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Horse Training by Modern Methods

Horse Training by Modern Methods
Title: Horse Training by Modern Methods
Release Date: 2019-02-24
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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Galley Slave, a 2-year-old filly, is the present queen of Sagamore Farm. Last wintershe ran three times in California. She won all three races and set one world’s record.


Horse Training
Modern Methods

Allan Melvill Pope,
First Lieutenant of Cavalry, U. S. Army.



Copyright, 1912,
By Franklin Hudson Publishing Co.,
Kansas City, Mo.



The object of this book is to arrange in the mostconvenient, clear, and concise form the modern systemof horse-training, in so far as it is applicable to the trainingof horses in the mounted service of the United States.

No attempt has been made in any case to improveupon methods already deemed correct by the best horsemen;and as such methods can be found dealing with allpoints of training, it follows that the subject matter inthis book is not original. Where the best was to befound, there it has been sought, and where the authorsof previous works have expressed their ideas in languageconsidered the most concise and clear, their words havebeen copied verbatim, with due acknowledgement to theauthors.

I am indebted to the following for methods, theories,translation of technical terms, and improvised commandsherein contained:

  • To Major George H. Cameron, 14th Cavalry,
  • [4]Captain W. C. Short, 13th Cavalry,
  • Captain Guy V. Henry, Cavalry,
  • 1st Lieutenant Gordon Johnston, Cavalry,
  • 1st Lieutenant Joseph F. Taulbee, 2d Cavalry,
  • The late Captain M. Horace Hayes, F.R.C.V.S.,
  • Edward L. Anderson,
  • James Fillis,
  • Captain de Saint-Phalle,
  • Notes d’Equitation-Carouseles Militaire,
  • Saumur Notes (English translation of the above);

and to Col. Haddens W. Jones, 10th Cavalry, for valuableassistance and advice.



Nothing within this book is believed to be beyondthe reach of the mounted service in general.

The time allotted to “breaking” or gentling will be inmany cases eliminated, as the present system of remountstations has become well established.

Each troop should have three or four such articlesas longes and cavessons. These articles can be madevery easily by saddlers and blacksmiths, from a model.Models can undoubtedly be procured through the MountedService School at Fort Riley, Kansas, or from anysaddlery store, care being taken in purchasing from thelatter to determine whether the model is a correct oneor not.

In many cases the reasons for the use of certainaids, etc., are apparent, and all explanation is omitted.In other cases, where explanations involve nice points ofmechanics, etc., they have likewise been omitted. Thereason for the latter omissions being that they are interesting[6]to the student only. The real student of horse-trainingcan only be one who enjoys such work. Manyofficers do not enjoy it, and this book is intended for all.

In view of the fact that all the methods embodiedherein are well-recognized methods, I trust readers willtake for granted that they conform to the mechanicalprinciples, etc., omitted.

As riding cannot be taught by books, no attemptis made to do so here. Officers instructed in riding atthe Mounted Service School are returned to their regimentsevery year, where, by their example and ability toinstruct, they can accomplish far more than any literatureon the subject; but where riding, as regards theseat, cannot be readily forgotten, points of training ahorse can; and it is for such as forget, or for such ashave had nothing or little to forget, that this book isintended.

As to riding, it might be of interest, however, tosome to note that the following cautions have been foundto be a frequent necessity while training horses with enlistedmen up:


Don’t yank upon your horse’s mouth.

Keep your hands low and your wrists supple.

Don’t stick your knees up in the air.

Grip with your knees and the calf of your leg.

Let your stirrups out (for most men).

Carry your legs back.

Don’t let your reins flop.

Don’t hollow out your back.

Don’t let your horse back up (unless the movementis a retrograde one).

Drive him forward.

Don’t let him bend his neck at the shoulder.

Use your leg (or legs).

Don’t be rough with your horse.

New horses sent to a post should be turned over toone competent officer with assistants, if necessary, fortraining. If necessary to assign them to troops to assureproper care and grooming, orders should be given thatthey be exercised only by direction of the officer incharge. Enlisted men specially suited for training horsesshould be detailed under the above-named officer’s direction.[8]Only such enlisted men should be detailed whowill not be discharged or detailed on other duty untilthe training ceases. The training should continue fornot less than six months. Horses should, when possible,be assigned trainers who belong to the organization towhich the horses are assigned, the rider being assured,if possible, that the horse will be assigned to him afterthe training is over.

Two officers can train with reasonable satisfactionseventy-five horses, if given one hour and a half per daysix days a week, in the riding-hall. As the number ofhorses in the riding-hall at a time go over fifteen thedifficulties increase.

In case it be impossible for new horses to be underthe direction of one officer, organization commandersshould keep the horses out of ranks an equal period, andundertake the same training with competent men.

Hard-trotting, uncontrollable horses, uncomfortableto ride and weak in muscular activity, result from lackof training.


From practical work with enlisted men, it has beenfound that there is little difficulty in teaching them thekinds of aids, with their proper names, and the use andform the various exercises take. The manner in whichthey apply their aids and perform the exercises varieswith the individual’s ability to ride and aptitude fortraining.

When Part II. is undertaken, the difficulties increase.The difficulties do not lie in the use of the double rein,which the men soon become accustomed to, but in understandingthe flexions and the delicate use of the aidsrequired in these exercises and in the changes of leadat the gallop.

As hands are a most important element in Part II.,it is not surprising that men who have ridden perhapsless than three years should have difficulty.

Part II. should not be abandoned, either because ofthe difficulties inherent to the exercises or because of thelack of proper equipment. The use of a double bridleimprovised from a watering bridle and a regulation bit[10]is preferable to the use of a single curb immediately succeedingthe work with the snaffle alone.

To some it may seem that confusion exists as to arrangementof the facts. The scheme of arrangement isas follows:

A man, in training a horse, can begin work on thehorse with what he finds in the beginning of this book,and as the horse progresses he need only progress in hisreading to find new exercises. Certain definitions andexplanations are requisite to a proper understanding ofan exercise. These are necessarily interpolated.

If the reader will consider the difficulties in settingforth such facts in a logical sequence, he will perhapsbe more lenient in his criticisms of this book, althoughcriticism is expected and sought.

A. M. P.

Manlius, N. Y., August, 1911.



Early Handling.

Object of Training.—Horse-training is a series ofexercises to render the horse obedient and at the sametime to preserve and develop his inherent qualities. Itis a muscular training which by suppling the parts willstrengthen the entire body, and by balancing the horsewill develop harmony in his movements.

New Horses.—New horses should be exercised daily,at first being led by men on foot, and later by menmounted on quiet horses. The exercise should be at awalk, and is used to quiet and strengthen the animals.When leading a young horse mounted, the side uponwhich he is led should often be changed to avoid givinga false set to the neck.

Care of New Horses.—The young horse should haveflannel bandages on his fore legs when exercised, fromthe fetlock to the knee, to support the flexor tendons and[12]to keep the horse from hitting himself, thereby oftencausing splints.

After exercising, the legs should be rubbed and thetendons massaged, then washed with cool water and flannelbandages applied. The tendons are thereby supportedand wind-puffs and swellings prevented.

How to Adjust a Bandage.—A bandage should bewound up with the tapes inside. Unroll six or eight inchesof it, and lay this loose portion obliquely across theoutside of the leg, close to the knee, with the end reachingto about the center of that joint, and the rolled-uppart turned to the outside, and directed downward andforward. The beginning should be continued aroundthe fetlock and upper part of the pastern, and broughtback close up below the knee. The loose end is thenturned down, and the folds of the bandage carried overit. The tapes are tied a little above the center of thecannon bone. (Hayes.)

To Approach an Uncertain Horse.—To go up toan uncertain horse which is held or tied up in theopen, approach the fore leg on the near side at an[13]angle of about 70 degrees to the direction of the axis ofthe horse. Having reached his shoulder, place a handon his crest and stroke the mane. When a certain degreeof confidence is restored to the horse, further handlingmay be undertaken.

To Lead a Horse with the Snaffle, and to AdjustSnaffle.—To lead a horse with a snaffle mounted or dismounted,pass both reins through the near snaffle ringif the horse is to be on the off side. In placing the snafflebridle upon a fractious horse, place the reins first overthe neck, if possible. If the horse objects to havingthe head-stall put on, unfasten the left check-strap fromthe ring of the snaffle. Place the head-stall in position,then put the bit in the mouth and refasten the cheek-strap.If impracticable to remove the halter beforebridling the horse, place the bridle on over the halter,then unfasten the halter, slip the nose-band down overthe nostrils, then into the mouth and around under thebit and out of the mouth. The halter will then fall off.

Longeing.—The following principles must be consideredwhen longeing:


1. The horse must be controlled by the longe; theonly function of the whip is to move the horse forward.

2. The length of the longe should be frequentlychanged. The horse should alternately stretch himselfon a large circle and bend himself on a small circle.

3. The gaits should frequently be changed. (Notesd’Equitation.)

Method of Longeing a Horse.—Start the longeingexercise without the longeing whip. Place thecavesson on the horse, if possible, after the halter hasbeen removed, or, if a bridle is on the horse, over thebridle. Fasten the longe into the ring of the cavesson.Face the same way the horse faces and walk near hishead, leading him by a short longe in a circle to the left;right hand on the longe near the horse’s head, longe inthe left hand, not coiled, but arranged so that in runningout quickly it will not become entangled or pinch thefingers.

If the horse refuses to lead, an assistant may urgehim forward as quietly as possible from the rear. Asthe horse becomes accustomed to being led, gradually[15]lengthen the longe and drop back slightly from the headof the horse, toward his shoulders. Cluck to the horseto urge him forward. Use the hand to make motionsfor the same purpose or tap him lightly with the handon his side, in case the horse refuses to go forward. Ifthe horse turns toward the trainer, shake the longe sothat it lightly taps the nose on the side of the horsewhich should be toward the center of the circle. Gradually,as the horse learns what is wanted, the trainermoves so that the horse circles about him, first at a slowgait, then at the trot, and finally, when more proficient,at the canter and gallop.

To slow down the gait, use the voice soothingly andshake the longe up and down gently. To stop the horse,a series of motions of the longe up and down, with astrong pull on the longe as it comes down, will have thegreatest effect. The word “whoa” should frequentlybe used in this movement. When the horse obeys, heshould be caressed.

When a horse will go to the left on the longe, evenat the walk, he should be practiced going to the right until[16]equally capable on that hand. A horse should not belonged until fatigued.

Use of the Longe.

1. To exercise young horses without injury.

2. To

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