On Horsemanship

Etext prepared by John Bickers, jbickers@templar.actrix.gen.nz.

On Horsemanship

By Xenophon

Translation by H. G. Dakyns

Xenophon the Athenian was born 431 B.C. He was a
pupil of Socrates. He marched with the Spartans,
and was exiled from Athens. Sparta gave him land
and property in Scillus, where he lived for many
years before having to move once more, to settle
in Corinth. He died in 354 B.C.

On Horsemanship advises the reader on how to buy
a good horse, and how to raise it to be either a
war horse or show horse. Xenophon ends with some
words on military equipment for a cavalryman.


This was typed from Dakyns' series, "The Works of Xenophon," a
four-volume set. The complete list of Xenophon's works (though
there is doubt about some of these) is:

Work Number of books

The Anabasis 7
The Hellenica 7
The Cyropaedia 8
The Memorabilia 4
The Symposium 1
The Economist 1
On Horsemanship 1
The Sportsman 1
The Cavalry General 1
The Apology 1
On Revenues 1
The Hiero 1
The Agesilaus 1
The Polity of the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians 2

Text in brackets "{}" is my transliteration of Greek text into
English using an Oxford English Dictionary alphabet table. The
diacritical marks have been lost.



Claiming to have attained some proficiency in horsemanship[1]
ourselves, as the result of long experience in the field, our wish is
to explain, for the benefit of our younger friends, what we conceive
to be the most correct method of dealing with horses.

[1] Lit. "Since, through the accident of having for a long time
'ridden' ourselves, we believe we have become proficients in
horsemanship, we wish to show to our younger friends how, as we
conceive the matter, they will proceed most correctly in dealing
with horses." {ippeuein} in the case of Xenophon = serve as a
{ippeus}, whether technically as an Athenian "knight" or more
particularly in reference to his organisation of a troop of
cavalry during "the retreat" ("Anab." III. iii. 8-20), and, as is
commonly believed, while serving under Agesilaus ("Hell." III. iv.
14) in Asia, 396, 395 B.C.

There is, it is true, a treatise on horsemanship written by Simon, the
same who dedicated the bronze horse near the Eleusinion in Athens[2]
with a representation of his exploits engraved in relief on the
pedestal.[3] But we shall not on that account expunge from our
treatise any conclusions in which we happen to agree with that author;
on the contrary we shall hand them on with still greater pleasure to
our friends, in the belief that we shall only gain in authority from
the fact that so great an expert in horsemanship held similar views to
our own; whilst with regard to matters omitted in his treatise, we
shall endeavour to supply them.

[2] L. Dind. [in Athens]. The Eleusinion. For the position of this
sanctuary of Demeter and Kore see Leake, "Top. of Athens," i. p.
296 foll. For Simon see Sauppe, vol. v. Praef. to "de R. E." p.
230; L. Dind. Praef. "Xen. Opusc." p. xx.; Dr. Morris H. Morgan,
"The Art of Horsemanship by Xenophon," p. 119 foll. A fragment of
the work referred to, {peri eidous kai ekloges ippon}, exists. The
MS. is in the library of Emmanual Coll. Cant. It so happens that
one of the hipparchs (?) appealed to by Demosthenes in Arist.
"Knights," 242,

{andres ippes, paragenesthe nun o kairos, o Simon,
o Panaiti, ouk elate pros to dexion keras};

bears the name.

[3] Lit. "and carved on the pedestal a representation of his own

As our first topic we shall deal with the question, how a man may best
avoid being cheated in the purchase of a horse.

Take the case of a foal as yet unbroken: it is plain that our scrutiny
must begin with the body; an animal that has never yet been mounted
can but present the vaguest indications of spirit. Confining ourselves
therefore to the body, the first point to examine, we maintain, will
be the feet. Just as a house would be of little use, however beautiful
its upper stories, if the underlying foundations were not what they
ought to be, so there is little use to be extracted from a horse, and
in particular a war-horse,[4] if unsound in his feet, however
excellent his other points; since he could not turn a single one of
them to good account.[5]

[4] Or, "and that a charger, we will suppose." For the simile see
"Mem." III. i. 7.

[5] Cf. Hor. "Sat." I. ii. 86:

regibus hic mos est: ubi equos mercantur, opertos
inspiciunt, ne, si facies, ut saepe, decora
molli fulta pede est, emptorem inducat hiantem,
quod pulchrae clunes, breve quod caput, ardua cervix.

and see Virg. "Georg." iii. 72 foll.

In testing the feet the first thing to examine will be the horny
portion of the hoof. For soundness of foot a thick horn is far better
than a thin. Again it is important to notice whether the hoofs are
high both before and behind, or flat to the ground; for a high hoof
keeps the "frog,"[6] as it is called, well off the ground; whereas a
low hoof treads equally with the stoutest and softest part of the foot
alike, the gait resembling that of a bandy-legged man.[7] "You may
tell a good foot clearly by the ring," says Simon happily;[8] for the
hollow hoof rings like a cymbal against the solid earth.[9]

[6] Lit. "the swallow."

[7] Al. "a knock-kneed person." See Stonehenge, "The Horse" (ed.
1892), pp. 3, 9.

[8] Or, "and he is right."

[9] Cf. Virg. "Georg." iii. 88; Hor. "Epod." xvi. 12.

And now that we have begun with the feet, let us ascend from this
point to the rest of the body. The bones[10] above the hoof and below
the fetlock must not be too straight, like those of a goat; through
not being properly elastic,[11] legs of this type will jar the rider,
and are more liable to become inflamed. On the other hand, these bones
must not be too low, or else the fetlock will be abraded or lacerated
when the horse is galloped over clods and stones.

[10] i.e. "the pasterns ({mesokunia}) and the coffin should be

[11] Or, "being too inflexible." Lit. "giving blow for blow, overuch
like anvil to hammer."

The bones of the shanks[12] ought to be thick, being as they are the
columns on which the body rests; thick in themselves, that is, not
puffed out with veins or flesh; or else in riding over hard ground
they will inevitably be surcharged with blood, and varicose conditions
be set up,[13] the legs becoming thick and puffy, whilst the skin
recedes; and with this loosening of the skin the back sinew[14] is
very apt to start and render the horse lame.

[12] i.e. "the metacarpals and metatarsals."

[13] Or, "and become varicose, with the result that the shanks swell
whilst the skin recedes from the bone."

[14] Or, "suspensory ligament"? Possibly Xenophon's anatomy is wrong,
and he mistook the back sinew for a bone like the fibula. The part
in question might intelligibly enough, if not technically, be
termed {perone}, being of the brooch-pin order.

If the young horse in walking bends his knees flexibly, you may safely
conjecture that when he comes to be ridden he will have flexible legs,
since the quality of suppleness invariably increases with age.[15]
Supple knees are highly esteemed and with good reason, rendering as
they do the horse less liable to stumble or break down from fatigue
than those of stiffer build.

[15] Lit. "all horses bend their legs more flexibly as time advances."

Coming to the thighs below the shoulder-blades,[16] or arms, these if
thick and muscular present a stronger and handsomer appearance, just
as in the case of a human being. Again, a comparatively broad chest is
better alike for strength and beauty, and better adapted to carry the
legs well asunder, so that they will not overlap and interfere with
one another. Again, the neck should not be set on dropping forward
from the chest, like a boar's, but, like that of a game-cock rather,
it should shoot upwards to the crest, and be slack[17] along the
curvature; whilst the head should be bony and the jawbone small. In
this way the neck will be well in front of the rider, and the eye will
command what lies before the horse's feet. A horse, moreover, of this
build, however spirited, will be least capable of overmastering the
rider,[18] since it is not by arching but by stretching out his neck
and head that a horse endeavours to assert his power.[19]

[16] Lit. "the thighs below the shoulder-blades" are distinguished
from "the thighs below the tail." They correspond respectively to
our "arms" (i.e. forearms) and "gaskins," and anatomically
speaking = the radius (os brachii) and the tibia.

[17] "Slack towards the flexure" (Stonehenge).

[18] Or, "of forcing the rider's hand and bolting."

[19] Or, "to display violence or run away."

It is important also to observe whether the jaws are soft or hard on
one or other side, since as a rule a horse with unequal jaws[20] is
liable to become hard-mouthed on one side.

[20] Or, "whose bars are not equally sensitive."

Again, a prominent rather than a sunken eye is suggestive of
alertness, and a horse of this type will have a wider range of vision.

And so of the nostrils: a wide-dilated nostril is at once better than
a contracted one for respiration, and gives the animal a fiercer
aspect. Note how, for instance, when one stallion is enraged against
another, or when his spirit chafes in being ridden,[21] the nostrils
at once become dilated.

[21] Or, "in the racecourse or on the exercising-ground how readily he
distends his nostrils."

A comparatively large crest and small ears give a more typical and
horse-like appearance to the head, whilst lofty withers again allow
the rider a surer seat and a stronger adhesion between the shoulders
and the body.[22]

[22] Or if with L. D. [{kai to somati}], transl. "adhesion to the
horse's shoulders."

A "double spine,"[23] again, is at once softer to sit on than a
single, and more pleasing to the eye. So, too, a fairly deep side
somewhat rounded towards the belly[24] will render the animal at once
easier to sit and stronger, and as a general rule better able to
digest his food.[25]

[23] Reading after Courier {rakhis ge men}. See Virg. "Georg." iii.
87, "at duplex agitur per lumbos spina." "In a horse that is in
good case, the back is broad, and the spine does not stick up like
a ridge, but forms a kind of furrow on the back" (John Martyn); "a
full back," as we say.

[24] Or, "in proportion to." See Courier ("Du Commandement de la
Cavalerie at de l'Equitation": deux livres de Xenophon, traduits
par un officier d'artillerie a cheval), note ad loc. p. 83.

[25] i.e. "and keep in good condition."

The broader and shorter the loins the more easily will the horse raise
his forequarters and bring up his hindquarters under him. Given these
points, moreover, the belly will appear as small as possible, a
portion of the body which if large is partly a disfigurement and
partly tends to make the horse less strong and capable of carrying

[26] Al. "more feeble at once and ponderous in his gait."

The quarters should be broad and fleshy in correspondence with the
sides and chest, and if they are also firm and solid throughout they
will be all the lighter for the racecourse, and will render the horse
in every way more fleet.

To come to the thighs (and buttocks):[27] if the horse have these
separated by a broad line of demarcation[28] he will be able to plant
his hind-legs under him with a good gap between;[29] and in so doing
will assume a posture[30] and a gait in action at once prouder and
more firmly balanced, and in every way appear to the best advantage.

[27] Lit. "the thighs beneath the tail."

[28] Reading {plateia to gramme diorismenous ekhe}, sc. the perineum.
Al. Courier (after Apsyrtus), op. cit. p. 14, {plateis te kai me
diestrammenous}, "broad and not turned outwards."

[29] Or, "he will be sure to spread well behind," etc.

[30] {ton upobasin}, tech. of the crouching posture assumed by the
horse for mounting or "in doing the demi-passade" (so Morgan, op.
cit. p. 126).

The human subject would seem to point to this conclusion. When a man
wants to lift anything from off the ground he essays to do so by
bringing the legs apart and not by bringing them together.

A horse ought not to have large testicles, though that is not a point
to be determined in the colt.

And now, as regards the lower parts, the hocks,[31] or shanks and
fetlocks and hoofs, we have only to repeat what has been said already
about those of the fore-legs.

[31] {ton katothen astragelon, e knemon}, lit. "the under (or hinder?)
knuckle-bones (hocks?) or shins"; i.e. anatomically speaking, the
os calcis, astragalus, tarsals, and metatarsal large and small.

I will here note some indications by which one may forecast the
probable size of the grown animal. The colt with the longest shanks at
the moment of being foaled will grow into the biggest horse; the fact
being--and it holds of all the domestic quadrupeds[32]--that with
advance of time the legs hardly increase at all, while the rest of the
body grows uniformly up to these, until it has attained its proper

[32] Cf. Aristot. "de Part. Anim." iv. 10; "H. A." ii. 1; Plin. "N.
H." xi. 108.

Such is the type[33] of colt and such the tests to be applied, with
every prospect of getting a sound-footed, strong, and fleshy animal
fine of form and large of stature. If changes in some instances
develop during growth, that need not prevent us from applying our
tests in confidence. It far more often happens that an ugly-looking
colt will turn out serviceable,[34] than that a foal of the above
description will turn out ugly or defective.

[33] Lit. "by testing the shape of the colt in this way it seems to us
the purchaser will get," etc.

[34] For the vulg. {eukhroastoi}, a doubtful word = "well coloured,"
i.e. "sleek and healthy," L. & S. would read {eukhrooi} (cf. "Pol.
Lac." v. 8). L. Dind. conj. {enrostoi}, "robust"; Schneid.
{eukhrestoi}, "serviceable."


The right method of breaking a colt needs no description at our
hands.[1] As a matter of state organisation,[2] cavalry duties usually
devolve upon those who are not stinted in means, and who have a
considerable share in the government;[3] and it seems far better for a
young man to give heed to his own health of body and to horsemanship,
or, if he already knows how to ride with skill, to practising
manouvres, than that he should set up as a trainer of horses.[4] The
older man has his town property and his friends, and the hundred-and-
one concerns of state or of war, on which to employ his time and
energies rather than on horsebreaking. It is plain then that any one
holding my views[5] on the subject will put a young horse out to be
broken. But in so doing he ought to draw up articles, just as a father
does when he apprentices his son to some art or handicraft, stating
what sort of knowledge the young creature is to be sent back possessed
of. These will serve as indications[6] to the trainer what points he
must pay special heed to if he is to earn his fee. At the same time
pains should be taken on the owner's part to see that the colt is
gentle, tractable, and affectionate,[7] when delivered to the
professional trainer. That is a condition of things which for the most
part may be brought about at home and by the groom--if he knows how to
let the animal connect[8] hunger and thirst and the annoyance of flies
with solitude, whilst associating food and drink and escape from
sources of irritation with the presence of man. As the result of this
treatment, necessarily the young horse will acquire--not fondness
merely, but an absolute craving for human beings. A good deal can be
done by touching, stroking, patting those parts of the body which the
creature likes to have so handled. These are the hairiest parts, or
where, if there is anything annoying him, the horse can least of all
apply relief himself.

[1] Or, "The training of the colt is a topic which, as it seems to us,
may fairly be omitted, since those appointed for cavalry service
in these states are persons who," etc. For reading see Courier,
"Notes," p. 84.

[2] "Organisation in the several states."

[3] Or, "As a matter of fact it is the wealthiest members of the
state, and those who have the largest stake in civic life, that
are appointed to cavalry duties." See "Hippparch," i. 9.

[4] Cf. "Econ." iii. 10.

[5] {ego}. Hitherto the author has used the plural {emin} with which
he started.

[6] Reading {upodeigmata}, "finger-post signs," as it were, or "draft
in outline"; al. {upomnemata} = "memoranda."

[7] "Gentle, and accustomed to the hand, and fond of man."

[8] Lit. "if he knows how to provide that hunger and thirst, etc.,
should be felt by the colt in solitude, whilst food and drink,
etc., come through help of man."

The groom should have standing orders to take his charge through
crowds, and to make him familiar with all sorts of sights and noises;
and if the colt shows sign of apprehension at them,[9] he must teach
him--not by cruel, but by gentle handling--that they are not really

[9] Or, "is disposed to shy."

On this topic, then, of training,[10] the rules here given will, I
think, suffice for any private individual.

[10] Or, "In reference to horsebreaking, the above remarks will
perhaps be found sufficient for the practical guidance of an


To meet the case in which the object is to buy a horse already fit for
riding, we will set down certain memoranda,[1] which, if applied
intelligently, may save the purchaser from being cheated.

[1] "Which the purchaser should lay to heart, if he does not wish to
be cheated."

First, then, let there be no mistake about the age. If the horse has
lost his mark teeth,[2] not only will the purchaser's hopes be
blighted, but he may find himself saddled for ever with a sorry

[2] Or, "the milk teeth," i.e. is more than five years old. See
Morgan, p. 126.

[3] Lit. "a horse that has lost his milk teeth cannot be said to
gladden his owner's mind with hopes, and is not so easily disposed

Given that the fact of youth is well established, let there be no
mistake about another matter: how does he take the bit into his mouth
and the headstall[4] over his ears? There need be little ambiguity on
this score, if the purchaser will see the bit inserted and again
removed, under his eyes. Next, let it be carefully noted how the horse
stands being mounted. Many horses are extremely loath to admit the
approach of anything which, if once accepted, clearly means to them
enforced exertion.

[4] {koruphaia}, part of the {khalinos} gear.

Another point to ascertain is whether the horse, when mounted, can be
induced to leave other horses, or when being ridden past a group of
horses standing, will not bolt off to join the company. Some horses
again, as the result of bad training, will run away from the
exercising-ground and make for the stable. A hard mouth may be
detected by the exercise called the {pede} or volte,[5] and still more
so by varying the direction of the volte to right or left. Many horses
will not attempt to run away except for the concurrence of a bad mouth
along with an avenue of escape home.[6]

[5] See Sturz, s.v.; Pollux, i. 219. Al. "the longe," but the passage
below (vii. 14) is suggestive rather of the volte.

[6] Al. "will only attempt to bolt where the passage out towards home
combines, as it were, with a bad mouth." {e . . . ekphora} = "the
exit from the manege or riding school."

Another point which it is necessary to learn is, whether when let go
at full speed the horse can be pulled up[7] sharp and is willing to
wheel round in obedience to the rein.

[7] {analambanetai}, "come to the poise" (Morgan). For
{apostrephesthai} see ix.6; tech. "caracole."

It is also well to ascertain by experience if the horse you propose to
purchase will show equal docility in response to the whip. Every one
knows what a useless thing a servant is, or a body of troops, that
will not obey. A disobedient horse is not only useless, but may easily
play the part of an arrant traitor.

And since it is assumed that the horse to be purchased is intended for
war, we must widen our test to include everything which war itself can
bring to the proof: such as leaping ditches, scrambling over walls,
scaling up and springing off high banks. We must test his paces by
galloping him up and down steep pitches and sharp inclines and along a
slant. For each and all of these will serve as a touchstone to gauge
the endurance of his spirit and the soundness of his body.

I am far from saying, indeed, that because an animal fails to perform
all these parts to perfection, he must straightway be rejected; since
many a horse will fall short at first, not from inability, but from
want of experience. With teaching, practice, and habit, almost any
horse will come to perform all these feats beautifully, provided he be
sound and free from vice. Only you must beware of a horse that is
naturally of a nervous temperament. An over-timorous animal will not
only prevent the rider from using the vantage-ground of its back to
strike an enemy, but is as likely as not to bring him to earth
himself and plunge him into the worst of straits.

We must, also, find out of the horse shows any viciousness towards
other horses or towards human beings; also, whether he is skittish;[8]
such defects are apt to cause his owner trouble.

[8] Or, "very ticklish."

As to any reluctance on the horse's part to being bitted or mounted,
dancing and twisting about and the rest,[9] you will get a more exact
idea on this score, if, when he has gone through his work, you will
try and repeat the precise operations which he went through before you
began your ride. Any horse that having done his work shows a readiness
to undergo it all again, affords sufficient evidence thereby of spirit
and endurance.

[9] Reading {talla dineumata}, lit. "and the rest of his twistings and
twirlings about."

To put the matter in a nutshell: given that the horse is sound-footed,
gentle, moderately fast, willing and able to undergo toil, and above
all things[10] obedient--such an animal, we venture to predict, will
give the least trouble and the greatest security to his rider in the
circumstances of war; while, conversely, a beast who either out of
sluggishness needs much driving, or from excess of mettle much coaxing
and manouvring, will give his rider work enough to occupy both his
hands and a sinking of the heart when dangers thicken.

[10] Al. "thoroughly."


We will now suppose the purchaser has found a horse which he
admires;[1] the purchase is effected, and he has brought him home--how
is he to be housed? It is best that the stable should be placed in a
quarter of the establishment where the master will see the horse as
often as possible.[2] It is a good thing also to have his stall so
arranged that there will be as little risk of the horse's food being
stolen from the manger, as of the master's from his larder or store-
closet. To neglect a detail of this kind is surely to neglect oneself;
since in the hour of danger, it is certain, the owner has to consign
himself, life and limb, to the safe keeping of his horse.

[1] Lit. "To proceed: when you have bought a horse which you admire
and have brought him home."

[2] i.e. "where he will be brought as frequently as possible under the
master's eye." Cf. "Econ." xii. 20.

Nor is it only to avoid the risk of food being stolen that a secure
horse-box is desirable, but for the further reason that if the horse
takes to scattering his food, the action is at once detected; and any
one who observes that happening may take it as a sign and symptom
either of too much blood,[3] which calls for veterinary aid, or of
over-fatigue, for which rest is the cure, or else that an attack of
indigestion[4] or some other malady is coming on. And just as with
human beings, so with the horse, all diseases are more curable at
their commencement[5] than after they have become chronic, or been
wrongly treated.[6]

[3] "A plethoric condition of the blood."

[4] {krithiasis}. Lit. "barley surfeit"; "une fourbure." See Aristot.
"H. A." viii. 24. 4.

[5] i.e. "in the early acute stages."

[6] Al. "and the mischief has spread."

But if food and exercise with a view to strengthening the horse's body
are matters of prime consideration, no less important is it to pay
attention to the feet. A stable with a damp and smooth floor will
spoil the best hoof which nature can give.[7] To prevent the floor
being damp, it should be sloped with channels; and to avoid
smoothness, paved with cobble stones sunk side by side in the ground
and similar in size to the horse's hoofs.[8] A stable floor of this
sort is calculated to strengthen the horse's feet by the mere pressure
on the part in standing. In the next place it will be the groom's
business to lead out the horse somewhere to comb and curry him; and
after his morning's feed to unhalter him from the manger,[9] so that
he may come to his evening meal with greater relish. To secure the
best type of stable-yard, and with a view to strengthening the horse's
feet, I would suggest to take and throw down loosely[10] four or five
waggon loads of pebbles, each as large as can be grasped in the hand,
and about a pound in weight; the whole to be fenced round with a
skirting of iron to prevent scattering. The mere standing on these
will come to precisely the same thing as if for a certain portion of
the day the horse were, off and on, stepping along a stony road;
whilst being curried or when fidgeted by flies he will be forced to
use his hoofs just as much as if he were walking. Nor is it the hoofs
merely, but a surface so strewn with stones will tend to harden the
frog of the foot also.

[7] Lit. "A damp and smooth floor may be the ruin of a naturally good
hoof." It will be understood that the Greeks did not shoe their

[8] See Courier, p. 54, for an interesting experiment tried by himself
at Bari.

[9] Cf. "Hipparch," i. 16.

[10] Or, "spread so as to form a surface."

But if care is needed to make the hoofs hard, similar pains should be
taken to make the mouth and jaws soft; and the same means and
appliances which will render a man's flesh and skin soft, will serve
to soften and supple a horse's mouth.[11]

[11] Or, "may be used with like effect on a horse's mouth," i.e.
bathing, friction, oil. See Pollux, i. 201.


It is the duty of a horseman, as we think, to have his groom trained
thoroughly in all that concerns the treatment of the horse. In the
first place, then, the groom should know that he is never to knot the
halter[1] at the point where the headstall is attached to the horse's
head. By constantly rubbing his head against the manger, if the halter
does not sit quite loose about his ears, the horse will be constantly
injuring himself;[2] and with sores so set up, it is inevitable that
he should show peevishness, while being bitted or rubbed down.

[1] Lit. "by which the horse is tied to the manger"; "licol d'ecurie."

[2] Al. "in nine cases out of ten he rubs his head . . . and ten to
one will make a sore."

It is desirable that the groom should be ordered to carry out the dung
and litter of the horse to some one place each day. By so doing, he
will discharge the duty with least trouble to himself,[3] and at the
same time be doing the horse a kindness.

[3] Al. "get rid of the refuse in the easiest way."

The groom should also be instructed to attach the muzzle to the
horse's mouth, both when taking him out to be groomed and to the
rolling-ground.[4] In fact he should always muzzle him whenever he
takes him anywhere without the bit. The muzzle, while it is no
hindrance to respiration, prevents biting; and when attached it serves
to rob the horse of opportunity for vice.[5]

[4] Cf. "Econ." xi. 18; Aristoph. "Clouds," 32.

[5] Or, "prevents the horse from carrying out vicious designs."

Again, care should be taken to tie the horse up with the halter above
his head. A horse's natural instinct, in trying to rid himself of
anything that irritates the face, is to toss up his head, and by this
upward movement, if so tied, he only slackens the chain instead of
snapping it. In rubbing the horse down, the groom should begin with
the head and mane; as until the upper parts are clean, it is vain to
cleanse the lower; then, as regards the rest of the body, first brush
up the hair, by help of all the ordinary implements for cleansing, and
then beat out the dust, following the lie of the hair. The hair on the
spine (and dorsal region) ought not to be touched with any instrument
whatever; the hand alone should be used to rub and smooth it, and in
the direction of its natural growth, so as to preserve from injury
that part of the horse's back on which the rider sits.

The head should be drenched with water simply; for, being bony, if you
try to cleanse it with iron or wooden instruments injury may be
caused. So, too, the forelock should be merely wetted; the long hairs
of which it is composed, without hindering the animal's vision, serve
to scare away from the eyes anything that might trouble them.
Providence, we must suppose,[6] bestowed these hairs upon the horse,
instead of the large ears which are given to the ass and the mule as a
protection to the eyes.[7] The tail, again, and mane should be washed,
the object being to help the hairs to grow--those in the tail so as to
allow the creature the greatest reach possible in brushing away
molesting objects,[8] and those of the neck in order that the rider
may have as free a grip as possible.

[6] Lit. "The gods, we must suppose, gave . . ."

[7] Lit. "as defences or protective bulwarks."

[8] Insects, etc.

Mane, forelock, and tail are triple gifts bestowed by the gods upon
the horse for the sake of pride and ornament,[9] and here is the
proof: a brood mare, so long as her mane is long and flowing, will not
readily suffer herself to be covered by an ass; hence breeders of
mules take care to clip the mane of the mare with a view to

[9] {aglaias eneka} (a poetic word). Cf. "Od." xv. 78; xvii. 310.

[10] For this belief Schneid. cf Aristot. "H. A." vi. 18; Plin. viii.
42; Aelian, "H. A." ii. 10, xi. 18, xii. 16, to which Dr. Morgan
aptly adds Soph. "Fr." 587 (Tyro), a beautiful passage, {komes de
penthos lagkhano polou diken, k.t.l.} (cf. Plut. "Mor." 754 A).

Washing of the legs we are inclined to dispense with--no good is done
but rather harm to the hoofs by this daily washing. So, too, excessive
cleanliness of the belly is to be discouraged; the operation itself is
most annoying to the horse; and the cleaner these parts are made, the
thicker the swarm of troublesome things which collect beneath the
belly. Besides which, however elaborately you clean these parts, the
horse is no sooner led out than presently he will be just as dirty as
if he had not been cleaned. Omit these ablutions then, we say; and
similarly for the legs, rubbing and currying by hand is quite


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[13] As a member of the cavalry.

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


The master, let us suppose, has received his horse and is ready to
mount.[1] We will now prescribe certain rules to be observed in the
interests not only of the horseman but of the animal which he
bestrides. First, then, he should take the leading rein, which hangs
from the chin-strap or nose-band,[2] conveniently in his left hand,
held slack so as not to jerk the horse's mouth, whether he means to
mount by hoisting himself up, catching hold of the mane behind the
ears, or to vault on to horseback by help of his spear. With the right
hand he should grip the reins along with a tuft of hair beside the
shoulder-joint,[3] so that he may not in any way wrench the horse's
mouth with the bit while mounting. In the act of taking the spring off
the ground for mounting,[4] he should hoist his body by help of the
left hand, and with the right at full stretch assist the upward
movement[5] (a position in mounting which will present a graceful
spectacle also from behind);[6] at the same time with the leg well
bent, and taking care not to place his knee on the horse's back, he
must pass his leg clean over to the off side; and so having brought
his foot well round, plant himself firmly on his seat.[7]

[1] Reading {otan . . . paradexetai . . . os anabesomenos}. Or,
reading {otan paradexetai ton ippea (sc. o. ippos) ws
anabesomenon}, transl. "the horse has been brought round ready for

[2] So Courier, "la muserolle." It might be merely a stitched leather
strap or made of a chain in part, which rattled; as
{khrusokhalinon patagon psalion} (Aristoph. "Peace," 155) implies.
"Curb" would be misleading.

[3] "Near the withers."

[4] Or, "as soon as he has got the springing poise preliminary to

[5] "Give himself simultaneously a lift." Reading {ekteinon}, or if
{enteinon}, "keeping his right arm stiff."

[6] Or, "a style of mounting which will obviate an ungainly attitude

[7] Lit. "lower his buttocks on to the horse's back."

To meet the case in which the horseman may chance to be leading his
horse with the left hand and carrying his spear in the right, it would
be good, we think, for every one to practise vaulting on to his seat
from the right side also. In fact, he has nothing else to learn except
to do with his right limbs what he has previously done with the left,
and vice versa. And the reason we approve of this method of mounting
is[8] that it enables the soldier at one and the same instant to get
astride of his horse and to find himself prepared at all points,
supposing he should have to enter the lists of battle on a sudden.

[8] Lit. "One reason for the praise which we bestow on this method of
mounting is that at the very instant of gaining his seat the
soldier finds himself fully prepared to engage the enemy on a
sudden, if occasion need."

But now, supposing the rider fairly seated, whether bareback or on a
saddle-cloth, a good seat is not that of a man seated on a chair, but
rather the pose of a man standing upright with his legs apart. In this
way he will be able to hold on to the horse more firmly by his thighs;
and this erect attitude will enable him to hurl a javelin or to strike
a blow from horseback, if occasion calls, with more vigorous effect.
The leg and foot should hang loosely from the knee; by keeping the leg
stiff, the rider is apt to have it broken in collision with some
obstacle; whereas a flexible leg[9] will yield to the impact, and at
the same time not shift the thigh from its position. The rider should
also accustom the whole of his body above the hips to be as supple as
possible; for thus he will enlarge his scope of action, and in case of
a tug or shove be less liable to be unseated. Next, when the rider is
seated, he must, in the first place, teach his horse to stand quiet,
until he has drawn his skirts from under him, if need be,[10] and got
the reins an equal length and grasped his spear in the handiest
fashion; and, in the next place, he should keep his left arm close to
his side. This position will give the rider absolute ease and
freedom,[11] and his hand the firmest hold.

[9] i.e. "below the knee"; "shin and calf."

[10] Lit. "pulled up" (and arranged the folds of his mantle).

[11] {eustalestatos}, "the most business-like deportment."

As to reins, we recommend those which are well balanced, without being
weak or slippery or thick, so that when necessary, the hand which
holds them can also grasp a spear.

As soon as the rider gives the signal to the horse to start,[12] he
should begin at a walking pace, which will tend to allay his
excitement. If the horse is inclined to droop his head, the reins
should be held pretty high; or somewhat low, if he is disposed to
carry his head high. This will set off the horse's bearing to the best
advantage. Presently, as he falls into a natural trot,[13] he will
gradually relax his limbs without the slightest suffering, and so come
more agreeably to the gallop.[14] Since, too, the preference is given
to starting on the left foot, it will best conduce to that lead if,
while the horse is still trotting, the signal to gallop should be
given at the instant of making a step with his right foot.[15] As he
is on the point of lifting his left foot he will start upon it, and
while turning left will simultaneously make the first bound of the
gallop;[16] since, as a matter of instinct, a horse, on being turned
to the right, leads off with his right limbs, and to the left with his

[12] "Forwards!"

[13] Or, "the true trot."

[14] {epirrabdophorein}, "a fast pace in response to a wave of the

[15] See Berenger, i. p. 249; also the "Cavalry Drill Book," Part I.
Equitation, S. 22, "The Canter."

[16] {tes episkeliseos}, "he will make the forward stride of the
gallop in the act of turning to the left." See Morgan ad loc.

As an exercise, we recommend what is called the volte,[17] since it
habituates the animal to turn to either hand; while a variation in the
order of the turn is good as involving an equalisation of both sides
of the mouth, in first one, and then the other half of the
exercise.[18] But of the two we commend the oval form of the volte
rather than the circular; for the horse, being already sated with the
straight course, will be all the more ready to turn, and will be
practised at once in the straight course and in wheeling. At the
curve, he should be held up,[19] because it is neither easy nor indeed
safe when the horse is at full speed to turn sharp, especially if the
ground is broken[20] or slippery.

[17] {pede}, figure of eight.

[18] Or, "on first one and then the other half of the manege."

[19] {upolambanein}. See "Hipparch," iii. 14; "Hunting," iii. 10; vi.
22, of a dog.

[20] {apokroton}, al. {epikroton}, "beaten, hard-trodden ground."

But in collecting him, the rider should as little as possible sway the
horse obliquely with the bit, and as little as possible incline his
own body; or, he may rest assured, a trifle will suffice to stretch
him and his horse full length upon the ground. The moment the horse
has his eyes fixed on the straight course after making a turn, is the
time to urge him to full speed. In battle, obviously, these turns and
wheelings are with a view to charging or retiring; consequently, to
practise quickening the pace after wheeling is desirable. When the
horse seems to have had enough of the manege, it would be good to give
him a slight pause, and then suddenly to put him to his quickest, away
from his fellows first,[21] and now towards them; and then again to
quiet him down in mid-career as short as possible;[22] and from halt
once more to turn him right-about and off again full charge. It is
easy to predict that the day will come when there will be need of each
of these manouvres.

[21] {mentoi}, "of course."

[22] Or, "within the narrowest compass"; "as finely as possible."

When the moment to dismount has come, you should never do so among
other horses, nor near a group of people,[23] nor outside the
exercising-ground; but on the precise spot which is the scene of his
compulsory exertion there let the horse find also relaxation.[24]

[23] Or, "a knot of bystanders"; cf. Thuc. ii. 21.

[24] Or, as we say, "be caressed, and dismissed."


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[10] Or, "manipulated."

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9] "Behaves compliantly."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


If, however, the wish is to secure a horse adapted to parade and state
processions, a high stepper and a showy[1] animal, these are qualities
not to be found combined in every horse, but to begin with, the animal
must have high spirit and a stalwart body. Not that, as some think, a
horse with flexible legs will necessarily be able to rear his body.
What we want is a horse with supple loins, and not supple only but
short and strong (I do not mean the loins towards the tail, but by the
belly the region between the ribs and thighs). That is the horse who
will be able to plant his hind-legs well under the forearm. If while
he is so planting his hind-quarters, he is pulled up with the bit, he
lowers his hind-legs on his hocks[2] and raises the forepart of his
body, so that any one in front of him will see the whole length of his
belly to the sheath.[3] At the moment the horse does this, the rider
should give him the rein, so that he may display the noblest feats
which a horse can perform of his own free will, to the satisfaction of
the spectators.

[1] {lampros}. Cf. Isae. xi. 41 ("On the estate of Hagnias"), Lys.
xix. 63 ("de Bon. Arist.").

[2] See Berenger, ii. 68.

[3] Lit. "testicles."

There are, indeed, other methods of teaching these arts.[4] Some do so
by touching the horse with a switch under the hocks, others employ an
attendant to run alongside and strike the horse with a stick under the
gaskins. For ourselves, however, far the best method of
instruction,[5] as we keep repeating, is to let the horse feel that
whatever he does in obedience to the rider's wishes will be followed
by some rest and relaxation.

[4] Lit. "People, it must be admitted, claim to teach these arts in
varous ways--some by . . . others by bidding . . ."

[5] Reading {didaskalion}, al. {didaskalion}, "systems." Schneid. cf.
Herod. v. 58.

To quote a dictum of Simon, what a horse does under compulsion he does
blindly, and his performance is no more beautiful than would be that
of a ballet-dancer taught by whip and goad. The performances of horse
or man so treated would seem to be displays of clumsy gestures rather
than of grace and beauty. What we need is that the horse should of his
own accord exhibit his finest airs and paces at set signals.[6]
Supposing, when he is in the riding-field,[7] you push him to a gallop
until he is bathed in sweat, and when he begins to prance and show his
airs to fine effect, you promptly dismount and take off the bit, you
may rely upon it he will of his own accord another time break into the
same prancing action. Such are the horses on which gods and heroes
ride, as represented by the artist. The majesty of men themselves is
best discovered in the graceful handling of such animals.[8] A horse
so prancing is indeed a thing of beauty, a wonder and a marvel;
riveting the gaze of all who see him, young alike and graybeards. They
will never turn their backs, I venture to predict, or weary of their
gazing so long as he continues to display his splendid action.

[6] Or, "by aids and signs," as we say.

[7] Or, "exercising-ground."

[8] Or, "and the man who knows how to manage such a creature
gracefully himself at once appears magnificent."

If the possessor of so rare a creature should find himself by chance
in the position of a squadron leader or a general of cavalry, he must
not confine his zeal to the development of his personal splendour, but
should study all the more to make the troop or regiment a splendid
spectacle. Supposing (in accordance with the high praise bestowed upon
the type of animal)[9] the leader is mounted on a horse which with his
high airs and frequent prancing makes but the slightest movement
forward--obviously the rest of the troop must follow at a walking
pace, and one may fairly ask where is the element of splendour in the
spectacle? But now suppose that you, sir, being at the head of the
procession, rouse your horse and take the lead at a pace neither too
fast nor yet too slow, but in a way to bring out the best qualities in
all the animals, their spirit, fire, grace of mien and bearing ripe
for action--I say, if you take the lead of them in this style, the
collective thud, the general neighing and the snorting of the horses
will combine to render not only you at the head, but your whole
company[10] down to the last man a thrilling spectacle.

[9] Reading as vulg. {os malista epainousi tous toioutous ippous, os}.
L. Dind. omits the words as a gloss.

[10] Reading {oi} (for {osoi}) {sumparepomenoi}. See Hartmann, "An.
Xen. Nov." xiv. p. 343.

One word more. Supposing a man has shown some skill in purchasing his
horses, and can rear them into strong and serviceable animals,
supposing further he can handle them in the right way, not only in the
training for war, but in exercises with a view to display, or lastly,
in the stress of actual battle, what is there to prevent such a man
from making every horse he owns of far more value in the end than when
he bought it, with the further outlook that, unless some power higher
than human interpose,[11] he will become the owner of a celebrated
stable, and himself as celebrated for his skill in horsemanship.

[11] Or, "there is nothing, humanly speaking, to prevent such a man."
For the phrase see "Mem." I. iii. 5; cf. "Cyrop." I. vi. 18; and
for the advice, "Econ." iii. 9, 10.


We will now describe the manner in which a trooper destined to run the
risks of battle upon horseback should be armed. In the first place,
then, we would insist, the corselet must be made to fit the person;
since, if it fits well, its weight will be distributed over the whole
body; whereas, if too loose, the shoulders will have all the weight to
bear, while, if too tight, the corselet is no longer a defensive arm,
but a "strait jacket."[1] Again, the neck, as being a vital part,[2]
ought to have, as we maintain, a covering, appended to the corselet
and close-fitting. This will serve as an ornament, and if made as it
ought to be, will conceal the rider's face--if so he chooses--up to
the nose.

[1] Cf. "Mem." III. x.

[2] L. Dind. cf. Hom. "Il." viii. 326:

{. . . othi kleis apoergei
aukhena te stethos te, malista de kairion estin.}

"Where the collar-bone fenceth off neck and breast, and where is
the most deadly spot" (W. Leaf).

As to the helmet, the best kind, in our opinion, is one of the
Boeotian pattern,[3] on the principle again, that it covers all the
parts exposed above the breastplate without hindering vision. Another
point: the corselet should be so constructed that it does not prevent
its wearer sitting down or stooping. About the abdomen and the
genitals and parts surrounding[4] flaps should be attached in texture
and in thickness sufficient to protect[5] that region.

[3] Schneider cf. Aelian, "V. H." iii. 24; Pollux, i. 149.

[4] Schneider cf. "Anab." IV. vii. 15, and for {kai ta kuklo}, conj.
{kuklo}, "the abdomen and middle should be encircled by a skirt."

[5] Lit. "let there be wings of such sort, size, and number as to
protect the limbs."

Again, as an injury to the left hand may disable the horseman, we
would recommend the newly-invented piece of armour called the
gauntlet, which protects the shoulder, arm, and elbow, with the hand
engaged in holding the reins, being so constructed as to extend and
contract; in addition to which it covers the gap left by the corselet
under the armpit. The case is different with the right hand, which the
horseman must needs raise to discharge a javelin or strike a blow.
Here, accordingly, any part of the corselet which would hinder action
out to be removed; in place of which the corselet ought to have some
extra flaps[6] at the joints, which as the outstretched arm is raised
unfold, and as the arm descends close tight again. The arm itself,[7]
it seems to us, will better be protected by a piece like a greave
stretched over it than bound up with the corselet. Again, the part
exposed when the right hand is raised should be covered close to the
corselet either with calfskin or with metal; or else there will be a
want of protection just at the most vital point.

[6] {prosthetai}, "moveable," "false." For {gigglumois} L. & S. cf.
Hipp. 411. 12; Aristot. "de An." iii. 10. 9 = "ball-and-socket

[7] i.e. "forearm."

Moreover, as any damage done to the horse will involve his rider in
extreme peril, the horse also should be clad in armour--frontlet,
breastplate, and thigh-pieces;[8] which latter may at the same time
serve as cuisses for the mounted man. Beyond all else, the horse's
belly, being the most vital and defenceless part, should be protected.
It is possible to protect it with the saddle-cloth. The saddle itself
should be of such sort and so stitched as to give the rider a firm
seat, and yet not gall the horse's back.

[8] Cf. "Cyrop." VI. iv. 1; VII. i. 2.

As regards the limbs in general, both horse and rider may be looked
upon as fully armed. The only parts remaining are the shins and feet,
which of course protrude beyond the cuisses, but these also may be
armed by the addition of gaiters made of leather like that used for
making sandals. And thus you will have at once defensive armour for
the shins and stockings for the feet.

The above, with the blessing of heaven, will serve for armour of
defence. To come to weapons of offence, we recommend the sabre rather
than the straight sword,[9] since from the vantage-ground of the
horse's position the curved blade will descend with greater force than
the ordinary weapon.

[9] The {makhaira} (or {kopis}), Persian fashion, rather than the
{xephos}. "Cyrop." I. ii. 13.

Again, in place of the long reed spear, which is apt to be weak and
awkward to carry, we would substitute two darts of cornel-wood;[10]
the one of which the skilful horseman can let fly, and still ply the
one reserved in all directions, forwards, backwards,[11] and
obliquely; add to that, these smaller weapons are not only stronger
than the spear but far more manageable.

[10] For these reforms, the result of the author's Asiatic experiences
perhaps, cf. "Hell." III. iv. 14; "Anab." I. viii. 3; "Cyrop." I.
ii. 9.

[11] Reading {eis toupisthen} after Leoncl.

As regards range of discharge in shooting we are in favour of the
longest possible, as giving more time to rally[12] and transfer the
second javelin to the right hand. And here we will state shortly the
most effective method of hurling the javelin. The horseman should
throw forward his left side, while drawing back his right; then rising
bodily from the thighs, he should let fly the missile with the point
slightly upwards. The dart so discharged will carry with the greatest
force and to the farthest distance; we may add, too, with the truest
aim, if at the moment of discharge the lance be directed steadily on
the object aimed at.[13]

[12] Al. "to turn right-about."

[13] "If the lance is steadily eyeing the mark at the instant of

This treatise, consisting of notes and suggestions, lessons and
exercises suited to a private individual, must come to a conclusion;
the theory and practice of the matter suited to a cavalry commander
will be found developed in the companion treatise.[14]

[14] In reference to "The Cavalry General", or "Hipparch."


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