VIII
 

As there will, doubtless, be times when the horse will need to race downhill and uphill and on sloping ground; times, also, when he will need to leap across an obstacle; or, take a flying leap from off a bank;[1] or, jump down from a height, the rider must teach and train himself and his horse to meet all emergencies. In this way the two will have a chance of saving each the other, and may be expected to increase their usefulness.

And here, if any reader should accuse us of repeating ourselves, on the ground that we are only stating now what we said before on the same topics,[2] we say that this is not mere repetition. In the former case, we confined ourselves to advising the purchaser before he concluded his bargain to test whether the horse could do those particular things;[3] what we are now maintaining is that the owner ought to teach his own horse, and we will explain how this teaching is to be done.

With a horse entirely ignorant of leaping, the best way is to take him by the leading rein, which hangs loose, and to get across the trench yourself first, and then to pull tight on the leading-rein, to induce him to leap across. If he refuses, some one with a whip or switch should apply it smartly. The result will be that the horse will clear at a bound, not the distance merely, but a far larger space than requisite; and for the future there will be no need for an actual blow, the mere sight of some one coming up behind will suffice to make him leap. As soon as he is accustomed to leap in this way you may mount him and put him first at smaller and then at larger trenches. At the moment of the spring be ready to apply the spur; and so too, when training him to leap up and leap down, you should touch him with the spur at the critical instant. In the effort to perform any of these actions with the whole body, the horse will certainly perform them with more safety to himself and to his rider than he will, if his hind-quarters lag, in taking a ditch or fence, or in making an upward spring or downward jump.[4]

To face a steep incline, you must first teach him on soft ground, and finally, when he is accustomed to that, he will much prefer the downward to the upward slope for a fast pace. And as to the apprehension, which some people entertain, that a horse may dislocate the shoulder in galloping down an incline, it should encourage them to learn that the Persians and Odrysians all run races down precipitous slopes;[5] and their horses are every bit as sound as our own.[6]

Nor must we omit another topic: how the rider is to accomodate himself to these several movements.[7] Thus, when the horse breaks off into a gallop, the rider ought to bend forward, since the horse will be less likely to slip from under; and so to pitch his rider off. So again in pulling him up short[8] the rider should lean back; and thus escape a shock. In leaping a ditch or tearing up a steep incline, it is no bad plan to let go the reins and take hold of the mane, so that the animal may not feel the burthen of the bit in addition to that of the ground. In going down a steep incline the rider must throw himself right back and hold in the horse with the bit, to prevent himself being hurled headforemost down the slope himself if not his horse.

It is a correct principle to vary these exercises, which should be gone through sometimes in one place and sometimes in another, and should sometimes be shorter and sometimes longer in duration. The horse will take much more kindly to them if you do not confine him to one place and one routine.

Since it is a matter of prime necessity that the rider should keep his seat, while galloping full speed on every sort of ground, and at the same time be able to use his weapons with effect on horseback, nothing could be better, where the country suits and there are wild animals, than to practise horsemanship in combination with the chase. But when these resources fail, a good exercise may be supplied in the combined efforts of two horsemen.[9] One of them will play the part of fugitive, retreating helter-skelter over every sort of ground, with lance reversed and plying the butt end. The other pursues, with buttons on his javelins and his lance similarly handled.[10] Whenever he comes within javelin range he lets fly at the retreating foeman with his blunted missiles; or whenever within spear thrust he deals the overtaken combatant a blow. In coming to close quarters, it is a good plan first to drag the foeman towards oneself, and then on a sudden to thrust him off; that is a device to bring him to the ground.[11] The correct plan for the man so dragged is to press his horse forward: by which action the man who is being dragged is more likely to unhorse his assailant than to be brought to the ground himself.

If it ever happens that you have an enemy's camp in front, and cavalry skirmishing is the order of the day (at one time charging the enemy right up to the hostile battle-line, and again beating a retreat), under these circumstances it is well to bear in mind that so long as the skirmisher is close to his own party,[12] valour and discretion alike dictate to wheel and charge in the vanguard might and main; but when he finds himself in close proximity to the foe, he must keep his horse well in hand. This, in all probability, will enable him to do the greatest mischief to the enemy, and to receive least damage at his hands.

The gods have bestowed on man, indeed, the gift of teaching man his duty by means of speech and reasoning, but the horse, it is obvious, is not open to instruction by speech and reasoning. If you would have a horse learn to perform his duty, your best plan will be, whenever he does as you wish, to show him some kindness in return, and when he is disobedient to chastise him. This principle, though capable of being stated in a few words, is one which holds good throughout the whole of horsemanship. As, for instance, a horse will more readily take the bit, if each time he accepts it some good befalls him; or, again, he will leap ditches and spring up embankments and perform all the other feats incumbent on him, if he be led to associate obedience to the word of command with relaxation.[13]

[1] {ekpedan} = exsilire in altum (Sturz, and so Berenger); "to leap over ditches, and upon high places and down from them."

[2] Or, "treating of a topic already handled."

[3] i.e. possessed a certain ability at the date of purchase.

[4] Lit. "in making these jumps, springs, and leaps across or up or down."

[5] Cf. "Anab." IV. viii. 28; and so the Georgians to this day (Chardin ap. Courier, op. cit. p. 70, n. 1).

[6] Lit. "as are those of the Hellenes."

[7] Or, "to each set of occurrences."

[8] Al. "when the horse is being brought to a poise" (Morgan); and see Hermann ap. Schneid., {analambanein} = retinere equum, anhalten, pariren. i.e. "rein in" of the "Parade."

[9] {ippota}. A poetic word; "cavaliers."

[10] Or, "manipulated."

[11] Or, "that may be spoken off as the 'purl trick'"; "it will unhorse him if anything."

[12] See "Hipparch," viii. 23.

[13] Lit. "if every time he performs the word of command he is led to expect some relaxation."