--never
fewer than two--should be snug, but not tight enough to impede free
breathing; the bits in their proper place, that is to say, the snaffle
just high enough up not to wrinkle the corners of the mouth, and the
curb considerably lower, with its chain, which should pass below the
snaffle, lying flat and smooth against the skin in the chin groove;
finally, the throat-latch loose. While it is not always wise to
reprimand carelessness on the part of your groom on the spot, it is
well never to let it pass unnoticed, while, on the other hand, it is
a good plan always to show appreciation of especial attention to your
wishes by a kind word or a smile.


It is rather a trying ordeal for an inexperienced rider to mount a
tall horse from the ground, even when there are no lookers-on, and
many a one remains in bondage to chairs and horse-blocks all her life
long rather than undertake it. The feat, however, is really so much
easier than it looks, and when well performed makes the rider appear
so agile and graceful, giving such an air of style and _savoir-faire_
to the departure, that it is well worth every lady’s while to acquire
it. The first requisite is that the horse should stand still, and for
this purpose the attendant should have given him some preliminary
exercise, as the fresh air and bright light are so exhilarating to a
high-strung horse that he cannot at first restrain his impulse to caper
about. This preparatory airing should be entered upon invariably as
calmly as possible, and begun at a walk, for a flurry at starting, and
especially the use of the whip, will often disturb a horse’s nerves
for hours, making him unpleasant if not dangerous to ride. When the
horse is brought to the door, let the groom stand directly in front of
him, holding the bridle not by the rein, but with both hands by each
cheek, just above the bit. If he is a proud and sensitive animal, do
not rush up to him excitedly with a slamming of doors and gates, nor
allow any one else to do so, but approach with gentle steadiness. Stand
a moment and look him over, give your orders quietly, and pat his neck
for a moment, speaking pleasantly to him the while, so that he may get
accustomed to your voice.

[Illustration: READY TO MOUNT.]

Now standing with your right side a few inches from the saddle, facing
the same way as the horse, and with your left shoulder slightly thrown
back, place the right hand on the second pommel, holding in it the
whip, and the reins drawn just tight enough to give a feeling of the
bit. Your attendant will stand facing you, and as close as convenient,
and will now stoop forward, with his hands clasped and with his right
forearm firmly supported on his right thigh. Now with your left hand
lift your riding-skirt in front, and place your left foot in his hands.
Let go the skirt, rest your left hand on his shoulder, and giving him
the cue by bending the right knee, spring up erect on the left foot,
and, seating yourself sideways on the saddle, place the right knee over
the horn.

[Illustration: “ONE, TWO, THREE.”]

If your attendant is unused to rendering such service, you had better
make your first essays in some secluded place, in which you can
instruct him where to stand, just how high to lift your foot, and
caution him to put forth strength enough to support you steadily,
without lifting too violently. Do not be deterred by awkwardness on
his part or on your own from learning to mount from the ground, for
the more awkward, the better practice for you. Your attendant will now
lift your skirt above the knee, so that it will hang properly without
dragging, and then disengaging the stirrup from beneath the skirt, will
place your left foot in it.


Too much care cannot be taken with the position in the saddle, which
should be exactly as shown in the following cut. The left leg should
invariably hang perpendicularly from the knee, with the heel depressed,
and with the foot parallel with the horse’s side. The length of the
stirrup-strap should be such that the knee thus is out of contact with
the hunting-horn, but near enough to be brought firmly up against
it by raising the heel. The right knee should rest easily but snugly
over the pommel, so as to grasp it in case the horse springs. Neither
foot should be allowed to sway about nor to project so as to be seen
awkwardly poking out the skirt. If your clothing does not feel quite
comfortable, rise in your stirrup and shake it down, resting your hand,
if necessary, on your attendant’s shoulder, for it will be very awkward
should it become disarranged on the road. Now put your handkerchief in
the saddle pocket, take the reins in the left hand, or in both hands,
as you prefer, and start the horse by a touch with the heel.

[Illustration: POSITION IN SADDLE.]

It is, of course, the correct thing to mount from the ground, if
possible, but here again common-sense comes so decidedly to the front
that it is not too much to say that the sole indispensable requirement
of an enlightened etiquette is _good-nature_. Certain it is that the
eye masculine will follow with pleasure, and perhaps with some emotion,
the movements of the young girl who comes out bright and fresh, gives
her horse a pat or two, with a lump of sugar, as she glances him
quickly over, looks kindly at her stable-boy, and then skips gayly
into the saddle from a chair brought out by a maid, while the same
eye will rest quite unmoved, except by a spirit of criticism, on the
self-conscious and selfish damsel, though she be put on in the most
approved manner by the smartest groom who ever wore top-boots. Mount,
then, from the ground, if you have some one to put you on and some
one to hold your horse; or, if the horse will stand without holding,
cautioning your escort--if you are not sure of his expertness in such
services--to be sure to raise your foot straight up, and to give you
warning by counting one, two, so that you may be certain to have the
leg straightened before he begins to lift, as otherwise the result may
be the reverse of graceful. When in the saddle, rise in your stirrup,
as already suggested, and smooth down your dress, meantime thanking
your escort and telling him how well he did it. This smoothing down
of the skirt it is a good plan to practise frequently, first standing,
then at a walk, then at a trot, till you can do it deftly, almost
without thought, for there is no telling at what inopportune moment it
may become necessary.

To mount from the ground without assistance is a feat which few ladies
would voluntarily undertake. It may be accomplished in an emergency,
however, if the horse is quiet and not too tall, by lowering the
stirrup sufficiently to reach it with the left foot, and springing up
with the aid of the hands, the left of which should grasp the mane and
the right the cantle of the saddle.


Do not put your horse in motion by a cut with the whip, which would
be trying to his nerves, nor by chirping or clucking, which would be
equally trying to the nerves of your companions, but by a touch with
the heel, or a pressure between your heel on the left side and your
crop on the right. If other ladies are to be mounted, move on so far
that they will be in no danger, either real or imaginary, from your
horse’s heels, and never at any time put him in such a position that
he can kick any one, or that you can get kicked yourself by any other
horse. If you have to turn about on starting, try to do so by making
your horse step around with his hind-legs (in the technical phrase,
_pirouette renversée_), so as to avoid turning your back and presenting
his haunches towards any one with whom you may be talking or from whom
you are to take leave. To be able to do this easily and gracefully you
must have him well “collected” and “light in hand.”


The next question that arises is on which side of her escort a lady
should ride. This point, so much discussed and disputed in this
country, is scarcely raised in England, where the universal habit of
turning to the left makes it, under almost all circumstances, safer
for her to be on his left, in which position he finds himself always
interposed between his charge and any passing vehicle, whether it
come from before or from behind. In this country, however, we have
adopted--nobody knows why, unless it is because the French do so--the
rule of keeping to the right, and yet without changing our manner
of riding and driving, so that the result is often awkward and even
dangerous. The teamster who used to walk on the left of his horses,
so as to lead them out of the way when occasion required, still
walks on the left, which now puts him in the middle of the road; the
coachman still sits on the right, though the probability of contact has
changed over to the other side; the lady’s seat is still on the left
side of the horse, which obliges her to choose between the danger of
being caught by passing wheels or crushed by the horse of her escort.
As there is no reason in the world, whether in the conformation
of the female form or of the horse itself, or in the exigencies of
equestrianism, that makes it inherently more proper to sit on one side
of the horse rather than on the other, it seems strange that none of
our independent American ladies should have undertaken to set the
fashion of sitting on the right side. The Princess of Wales always does
so, for some special reason. The Empress of Austria, who is well known
as one of the boldest and most graceful riders as well as one of the
most beautiful women in Europe, is said to have saddles made in both
ways, using them alternately, and this plan is adopted by more than one
of the noble ladies of England who hunt regularly in the season, with
a view of preventing too constant a strain on the same set of nerves,
and possibly causing an unequal development of the two sides of the
person. However, accepting the present feminine seat as a thing not to
be changed, the advantages in this country of riding on the one hand
of the escort or on the other are so equally divided that the balance
may incline to either side, and a lady is always free to do about
it as she pleases without exciting remark. When riding on the right
side, the lady is protected from passing vehicles, and the gentleman
has his right hand free to assist her in any way, even to taking her
off her horse in case of necessity; but if either horse were to shy
towards the other, she might get bruised, and she is always liable to
an occasional contact with her companion’s person, which may not be
pleasant. Children should certainly be kept on the right, and so should
any inexperienced or very timid person; and at all times a gentleman
should interpose himself between the lady under his charge and danger
of any kind--as, for instance, reckless drivers, rude strollers, or a
drove of cattle. When riding on the left, the lady is undoubtedly in a
more exposed position, especially if her horse is disposed to dance or
shy at rattling wagons and the like; but her escort, being able to ride
closer to her, is enabled more quickly and safely to take the animal by
the head, if necessary, and under all circumstances he should hold his
reins and whip in his right hand, and in case of danger keep his horse
well “collected,” so as to be ready to act promptly and without any
show of excitement.


_Position._--The lady’s position on horseback is so conspicuous that
the fact ought to stimulate the most indifferent so to place and carry
herself as to show her figure to the best advantage, and this graceful
carriage of the person will be found to be the first step towards
achieving a firm and easy seat. The posture should be erect, the back
slightly hollowed, the breast thrown forward, the chin drawn in so
that the neck will be nearly vertical. The lower limbs should rest
easily but firmly in their respective places, the left leg hanging
perpendicularly from the knee downward, with heel slightly depressed,
and foot parallel with the horse’s side, the right toe raised a little
above the horizontal, but not carried far enough forward to poke up
the riding habit. The seat should be in the middle of the saddle, not
on the right side of it with the body inclined to the left, which is
excessively awkward, nor on the left side with an inclination to the
right, which is equally awkward, and with the additional disadvantage
of being sure to cause saddle galls. When the body is consciously
_balanced_ on the horse’s back, when the shoulders are equidistant from
his ears, and when the eyes, looking between said ears (an excellent
habit), look straight along the road, and not off obliquely to one side
of it, then the seat, whatever else it may not be, is at least in the
middle of the saddle.


_The Hand._--As to the manner of carrying the arms, Colonel Hayes
remarks that he has seen of late (in England) some ladies sticking out
their elbows, but that he, for his part, decidedly approves of the
old rule which forbade that daylight should be seen between a lady’s
arms and body. The sight which annoyed Colonel Hayes is not unknown
in America, but probably most observers correctly attribute it either
to ignorance or affectation. Certainly there is no reason for it,
whether practical or æsthetic, as the raising of the elbows lifts the
hands into a position in which the reins act less correctly on the
horse’s mouth, while substituting angles for curves in the outline of
the figure, and quite destroying the air of well-bred repose which
is one of the great charms of a finished horsewoman. The arms should
hang naturally by the sides, with the hands, a few inches apart, just
above the knee, and as low as possible without resting on it, the nails
turned down, the knuckles at an angle of forty-five degrees with the
horizon, the wrists bent inward so as to permit of a little play of the
wrist joint at each tug of the horse on the reins.

_The Poise._--All this is not very difficult so long as the horse keeps
quiet, or even when he merely walks; but how is this much-admired
statuesque repose to be preserved at the trot, the canter, the gallop,
to say nothing of incidental shying and capering? There is only one
answer to this question, and that is--_practice_. But even practice
is usually not sufficient without an accompaniment, infrequent and
not always pleasant, _viz._, frank and unflattering criticism; and
every one who really wishes to excel, and to merit the praises which
as woman she is certain to receive, will see to it that this wholesome
corrective is often at hand. Practice itself, to be profitable, must
be intelligent, and the cause of any discomfort from the motion of the
horse should be sought out and removed. It will be found almost always
to result from involuntary muscular contractions, especially of the
waist, which should invariably be kept supple, as it is to a slight
play of loin and thigh that the rider must look to prevent being thrown
up by each spring of the hind-legs in cantering or galloping.

In rising to the trot, bear outwardly with the left heel, which will
keep the knee close against the saddle, and prevent the leg from
swaying about. At the same time be careful not to rise towards the
left--an awkward but very common habit, which can be detected by the
plan already suggested of sighting between the horse’s ears. Mr. Sidney
says, “The ideal of a fine horsewoman is to be erect without being
rigid, square to the front, and until quite at home in the saddle,
looking religiously between her horse’s ears. The shoulders must
therefore be square, but thrown back a little, so as to expand the
chest and make a hollow waist, such as is observed in waltzing, but
always flexible. On the flexibility of the person above the waist,
and on the firmness below, all the grace of equestrianism, all the
safety, depend. Nervousness makes both men and women poke their heads
forward--a stupid trick in a man, unpardonable in a woman. A lady
should bend like a willow in a storm, always returning to an easy and
nearly upright position. Nothing but practice--frequent, but not too
long continued--can establish the all-important balance. Practice,
and practice only, enables the rider instinctively to bear to the
proper side, or lean back, as a horse turns, bounds, or leaps.” It is
evidently not simply pounding along the high-road in a straight line
on a steady nag which is here meant. The following advice, given by a
lady who is herself an accomplished horsewoman, will furnish a clew to
the sort of exercise which will be really profitable. She says, “Let
the pupil practise riding in circles to the right, sitting upright,
but bending a little to the horse’s motion, following his nose with
her eye; beginning with a walk, proceed to a slow trot, increasing the
action as she gains firmness in the saddle. When in a smart trot on a
circle to the right she can, leaning as she should to the right, see
the feet of the horse on the right side, it may be assumed that she has
arrived at a firm seat.” Another excellent exercise is to lean over,
now to one side, now to the other, now in front, far enough to observe
the horse’s action, the motion of his feet, and the regularity of his


If good-nature is the quality most essential to _mounting_ in a
pleasing manner, that which will cause a lady to shine most _on the
road_ is kindness. Such a statement will perhaps bring a smile to
the lips of some dashing girl who thinks that she has other means of
pleasing, once mounted on a spirited horse, than the practice of any
of the Christian virtues; but the writer, after many years’ experience
with _amazones_ both young and old, believes it to be literally true.
A lady who, without weakness, is gentle and thoughtful, will have,
other things being equal, more sympathetic obedience from her horse,
a finer hand, a more supple seat, and will bring him back fresher and
her whole party home in better spirits than one who is not. To begin
with, there is almost always one of the horses which is not equal to
the others, but keeps up with difficulty, and as it is precisely that
horse which should set the pace for the rest, it is well to observe
the capacity of the different animals, and spare the feelings of any
one of the party who may be poorly mounted. One might hardly suppose
it necessary to mention so elementary a rule of politeness as that
which bids us, when we ride in company, not to keep always in the best
part of the road; but horses are sometimes selfish as well as human
beings, and the selfish horse, like the selfish man, unless he is
prevented, will imperceptibly crowd his patient companion into the
ruts, when the rider will get the credit or discredit of the action.
Another too common piece of thoughtlessness is the splashing at full
speed through mud puddles, the result of which is naturally more
apparent to one’s neighbors than to one’s self. If to an equestrian,
however, being splashed or spattered is annoying, to a pedestrian it
is nothing less than exasperating, and such a one will look after the
person guilty of the rudeness with eyes of anything but admiration. One
cannot be too careful, indeed, when riding near pedestrians, as they
are decidedly susceptible under such circumstances, and likely to take
offence; and especially is caution required where women and children
are concerned, for it is impossible to conjecture what they will do
if suddenly startled by the rapid approach of horses. The writer saw,
one afternoon, a nursery-maid crossing Rotten Row with a baby-carriage
(_Anglice, perambulator_), and two children holding to her skirts.
When half-way over, a lady and three gentlemen came galloping down,
followed by two grooms. The children scattered, the riders could not
pull up, and for an instant it seemed as if the little party were
doomed to destruction, as the horses appeared to pass right over some
of them. The English rule, not only for country riding, but for the
Park or other public places (and an excellent one it is), requires a
gentleman to pull up and pass a lady, if alone, at a walk, whether she
be on foot or on horseback, and though more latitude may be allowed a
lady, yet she should not gallop up suddenly behind another lady who
is alone, as a nervous horse might be so excited as to cause great
uneasiness to a timid rider. If you should unfortunately produce such
a result, by all means pause and express regret, and if your horse is
quiet, offer to ride for a few minutes beside the sufferer--for so she
may be called. In passing on the road, the rule is, when meeting, to
keep to the right, but when overtaking, to pass to the left, and in
like manner, when overtaken, to keep to the right, so as to leave the
road free at your left. The only exception to this rule is in the case
of led-horses, which, as they are often inclined to kick, should be
avoided by passing next to the one ridden. When approaching a lady in a
public place a gentleman should always do so on the off or right side.

It is sometimes rather a nice point to decide when assistance ought to
be offered by a gentleman to a lady with whom he is not acquainted,
and, if offered, whether it ought to be accepted. The following
incident, recounted by Sir Joseph Arnould in his “Life of Lord
Chief-justice Denman,” is interesting as showing how such a question
was discussed in what may certainly be considered as among the very
best society in England. He says that on occasion of a visit which the
Lord Chief-justice paid to Walmer Castle, three years before the Duke
of Wellington’s death, in a conversation about riding, the duke said,
“When I meet a lady on horseback I always stop, and if her horse seems
troublesome, offer to ride alongside her in the Row till it is quiet.
The other day I met a lady on a fresh, violent horse, so I took off my
hat and said, ‘Shall I ride with you? My horse is perfectly quiet.’
She knew me, for she replied, ‘No, your Grace; I think I can get on
very well.’ After she was gone, I felt sure it was Jenny Lind.” “We all
agreed,” adds Lord Denman, “that the great singer should have accepted
the services of the great duke, whether she wanted them or not.”

It is better not to fight a restive horse unless you have reason to be
sure of victory, but rather get some one to lead him past the object
or into the road which he may have taken it into his foolish head to
object to. If he is in “that state of nervous irritability known as
_freshness_” do not jerk the bit, but keep a steady, patient bearing
on it, speaking soothingly to him in a low though steady voice, for
his acute hearing will enable him to perceive distinctly tones which
are almost or quite inaudible to your companions. Try not to have an
anxious expression of countenance, no matter what he may do, but to
look serene and smiling, as it will not only be more becoming, but will
undoubtedly react upon your own feelings. If he pulls, it is well to
take the slack of the right reins in the spare fingers of the left,
and _vice versa_, as this will give a firmer hold, and enable you to
shorten the reins without relaxing their tension.


Always speak to your horse on approaching and on leaving him, and also
whenever he has tried especially to please you, as your voice will soon
come to have a great influence over him. There is a story told of two
keepers in a zoological garden, one of whom was a favorite with the
animals, while the other, though a more conscientious man, was disliked
by them. The authorities, curious to learn the reason, had them
watched, and it was found that the former always talked to the animals,
while the latter served them silently. Too much conversation with
one’s horse, however, is apt to get to be a bore to one’s companions.


This should vary with the nature of the ground, as it is dangerous to
the horse, and consequently very bad form, to ride fast on a very rough
or hard road. If slippery, a smart trot is safer than a slow trot or
walk; but if walking, by all means let the horse have his head. If a
steep place is to be descended, attack it at right angles, and not
obliquely, for, when going down straight, a slip is likely to have no
worse result than a momentary sitting down on the haunches, whereas,
if going diagonally, it would probably bring the horse down flat. The
canter, which is peculiarly the lady’s pace, is much harder than the
trot on the horse’s feet and legs, especially on the leading foot and
leg, and it should be reserved for comparatively soft ground. The lead
with the right foot is easier for a lady, owing to her one-sided seat,
than that with the left, and it would be considered awkward or ignorant
for her not to start off with the right, although during a long ride it
is well to change, so as to bring the strain upon a new set of muscles.


Of course in turning you must always lead towards the turn, that is,
with the right foot in turning to the right, and with the left in
turning to the left. For instance, if you have to round a corner to
the right, and are leading with the right foot, as will probably be
the case, you have nothing to do but to go on around, being careful to
choose good footing for your horse, and avoiding particularly loose
stones. If, however, you are leading with the left, you must change,
and you can best do so in the following manner. As you approach the
critical spot, _collect_ your horse with the curb, and bring him to
a trot; then, just as you reach the corner, make him swerve slightly
to the left and instantly give the signal to canter, at the same time
turning him sharply to the right, pressing your heel against his side
back of the girth, and lifting the right snaffle-rein. It is well to
draw back the right shoulder also, so as to throw your weight on his
left side, and leave his right leg free to make the long stride. As
this is by no means an easy operation for an unskilled rider, except
on a perfectly trained horse, I will give the directions also in
detail for the reverse process of wheeling to the left. If your horse
should be leading with the left foot, you have, of course, no change
to make. If, however, you are, as usual, leading with the right,
you must “change the leg” to the left. As you draw near the corner,
moderate your speed and collect your horse with the curb, bringing him
to a trot. Then, just at the moment of turning, sway his shoulders a
very little to the right, give the signal to canter by raising your
hand, and wheel sharply to the left, at the same time pressing your
crop against his right side back of the girth, and raising the left
snaffle-rein. While doing so, draw back your left shoulder so as to
throw your weight on the right side. If he does not take the hint at
once, do not be discouraged, but practise him in some quiet place,
choosing, if possible, a corner where the turn is uphill; and when he
does well, pat him and make much of him, for you will find that no
one of your admirers is more sensitive to your praises than he. This
matter of turning is well worth all the trouble it may cost you, as it
will give you a lively pleasure to find your horse’s powerful limbs
moving sympathetically to the gentle impulses of a woman’s hand, and,
besides, it lends an air of style and _savoir-faire_ which will be
fully appreciated by every looker-on who knows anything whatever about
riding. Be particular to lean over towards the centre of the curve you
are describing at an angle proportionate to the speed, just as the
horse does himself, that is, leaning to the right side as he wheels
to the right, and to the left when he wheels to the left. It is well
not to let him cut off his corners, but to preserve the same distance
from the centre of the road, just as if you were riding in company,
and when this last is the case be careful to keep exactly abreast both
on the straight road and on the turns, for there is nothing that looks
more countrified than to see riders straggling along irregularly like a
party of mechanics out for a stroll on a Sunday afternoon.

It is well never to canter a carriage-horse unless you know him well,
and are sure he will not thus be rendered unsteady in harness, and in
like manner you should be considerate of your escort or companions, and
not urge their horses beyond their proper gait. A good way to do, if
you are much the best mounted of the party, is now and then, when the
road is suitable, to gallop on and return again. It looks well to see
a lady cantering beside a gentleman who is trotting; but the reverse
never seems quite good form, and especially when it is evident that the
gentleman’s horse is galloping because he has been pushed off his legs.

A borrowed horse is an article which is looked upon with very different
eyes by the elderly people who generally are the lenders, and the
youthful riders that are usually the borrowers, and many a man, and
perhaps many a woman too, remembers with shame and regret how little
were appreciated or deserved the favors of this sort received in
youthful days. A borrowed horse should be scrupulously ridden exactly
as the owner wishes, and moreover the owner’s desires ought to be
respectfully ascertained in advance.

For cross-country riding the stirrups should be taken up at least one
hole, and the same is advisable in mounting a strange horse. Another
safe precaution, in the latter case, is a running martingale, which
will prevent him from throwing up his head, as some horses have the
habit of doing, to the great annoyance of the rider.

There are two or three more practical suggestions which may not be out
of place here. The first and most important is that it is exceedingly
dangerous to let a horse stand in a draught of air, or in a cool place,
or eat or drink, when heated. In ten minutes he may be so crippled
that he will never take a free step again. Ferry-boats are notoriously
bad places, and a horse should never be taken on to them till quite
cool. It is not well to let your horse crop the leaves or grass, as
kind-hearted riders permit him to do sometimes, for it soils his lips
and bits, giving him a slovenly air, and you run the risk besides of
his wiping them on your habit before you part from him. Avoid letting
your horse drink unless he really would be better for the refreshment,
as he can hardly do so without wetting the curb-reins, making them
stiff and dirty-looking.


The costume of the groom is too well known to require remark further
than that it should be scrupulously neat. In the country, top-boots,
etc., are by no means _de rigueur_, and under many circumstances would
savor more of pretence than of real gentility. The groom ought to be
mounted on a strong and able horse, which, if unused to the saddle, he
should train at least so far that he can with one hand, by the aid of
his legs, force it to take and keep any position. When accompanying
inexperienced riders his horse should be able to overtake theirs
easily. The distance at which he should ride behind his mistress
varies with circumstances--in a crowded street his place being close
behind her, while in the Park or in the country he naturally falls
farther back, though never beyond easy call. If he is mounted on a good
saddle-horse, he should keep in his place, that is, always at the same
distance, galloping if necessary; but if riding a carriage-horse, as
is often convenient, he should not, unless absolutely necessary, force
the animal beyond the fastest trot at which it looks well in harness.
He should never canter any horse unless instructed expressly to do
so, but should trot in a business-like way, rising in his stirrups,
or, if necessary, should gallop, sitting straight, with hands low and
feet thrust home in the stirrups. In all cases he should look straight
forward, without appearing to notice what goes on around him. Nothing
looks in worse form than a groom sitting lazily back on a cantering
horse, and casting glances at the admiring nursery-maids along the way.
When summoned to his mistress, he should touch his hat to acknowledge
receipt of the command, and should ride quickly up on the off side,
where he should listen in a respectful attitude with eyes cast down,
then, touching his hat again, depart to carry out her orders.



One pleasant winter afternoon a fashionably dressed young man, crop in
hand, spur on heel, and mounted on a tall horse, was seen to emerge
briskly from a little grove in a gentleman’s place, and come to a
sudden halt in the level field across which he had intended to gallop.
The cause was a new ditch, deep though narrow, stretching across from
fence to fence before him. He looked at the obstacle a moment, then
up and down the field, and remarked to a gardener, an old Scotchman,
who stood looking on, spade in hand, “Well, I suppose I must go back.”
“I suppose so,” said the old fellow, dryly, looking up out of the
corner of his eye with an almost imperceptible smile. The young man
reddened, hesitated, and then turned away, saying, as if the other’s
thoughts had been spoken out, “To tell the truth, I don’t know whether
my horse would if he could, nor whether he could if he would.” “An’
the same o’ yourself,” muttered the old man in his grizzled beard.
The sarcasm was not to be wondered at, as the speaker remembered what
he had many a time seen, and very likely himself done in his younger
days in some hunting field of the old country, for the ditch before
him could have been cleared by an active boy, on his own legs, with
a good run. Moreover, it is not improbable that the reader is ready
to agree with the old satirist in thinking the young man a “muff.”
Nevertheless, both horse and rider might easily have come to grief, for
the steep banks were crumbly, and while the rider’s seat was not of
the firmest, his mount was straight in the shoulder and a little stiff
in the pastern. However, they were both as well fitted to overcome
such a difficulty as nine-tenths of American horses and riders, and a
very little previous practice would have enabled them to spring over
without bestowing a second thought upon it. The total indifference on
this subject of leaping among our people is really quite remarkable,
for one can hardly take a ride anywhere in the country without there
arising some occasions when even a little knowledge of the art would
have added to one’s pleasure. How often, for instance, an easy fence
separates the dusty road, too hard as well as too hot for fast riding,
from some cool wood with its shaded turf, where a gallop would be
delightful and would do the horse good instead of harm. The reason of
this indifference is not only the fear of getting shaken off, but a
doubt as to the horse’s ability to leap, and a dread of doing him some
harm by such an unusual exertion. All these apprehensions are very
likely well-founded, for if you have never done any leaping your first
essay will, in all probability, give you a severe shock. Then if your
horse is green at this sort of work, and the fence is at all difficult,
he will not improbably refuse altogether, or jump so unwillingly and
clumsily as to risk your bones as well as his own; and if he does not
really fall, he may cause such a strain upon unaccustomed muscles as to
set up a “splint” or “spavin,” producing at least temporary lameness.
Nevertheless, all these excellent reasons for not trying to leap can
gradually, but rapidly and with perfect safety, be removed by practice,
and practice of a kind very pleasant and interesting, while at the
same time improving to your seat, giving it a firmness under all
circumstances which no amount of riding on the highway could ever do.

[Illustration: APPROACHING A FENCE.]

Some horses are exceedingly fond of leaping, but the majority are
indifferent, though on the whole rather averse to it, while a few
positively will not try at all. The first thing to be done is to get
your horse to take low and easy leaps without repugnance. For this
purpose lay the bar you intend to use on the ground, and lead him over
it without looking back at him or giving him any reason to suppose
that you have any particular object in so doing. Should he object to
stepping over it, be patient though firm, and when he has finally
done so, pat and praise him; but if he has been bred in this country,
and is used to bar places, he will probably give no trouble at this
stage of his education. Now mount him and repeat the operation; then,
having the bar raised a few inches, do so again, and continue doing
so, always at a walk, until it is so high that he can no longer step
over it. American horses are famous for their excellent tempers;
nevertheless, at this point, unless you manage with care and with a
judicious reference to equine peculiarities of mind and temper, you may
meet with a refusal to proceed. In this event you must not use force
or severity, or you may disgust the horse, perhaps forever, with the
very exercise you wish him to learn to enjoy, but must content yourself
with preventing him from sheering off and keeping him facing his task
till, sooner or later, he will go over. Now praise him and make much
of him, and ask no more jumping till the next lesson. It is not a good
plan to put the bar up in an open place, for the horse will think it
nonsense, and unless he is unusually docile will resent what will seem
to him to be an imposition in forcing him to jump over it when he
could easily go around it. A bar place or gate-way is much better, as
it cannot be “flanked,” and he will not wonder at being asked to go
through it, but he should never be ridden backward and forward over
the bar, nor allowed to see it raised, but should be brought around to
it by a circuit which, if possible, should be large enough to make
him forget the leaping, or think of it only as an accidental episode
in the ride. The ground also should be no harder than good firm turf.
Let him jump towards his stable or towards home by preference, and it
will be well to let your assistant hold some little article of food
which he is especially fond of in view just beyond the bar, so that
his attention may be distracted from the effort, while an agreeable
association is given him with it, and he is prevented from thinking
that the obstacle is one of your making. Bear in mind that your object
at present is threefold: to induce him to take a liking for the new
exercise; to give him ease and confidence in the performance of it; and
to train and strengthen by use the muscles brought into play, so that
none of the unpleasant results mentioned above may follow. Therefore do
not for a considerable time set the bar more than two feet high, but
practise him at it several times a day; first, as already said, at a
walk, then at a slow trot, and then at a canter, making him lead first
with one foot, then with the other, until he not only springs over
without touching and without apparently thinking anything about it,
but shows by his lengthening or shortening his stride on approaching,
so as to “take off” at the right distance, that his eye is becoming
educated; and, finally, until a careful daily inspection of his feet
and legs has proved that no soreness or tenderness anywhere is caused
by this exercise. If he does not jump clean, but knocks the bar with
his feet, it may be because he underestimates the height, as not only
horses but men too are apt to do in the case of open fences made with
posts and rails; therefore have a broad piece of board, two feet long,
stood up against the bar like a post, and make him leap over it. If
he still strikes, it will be well to try the plan which M. Baucher
so enthusiastically recommends for all horses, and which consists in
raising the bar a little just as the horse is in the act of springing.

[Illustration: A WATER JUMP.]

It will be interesting to hear exactly what so great an authority has
to say on this subject. After remarking that the bar should not be
covered with anything to diminish its hardness, he proceeds: “I let
two men hold the bare bar at six inches above the ground. The rider
advances towards it at a walk, and at the moment when the horse, aided
by the rider, takes the leap, the two men _raise the bar six inches_.”
The horse naturally strikes his feet against it. “I make him begin
again, until he clears the bar without touching, notwithstanding the
repeated raising of it at each leap. Then I have the bar held at a
foot above the ground, and, as before, it will be raised six inches
at the moment of the leap. When the horse is accustomed to clear
this new elevation, I have the bar gradually held six inches higher,
still continuing to raise it six inches at each leap, and I thus
succeed, after a few lessons given with the regular progression above
described, in making all horses jump obstacles of a height that they
would otherwise never have been able to clear. This simple proceeding,
well applied, will be useful even to exceptional horses, such as
steeple-chasers, by teaching them to come more carefully to the point
of ‘taking off,’ and will render falls less frequent.” The idea of M.
Baucher is to get the horse in the habit of jumping a little higher
than he thinks necessary, so as to be on the safe side, and a very good
idea it is. It is a practice among experienced riders to hounds in
England, instead of leaping a post-and-rail fence midway between the
posts, to leap as close to a post as possible, or directly over it when
it is not much higher than the rail.

To return to our equine scholar, having practised him for a month or so
at an elevation of two feet, his muscles will have adapted themselves
to the new strain put upon them, and it will be safe to begin to raise
the bar higher, and gradually to go up nearly to the limit of his
ability. It is well, however, never to ask too much, as even a willing
leaper will be sometimes so disgusted at what he thinks tyrannical
exactions as to refuse obstinately ever to try again. The horse should
never be allowed to rush at the bar, but should always, if approaching
at a gallop, be collected, as much as a hundred feet away, so as to
be under perfect control. The higher the leap, the slower the pace at
which it should be taken, for the very momentum acquired by a rush,
which would be useful in a water leap, would carry the animal against
the bar instead of over it. The reins should be held in both hands,
and after the horse has been collected with the curb, as may very
likely be necessary, the curb should be relaxed, so that on approaching
the leap he may feel only the gentle pressure of the snaffle, which
will not make him fear to thrust forward his head, a fear which would
possibly result in bringing him down on all fours at once, or even with
the hind-feet first. As he rises to his leap, keep a steady but very
gentle tension on the reins, being ready to support him firmly as his
fore-feet touch the earth.

It is now time to experiment with low stone walls and with brooks,
being always on your guard against those concealed man-traps in the
shape of loose stones, which form one of the chief dangers of leaping
in this country.

[Illustration: RISING TO THE LEAP.]

All this while we have been assuming the rider to be an accomplished
horsewoman, and quite _au fait_ at her fences. If, however, the
business is entirely new to her, let her not be at all disheartened,
for her own education can be carried on simultaneously with that of
the horse, and without the least detriment to it. In this case, keep
to the standing leap--that is, the leap taken from a walk--although
it is really the most difficult to sit, until you can support the
unusual motion without being in the least loosened in the saddle, and
do not try the higher ones till you are perfect in the lower. The hands
should be held as low as possible above the right knee, and pretty
close to the body, so that they may have room to yield, and that the
sudden thrusting out of the horse’s head may not jerk you forward in
the saddle, in which case the powerful impulsion of the hind-legs
might pitch you out altogether. The advice is often given in books
to lean forward and then backward in the leap, but the fact is that
beginners, if they lean forward intentionally, seldom get back in time
to avoid the shock above alluded to, and teachers, therefore, as well
as friendly _coaches_, often call out “lean back” as a lady nears the
bar, which results in giving the learner an awkward though perhaps not
unsafe manner. The fact is that there is no necessity to try to lean
forward, as the rising of the horse will bring you involuntarily into
a position perpendicular to the ground, while the play of thigh and
waist to prevent being tossed up is of the same kind as that in the
gallop, only proportionately increased, and it will become instinctive
if leaping is begun moderately and carried on progressively as already
recommended. In coming down you can hardly lean too far back. The left
foot should not be thrust forward, but kept straight, or drawn a very
little back and held close against the horse’s side; the stirrup, into
which the foot is pushed to the instep, being one or two holes shorter
than for ordinary riding. On approaching the fence, be particular
to do nothing to distract the animal’s attention, as, for instance,
by ejaculations or nervous movements of the reins and person; and
after the leap do not fail to reward him by praises and caresses, for
it cannot be too deeply impressed on the mind that he is exceedingly
sensitive to them, and will consider them an ample reward for his

[Illustration: COMING DOWN.]

The object of these instructions being to enable a lady to master the
art of leaping without a regular instructor, it will not be amiss
to sum up the advice already given at length, in the words of two
competent authorities, “Vieille Moustache” and Mr. Sidney. The former

“She should take a firm hold of the upper crutch of the saddle with
the right knee, sit well into the saddle--not back of it, because the
farther back the greater the concussion when the horse alights--put her
left foot well home in the stirrup, and press her left thigh firmly
against the third crutch, while keeping the left knee flexible; lean
slightly forward, avoid stiffening her waist, in order to throw the
upper part of her figure backward at the right moment to preserve her
balance. The hands must not move except with the body, and above all
no attempt to enliven the horse by jagging his mouth as he is about to
rise--a pernicious habit, practised by riders of both sexes who ought
to know better. Reins too short, head too forward, and pace too violent
are the ordinary faults of beginners. Women have on their saddles a
firmer seat for leaping than men.”

Mr. Sidney remarks: “A sheep hurdle is quite high enough and the trunk
of a tree is quite wide enough for the first steps in leaping. Balance,
gripe of the pommels, and support of the stirrup must be combined;
the seat as near the centre of the horse’s back as the pommels will
permit; the figure erect, not rigid, with the shoulders back, ready
to bend gently backward as the horse rises in the air--not leaning
forward, twisted over on the near side, like a popular spirited and
absurd picture (“First at the Fence”), which really shows ‘how not to
do it;’ the snaffle-reins held in both hands, at a length that will
enable the horse fully to extend himself, and the rider to bear on his
mouth as she bends back over his croup when he is landing. All this
time her eyes should be looking between the horse’s ears, so as to keep
perfectly square in the saddle.”

If the reader carries out the instruction already given with care, and
exercises good sense and judgment, it is very unlikely that she will
have a fall. Should this happen, however, there are two things to be
remembered, first to get instantly away from the horse by scrambling
or rolling, and secondly to keep hold of the reins. In any event, the
timid may be reassured by reflecting that a fall is usually without any
serious result, it being by no means as dangerous to come down with the
horse as to be thrown from him.



The opening of the horse-market is not announced to ladies by cards
of invitation, though such an innovation on the old-fashioned
methods might prove a great success in the hands of a skilful
dealer. Nevertheless, as soon as spring opens, all over the United
States, ladies are “shopping” for horses, but by no means in their
usual jaunty and self-confident way, for their eyes, which do them
such good service at the silk or lace counter, take on a timid and
hesitating expression in the presence of this unwonted problem. The
acquisition of a saddle-horse by a young girl is usually a long
and complicated operation, in the course of which her hopes are
alternately raised and depressed day by day, to be at last very likely
disappointed altogether. It often begins at breakfast-time, somewhat
in the following fashion: “Dear papa, don’t you think I might have a
saddle-horse this season? Eleanor B----’s uncle has given her a beauty,
and we could ride together; and you know that is just the sort of
exercise the doctor said would be good for me.” The father hesitates,
and few fathers there are who do not in their hearts long to grant the
request; but he is a very busy man, and does not feel as if he could
take any more cares upon his shoulders; and very likely he knows little
about horses, and really has not the slightest idea how to set about
such a purchase; and his mind misgives him as he remembers what he has
heard of the tricks of dealers. So he says, “Oh, my dear, I don’t see
how we can manage it. We should be cheated, to begin with, and pay
twice as much as he is worth, and he would run away and throw you off;
and then he would be always sick, and finally fall lame, and would have
to be given away before the season is over.” This is the critical point
of this part of the little family transaction, and if the daughter has
nothing more convincing to offer in reply than some vague statement
that she is sure she sees plenty of good horses in the street, and that
she does not see why her horse should be sick any more than any one
else’s, and that there must be plenty of good men to take care of him
to be had at low wages, then probably her case is lost. But suppose
that she replies: “Oh yes, papa, I _know_ a horse that will do _nicely_
and can’t be sickly for he has worked all summer and not lost _a day_
and he is eight years old and so has eaten all his wild oats by this
time and he isn’t a very pretty color but then we can buy him cheaper
for that reason and I don’t care so much for color as I do for _shape_
and he is _very_ well formed indeed his legs and feet are excellent and
he has a broad shoulder and a pretty neck and head and we gave him
a long drive the other day and he never missed _a step_ and he isn’t
afraid of anything and I drove him fast up a steep hill and jumped out
at the top to give him a bunch of clover and took the opportunity to
listen to his breathing and to feel his pulse and there is nothing the
matter with _his_ heart or wind I assure you and I will promise to go
to the stable once a day to see him.” Then the chances are that, after
laughing at the long sentence without a stop, and telling her she is a
runaway filly herself, papa will say, “Well, suppose we take a look at
this wonderful animal; we are not obliged to buy him, you know, unless
we please, and I don’t say what I may decide finally,” and her case is
won. To be able, however, to make the reply above supposed, simple as
it sounds, indicates a very unusual amount of observation for a young

There are many ladies who can at a glance tell real point lace from
artificial, be the imitation never so good; but there are comparatively
few who know the points of a horse, or can detect any but the most
glaring defects or blemishes. The reason is simply want of practice,
for the difference between the well-made and the ill-made horse, or
between the sound animal and the spavined or foundered one, is far
greater than that between the two pieces of lace above mentioned, which
to most masculine eyes would appear exactly alike. With her superior
delicacy of observation and quickness of perception, a woman ought to
be, other things supposed equal, a better judge of horses than a man,
and there must surely be a great many who, if they really believed
this, would think it worth their while to master the small vocabulary
of technical terms in which the information they require is always
couched, and such would speedily find their reward in the opening
of a new and interesting field of research. To begin with, how few
ladies so much as know the names of the different parts of the animal!
Head, legs, and body, eyes, ears, and tail, are about all the words
in the feminine dictionary of horse lore, and whether the pasterns
are not a disease of colts, the coronet a part of a bridle, and the
frog a swelling in the throat, my lady knoweth not. A half-hour,
however, given to the illustration on the following page, will remove
once for all this preliminary difficulty, and will open the way to a
consideration of the proper form and motion of the parts of which the
names are here given:


_Arm, or True Arm_ (8, 8).--Extends from the point of the shoulder (29)
to the elbow (10). It should be long.

_Back._--This is one of the four parts which, according to Arab saying,
should be short.

_Back Sinew._--The powerful muscle back of the cannon-bone. It should
be free from contact with the bone.

_Barrel, or Chest._--Should be roomy, as not only the lungs, but all
the organs of digestion, are contained in it.

_Belly._--This is one of the four parts which the Arab proverb says
must be long.

_Breast, or Bosom._--Should be deep, but not too broad, or speed will
be diminished.

_Cannon-bone_ (11).--The strong oval bone stretching between the
knee and fetlock-joint in the fore-leg, and between the hock and
fetlock-joint in the hind-leg.

_Chin Groove._--The place just above the swell of the lower lip, in
which the curb-chain should lie.

_Coronet_ (14).--A cartilaginous band encircling the top of the hoof.

_Crest._--The upper part of the back of the neck.

_Croup_ (18).--Strictly speaking, the upper part of hind-quarters
between hip and tail, but in a general way taken for that part of the
body back of the saddle.

_Curb-place_ (29).--A part of the hind-leg, six or eight inches below
the point of the hock, where “curbs,” or enlargement of the back sinew
resulting from strain, are to be looked for.

_Ear._--Neither too long nor very short.

_Elbow_ (10).--Should not be nearly under the point of the shoulder,
but considerably back of it, and should neither be turned out nor
pressed against the ribs.

_Eye._--Should be clear and full, and of a gentle expression.

_Fetlock._--The tuft of hair at the back of the pastern-joint. When
thick and coarse it indicates common blood.

_Fetlock-joint_ (12).--Is between the shank and the pastern, and is the
same as pastern-joint.

_Flank_ (22).

_Forearm_ (9).--Should be long and muscular.

_Forehead._--The broader, the more sense and courage. The average of
six thorough-bred English horses was nine and a half inches.

_Frog._--The triangular piece in centre of bottom of hoof.

_Gaskin, or Lower Thigh_ (23).--Should be strong and long, reaching
well down. Measured from the stifle-joint to the point of hock should
be twenty-eight inches in a well-bred horse of fifteen hands and

_Girth_ (30, 30).--Gives approximately the capacity of the lungs.

_Heel._--Should not to be too high or contracted, that is, drawn

_Hip._--Should be broad, with powerful muscles.

_Hip-joint_ (20).--Is not always easily discovered by an amateur.

_Hock_ (25).--One of the most important of the points of the horse;
should be large, clean--that is, without any rough protuberances on the
bone--flat, and “with a good clean point standing clear of the rest of
the joint.”

_Hoof._--Deep, like a cup; not flat, like a saucer.

_Jaw._--Should be wide up toward the socket, to give room for windpipe,
and permit of a graceful carriage of head.

_Knee._--Can hardly be too large. Looked at from in front, should
appear much wider than the leg, and should stretch out backward into a
sharp edge, called the pisiform-bone.

_Loins_ (17).--Broad, muscular, and arched slightly upward.

_Lower Thigh._--See “Gaskin” (23).

_Mane._--When thick and coarse, indicates inferior blood.

_Muzzle_ (4).--Should be small, but with large nostril. A coarse muzzle
indicates low breeding.

_Nostril._--Open and prominent.

_Pastern_ (13).--The short oblique bone between the fetlock and hoof.
Should not be straighter than sixty, nor lower than forty-five degrees
to the ground.

_Pastern-joint_ (12).--Same as fetlock-joint.

_Pisiform-bone_ (16).--At the back of the knee.

_Point of the Hock_ (26).

_Point of the Shoulder_ (29).--The lower end of the shoulder-blade, to
which is jointed the true arm.

_Poll._--The top of the head.

_Quarters_ (21).--Should be muscular.

_Ribs._--Should be well arched, and come up close to the hip.

_Shoulder_ (7, 7).--Should be long and oblique.

_Spavin Place_ (27).--Should be free from bony enlargement.

_Stifle-joint_ (24).--Corresponds to the human knee.

_Tail._--Not set on too high, but yet carried gracefully.

_Thigh, or True Thigh._--Reaches from hip-joint to stifle. Should be
long to give speed.

_Thrapple, or Throttle_ (5).--Upper part of throat.

_True Arm_ (8, 8).--See “Arm.” To a careless observer it appears to
form part of the shoulder.

_Withers_ (6).--It is the height of the withers which gives the height
of the horse.

[Illustration: PARTS AND “POINTS.”]

To be a “good judge of a horse” is indeed an accomplishment as rare as
it is desirable; but while it cannot be taught by word of mouth or pen,
yet a few principles may be acquired which will be of great assistance
in cultivating the eye. Even if the judgment be never so thoroughly
formed as to be a safe guide unaided in purchasing, yet a great deal
of pleasure may be derived from noting the comparative excellences
of the really fine horses constantly to be seen in this country; and
there is no reason in the world why a lady’s opinion on this subject
should continue to weigh as little as it has generally done hitherto. A
graceful neck and an air of spirit usually win the feminine suffrages,
yet often co-exist with a long back, spindle-shanks, and a chest both
shallow and narrow. Nevertheless, a good neck is an excellent thing,
and so is a small head, especially if it have a wide forehead; but next
look to see if there is also (to use a horsey expression), “a short
back and a long belly,” a deep chest, a sloping shoulder, and legs
broad and long above the knee and hock, but broad and short below.

The Arabs have a proverb that “there should be four points of a
horse long, four short, and four broad.” The long are the neck, the
forearm, the thigh, and the belly; the short are the back, the pastern,
the tail, and the ear; the broad are the forehead, the chest, the
croup, and the limbs. The head should be small and bony; that of an
English thorough-bred of fifteen and three-quarter hands will measure
twenty-two to twenty-four inches in length, with the forehead eight to
ten inches broad, the face dishing below the eyes. The withers should
be high, the shoulder as broad as possible--not fleshy, but bony--and
lying at an angle of about forty-five degrees. The chest should be
broad and deep, to give room for lungs and heart. The knees should be
broad, the hoofs large, and not flat, but deep.

The reasons for some of the above recommendations may be made clearer
by a rough comparison between the frame of the horse and that of
man. For instance, the shoulder of the former, from the withers to
its forward point at the joint, is equivalent to the shoulder-blade
and collar-bone of the latter, and a broad shoulder is as sure an
indication of strength in the one as in the other. If the horse is
“short above and long below,” it gives him a carriage similar to that
of a man with a full, broad chest, who holds his head high and his
shoulders back.

The knee of the horse corresponds to the human wrist, and his _hock_,
or “back knee,” as the children call it, to our heel. The shank of the
fore-leg, then, or the part between the knee and fetlock, corresponds
to the hand, and the hoof and pastern to the fingers; while the shank
of the hind-leg, or the part between hock and fetlock, corresponds
to our foot, the hoof and pastern being the toes. The horse may thus
be said to walk upon the tips of his fingers and toes, and it will
readily be seen why the leg weakens in proportion as the pastern and
shank lengthen. The arm proper of the horse is very short and almost
concealed from view, reaching from the forward point of the shoulder to
the elbow, which is close against the side.

The more oblique the shoulder, the greater the power of this arm to
throw the forearm forward, so as to support the body in the gallop,
and in coming down from a leap. A straight shoulder is adapted for
pulling loads, but is not fit for the saddle, except upon level roads,
becoming positively dangerous in broken ground. The two upper members
of the hind-leg, reaching from the hip to the hock, are together
commonly called the thigh, as the thigh proper, which stretches from
the hip to the stifle-joint, is very short and almost concealed
from observation. The stifle-joint, which corresponds to our knee,
lies close against the flank. Read the description, to some extent
traditional, of the wonderful mare Swallow, in Kingsley’s “Hereward
the Wake.” She was evidently not from Arab stock, with her big ugly
head; but horses--like men and women--of extraordinary strength, and
beauty too, are sometimes happened upon in the most unlikely places.
Indeed, in many an ungraceful form there is stored up an amount of
vital energy which explains the saying that one can find “good horses
of all shapes.” Nevertheless, the presumption is always in favor of the
well-shaped animal, and the acknowledged type of equine beauty is the
English thorough-bred. This is of pure Arab blood, but so improved by
many generations of careful breeding and training that it now excels
not only all other European and Oriental races but the modern Arab
himself, that is considered to be, weight for weight, twenty-five per
cent. stronger than other breeds. One invariable mark of Arab blood,
by-the-bye, is a high and graceful carriage of the tail. The eye should
be kind and quiet, that of an Arab very gentle, even sleepy, when at
rest, but full of fire and animation when in motion.

“The relative proportions of and exact shape desirable in each of the
points described varies considerably in the several breeds. Thus, when
speed and activity are essential, an oblique shoulder-blade is a _sine
quâ non_, while for heavy harness it can hardly be too upright. _There
are some elements, however, which are wanted in any horse, such as big
hocks and knees, flat legs with large sinews, open jaws_ (that is, with
the lower jaw-bones wide apart), _and full nostrils_.”

It is well, after taking a general look at a horse and getting an
impression of him as a whole, to divide him up mentally into sections,
and examine these in detail one after the other. Taking first the head,
which should be bony, not fleshy, remember that the more brain the more
“horse sense.” Next look at the neck, which should be neither too thick
nor too long, but connecting head and shoulders by a graceful sweep.
Then the forequarters, observing that the shoulder-blade and true arm
are both long, well supplied though not loaded with muscle, and join
each other at the point of the shoulder at a rather sharp angle. Then
the “middle-piece,” which should be rounded in the barrel, arched
slightly in the loin, “short above and long below,” and well ribbed
up towards the hip. Next the hind-quarters, then the legs, knees,
hocks, and feet, observing that the knees are firm, the cannon-bones
and pastern are flat and strong, and that the back sinew is strong and
stands free from the bone.

Now have the horse set in motion, and observe him first from one
side, then from the other, and then from behind, noting the carriage
and movements of the different parts in the order above given. This
examination is practically the more important of the two.

Let no one suppose that mere verbal instruction, however judicious and
elaborate, will, without practice, make a good judge of horse-flesh any
more than it will of Brussels point-lace. All it is here intended to do
is to aid in training the eye, which must be constantly exercised upon
whatever specimens may come before it, comparing them mentally with
one another, and noting their defects and qualities whether of form or
of motion. It will soon be found that such observations, particularly
when relating to the motions of the horse, have a fascination
peculiarly their own, and open a new and wide field of amusement.

In examining a horse a lady cannot of course usually make the thorough
inspection personally which would be necessary to warrant his limbs
and wind perfectly sound, but she can, by taking a little time to it,
form an opinion which will be very nearly correct. She should first
master the vocabulary at the end of this chapter, which will give her
an idea what defects to be on the lookout for, and just where to seek
for them; and she should cultivate her eye at every opportunity by
scanning critically every horse she sees--or, to be more moderate, say
one or two a day--endeavoring to detect a “spavin” or “curb,” or what
not, which the owner does not suspect or perhaps shuts his eyes to.
Then, when a horse is brought up for her approval, let her take her own
time, refuse to be hurried or humbugged, but, as already suggested,
look him over from all sides, at rest and in motion, and finally _get
him on trial for a week_. This last precaution is the most valuable
of all, and worth, as “Stonehenge” says, ten per cent. on the price
of the animal, and it can very often be obtained by the simple offer
of paying for his services in case he is not purchased; indeed, some
of the most successful New York City dealers grant this privilege
to any responsible customer as a matter of course. To return to our
inspection: First take a side view from a little distance, observing
that he stands perpendicularly on all four legs, bearing equal weight
on each; any “pointing,” or putting forward of a fore-foot to relieve
it of its share of weight, being indicative of tenderness if not
lameness. Notice the size, shape, and relative proportion of the
different parts, and scrutinize them carefully for swellings, or for
weakened or deformed joints. Then do the same from before, then from
behind. Now have him led past you, first at a walk, then at a slow
trot, insisting that the groom shall not take him by the headstall, but
by the end of the halter, so as to leave him free to nod his head if
he pleases. Now have him saddled and bridled, and all his paces shown,
finishing with a smart gallop long enough to sweat him well, after
which listen carefully to his breathing, which should be noiseless;
observe that the heaving of the flanks is regular and not spasmodic,
and that the beating of the heart is not violent or irregular. During
your week of trial take some disinterested person with you to serve
as witness in case of accident or misconduct, and work the horse hard
every day, so as to be sure that he does not lose his appetite when
fatigued, but being careful not to injure his feet by galloping on
hard roads, or to let him slip or strain himself in any way. Remember
the oft-quoted words of the English stable-man: “It ain’t the speed
that ’urts the ’orse; it’s the ’ammer, ’ammer, ’ammer on the ’ard
’igh-road.” After your first ride, leave the saddle on for twenty
minutes with the girths slackened, and next morning, before putting it
on again, examine the back carefully for any soreness or puffy spot,
and if such exist, abstain from riding until it has quite disappeared,
for a day of patience now is better than a week after a saddle-gall
has become fairly established. The saddle, of course, should fit the
horse well, and there should always be a free space along above the
backbone and withers.

[Illustration: THE SORT OF HORSE TO BUY.]

The cut on the preceding page shows a saddle-horse of the very best
form for a lady’s use.

The color of a horse is an important factor in the price, except in
the case of animals of extraordinary qualities; and although different
persons have their special preferences, yet probably the order of the
following list will give the average taste of the horse-buying public:

  1. Blood bay with black points; that is, with mane, tail, and legs
     from the knee downward black.

  2. Rich chestnut.

  3. Rich brown.

  4. Common bay with black points.

  5. Common chestnut.

  6. Dark dapple gray.

  7. Full black.

  8. Light bay with brown legs.

  9. White.

 10. Common gray.

 11. Brownish-black.

 12. Sorrel.

When your decision is finally made, obtain (from the person selling) a
warranty, which had better be written upon the bill itself, giving the
height, age, and color of the horse, and stating that he is sound,
kind, goes well under the saddle and in single or double harness, and
is afraid of nothing.

The vices which in the eye of the law make a horse returnable are
Biting, Cribbing, Kicking, Rearing when dangerous, and Shying when

In estimating the height of a horse it is convenient to remember that
fifteen hands make exactly five feet--a “hand” being four inches, or a
third of a foot.

To aid the inexperienced we give a cut showing a horse, originally of
high spirit but faulty organization, broken down by ill usage, and
also append a list of the various defects and ailments which every
horse-owner ought to know something about.


[Those printed in small capitals constitute UNSOUNDNESS in the eye of
the law.]

_Acclimation._--Horses removed from one part of the country to another
have usually a period of indisposition, often of severe illness, and
always for some time require more than ordinary care. It is well,
therefore, not to buy a Western horse in the Atlantic States until he
has been at least a month in his new surroundings.

_Apoplexy._--Sometimes called “sleepy staggers.” Begins with
drowsiness, passing into insensibility, with snoring respiration, and
ending in death.

BLINDNESS.--Often comes on gradually. Eyes of a bluish-black are
thought suspicious, as is inflammation of ball or lid, or cloudiness of

BLIND STAGGERS.--See “Megrims” and “Staggers.”

BOG-SPAVIN.--A soft swelling on the inner side of the hock-joint
towards the front. It is caused by the formation of a sac containing
synovial fluid which has oozed out of the joint. The result usually of
brutality. Incurable.

BLOOD-SPAVIN.--A swelling in nearly the same place caused by an
aneurism or sac of arterial blood. Incurable. Very rare.

BONE-SPAVIN.--A swelling caused by a bony growth on the inside of the
hock-joint towards the front. It produces lameness, which sometimes
passes off temporarily after a few minutes’ work. Sometimes curable.
This is what is usually meant by spavin.

_Bots._--Caused by the larvæ of the bot-fly, which cling to the lining
of the stomach by their two hooks till after several months they reach
maturity and pass out with the droppings. They seem to do little harm,
and should be left alone, as they cannot be destroyed by any medicine
safe for a horse to take.

BREAKING DOWN.--A rupture of the tendons of the leg causing the
fetlock-joint to give way downward. Incurable.

_Broken Knee._--Indicated by white or bare spots, showing that the
horse has been down, and is presumably a stumbler.

BROKEN WIND.--Accompanied by a husky cough, and indicated by heaving
flanks and forcible double respiration after exercise. Incurable.

_Capped Hock._--A soft movable swelling on point of hock, caused by a
bruise, usually got in kicking.

CATARACT.--Opacity of the crystalline lens of the eye.

_Chapped Heels._--Always the result of neglect. Often accompanied by
fever and constitutional disturbance.

_Cold._--Shown by dulness, rough coat, loss of appetite, tears and
running at the nose. Give soft food and nurse well without exercise.

_Colic._--Distinguished from inflammation of the bowels by intervals of
quiet between the spasms, and by the fact that the horse will strike
his belly violently in the hope of relief. Give first a warm injection,
to remove any obstruction in lower bowel, and then administer

_Contracted Heels._--Often caused by improper shoeing, but often
natural, and in this case producing no ill result.

CORNS.--Do not at all resemble human corns. A corn is a reddish and
very sensitive spot in the sole of the foot under the shoe, caused by a
rupture of the delicate blood-vessels, resulting in an abnormal fungoid

_Costiveness._--May bring on “blind staggers” in a horse inclined to
this disease. No horse should be hurried when first taken out till his
bowels have been moved.

COUGH.--Constitutes unsoundness while it lasts. Caused by foul air,
dusty food, irregular work. Crush the oats, damp the hay, and give
linseed tea for drink.

CRIBBING, _or_ CRIB-BITING.--Is sometimes considered a vice, but is
doubtless a result of indigestion. The horse lays hold of the manger
with his teeth, straightens his neck, sucks wind into his stomach, and
ejects gas. Probably some alkali, say lime-water or baking soda, would
be beneficial.

CURB.--A soft, painful swelling on the back of the hind-leg six or
eight inches below the hock. See illustration.

_Cutting._--See “Interfering” and “Speedy Cut.”

_Discharge from Nostril._--Is usually caused by a simple cold, but may
be a symptom of the contagious and incurable disease GLANDERS, and
proximity to it should therefore be carefully avoided.

_Distemper._--A disease of young horses, occurring once only. See

_Ewe Neck._--Carries the head high and nearly in a horizontal position,
so that the bit has not a proper bearing on the “bars,” but is inclined
to slip back towards the grinders.

FARCY.--An incurable and contagious disease, caused by blood-poisoning,
and indicated by sores usually on inside of thigh, or on neck and hips.
As it is communicable to human beings, every farcied horse should be
immediately killed. It is well to avoid all approach to horses having
sores of any kind. See “Glanders.”

_Filled Legs._--A swelled condition of the lower parts, usually caused
by want of exercise, and relieved by bandaging and rubbing.

_Fistula of the Withers._--An abscess among the muscles over the
shoulder-blades, usually caused by pressure of saddle upon the bony
ridge of back. Requires surgical operation.

_Forging._--See “Overreaching.”

FOUNDER, OR FEVER IN THE FEET.--An inflammation of the parts between
the crust of the foot and the pedal-bone, including the _laminæ_,
which cease to secrete horn. It is caused sometimes by hard roads,
and sometimes by eating or drinking or standing in a draught of air
when heated. This name is commonly applied to any rheumatic lameness
of the fore-feet or legs brought on as above, whether its seat be the
feet, the tendons of the legs, or the muscles of the breast, in which
last case it is called “chest-founder.” The treatment, which is only
palliative, is hot bathing and friction with liniments.

_Gadfly Bites._--Often very annoying. May be prevented by washing legs
and flanks with a strong tea of green elder bark.

_Galls_--from saddle.--Best prevented by leaving the saddle in place
for twenty minutes after loosening the girths. When occurring, however,
should receive prompt attention, as they are very tedious if neglected.
Examine the back carefully after the first ride on a new horse, and
also before putting on the saddle the next day.

GLANDERS.--A disgusting, contagious, and incurable disease, the chief
symptom of which is a discharge from one nostril, at first transparent,
then slightly sticky, then thick and yellow. As it is highly contagious
to human beings, in whom it is equally dreadful and always fatal, _a
glandered horse should be instantly killed, as the law requires_. It is
well to avoid all horses having any discharge, however slight, from the
nose. Glanders may be caught from “farcy,” and _vice versa_.

GRAPES.--A filthy and incurable disease of heels and pastern, caused by
gross neglect. It is the last stage of “grease.”

GREASE.--An aggravated form of “chapped heels,” accompanied by
swelling, fever and a serous discharge. Wash clean frequently, and
anoint with Dalley’s salve.

_Gripes._--See “Colic.”

HEART DISEASE.--May be detected by auscultation. Incurable. Ends in
sudden death.

HEAVES.--See “Broken Wind.”

_Hide-bound._--The skin appears too tight, and as if fast to the ribs.
It is caused by a disordered stomach, and requires nourishing food.

_Inflammation of Bowels._--The pain is continuous, and the horse is
careful not actually to strike his belly with his feet. Requires, of
course, very different treatment from colic, but an injection should be
the first thing done.

_Interfering._--Striking the fetlock-joint with the foot. Caused
sometimes by weakness and fatigue, but usually by bad shoeing, and a
good blacksmith is the best adviser.

_Lampas._--A swelling of the gums, relieved by lancing.

KNEE-SPRUNG.--Incurable. Result of overwork.

KNUCKLED.--Same as “set over.” A condition of the fetlock-joint
corresponding to that of the “sprung” knee.

LAMINITIS.--The scientific name of “founder.”

MAD STAGGERS.--Violent insanity, caused by inflammation of the brain.
The last stage sometimes of sleepy staggers. Incurable.

_Mallenders._--A scurvy patch at the back of the knee, caused by
neglect, and not obstinate.

_Mange._--An itch produced by a parasitic insect.

MEGRIMS.--A falling-sickness like epilepsy. It begins with a
laying back of the ears and shaking of the head; is accompanied by
convulsions; and passes off of itself in two or three minutes, the
horse appearing to be none the worse. Often called “Blind Staggers.”

NAVICULAR DISEASE.--An ulceration of the navicular-joint in the foot,
causing lameness; incurable, except by extirpation of the nerve.

NERVED.--A nerved horse has had one of the nerves of the foot cut to
remove the pain and lameness caused by the “navicular disease.”

OPHTHALMIA.--A purulent inflammation of the eye. Epidemic.

ORGANIC DISEASE of the bony system anywhere constitutes unsoundness.

_Overreaching._--Striking the toe of the front-foot with the toe of the
hind-foot; sometimes called “clicking.” Often remedied by shoeing.

_Poll-evil._--An abscess in the top of the neck, near the head, caused
by a blow.

PUMICE FOOT.--Bulging sole, weak crust, the result of “laminitis.”

_Quarter Crack._--Occurs usually on the inside of fore-foot. A bad
sign, as well as very slow and troublesome to cure.

QUIDDING.--Dropping the food half chewed from the mouth. Indicative of
sore throat.

QUITTOR.--Burrowing abscess in the foot.

_Rheumatism._--Cause, effect, and treatment the same as for human

RING-BONE.--An enlargement of the bone by growth, a little above the

ROARING.--Caused by a contraction of windpipe. Incurable.

RUPTURES of all kinds constitute unsoundness.

_Saddle-gall._--Swelling caused by chafing of saddle. If the skin is
broken it is called a “sitfast;” if not, a “warble.”

_Sallenders._--Scurvy patch in front of hock-joint.

_Sand Crack._--Occurs on the inside of fore-foot and on the toe of the

_Scratches._--See “Chapped Heels.”

_Scouring._--Looseness of the bowels.

SEEDY TOE.--A separation of the crust of the hoof from the laminæ, the
result of laminitis. Scarcely curable.

SIDE-BONE.--A bony growth just above the coronet, causing lameness.

SPAVIN.--See “Bone, Blood, and Bog Spavin.”

_Speedy Cut._--A cut of the knee from the foot of opposite leg.
Dangerous, because the pain often causes the horse to fall.

STAGGERS.--See “Apoplexy.” “Sleepy,” “Trotting,” and “Mad” Staggers
are different forms and stages of the same disease, caused usually by

_Strangles, or Colt Distemper._--A severe swelling of the glands of the
throat, which gathers and breaks.

STRING-HALT _or_ SPRING-HALT.--A peculiar snatching up of the hind-leg,
caused by some nervous disorder. Incurable.

_Surfeit._--An eruption of round, blunt spots, caused by heating food.

THICK WIND.--Defective respiration without noise. Incurable.


THRUSH.--An offensive discharge from the frog, the result of
inflammation, caused by want of cleanliness or overwork, etc.

THOROUGH-PIN.--A sac of synovial fluid formed between the bones of the
hock from side to side.

_Warble._--A saddle-gall when simply swollen but not broken.

_Warts._--Should be removed, as they tend to spread.

WHIRLBONE LAMENESS.--Lameness of hip-joint.

_Windgalls, or Puffs._--Little oval swellings just above the
fetlock-joint between the back sinew and the bone.

_Worms._--Sometimes troublesome, but less so than often supposed.

WHISTLING.--Caused by a contraction of windpipe. Incurable.



Acclimation, 148.

Advancing at Touch of Heel, 41, 44.

Amateur Horse-training, 1.

Amble, 28.

Apoplexy, 148.

Appel, 28.

Approaching a Fence, 119.

Arm, 135.

Arrière-main, 28.

Avant-main, 28.

Back, 135.

Back Sinew, 135.

Backing, 75, 76.

Barrel, or Chest, 135.

Bars, 15.

Belly, 137.

Bending the Neck to Right and Left, 32, 35, 48, 49.

Biting, 148.

Blind Staggers, 148.

Blindness, 148.

Blood-spavin, 150.

Bone-spavin, 150.

Boring, 150.

Bots, 150.

Breaking Down, 150.

Breast, or Bosom, 137.

Bridles, 12.

Bridle-tooth, 15, 18.

Broken Knee, 150.

Buying a Saddle-horse, 132.

Cannon-bone, 137.

Cantering, 64.

Capped Hock, 150.

Cataract, 150.

Cavesson, 46.

Changing the Leading Foot, 66, 79.

Chapped Heels, 150.

Chin Groove, 15, 29, 137.

Cold, 150.

Colic, 150.

Color, 147.

Contracted Heels, 150.

Corns, 150.

Coronet, 137.

Costiveness, 151.

Cough, 151.

Crest, 137.

Cribbing, 148, 151.

Croup, 38, 137.

Curb-place, 137.

Curbs, 151.

Cutting, 151.

Deux Pistes, 29, 71.

Discharge from Nostrils, 12, 15.

Diseases and Defects, 148.

Distemper, 151.

Dress, 88.

Duke of Wellington, 110.

Dumb-jockey, 46.

Ear, 137.

Elbow, 29, 137.

Etiquette in the Saddle, 87.

Ewe Neck, 151.

Eye, 137.

“Falling Through,” 16.

Farcy, 151.

Fetlock, 29, 137.

Filled Legs, 151.

Fistula of the Withers, 151.

Flank, 137.

Flexion of the Jaw, 32.

_Flexions de la Mâchoire_, 21.

_Flexions de l’Encolure_, 32.

Flying Trot, 58.

Forearm, 29, 137.

Forehand, 38.

Forehead, 137.

Forge, 29.

Forging, 152.

Founder, or Fever in the Feet, 152.

Frog, 29, 137.

Gadfly Bites, 152.

Galloping, 64.

Galls, 152.

Gaskin, or Lower Thigh, 137.

“Getting a Horse accustomed to Skirts,” 42.

Girths, 138.

Glanders, 152.

Going on _Deux Pistes_, 72.

Grapes, 152.

Grease, 152.

Grinders, 29.

Gripes, 152.

Groom, 116.

Guiding Bridlewise, 55.

Hand, 29, 104.

Hand-gallop, 29, 64.

Heart Disease, 152.

Heaves, 153.

Heel, 138.

Hide-bound, 153.

Hip, 138.

Hock, 29, 138.

Holding the Bit lightly, 21, 24.

Hoof, 138.

Horse-training is not Horse-breaking, 9.

Interfering, 28, 153.

Jaw, 138.

Jog-trot, 58.

Kicking, 69.

Knee, 138.

Knee-sprung, 153.

Knuckled, 153.

Laminitis, 153.

Lampas, 153.

Leading with Left Fore-foot, 88.

Leading with Right Fore-foot, 80.

Leaping, 118.

Loins, 138.

Lower Thigh, 138.

Lowering the Head, 25, 28.

Lunging-cord, 46.

Mad Staggers, 153.

Mallenders, 153.

Mane, 138.

Manége, 29.

Mange, 153.

Megrims, 153.

Method of holding Reins in both Hands, 111.

_Méthode d’Équitation_, Baucher, 4.

Mount, 91.

Mounting, 92.

Moving the Croup to Right and Left, 38, 52.

Muzzle, 138.

Navicular Disease, 153.

Nerved, 153.

Nippers, 30.

Nostrils, 138.

On the Road, 107.

On which Side to Ride, 100.

“One, Two, Three,” 95.

Ophthalmia, 153.

Ordinary Pirouette, 71.

Organic Disease, 153.

Overreaching, 153.

Pace, 30.

Pacing, 192.

Parts and Points of a Horse, 138.

Passage, 30, 71, 73, 138.

Pastern, 30.

Pastern-joint, 138.

Piaffer, 30.

Pirouettes, 30, 71.

Pisiform-bone, 138.

Piste, 30, 74.

Placing the Foot in the Stirrup, 96.

Poll, 30, 138.

Poll-evil, 154.

Position in Saddle, 97.

“Pulling the Hands steadily Apart,” 33.

Pulling the Right Rein, 36.

Pumice Foot, 154.

Punishment in Case of Resistance, 27.

Quarter Crack, 154.

Quarters, 138.

Quidding, 154.

Quittor, 154.

Rack, 30.

Ramener, 30.

Rassembler, 30.

Ready to Mount, 94.

Rearing, 66, 148.

Reins, Act of Changing, 77.

Reins in Hand, 43, 77.

Rheumatism, 154.

Riding in Circles, 79.

Ring-bone, 154.

Rising to the Leap, 127.

Roaring, 154.

Running Away, 69.

Ruptures, 154.

Saddle-gall, 154.

Saddles, 12, 13.

Sand Crack, 154.

Scouring, 154.

Scratches, 154.

Seat, 102, 103.

Seedy Toe, 154.

Shank, 30.

Shoulder, 138.

Shying, 68.

Side-bone, 154.

Sidney, Mr., 130.

Single-foot, 30.

Snaffle, 30.

Spavins and Splints, 30, 138, 154.

Speedy Cut, 154.

Staggers, 154.

Starting, 99.

Stifle-joint, 31, 138.

Stopping at Touch of Whip on Back, 45.

Strangles, 154.

String-halt, 154.

Style, 50.

Surcingle, 31.

Surfeit, 155.

Tail, 134.

Thick Wind, 155.

Thickening of Back Sinews, 155.

Thigh, 31, 139.

Thorough-pin, 155.

Thrapple, or Throttle, 139.

Throat-latches, 15, 31.

Thrush, 155.

Trotting, 58.

True Arm, 139.

Turning, 112.

Vices, 148.

“Vieille Moustache,” 130.

Walking, 46, 51.

Warble, 155.

Warts, 155.

Water Jump, 121.

Whips, 13.

Whirlbone Lameness, 155.

Whistling, 155.

Windgalls, 155.

Withers, 31, 139.

Worms, 155.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as

Illustrations have been moved.

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