A short Explanation of the New System in Questions and Answers, for the Instruction of Non-Commissioned Officers, Rough Riders, and Men.


1. In riding a young horse at what must you first aim?

I must get him to move forward.

2. What next?

To step out freely at a walk and a trot.

3. Then to render him obedient, how do you begin?

With the head and neck.

4. Why?

Because the head and neck should precede or begin every movement of the horse.

5. How do you set about it?

By teaching the horse to obey the feeling of the reins.

6. Do you do this on foot or on horseback?

I begin with the bending lessons on foot, and thus prepare the horse to obey the hand when mounted.

7. What follows?

Teaching the horse to obey the pressure of the leg.

8. How is this done?

By circling him on the forehand and haunches.

9. Is the horse then sufficiently broken in?

No. For as yet I have only reduced separately to obedience, the head and neck, the shoulders and the haunches, one after another.

10. To derive any great advantage from these several separate acts of obedience on the part of the horse, what must you do?

I must know how to combine them, and exact obedience from all collectively.

11. But how can you do this?

I can bring the horse's head home, (because he has already been taught to rein in).
I can keep his hind quarters on a straight line, (for by circling on the forehand, the horse has learnt to step to the right or left, from the pressure of the leg).
I can move his forehand, (from having circled on the haunches).
I therefore now proceed to rein back, and bring his loins into play.

12. Will "reining back" alone, then, combine the play of forehand and haunches?

Not thoroughly without the use of the spur.

13. Then in what way does the spur assist?

By the use of the spur I oblige the horse to bring his head and neck, shoulders, loins, and haunches, all into play at the same time; and by degrees I exact obedience from them collectively.

14. Explain how this is done?

I keep the horse at a walk on the straight line, his head reined in, and approaching the spur close to his sides, touch him lightly at first. This gives the horse a forward impulse, which I quietly control by keeping my hand steady, while the horse's hind legs, which he brought under him to spring forward, are suddenly kept there by the opposition of my hand. I then make much of him and caress him, ease my hand, letting him continue to walk on quietly, till by repeating this lesson, at the slightest pressure of my legs, he brings his haunches under him, and arches his neck, and is ready to spring forward, to rein back, or turn to either hand.

15. But suppose when you stick the spurs into him, he throws up his head, and dashes off with you?

This could not happen to me because I should never communicate an impulse with the leg, which I could not control with the hand. I begin by touching his sides so lightly, and taking it so coolly, neither moving hand nor leg, that the horse is never alarmed, thinks nothing of it at first, and thus I go on gradually increasing the dose, till he takes as much as is "necessary," and "cannot help himself."

16. When do you know that the horse has taken as much as is necessary?

When I feel the horse so buoyant and light under me, that I can make him spring forward, rein back, or turn to any side, with perfect ease.

17. And how is that "he cannot help himself?"

Because I have made myself master, by degrees, of all his strong places, being careful to attack them one by one, and never attempt No. 2, till I was in full possession of No. 1.

18. Then, according to your shewing, you first make yourself master of the forehand, then of the haunches, and then you combine the play of both by "reining back," and using the spur. Do you now consider yourself master of your horse?

Yes, I do.

19. When you bend your horse to the right and left, whether on foot or mounted, is it sufficient that he should champ the bit?

Not quite, he should open his mouth, and take no hold of it.

20. Do you continue these bending lessons long?

Until the horse yields and opens his mouth at the slightest feeling of the reins.

21. In "reining back," which comes first, "the pressure of the legs," or "the feeling of the reins?"

First, the pressure of the legs, and then the feeling of the reins.

22. Why?

Because the support (the hind leg) must be displaced before the weight is thrown on it. If the reins are felt first, the whole weight of the horse is thrown on his hind legs; and how can he then lift them, and step back? If he succeeds in lifting one leg, it is with a great effort, and he will fall back on it, rather than step back, and thus injure his houghs, if forced to repeat it often; whereas, by a pressure of both legs, I make him raise one hind leg, and at that moment, by feeling both reins, I oblige him to put that foot down, back instead of forward. I do not throw the horse off his balance, and he can continue stepping back, with as little effort as stepping to the front.

23. Do the hand and leg work separately?

No, they should always assist each other.

24. When circling on the forehand do you ever halt the horse?

Yes. When the leg is applied, the horse moves from it, but when the pressure ceases, the horse should no longer step from it; otherwise when he once begins passaging, he is not easily stopped; and to prevent a horse getting into this bad habit, as well as to teach him to collect himself, whenever the leg is applied, after each step in circling on the forehand, I stop him by closing the inward leg; and by a pressure of both legs, I collect and press him up to the hand, but I never allow him to hurry.

25. And now how do you pull up a horse when at full speed?

By closing both legs, and feeling both reins.

26. Do you mean to say that you pull up a horse when at speed by "the use of your legs?"

Yes. The horse is so accustomed at the pressure of the rider's legs to bring his haunches under him, that he does so at speed also, and I seize that moment to keep him there by throwing myself back, feeling both reins at the same time.

27. If you did not use your legs what would happen?

If I did not use my legs, but merely pulled at the bridle, the horse would put his head up or down, and though I should by strength of arm pull him up in time, it would be entirely on his forehand, his nose stuck out, his hind quarters up, his loins arched, and I should be thrown up and down in the saddle in a very helpless way, and thus quite unfit to act on an emergency, as the horse would be under no control.*

*By the above means we can bring the horse in about two months to be: Generally obedient; - Light in hand; - To carry himself well; - To walk, trot, steadily and quickly, and always in hand; - To rein back freely, and close steadily to either hand; - To canter to both hands and change leg; - To go about on the forehand and haunches, (Pirouette), - And thus make him a useful Cavalry horse.