VI
 

We will now explain how the operation of grooming may be performed with least danger to oneself and best advantage to the horse. If the groom attempts to clean the horse with his face turned the same way as the horse, he runs the risk of getting a knock in the face from the animal's knee or hoof. When cleaning him he should turn his face in the opposite direction to the horse, and planting himself well out of the way of his leg, at an angle to his shoulder-blade, proceed to rub him down. He will then escape all mischief, and he will be able to clean the frog by folding back the hoof. Let him clean the hind-legs in the same way.

The man who has to do with the horse should know, with regard to this and all other necessary operations, that he ought to approach as little as possible from the head or the tail to perform them; for if the horse attempt to show vice he is master of the man in front and rear. But by approaching from the side he will get the greatest hold over the horse with the least risk of injury to himself.

When the horse has to be led, we do not approve of leading him from in front, for the simple reason that the person so leading him robs himself of his power of self-protection, whilst he leaves the horse freedom to do what he likes. On the other hand, we take a like exception to the plan of training the horse to go forward on a long rein[1] and lead the way, and for this reason: it gives the horse the opportunity of mischief, in whichever direction he likes, on either flank, and the power also to turn right about and face his driver. How can a troop of horses be kept free of one another, if driven in this fashion from behind?--whereas a horse accustomed to be led from the side will have least power of mischief to horse or man, and at the same time be in the best position to be mounted by the rider at a moment's notice, were it necessary.

In order to insert the bit correctly the groom should, in the first place, approach on the near[2] side of the horse, and then throwing the reins over his head, let them drop loosely on the withers; raise the headstall in his right hand, and with his left present the bit. If the horse will take the bit, it is a simple business to adjust the strap of the headstall; but if he refuses to open his mouth, the groom must hold the bit against the teeth and at the same time insert the thumb[3] of his left hand inside the horse's jaws. Most horses will open their mouths to that operation. But if he still refuses, then the groom must press the lip against the tush[4]; very few horses will refuse the bit, when that is done to them.[5]

The groom can hardly be too much alive to the following points * * * if any work is to be done:[6] in fact, so important is it that the horse should readily take his bit, that, to put it tersely, a horse that will not take it is good for nothing. Now, if the horse be bitted not only when he has work to do, but also when he is being taken to his food and when he is being led home from a ride, it would be no great marvel if he learnt to take the bit of his own accord, when first presented to him.

It would be good for the groom to know how to give a leg up in the Persian fashion,[7] so that in case of illness or infirmity of age the master himself may have a man to help him on to horseback without trouble, or, if he so wish, be able to oblige a friend with a man to mount him.[8]

The one best precept--the golden rule--in dealing with a horse is never to approach him angrily. Anger is so devoid of forethought that it will often drive a man to do things which in a calmer mood he will regret.[9] Thus, when a horse is shy of any object and refuses to approach it, you must teach him that there is nothing to be alarmed at, particularly if he be a plucky animal;[10] or, failing that, touch the formidable object yourself, and then gently lead the horse up to it. The opposite plan of forcing the frightened creature by blows only intensifies its fear, the horse mentally associating the pain he suffers at such a moment with the object of suspicion, which he naturally regards as its cause.

If, when the groom brings up the horse to his master to mount, he knows how to make him lower his back,[11] to facilitate mounting, we have no fault to find. Still, we consider that the horseman should practise and be able to mount, even if the horse does not so lend himself;[12] since on another occasion another type of horse may fall to the rider's lot,[13] nor can the same rider be always served by the same equerry.[14]

[1] See a passage from Strattis, "Chrys." 2 (Pollux, x. 55), {prosage ton polon atrema, proslabon ton agogea brakhuteron. oukh oras oti abolos estin}.

[2] Lit. "on the left-hand side."

[3] {ton megan daktulon}, Hdt. iii. 8.

[4] i.e. "canine tooth."

[5] Or, "it is a very exceptional horse that will not open his mouth under the circumstances."

[6] Reading with L. Dind. {khre de ton ippokomon kai ta oiade . . . paroxunthai, ei ti dei ponein}, or if as Schneid., Sauppe, etc., {khre de ton ippon me kata toiade, k.t.l.}, transl. "the horse must not be irritated in such operations as these," etc.; but {toiade} = "as follows," if correct, suggests a lacuna in either case at this point.

[7] Cf. "Anab." IV. iv. 4; "Hipparch," i. 17; "Cyrop." VII. i. 38.

[8] An {anaboleus}. Cf. Plut. "C. Gracch." 7.

[9] Cf. "Hell." v. iii. 7 for this maxim.

[10] Al. "if possibly by help of another and plucky animal."

[11] {upobibazesthai}. See above, i. 14; Pollux, i. 213; Morgan ad loc. "Stirrups were unknown till long after the Christian era began."

[12] Or, "apart from these good graces on the animal's part."

[13] As a member of the cavalry.

[14] Reading {allo}. Al. reading {allos} with L. D., "and the same horse will at one time humour you in one way and again in another." Cf. viii. 13, x. 12, for {uperetein} of the horse.