Horse Training by Modern Methods by Pope, Allan Melvill

[Illustration: Galley Slave, a 2-year-old filly, is the present queen of Sagamore Farm. Last winter she ran three times in California. She won all three races and set one world’s record.]

Horse Training by Modern Methods

BY ALLAN MELVILL POPE, First Lieutenant of Cavalry, U. S. Army.


Copyright, 1912, By Franklin Hudson Publishing Co., Kansas City, Mo.


The object of this book is to arrange in the most convenient, clear, and concise form the modern system of horse-training, in so far as it is applicable to the training of horses in the mounted service of the United States.

No attempt has been made in any case to improve upon methods already deemed correct by the best horsemen; and as such methods can be found dealing with all points of training, it follows that the subject matter in this book is not original. Where the best was to be found, there it has been sought, and where the authors of previous works have expressed their ideas in language considered the most concise and clear, their words have been copied verbatim, with due acknowledgement to the authors.

I am indebted to the following for methods, theories, translation of technical terms, and improvised commands herein contained:

To Major George H. Cameron, 14th Cavalry, Captain W. C. Short, 13th Cavalry, Captain Guy V. Henry, Cavalry, 1st Lieutenant Gordon Johnston, Cavalry, 1st Lieutenant Joseph F. Taulbee, 2d Cavalry, The late Captain M. Horace Hayes, F.R.C.V.S., Edward L. Anderson, James Fillis, Captain de Saint-Phalle, _Notes d’Equitation-Carouseles Militaire_, _Saumur Notes_ (English translation of the above); and to Col. Haddens W. Jones, 10th Cavalry, for valuable assistance and advice.


Nothing within this book is believed to be beyond the reach of the mounted service in general.

The time allotted to “breaking” or gentling will be in many cases eliminated, as the present system of remount stations has become well established.

Each troop should have three or four such articles as longes and cavessons. These articles can be made very easily by saddlers and blacksmiths, from a model. Models can undoubtedly be procured through the Mounted Service School at Fort Riley, Kansas, or from any saddlery store, care being taken in purchasing from the latter to determine whether the model is a correct one or not.

In many cases the reasons for the use of certain aids, etc., are apparent, and all explanation is omitted. In other cases, where explanations involve nice points of mechanics, etc., they have likewise been omitted. The reason for the latter omissions being that they are interesting to the student only. The real student of horse-training can only be one who enjoys such work. Many officers do not enjoy it, and this book is intended for all.

In view of the fact that all the methods embodied herein are well-recognized methods, I trust readers will take for granted that they conform to the mechanical principles, etc., omitted.

As riding cannot be taught by books, no attempt is made to do so here. Officers instructed in riding at the Mounted Service School are returned to their regiments every year, where, by their example and ability to instruct, they can accomplish far more than any literature on the subject; but where riding, as regards the seat, cannot be readily forgotten, points of training a horse can; and it is for such as forget, or for such as have had nothing or little to forget, that this book is intended.

As to riding, it might be of interest, however, to some to note that the following cautions have been found to be a frequent necessity while training horses with enlisted men up:

Don’t yank upon your horse’s mouth.

Keep your hands low and your wrists supple.

Don’t stick your knees up in the air.

Grip with your knees and the calf of your leg.

Let your stirrups out (for most men).

Carry your legs back.

Don’t let your reins flop.

Don’t hollow out your back.

Don’t let your horse back up (unless the movement is a retrograde one).

Drive him forward.

Don’t let him bend his neck at the shoulder.

Use your leg (or legs).

Don’t be rough with your horse.

New horses sent to a post should be turned over to one competent officer with assistants, if necessary, for training. If necessary to assign them to troops to assure proper care and grooming, orders should be given that they be exercised only by direction of the officer in charge. Enlisted men specially suited for training horses should be detailed under the above-named officer’s direction. Only such enlisted men should be detailed who will not be discharged or detailed on other duty until the training ceases. The training should continue for not less than six months. Horses should, when possible, be assigned trainers who belong to the organization to which the horses are assigned, the rider being assured, if possible, that the horse will be assigned to him after the training is over.

Two officers can train with reasonable satisfaction seventy-five horses, if given one hour and a half per day six days a week, in the riding-hall. As the number of horses in the riding-hall at a time go over fifteen the difficulties increase.

In case it be impossible for new horses to be under the direction of one officer, organization commanders should keep the horses out of ranks an equal period, and undertake the same training with competent men.

Hard-trotting, uncontrollable horses, uncomfortable to ride and weak in muscular activity, result from lack of training.

From practical work with enlisted men, it has been found that there is little difficulty in teaching them the kinds of aids, with their proper names, and the use and form the various exercises take. The manner in which they apply their aids and perform the exercises varies with the individual’s ability to ride and aptitude for training.

When Part II. is undertaken, the difficulties increase. The difficulties do not lie in the use of the double rein, which the men soon become accustomed to, but in understanding the flexions and the delicate use of the aids required in these exercises and in the changes of lead at the gallop.

As hands are a most important element in Part II., it is not surprising that men who have ridden perhaps less than three years should have difficulty.

Part II. should not be abandoned, either because of the difficulties inherent to the exercises or because of the lack of proper equipment. The use of a double bridle improvised from a watering bridle and a regulation bit is preferable to the use of a single curb immediately succeeding the work with the snaffle alone.

To some it may seem that confusion exists as to arrangement of the facts. The scheme of arrangement is as follows:

A man, in training a horse, can begin work on the horse with what he finds in the beginning of this book, and as the horse progresses he need only progress in his reading to find new exercises. Certain definitions and explanations are requisite to a proper understanding of an exercise. These are necessarily interpolated.

If the reader will consider the difficulties in setting forth such facts in a logical sequence, he will perhaps be more lenient in his criticisms of this book, although criticism is expected and sought.

A. M. P.

_Manlius, N. Y._, August, 1911.




_Object of Training._—Horse-training is a series of exercises to render the horse obedient and at the same time to preserve and develop his inherent qualities. It is a muscular training which by suppling the parts will strengthen the entire body, and by balancing the horse will develop harmony in his movements.

_New Horses._—New horses should be exercised daily, at first being led by men on foot, and later by men mounted on quiet horses. The exercise should be at a walk, and is used to quiet and strengthen the animals. When leading a young horse mounted, the side upon which he is led should often be changed to avoid giving a false set to the neck.

_Care of New Horses._—The young horse should have flannel bandages on his fore legs when exercised, from the fetlock to the knee, to support the flexor tendons and to keep the horse from hitting himself, thereby often causing splints.

After exercising, the legs should be rubbed and the tendons massaged, then washed with cool water and flannel bandages applied. The tendons are thereby supported and wind-puffs and swellings prevented.

_How to Adjust a Bandage._—A bandage should be wound up with the tapes inside. Unroll six or eight inches of it, and lay this loose portion obliquely across the outside of the leg, close to the knee, with the end reaching to about the center of that joint, and the rolled-up part turned to the outside, and directed downward and forward. The beginning should be continued around the fetlock and upper part of the pastern, and brought back close up below the knee. The loose end is then turned down, and the folds of the bandage carried over it. The tapes are tied a little above the center of the cannon bone. (_Hayes._)

_To Approach an Uncertain Horse._—To go up to an uncertain horse which is held or tied up in the open, approach the fore leg on the near side at an angle of about 70 degrees to the direction of the axis of the horse. Having reached his shoulder, place a hand on his crest and stroke the mane. When a certain degree of confidence is restored to the horse, further handling may be undertaken.

_To Lead a Horse with the Snaffle, and to Adjust Snaffle._—To lead a horse with a snaffle mounted or dismounted, pass both reins through the near snaffle ring if the horse is to be on the off side. In placing the snaffle bridle upon a fractious horse, place the reins first over the neck, if possible. If the horse objects to having the head-stall put on, unfasten the left check-strap from the ring of the snaffle. Place the head-stall in position, then put the bit in the mouth and refasten the cheek-strap. If impracticable to remove the halter before bridling the horse, place the bridle on over the halter, then unfasten the halter, slip the nose-band down over the nostrils, then into the mouth and around under the bit and out of the mouth. The halter will then fall off.

_Longeing._—The following principles must be considered when longeing:

1. The horse must be controlled by the longe; the only function of the whip is to move the horse forward.

2. The length of the longe should be frequently changed. The horse should alternately stretch himself on a large circle and bend himself on a small circle.

3. The gaits should frequently be changed. (_Notes d’Equitation._)

_Method of Longeing a Horse._—Start the longeing exercise without the longeing whip. Place the cavesson on the horse, if possible, after the halter has been removed, or, if a bridle is on the horse, over the bridle. Fasten the longe into the ring of the cavesson. Face the same way the horse faces and walk near his head, leading him by a short longe in a circle to the left; right hand on the longe near the horse’s head, longe in the left hand, not coiled, but arranged so that in running out quickly it will not become entangled or pinch the fingers.

If the horse refuses to lead, an assistant may urge him forward as quietly as possible from the rear. As the horse becomes accustomed to being led, gradually lengthen the longe and drop back slightly from the head of the horse, toward his shoulders. Cluck to the horse to urge him forward. Use the hand to make motions for the same purpose or tap him lightly with the hand on his side, in case the horse refuses to go forward. If the horse turns toward the trainer, shake the longe so that it lightly taps the nose on the side of the horse which should be toward the center of the circle. Gradually, as the horse learns what is wanted, the trainer moves so that the horse circles about him, first at a slow gait, then at the trot, and finally, when more proficient, at the canter and gallop.

To slow down the gait, use the voice soothingly and shake the longe up and down gently. To stop the horse, a series of motions of the longe up and down, with a strong pull on the longe as it comes down, will have the greatest effect. The word “whoa” should frequently be used in this movement. When the horse obeys, he should be caressed.

When a horse will go to the left on the longe, even at the walk, he should be practiced going to the right until equally capable on that hand. A horse should not be longed until fatigued.

_Use of the Longe._—

1. To exercise young horses without injury.

2. To give first lessons to horses difficult to manage.

3. For horses that hold back or fight.

4. For horses with one shoulder more developed than the other.

5. For horses that will not work equally well on either hand.

6. For horses that bend themselves with difficulty.

7. For the first lessons in jumping. (_Notes d’Equitation._)

_The Snaffle Bit._—As early as possible, a bridle and snaffle bit should be put on the horse.

The snaffle is a very mild bit because it acts mostly on the lips and only a little on the bars. The faults of the hand are therefore less prejudicial to the tender mouth of the new horse. When, in the course of training, the horse becomes familiar with the snaffle bit, he may be prepared for the double bridle by the use of the double snaffle, a bit which is known not to be dangerous and which gives the rider more action upon the horse. The double snaffle should properly be composed of a snaffle without branches and a “Boucher” snaffle. The double snaffle also is useful in the case of a horse that leans on the hands; the remedy consisting, in this case, of producing action either by alternate effects which make each snaffle bit felt separately, or by cross-effects obtained by the action of one snaffle bit on one side and the other snaffle bit on the other side.

_Saddling New Horses._—New horses should be made accustomed to equipment while they are first exercised by leading or when on the longe; first by the blanket and surcingle, then by the saddle being placed on their back. The saddle is put on first without stirrups, then with stirrups crossed, and then with the stirrups hanging. The girth should at first be tightened slightly, and afterwards readjusted, if necessary, during the exercises. A nervous horse should be longed a little before placing the saddle on his back.

A horse should not be mounted for the first time on the same day he is first saddled.

_Mounting the New Horse._—When first mounting, the rider should get into the saddle as handily and quickly as possible, without being particular as to exactness. An assistant stands facing the horse. The rider slaps the saddle, lets the stirrups drop against the sides of the horse, and then takes up the reins, leaving them very long. In case the horse backs up or tries to move away, the assistant leads him gently up to where he was before and the rider tries to mount again.

If the rider believes that the horse will make violent resistances, he can insure his seat by having a rolled blanket strapped to the pommel of the saddle, to keep his knees in place. With a horse very difficult to mount, where there is danger of severe resistance, the horse should be snubbed up to a strong, quiet horse. Snubbing is only resorted to in cases where longeing and quiet handling have failed to bring about the desired results.

With very restless animals, the assistants stand squarely in front of the horses and simply caress the animals’ heads without holding the reins. If a horse is very restless, and the cavesson has to be used, it should be in the hands of an experienced man.

The following is a position often taken for mounting a restless animal: Take the reins of the snaffle in the left hand, and with the same hand catch hold of the mane at about the middle of the neck so that there is a slight tension on the reins. Take hold of the pommel of the saddle with the right hand and mount, taking care that the left toe does not touch the horse when mounting. Above all things, avoid bustling the horse when starting; for, if he is led to expect this, he will never stand quietly to be mounted. Sometimes feeding a horse oats from a pan while he is being mounted causes him to stand quietly.

_First Lessons after Mounting._—Never require anything from the horse mounted for the first time. If he walks straight ahead, it is sufficient. Keep the reins separated and feel lightly the snaffle. Ride the horse a few times around the hall to the right and to the left, leaving him as free as possible, if, of course, he is quiet. If the horse does well, dismount and feed him carrots, if they can be supplied, or a handful of oats. Carrots ought always be cut lengthwise and never across; in the latter case they might stick in the animal’s throat.

_Resistances._—Among the most violent resistances are bucking and rearing.

If the horse attempts to buck, press him forward with the legs and hold his head high. The rider is more easily displaced if the horse bucks in place. If the rider is not able to make the horse go forward, he should turn him to the right or left with the snaffle bit. As all horses have a soft and hard side to their mouths, when resistance is encountered in turning to the right, the attempt should be made to turn him to the left.

When a horse rears, separate the reins, and take hold of the mane in the left hand at about the middle of the neck. Lean forward, and when the horse comes down again, push the body back into its place by quickly straightening the arm.



A little must be understood about equilibrium before the aids can properly be mastered.

_Direct Equilibrium._—This relates to the balance of the horse when the center of gravity is moved forward or backward. The fore legs of the horse are used for translation, the hind legs for propulsion. The horse naturally bears more weight upon his fore legs than upon his hind. The center of gravity, then, is nearer the fore quarters than the hind, which is therefore favorable to the forward movement of the horse.

If the weight of the horse, by changing the position of parts of the body, brings the center of gravity towards the rear, it is more favorable for the backward movement.

When the center of gravity is forward, the fore legs control the movement of the mass, and the hind legs merely propel. When the center of gravity moves backward, the hind legs become more and more masters of the control of the movement of the mass, and their action then is from the ground up as well as from rear to front as before. In other words, the movements gain in height.

_Position of a Horse for the Forward Movement._—

1. When a horse wants to move forward, he naturally puts himself in the most favorable position; consequently he throws his weight forward to his shoulders, and, to do this, stretches out his head and neck.

2. To obtain the forward movement and the accelerations in gait then, the rider must let the horse extend and lower his head and neck; similarly he must raise them to obtain the slower gaits.

3. _A horse must always be ready to carry himself forward._ This is the most important rule in equitation. The tendency to move forward is called “impulsion.” Without impulsion we can have no influence over the direction. (_De Saint-Phalle._)

The horse must go into the bridle. Nearly every vice and resistance offered by a horse is preceded and made possible by the animal getting behind the bit; that is, he refuses to face the bit, or take the pressure of the bit, so that the rider’s hand can find nothing by which he can enforce his demands. (_Anderson._)

_Lateral Equilibrium._—This relates to the balance of a horse when the center of gravity is moved sideways. It is a case where the horse is made to load one shoulder or one haunch or all one side more than the other. It is used for changes of direction, parallel displacements, etc. The horse being in motion, if we force him to carry the weight of his forehand to one side, the entire forehand tends to be displaced to the same side. This displacement of the horse is obligatory if that of the center of gravity is sufficiently accentuated.


_What Are the Aids?_—The aids are the different means employed by the rider to convey his desires or intentions to the horse. (_Notes d’Equitation._)


_The Stirrups._—The stirrups should be so adjusted that the tread of the stirrup is level with the top of the heel when the rider is mounted and seated properly. When the stirrups are too long, as with the “fork seat,” the rider is unable to use his legs with strength and accuracy. With the stirrups too short the rider’s knees are too high, the seat is forced too far back and he is unable to sit down in the saddle; hence is less secure.

_Position of the Foot in the Stirrup._—At least one-third of the foot should be inserted in the stirrup; the heel should be slightly lower than the toe and the ball of the foot should rest upon the tread. (_Notes d’Equitation._)

The following are the uses to which the legs are put:

1. To produce the forward movement.

2. To range the haunches.

3. To bring the hind legs forward under the body.

_The Equal Action of Both Legs._—The most important duty of the legs is to act together for the purpose of giving or sustaining impulsion. This action should command the forward movement and its acceleration. To obtain this result, the legs can act by simple pressure of the knees or by pressure of the knees and calves. The pressure of only the knees is sufficient with delicate horses, but with others the pressure of the calves has to be added to that of the knees. The more energetic the pressure and the farther behind the girths it is, the greater the result produced. Usually the action of the leg is strong enough if it is placed against or a little in rear of the girth. If the action there is not sufficient, it may be carried back a little—never, however, to reach an angle of 45 degrees. The perfection to aim at is to have the leg move almost imperceptibly and vary its effects only by different shades of pressure; but with a horse that does not respond sufficiently to the demands, it becomes necessary to carry the leg back a little by bending the knee and keeping the heels low. The inclination of the leg to an angle of 45 degrees is the very maximum, which it is unscientific and useless to pass or even to reach, so that if the action of the leg is not efficacious under these conditions, we must turn to more energetic methods. But little trouble is experienced in teaching riders not to carry the legs too far back. The reverse is usually the case.

The above method failing, the next to try is consecutive thumpings with the calf of the leg, not very pronounced, but repeated until the result sought is obtained. At the instant the legs should cease their action, and should repeat it only when the need again is felt.

If this means is not sufficient, there is nothing to do but come to blows with the legs. These are executed by slightly carrying to one side the calf and ramming it against the horse with a violence proportionate to the result to be obtained. This movement ought to be done without raising the knees or sticking them out, the lower part of the legs being independent of the rest of the body in order that the seat and the hand be not deranged. This manner of getting action upon the horse ought not to be continued for a long time, even if its effect is not sufficient or lasting. Like every violent movement, this one ought to be exceptional, and rather than repeat it frequently, it is better to have recourse to short, energetic action of the spurs.

It is very necessary to avoid the frequent fault of using the leg after sufficient action has been gotten out of the horse or of continuing the demands when they are already obeyed. Then the impulsion of the horse is augmented in a manner prejudicial to the desired result, which necessitates the action of the hand to oppose the augmented impulsion falsely ordered by the legs.

_Unequal Action of the Legs._—When one leg is used more than the other, the haunches are displaced to the opposite side. The horse is then said “to range his haunches.” This effect is often useful in preventing the horse from slipping out sideways, in straightening him, and in making him change directions, etc.; but its greatest utility lies in permitting the rider to range the haunches and traverse the horse, which movements are essential to the main instruction in the mental and physical suppling of the horse.

The rules for the use of both legs apply equally well to the use of one leg, as regards place of contact and manner of graduating the intensity of action. (_“Equal Action of Both Legs and Unequal Action of the Leg,” from “Elementary Equitation,” by De Saint-Phalle._)

_To Bring the Hind Legs Forward Under the Horse._—Due to contraction of the muscles produced by the tickling sensation of the leg or spur upon the side, the horse mechanically brings his hind legs up under the body when so forced. This bringing up of the hind legs places the control of the movement of the mass in their power, because the center of gravity is nearer their base. Hence the leg movements become more elevated, the speed less fast, and the horse more handy and more easily controlled.

_Mutual Support by the Legs._—If one leg acts to range the haunches, the other should receive the mass to limit and control the movement. Both legs should be at all times close enough to the horse to act accurately, quickly, and without abruptness in order to assist each other.

_When a Horse Is “Behind the Legs.”_—When a horse refuses to move forward after the equal action of both legs is produced, he is said to be “behind the bit” and likewise “behind the legs.” A horse in this state is beyond the control of the rider, and every means should be exerted to force the horse with the legs up into the bit again.

_The Spur._—The spur should not be used until the seat is secure. If the pressure of the calves of the legs is sufficient to command impulsion, the spur should not be resorted to.

Resistances are provoked if the spur remains in the side continuously, and the animal becomes disobedient and on the defensive. Continued contact should be replaced by repeated contacts of short duration of an intensity to fit the case.

The length of the spur varies with the length of the stirrup-leathers, the length of the leg of the rider, and the form of the horse. A general rule is that the spur should be of such a length as to be easily used without danger of unintentional usage during sudden displacements.


In the training of the horse the reins should be held in two hands. Single reins should be held as prescribed in the Cavalry Drill Regulations.

The following important rule should always be observed: _The pressure of the rider’s legs, or of his heels, must always precede any action of the hand_; in other words, the bit does not go back to the horse, but the horse goes forward against the bit.

It has been shown that by the action of the legs impulsion is produced in the horse, which causes a stretching of the neck to the front in order to begin or accelerate the forward movement. If as the head and neck stretch out the forward movement of the bit in the mouth is arrested by the hand, the bit is brought into stronger contact with the bars of the mouth, which produces its action. The action of the reins is thus produced after the action of the legs has produced its effect.

KINDS OF REINS. (_De Saint-Phalle._)

_Open Rein._—This rein is used in turning the horse. The right rein, for example, is said to be open if the right hand is carried to the right and front. Reins are so used for the particular effect they have upon the horse’s head. The need of them is felt especially in the training of green horses, but also with a horse that refuses to turn and carries his head in the opposite direction from that in which the rider desires him to go. When the right rein is open, the horse’s head will be drawn to the right and he will be assisted in moving in that direction.

_Direct Rein._—This rein acts parallel to the axis of the horse without intermediary action upon the neck. Reins used in this manner bring a little of the weight to the side on which they act, which with an obedient horse suffices to make him turn to that side. It is also used in turning the horse’s head at the poll so that the horse may look in the direction toward which he is going.

_Rein of Support._—The right rein, for example, is called the right rein of support when the right hand moves from right to left and the right rein hence bears against the neck. It has different effects according to the point towards which its action is directed. For example, if the hand is moved towards the front of or over the left shoulder, the effect is to bring the weight of the forehand towards that shoulder; or if the direction of the right rein of support passes in rear of the withers, the effect is felt by the increased weight on the left haunch; or if the action of the rein in this direction is sufficiently strong, it can either lead to the displacement of the haunches towards the left by setting the left shoulder, or displace simultaneously the shoulders and the haunches towards the left by pushing the horse entirely to that side.

The effect of the rein of support is extremely powerful in preventing the horse from slipping out on its side, or in restraining the horse from turning in the opposite direction.

_Rein of Opposition._—If the rider opens the right rein slightly and pulls either in the direction of the right haunch or the direction of the left haunch, the rein is called the right rein of opposition. He is then said to set the shoulders in opposition to the haunches. (_Notes d’Equitation._)

_General Rule._—A general rule is, that at all times contact is kept with the mouth by the reins through the medium of the bit. _The reins never flop._ There are two exceptions to this rule allowable: during complete abandon, as at the walk; and momentarily, during flexions, as will be shown later.

_The Seat._—The seat is an aid when it changes the support of the body from one buttock to the other to assist the horse in lateral movements. This movement helps to carry the center of gravity of the horse to the side toward which the movement is desired. Similarly an increase in the weight placed on one stirrup is an aid.

The upper part of the body by leaning forward or back likewise assists the horse in moving the center of gravity forward and back.



The horse being now able to be mounted, the following exercises may be undertaken:

The horses are taken into the riding-hall, if available, and the riders instructed to work without regard to distances. It is a bad plan to work in groups, especially with young horses, as they soon become accustomed to remaining in ranks and refuse to leave.

The forward movement, as has been stated, is the most important lesson in training, and it is continually taught during the entire course of instruction.

_The Walk._—To take the walk from the halt, both legs should be made to be felt, gradually increasing their intensity until the setting in motion is produced. The fingers and wrists give, to allow the neck to stretch out. The horse should be set in motion in the direction of his axis by symmetrical use of the aids. The movement should be smooth, but without hesitancy.

In order to keep the start from being sudden, the energy displayed in the use of the leg should conform to the degree of sensitiveness of the horse. The movement can be kept from being hesitatingly performed by progressively, but without hesitancy, using such force as the legs should have, and by giving the reins with the fingers and wrist at the precise moment the neck tries to stretch out.

_The Trot._—This is the most advantageous gait to take during the first lessons, because:

1. It starts the horse straight ahead and helps to bring him in hand.

2. Horses are less restless at this gait.

3. It is a natural pace.

4. It is a good suppling exercise for the horse.

The trot is not a fatiguing pace to the horse. He can go a long distance continuously at a fair rate of speed at this gait, because both fore and hind legs, respectively, have the same amount of work to do, and the body can be easily maintained in a state of equilibrium, as it is supported by diagonal supports.

The rider, if in the flat saddle, except at slow gaits, should rise to the trot during this exercise. The diagonal on which the rise is made should frequently be changed.

The lightness of the horse only comes with further training. The rider up to this point tries little by little to bring the horse under control by the following exercises:

1. Moving to the front at a walk, then a trot.

2. Increasing and decreasing gaits.

3. Halting.

_To Halt._—To execute this movement, lean back slightly and gradually increase the pressure of the bit on the mouth until the movement slows down and gradually stops. Both legs should at the same time be carried back to assist the horse in bringing the haunches up under him. The horse should neither raise nor lower his head. The whole mass of the neck should move toward the withers.

Halting the horse should often be practiced with horses possessing a high, powerful croup and with those inclined to forge ahead at all times. Those inclined to fret, those whose legs are well set up under them, and those that are difficult to keep up into the bit should seldom be halted.

Especially during these lessons must the rider pay strict attention to the even tension of the rein. At first the rider must do all the work—that is, must tighten the reins; but later the horse, having become accustomed to the pressure of the bit and always having the idea of going straight ahead, will of his own accord keep the reins taut.

_The Gallop._—Almost invariably the gallop lesson should be begun early. This is an additional means of suppling the horse, of strengthening him, extending him, and pushing him straight ahead. It would be stupidity to gallop frequently on a colt that drags his legs and is disunited at a trot and that has difficulty in holding up the part essential to the training. On the other hand, it is proper to gallop repeatedly on a vigorous horse that has been worked before purchase, or on the horse with good strong legs, particularly after he has been thoroughly confirmed in the correct trot. (_Notes d’Equitation._)

_To Take the Gallop by Extending the Trot._—To accomplish this movement, the rider needs only to take the trot and by the use of both legs to push this gait up to the point where the horse leaves it to pass into the gallop.

To accomplish this without undue increase of speed, put the horse on a circle of six or seven yards radius, first trot around this and then lengthen the trot until the horse escapes into the gallop. When he is calm and the rider feels confidence in himself, the rider may leave the circle and rejoin the track on the same hand.

As long as the rider does not wish to make abrupt changes of direction, but gallops on a large circle or on the track, it makes little difference whether the horse is galloping true or false, and it is useless for the rider to bother about the leads at this stage of the training. (_De Saint-Phalle._)

When the horse begins to understand the gallop and takes it calmly, the correct lead, which is explained on page 61, may be undertaken, at present, by the following aids: Both legs to increase the gait from the trot to the gallop; outside rein to prevent the haunches from swinging to the outside and which precludes the liability to a false lead.

(_Note._—“Outside” always means the outside of a circle, or, if on the track, the side towards the wall.)



_The Walk._—This is a movement of four beats, and is a pace in which all the legs move, respectively, one after the other. If, for instance, the left fore leads, the sequence is:

1. Left fore. 2. Right hind. 3. Right fore. 4. Left hind.

If the near hind begins, it will be:

1. Left hind. 2. Left fore. 3. Right hind. 4. Right fore.

Each foot comes to the ground after the one that precedes it at an interval of about half the time occupied taking one step. The result of this is that we have the following order of supports:

1. Right laterals (right fore and right hind). 2. Right diagonals (right fore and left hind). 3. Left laterals. 4. Left diagonals.

As a rule, a horse begins the walk with a fore leg. (_Hayes._)

_The Trot._—This is a movement of two beats. The diagonal feet are on the ground at the same time. The order of supports is:

1. Right diagonal. 2. Moment of suspension. 3. Left diagonal. 4. Moment of suspension.

_The Pace._—This is a movement of two beats, like the trot, except the support is by the laterals instead of the diagonals. The order of supports is:

1. Right lateral. 2. Moment of suspension. 3. Left lateral. 4. Moment of suspension.

_The Gallop._—The gallop is an unsymmetrical gait of three beats. It is called unsymmetrical because the two front legs make dissimilar movements, likewise the two hind. Two different combinations take place, which are called “gallop right” and “gallop left.” The moment of taking each new point of support is called a beat.

In the gallop right the points of support are taken in the following order:

1. Left hind. 2. Left diagonal (left front, right hind). 3. Right front. 4. Moment of suspension.

The gallop left is as follows:

1. Right hind. 2. Right diagonal (right front, left hind). 3. Left front. 4. Moment of suspension.

A horse galloping right, for instance, seems to have the right legs always in front of the left. The rider can tell by seeing if the right shoulder is further advanced than the left. If the horse gallops right in front and left behind, the rider can feel an unusual stiff movement beneath him.



The horse being able to move forward and to decrease and increase gaits with reasonable accuracy, changes of direction may be undertaken.

_First Exercise._—The horse being at the walk, force the horse forward with both legs, use the open rein, and if he moves off at an angle oblique to the original direction, although the divergence may be small, it is satisfactory.

_Second Exercises._—The horse being at the walk, use the right or left leg to help carry the haunches around to the left or right; use the right or left rein of opposition to turn the horse to the right or left in a direction perpendicular to the original. The rein of opposition is used to combat the haunches with the shoulder. The horse not yet knowing the meaning of the preponderant use of one leg of the rider, the shoulder combating the haunch will make the haunch swing around, and if the horse, every time he is obliged to swing his haunches by the rein of opposition, feels the rider’s leg on that side, he will begin to associate the use of the leg with the swinging of the haunches.

_Third Exercise._—As the horse begins to understand the meaning of the use of one leg, gradually lessen the use of the rein of opposition as an open rein, until it finally becomes a direct rein, used only to turn the head slightly in the new direction. As the rein of opposition, or open rein, is diminished, supposing it to have been the right rein, gradually bring into play the left rein of support to force the fore quarters to the right in the new direction. As to the legs: Have both ready to maintain the impulsion, and each ready to act singly in case the hind feet do not follow in the track of the fore feet in making the change of direction. The hind legs being the propellers, and the maximum of power being always desirable, for purely mechanical reasons the greatest power of the hind legs is obtained when they follow in the same path as the fore legs, during turns.

(_Note._—The third exercise should not be undertaken until the horse has accomplished most of the exercises of Lateral Equitation, explained in following chapters.)

Abouts, circles, figures of eight, and serpentines are exercises, named in order of difficulty, which may be undertaken to accomplish the same result as the above exercises, with greater exactness. All these exercises should be practiced at the walk until proficient before attempting them at the slow trot. The rider sits the slow trot.

_The About on the Forehand at a Halt._—With horses that are naturally impulsive and are continually endeavoring to forge to the front, abouts on the forehand from the halt may be practiced at this stage of the training. With horses of exaggerated impulsiveness it may sometimes be undertaken earlier. The exercise should come later for less impulsive horses. The movement should always be completed by moving the horse straight to the front. The about on the forehand should always be about the inside leg as a pivot, for otherwise the movement is a retrograde one and tends to put the horse behind the bit.

It must be understood that at this stage of training, that is, during lateral equitation (explained on page 50), the about on the forehand is not a finished movement. The aids to be used are: To execute an about on the forehand to the right; both legs to arouse impulsion; the right leg to swing the haunches; the right rein of opposition to assist the right leg; the left rein to assist the right in its second function of preventing the horse from moving forward. The left leg is always ready to prevent the horse from backing.

_About on the Forehand (Dismounted)._—With some horses that are particularly difficult to teach the use of the leg as an aid, dismounted work may be resorted to. Short lessons only should be given.

Working on the left side, seize the reins six or eight inches from the bit in the left hand. Stand facing the horse and with the riding-whip touch him in rear of the girth where the rider’s leg would ordinarily come when used as an aid. Increase the force of the whip, beginning with light taps, until the horse swings his haunches away from the whip. The left hand prevents the horse moving either forward or backward. If at first the horse fails to move his haunches, he may be assisted in doing so by bringing the head slightly toward the side of the trainer. This opposes the head to the haunches and assists the action of the whip.



From the moment the horse will go straight ahead outdoor work is in some cases a necessity and in all cases to a greater or less extent desirable.

Horses which tend to get behind the bit or which do not let themselves out should frequently have outside work alternated with hall work. The horse being gradually educated to a good free trot should be given them outdoors, allowing time enough between trots for the horse to assume normal breathing. Outdoor work should take place with normal horses two days a week.

All horses need fresh outdoor air occasionally.

Horses that are inclined to bolt or forge ahead continually, or those that throw most of the weight on the forehand, need much more hall work than outdoor work.

Young horses especially should be given trots on soft ground. No horse should be galloped on hard roads. Soft ground means turf or dirt roads, not plowed land or stone-built roads. The gallop is undertaken outdoors only when the horse can be made to lead from either foot.

By going in pairs nervous horses do not fret while outdoors, as much as though alone. It is likewise better not to maintain a formation in ranks while outdoors, any more than necessary, in order to prevent the new horses from acquiring the habit of going in ranks and refusing to leave.

During the last part of outdoor exercise the horse should be walked so that he is returned to the stable breathing normally.



_Different Kinds of Equitation._—When, for example, the _right_ rein and _left_ leg are used to assist each other in moving the haunches, it is called lateral equitation. When the reins place the forehand and the legs alone control the hindhand, as, for example, if the _left_ rein and _right_ leg are used, it is called diagonal equitation.


The following points should be considered during the exercises in lateral equitation:

1. One step taken correctly is at first all that should be expected or required.

2. As the movements are fatiguing, they should at no time be continued more than a few seconds.

3. Horses that are stiff on one particular side should be suppled by exercises to that side.

4. The preceding rule applies to all parts of the horse except the neck. If the neck is stiff on the right side, supple it by exercises, as “Shoulder In” (see below), on the left hand. (_Capt. Short._)

5. The movements are all begun at a walk and, when proficient in them, are executed at a slow trot.

6. When the movements are executed on a circle, where the fore quarters are on one circumference and the hind quarters either on a larger or a smaller circumference, the effect, besides being one of suppling, is as follows: When the haunches are on a smaller circumference the horse tends toward collection, his hind quarters tend to come up under the body, and it is a good movement for a horse that forges ahead; when the hind quarters are on a circle of greater circumference than the fore quarters the horse tends to be forced up into the bit and to stretch out behind, hence it is a useful movement with sluggish horses or horses that tend to get behind the bit.

7. When executing any of the following exercises, if the horse fails to respond to the action of both legs and does not go up into the bit, cease the exercise at once and move straight ahead at a trot or gallop and do not return to the exercise until the horse is again into the bit.

_First Exercise in Suppling the Haunches._—This lesson consists in abouts on the forehand while marching. For example, marching on the right hand, leave the track on a diagonal (oblique) and return to it by a half turn to the left exacted by a very pronounced action of the left leg and left rein. This strongly marked lateral effect carries the horse’s haunches to the right; that is to say, the horse while still gaining ground yields to the effect of the leg (and left rein), and thus describes a half turn. The same movement is executed while marching on the left hand and the horse eventually swings the haunches easily about the forehand, without halting, without striking the fetlocks, and without dancing. (_Notes d’Equitation._)

The commands for this exercise are:

1. Right oblique. 2. _March._ 1. On forehand. 2. Half turn in reverse. 3. _March._

“Half turn” and “reverse” could, in this case, be expressed “left half turn,” but “in reverse” has particular significance, and the terms should be retained on that account.

_Haunches In._—This movement is one to exact obedience to one leg while marching. It continues the suppling of the hind quarters and confirms the obedience to the leg. It should be undertaken only when the horse yields readily to the legs in previous exercises.

Marching on the right hand, use the left rein of opposition and the left leg. It is sufficient if the horse swings his haunches to the right so that the left hind foot steps on a line passing through the prints of the right fore foot. The left rein of opposition assists the action of the left leg. At first one step is sufficient to demand at a time. Repeat the movement several times, gradually demanding more steps in the correct position. Never demand the movement, at any one time, over a greater distance than the long side of the riding-hall. The following cautions should be carefully observed:

1. Never let the horse’s body make an angle of more than 45 degrees with the original direction. To prevent this, use the inside leg.

2. Never let the gait diminish. To prevent this, use both legs when necessary to demand impulsion.

3. Do not lean to the left when moving to the right. The weight of the body should be slightly more upon the right buttock when moving to the right.

4. Do not let the right rein be slack when moving to the right.

_Shoulder In._—This is a similar exercise to haunches in, but more difficult and more useful.

This movement supples both forehand and hindhand.

To execute the movement when marching on the right hand:

First use the right open rein and the left rein of support, the fore quarters are then moved off the track and the head turned to the right; the right leg is then used to push the mass from right to left and the left leg to receive the swinging of the haunches and to control the impulsion.

_Cautions to Be Observed_:

1. During the first lessons, after the fore quarters have been moved off the track, to facilitate the movement along the track, the outside rein may be slightly opened.

2. The reins prevent the lateral flexion of the neck at the shoulders by holding the head firmly between them.

3. The fore quarters are sufficiently removed from the track if the left fore foot and right hind travel along the same path parallel to the track.




_General Rules for Diagonal Equitation_:

1. Perfection is gained when the body of the horse from the poll back is in a straight line.

2. The horse’s head is always turned slightly at the poll to enable him to see in the direction he is going.

3. The reins set or place the forehand.

4. The legs govern the hindhand.

5. The green horse is never passaged directly to the right or left. The direction of motion should not be more than 45 degrees from the direction of the axis of the horse.

_Work on Two Tracks._—This movement consists in displacing the horse parallel to himself in a direction oblique to that of his axis, the front and hind legs describing four parallel tracks. The exterior members cross over the interior ones.

The following are the aids in order to move a horse on two tracks to the right:

1. Both legs, if sufficient momentum is not already obtained, should send the horse up into the bit to receive the indications of the reins.

2. The right direct rein makes the horse look to the side toward which he should march, and by throwing the weight slightly to the right begins the displacement of the center of gravity towards the right. The left rein of support acts at the same time as the preceding, to insure the lateral displacement of the forehand to the right by further displacing the center of gravity.

3. The left leg, at this moment, becomes preponderant in order to direct the haunches to the right, while the right leg acts if necessary to limit the displacement of the haunches, and to oblige the horse to maintain his gait and to gain ground to the front as well as to the side.

4. The seat is displaced towards the right to aid the horse’s movement to that side. (_De Saint-Phalle._)

The following are exercises on two tracks:

1. _On Two Tracks, Haunches In._—A two-track movement along the track, with the head to the wall, in which the haunches move on an inside track, the horse being in the position described above for the work on two tracks and being governed by similar aids.

2. _On Two Tracks, Haunches Out._—Same as above, except the croup is to the wall and the fore quarters move on an inside track, the hind quarters on the track.

3. _On Two Tracks on the Diagonal._—A movement in which a horse moves across the hall on the diagonal on two tracks.

4. _On Two Tracks on a Circle._—Described by its name. The haunches being on a smaller or larger circle than the fore quarters. The same principles apply in each case as described for work on two tracks.


_For First Exercise._—1. On two tracks. 2. Haunches in. 3. March.

_For Second Exercise._—1. On two tracks. 2. Haunches out. 3. March.

_For Third Exercise._—1. On two tracks. 2. Right oblique. 3. March.

_For Fourth Exercise._—1. On two tracks. 2. Haunches in (or out). 3. March. (_Foot-note to Saumur Notes._)

_About on the Forehand at a Halt._—To execute this movement from left to right the aids are as follows:

1. Carry the weight of the mass over the shoulders by the equal action of both legs.

2. Just as the horse is about to move out, close the fingers on the reins and prevent further advance.

3. Use the right rein of support to bring the weight upon the left shoulder.

4. Use the left direct rein to turn the horse’s head to the left at the poll.

5. Use the left leg to move the haunches to the right.

6. The right leg remains ready to maintain the advanced position of the center of gravity and likewise to limit the movement of the haunches to that side.

7. The seat should be carried to the right to facilitate the displacement of the haunches to that side.

_About on the Haunches._—This movement is more difficult than the about on the forehand and should be undertaken only after the work on two tracks is well understood.

The movement is first taught by moving the horse on two tracks on a small circle; for example, to the right, with haunches in.

Gradually decrease the diameter of the circle as the horse becomes proficient. As the circle becomes smaller change the direction of the rein so that the direction of the pull is toward the right haunch to weight the latter down. Likewise increase the pressure of the left leg until it is sufficient to prevent little by little any movement on the part of the haunches. The circle then is finally diminished so that the movement is that of a circle on the part of the forehand about the right hind leg as a pivot. If the movement should be about the left hind leg, or outside leg, as a pivot, it becomes a retrograde movement, which is liable to put the horse behind the bit.

_The Gallop._—Heretofore the gallop has been undertaken merely as a means of exercise to strengthen and stretch out the horse and to teach him a little in balancing himself by the use of his legs. No attention was paid at first to the leads; later a little lateral equitation was used to partially insure the correct lead.

A horse is leading correctly when the right laterals (right front and right hind) are in advance of the left laterals, when turning to the right. This is called “leading right.” A horse is galloping disunited when he is galloping one way in front and another way in rear.

On small circles or sudden turns of direction a horse is liable to fall if not leading correctly.

_The Right Lead._—To require a horse to lead to the right, the aids are:

1. Weight of the body to the left, weight in left stirrup in order to weight down the left haunch.

2. Use of the left leg to cause the haunches to be displaced to the right consequently requiring the right lateral to pass the left.

3. Use the right leg to join its action to that of the left to give the necessary impulsion and to receive the haunches and prevent their being moved too far to the right.

The horse being driven by the legs up into the bit, is received by the reins in the following manner:

4. Right rein of support exerted in a direction toward the left shoulder to weight the latter, for it must be slowed down; at the same time this movement frees the right shoulder and allows it to extend itself. The horse is made to slightly turn the head to the right at the poll in order that he may see in the direction in which he is going.[1]

5. Left direct rein corroborates the action of the right and keeps the neck straight. (_De Saint-Phalle._)

6. If the gallop is taken from the trot while posting, rising with the right diagonal assists the right lead. Rising from the left diagonal assists the left lead.

When perfection is attained, the horse does not perceptibly swing his haunches to the right or left.

[1] _Note._—For paragraphs 4 and 5 the following paragraphs, showing a method of using the reins, may be substituted. This method is taught by some of the best authorities in our service. It certainly can be reasoned out as well as that mentioned above, it is more easy to put in practice and produces results in a scientific manner.

“1. Use the left direct rein to weight the left shoulder.

“2. Exert sufficient pressure on the right rein to keep the head from being turned to the left, so that the horse may see where he is going, and at the same time raise the right hand slightly to assist in lightening the weight on the right shoulder, thereby assisting to free it.”



This exercise is a suppling one for back and haunches, and is especially applicable to horses who have difficulty in bringing the hind legs under the body. It is an exercise which to the unskillful is dangerous, as it tends to put a horse behind the bit. To the skillful it is of course less dangerous yet it should not be undertaken by either until this point in the education of the horse is reached, provided he be normal. With horses that are very difficult to hold, or are continually bolting, backing exercises may be undertaken earlier in the training.

The movement may be advantageously taught dismounted at first.

_Teaching the Backward Movement, Dismounted_:—The trainer stands facing the horse. He takes the reins one in each hand and slightly lowers the head to relieve the weight on the hind quarters. He then makes a slight movement with his hands towards his own body, sufficient to prepare the horse to move forward. As the horse is about to move out the trainer presses directly toward the horse with the bit until the horse takes a step to the rear. One step at first is sufficient.

After a few lessons of this, the trainer steps to the left side of the horse, with the reins in the left hand, the riding-whip in the right. He stimulates the hind quarters with a light touch of the whip, and as the horse starts to move his hind quarters up under his body he urges him to take a step to the rear by the pressure of the bit. As soon as he takes a step or two as desired, he leads him forward.

_Mounted._—When the horse can perform the last exercise well, mount him. Use the aids required to move the horse to the front; then, just as he is about to move out, increase the pressure of the reins and lean slightly back until the horse steps to the rear. As soon as the horse at first has taken a single step to the rear he should be moved straight to the front. Later several steps to the rear may be required, but a movement to the front always follows the last step. If difficulty is at any time encountered in moving the horse forward after the backward movement, backing should cease as an exercise until the horse is sent up into the bit again.

If the horse sets himself, move him forward a step or two, and as he is moving exert the aids for the backward movement until he obeys. Moving a horse’s haunches laterally will help to prevent a horse from setting himself and refusing to back.

This exercise should not be repeated often in a single day.




The horse that can perform successfully the foregoing exercises, that has found his balance while moving forward, that is easy to control by the aids at the walk and trot, and that has learned the use of his legs in accomplishing a good walk, trot, and gallop, is ready for the double bridle. It normally takes about three months to accomplish this.

_Definition._—The double bridle is one with usually four cheek straps, which fasten, one into the eye of the curb bit the other into the ring of the snaffle bit.

The curb bit is nearer the front of the horse’s mouth than the snaffle, and the curb chain likewise passes in front of the snaffle bit.

_The Severity of the Curb Bit Increases_—

1. With the difference between the length of the upper and lower branches.

2. With the tightness of the curb chain.

3. With the height of the port.

4. Inversely with the size of the canons. (_De Saint-Phalle._)

Bits with branches similar in length to the U. S. regulation bit are arranged below in order of mildness:

1. The broken curb bit. (Like a snaffle bit, but with upper and lower branches and curb chain.)

2. Rubber- and leather-covered bits.

3. The straight bar bit.

4. The regulation bit.

_Kinds._—The “Weymouth” or “Pump” bit is quite universally used for polo. Why it is considered efficacious for polo especially is not known. It is a good bit, except the lips are liable to become pinched.

The “Pelham” is a bit provided with rings for the snaffle rein at the junction of the canon with the branches. The action of the curb reins on this bit does not produce the same effect, when the snaffle reins are used at the same time, as it does on a curb bit, where the snaffle reins are attached to a separate snaffle bit.

It is a general rule to follow, that all complicated bits are useless, and that with a well-trained horse the mildest bit that will insure obedience is the correct one.


The reins are held in both hands, snaffle reins outside the little fingers.

1. Use the curb bit without curb chain until the horse becomes accustomed to it.

2. Use the mildest bit available and fasten the curb chain loosely. At first only move on straight lines until the horse takes the bit quietly, then execute simple exercises in which the horse is proficient. These exercises at first are begun on the snaffle bit.

3. Use the bit best adapted to the horse, and set the curb chain to keep the bit from falling through. Work mainly on the snaffle bit until the horse becomes accustomed to the bit and curb chain.

The preceding movements should be begun at first at a slow gait.

_Use._—The curb bit is used primarily, in training, to lower the head, to flex the jaw, and to bring the nose in towards the body.

The snaffle bit raises the head and supports the horse.

A curb bit will not stop a horse that makes up his mind to bolt.

A curb bit roughly used may cause a horse to make up his mind to bolt.

A “hard mouth” is often a tender mouth accustomed to hard hands.

_The Curb Bit “Gathers” the Horse._—A horse is gathered when his head and neck are well raised, the front line of the face nearly vertical, and the jaw and the junction of the head and neck at the poll flexible.

A horse in a state of “collection” is in a position to obey, to the utmost of his capability, any demands the aids may give.

A horse is in “collection” when he is gathered and his hind legs are well up under the body.

When a horse is collected, the rider, by having omitted bending the neck near the shoulders during training, has the neck firm on the shoulders and not flexible or “rubber-necked.” Hence the rider acts on the neck through the mouth and on the shoulders through the neck. The hind quarters by being under the horse bind themselves to the forehand. The rider then by acting on the forehand acts likewise upon the hind quarters.

The entire body of the horse should be, if properly collected, an energetic and harmonious whole. The horse is “in hand,” because his jaw is flexible and he yields to the effects of the bit. The horse is light or handy, because he is balanced by continual training and because his center of gravity is equally near both front and hind quarters; hence the proper movement on the part of the rider will disturb this balance in any direction desired.

The rider at this point, being supposed to be able to get the hind legs up under the horse, must learn to gather him.

To gather the horse involves:

1. Direct flexion (the flexion of the jaw and head in the direction of the axis of the horse.)

2. Lateral flexion (the flexion of the neck at the poll in a direction perpendicular to the axis of the horse).

_Direct Flexion._—Direct flexion is the concession the head and lower jaw of the horse make in the vertical plane of the axis, of the horse when the action of the reins arrests the extension of the neck. The giving of the neck is confined to the upper portions; the front line of the face is made to approach a vertical line and the head is made to make in an almost imperceptible manner a movement analogous to a nod.

The giving of the jaw consists in opening the mouth, causing complete abandon of the bit, followed _immediately_ by the closing of the mouth and the taking up of contact with the bit again.

To flex the jaw in direct flexion, first start the horse into a walk. Never let the gait slacken during flexion. Close the legs. When the horse goes up into the bit, close one hand on one snaffle rein (if the movement is done with a snaffle bit), or close the hand on both curb reins. Do not make the pressure of long duration if resistance is encountered. Alternate the action, first by releasing, then increasing the pressure. This is more uncomfortable to the horse than continued pressure, and he will soon yield.

The head is flexed in direct flexion so that it is set with the front line of the face nearly vertical by the action of both curb reins. The head and neck are raised by the snaffle bit, should they be lowered too much.

_Lateral Flexion._—Lateral flexion is a concession which the head and neck make by turning the head to the right or to the left when an opposing action of the reins stops an extension of the neck. The jaw gives in lateral flexion as in direct flexion. The neck gives by making the head make a turn of a quarter of a circle to the right or left at the poll.

Lateral flexion should be demanded, in the beginning, at the walk. To obtain it, to the right, for example: first, resistance must be offered by the right direct rein, which leads the head into the desired position; the left rein then acts to limit this movement and to work together with the right rein to obtain the concession of the jaw.

Flexion may be made dismounted, if absolutely impossible of execution mounted.

_Direct Flexion Dismounted._—Stand on the near side of the horse. Take the snaffle reins off the neck over the horse’s head and hold them a few inches in front of his head with the left hand. Urge the horse forward into a walk and raise the head slightly to the proper elevation with the snaffle reins. When the horse moves out at the walk, take the curb reins in the right hand and assimilate the movement of the reins as though flexing the jaw mounted. Do not let the horse slacken speed or, at any cost, back up.

_Lateral Flexion Dismounted._—Stand on the near side, with the snaffle rein held as for direct flexion. Execute direct flexion and when performed lead the horse’s head to the right with a snaffle rein, increasing the pressure of the right curb rein slightly until the head is turned to the right at the poll. Do not let the horse move backward, nor let the neck flex in rear of the poll. The maximum movement of the head is over an arc of a circle of 90 degrees.



This movement is to be undertaken when the horse is capable of taking the desired lead from a trot on a straight line.

1. Put the horse on a circle of large radius, at a gallop. Leave the circle by a line parallel to the diagonal of the riding-hall and form another large circle to the opposite hand, keeping the same lead at the gallop as on the first circle. Galloping on the second circle with the same lead as on the first is galloping “false.” Besides lowering the croup and balancing the horse, the false lead impresses the aids upon the horse, because to maintain a false lead the aids used on the first circle must be more strongly used on the second.

2. Gallop the horse on a straight line, leading right. Bring him down to a trot, previously having changed the aids to gallop left, which assists in bringing the horse to the trot and prepares the way for the next move. As soon as the trot is taken, increase the aids of gallop left, increase the impulsion, and send the horse into gallop left, with only a few steps of the trot intervening between gallops. Gradually, as the horse becomes proficient, decrease the number of steps taken at the trot.

3. When the amount of trot required between changes of lead is hardly more than a slackening of speed, or “half halt,” make a large circle to the right at the gallop, leading right. Leave the circle on the diagonal, as before, and make another circle to the left, holding the right lead. Change the aids, while on the second circle, to gallop left, without coming to the trot, and force the horse into the change of lead.

4. When the horse can accomplish the above, attempt the change of aids and force the change of lead on the straight line without diminishing the gait.

The above movements are very difficult to accomplish smoothly and correctly. The change of aids must not be accomplished roughly and the aids must be used with only the intensity required to change the lead, thereby not forcing the horse to increase of speed.




Jumping is an exercise which when properly undertaken is most instructive and productive of good results to both man and horse.


(Jumping from the Gallop Left.)

1. As the left fore foot is about to leave the ground, just before the moment of suspension of the gallop, the leg, especially the fetlock joint, is straightened.

2. The head and neck are elevated.

The above movement raises the forehand.

3. Just as the left foot is raised the two hind legs are brought up to a place on the ground about where the left fore foot was.

4. The hind legs are straightened out.

Due to the last movement, the horse completely leaves the ground and takes the obstacle, with fore and hind legs bent.

5. The horse lands on the left fore foot, legs straight.

6. The right fore foot, leg straight, is then brought to the support.

7. The left fore foot is picked up.

8. The right fore foot is picked up and simultaneously the left hind comes to the ground.

9. The right hind comes to the ground.

The horse then is galloping right after landing.

The horse leaps from a trot from one front leg and both hind legs. The leap is more difficult, as it is impossible at a trot to get both hind legs side by side up under the body to “take off.”

From the walk and halt, the horse in jumping first rears, then straightens out his hind legs.

As jumping for height at a gallop is the easiest for a horse, and as the principles encountered apply equally well to the other gaits, the following deductions are made from the mechanism at the gallop, as explained in previous paragraphs.

From Paragraph 1: As the distance from the jump to the place where the left leg leaves the ground is of the utmost importance to the horse, he should be allowed to gauge his stride while approaching the jump.

From Paragraph 2: As the head and neck are raised to assist in raising the fore quarters, the rider’s body should not lean forward of the perpendicular, for this would hinder the movement. As the horse’s object is to lighten the fore quarters, it follows that great speed is a detriment to a horse in jumping, for the more speed the more weight upon the forehand. Raising the head and neck necessitates lengthening the reins at the moment of extension, or letting them slide through the fingers. It follows then, that, as a false movement of the hand with a severe bit causes greater injury than one with a snaffle bit, a snaffle bit should be used in jumping until proficiency is obtained.

From Paragraph 3: To facilitate the bringing well up under the body of the hind leg, the rider’s legs must be carried back.

From Paragraph 5: The weight of the rider’s body must set to the rear to assist the horse by lightening the load on the forehand while landing. If a severe bit or a hard hand pulls the head in and bends the neck while the horse is in this position, by cramping the muscles of the neck the horse is prevented from stretching his legs to the front to insure a safe landing.

From Paragraph 7: If the rider’s weight is forward or he is thrown upon the horse’s neck while the horse is landing, the extra weight on the forehand prevents the fore leg being picked up and causes over-reaching. Extreme speed has the same effect with the same result.

From Paragraphs 8 and 9: It is seen that the horse is galloping with the other lead after landing. In jumping in the riding-hall care should be exercised at the corner beyond the jump if at the gallop, for, if galloping correctly at the start, the horse is galloping false after the jump.

_Teaching the Horse to Jump._—Place a bar upon the ground and lead the horse over it at a walk. When the horse executes this movement correctly, raise the bar to about two feet and jump the horse upon the longe.

_To Jump a Horse on the Longe._—First instruct the horse sufficiently upon the longe until he goes equally well on either hand. Approach the jump, the horse circling on the longe on the left hand, for instance. The trainer holds the longe in the left hand so that it can be allowed to run out with ease; the longeing-whip is held in the right hand. Circle the horse near the jump until the horse goes quietly. The circles are made slightly in rear of the jump. When the horse is quiet, move so that the jump will intercept the circle the horse is making. As the horse approaches the jump the trainer, with the longe fairly taut, likewise approaches the end of the bar nearest him, keeping the longeing-whip held in rear of the horse. Urge the horse with the whip, if necessary, until he jumps. After taking off, let the longe run through the fingers so as not to yank the horse or bring him up short. When the horse does well, stop him and caress him or give him carrots or oats.

Jumping should be begun at first at the walk, then at the trot and gallop. The horse jumping for the first time gauges his stride more easily at the walk.

A bar may be placed two or three feet from the ground in the opening of the corral fence, etc., so that the horses that have been worked at jumping on the longe may be thus intercepted by an easy jump on their way to the corral or to some such place to which they are desirous of going. A man with a longeing-whip stands ready to urge on any that refuse. This jump should be stiff and helps to prepare horses for outdoor jumping.

_Riding the Horse Over the Jump._—The horse being able to jump with sufficient accuracy, on the longe, is mounted. First, he is ridden over the bar on the ground, then over the bar gradually raised to suit the horse.

On taking a horse up to the jump the following are essential points to remember:

1. The rider must make up his mind that he is going to make the horse jump.

2. He must have confidence in his balance and not stiffen his muscles.

3. He must increase the grip with his knees and the calves of his legs and keep his hands low.

4. The rider must have the horse well in hand and must remember that if a horse attempts to slip out to the left, the use of the right rein, to turn the head to the right, helps the horse to go to the left by freeing the left shoulder. The rein of support is the one which should be used, together with whichever leg will straighten the horse so that he is perpendicular to his jump.

Horses are more easily controlled in the riding-hall, but jump with more freedom outdoors. Outdoor jumping should be taken up as soon as the horse learns to jump moderately well indoors.

Wings are not found in ’cross-country work, hence a troop horse whose training is fitting him for just such work should not be made dependent upon them by their use in the riding-hall all the time.

_Jumping for Breadth._—This is a more difficult jump to teach a new horse, because he is more fearful of a ditch than of a fence. From the nature of the jump, it can only be taught outdoors. The method of instruction is the same as for jumping for height.

As the momentum acquired by speed is essential to carry the horse’s body across an open ditch, greater speed is necessary than in jumping for height. Excessive speed, however, so weights down the forehand that it becomes difficult for the horse to raise his forehand sufficiently to clear the ditch.


Although all horses are different one from another, the preceding rules generally apply. The rider who appreciates the needs of his horse is the one most likely to succeed in training.

To many, the expenditure of six months in training troop horses by these methods seems unnecessary and impracticable. With experienced men and amenable horses the time may be slightly reduced. A horse cannot be hurried, and slipshod, careless training is often worse than none.

As it has been found entirely practical to follow out this course with enlisted men on remounts at a regimental post, it is to be hoped that heavy, hard-gaited, uncomfortable horses to ride will soon disappear from the ranks.

[Illustration: Arion. The highest-priced American trotter. Purchased by J. Malcolm Forbes, Boston, Mass., for $125,000. Now owned by M. W. Savage, Minneapolis, Minn. Arion holds the fastest record for a three-year-old colt of 2.10½. Illustration by courtesy of Mr. Savage.]