The Art of Taming and Training Wild Horses
The Art of Taming and Training Wild Horses Different countries have their different modes of horsemanship, but amongst all of them its first practice was carried on in but a rude and indifferent way, being hardly a stepping stone to the comfort and delight gained from the use of the horse at the present day.
The polished Greeks as well as the ruder nations of Northern Africa, for a long while rode without either saddle or bridle, guiding their horses, with the voice or the hand, or with a light switch with which they touched the animal on the side of the face to make him turn in the opposite direction.
They urged him forward by a touch of the heel, and stopped him by catching him with the muzzle. Bridles and bits were introduced at length, but many centuries elapsed before anything that could be called a saddle was used.
Instead of these, cloths, single or padded, and skins of wild beasts, often richly adorned, were placed beneath the rider, but always without stirrups; and it is given as an extraordinary fact, that the Romans even in the times when luxury was carried to excess amongst them, never desired so simple an expedient for assisting the horseman to mount, to lessen his fatigue and aid him in sitting more securely in his saddle.
Ancient sculptors prove that the horsemen of almost every country were accustomed to mount their horses from the right side of the animal, that they might the better grasp the mane, which hangs on that side, a practice universally changed in modern times.
The ancients generally leaped on their horse’s backs, though they sometimes carried a spear, with a loop or projection about two feet from the bottom which served them as a step.
In Greece and Rome, the local magistracy was bound to see that blocks for mounting (what the Scotch call _loupin_-on-stanes) were placed along the road at convenient distances.
The Greek, however, thought it more dignified to mount their horses by stepping on the bent backs of their servants or slaves, and many who could not command such costly help used to carry a light ladder about with them.
The first distinct notice that we have of the use of the saddle occurs in the edict of Emperor Theodosia’s, (A.D. 385) from which we also learn that it was usual for those who hired post-horses, to provide their own saddle, and that the saddle should not weigh more than sixty pounds, a cumbrous contrivance, more like the howdahs placed on the backs of elephants than the light and elegant saddle of modern times.
Side-saddles for ladies are an invention of comparatively recent date. The first seen in England was made for Anne of Bohemia, wife of Richard the Second, and was probably more like a pillion than the side-saddle of the present day.
A pillion is a sort of a very low-backed arm-chair, and was fastened on the horse’s croup, behind the saddle, on which a man rode who had all the care of managing the horse, while the lady sat at her ease, supporting herself by grasping a belt which he wore, or passing her arm around his body, if the _gentleman was not too ticklish_.
But the Mexicans manage these things with more gallantry than the ancients did. The “pisanna,” or country lady, we are told is often seen mounted before her “cavalera,” who take the more natural position of being seated behind his fair one, supporting her by throwing his arm around her waist, (a very appropriate support if the bent position of the arm does not cause an occasional contraction of the muscles.)
These two positions may justly be considered as the first steps taken by the ladies towards their improved and elegant mode of riding at the present day.
At an early period when the diversion of hawking was prevalent, they dressed themselves in the costume of the knight, and rode astride. Horses were in general use for many centuries before anything like protection for the hoof was thought of, and it was introduced, at first, as a matter of course, on a very simple scale.
The first foot defense, it is said, which was given to the horse, was on the same principle as that worn by man, which was a sort of sandal, made of leather and tied to the horse’s foot, by means of straps or strings. And finally plates of metal were fastened to the horse’s feet by the same simple means.
Here again, as in the case of the Sturrup less saddle, when we reflect that men should, for nearly a thousand years, have gone on fastening plates of metal under horses’ hoofs by the clumsy means of straps and strings, without its ever occurring to them to try so simple an improvement as nails, we have another remarkable demonstration of the slow steps by which horsemanship has reached its present state.
In the forgoing remarks I have taken the liberty of extracting several facts from a valuable little work by Rolla Springfield. With this short comment on the rise and progress of horsemanship, from its commencement up to the present time, I will proceed to give you the principles of a new theory of taming wild horses, which is the result of many experiments and a thorough investigation and trial of the different methods of horsemanship now in use.
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