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But possibly you are not content with a horse serviceable for war. You want to find him him a showy, attractive animal, with a certain grandeur of bearing. If so, you must abstain from pulling at his mouth with the bit, or applying the spur and whip--methods commonly adopted by people with a view to a fine effect, though, as a matter of fact, they thereby achieve the very opposite of what they are aiming at. That is to say, by dragging the mouth up they render the horse blind instead of alive to what is in front of him; and what with spurring and whipping they distract the creature to the point of absolute bewilderment and danger.[1] Feats indeed!--the feats of horses with a strong dislike to being ridden--up to all sorts of ugly and ungainly tricks. On the contrary, let the horse be taught to be ridden on a loose bridle, and to hold his head high and arch his neck, and you will practically be making him perform the very acts which he himself delights or rather exults in; and the best proof of the pleasure which he takes is, that when he is let loose with other horses, and more particularly with mares, you will see him rear his head aloft to the full height, and arch his neck with nervous vigour,[2] pawing the air with pliant legs[3] and waving his tail on high. By training him to adopt the very airs and graces which he naturally assumes when showing off to best advantage, you have got what you are aiming at--a horse that delights in being ridden, a splendid and showy animal, the joy of all beholders.

How these desirable results are, in our opinion, to be produced, we will now endeavour to explain. In the first place, then, you ought to have at least two bits. One of these should be smooth, with discs of a good size; the other should have heavy and flat discs[4] studded with sharp spikes, so that when the horse seizes it and dislikes the roughness he will drop it; then when the smooth is given him instead, he is delighted with its smoothness, and whatever he has learnt before upon the rough, he will perform with greater relish on the smooth. He may certainly, out of contempt for its very smoothness, perpetually try to get a purchase on it, and that is why we attach large discs to the smooth bit, the effect of which is to make him open his mouth, and drop the mouthpiece. It is possible to make the rough bit of every degree of roughness by keeping it slack or taut.

But, whatever the type of bit may be, let it in any case be flexible. If it be stiff, at whatever point the horse seizes it he must take it up bodily against his jaws; just as it does not matter at what point a man takes hold of a bar of iron,[5] he lifts it as a whole. The other flexibly constructed type acts like a chain (only the single point at which you hold it remains stiff, the rest hangs loose); and while perpetually hunting for the portion which escapes him, he lets the mouthpiece go from his bars.[6] For this reason the rings are hung in the middle from the two axles,[7] so that while feeling for them with his tongue and teeth he may neglect to take the bit up against his jaws.

To explain what is meant by flexible and stiff as applied to a bit, we will describe the matter. A flexible bit is one in which the axles have their points of junction broad and smooth,[8] so as to bend easily; and where the several parts fitting round the axles, being large of aperture and not too closely packed, have greater flexibility; whereas, if the several parts do not slide to and fro with ease, and play into each other, that is what we call a stiff bit. Whatever the kind of bit may be, the rider must carry out precisely the same rules in using it, as follows, if he wishes to turn out a horse with the qualities described. The horse's mouth is not to be pulled back too harshly so as to make him toss his head aside, nor yet so gently that he will not feel the pressure. But the instant he raises his neck in answer to the pull, give him the bit at once; and so throughout, as we never cease repeating, at every response to your wishes, whenever and wherever the animal performs his service well,[9] reward and humour him. Thus, when the rider perceives that the horse takes a pleasure in the high arching and supple play of his neck, let him seize the instant not to impose severe exertion on him, like a taskmaster, but rather to caress and coax him, as if anxious to give him a rest. In this way the horse will be encouraged and fall into a rapid pace.

That a horse takes pleasure in swift movement, may be shown conclusively. As soon as he has got his liberty, he sets off at a trot or gallop, never at a walking pace; so natural and instinctive a pleasure does this action afford him, if he is not forced to perform it to excess; since it is true of horse and man alike that nothing is pleasant if carried to excess.[10]

But now suppose he has attained to the grand style when ridden--we have accustomed him of course in his first exercise to wheel and fall into a canter simultaneously; assuming then, he has got that lesson well by heart, if the rider pulls him up with the bit while simultaneously giving him one of the signals to be off, the horse, galled on the one hand by the bit, and on the other collecting himself in obedience to the signal "off," will throw forward his chest and raise his legs aloft with fiery spirit; though not indeed with suppleness, for the supple play of the limbs ceases as soon as the horse feels annoyance. But now, supposing when his fire is thus enkindled[11] you give him the rein, the effect is instantaneous. Under the pleasurable sense of freedom, thanks to the relaxation of the bit, with stately bearing and legs pliantly moving he dashes forward in his pride, in every respect imitating the airs and graces of a horse approaching other horses. Listen to the epithets with which spectators will describe the type of horse: the noble animal! and what willingness to work, what paces,[12] what a spirit and what mettle; how proudly he bears himself[13]--a joy at once, and yet a terror to behold.

Thus far on this topic; these notes may serve perhaps to meet a special need.

[1] Al. "the animals are so scared that, the chances are, they are thrown into disorder."

[2] {gorgoumenos}, with pride and spirit, but with a suggestion of "fierceness and rage," as of Job's war-horse.

[3] "Mollia crura reponit," Virg. "Georg." iii. 76; Hom. "Hymn. ad Merc."

[4] See Morgan, op. cit. p. 144 foll.

[5] Or, "poker," as we might say; lit. "spit."

[6] Schneid. cf. Eur. "Hippol." 1223.

[7] See Morgan, note ad loc. Berenger (i. 261) notes: "We have a small chain in the upset or hollow part of our bits, called a 'Player,' with which the horse playing with his tongue, and rolling it about, keeps his mouth moist and fresh; and, as Xenophon hints, it may serve likewise to fix his attention and prevent him from writhing his mouth about, or as the French call it, 'faire ses forces.'"

[8] i.e. "the ends of the axles (at the point of junction) which work into each other are broad and smooth, so as to play freely at the join."

[9] "Behaves compliantly."

[10] L. Dind. cf. Eur. "Med." 128, {ta de' uperballont oudena kairon}.

[11] Cf. "Hell." V. iv. 46, "kindled into new life."

[12] {ipposten}, "a true soldier's horse."

[13] {sobaron}, "what a push and swagger"; {kai ama edun te kai gorgon idein}, "a la fois doux et terrible a voir," see Victor Cherbuliez, "Un Cheval de Phidias," p. 148.