Monday, September 27, 2010

Xenophon of horseridding - paces



Continuing from Chapter X:

CHAPTER XI.

Of teaching a horse his paces. How to make him assume showy attitudes.

1. But if a person wishes to possess a horse that is fit for processions, and of lofty and magnificent bearing, such qualities are not to be found in every horse, for he must be one that is of a noble spirit and strong frame.

2. But what some suppose, that a horse which has suppleness of leg will also be able to rear his body high, is not the case; the truth rather is, that it must be a horse which has flexible, short, and strong loins (we do not mean the part by the tail, but that which is between the ribs and the haunches, at the belly), for such a horse will be able to extend his hinder legs far forward under him. 3. If a rider, then, when the horse has his hind legs thus under him, should pull him up with the bridle, he rests his hinder parts on his heels, and rears up the fore part of his body, so that his belly is seen by those in front of him. But when he does this, it is proper to give him the bridle, that he may assume of his own accord the attitudes most graceful in a horse, and appear to the spectators to do so.

4. There are people who teach horses thus to rise, some by striking them on the fetlocks with a stick, some by directing a man, who runs at the side for that purpose, to hit them on the upper part of the legs.

5.We however consider it the best mode of instruction, as we are perpetually saying, that when ever a horse acts agreeably to the wishes of his rider, it should follow that he receive some indulgence from him.

6. For what a horse does under compulsion, as Simon also observes, he does without understanding, and with no more grace than a dancer would display if a person should whip and spur him during his performance; since both horse and man, when suffering such treatment, would exhibit more ungraceful than graceful gestures. But the rider ought to teach a horse by signs to assume of his own accord all his most beautiful and showy attitudes.

7. If, then, when he is exercised, he be ridden till he is quite in a perspiration, and the rider, as soon as he raises himself gracefully, dismounts and unbridles him, he may feel assured that the horse will always be ready to rear himself of his own accord.

8. It is upon horses of this kind that gods and heroes are painted riding, and men who are able to manage them skilfully are regarded as deserving of admiration.

9.So extremely beautiful, and admirable, and noble a sight is a horse that bears himself superbly, that he fixes the gaze of all who see him, both young and old; no one, indeed, leaves him, or is tired of contemplating him, as long as he continues to display his magnificent attitudes.

10. If it should ever happen to the possessor of such a horse to be a phylarch or hipparch, he ought not to make it his study that he alone may enjoy distinction, but rather that all the cavalry under his command may be deserving of admiration,

11. Should such a horse precede the rest, [as people esteem such horses most,] one that, as he advances, rears himself very high and very frequently, it is plain that the other horses would follow him at a slow pace ; but what striking attraction could there be in such a spectacle ?

12. If, however, while you animate your steed, you lead neither with too great quickness nor with too great slowness, but just as horses appear most lively and formidable, and best adapted for exertion, if, I say, you precede the other horses in this manner, the march of the whole troop will be uniform, and even the very neighing and snorting of the horses will be n concert, so that not only the commander himself, but the whole troop, will present an admirable spectacle.

13. If a person be fortunate in purchasing horses, and bring them up to be able to endure fatigue, and train them properly, not only in exercises for war, but in manoeuvres for parade, and in service in the field, what can prevent him, unless some god be adverse to his endeavours, from rendering his horses of far greater value than they were when he took them under his care, or from having not only estimable horses, but being himself greatly admired for his skill in the art of horsemanship.

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