Charles Field Mason.

A complete handbook for the sanitary troops of the U. S. army and navy and national guard and naval militia online

. (page 28 of 38)
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with clean water, dry it, and let the animal roll if he will. Should small
swellings appear, however, keep the blanket in place until a soaking wet
gunny sack is procured. Now remove the blanket, massage the swelling
vigorously, and put the wet folded gunny sack pack over the back and secure
it there. Do not allow the animal to roll if it can be avoided, and keep the
pack wet during the night. In the majority of cases the animal will be
ready for careful saddling in the morning.

Should you have produced a gall, the place should be bathed and dis-
infected with creolin or carbolic-acid solution (i ounce to the quart of water),
the spot protected from the flies, cold-packed if necessary, and the animal
led until nature effects a cure. Close attention to cleanliness, disinfection,
and stimulation of the wound will hasten the process. Use a solution of
aloes or alum in water (one-half ounce of either to a pint of water) as a

Even with, very close attention to saddling, galls may be produced if the
rider is not a careful one.

Irrespective of the fit of the saddle and condition of the blanket, the things
that cause galls and " bunches " most frequently are carelessness in balancing
and securing the pack, a lounging, shifting seat, and a sloppy method of
handling the reins, inattention to proper cinching, unequal length of stirrups,
neglect of adjustment at the halts, the riding of a lame animal, and the
galloping of a leg-weary one.


To Put on the Curb Bridle

283. The instructor commands : BRIDLE.

Take the reins in the right, the crownpiece in the left hand; approach
the horse on the near side, passing the right hand along his neck; slip the
reins over his head and let them rest on his neck; take the crownpiece in
the right hand and the lower left branch of the bit in the left hand, the
forefinger against the mouthpiece; bring the crownpiece in front of and
slightly below its proper position; insert the thumb into the side of the
mouth above the tush; press open the lower jaw, insert the bit by raising
the crownpiece, with the left hand draw the ears gently under the crown-
piece, beginning with the left ear; arrange the forelock, secure the throat-
latch, and then the curb strap, taking care not to set them too closely.

284. The mouthpiece, which should fit the width of the horse's mouth,
rests on that part of the bars (the lower jaw between the tushes and molars)
directly opposite the chin groove; the curb strap should then lie in the
chin groove without any tendency to mount up out of it on the sharp bones
of the lower jaw. This position of the mouthpiece will be attained for
the majority of horses by adjusting the cheek straps so that the mouth-
piece will be one inch above the tushes of the horse and two inches above
the corner teeth of the mare.

The throatlatch should admit four fingers between it and the throat ;
this prevents constriction of the windpipe or pressure on the large blood-

The curb strap should fit smoothly the chin groove, and be loose enough
to admit one or two fingers when the branches of the bit are in line with
the cheek straps.

285. At the discretion of the instructor, the halter may be taken off before
bridling, the reins being first passed over the neck; the hitching strap, if
not left at the manger or picket line, is tied around the horse's neck; if
the horse be saddled, in the near pommel ring.

To Unbridle

286. The instructor commands : UBRIDLE.

Stand on the near side of the horse ; pass the reins over the horse's head,
placing them on the bend of the left arm; unbuckle the throatlatch, grasp
the crownpiece with the right, and assisting with the left hand gently dis-
engage the ears; grasp the bit with the left hand, and gently disengage it
from the horse's mouth by lowering the crownpiece; place the crownpiece
in the palm of the left hand, take the reins in the right hand, pass them
together over the crownpiece, make two or three turns around the bridle,
then pass the bight between the brow band and crownpiece and draw it snug.

The bridle is hung up by the reins, or placed across the saddle on the

If the horse has no halter on, unbridle and push the bridle back so that
the crownpiece will rest on the neck behind the poll until the halter is


To Mount (without saddle)


At the first command, drop the right rein, take two back steps, stepping
off with the left foot, at the same time sliding the right hand along the
left rein; face to the right. This should place the trooper behind the near
shoulder of the horse. Take both reins in the right hand, aided by the left,
the reins coming in on the side of the forefinger, forefinger between the
reins, the loose end falling over on the off side; place the right hand behind
the withers, holding the reins short enough to feel lightly the horse's mouth ;
place the left hand near the withers, and grasp a lock of the mane, the
lock coming out between the thumb and forefinger.

At the command mount, spring lightly from the ground and raise the
body, keeping it erect, and supporting the weight on the hands ; carry the
right leg, knee bent, over the horse's back, the weight still borne on the
hands; sit down gently on the horse's back, and take one rein in each hand,
the reins bearing equally on the horse's mouth.

In the earlier lessons, the recruit may rest the right forearm on the horse's
back to enable him to raise the body when mounting.

Position of the Trooper (without saddle)

294. Body balanced on the middle of the horse's back.
Head erect and square to the front.

Chin slightly drawn in.

Shoulders square and well thrown back.

Chest pushed out.

Back straight.

Elbows slightly to the rear of the points of the shoulders.

Forearms horizontal and close to the sides without pressure.

The right rein in the right hand, and the left rein in the left hand, coming
in on the underside of the little finger, and coming out over the second
joint of forefinger, on which the thumb firmly holds the rein; the other
fingers closed on the reins, nails toward the body; reins bearing equally on
the horse's mouth; bight (end) of reins falling to the front and on the right
side of the horse's neck.

Hands about six inches apart, on. a level with the elbows, backs straight
up and down and outward.

Buttocks bearing equally on the middle of the horse's back, the seat being
as flat as possible.

Legs stretched by their weight alone, the flat of -the thighs and knees
clasping the horse equally.

Legs from knees down vertical and free.

Feet parallel to the sides of the horse, or as nearly so as the conformation
of the man will permit.


Remarks on the Position of the Trooper

Body balanced on the middle of the horse's back, because that is the point
where the motion of the horse is least communicated to the rider, and the
best weight-bearing position for the horse.

Head erect and square to the front. If not, the body will incline forward
or to one side and be unsteady.

Chin slightly drawn in. To prevent the head and shoulders from drooping
to the front.

Shoulders square and well thrown back and the chest pushed out. If not,
the chest will be contracted and the back curved to the rear.

Back straight. This gives an erect carriage and counteracts the tendency
to slouch or droop the shoulders.

Elbows slightly to the rear of the shoulders. To assist in keeping the
shoulders back.

Forearms horizontal and colse to the sides -without pressure. To prevent
their being thrown out when the horse trots; if with pressure, the motion
of the body will be communicated to the hand and rein.

Buttocks bearing equally, and seat as flat as possible. So that the body
will preserve its steadiness.

Flat of thighs and knees clasping the horse equally. To give a firm, steady

Legs from knees down vertical and free. That they may be carried to the
rear to aid in directing the horse without deranging the seat.

Feet parallel to the horse. To assist in holding the thighs in position.

The body from the hips up should be movable, and should, in a measure,
yield to the motions of the horse; from the hips to the knees, immovable
and close to the horse ; from the knees down, movable.

The arms move freely at the shoulders to avoid communicating the motion
of the body to the reins, the hands oscillate slightly with the motion of the
horse, but otherwise they are stationary, except to direct the horse.

During the earlier lessons the position of the recruit is necessarily one
of constraint.

No man can be said to be a good horseman wiho has not a firm, well-
balanced seat; it is therefore of the utmost importance; it will assist the
horse ; the want of it will impede the horse's actions, make sore backs, etc.

To Lengthen or Shorten the Reins

295. Bring the hands toward each other ; grasp the right rein with the
thumb and forefinger of the left hand a short distance from the right thumb ;
relax the grasp of the right hand, and allow the rein to slip through to get
the proper bearing; then close the right hand and replace the hands. With
the left rein the positions of the hands are reversed.


To Take the Reins in One Hand

296. To relieve the constraint of the arms by changing their position, as
well as to prepare the recruits for the use of the curb bridle, the instructor
commands: I. In left (or right) hand. 2. TAKE REINS.

At the second command, bring the left hand opposite the middle of the
body; half open and place in it the right rein, holding both reins as explained
for the left rein, except that the little finger separates the reins, the right rein
coming in above the little finger; close the left hand and drop the right hand
behind the thigh.

To Adjust the Reins

297. Seize the bight with the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, partly
open the left hand so as to allow the reins to slip through it ; raise the right
hand until the reins bear equally; close the left hand upon them letting the
bight fall over the forefinger and right rein; drop the right hand.

To Betake the Reins in Both Hands

298. The reins being in the left hand: i. In both hands. 2. TAKE REINS.
Half open the left hand, seize with the right hand the right rein, and hold

them as previously described.

To Drop and Retake Reins

299. DROP REINS : Drop the reins on the horse's neck near the withers
and drop the hands behind the thighs.

TAKE REINS : The trooper retakes the reins and holds them as before
dropping them.

To Dismount (without saddle)


At the first command, pass the right rein into the left hand, then seize both
reins with the right hand in front of the left, forefinger between the reins,
and place the right hand on the withers, the reins coming into the hand on
the side of the forefinger; let go with the left hand and grasp a lock of the
mane in front of the withers, the lock coming out between the thumb and

At the command dismount, raise the body on both hands, carry the right
leg, knee bent, over the horse's back without touching it ; bring the right leg
near the left and come lightly to the ground on the balls of the feet, bending
the knees a little ; face to the. left, drop the right rein, step to the front, sliding
the right hand along the left rein, and take the position or stand to horse.

To Dismount on the Off Side

301. i. To the right. 2. PREPARE TO DISMOUNT. 3. DISMOUNT.

The second and third commands are executed as in par. 300, but by inverse
means, the trooper coming to the ground on the off side.


To Mount from the Off Side

302. The trooper being dismounted and on the off side of his horse, i. PRE-

The commands are executed as in par. 293, but by inverse means.

The Aids in Horsemanship

311. The training of the new horse involves the infliction of more or less
pain, the necessity for which becomes less as his intelligence is quickened
into understanding the lightest pressure.

A horse is bit-wise when (the bit being correctly fitted and properly ad-
justed, par. 284) he obeys the lightest pressure upon either bar.

He is rein-wise when he obeys the lightest pressure of the rein on either
side of the neck, the bit not being disturbed from its normal position.

He is leg-wise when he obeys the lightest correctly combined action of the
rider's legs.

The most thoughtful care should be constantly exercised in the combined
applications of the aids, that they may not be opposed to each other in their
action, i. e., one favoring the intended move, the other opposing it.

Preparatory to the movements, the instructor mounts the squad and
explains the uses of the reins and legs.

The reins and legs, the application of which determines the movements
and gaits of the horse, are called the aids.

The trooper should not only know -when to apply a given aid, but he should
also understand why he applies it.

The reins serve to prepare the horse to move, and to guide, support, and
halt him; their action should be gradual and in harmony with that of the

In using them the arms should have free action at the shoulder ; when a
light pressure will be sufficient to govern the horse, the action of the hand
should be at the wrist ; for greater pressure, the elbow should be carried back,
but without raising the hand.

In riding, the bridle hand should be kept steady and ought not to move
with the body; it should merely oscillate with the motion of the horse's head;
at the same time it must be kept light, for the bit causes pain if pressed con-
stantly on the mouth, destroys its sensibility, and makes the horse's mouth

The hand is light when there is an almost imperceptible alternate feeling
and easing of the hand in harmony with the motion of the h'orse, by which
the delicacy of the mouth is preserved, and the horse made to carry himself

That hand is best which, by giving and taking properly and keeping con-
stant touch of the bit, controls the horse with the least force, and will best
preserve the mouth.

As a rule, it is recommended that recruits ride with one rein in each hand ;
this will prevent the bad habit of holding the left shoulder advanced.

The legs serve to assist, together with the reins, in controlling the horse.


Closing the knees, without pressure by the lower part of the leg, tends to
steady the horse in position. Carrying the lower legs slightly to the rear,
closing them equally with slight pressure, prepares him to move, or, if moving,
to keep him up to the hand. Closed with greater pressure behind the girth,
they urge him forward.

Carrying the right (or left) leg to the rear, closing it with pressure, causes
the horse to move his haunches to the left (or right).

The pressure of the legs must be an elastic muscular action, suited to the
sensitiveness of the horse; a heavy, clinging pressure or dull thumping with
the heels must not be permitted.

The reins act to direct the forehand; the lower legs incite to action and
govern the movement -of the haunches.

All changes of gait are made gradually. The horse should never be spurred
to make a sudden start, nor should the reins be jerked.

To Trot

332. Being at the walk: i. Trot (or Slow tvof). 2. MARCH.
At the command trot, gather the horse.

At the command march, yield the hands a little and close the legs by degrees
until the horse obeys, then the hands are gradually replaced and the legs

The gait is slow at first, and the instructor sees that the troopers feel lightly
their horses' mouth -without bearing upon the reins, and explains that the
necessary ease and stability are acquired by setting well down on the horse,
or saddle, and partially relaxing the body, thighs and legs, the hands oscillat-
ing with the motion of the horse's head.

He requires the troopers to preserve their seats by balancing the body;
that they avoid the common fault of leaning the body too far or curving
the back to the rear ; that they sit erect and keep the thighs close to the horse.

To Pass from the Trot to the Walk

333. Being at the trot : i. Walk, 2. MARCH.
At the command walk, gather the horse.

At the command march, rein in by degrees, and hold the legs close to
prevent the horse from coming to the halt ; as soon as he walks, replace the
hands gradually and relax the legs.

To Mount (with saddle)

344. The horses equipped with saddles and curb bridles are habitually
formed in line. The troopers standing to the horse, the instructor causes
them to count fours, and commands : I. PREPARE TO MOUNT. 2. MOUNT.

At the first command the odd numbers lead out.

All the troopers drop the right rein, take two back steps, stepping off
with the left foot, at the same time sliding the right hand along the left
rein; half face to the right; this should place the trooper about opposite


the girth; with the aid of the left hand take both reins in the right, fore-
finger between the reins, and place the right hand on the pommel, the
reins coming into the hand on the side of the forefinger, and held so as to
feel lightly on the horse's mouth, the bight falling on the off side. (TWO.)
Place a third of the left foot in the stirrup, with the assistance of the left
hand if necessary, and support it against the forearm of the horse; rest
upon the ball of the right foot, grasp a lock of the mane with the left hand,
the lock coming out between the thumb and forefinger.

At the command mount, spring from the right foot, holding firmly to the
mane and keeping the right hand on the pommel; pass the right leg, knee
bent, over the croup of the horse without touching him; sit down in the
saddle; let go the mane, insert the right foot in the stirrup, pass the reins
into the left hand and adjust them.

At the command : 3. Form. 4. RANK, the even numbers move up in their

Position of the Trooper (with saddle)

345. Same as previously explained (par. 294), with the following excep-
tions : Buttocks bearing equally and as flat as possible upon the middle of
the saddle; reins coming into the left hand on the side of the little finger,
and leaving it between thumb and forefinger; little finger between the
reins, right rein above it; the other fingers closed, thumb pointing to the
right front in prolongation of the forearm and pressing the reins firmly
on second joint of forefinger; the end of the reins falling to the front and
outside of the right rein; left forearm horizontal and close to the body
without pressure; the back of the hand nearly vertical; right hand behind
the thigh, arm hanging naturally; feet inserted in the stirrups so that the
ball of the foot rests on the tread of the stirrup, heel slightly lower than
the tread.


346. The stirrups should support the feet and the weight of the legs only,
and be of such length that when the legs are in proper position, the feet out
of the stirrups, the treads will be on a level with the lower part of the inner
ankle bone.

The length depends somewhat on the formation of the man; a man with
a thick heavy thigh requires a shorter stirrup than a man with a thin, flat
one. For long distances at the gallop and trot, a shorter stirrup is required
than at the walk.

When riding, the stirrups take up, in a measure, the weight of the body
in its descent to the saddle, by a yielding of the ankles to prevent shock.
This action is an easy, quick stiffening of the muscles which distributes the
downward motion between the feet, thighs,, and seat.

If, after the trooper has been exercised a short time at the slow trot, he
has a close seat, his leg in proper position, with his heel down, but does not
easily keep his stirrup, then the stirrup requires shortening.


Stable Duty

995. A noncommissioned officer, designated stable sergeant, or corporal,
is detailed in each detachment to take immediate general charge of the forage
and stable. He is held responsible for the proper policing and sanitary
condition of the stable, picket line, and ground pertaining to them. One
or more men, called stable police, are detailed for the purpose of policing,
removing manure, feeding, etc., under the direction of the stable sergeant.

Usually horses are groomed twice daily, at morning and at evening
stables, under the supervision of the stable sergeant and a commissioned
officer. Under special circumstances, it may be advisable to groom only
once a day.

The stable police, after grooming their own horses at morning stables,
clean out the stalls and police the stable, under the direction of the stable
sergeant. The bedding is taken up, that which is much soiled being separated
for the manure heap, and the remainder put on the litter racks or spread
upon the ground to dry.

At or before evening stables, the stable is policed; the bedding is laid
down and fresh straw spread on top of it; the bed must be soft and even,
with the thickest part toward the manger; where horses eat their bedding,
the old litter should be placed on top of the new straw.


The grooming is always done at the picket line, except in stormy weather.
Stable call is the first call or warning call for stables, and precedes assembly
by such intervals as may be prescribed. The roll having been called, the
detachment is marched to the horses or stable, and upon arrival there the
first sergeant commands, Commence grooming; FALL OUT. The horses
are then tied on the picket line, if not already there, and are groomed under
the direction of the platoon leader. Each man habitually grooms his own
horse, except that the horses of the sergeants, first class, may, at the discre-
tion of the company commander, be groomed by the men of the platoon to
which these horses are attached. Drivers and wagoners groom, the animals
assigned to them.

For the purpose of proper supervision in grooming, feeding, etc., the horses
of the men not assigned to platoons and other supernumerary horses, will
be attached to platoons.

At stables, each man examines his horse's feet. Horses requiring shoeing
are reported to the noncommissioned officer in charge of the section, who
notifies the stable sergeant.

Each horse should be groomed not less than 20 minutes, and as much
longer as may be necessary. When the horses of any platoon are sufficiently
groomed, the platoon leader reports that fact to the first sergeant. The
platoon at the discretion of the detachment commander, may then lead in,
and the horses will be led to their stalls and properly secured under the
supervision of the platoon leader. Should the officer wish to inspect the
horses of any platoon or of the whole detachment before they are led in,


he will notify the platoon leader or the first sergeant, who will then com-
mand: Cease grooming, STAND To HEEL; each man stands one yard in
rear of and facing his horse. When all the horses have been groomed and
led in, and the grooming kits put away, the sergeant will form the detach-
ment, march it to the company parade, and dismiss it.

If, when the horses are inspected, the officer finds any of them not properly
groomed, he will direct that these horses be left at the picket line and groomed
under the supervision of a noncommissioned officer detailed for that purpose.

To Groom.

997. Take the currycomb in the right hand, fingers over back of comb;
begin on the near side at the upper part of the neck, thence proceed to the
chest, arms, shoulders, back, belly, flank, loins, and croup in the order named.
Then go to the off side, taking the comb in the left hand, and proceed as

The currycomb is applied gently and is used only to loosen the scurf and
matted hair ; it is not used on the legs from the knees or hocks downward,
except to carefully loosen dried mud.

Next, take the brush in the left hand and change the currycomb to the
right ; begin at the head and then the neck on the near side, and proceed
in the same order as in currying, brushing also the parts not touched by
the comb; on the off side, take the brush in the right hand, the currycomb
in the left. The principal working of the brush should follow the direction
of the hair, but in places difficult to clean, it may be necessary to brush
against it, finishing by leaving the hair smooth. After every few strokes
clean the brush from dust with the currycomb.

Having finished with the brush, rub or dust off the horse with the groom-
ing cloth, wipe out the eyes, ears, and nostrils, and clean the dock. The

Online LibraryCharles Field MasonA complete handbook for the sanitary troops of the U. S. army and navy and national guard and naval militia → online text (page 28 of 38)