Perfecting the Horses in the
preceding Lessons - Changing Leg and Half Passage at a Canter
- Accustoming the Horses to Sights and Soounds - Post Practice, &c., &c.
FOR the last fourteen days, you perfect the horses in all their preceding lessons, and bring them to work steadily and well at a canter, including "changes of leg," "half passage," accustoming them to "sights and sounds," post practice, &c., &c.
Be careful to shorten the walking and trotting lessons in proportion as you increase the cantering.
Move off by your right at a walk, "Form double Ride down the Centre," close your files, trot for five minutes; then the bending lesson, short but not hurried; and at once to the Cantering, which is now the chief object.
Of course, I need not remind the Instructor, that "reining back," and the "use of the spur," as wel1 as going about on the "forehand " and "haunches," should be practised, as opportunity offers, during the whole of the lesson.
When cantering, never cease making the men work to collect the pace; the more collected it is, the better. The "1eading files" are the men to look to. Never keep a man at the head of a ride, who cannot collect his horse to any pace required of him; it makes the greatest difference in the bringing on of the rides.
Look to the position of the men's hands, and their seats on horseback; get their legs close,* elbows back, hands low, (the lower the better,) and about three inches from the body, heads up, and heels down; all this contributes greatly to assist the horse in his work.
Practise the sword exercise, (attack and defence,) "down the centre," first at a walk, till the horses are steady; and when doing it at a canter, if any of them shew symptoms of fear, the men should slope their swords immediately, quiet them, and try it again.
On the fourth day, if the horses get on well at changing leg, the half-passage is to be practised at a canter, to both hands: but this must be done carefully, the horses well led off with the inward rein, the outward leg applied behind the girth, and the inward leg used to make them gain ground to the front. The men are very apt to use the outward leg too much, and thus bring their horses' hind quarters so far in, that, instead of the head and neck leading, the haunches lead.
This being quite an unnatural performance, and a painful one to require of the animal, he is very apt to turn restive and stop. The Instructor must be keenly alive to this fault, and immediately order the horses to be led off with the "inward rein" and "inward leg," to place him in his proper position, with head and neck leading.
At the change of leg in the half-passage, do not let the men change the position of the horse's head till they have brought their haunches to the boards; otherwise the horses will get into a trick of changing too soon.
Immediately after the "half-passage;" the word "Leading Files Circle," is given, and the horses are kept on the circle, until they all canter true.
In dividing the work to be gone through into lessons, particularizing what is to be done each day in succession, I, of course, go upon what is required for horses in general. Much is left to the judgment of the Instructor, who must vary the application of some lessons, according to the disposition and temper of the horses One may require to have more perseverance used in his bending lessons; another in reining back; a third, sluggish and lazy, may require the use of the spur before the time laid down. For this I can lay down no rule, and must leave it to the instructor; but for all that, the time given is sufficient to bring any horse under control that has not been thoroughly spoiled by previous mismanagement; though it will depend upon the rider, how far the horse is brought on within that time.
*Keeping the leg stuck out stiffly, and away from the horse's sides, from the knee down, is a great fault, and a very common one amongst soldiers.