In the Riding-School; Chats With Esmeralda
Theo. Stephenson Browne

Part 2 out of 3

and I don't believe that Alexander could have coaxed Rosinante
into a Spanish trot. It isn't enough to have a Corliss engine, or
enough to have a good engineer: you must have them both, and they
must be acquainted with one another. I don't believe that horse
would do that for you."

"No, I don't think he would," Theodore says dryly, for he has
been watching, and has reluctantly owned to himself that he does
not see how the movement is effected. Meantime, you, Esmeralda,
have been arduously devoting yourself to maintaining a correct
attitude, and are rewarded by hearing somebody in the gallery
wonder whether you represent the kitchen poker or Bunker Hill

"Don't mind," your master says, encouragingly. "It is better to
be stiffly erect than to be crooked, and as for the person who
spoke, she could not ride a Newfoundland dog," and with that he
touches his hat, and rides lightly across the ring to speak to a
lady whose horse has, in the opinion of the gallery, been showing
a very bad temper, although in reality every plunge and curvet
has been made in answer to her wrist and to the tiny spur which
his rider wears and uses when needed. The lady nods in answer to
something which the master says, the two draw near to the wall,
side by side, the others fall in behind them, and the band begins
a waltz, playing rather deliberately at first, but soon slightly
accelerating the time.

There is very little actual need of guiding your horse,
Esmeralda, because long habit has taught him what to do at a
music-ride, but you do right to continue to endeavor to make him
obey you. Should he stumble; should that man riding before you
and struggling to make his horse change his leading foot fail in
the attempt, and cause the poor creature to fall; should the
rider behind you lose control of her horse, your firm hold of the
reins would be of priceless value to you, but now the waltz
rhythm suddenly changes to that of a march, and your horse begins
to trot, slowly and with little action at first, and then with a
freer, longer stride which really lifts you out of the saddle,
sending you rather too high for grace, indeed, but making the
effort very slight for you, and enabling you to think about your
elbows, and sitting to the right and keeping your right shoulder
back and your right foot close to the saddle and pointing
downward, and your left knee also close, and "about seventy-five
other things," as you sum up the case to yourself. Thanks to
this, you are enabled to continue until the music stops, and
Theodore says, approvingly, "Well, you can ride a little."

"A very little," your master says. She has learned something, of
course, but it would be the unkindest of flattery for me to fell
her that she does well."

"One must begin to ride in early childhood," Theodore says.

"One should begin to be taught in childhood," the master amends,
"but it is not absolutely necessary. Some of the best riders in
the French Army never mounted until they went to the military
school, and some of the best riders at West Point only know a
horse by sight until they fall into the clutches of the masters
there, and then!" His countenance expresses deep commiseration.

"Now," he adds, "if you take my advice, you two, you will take
places in the centre of the ring; you will sit as well as you
know how, Miss Esmeralda, and you will watch the others through
the next music. It is perfectly allowable," he adds, drawing rein
a moment as he passes, "to sit a little carelessly when your
horse is at rest, always keeping firm hold of the reins, but I
would rather that you did not do it until you had ridden a little
more and are firmer in your seat. Hollow your waist the least in
the world, for the sake of our poker-critic in the gallery, and
watch for bad riding as well as for good," and away he goes, and
again the double circle of riders sweeps around the ring, and you
have time to see that the horses seem to enjoy the motion, and
that their action is more easy and graceful than it is when they
are obeying the commands of poor riders.

Theodore indulges in a little sarcasm at the expense of a man
whose elbows are on a level with his shoulders, while his two
hands are within about three inches of one another on the reins,
and his horse has as full possession of his head as of his body
and legs, which is saying much, for his riders toes are pointing
earthward and his heels apparently trying to find a way to one
another through the body of his steed. Another man, riding at an
amble into which he has forced his fat horse by using a Mexican
bit, and keeping his wrists in constant motion; and another, who
leans backward until his nose is on a level with the visor of his
cap, also attract his attention, but he persists in his opinion
that the best riders among the ladies are those who can trot and
canter the longest, until your master, coming up, says in answer
to your protest against such heresy, "No. Ease and a good seat
are indeed essential, but they are not everything. They insure
comfort and confidence, but not always safety. It is well to be
able to leap a fence without being thrown. It is better to know
how to stop and open a gate and shut it after you, lest some day
you should have a horse which cannot leap, or a sprained wrist
which may make the leap imprudent for yourself. You can acquire
the seat almost insensibly while learning the management, but you
must study in order to learn the management. However, you came
mainly for enjoyment to-night, I think. Go and ride some more."

And you obey, and you have the enjoyment. And when you go to the
dressing-room, it is with a feeling of perfect indifference to
the gallery critics, and when you come down, ready for the
street, you have a little gossip with the master.

This is the only kind of music ride, he tells you, practicable
for riders of widely varying ability, but the ordinary circus is
but a poor display of horsemanship compared to what may be seen
in some private evening classes in this country, or in military
schools. There are groups of riders in Boston and in New York,
friends who have long practiced together, who can dancer the
lancers and Virginia reels as easily on horseback as on foot, and
who can ride at the ring as well as Lord Lindesay himself, or as
well as the pretty English girls who amuse themselves with the
sport in India.

"Just think," you sigh, "to be able to make your horse go forward
and back, and to move in a circle, a little bit of a circle, and
to do all of it exactly in time! Oh!"

And then, seeing Theodore perfectly unmoved, your master tells of
the military music rides when, rank after rank, the soldiers dash
across the wide spaces of the school and stop at a word, or by a
preconcerted, silent signal, every horse's head in line, every
left hand down, saber or lance exactly poised, every foot
motionless, horse and rider still as if wrought from bronze. And
then he tells of the labyrinthine evolutions when the long line
moving over the school floor coils and uncoils itself more
swiftly than any serpent, each horse moving at speed, each one
obeying as implicitly as any creature of brass and iron moved by
steam. And then he talks of broadsword fights, in which the left
hand, managing the horse, outdoes the cunning of the right, and
of the great reviews, when, if ever, a monarch must feel his
power as he sees his squadrons dash past him, saluting as one
man, and reflects on the expenditure of mental and physical power
represented in that one moment's display.

"You can't learn to do such things as these," he says, "by mere
rough riding. Why, only the other day, when Queen Victoria went
to Sandringham, the gentlemen of the Norfolk County hunt turned
out to escort her carriage, all in pink, all wearing the green
velvet caps of the hunt, all splendidly mounted and perfectly
appointed. They were a magnificent sight, and it was no wonder
that Her Majesty looked at them with approval.

"In a dash across country they would probably have surpassed any
other riders in the world, unless, perhaps, those of some other
English country, but when Her Majesty and the Prince of Wales
appeared at a front window, and the gentlemen rode past to salute
them, what happened? The first three or four ranks went on well
enough, although Frenchmen, or Spaniards, or Germans would have
done better, because they, had they chosen, would have saluted
and then reined backward, but the Englishmen made a gallant show,
and Her Majesty smiled. Somebody raised a cheer, and the horses
began to rear and perform movements not named in the school
manuals. The Queen laughed outright, and the gentlemen finished
their pretty parade in some confusion. Now a very little school
training would have prevented that accident, and the huntsmen
would have been as undisturbed as Queen Christina was that day
when her horse began to plunge while in a procession, and she
quickly brought him to his senses, and won the heart of every
Spaniard who saw her by showing that 'the Austrian' could ride.
An English hunting-man's seat is so good that he is often
careless about fine details, but a trained horseman is careless
about nothing, and a trained horsewoman is like unto him."

And now the lights are out, and you and Theodore go away, and,
walking home, lay plans for further work in the saddle, for he,
too, has caught the riding-fever, and now you begin to think
about class lessons.


All in a wow.

And you really fancy, Esmeralda, that you are ready for class
lessons? You have been in the saddle only six times, remember.
But you have been assured, on the highest authority, that fifty
lessons in class are worth a hundred private lessons? And the
same authority says that the class lessons should be preceded by
at least twice as much private instruction as you have enjoyed;
but, naturally, you suppress this unfavorable context. You think
that you cannot begin to subject yourself to military discipline
so soon?

After that highly edifying statement of your feelings, Esmeralda,
hasten away to school before the dew evaporates from your dawning
humility, and make arrangements for entering a class of
beginners. You are fortunate in arriving half way between two
"hours," and find to your delight that you may begin to ride with
five or six other pupils on the next stroke of the clock, and you
hasten to array yourself, and come forth just in time to see
another class, a long line of pretty girls, making its closing
rounds, the leader sitting with exquisitely balanced poise, which
seems perfectly careless, but is the result of years of training
and practice; others following her with somewhat less grace, but
still accomplishing what even your slightly taught vision
perceives to be feats of management far beyond you; still others,
one blushing little girl with her hat slung on her arm, the heavy
coils of her hair falling below her waist; and an assistant
master riding with the last pupil, who is less skillful than the
others, while another master rides up and down the line or stands
still in the centre of the ring, criticising, exhorting,
praising, using sarcasm, entreaty and sharp command, until the
zeal and energy of all Gaul seem centered in his speech.

The clock strikes, and in a trice the whole class is dismounted,
and its members have scampered away to make themselves presentable
for the journey home, and to you, awaiting your destiny in the
reception room, enter Versatilia, the beauty, and the society young
lady, and Nell, and you stare at them in wrathful astonishment
fully equalled by theirs, and then, in the following grand outburst
of confession, you are informed that, each one having planned to
outgeneral the others and to become a wondrous equestrian, the
Fates and the wise fairy who, sitting in a little room overlooking
the ring, presides over the destinies of classes, have willed that
you should be taught together.

"And there are three other young ladies who have never ridden at
all," the wise fairy says, "and they are to ride behind you, and
you must do very well in order to encourage them," she adds with
a kind smile; and then there is a general muster of grooms and
horses, and in a moment you are all in your saddles and walking
about the ring, into which, an instant after, another lady rides
easily and gracefully, to be saluted by both masters with a sigh
of relief, and requested to take the lead, which she does,
trotting lightly across the ring, wheeling into line and falling
into a walk with trained precision, and now the lesson really

"You must understand, ladies," says the teacher, that you must
always, in riding in class, keep a distance of about three feet
between your horse and the one before you, and that you must
preserve this equally in the corners, on the short sides of the
school, and on the long sides."

"That's easy enough, I'm sure," says the society young lady,
taking it upon herself to answer, and eliciting an expression of
astonishment from the teacher, not because he is surprised, habit
already rendering him sadly familiar with young women of her
type, but because he wishes to relegate her to her proper
position of submissive silence as soon as may be.

"You think so?" he asks. "Then we shall depend on you to regard
the distance with great accuracy. At present you are two feet too
far in the rear. Forward! Now, ladies, when I say 'forward,' it
is not alone for one; it is for all of you; each one must look
and see whether or not her horse is in the right place. And she
must not bend sideways to do it, Miss Versatilia. She must look
over her horse's head between his ears. Now, forward! Now, look
straight between your horse's ears, each one of you, and see
something on the horse before you that is just on a line with the
top of his head, and use that as a guide to tell you whether or
not you are in place! Now, forward, Miss--Miss Lady! Not so
fast! Keep walking! Do not let him trot! Keep up in the corners!
Do not let your horse go there to think! Use your whip lightly!
Not so, not so!" as the society young lady brings down her whip,
half on the shoulder of gentle Toto, half on his saddle, and sets
him dancing lightly out of line, to the discomfiture of
Versatilia's horse, who follows him from a sense of duty.

"Take your places again," cries your teacher, "and keep to the
wall! If you had had proper control of your horse, that would not
have happened, Miss Versatilia! Now, Miss Lady, hold your whip in
the hollow of your hand, and use it by a slight movement, not by
raising your arm and lashing, lashing, lashing as if you were on
the race course. A lady is not a jockey, and she should employ
her whip almost as quietly as she moves her left foot. Forward,
forward! And keep on the track, ladies! Keep your horses' heads
straight by holding your reins perfectly even, then their bodies
will be straight, and you will make one line instead of being on
six lines as you are now. And, Miss Esmeralda, forward! Use your
whip! Not so gently! It is not always enough to give your horse
one little tap. Give him many, one after the other with quickened
movement, so that he will understand that you are in a hurry. It
is like the reveille which sounds ever louder until everybody is

"Now, you must not make circles! Make squares! Go into the
corners! Don't pull on your horse's head, Miss Nell! He thinks
that you mean him to stop, and then you whip him and he tries to
go on, and you pull again, and he knows not what to think. Always
carry out whatever purpose you begin with your horse if you can.
If sometimes you make a mistake, and cannot absolutely correct it
because of those behind you, guide your horse to his proper
place, and the next time that you come to that part of the ring,
make him go right! Forward, forward! Ladies, not one of you is in
the right place! Keep up! Keep up! Miss Lady, you must go forward
regularly! Now prepare to trot! No, no! Walk! When I say,
'Prepare to trot,' it is not for you to begin, but to think of
what you must do to begin, and you must not let your horses go
until I give the second order, and then not too fast at first.
Now, prepare to trot! Trot! Not quite so fast, Miss Lady; gently!
Keep up, keep up, Miss Beauty! Miss Esmeralda, you are sitting
too far to the left, your left shoulder is too far back! on't
hold your hands so high, Miss Versatilia! Rise straight, Miss
Esmeralda! Now, remember, ladies, what I say is for all. Prepare
to whoa! Whoa!"

The leader, by an almost imperceptible series of movements, first
sitting down in her saddle, then slightly relaxing her hold of
the reins, and turning both hands very slightly inward, brings
her horse to a walk and continues on her way. The others, with
more or less awkwardness, come to a full stop, and your teacher

"When I say that," he explains, "I mean to cease trotting, not to
stop. Go forward, and remember how you have been taught to go
forward, Miss Esmeralda. It is not enough to frown at your horse.
Now, prepare to trot! Trot!" And then he repeats again and again
that series of injunctions which already seems so threadbare to
you, Esmeralda, but which you do not follow, not because you do
not try, but because you have not full control of your muscles,
and then comes once more the order, "Prepare to whoa. Whoa!" and
a volley of sharp reminders about the solemn duty of keeping a
horse moving while turning corners, and once more the column
proceeds as regularly as possible.

"I observe," says your teacher, riding close to you, "that you
seem timid, Miss Esmeralda. Do you feel frightened."

"No," you assure him.

"Then it is because you are nervous that you are so rigid. Try
not to be stiff. Give yourself a little more flexibility in the
fingers, the wrists, the elbows, everywhere! You are not tired?
No? Be easy then, be easy!" And you remember that you have been
likened unto a poker, and sadly think that, perhaps the
comparison was just.

"The other master shall ride with you for a few rounds," he
continues; "that will give you confidence, and you will not be
nervous." You indignantly disclaim the possession of nerves, he
smiles indulgently, and the other teacher rides up beside you,
and advises you steadily and quietly during the next succession
of trotting and walking, and, conscious of not exerting yourself
quite so much and of being easier, you begin to think that
perhaps you have a nerve or two somewhere, and you determine to
conquer them.

"You are sitting too far to the right now," says your new guide,
the most quiet of North Britons. "There should be about half an
inch of the saddle visible to you beyond the edge of your habit,
if it fit quite smooth, but you would better not look down to se
it. It would do no harm for once, perhaps, but it would look
queer, and might come to be a habit. Try to judge of your
position by the feeling of your shoulders and by thinking whether
you are observing every rule; but, once in a great while, when you
are walking, take your reins in your left hand, pass your right
hand lightly along the edge of your saddle, ad satisfy yourself
that you are quite correct in position. If you be quite sure that
you can take a downward glance, without moving your head, try it
occasionally, but very rarely. Use this, in fact, as you would
use a measure to verify a drawing after employing every other
test, and if any teacher notice you and reprove you for doing it,
do not allow yourself to use it again for two or three lessons,
for, unless you can be quiet about it, it is better not to use it
at all."

"Ladies, ladies," cries a new voice, at the sound of which the
leader is seen to sit even better than before, "this is not a
church, that you should go to sleep while you are taught truth!
Attend to your instructor! Keep up when he tells you. Make your
movements with energy. You tire him; you tire me; you tire the
good horses! how then, rouse yourselves! Prepare to trot! Trot!"
And away go the horses, for it is not every hour that they hear
the strong voice which means that instant obedience must be
rendered. "Keep up! keep up!" cries your teacher. "Come in!" says
your own guide, and then pauses himself, to urge one of the
beginners behind you, and for a minute or two the orders follow
one another thick and fast, the three men working together, each
seeming to have eyes for each pupil, and to divine the intentions
of his coadjutors, and then comes the order, "Prepare to whoa!
Whoa! and the master sits down on the mounting-stand, and frees
his mind on the subject of corners, a topic which you begin to
think is inexhaustible.

"Please show these ladies how to go into a corner," he concludes,
and your teacher does so, executing the movement so marvelously
that it seems as if he would have no difficulty in performing it
in any passageway through which his horse could walk in a
straight line. The whole class gazes enviously, to be brought to
the proper frame of mind by a sharp expostulatory fire of: "Keep
your distance! Forward!" with about four times as many warnings
addressed to the society young lady as to all the others; and
then suddenly, unexpectedly, the clock strikes and the lesson is

The society young lady dresses herself with much precision and
deliberation, and announces that she will never, no, never! never
so long as she lives, come again; and in spite of Nell's attempts
to quiet her, she repeats the statement in the reception room, in
the master's hearing, aiming it straight at his quiet countenance.

"No?" he says, not so much disturbed as she could desire. "You
should not despair, you will learn in time."

"I don't despair," she answers; "but I know something, and I will
not be treated as if I knew nothing."

"An, you know something," he repeats, in an interested way. "But
what you do not know, my young lady, is how little that something
is! This is a school; you came here to be taught. I will not
cheat you by not teaching you."

"And it is no way to teach! Three men ordering a class at once!"

"Ah, it is 'no way to teach'! Now, it is I who am taking a lesson
from you. I am greatly obliged, but I must keep to my own old
way. It may be wrong--for you, my young lady--but it has made
soldiers to ride, and little girls, and other young ladies, and I
am content. And these others? Are they not coming any more?"

And every one of those cowardly girls huddles away behind you,
Esmeralda, and leaves you to stammer, "Y-yes, sir, but you do
s-scold a little hard."

"That," says the master, "is my bog voice to make the horses
mind, and to make sure that you hear it. And I told you the other
day that I spoke for your good, not for my own. If I should say
every time I want trotting, 'My dear and much respected beautiful
young ladies, please to trot,' how much would you learn in a

"We are ladies," says the society young lady, "and we should be
treated as ladies."

"And you--or these others, since you retire--are my pupils,
and shall be treated as my pupils," he says with a courtly bow
and a "Good morning," and you go away trying to persuade the
society young lady to reconsider.

"Not that I care much whether she does or not," Nell says
confidentially to you. "She's too overbearing for me," and just
at that minute the voice of the society young lady is heard to
call the master "overbearing," and you and Nell exchange
delighted, mischievous smiles.

Now for that stiffness of yours, Esmeralda, there is a remedy, as
there is for everything but death, and you should use it
immediately, before the rigidity becomes habitual. Continue your
other exercises, but devote only about a third as much time to
them, and use the other two thirds for Delsarte movements.

First: Let your hands swing loosely from the wrist, and swing
them lifelessly to and fro. Execute the movement first with the
right hand then with the left, then with both.

Second: Let the fingers hang from the knuckles, and shake them in
the same way and in the same order.

Third: Let the forearm hang from the elbow, and proceed in like

Fourth: Let the whole arm hang from the shoulder, and swing the
arms by twisting the torso.

Execute the finger and hand movements with the arms hanging at
the side, extended sidewise, stretched above the head, thrust
straight forward, with the arms bent at right angles to them and
with the arms flung backward as far as possible. Execute the
forearm movements with the arms falling at the side, and also
with the elbow as high as the shoulder.

After you have performed these exercises for a few days, you will
begin to find it possible to make yourself limp and lifeless when
necessary, and the knowledge will be almost as valuable as the
ability to hold yourself firm and steady. You will find the
exercises in Mrs. Thompson's "Society Gymnastics," but these are
all that you will need for at least one week, especially if you
have to devote many hours to the task of persuading the society
young lady not to leave your class unto you desolate.


"Left wheel into line!" and they
wheel and obey.

When you arrive at the school for your second class lesson,
Esmeralda, you find the dressing-room pervaded by a silence as
clearly indicative of a recent tempest as the path cloven through
a forest by a tornado. From the shelter of screens and from
retired nooks, come sounds indicative of garments doffed and
donned with abnormal celerity and severity, but never a word of
joking, and never a cry for deft-fingered Kitty's assistance, and
then, little by little, even these noises die away, and the
palace of the Sleeping Beauty could not be more quiet. No girl
stirs from her lurking-place, until our yourself issue from your
pet corner, and then Nell, a warning finger on her lip,
noiselessly emerges from hers, and you go into the reception room
together, and she explains to you that, despite her announcement
that she would never come again, the society young lady has
appeared, and has announced her intention to defend what she
grandly terms her position as a lady.

"And the master will think us, her associates, as unruly as she
is!" Nell almost sobs. "If I were he, I would send the whole
class home, there!" But the other girls now enter, each
magnificently polite to the others, and the file of nine begins
its journey along the wall, attended as before, the society young
lady taking great pains about distance, and really doing very
well, but the beauty sitting with calm negligence which soon
brings a volley of remonstrance from both teachers, who address
her much after the fashion of Sydney Smith's saying, "You are on
the high road to ruin the moment you think yourself rich enough
to be careless."

"You must not keep your whip in contact with your horse's
shoulder all the time," lectured one of the teachers, "if you do,
you have no means of urging him to go forward a little faster.
Keep it pressed against the saddle, not slanting outward or
backward. When you use it, do it without relaxing your hold upon
the reins, for if, by any mischance, your horse should start
quickly, you will need it. Forward, ladies, forward! don't stop
in the corners! Use your whips a very little, just as you begin
to turn! Miss Esmeralda, keep to the wall! No, no! Don't keep to
the wall by having your left rein shorter than your right! They
should be precisely even."

"As you approach the corner," says the other teacher quietly,
speaking to you alone, "carry your right hand a little nearer to
your left without bending your wrist, so that your rein will just
touch your horse's neck on the right side. That will keep his
head straight."

"But he seems determined to go to the right," you object.

"That is because your right rein is too short now. While we are
going down the long side of the school, make the reins precisely
even. Now, lay the right rein on his neck, use your whip, and
touch him with your heel to make him go on; bend your right wrist
to turn him, use your whip once more, and go on again!"

"Forward, Miss Esmeralda, forward!" cries the other teacher.

"That is because Miss Lady did not go into the corner, and so is
too far in advance," your teacher explains. "You must, in class,
keep your distance as carefully when the rifer immediately before
you is wrong as when she is right. It is the necessity of doing
that, of having to be ready for emergencies, to think of others
as much as of your horse and of yourself, that give class
teaching much of its value."

"Forward, ladies, forward," cries the other teacher. "Remember
that you are not to go to sleep! Now prepare to trot, and don't
go too fast at first. Remember always to change from one gait to
another gently, for your own sake, that you may not be thrown out
of position; for your horse's, that he may not be startled, and
made unruly and ungraceful. He has nerves as well as you. Now,
prepare to trot! Trot! Shorten your reins, Miss Beauty! Shorten
them!" and during the next minute or two, while the class trots
about a third of a mile, the poor beauty hears every command in
the manual addressed to her, and smilingly tries, but tries in
vain to obey them; but in an unhappy moment the teacher's glance
falls on the society young lady and he bids her keep her right
shoulder back. "You told me that before," she says, rather more
crisply than is prescribed by any of he manuals of etiquette
which constitute her sole library.

"Then why don't you do it?" is his answer. "Keep your left
shoulder forward," he says a moment later, whereupon the society
young lady turns to the right, and plants herself in the centre
of the ring with as much dignity as is possible, considering that
her horse, not having been properly stopped, and feeling the
nervous movements of her hands, moves now one leg and now
another, now draws his head down pulling her forward on the
pommel, and generally disturbs the beautiful repose of manner
upon which she prides herself.

"You are tired? No? Frightened? Your stirrup is too short? You
are not comfortable?" demands the teacher, riding up beside her.
"Is there anything which you would like to have me do?"

"I don't like to be told to do two things at once," she responds
in a tone which should be felt by the thermometer at the other
end of the ring.

"But you must do two things at once, and many more than two, on
horseback," he says; "when you are rested, take your place in the

"I think I will dismount," she says.

"Very well," and before she has time to change her mind, a bell
is rung, a groom guides her horse to the mounting-stand, the
master himself takes her out of the saddle, courteously bids her
be seated in the reception room and watch the others, and she
finds her little demonstration completely and effectually
crushed, and, what is worse, apparently without intention. Nobody
appears to be aware that she has intended a rebellion, although
"whole Fourth of Julys seem to bile in her veins."

"Now," the teacher goes on, "we will turn to the right, singly.
Turn! Keep up, ladies! Keep up! Ride straight! To the right
again! Turn!" and back on the track, on the other side of the
school, the leader in the rear, the beginners in advance, you
continue until two more turns to the right replace you.

"That was all wrong," the teacher says, cheerfully. "You did not
ride straight, and you did not ride together. Your horses' heads
should be in line with one another, and then when you arrive at
the track and turn to the right again, your distance will be
correct. Now we will have a little trot, and while you are
resting afterward, you shall try the turn again."

The society young lady, watching the scene in sulkiness, notes
various faults in each rider and feels that the truly promising
pupil of the class is sitting in her chair at that moment; but
she says nothing of the kind, contenting herself by asking the
master, with well-adjusted carelessness, if it would not be
better for the teacher to speak softly.

"It gives a positive shock to the nerves to be so vehemently
addressed," she says, with the air of a Hammond advising an
ignorant nurse.

"That is what he has the intention to do," replies the other. "It
is necessary to arouse the rider's will and not let her sleep,
but if it were not, the teacher of riding, or anybody who has to
give orders, orders, orders all day long, must speak from an
expanded chest, with his lungs full of air, or at night he will
be dumb. The young man behind the counter who has to entreat,
persuade, to beg, to be gentle, he may make his voice soft, but
to speak with energy in a low tone is to strain the vocal cords
and to injure the lungs permanently. The opera singer finds to
sing piano, pianissimo more wearisome than to make herself heard
above a Wagner orchestra. The orator, with everybody still and
listening with countenance intent, dares not speak softly, except
now and then for contrast. In the army we have three months'
rest, and then we go to the surgeon, and he examines our throats
and lungs, and sees whether or not they need any treatment. If
you go to the camp of the military this summer, you will find the
young officers whom you know in the ball-room so soft and so
gentle, not whispering to their men, but shouting, and the best
officer will have the loudest shout."

The society young lady remembers the stories which she has heard
her father and uncles tell of that "officer's sore throat," which
in 1861 and 1862, caused so many ludicrous incidents among the
volunteer soldiery, the energetic rill master of one day being
transformed into a voiceless pantomimist by the next, but, like
Juliet when she spoke, she says nothing, and now the teacher once
more cries, "Turn!" and then, suddenly, "Prepare to stop! Stop!
Now look at your line! Now two of you have your horses' heads
even! And how many of you were riding straight?"

A dead silence gives a precisely correct answer, and again he
cries, "Forward!" A repetition of the movement is demanded, and
is received with cries of "This is not good, ladies! This is not
good! We will try again by and by. Now, prepare to change hands
in file."

The leader, turning at one corner of the school, makes a line
almost like a reversed "s" to the corner diagonally opposite, and
comes back to the track on the left hand, the others straggling
after with about as much precision and grace as Jill followed
Jack down the hill; but, before they are fairly aware how very
ill they have performed the manoeuvre, they perceive that their
teacher not only aimed at having them learn how to turn to the
left at each corner, but also at giving himself an opportunity to
make remarks about their feet and the position thereof, and at
the end of five minutes each girl feels as if she were a
centipede, and you, Esmeralda, secretly wonder whether something
in the way of mucilage of thumb-tacks might not be used to keep
your own riding boots close to the saddle. "And don't let your
left foot swing," says the teacher in closing his exhortations;
"hold it perfectly steady! Now change hands in file, and come
back to the track on the right again, and we will have a little

"And before you begin," lectures the master, "I will tell you
something. The faster you go, after once you know how to stay in
the saddle, the better for you, the better for your horse. You
see the great steamer crossing the ocean when under full headway,
and she can turn how this way and now that, with the least little
touch of the rudder, but when she is creeping, creeping through
the narrow channel, she must have a strong, sure hand at the
helm, and when she is coming up to her wharf, easy, easy, she
must swing in a wide circle. That is why my word to you is always
'Forward! Forward!' and again, 'Forward!' There is a scientific
reason underlying this, if you care to know it. When you go fast,
neither you nor the horse has time to feel the pressure of the
atmosphere from above, and that is why it seems as if you were
flying, and he is happy and exhilarated as well as you. You will
see the tame horse in the paddock gallop about for his pleasure,
and the wild horse on the prairie will start and run for miles in
mere sportiveness. So, if you want to have pleasure on horseback,

While the little trot is going on, the society young lady
improves the shining hour by asking the master "if he does not
think it cruel to make a poor horse go just as fast as it can,"
to which he replies that the horse will desire to go quite as
long as she can or will, whereupon she withdraws into the cave of
sulkiness again, but brightens perceptibly as you dismount and
join her.

"You do look so funny, Esmeralda," she begins. "Your feet do seem
positively immense, as the teacher said."

"Pardon me; I said not that," gently interposes the teacher;
"only that they looked too big, bigger than they are, when she
turns them outward."

"And you do sit very much on one side," she continues to
Versatilia: "and your crimps are quite flat, my dear," to the

"Never mind; they aren't fastened on with a safety pin," retorts
the beauty, plucking up spirit, unexpectedly.

"O, no! of course not," the wise fairy interposes, with a little
laugh. "You young ladies do not do such things, of course. But,
do you know, I heard of a lady who wore a switch into a riding-
school ring one day, and it came off, and the riding master had
to keep it in his pocket until the end of the session."

Little does the wise fairy know of the society young lady's ways!
What she has determined to say, she declines to retain unsaid,
and so she cries: "And you do thrust your head forward so
awkwardly, Nell!"

"'We are ladies,'" quotes Nell, "and we can't answer you," and
the society young lady finds herself alone with the wise fairy,
who is suddenly very busy with her books, and after a moment, she
renews her announcement that she is not coming any more. "Well, I
wouldn't," the wise fairy says, looking thoughtfully at her. "You
make the others unhappy, and that is not desirable, and you will
not be taught. I gave you fair warning that the master would be
severe, but those who come here to learn enjoy their lessons.
Once in a great while there are ladies who do not wish to be
taught, but they find it out very soon, as you have."

"There is always a good reason for everything," the master says
gravely. "Now, I have seen many great men who could not learn to
ride. There was Gambetta. Nothing would make a fine rider out of
that man! Why? Because for one moment that his mind was on his
horse, a hundred it was on something else. And Jules Verne! He
could not learn! And Emile Giardin! They had so many things to
think about! Now, perhaps it is so with this young lady. Society
demands so much, one must do so many things, that she cannot bend
her mind to this one little art. It is unfortunate, but then she
is not the first!" And with a little salute he turns away, and
the society young lady, much crosser than she was before he
invented this apology for her, comes into the dressing room and--
bids you farewell? Not at all! Says that she is sorry, and that
she knows that she can learn, and is going to try. "And I suppose
now that nothing will make her go!" Nell says, lugubriously, as
you saunter homeward.

You are still conscious of stiffness, Esmeralda? That is not a
matter for surprise or for anxiety. All your life you have been
working for strength, for even your dancing-school teacher was
not one of those scientific ballet-masters who, like Carlo
Blasis, would have taught you that the strength of a muscle often
deprives it of flexibility and softness. You desire that your
muscles should be rigid or relaxed at will. Go and stand in front
of your mirror, and let your head drop forward toward either
shoulder, causing your whole torso to become limp. Now hold the
head erect, and try to reproduce the feeling. The effect is
awkward, and not to be practised in public, but the exercise
enables you to perceive for yourself when you are stiff about the
shoulders and waist. Now drop your head backward, and swing the
body, not trying to control the head, and persist until you can
thoroughly relax the muscles of the neck, a work which you need
not expect to accomplish until after you have made many efforts.
Now execute all your movements for strengthening the muscles,
very slowly and lightly, using as little force as possible. After
you can do this fairly well, begin by executing them quickly and
forcibly, then gradually retard them, and make them more gently,
until you glide at last into perfect repose. This will take time,
but the good results will appear not only in your riding, but
also in your walking and in your dancing. You and Nell might
practise these Delsarte exercises together, for no especial dress
is needed for them, and companionship will remove the danger of
the dulness which, it must be admitted, sometimes besets the
amateur, unsustained by the artist's patient energy. Before you
take another class lesson, you may have an exercise ride, in
which to practise what you have learned. "Tried to learn!" do you
say? Well, really, Esmeralda, one begins to have hopes of you!


--Ye couldn't have made him a rider,
And then ye know, boys will be boys, and hosses,
--well, hosses is hosses!

When you and Nell go to take your exercise ride, Esmeralda, you
must assume the air of having ridden before you were able to
walk, and of being so replete with equestrian knowledge that
the "acquisition of another detail would cause immediate
dissolution," as the Normal college girl said when asked if she
knew how to teach. You must insist on having a certain horse, no
matter ho much inconvenience it may create, and, if possible, you
should order him twenty-four hours in advance, stipulating that
nobody shall mount him in the interval, and, while waiting for
him to be brought from the stable, you should proclaim that he is
a wonderfully spirited, not to say vicious, creature, but that
you are not in the smallest degree afraid of him. You should pick
up your reins with easy grace, and having twisted them into a
hopeless snarl, should explain to any spectator who may presume
to smile that one "very soon forgets the little things, you know,
but they will come back in a little while."

Having started, you must choose between steadily trotting or
rapidly cantering, absolutely regardless of the rights or wishes
of any one else, or else you must hold your horse to a spiritless
crawl, carefully keeping him in such a position as to prevent
anybody else from outspeeding you. If you were a man, you would
feel it incumbent on you to entreat your master to permit you to
change horses with him, and would give him certain valuable
information, derived from quarters vaguely specified as "a person
who knows," or "a man who rides a great deal." meaning somebody
who is in the saddle twenty times a year, and duly pays his
livery stable bill for the privilege, and you would confide in
some other exercise rider, if possible, in the hearing of seven
or eight pupils, that your master was not much of a rider after
all, that the "natural rider is best," and you would insinuate
that to observe perfection it was only necessary to look at you.
If, in addition to this, you could intimate to any worried or
impatient pupils that they had not been properly taught, you
would make yourself generally beloved, and these are the ways of
the casual exercise rider, male and female. But you, Esmeralda,
are slightly unfitted for the perfect assumption of this part by
knowing how certain things ought to be done, although you cannot
do them, and alas! you are not yet adapted to the humbler but
prettier character of the real exercise rider, who is thoroughly
taught, and whose every movement is a pleasure to behold.

There are many such women and a few men who prefer the ring to
the road for various reasons, and from them you may learn much,
both by observation and from the hints which many of them will
give you if they find that you are anxious to learn, and that you
are really nothing more pretentious than a solitary student. So
into the saddle you go, and you and Nell begin to walk about in
company. "In company," indeed, for about half a round, and then
you begin to fall behind. Touching your Abdallah lightly with
whip and heel starts him into a trot and coming up beside Nell
you start off her Arab, and both horses are rather astonished to
be checked. What do these girls want, they think, and when you
fall behind again, it takes too strokes of the whip to urge
Abdallah forward, Arab is unmoved by your passing him, and you
find the breadth of the ring dividing you and Nell. You pause,
she turns to the right, crosses the space between you, turns
again and is by your side, and now both of you begin to see what
you must do. Nell, who is riding on the inside, that is to say on
the included square, must check her horse very slightly after
turning each corner, and you must hasten yours a little before
turning, and a little after, so as to give her sufficient space
to turn, and, at the same time, to keep up with her. You, being
on her left, must be very careful every moment to have a firm
hold of your left rein, so as to keep away from her feet, and she
must keep especial watch of her right rein in order to guard

After each of you has learned her part pretty well, you should
exchange places and try again, and then have a round or two of
trotting, keeping your horses' heads in line. You will find both
of them very tractable to this discipline, because accustomed to
having your master's horse keep pace with them, and because they
often go in pairs at the music rides, and you must not expect
that an ordinary livery stable horse would be as easily managed.
It is rather fashionable to sneer at the riding-school horse as
too mild for the use of a good rider, and very likely, while
you and Nell are patiently trying your little experiment, you
will hear a youth with very evident straps on his trousers,
superciliously requesting to have "something spirited" brought
in from the stable for him.

"Not one of your school horses, taught to tramp a treadmill
round, but a regular flyer," he explains.

"Is he a very good rider?" you ask your master. "Last time he was
hear I had to take him off Abdallah," he says sadly, and then he
goes to the mounting-stand to deny "the regular flyer," and to
tender instead, "an animal that we don't give to everybody,
William." Enter "William," otherwise Billy Buttons, whom the
gentleman covetous of a flyer soon finds to be enough for him to
manage, because William, although accustomed to riders awkward
through weakness, is not used to the manners of what is called
the "three-legged trotter"; that is to say, the man whose unbent
arms and tightened reins make a straight line from his shoulders
to his horse's mouth, while his whole weight is thrown upon the
reins by a backward inclination of his body.

If you would like to know how Billy feels about it, Esmeralda,
bend your chin toward your throat, and imagine a bar of iron
placed across your tongue and pulling your head upward. It would
hurt you, but you could raise your head and still go forward,
making wild gestures with your hands, kicking, perhaps, in a
ladylike manner, as Gail Hamilton kicked Halicarnassus, but by no
means stopping. Now suppose that bar of iron drawn backward by
reins passing one on each side of your shoulders and held firmly
between your scapulae; you could not go forward without almost
breaking your neck, could you? No more could Billy, if his rider
would let out his reins, bend his elbows, and hold his hands low,
almost touching his saddle, but, as it is, he goes on, and if he
should rear by and by, and if his rider should slide off, be not
alarmed. The three-legged trotter is not the kind of horseman to
cling to his reins, and he will not be dragged, and Billy is too
good-tempered not to stop the moment he has rid himself of his
tormentor. But while he is still on Billy's back, and flattering
himself that he is doing wonders in subjugating the "horse that
we don't give to everybody," do you and Nell go to the centre of
the ring and see if you can stop properly. Pretty well done, but
wait a moment before trying it again, for it is not pleasant to a
horse. Sit still a few minutes, and then try and see if you can
back your horse a step or two.

In order to do this, it is not enough to sit up straight and to
say "back," or even to say "bake," which, according to certain
"natural riders," is the secret of having the movement executed
properly. You must draw yourself up and lean backward, touching
your horse both with your foot and with your whip, in order that
he may stand squarely, and you must raise your wrists a little,
and the same time turning them inward. The horse will take a
step, you must instantly sit up straight, lower your hands, and
then repeat the movement until he has backed far enough. Four
steps will be quite as many as you should try when working thus
by yourself, because you do not wish to form any bad habits, and
your master will probably find much to criticise in your way of
executing the movement. The most that you can do for yourself is
to be sure that Abdallah makes but one step for each of your
demands. If he make two, lower your hands, and make him go
forward, for a horse that backs unbidden is always troublesome
and may sometimes be dangerous.

"Just watch that man on Billy Buttons," says your master, coming
up to you, "and make up your minds never to do anything that you
see him do. And look at those two ladies who are mounting now,
and see how well it is possible to ride without being taught in
school, provided one rides enough. They cannot trot a rod, but
they have often been in the saddle half a day at a time in
Spanish America, whence they come, and they can 'lope,' as they
call it, for hours without drawing rein. They sit almost, but not
quite straight, and they have strength enough in their hands to
control any of our horses, although they complain that these
English bits are poor things compared to the Spanish bit. You
see, they can stay on, although they cannot ride scientifically."

"And isn't that best?" asked Nell.

"It is better," corrects the master. "The very best is to stay on
because one rides scientifically, and that is what I hope that
you two will do by and by. There's that girl who always brings in
bags of groceries for her horse! Apples this time!"

"Isn't it a good thing to give a horse a tidbit of some kind
after a ride?" asked Nell.

"'Good,' if it be your own horse, but not good in a riding-
school. It tends to make the horses impatient for the end of a
ride, and sometimes makes them jealous of one another at the
mounting-stand, and keeps them there so long as to inconvenience
others who wish to dismount. Besides, careless pupils, like that
girl, have a way of tossing a paper bag into the ring after the
horse has emptied it, and although we always pick it up as soon
as possible, it may cause another horse to shy. A dropped
handkerchief is also dangerous, for a horse is a suspicious
creature and fears anything novel as a woman dreads a mouse."

What is the trouble on the mounting-stand? Nothing, except that a
tearful little girl wants "her dear Daisy; she never rides
anything else, and she hates Clifton, and does not like Rex and
Jewel canters, and she wants Da-a-isy!"

"But is it not better for you to change horses now and then, and
Daisy is not fit to be in the ring to-day," says your master.
"Jewel is very easy and good-tempered. Will you have him?"

"No, I'll have Abdallah."

"A lady is riding him."

"Well, I want him."

It is against the rules for your master to suggest such a thing
to you, Esmeralda, but suppose you go up to the mounting-stand
and offer to take Jewel yourself and let her have Abdallah. You
do it; your master puts you on Jewel, and sends the wilful little
girl away on Abdallah, and then comes up to you and Nell, thanks
you, and says, "It was very good of you, but she must learn some
day to ride everything, and I shall tell her so, and next time!"

He looks capable of giving her Hector, Irish Hector, who is
wilful as the wind, but in reward for your goodness he bestows a
little warning about your whips upon Nell, who has a fancy for
carrying hers slantwise across her body, so that both ends show
from the back, and the whole whip is quite useless as far as the
horse is concerned, although picturesque enough with its loop of
bright ribbon.

"It makes one think of a circus picture," he says; "and, Miss
Esmeralda, don't hold your whip with the lash pointing outward,
to tickle Miss Nell's horse, and to make you look like an
American Mr. Briggs 'going to take a run with the Myopias, don't
you know.' Isn't this a pretty horse?"

"Well, I don't know," you say frankly; "I'm no judge. I don't
know anything about a horse."

For once your master loses his self-possession, and stares
unreservedly. "Child," he says, "I never, never before saw
anybody in this ring who didn't know all about a horse."

"Well, but I really don't, you know."

"No, but nobody ever says so. Now just hear this new pupil
instruct me."

The new pupil, who thinks a riding habit should be worn over two
or three skirts, and is consequently sitting with the aerial
elegance of a feather bed, is riding with her snaffle rein, the
curb tied on her horse's neck, and is clasping it by the centre,
allowing the rest to hang loose, so that Clifton, supposing that
she means to give him liberty to browse, is looking for grass
among the tan. Not finding it, he snorts occasionally, whereupon
she calls him "poor thing," and tells him that "it is a warm day,
and that he should rest, so he should!"

"Your reins are too long," says your master.

"Do you mean that they are too long, or that I am holding them so
as to make them too long," she inquires, in a precise manner.

"They are right enough. Our saddlers know their business. But you
are holding them so that you might as well have none. Shorten
them, and make him bring his head up in its proper place."

"But I think it's cruel to treat him so, when he's tired, poor
thing! I always hold my reins in the middle when I'm driving, and
my horse goes straight enough. This one seems dizzy. He goes
round and round."

"He wouldn't if he were in harness with two shafts to keep his
head straight"--

"But then why wouldn't it be a good thing to have some kind of a
light shaft for a beginner's horse?"

"It would be a neat addition to a side saddle," says your master,
"but shorten your reins. Take one in each hand. Leave about eight
inches of rein between your hands. There! See. Now Guide your

He leaves her, in order that he may enjoy the idea of the side
saddle with shafts, and she promptly resumes her old attitude
which she feels is elegant, and when Clifton wanders up beside
Abdallah, she sweetly asks Nell, "Is this your first lesson? Do
you think this horse is good? The master wants me to pull on my
reins, but I think it is inhuman, and I won't, and"--but
Clifton strays out of hearing, and your arouse yourselves to
remember that you are having more fun than work.

There is plenty of room in the ring, now, so you change hands,
and circle to the left, first walking and then trotting, slowly
at first, and then rapidly, finding to your pleasant surprise,
that, just as you begin to think that you can go no further, you
are suddenly endowed with new strength and can make two more
rounds. "A good half mile," your master says, approvingly, as you
fall into a walk and pass him, and then you do a volte or two,
and one little round at a canter, and then walk five minutes, and
dismount to find the rider of the alleged William assuring John,
the head groom, that redoubtable animal needs "taking down."

"Shall ride him with spurs next time," he says. "I can manage
him, but he would be too much for most men," and away he goes and
a flute-voiced little boy of eight mounts William, retransformed
into Billy Buttons, and guides him like a lamb, and you escape up
stairs to laugh. But you have no time for this before the
merciful young woman enters to say that she is going to another
school, where she can do as she pleases and have better horses,
too, and the more you and Nell assure her that there is no school
in which she can learn without obedience, and that her horse was
too good, if anything, the more determined she becomes, and soon
you wisely desist.

As she departs, "Oh, dear," you say, "I thought there was nothing
but fun at riding-school, and just see all these queer folks."

"My dear," says philosophic Nell, "they ar part of the fun. And
we are fun to the old riders; and we are all fun to our master."

Here you find yourselves enjoying a bit of fun from which your
master is shut out, for three or four girls come up from the ring
together, and, not seeing you, hidden behind your screens, two,
in whom you and Nell have already recognized saleswomen from whom
you have more than once bought laces, begin to talk to overawe
the others.

"My deah," says one, "now I think of it, I weally don't like the
setting of these diamonds that you had given you last night. It's
too heavy, don't you think?"

The other replies in a tone which would cheat a man, but in which
you instantly detect an accent of surprise and a determination to
play up to her partner as well as possible, that she "liked it
very well."

"I should have them reset," says the former speaker. "Like mine,
you know; light and airy. Deah me, I usedn't to care for
diamonds, and now I'm puffectly infatooated with them, don't you
know! My!" she screams, catching sight of a church clock, and,
relapsing into her everyday speech: "Half-past four! And I am due
at"--[An awkward pause.] "I promised to return at four!"

There is no more talk about diamonds, but a hurried scramble to
dress, an a precipitate departure, after which one of the other
ladies is heard to say very distinctly: "I remember that girl as
a pupil when I was teaching in a public school, and I know all
about her. Salary, four dollars a week. Diamonds!"

"She registered at the desk as Mrs. Something," rejoins the
other. "She only came in for one ride, and so they gave her a
horse without looking up her reference, but one of the masters
knew her real name. Poor little goosey! She has simply spoiled
her chance of ever becoming a regular pupil, no matter how much
she may desire it. No riding master will give lessons to a person
who behaves so. He would lose more than he gained by it, no
matter how long she took lessons. And they know everybody in a
riding-school, although they won't gossip. I'd as soon try to
cheat a Pinkerton agency."

"I know one thing," Nell says, as you walk homeward: "I'm going
to take an exercise ride between every two lessons, and I'm going
to ride a new horse every time, if I can get him, and I'm going
to do what I'm told, and I shall not stop trotting at the next
lesson, even if I feel as if I should drop out of the saddle.
I've learned so much from an exercise ride."


Ride as though you were flying.
_Mrs. Norton_.

"Cross," Esmeralda? Why? Because having had seven lessons of
various sorts, and two rides, you do not feel yourself to be a
brilliant horsewoman? Because you cannot trot more than half a
mile, and because you cannot flatter yourself that it would be
prudent for you to imitate your favorite English heroines, and to
order your horse brought around to the hall door for a solitary
morning canter? And you really think that you do well to be
angry, and that, had your teacher been as discreet and as
entirely admirable as you feel yourself to be, you would be more
skilful and better informed?

Very well, continue to think so, but pray do not flatter yourself
that your mental attitude has the very smallest fragment of an
original line, curve or angle. Thus, and not otherwise, do all
youthful equestrians feel, excepting those doubly-dyed in
conceit, who fancy that they have mastered a whole art in less
than twelve hours. You certainly are not a good rider, and yet
you have received instruction on almost every point in regard to
which you would need to know anything in an ordinary ride on a
good road. You have not yet been taught every one of these
things, certainly, for she who has been really taught a physical
or mental feat, can execute it at will, but you have been partly
instructed, and it is yours to see that the instruction is not
wasted, by not being either repeated, or faithfully reduced to
practice. Remember clever Mrs. Wesley's answer to the unwise
person who said in reproof, "You have told that thing to that
child thirty times." "Had I told it but twenty-nine," replied the
indomitable Susanna, "they had been wasted." What you need now is
practice, preferably in the ring with a teacher, but if you
cannot afford that, without a teacher, and road rides whenever
you can have them on a safe horse, taken from a school stable, if
possible, with companions like yourself, intent upon study and
enjoyment, not upon displaying their habits, or, if they be men,
the airs of their horses, and the correctness of their equipment,
or upon racing.

As for the solitary canter, when the kindly Fates shall endow
that respectable American sovereign, your father, with a park
somewhat bigger than the seventy-five square feet of ground
inclosed by an iron railing before his present palace, it will be
time enough to think about that; but you can no more venture upon
a public road alone than an English lady could, and indeed, your
risk in doing so would be even greater than hers. Why? Because in
rural England all men and boys, even the poorest and the
humblest, seem to know instinctively how a horse should be
equipped. True, a Wordsworth or a Coleridge did hesitate for
hours over the problem of adjusting a horse collar, but Johnny
Ragamuffin, from the slums, or Jerry Hickathrift, of some shire
with the most uncouth of dialects, can adjust a slipping saddle,
or, in a hand's turn, can remove a stone which is torturing a

Not so your American wayfarer, city bred or country grown; it
will be wonderful if he can lengthen a stirrup leather, ad,
before allowing such an one to tighten a girth for you, you would
better alight and take shelter behind a tree, and a good large
tree, because he may drive your horse half frantic by his well-
meant unskilfulness. Besides, Mrs. Grundy very severely frowns on
the woman who rides alone, and there is no appeal from Mrs.
Grundy's wisdom. Sneer at her, deride her, try, if you will, to
undermine her authority, but obey her commands and yield to her
judgment if you would have the respect of men, and, what is of
more consequence, the fair speech of women. And so, Esmeralda, as
you really have no cause for repining, go away to your class
lesson, which has a double interest for you and Nell, because of
the wicked pleasure which you derive from hearing the master
quietly crush the society young lady with unanswerable logic.

You have seen him with a class of disobedient, well-bred little
girls, and know how persuasive he can be to a child who is really
frightened. You have seen him surrounded by a class of eager
small goys, and beset with a clamorous shout of, "Plea-ease let
us mount from the ground." You have heard his peremptory "No,"
and then, as they turned away discomfited, have noted how kindly
was his "I will tell you why, my dear boys. It is because your
legs are too short. Wait until you are tall, then you shall
mount." You know that when Versatilia, having attended a party
the previous evening and arisen at five o'clock to practise
Chopin, and then worked an hour at gymnastics, could not, from
pure weariness, manage her horse, how swift was his bound across
the ring, and how carefully he lifted her from the saddle, and
gave her over to the ministrations of the wise fairy. You know
that any teacher must extract respect from his scholars, and you
detect method in all the little sallies which almost drive the
society young lady to madness, but this morning it is your turn.

You do, one after the other, all the things against which you
have been warned, and, when corrected, you look so very dismal
and discouraged that the Scotch teacher comes quietly to your
side and rides with you, and, feeling that he will prevent your
horse from doing anything dangerous, you begin to mend your ways,
when suddenly you hear the master proclaim in a voice which, to
your horrified ears, seems audible to the whole universe: "Ah,
Miss Esmeralda! she cannot ride, she cannot do her best, unless
she has a gentleman beside her." In fancy's eye you seem to see
yourself blushing for that criticism during the remainder of your
allotted days, and you almost hope that they will be few. You
know that every other girl in the class will repeat it to other
girls, and even to men, and possibly even to Theodore, and that
you will never be allowed to forget it. Cannot ride or do your
best without a gentleman, indeed! You could do very well without
one gentleman whom you know, you think vengefully, and then you
turn to the kindly Scotch teacher, and, with true feminine
justice, endeavor to punish him for another's misdeeds by telling
him that, if he please, you would prefer to ride alone. As he
reins back, you feel a decided sinking of the heart and again
become conscious that you are oddly incapable of doing anything
properly, and then, suddenly, it flashes upon you that the master
was right in his judgment, and you fly into a small fury of
determination to show him that you can exist "without a
gentleman." Down go your hands, you straighten your shoulders,
adjust yourself to a nicety, think of yourself and of your horse
with all the intensity of which you are capable, and make two or
three rounds without reproof.

"Now," says the teacher, "we will try a rather longer trot than
usual, and when any lady is tired she may go to the centre of the
ring. Prepare to trot! Trot!"

The leader's eyes sparkle with delight as she allows her good
horse, after a round or two, to take his own speed, the teacher
continues his usual fire of truthful comments as to shoulders,
hands and reins, and one after another, the girls leave the
track, and only the leader and you remain, she, calm and cool as
an iceberg, you, flushed, and compelled to correct your position
at almost every stride of your horse, sometimes obliged to sit
close for half a round, but with your whole Yankee soul set upon
trotting until your master bids you cease. Can you believe your

"Brava, Miss Esmeralda!" shouts the master. "Go in again. That is
the way. Ah, go in again! That is the way the rider is made!
Again! Ah, brava!"

"Prepare to whoa! Whoa!" says the teacher, and both he and your
banished cavalier congratulate you, and it dawns upon you that
the society young lady is not the only person whom the master
understands, and is able to manage. However, you are grateful,
and even pluck up courage to salute him when next you pass him;
but alas! that does not soften his heart so thoroughly that he
does not warningly ejaculate, "Right foot," and then comes poor
Nell's turn. She, reared in a select private school for young
ladies, and having no idea of proper discipline, ventures to
explain the cause of some one of her misdeeds, instead of
correcting it in silence. She does it courteously, but is met
with, "Ah-h-h! Miss Esmeralda, you know Miss Nell. Is it not with
her on foot as it is on horseback? Does she not argue?"

You shake your head severely and loyally, but brave Nell speaks
out frankly, "Yes, sir; I do. But I won't again."

"I would have liked to ride straight at him," she confides to you
afterwards, "but he was right. Still, it is rather astounding to
hear the truth sometimes."

And now, for the first time around, you are allowed to ride in
pairs, and the word "interval," meaning the space between two
horses moving in parallel lines, is introduced, and you and Nell,
who are together, congratulate yourselves on having in your
exercise ride learned something of the manner in which the
interval may be preserved exactly, for it is a greater trouble to
the others than that "distance" which you have been told a
thousand times to "keep." You have but very little of this
practice, however, before you are again formed in file, and
directed to "Prepare to volte singly!"

When this is done perfectly, it is a very pretty manoeuvre, and,
the pupils returning to their places at the same movement, the
column continues on its way with its distances perfectly
preserved, but as no two of your class make circles of the same
size, or move at similar rates of speed, your small procession
finds itself in hopeless disorder, and in trying to rearrange
yourselves, each one of you discovers that she has yet something
to learn about turning. However, after a little trot and the
usual closing walk, the lesson ends, and you retire from the
ring, with the exception of Nell, who, having been taught by an
amateur to leap in a more or less unscientific manner, has begged
the master to give her "one little lesson," a proposition to
which he has consented.

The hurdle is brought out, placed half-way down one of the long
sides of the school, and Nell walks her horse quietly down the
other, turns him again as she comes on the second long side,
shakes her reins lightly, putting him to a canter, and is over--
"beautifully," as you say to yourself, as you watch her

"You did not fall off," the master comments, coiling the lash of
the long whip with which he has stood beside the hurdle during
Miss Nell's performance, "but you did not guard yourself against
falling when you went up, and had you had some horses, you might
have come down before he did, although that is not so easy for a
lady as it is for a man. When you start for a leap, you must draw
your right foot well back, so as to clasp the pommel with your
knee, and just as the horse stops to spring upward, you must lean
back and lift both hands a little, and then, when he springs,
straighten yourself, feel proud and haughty, if you can, and, as
he comes down, lean back once more and raise your hands again,
because your horse will drop on his fore legs, and you desire him
to lift them, that he may go forward before you do. You should
practise this, counting one, as you lean backward, drawing but
not turning the hands backward and upward; two, as you straighten
yourself wit the hands down, and three, as you repeat the first
movement; and, except in making a water jump, or some other very
long leap, the 'two' will be the shortest beat, as it is in the
waltz. And, although you must use some strength in raising your
hands, you must not raise them too high, and you must not lean
your head forward or draw your elbows back. A jockey may, when
riding in a steeplechase for money, but he will be angry with
himself for having to do it, and a lady must not. I would rather
that you did not leap again to-day, because what I told you will
only confuse you until you have time to think it over and to
practise it by yourself in a chair. And I would rather that you
did not leap again in your own way, until you have let me see you
do it once or twice more, at least."

"You did not have to whip my horse to make him leap," Nell says,

"The whip was not to strike him, but to show him what was ready
for him if he refused," says the master. "One must never permit a
horse to refuse without punishing bum, for otherwise he may
repeat the fault when mounted by a poor rider, and a dangerous
accident may follow. One must never brutalize a horse--indeed,
no one but a brute does--but one must rule him."

By this time he has taken Nell from her saddle and is in the
reception room where he finds you grouped and gazing at him in a
manner rather trying even to his soldierly gravity, and decidedly
amusing to the wise fairy, who glances at him with a laugh and
betakes herself to her own little nest.

"My young ladies," he says. "I will show you one little leap, not
high, you know, but a little leap sitting on a side saddle," and,
going out, he takes Nell's horse, and in a minute you see him
sailing through the air, light as a bird, and without any of the
encouraging shouts used by some horsemen. It is only a little
leap, but it impresses your illogical minds as no skilfulness in
the voltes and no _haute ecole_ airs could do, for leaping is the
crowning accomplishment of riding in the eyes of all your male
friends except the cavalryman, and when he returns to the
reception room, you linger in the hope of a little lecture, and
you are not disappointed.

"My young ladies," he says, "at the point at which you are in the
equestrian art, what you should do is to keep doing what you
know, over and over again, no matter if you do it wrong. Keep
doing and doing, and by and by you will do it right. I have tried
that plan of perfecting each step before undertaking another, but
it is of no use with American ladies. You will not do things at
all, unless you can do them well, you say. That is to say if you
were to go to a ball, and were to say, 'No, I have taken lessons,
I have danced in school, but I am afraid I cannot do so well as
some others. I will not dance here.' That would not be the way to
do. Dance, and again dance, and if you make a little mistake,
dance again! The mistake is of the past; it is not matter for
troubling; dance again, and do not make it again. And so of
riding, ride, and again ride! Try all ways. Take your foot out of
the stirrup sometimes, and slip it back again without stopping
your horse, and when you can do it at the walk, do it at the
trot, and keep rising! And learn not to be afraid to keep
trotting after you are a little tired. Keep trotting! Keep
trotting! Then you will know real pleasure, and you will not hurt
your horses, as you will if you pull them up just as they begin
to enjoy the pace. And then"--looking very hard at nothing at
all, and not at you, Esmeralda, as your guilty soul fancies--
"and then, gentlemen will not be afraid to ride with you for fear
of spoiling their horses by checking them too often."

And with this he goes away, and on! Esmeralda, does not the
society young lady make life pleasant for you and Nell in the
dressing-room, until the beauty attracts general attention by
stating that she has had an hour of torment!

"Perhaps you have not noticed that most of these saddles are
buckskin," she continues; "I did not, until I found myself
slipping about on mine to day as if it were glazed, and lo! It
was pigskin, and that made the difference. I would not have it
changed, because the Texan is always sneering at English pigskin,
and I wanted to learn to ride on it; but, until the last quarter
of the hour, I expected to slip off. I rather think I should
have," she adds, "only just as I was ready to slip off on one
side, something would occur to make me slip to the other. I shall
not be afraid of pigskin again, ad you would better try it, every
one of you. Suppose you should get a horse from a livery stable
some day with one of those slippery saddles!"

"I am thinking of buying a horse," says the society young lad;
"but the master says that I do not know enough to ride a beast
that has been really trained. Fancy that!"

"And all the authorities agree with him," says Versatilia, who
has accumulated a small library of books on equestrianism since
she began to take lessons. "Your horse ought not to know much
more than you do--for if he do, you will find him perfectly

Here you and Nell flee on the wings of discretion. The daring of
the girl! To tell the society young lady that a horse may know
more than she does!


Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy.

And now, Esmeralda, having determined to put your master's advice
into practice and to "keep riding," you think that you must have
a habit in order to be ready to take to the road whenever you
have an opportunity, and to be able to accompany Theodore, should
he desire to repeat your music-ride? And you would like to know
just what it will cost, and everything about it? And first, what
color can you have?

You "can" have any color, Esmeralda, and you "can" have any
material, for that matter. Queen Guinevere wore grass green silk,
and if her skirt were as long as those worn by Matilda of
Flanders, Norman William's wife, centuries after, her women must
have spent several hours daily in mending it, unless she had a
new habit for every ride, or unless the English forest roads were
wider than they are to-day. But all the ladies of Arthur's court
seem to have ridden in their ordinary dress. Enid, for instance,
was arrayed in the faded silk which had been her house-dress and
waking-dress in girlhood, when she performed her little feat of
guiding six armor-laden horses. Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stuart
seem to have liked velvet, either green or black, and to have
adorned it with gold lace, and both probably took their fashions
form France; the young woman in the Scotch ballad was "all in
cramoisie"; Kate Peyton wore scarlet broadcloth, but secretly
longed for purple, having been told by a rival, who had probably
found her too pretty for scarlet, that green or purple was "her

There are crimson velvet and dark blue velvet and Lincoln green
velvet habits without end in fiction, and in the records of
English royal wardrobes, but, beautiful as velvet is, and
exquisitely becoming as it would be, you would better not indulge
your artistic taste by wearing it. It would cost almost three
times as much as cloth; it would be nearly impossible to make a
well fitting modern skirt of it, and it would be worn into
ugliness by a very few hours of trotting. Be thankful, therefore,
that fashion says that woollen cloth is the most costly material
that may be used.

In India, during the last two or three seasons, Englishwomen have
worn London-made habits of very light stuffs, mohairs and fine
Bradford woollens, and there is no reason why any American woman
should not do the same. In Hyde Park, for three summers, in those
early morning hours when some of the best riders go, attended by
a groom, to enjoy something more lively than the afternoon
parade, skirts of light tweed and covert coats of the same
material worn over white silk shirts, with linen collars and a
man's tie, have made their wearers look cool and comfortable, and
duck covert jackets, with ordinary woollen skirts have had a
similar effect, but American women have rather hesitated as to
adopting these fashions, lest some one, beholding, should say
that they were not correct. Thus did they once think that they
must wear bonnets with strings in church, no matter what
remonstrance was made by the thermometer, or how surely they were
deafened to psalm and sermon by longing for the cool, comfortable
hats, which certain wise persons had decided were too frivolous
for the sanctuary.

New York girls have worn white cloth habits at Lenox without
shocking the moral sense of the inhabitants, but Lenox, during
the season, probably contains a smaller percentage of simpletons
than any village in the United States, and some daring Boston
girls have appeared this year in cool and elegant habits of
shepherd's check, and have pleased every good judge who has seen
them. If quite sure that you have as much common sense and
independence as these young ladies, imitate them, but if not,
wear the regulation close, dark cloth habit throughout the year,
be uncomfortable, and lose half the benefit of your summer rides
from becoming overheated, to say nothing of being unable to "keep
trotting" as long as you could if suitably clothed for exercise.
But might you not, if your habit were thin, catch cold while your
horse was walking? You might if you tried, but probably you would
not be in a state so susceptible to that disaster as you would if
heavily dressed.

There is little danger that the temperature will change so much
during a three hours' ride that you cannot keep yourself
sufficiently warm for comfort and for safety, and if you start
for a long excursion, you must use your common sense. The best
and least expensive way of solving the difficulty is to have an
ordinary habit, with the waist and skirt separate, and to wear a
lighter coat, with a habit shirt, or with a habit shirt and
waistcoat, whenever something lighter is desirable. This plan
gives three changes of dress, which should be enough for any
reasonable girl.

But still, you do not know what color you can wear? Black is
suitable for all hours and all places, even for an English fox
hunt, although the addition of a scarlet waistcoat, just visible
at the throat and below the waist, is desirable for the field.
Dark blue, dark green, dark brown are suitable for most
occasions, and a riding master whose experience has made him
acquainted with the dress worn in the principal European
capitals, declares his preference for gray with a white

Among the habits shown by English tailors at the French
exhibition of 189, was one of blue gray, and a Paris tailor
displayed a tan-colored habit made with a coat and waistcoat
revealing a white shirt front. London women are now wearing white
waistcoats and white ties in the Park, both tie and waistcoat as
stiff and masculine as possible.

This affectation of adopting men's dress, when riding, is
comparatively modern. Sir Walter gives the date in "Rob Roy,"
when Mr. Francis sees Diana for the first time and notices that
she wears a coat, vest and hat resembling those of a man, "a mode
introduced during my absence in France," he says, "and perfectly
new to me." But this coat had the collar and wide sharply pointed
lapels and deep cuffs now known as "directoire," and its skirts
were full, and so long that they touched the right side of the
saddle, and skirts, lapels, collar and cuffs were trimmed with
gold braid almost an inch wide. The waistcoat, the vest, as Sir
Walter calls it, not knowing the risk that he ran in this half
century of being considered as speaking American, had a smaller,
but similar, collar and lapels, work outside those of the coat,
and the "man's tie" was of soft white muslin, and a muslin sleeve
and ruffles were visible at the wrists. The hat was very broad
brimmed, and was worn set back from the forehead, and bent into
coquettish curves, and altogether the fair Diana might depend
upon having a very long following of astonished gazers if she
should ride down Beacon Street or appear in Central Park to-day.

Your habit shall not be like hers, Esmeralda, but shall have a
plain waist, made as long as you can possibly wear it while
sitting, slightly pointed in front and curving upward at the side
to a point about half an inch below that where the belt of your
skirt fastens, and having a very small and perfectly flat
postilion, or the new English round back. Elizabeth of Austria
may wear a princess habit, if it please her, but would you,
Esmeralda, be prepared, in order to have your habit fit properly,
to postpone buttoning it until after you were placed in the
saddle, as she was accustomed to do in the happy days when she
could forget her imperial state in her long wild gallops across
the beautiful Irish hunting counties? The sleeves shall not be so
tight that you can feel them, nor shall the armholes be so close
as to prevent you from clasping your hands above your head with
your arms extended at full length, and the waist shall be loose.
If you go to a tailor, Esmeralda, prepare yourself to make a firm
stand on this point. Warn him, in as few words as possible, that
you will not take the habit out of his shop unless it suits you,
and do not allow yourself to be overawed by the list of his
patrons, all of whom "wear their habits far tighter, ma'am."
Unless you can draw a full, deep breath with your habit buttoned,
you cannot do yourself or your teacher any credit in trotting,
and you will sometimes find yourself compelled to give your
escort the appearance of being discourteous by drawing rein
suddenly, leaving him, unwarned, to trot on, apparently
disregarding your plight. Both your horse and his will resent
your action, and unless he resemble both Moses and Job more
strongly than most Americans, he will have a few words to say in
regard to it, after you have repeated it once or twice. And,
lastly, Esmeralda, no riding master with any sense of duty will
allow you to wear such a habit in his presence without telling
you his opinion of it, and stating his reasons for objecting to
it, and you best know whether or not a little lecture of that
sort will be agreeable, especially if delivered in the presence
of other women. Warn your tailor of your determination, then, and
if his devotion to his ideal should compel him to decline your
patronage, go to another, until you find one who will be content
not to transform you into the likeness of a wooden doll. Women
are not made to advertise tailors, whatever the tailors may

What must you pay for your habit? You may pay three hundred
dollars, if you like, although that price is seldom charged,
unless to customers who seem desirous of paying if, but the usual
scale runs downward from one hundred and fifty dollars. This
includes cloth and all other materials, and finish as perfect
within as without, and is not dear, considering the retail price
of cloth, the careful making, and the touch of style which only
practised hands can give. The heavy meltons worn for hunting
habits in England cost seven dollars a yard; English tweeds which
have come into vogue during the last few years in London, cost
six dollars, broadcloth five dollars; rough, uncut cheviots,
about six dollars; and shepherds' checks, single width, about two
dollars and a half. For waistcoats, duck costs two dollars and a
quarter a yard, and fancy flannels and Tattersall checks anywhere
from one dollar and a half to two dollars. The heavy cloths are
the most economical in the end, because they do not wear out
where the skirt is stretched over the pommel, the point at which
a light material is very soon in tatters.

The small, flat buttons cost twenty-five cents a dozen; the fine
black sateen used for linings may be bought for thirty-five cents
a yard, and canvas for interlinings for twenty-five cents. With
these figures you may easily make your own computations as to the
cost of material, for unless a woman is "more than common tall,"
two yards and a half will be more than enough for her habit
skirt, which should not rest an inch on the ground on the left
side when she stands, and should not be more than a quarter of a
yard longer in its longest part. Two lengths, with allowance for
the hem two inches deep are needed for the skirt, and when very
heavy melton is used, the edges are left raw, the perfect riding
skirt in modern eyes being that which shows no trace of the
needle, an end secured with lighter cloths by pressing all the
seams before hemming, and then very lightly blind-stitching the
pointed edges in their proper place.

Strength is not desirable in the sewing of a habit skirt. It is
always possible that one may be thrown, and the substantial
stitching which will hold one to pommel and stirrup may be fatal
to life. So hems are constructed to tear away easily, and seams
are run rather than stitched, or stitched with fine silk, and the
cloth is not too firmly secured to the wide sateen belt. The
English safety skirts, invented three or four years ago, have the
seam on the knee-gore open from the knee down to the edge, and
the two breadths are caught together with buttons and elastic
loops, all sewed on very lightly so as to give way easily. The
effect of this style of cutting is, if one be thrown, to
transform one into a flattered or libelous likeness of Lilian
Russell in her naval uniform, prepared to scamper away from one's
horse, and from any other creatures with eyes, but with one's
bones unbroken and one's face unscathed by being dragged and
pounded over the road, or by being kicked.

For the waist and sleeves, Esmeralda, you will allow as much as
for those of your ordinary frocks, and if you cannot find a
fashionable tailor who will consent to adapt himself to your
tastes and to your purse, you may be fortunate enough to find men
who have worked in shops, but who now make habits at home,
charging twenty-five dollars for the work, and doing it well and
faithfully, although, of course, not being able to keep
themselves informed as to the latest freaks of English fashion by
foreign travellers and correspondents, as their late employers
do. There are two or three dressmakers in Boston and five or six
in New York whose habits fit well, and are elegant in every
particular, and, if you can find an old-fashioned tailoress who
really knows her business, and can prepare yourself to tell her
about a few special details, you may obtain a well-fitting waist
and skirt at a very reasonable price.

Of these details the first is that the sateen lining should
be black. Gay colors are very pretty, but soon spoiled by
perspiration, and white, the most fitting lining for a lady's
ordinary frock, is unsuitable for a habit, since one long, warm
ride may convert it into something very untidy of aspect. This
lining, of which all the seams should be turned toward the
outside, should end at the belt line, and between it and the
cloth outside should be a layer of canvas, cut and shaped as
carefully as possible, and the whalebones, each in its covering,
should be sewed between the canvas and the sateen. If a waistcoat
be worn, it should have a double sateen back with canvas
interlining, and may be high in the throat or made with a step
collar like that of the waist. The cuffs are simply indicated by
stitching and are buttoned on the outside of the sleeve with two
or three buttons. Simulated waistcoats, basted firmly to the
shoulder seams and under-arm seams of the waist, and cut high to
the throat with an officer collar, are liked by ladies with a
taste for variety, and are not expensive, as but for a small
quantity of material is required for each one. They are fastened
by small hooks except in those parts shown by the openings, and
on these flat or globular pearl buttons are used.

When a step collar and a man's tie are worn, the ordinary high
collar and chemisette, sold for thirty-eight cents, takes the
place of the straight linen band worn with the habit high in the
throat, and the proper tie is the white silk scarf fastened in a
four-in-hand knot, and, if you be wise, Esmeralda you will buy
this at a good shop, and pay two dollars and a quarter for it,
rather than to pay less and repent ever after. Some girls wear
white lawn evening ties, but they are really out of place in the
saddle, in which one is supposed to be in morning dress. Wear the
loosest of collars and cuffs, and fasten the latter to your habit
sleeves with safety pins. The belts of your habit skirt and waist
should also be pinned together at the back, at the sides, and the
front, unless your tailor has fitted them with hooks and eyes,
and if you be a provident young person, you will tuck away a few
more safety pins, a hairpin or two, half a row of "the most
common pin of North America," and a quarter-ounce flash of
cologne, in one of the little leather change pouches, and put it
either in your habit pocket or your saddle pocket. Sometimes,
after a dusty ride of an hour or two, a five-minute halt under
the trees by the roadside, gives opportunity to remove the dust
from the face and to cool the hands, and the cologne is much
better than the handkerchief "dipped in the pellucid waters of a
rippling brook," _a la_ novelist, for the pellucid brook of
Massachusetts is very likely to run past a leather factory, in
which case its waters are anything but agreeable. Whether or not
your habit shall have a pocket is a matter of choice. If it have
one, it should be small and should be on the left side, just
beyond the three flat buttons which fasten the front breadth and
side breadth of your habit at the waist. When thus placed, you
can easily reach it with either hand.

Fitting the habit over the knee is a feat not to be effected by
an amateur without a pattern, and the proper slope and adjustment
of the breadths come by art, not chance; but Harper's Bazaar
patterns are easily obtained by mail. The best tailors adjust the
skirt while the wearer sits on a side saddle, and there is no
really good substitute for this, for, although one my guess
fairly well at the fir of the knee, nothing but actual trial will
show whether or not, when in the saddle, the left side of the
skirt hangs perfectly straight, concealing the right side, and
leaving the horse's body visible below it. When your skirt is
finished, no matter if it be made by the very best of tailors,
wear it once in the school before you appear on the road with it,
and, looking in the mirror, view it "with a crocket's eye," as
the little boy said when he appeared on the school platform as an
example of the advantages of the wonderful merits of oral

An elastic strap about a quarter of a yard long should be sewed
half way between the curved knee seam and the hem, and should be
slipped over the right toe before mounting, and a second strap,
for the left heel, should be sewed on the last seam on the under
side of the habit, to be adjusted after the foot is placed in the
stirrup. The result of this cutting and arrangement is the
straight, simple, modern habit which is so great a change from
the riding dress of half a century ago, with its full skirt which
nearly swept the ground. The short skirt first appears in the
English novel in "Guy Livingstone," and is worn by the severe and
upright Lady Alice, the dame who hesitated not to snub Florence
Bellasis, when snubbing was needful, and who was a mighty
huntress. Now everybody wears it, and the full skirts are seen
nowhere except in the riding-school dressing-rooms, where they
yet linger because they may be worn by anybody, whereas the plain
skirts fits but one person. It seems odd that so many years were
required to discover that a short skirt, held in place by a strap
placed over the right toe and another slipped over the left heel,
really protected the feet more than yards of loosely floating
cloth, but did not steam and electricity wait for centuries?
Since the new style was generally adopted, Englishwomen allow
themselves the luxury of five or six habits, instead of the one
or two formerly considered sufficient, but each one is worn for
several years. When the extravagant wife, in Mrs. Alexander's "A
Crooked Path," suggests that she may soon want a new habit, her
husband asks indignantly, "Did I not give you one two years ago?"

The trousers may mach the habit or may be of stockinet, or the
imported cashmere tights may be worn. Women who are not fat and
whose muscles are hard, may choose whichsoever one of these
pleases them, but fat women, and women whose flesh is not too
solid, must wear thick trousers, and would better have them lined
with buckskin, unless they would be transformed into what Sairey
would call "a mask of bruiges," and would frequent remark to Mrs.
Harris that such was what she expected. Trousers with gaiter
fastenings below the knee are preferred by some women who put not
their faith in straps alone, and knee-breeches are liked by some,
but to wear knee breeches means to pay fifteen dollars for long
riding-boots, instead of the modest seven or eight dollars which
suffice to buy ordinary Balmoral boots. Gaiters must button on
the left side of each leg, and trouser straps may be sewed on one
side and buttoned on the other, instead of being buttoned on both
sides as men's are. Tailors sometimes insist on two buttons, but
as a woman does not wear her trousers except with the strap, it
is not difficult to see why she needs to be able to remove it.
The best material for the strap is thick soft kid, or thin
leather lined with cloth. The thick, rubber strap used by some
tailors is dangerous, sometimes preventing the rider from placing
her foot in the stirrup, sometimes making her lose it at a
critical moment. Whether breeches, tights, or trousers are worn,
they must be loose at the knee, or trotting will be impossible,
and the rider will feel as if bound to the second pommel, and
will sometimes be unable to rise at all.

As to gloves, the choice lies between the warm antelope skin
mousquetaires at two dollars a pair, and the tan-colored kid
gauntlets at the same price. The former are most comfortable for
winter, the latter for summer, and neither can be too large.
Nobody was ever ordered out for execution for wearing black
gloves, although they are unusual, and now and then one sees a
woman, whose soul is set on novelty, gorgeous in yellow cavalry
gauntlets, or even with white dragoon gauntlets, making her look
like a badly focused photograph.

Lastly, as to the hat. What shall it be, Esmeralda?

No tuft of grass-green plumes for you, like Queen Guinevere's,
nor yet the free flowing feather to be seen in so many beautiful
old French pictures, nor the plumed hat which "my sweet Mistress
Ann Dacre" wore when Constance Sherwood's loving eyes first fell
upon her, but the simple jockey cap, exactly matching your habit,
and costing two dollars and a half or three dollars; the Derby
cap for the same price or a little more; or, best of all, the
English or the American silk hat, as universally suitable as a
black silk frock was in the good old times when Mrs. Rutherford
Birchard Hayes was in the White House. The English Henry Heath
hat at seven or eight dollars, with its velvet forehead piece and
its band of soft, rough silk, stays in place better than any
other, but it is too heavy for comfort. If you can have an
American hatter remodel it, making it weigh half a pound less, it
will be perfection, always provided that he does not, as he
assuredly will unless you forbid it, throw away the soft, rough
band, which keeps the hat in place, and substitute one of the
American smooth bands, designed to slip off without ruffling the
hair, and doing it instantly, the moment that a breeze touches
the brim of the hat. A hunting guard, fastened at the back of the
hat brim and between two habit buttons is better than an elastic
caught under the braids of your hair, for when an elastic does
not snap outright, it is always trying to do so, and in the
effort holds the hat so tightly on the head so as sometimes to
give actual pain. The hunting guard is no restraint at all unless
the hat flies off, in which case it keeps it from following the
example of John Gilpin's, but with the Henry Heath lining, your
hat is perfectly secure in anything from a Texas Norther to a New
England east wind. If you follow London example, and wear a straw
hat for morning rides, sew a piece of white velvet on the inner
side of the band, and your forehead will not be marked.

Arrayed after these suggestions, Esmeralda, you will be
inconspicuous, and that is the general aim of the true lady's
riding dress, with the exception of those worn by German
princesses, when, at a review, they lead the regiments which they
command. Then, their habits may be frogged and braided with gold,
or they may fire the air in habit and hat of white and scarlet,
the regimental colors, as the Empress of Germany did the other
day. If you were sure of riding as these royal ladies do, perhaps
even white and scarlet might be permitted to you, but can you
fancy yourself, Esmeralda, sweeping across a parade ground with a
thousand horsemen behind you, and ready to salute your sovereign
and commander-in-chief at the right moment, and to go forward
with as much precision as if you, too, were one of those
magnificently drilled machines brought into being by the man of
blood and iron?


'Tis an old maxim in the schools,
That flattery's the food of fools.

If American children and American girls were the angels which
their mothers and their lovers tell them that they are, the best
possible riding master for them would be an American soldier who
had learned and taught riding at West Point. Being of the same
race, pupil and teacher would have that vast fund of common
memories, hopes and feelings; that common knowledge of character,
of good qualities and of defects, and that ability to divine
motives and to predict action which constitute perfect sympathy,
and their relations to one another would be mutually agreeable
and profitable. Unfortunately, Esmeralda, you, like possibly some
other American girls, are not an angel, and if you were, you
could not have such a riding master, because the very few men who
have the specified qualifications are too well acquainted with
the characteristics of their countrywomen to instruct them in the
equestrian art. Who, then, shall be his substitute? Clearly,
either a person sufficiently patient and clever to neutralize the
faults of American women, or one capable of adapting himself to
them, of eluding them, and of forcing a certain quantity of
knowledge upon his pupils, almost in spite of themselves. The
former is hardly to be found among natives of the United States;
the latter can be found nowhere else, except, possibly, in
certain English shires in which the inhabitants so closely
resemble the average American that when they immigrate hither
they are scarcely distinguishable from men whose ancestors came
two or three centuries ago.

A foreign teacher, whether French, German, or Hungarian, always
regards himself in the just and proper European manner as the
superior of his pupil. The traditions in which he has been
reared, in which he has been instructed, not only in riding, but
in all other matters, survive from the time when all learning was
received from men whose title to respect rested not only on their
wisdom but on their ecclesiastical office, and who expected and
received as much deference from their pupils as from their
congregations. Undeniably, there are unruly children in European
schools, but their rebelliousness is never encouraged, and their
teachers are expected to quell it, not to submit to it, much less
to endeavour to avoid it by giving no commands which are
distasteful. Even in the worst conducted private schools on the
continent, there is always at least one master who must be
obeyed, whose authority is held as beyond appeal, and in the
school conducted either by the church or by civil authority, the
duty of enforcing perfect discipline is regarded as quite as
imperative as that of demanding well-learned lessons.

Passing through these institutions, the young European enters the
military school with as little thought of disputing any order
which may be given him as of arguing with the priest who states a
theological truth from the pulpit. And, indeed, had he been
reared under the tutelage of one of those modern silver-tongued
American pedagogues, who make gentle requests lest they should
elicit antagonism by commands, the military school should soon
completely alter the complexion of his ideas, for he would find
his failures in the execution of orders treated as disobedience.
He would not be punished at first, it is true, but pretty
theories that he was nervous, or ill, or the victim of hereditary
disability, or of fibre too delicately attenuated to perform any
required act, would not be admitted except, indeed, as a reason
for expulsion. Moreover, the tests to which he would be compelled
to submit before this escape from discipline lay open to him,
would be neither slight nor easily borne, for the European
military teacher has yet to learn the existence of that exquisite
personal dignity which is hopelessly blighted by corporal
punishment or infractions of discipline.

"Will you teach me how to ride, sir?" asked a Boston man of a
Hungarian soldier, one of the pioneers among Boston instructors.

"Will I teach you! Eh! I don't know," said the exile dolefully,
for during his few weeks in the city, he had seen something of
the ways of the American who fancies himself desirous of being
taught. "Perhaps you will learn, but will--I--teach--you?
You can ride?"

"A little."

"Very well! Mount that horse, and ride around the ring."

Away went the pupil, doing his best, but before he had traversed
two sides of the school, the master shouted to the horse, and the
pupil was sitting in the tan. He picked himself up, and returned
to the mounting-stand, saying: "Will you tell me how to stay on
next time?"

"I will," cried the Hungarian in a small ecstasy; "and I will
make a rider of you!" And he did, too, and certainly took as much
pleasure in his pupil in the long course of instruction which
followed, and in the resultant proficiency.

In European riding-schools for ladies, there is, of course, no
resort to corporal punishment, but there is none of that careful
abstention from telling disagreeable truths which popular
ignorance extracts from American teachers in all schools, except
in the military and naval academies. Indeed, the need of it is
hardly felt, for that peculiar self-consciousness which makes an
American awkward under observation and restive under reproof is
scarcely found in countries not democratic, and the "I'm ez good ez
you be" feeling that is at the bottom of American intractability,
has no chance to flourish in lands where position is a matter of
birth and not of self-assertion.

A French woman, compelled to make part of her toilet in a railway
waiting-room under the eyes of half a score of enemies, that is
to say, of ten other women, arranges her tresses, purchased or
natural, uses powder-puff and hare's foot if she choose, and turns
away from the mirror armed for conquest; but an American similarly
situated, forgets half her hair-pins, does not dare to wash her


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