HORSEMANSHIP, like the noble animal itself, found its way into Europe from the East. Though no longer for war, nor even for the manly sports of the field, the art was highly cultivated during the decline of the Eastern Empire. The hippodrome of Constantinople attracted the attention of Europe when no other object of admiration or of sympathy was left in that demoralizing and falling state. About the year 1134 many companies of Byzantine circus-riders went over to Naples, at that time the last state in Italy which acknowledged the authority of the Eastern Empire. Thus Naples became the first school for horsemanship in Western Europe. From that city the school was gradually spread over the rest of Italy, and into France and Germany. For some ages, Naples also supplied the best horses for the manège. Down to the close of the sixteenth century, and even to a later period, the Neapolitan horses are frequently mentioned by writers as highly prized in England as well as in most of the continental countries. They divided favour and pre-eminence with the well-bred horses imported from the south of Spain, where the blood of the Arab and the Barb had been liberally infused. As stock, they tended to improve the studs of other countries. It should seem that by importation and by other means, England must have had a certain supply of good nags in the fourteenth century, or as early as the time of Chaucer, for that old poet frequently alludes with evident gusto to choice horses and neat horsemanship. Of his lordly sporting Monk he informs us that -
Of his aged Knight he tells us that -
Among the accomplishments of his young Squire he does not forget to admit that -
But the most charming figure that rode with that good and merry company of pilgrims to the shrine at Canterbury was the Wife of Bath -
Our early school of horsemanship was certainly easy and natural, and therefore good. As such it may be said to have continued - except for the cavalry of our army. Whatever ease originally belonged to the Neapolitan school (which, being of Eastern origin, was doubtlessly good) was soon stiffened out of it in France and Germany, as also in every part of Italy.
The Ironsides of Cromwell kept their national and natural seats, and rode on the field of battle as they would have ridden across country. But France and Germany, by the time of Marlborough, came to be considered as the great emporia of military science, and thither repaired all young Englishmen who aspired to glory and renown in arms, to study the practice as well as the theory of war. Now the French have never been an equestrian people, and the Germans must certainly yield the palm of horsemanship to the English. Moreover, both French and Germans fell into a very stiff and artificial mode, introducing pedantry into the riding school, and depriving both man and horse of their capabilities and natural élan.
Yet our military riding is to this day imported from the Continent.
I say military, because none of our dragoon or hussar officers would for a moment think of riding across country in a foreign seat, or in any other way in the manège fashion. Yet in the business of war our cavalry ought to be able to perform whatever is done in the sport of hunting, and whatever interferes with the ability of so doing must be set down as a detriment and great evil.
The Russians and most other continental nations place their saddles near the loins, and girth their horses round the belly instead of the brisket.* The established seat is upright, the knee drawn back, and the heel in a perpendicular line with the point of the shoulder; and so far is this carried, that it is no uncommon thing to see spur-marks on the horse's stifle. The man's legs, from the knee down, are carefully brought away from the horse (vide Plate II.), in order to prevent what is called "clinging," and he is taught to ride by balance. If this system can be right, I have thrown away many years in the study and practice of horsemanship, and all who are bold riders at home, and all the best cavaliers of the East, are wrong.
And how do foreigners treat the horse? The system followed in their riding-schools wearies out all patience, both in man and beast. The simple breaking in of the horse has no end; and if his education is to be perfected, by the addition of a few "airs de manège," such as croupades, pirouettes, balotades, pésades, &c. &c., then the horse must be
long-lived to be brought to execute them! And should the veteran of the manège take all his degrees with the highest credit, for what mortal work is he fit? His life has been consumed in doing unnecessary things, and he has no strength and no legs left to do things necessary and essential.
In almost all cavalry services detachments from each cavalry regiment are sent to the various riding establishments, to learn to ride. These detachments are composed of picked men and horses, carefully trained before they are sent to these establishments for instruction. The detachments remain about a year, in most foreign countries still longer, and do nothing but riding-school work, for two and three hours a day, during all that time, and all this to go through a ride at a walk, trot, and canter when they are dismissed.* Of what possible use can a system be which requires trained men and horses to ride daily in the riding-school for a whole year, to enable them to go through a ride in the school, which constitutes, after all, but the first step in their training on horseback? for the same men have never ridden once at speed, or used their arms at that pace!
The system of brute force pursued by the horsemen of the East is far preferable to this; in eight days
At _____, on the Continent, Z. Z. showed us the royal stables, and the horses broken in in the riding-school. One of them had no shoes on; we asked the reason. Answer. "He never works out of the riding-school." - Question. " How old is he?" A. "Fourteen years old." - Q. "Is he quite perfect in the riding-school work?" A. "Not quite, but very good at it."
We were shown a "Springer." A groom led in a horse with his tail tied on one side (I presume to give a better opening for the whip of the riding-master), a cavesson on, and a young man in jack-
We then saw the cuirassiers of the Guard at exercise. The men and horses were heavy and unwieldy, worked slowly and loosely, and did not come up to our expectations. What amused us greatly was that they all had their saddles so far back as to sit on the animal's loins, and looked very much like men riding their donkeys to market.
There was an enterprising medico attached to the regiment, who, without the least regard to his own safety, took his horse several times over a dangerous ditch, about two feet wide, and when he observed us looking at him he repeated this feat over and over again, calling out "Hop!" with all his might. He little thought that we were marking the rise and fall on the church steeple in the distance, for the city itself we plainly saw at every jump between his seat and the saddle.
The result of this long and monotonous course of study is, that on the uninitiated the school-rider makes a pleasing and striking impression; his horse turns, prances, and caracoles without any visible aid, or without any motion in the horseman's upright and imposing attitude. But I have lived and served with them. I have myself been a riding-master for years, and I happen to know from experience what the disadvantages are of this foreign seat and system. These I shall endeavour to explain.
The balance-seat originated in necessity. It was indispensable when combatants, sheathed in armour, ran a course with lance in rest. The upright seat enabled them to carry the weight of the armour with more ease, and the long stirrup supported the leg at that point to which the weight of the armour pressed it down. They were obliged to study balance on horseback, for, the equilibrium once lost, no effort of strength could save them; the weight of the armour brought them to the ground.
As a pole is balanced on its end by bringing the hand from side to side, backward or forward, so were these knights balanced by their horses, through the use of hand and leg. The necessity which introduced the system has long ceased to exist, but the system is kept up notwithstanding; and the riders, accustomed easily to re-establish their balance in this way, have no dependence whatever on their seat. This at once becomes apparent if you place them on horses not thus artificially broken in, or in situations such as happen in war, where the artificial training of the horse gives way to fear.
All experienced cavalry officers will tell us that the most docile and best tempered horses are difficult to manage in battle. They sometimes go mad with excitement, and they then prove the most dangerous enemy the horseman has to contend against.* When nature thus becomes more powerful than teaching, when the horse in his fright forgets his education, and nature resumes its sway, then is the artificial horseman lost. Balanced on his fork, it is of no use pulling at the horse if he tries to bolt; for, with legs and stirrups behind him, the rider, at the slightest pull, falls forward, and has the greatest difficulty in keeping his balance. At the battle of Minden two entire French regiments were nearly destroyed by the horses taking fright and bolting in a charge. The men fell off, and were trampled to death.
Without being ill-natured, I might relate many riding anecdotes which would amuse Englishmen; but I only mention the following to show how different are the ideas of foreigners to our own. They are scarcely necessary as showing the force of artificial training and inveterate habit.
Two foreign cavalry officers would not mount horses of the Royal Artillery offered to them for a review at Woolwich. I asked the reason; the answer was, - "These English horses are not broken in like ours, and might run away with us."
I was once showing some foreign officers an English sporting print, in which the rider had his hand in his breeches-pocket, and a glass in his eye, whilst his horse was clearing a fence. They asked me what it meant; had it any political meaning, or was it a caricature? I said No, it merely represented some one following the hounds. They all burst out laughing, saying, - "As if we are such fools as to believe that any man ever took a jump like that with his hand in his pocket! No, no! Englishmen may be cool fellows, but none of them can do that."
The difference between a school-rider and a real horseman is this: the first depends upon guiding and managing his horse for maintaining his seat; the second, or real horseman, depends upon his seat for controlling and guiding his horse.
At a "trot" the school-rider, instead of slightly rising to the action of the horse, bumps up and down, falling heavily on the horse's loins, and hanging on the reins to prevent the animal's slipping from under him, whilst he is thrown up from his seat.
Foreign horses have little action compared to ours, and with them it may be endurable; but an English dragoon in marching order, trotting ten miles in this way on a powerful high-actioned English horse, is almost sure to sore his horse's back and his own seat. He wears out his constitution; for the strongest chested man feels the effects of it.* He tires his horse more in those ten miles than any one else would do in fifty: he shakes his kit to pieces, and wears out his overalls. Now, let me ask who can explain the advantages of this method of riding?
Foreigners will tell you it is necessary in order to collect and keep the horse in hand as well as for parade purposes. Surely there can be nothing more distressing to the eye of a horseman than to see men holding on to the reins, and bumping up and down in the saddle; which, instead of collecting the horse and keeping him in hand, is, on the contrary, the cause of much unsteadiness in the ranks; for the unsteady seat alone is enough to excite a spirited horse, and the constant pulling at his mouth renders it in time callous.
The only two instances in which the method may be used to advantage are, when teaching the recruit to ride without stirrups, and when working a young horse
When cantering, the foreign school-rider never allows his horse to go straight, but has him, in school parlance, "placed:" which signifies, when cantering to the right, the horse's head is bent to the right, and his haunches are brought to the same side by applying the left leg; when cantering to the left, it is the reverse: thus either way the horse is made to travel on the curve, with his head and tail drawn towards each other in an unnatural position. At a walk it is the same: few horses broken in on the system will walk with fore and hind feet on a straight line. Fore and hind feet move on parallel lines, the haunches being twisted to one side or the other; and the amusing part of it is, that the more perfect the horse is in his school education, the more palpable is his style of travelling on two roads at once.
The advantage of this they suppose to be, that the horse is always ready to turn: but why not let the horse go straight till he is wanted to turn? What would happen in an advance in line at a gallop if all the horses carried their heads and tails on one side?
A cavalry soldier should always ride straight to his point, and know how to "place" his horse, but never do so except in turning, or in striking off at a canter to either hand.
Instead of copying this seat and system from theforeign riding-schools, why not take example from our bold cross-country riders, adding to the instruction of our dragoons that skill in the breaking in and management of their horses with hand and leg, which will render them formidable singly; and that knowledge of riding pace which is so necessary to insure the steady working together of bodies of horse.
Give the man a roomy saddle, and make him sit close to his horse's back. Without drawing back the thigh, let the leg be supported by the stirrup in a natural position; the nearer the whole of the leg is brought to the horse the better, so long as the foot is not bent below the ankle-joint. (Vide Frontispiece.) Both man and horse will immediately feel the immense benefit of this return to national, natural practice; and even without the adoption of any other changes, I feel assured that when next called into action our cavalry will play a distinguished and decisive part.
Our cavalry is wanting in its most essential qualification - "riding." It is not sufficient that a dragoon can sit his horse; he should be completely master over him, so as to control and direct him at the slowest or fastest pace with equal ease; he should know how to quiet and subdue the hot-tempered, and put life and action into the sluggish horse.
If cavalry fought only in close bodies, if it acted like a machine, all required would be to discharge it at the mark like a projectile. Then, if the soldier could direct his horse anyhow to the right or left, move forward, and halt when ordered, it would suffice. But charges resolve themselves into mêlées, the dragoon is constantly exposed to the chances of single combat, and the unfortunate fellow who cannot manage his horse is lost.
Our soldiers are never taught to turn their horses quickly or make half pirouettes with them; which is of all things the most necessary in a fight. The reason it is not attempted is, that the advocates of the old system suppose that it requires years to teach a horse to pirouette, and they will not believe that, by the new system, horses are brought to do it, both on the fore and hind legs, in a very few lessons.
A fight on horseback is like a fencing match, in which the skilful horseman always presents his right side (which is under cover of his sword) to his adverary, and seeks to gain his weak side, the left one. Here all depends on horsemanship.
How is it then that so important a branch of military instruction has been hitherto attended with such poor results?
The fact is, that they go on wrong principles. The instructors are not in fault, as they can do nothing with the system they are obliged to work on.
Now and then a cavalry officer is found that has broken away from the system so far as to train his own charger in a perfect manner, and to make himself a first-rate fencer and swordsman on horseback.
The Mysorean cavalry of Hyder Ali and Tippoo abounded in clever horsemen and first-rate swordsmen, who used their sharp weapons even with more effect than that with which the Sikhs have since been found to wield their tulwars. They frequently challenged our dragoons to single combat, and they generally had the advantage over them in the duels. But there was an officer riding with our troopers who had trained himself and his steed, and who could always give a good account of the best of them. This was Major Dallas - afterwards Lieut.-General Sir Thomas Dallas - a cavalry hero and model - a sort of English Murat. Like that dashing Frenchman he was remarkable for his horsemanship and swordsmanship, for the strength, symmetry, and beauty of his person, for his daring courage, and for his love of hand-to-hand combats. He was sometimes seen to cut down three or four of the Mysorean champions, the one after the other, on the same day. He signalised himself, in the view of admiring armies, by many daring feats, throughout the wars of Coote, Medows, Cornwallis, and Harris; and left a name that will be long remembered in India. We have many officers - ay, and men too - as brave as Dallas, and quite capable of doing all that he did, if they could only be taken out of the shackles of a bad system, and be properly trained to the use of proper swords.
We have had a variety of absurd systems in Europe within the last three centuries, and each of them, while it lasted, was productive of great mischie£ Yet every one of them had its bigots and enthusiasts, who looked upon any proposed variation or change as a shocking heresy. A master of the art, the celebrated Grisone of Naples, who was called the regenerator of the art of horsemanship in Europe, solemnly laid down the following instructions for his pupils: - "In breaking in young horses put them into a circular pit; be very severe with those that are sensitive and of high courage; beat them between the ears with a stick!!" etc. We now laugh at his pit and repudiate his stick; but both pit and stick had their reign, as other absurdities have had or still have. Grisone's followers, Pluvinel, Newcastle, La Gueriniere, Montfaucon, and others, substituted the cavesson, the longe, and the whip. They tied their horses to the stake (the pillars), and beat them to make them raise their fore legs, etc. I defy any one to find out, from their long rambling books on equitation, where to begin, how to proceed, or how to overcome by degrees each difficulty offered by the horse; and these difficulties, be it observed, arise regularly and in succession with every horse submitted to training. The question is, how to break in a number of horses, and upon what system to conquer these difficulties one by one? The old pedants could have given no answer to this question, nor am I aware that it can be answered by modern practitioners, or system-makers, or followers of existing systems or regulations.
It seems to me that the only man who has entered fully on the subject, and pointed out clearly how to attack each point in succession, in order to gain the mastery over the horse, is Monsieur Baucher. But he has departed from the beaten track, has disowned the old system, and therefore his whole tribe have turned upon him.
I do not assert that M. Baucher's system is faultless. I practised it for years, applied it to many hundred horses, and was myself obliged to make some trifling alterations to adapt it to the use of cavalry soldiers. It may require further alterations to make it perfect; but what I assert is, that the system is the right one: it is founded on reason and common sense, not on immemorial custom and prejudice. So convinced was I of this by experience, that I wrote out and published the lessons as I had carried them out with hundreds of remount horses, to assist those who might be at a loss how to proceed when young horses join the regiments. Without system, and a good system, it is impossible to make good troopers. At present we have none.
The continual working at the horses' mouths now practised in the service, the attempt to throw the horses on their haunches by strength of arm, sawing the snaffle from side to side, teaches them to lean heavily on the hand, ruins their houghs and mouths, and wears them out before their time.
The attempting to work shoulder in, and passage, before the horse has been taught to obey the pressure of the leg, is simply absurd. It rouses their temper and makes them restive.
To rein a horse back before the head is brought home and the animal has learnt to obey the leg, is equally absurd; for the horse with his nose stuck out can only be backed by force or by striking his fore-legs with a whip, a common practice in the riding-schools: he then steps to one side or the other; you cannot keep his haunches in the straight line, unless he has been taught to obey the pressure of the leg: the end of this generally is, that the horse gets his hind legs under him, is pulled back upon them, and the whole weight of man and beast is thrown on his houghs: the rider pulls again to make him go back, the poor beast cannot do it, no earthly power could move his hind legs, and in self-defence, and to escape from pain, the horse rears, the natural result of trying to back him by sheer strength of arm, and before he was prepared to yield to hand and leg.
The troop-horses that go through this rude treatment join the ranks with their action cramped and spoiled; they are seldom free from blemish, and their capability of long service has been greatly impaired. Mount any troop-horse, and you will find him hard-mouthed and stiff-necked. Few, if any of them, rein up or yield to the hand; they are all down on the forehand, and so accustomed to be held fast by the head, that, if you yield the rein to them in the least degree, they go off into a gallop at once, and then both hands of their riders are scarcely sufficient to stop them.
The system I have proposed rests on a few simple principles.*
I.- The horse is gently used, the progreas is gradual but certain.
II. - For a few days he is ridden on the snaffle with a loose rein, at a walk and a trot; then ridden a few days more to steady him at a trot.
III. - He is then bitted, and a few simple lessons teach him to yield to the feeling of the rein and the pressure of the leg.
IV. - Next he is collected and got in hand, not by pulling and sawing at his mouth, but by gradually
V.- Reining back then perfects the horse in the use of his limbs and in unqualified obedience to the rider's hand and leg. This once attained, a few lessons will teach the animal to canter, change leg, passage, and pirouette, and the horse becomes a perfect charger in a very short time, without having in any way suffered from his breaking - indeed, without having been once tired or overworked during the whole of his education; and from his mouth having been gently dealt with, it remains fresh and good, instead of being hard and callous.
I may speak confidently of these results, as I have myself obtained them from the system with horses of various descriptions and breeds - Arab, Cape, Persian, Australian, and the country-bred horse of India - the last the least tractable of any. I feel assured that, with patience and with a firm determination never to attempt to do too much at one time, any cavalry officer may command the same, if not a greater degree of success, with our English-bred horses.
Trained, ridden, and saddled in the way I have explained, the horse will carry the weight well, the man will be less liable to be pulled off in the ranks, his hand is likely to be light because he will not need its assistance to keep his seat, and, when required to exert his strength to manage his horse, his good seat will enable him to do so.
He will not fatigue his horse so much, and is less likely to sore his back on a march; he will sit him easily over any obstacle, and make a formidable use of his sword, if, instead of standing up in his stirrups, he sits close, carrying the weight and power of his horse into each blow, for in this lies the great secret; - a child acting thus, in concert with his horse as one body, will hit harder than a giant balanced on his fork.
It is of the first necessity that a soldier's horse shall obey the pressure of the leg, otherwise he cannot be made to close up in the ranks or turn quickly: but it is a great mistake to suppose that this cannot be done without screwing back a man's legs and bringing them down almost under the horse's stifle.
The habit of yielding to the pressure of the rider's leg is acquired by the horse through teaching, and he will readily learn to yield to that pressure whenever it be systematically applied.
All practical riders, - the Cossacks, the Circassians, all Eastern nations, our own people - a nation of horsemen than whom none more bold and clever, - all ride in a short seat, and keep their own legs out of the way of the horse.
The Circassians are unsurpassed in the management of their war-horses and arms, and so proud of their skill, that, whereas most nations show wounds received in action as honourable scars, the Circassians hide them as silent witnesses of their awkwardness and want of address in single combat.
At the Russian reviews in 1852 I saw a few sheets of paper placed on the ground opposite the Emperor: he gave a signal to some of the Cossacks and Circassians formed in line a few hundred yards off.
Down they all came at speed racing with one another: the first up fired at the marks either with pistol or carabine; the sheets of paper flew up in pieces: those who followed fired into the fragments that were at hand, blowing them to atoms
The object of all preparatory drill should be to bring the dragoon to manage his horse thus at speed, and use sword and carbine at that pace - to teach him to reach objects on the ground with his sword, else an infantry soldier would only have to throw himself flat on his face, and when the cavalry had passed get up and shoot them; - a manuvre not seldom practised by old soldiers in war.
The Saxons, under Marshal Schulembourg, lay down to avoid the charges of the Swedish dragoons under Charles XII., during their famous retreat through Poland.
The Russian infantry, at the battle of the Trebia in 1799, were charged by the French cavalry when in line: they fired during the advance to the last moment, lay down, and, letting the French horse pass over them, got up and gave them a volley that emptied many a saddle.
A troop, by taking open order, should be able to go across country, for any distance required, at a rattling gallop, closing to their leader to charge when the signal is given.
All fighting with cavalry is generally either done at speed, or you advance at speed to get at your enemy.
In a pursuit of cavalry speed is the only pace at which you can catch the foe and destroy him.
To attain these ends we must have a great deal more out-of-door work. The soldiers ought to practise their various exercises in the open field. In making use of heads and posts we ought to scatter them in a field and allow the men to ride at them independently and chiefly at speed, in order to teach them to measure their distances with the sword and deliver their cuts and points in proper time. As we use the posts in the riding-house, the man is guided by the walls and learns nothing but to deliver the cut or point required, whereas the difficulty always is to measure distance at rapid closing; and this should be taught, in the manner I have indicated. Tbe Greeks were accustomed to train their cavalry to across-country work, to hunting and leaping. Where there were no animals to pursue they threw out a mounted trooper, and then sent another trooper to give him chase. The foremost man galloped through all sorts of places, frequently turning about with his lance or spear presented to his pursuer: the pursuer carried javelins blunted and a spear of the same description, and whenever he came within javelin-throw he hurled one of his blunted weapons at the person retreating, and whenever he came within spear-reach he charged at him with the spear.* Here we see the counterpart of the Turkish game of the Djereed, the frequent practice of which tended to make the old Turkish irregulars such excellent cavalry. Since the days of European reform the old Turkish game is never practised!
Warnery says, "For a soldier to be really a light horseman he must be able to turn his horse quick and short when in full speed, to raise up and catch anything from the ground.
"Everything should be taught the recruit which might be requisite on actual service.
"He ought to be able to turn his horse suddenly upon his haunches, to run at the ring with the sword instead of the lance, which very much supples the horse and forms the trooper to dexterity and firmness in his seat.+
+Vide the Training of Remount Horses, by Capt. Nolan.
"There are targets to be fired at by the troopers with their pistols, walking, trotting, and at full speed."
Now an English dragoon never rides at speed once during the whole of his drilling and training, nor ever afterwards, except when the squadron to which he belongs is ordered to charge, and then they cry out about English cavalry getting out of hand! Let any one think of the first time he rode a horse at full speed, and remember how helpless he felt!
I have heard it said that English horses are not adapted, like the Arab and other horses of Eastern breed, to skirmishing, to pulling up from speed, and turning quickly. The better the horse the more adapted to all feats of agility and strength. No horse can compare with the English, - no horse is more easily broken in to anything and everything, - and there is no quality in which the English horse does not excel, no performance in which he cannot beat all competition.
In teaching the trooper to ride I would make his first lessons almost as easy and simple as those given to the horse.
When first put on horseback devote a few lessons to making his limbs supple, in the same way as you begin your drill on foot with extension motions. Show him how to close the thigh and leg to the saddle, and then work the leg back, forwards, up, and down.
Without stirrups make him swing a weight round in a circle from the shoulder as a centre: the other hand placed on the thigh, thumb to the rear, change the weight to the opposite hand, and repeat the same.*
Placing one hand on the horse's mane, make him lean down to each side in succession till he reaches to within a short distance of the ground.
Vaulting on to the horse, make him place the left hand high up on the mane, the right hand swung back, but in the jump brought to the pommel of the saddle.
Off again in the same way.
Never when mounting with stirrups let him place the right hand on the cantle, for with an unsteady horse he cannot let go his hold to bring the leg over, and may be thus thrown, whereas, by accustoming the man to put his right hand forward on the pommel, the saddle is always open to receive him.
These exercises give the man a firm hold with his legs on the horse, and teach him to move his limbs without quitting his seat.
Then take him in the circle in the longe, and, by walking and trotting alternately, teach him the necessity of leaning with the body to the side the horse is turning to - this is the necessary balance! Then put him with others and give him plenty of trotting, to shake him into his seat. By degrees teach him how to use the reins, then the leg. Then put him through the lessons laid down for remount drill, beginning at the first lesson bitted (vide the Training of Remount Horses), and going regularly through the course, explaining to him the object of each lesson as you go on. In three or four months the soldier of common abilities will be ready for his further education at squad drill (when he must be taught to go across country).
He will learn to ride and to break in a horse at the same time - a great object to attain; for that soldier will be fit the next season to take a remount horse, and by pursuing this system, all dragoons being rendered equally able to do so, they could, on an emergency, prepare any number of horses for the field.
I would insist particularly on the propriety and necessity of explaining everything to the man as he passes from step to step in his instruction. Schoolboys and soldiers have been too long taught by rote, or without any proper endeavour being made to make them understand the use and object of what they are set to learn. Whatever the horse may be, the poor soldier is, at least, a rational being, and no good soldier will ever be made without awakening his intellect and reasoning faculties.
Write up in golden letters - or in letters distinguishable, and easy to read - in every riding-school, and in every stable: " HORSES ARE TAUGHT NOT BY HARSHNESS BUT BY GENTLENESS." Where the officers are classical, the golden rule may be given in Xenophon's Greek, as well as in English.
The ancient Greeks had not only beautiful horses (originally imported from the East), but they had also great skill in training and using them as well for the saddle as for the racing-car. Although that short treatise is more than two thousand two hundred years old, there are excellent lessons in Xenophon 'On Horsemanship.'
"In treating a horse," says the accomplished Greek, "this precept and practice will be found best - Never ill-use him through anger. For anger frequently excites to such rash and inconsiderate deeds, that they must be followed by repentance.
"When a horse sees anything suspicious, and does not wish to approach it, he should be made to see that there is nothing hurtful or fearful in it, more especially if he be a high-mettled horse: and if this cannot be done otherwise, the horseman himself must touch the object exciting terror, and lead the horse gently up to it.
"Those who force horses forward with blows, inspire them with still more terror. For when they suffer punishment in such a situation, the horses fancy that the suspected object is the cause of it."
The whole of this treatise of Xenophon will well repay any one the trouble of an attentive perusal. This veteran soldier, historian, philosopher, and most elegant writer, evidently loved the horse with enthusiasm. On opening the essay, he says, "As it has fallen to my lot, from long practice, to have become experienced in horsemanship, so do I wish to point out to my younger friends how I think they can use their horses most properly."