IX
 

The topics hitherto considered have been: firstly, how to reduce the chance of being cheated in the purchase of a colt or full-grown horse; secondly, how to escape as much as possible the risk of injuring your purchase by mishandling; and lastly, how to succeed in turning out a horse possessed of all the qualities demanded by the cavalry soldier for the purposes of war.

The time has come perhaps to add a few suggestions, in case the rider should be called upon to deal with an animal either unduly spirited or again unduly sluggish in disposition. The first point to recognise is, that temper of spirit in a horse takes the place of passion or anger in a man; and just as you may best escape exciting a man's ill-temper by avoiding harshness of speech and act, so you will best avoid enraging a spirited horse by not annoying him. Thus, from the first instant, in the act of mounting him, you should take pains to minimise the annoyance; and once on his back you should sit quiet for longer than the ordinary time, and so urge him forward by the gentlest signs possible; next, beginning at the slowest pace, gradually work him into a quicker step, but so gradually that he will find himself at full speed without noticing it.[1] Any sudden signal will bewilder a spirited horse, just as a man is bewildered by any sudden sight or sound or other experience. [I say one should be aware that any unexpected shock will produce disturbance in a horse.][2]

So if you wish to pull up a spirited horse when breaking off into a quicker pace than requisite, you must not suddenly wrench him, but quietly and gently bring the bit to bear upon him, coaxing him rather than compelling him to calm down. It is the long steady course rather than the frequent turn which tends to calm a horse.[3] A quiet pace sustained for a long time has a caressing,[4] soothing effect, the reverse of exciting. If any one proposes by a series of fast and oft- repeated gallops to produce a sense of weariness in the horse, and so to tame him, his expectation will not be justified by the result; for under such circumstances a spirited horse will do his best to carry the day by main force,[5] and with a show of temper, like a passionate man, may contrive to bring on himself and his rider irreparable mischief.

A spirited horse should be kept in check, so that he does not dash off at full speed; and on the same principle, you should absolutely abstain from setting him to race against another; as a general rule, your fiery-spirited horse is only too fond of contention.[6]

Smooth bits are better and more serviceable than rough; if a rough bit be inserted at all, it must be made to resemble a smooth one as much as possible by lightness of hand.

It is a good thing also for the rider to accustom himself to keep a quiet seat, especially when mounted on a spirited horse; and also to touch him as little as possible with anything except that part of the body necessary to secure a firm seat.

Again, it should be known that the conventional "chirrup"[7] to quiet and "cluck" to rouse a horse are a sort of precept of the training school; and supposing any one from the beginning chose to associate soft soothing actions with the "cluck" sound, and harsh rousing actions with the "chirrup," the horse could be taught to rouse himself at the "chirrup" and to calm himself at the "cluck" sound. On this principle, at the sound of the trumpet or the shout of battle the rider should avoid coming up to his charger in a state of excitement, or, indeed, bringing any disturbing influence to bear on the animal. As far as possible, at such a crisis he should halt and rest him; and, if circumstances permit, give him his morning or his evening meal. But the best advice of all is not to get an over-spirited horse for the purposes of war.

As to the sluggish type of animal, I need only suggest to do everything the opposite to what we advise as appropriate in dealing with an animal of high spirit.

[1] Or, "so that the horse may insensibly fall into a gallop."

[2] L. Dindorf and others bracket, as spurious.

[3] Or, "long stretches rather than a succession of turns and counter turns," {apostrophai}.

[4] Reading {katapsosi} with L. Dind.

[5] {agein bia}, vi agere, vi uti, Sturz; al. "go his own gait by sheer force."

[6] Reading {skhedon gar kai phil oi thum}, or if {. . . oi thil kai th.} transl. "the more eager and ambitious a horse is, the more mettlesome he will tend to become."

[7] Al. "whistling," and see Berenger, ii. 68. {poppusmos}, a sound from the lips; {klogmos}, from the cheek.