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CAVALRY HORSEMANSHIP

AND

HORSE TRAINING

(Ri:SFONSES AU QUESTIONNAIRE d'kQUITATION
DE l'KCOLE DE CAVALERIE)



Lieut. =Col. BLACQUE BELAIR

Chief Instructor at the Cavalry School, Saumur, France



TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH

BY

JOHN SWIRE

Author of AnglO'Prench Horsemanship, and Translator of F. Baucher's
Principles of Horsemanship



ENGLISH COPYRIGHT RESERVED



\. O N D O N
VINTON & COMPANY, Ltd.

8, Bream's Buildings, Chancery Lane, E.C. \
1919



BY THE SAME AUTHOR

I)emy 8vo. With 12 Full-page
Illustrations.

ANGLOFEENCH
HORSEMANSHIP

BY

JOHN SWIRE

F'cap. 8vo. t'loth. 5s. net.

THE PRINCIPLES

OF

HORSEMANSHH^



F. BAUCHER

Translated from the French bv
John Swike

I VINTON & COMPANY, Ltd.
I 8, Bream's Bld&s., Chancery Lane, E.C.



PREFACE



I CAXXOT too strongly recommend this excellent and
comprehensive work of Colonel Blacque Belair's to all
students of the Art of Equitation. It has been of the
utmost assistance to those who have, during the past
year, been entrusted with the task of teaching, though
perforce hurriedly, the elements of this complex
subject.

It has, I think, been conclusively proved, more
than ever during the present war, that any time spent
on Equitation, whether applied to trooper or troop
horse, has not been wasted.

As the life-taking mechanical appliances improve
in efficiency, so must the Cavalry, by means of their
training, increase their power to manoeuvre rapidly,
and adopt with the maximum speed and smoothness,
formations which are at the same time elastic and
comprehensive.

The Germans, in March, 1918, found to their cost
that without Cavalry their army was not able to reap
the fruits of victory. The Allies, by means of theirs,
have been able to strike decisive blows in all the many
theatres of war.

Equitation is the basis on which the whole training



iv PREFACE

of Cavalry rests ; the sound principles, the logical
sequence, and, above all, the clear explanation, all go
to make this book the greatest help towards the
attainment of this end.

MALCOLM BORWICK,

Major, Boyal Scots Greys,
Commandant, Cavalry Corps Equitation School.

October, 1918.

B.E.F., France.



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE



Ix publishing this translation of a book which, whilst
simple in its teaching, is naturally at times technical
m its language, I gratefully acknowledge the assistance
received from the instructors at the Cavah-y Corps
Equitation School, B.E.F., France, amongst whom I
have pleasure in mentioning Major M. Borwick, D.S.O.,
Commandant, Royal Scots Greys ; Captain P. E.
Bowden Smith, 19th Hussars; Captain J. J. Pearce,
Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars ; Captain J. K.
Swire, Essex Yeomanry.

J. SWIRE,

HiLLiNGDON House,

Haelow, Essex,



CONTENTS



PAGE

Preface iii

Generalties 1

1st Part.— The Education of the Rider . . . 1

2nd Part.— The Education of the Horse ... 3
3rd Part.— Application of the Principles of Horse-
manship and of Training to the

Management of the Horse ... 3



PAET I

THE EDUCATION OF THE EIDEK
CHAPTEE I

ELEMENTARY HORSEMANSHIP

Qualities of the Instructor

Endurance — Commonseuse — Love of method— Faith.

What should be aimed at

Giving confidence to the horseman — Causes and remedies
for contractions.

The Means of keeping in the Saddle ....

The seat — Its influence on the action of the hands- -The
stirrups — Usefulness in out-door work.



viii CONTENTS

PAGE

Special Gymnastic Exercises 8

Control of the reflexes — The independent action of the
hands with regard to the movement of the body and
legs — The independence of the hands and legs of each
other — Exercises which help the acquisition of this
independence.

The Rider's Position 9

How to place the rider on the horse — How to make his
seat firm — Relative value of the position of the different
parts of the body — Importance of the proper use of the
eyes — Being one with the horse.

Suppling Exercises 11



CHAPTEE^ II

SECONDARY EQUITATION

Horse Control 13

The Fundamental Principles 13

To understand the means of action (study of the aids) — To
be master of the means of action (the discipline of the
aids) — To know how to utilize these means of action
(employment of the aids).

Study of the Aids 14

Value of Moral Qualities and Physical Aptitudes . 14

The Natural Aids 14

The action of the legs — The action of the reins.

Harmony of the Aids : Definition 20

1st, Harmony between the legs acting together and both
reins acting together — 2nd, Harmony of the two reins —
3rd, Harmony of the legs — 4th, Harmony of the legs
with each of the effects of the reins.

Using the "Weight of the Body as an Aid ... 24

Lateral and Diagonal Aids— Lateral and Diagonal

Effects 35

The Artificial Aids 36

Employment and relative value.



CONTENTS ix

I'AOR

Discipline of the Aids 37

Employment of the Aids 40

The seat — Right use of the legs and hands.



CHAPTER III
SUPERIOR EQUITATION

Education of the Officer 43

Aim of this instruction — The impulsive horse, straight
going and light in hand.



PART II

EDUCATION OF THE HOKSE

CHAPTER I

The Saddle Horse 45

Qualities and aptitudes — The perfect shape — Quality.

CHAPTER II

Generalities 50

Influence and responsibility of the commanding officer
and of the squadron leader — Qualities of the instructor
and the trainers' care on arrival at the regiment— The
object of the education of the young horse.

Divisions 54

Breaking in and training— Their characteristics — Circum-
stances which influence the duration of the education of
the young horse— Important rules.



X CONTENTS

CHAPTER III

PAGE

BREAKING

The Object of Breaking 57

Phases 57

The Importance of Work 58

Dismounted Work 58

Work on the lunging rein — Getting horse used to the
saddle — The mounting lesson — Training to the sword.

Mounted Work 64

Early education in the aids— The walk— The halt — Turn-
ing—The rein back — First lessons in the canter.

Conditioning Work 71

Organization of the Lessons 71

Value of the different paces — The trot — The canter —
Oppositions of the young horse.

Preparation of the Young Horse for his eventual

employment in case of Mobilization .... 74

The Bridle 74

Individual Work 75

Early Jumping Lessons 75

Training in hand — Jumping on the lunging rein — Jumping
at liberty — Jumping mounted.

Stable Management 78

Grooming— Weekly examination — Change of coat and
green food — Choice of ground.

CHAPTER IV
TRAINING

Generalities 81

The System recommended : Method and Progression 81



CONTENTS xi

VAfiV.

The Principal Factors in Training 82

The instructor — The rider — The work — The duration of
training.

The Psychology of Training 84

Influence of character and conformation — Nature of the
training — The basis of equestrian language — Association
of sensations.

The Principles of Movement 90

Impulsion — Balance — Locomotion — The role and position
. of the head in movement — The role and position of the
neck.

Special Exercises for the Young Horse . . .97

The Resistances : —

(A) How to obtain the engagement and mobility of the

hindquarters.

(B) How to supple the spine.

(C) How to develop the free play of the shoulders.

(D) How to supple the lower jaw.
Movement to the side and shoulder.

Easing the Hand and Extension of the Neck . . 112
Balancing — Working on a long or short base.

Observations on the Paces 115

The Start of the Canter or Gallop 119

Jumping when mounted 124



PART III

APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLES
OF HORSEMANSHIP AND TRAIN-
ING TO THE CONTROL OF THE
HORSE.

CHAPTER I

THE EMPLOYMENT OF THE TRAINED HORSE
BY THE TRAINED MAN

The Straight-moving Horse 128

To change the Pace and Speed 130



xii CONTENTS

PAGE

To maintain a certain Pace and Speed .... 131

Change of Direction 133

The Gallop 136

Biding across Country and over Jumps . . . 137



CHAPTEE II

RESISTANCES OF THE RIDING HORSE AND •

HOW TO OVERCOME THEM . . 140



APPENDIX

EXAMPLE OP A *' REPRISE" WHICH MIGHT
SERVE AS A PREPARATION OF AN
OFFICER'S CHARGER FOR THE CHAM-
PIONSHIP 146



CAVALRY HORSEMANSHIP
AND HORSE TRAINING

GENERALITIES

OBJECT AND DIVISIONS.— The object of military
equitation is to turn out bold and skilled horsemen,
exercising over their horses a domination sufficiently
complete to enable them to concentrate their Avhole
mind, without effort, on their enemy, no matter what
the circumstances, or the nature of the ground may be.
The instruction of horsemanship consequently
comprises the practice of the systems taught to place
a recruit on a horse ; the study and use of the principles
indispensable to the horsemanship of the older men,
and the N.C.O.'s ; and finally, the application of the
rules adopted for the training of young horses. The
study of military riding divides itself into three parts —

1. The education of the rider.

2. The education of the young horse.

3. The application of the principles of horse-

manship and training to the employment

of the horse.
First Part.— The Education of the Rider. — The
education of the rider requires a trained horse. This
part of the instruction includes the study of every-
thing which specially concerns the man : it describes
the qualities required in the instructor, and the method

B



2 CAVALRY HORSEMANSHIP

to be adopted in developing the aptitude of the rider.
On the moral side it concerns itself with giving con-
fidence, and on the physical side with the relaxing
of the muscles. It lays down the best means of
holding on, fixes the principles of the rider's position,
as also those connected with the control and employ-
ment of the horse.

Training for these results demand the application
of certain principles combined with much practice.
Further, the teaching cannot be the same for every
degree of proficiency.

Elementary Equitation is that which is given
to young soldiers and only comprises instruction
which is indispensable to a trooper.

Secondary Equitation is more particularly reserved
for the instructors, who discover, by acquiring a
thorough knowledge of their subject themselves,
the advice to give to their N.C.O.'s and rough
riders, and so complete their instruction. The object
of this book is, to a great extent, to give them that
knowledge.

The teaching of more advanced horsemanship is
especially reserved for the officers, who, besides being
proficient in all kinds of rough riding, must also
acquire the refinement of the art, which is the object
of the instruction given at the Cavalry School.

These teachings only differ from one another in
their progressive extension, and in the more or less
elementary or scientific methods required, according
to the proficiency of the horseman ; but they are
founded on the same principles, tend to the same
end, and together constitute the system of training,
which is indispensable to the right employment and
improvement of the cavalry.



GENERALITIES 3

Second Part. — The Education of the Horse. — The

education of the horse, on the other hand, re-
quires a trained rider. This part deals with the
examination of everything whieh concerns the horse.
On the moral side it studies his mental temperament,
and the means for giving him confidence : on the
physical side it deals with his constitution ; getting
him into condition ; the la^vs of balance ; and of
animal locomotion ; knowledge of which is essential
for successful training.

Third Part. — Application of the Principles of Equitation
and Training to the Employment of the Horse. — This
chapter deals with the trained man riding the
trained horse, and lays doAvn the rules for their
utilization in daily work.

Observation. — This aivision is in no way absolute ;
in practice a certain number of these questions com-
mingle. Nevertheless, by assigning a place to ideas
and facts, there is developed a clearness of vision,
necessary in the wide field of horsemanshij), which
determines w^hat effort should be made by the in-
structor and the rider, according as there is evidence
of ignorance or awkwardness in the man or w^ant of
strength and a bad disposition in the horse. The
cause of the trouble being thus located, the application
of the remedy becomes more easy, and the effect
more prompt.



FIRST PART
THE EDUCATION OF THE RIDER

CHAPTER I

ELEMENTARY HORSEMANSHIP

QUALITIES OF THE INSTRUCTOR.— Theoretical
teaching without demonstration is foredoomed to
failure. In teaching equitation, much therefore de-
pends upon the instructor.

In addition to possessing the endowments of a
good horseman, he should have great endurance,
a high and strong character, and always set an
example of correct bearing and exactness.

His speech must be devoted to imparting real
knowledge, his words should be carefully weighed,
and all misuse of language rigorously avoided : a
man who is not master of himself is not worthy to
command others. The instructor should be kind,
and so encourage confidence ; firm and decided in
his demands ; careful to avoid accidents ; strong of
nerve, so as to make a habit of audacity ; patient
and forbearing with slowness of progress, and deter-
mined to overcome all difficulties.

In accordance with time and circumstances he
should establish in his work a logical progression,
conform strictly to rules and regulations, make sure



ELEMENTARY HORSEMANSHIP 5

ol' the rcguhir stages which he has decided on, and
retain the attention of his pupils by varying his
teaching, so that each day brings a new and foreseen
element.

His own good sense must mark the limits within
which it is wise to continue the instruction, and help
him to select a simple and fruitful course of pro-
cedure. The explanations he gives when mounted
should be confhied strictly to what is necessary,
formulated with precision, and given in such a way
and in such a place, that every pupil can hear. He
should never give explanations while working at the
fast paces, but he must never let pass, without notice,
any individual faults connected with position or the
control of the horse : it is only by incessantly criti-
cizing the same faults that these can be eradicated.

Finally, the instructor should separate each diffi-
culty he encounters into as many parts as are necessary
to overcome them, conduct his work methodically
in regulating his demands, and remember that progress
is not the consequence of the movement, but of the
manner in which the movement is executed.

The total of these directions constitute the spirit
of method. The spirit of method is the skeleton of
instruction ; it is not its soul.

The instructor should, in the fertility of his mind
and in the love of his profession, fmd expression to
his ideas in words which will strike the imagination,
amuse, persuade, and make his pupils keen.

Instruction should be given with good humour and
dash ; the even temper of the pupils, the frankness
of their look, their intelligent zeal, and the love they
have for the horse, are the marks of their confidence
and the measure of the rapidity of their progress.



6 CAVALRY HORSEMANSHIP

Still high above all these virtues which the instructor
should possess, there is one which surpasses all the
others, and which ought to illuminate his teaching ;
and that is the faith he has in his instruction. To
transform a class of recruits into a troop of intelligent
and keen horsemen, to train the brain and create in
them the spirit of duty, of self-denial and of sacrifice,
that is to say the military spirit, is surely a mission
worthy of the exercise of the highest gifts and zeal of
a leader of men.

What should be aimed at. — The objects to be kept
in view in this first part of the instruction are : to
give confidence to the horseman, to show him how
to sit firmly on the horse, to bring him to acquire
perfect control of his nerves, muscles, and limbs, and
to give him the regulation position in the saddle.

Giving confidence to the horseman.^The instruction
of the young soldier is hindered at first by the in-
stinctive revolt of his nervous and muscular system,
which causes contraction.

This universal defect is tackled by vaulting,
carried out cheerily ; by conversations with the
instructors, who take the men out on the leading
rein for rides in the country — in a word, by distraction.

The particular contractions, which are experienced
at the very commencement of individual work, are
soon made to disappear by the suppling exercises
laid down by the cavalry school.

So as not to neglect any of their useful effects,
a consecutive order should be adopted, commencing
with the seat, the loins, the shoulders, the arms and
the head, and not undertaking movements of the
thighs and legs until the body is thoroughly at its
ease. The best supplers, however, are good humour



ELEMENTARY IIOUSKMANSIIIP 7

mid iinimution, which induce confidence promi)tly
and delinitely. To these one should add comphments,
which develop self-respect, and in time self-reliance —
powerful assistants in getting the best out of a horse.

As soon as a measure of confidence has been
obtained, the pupil should be shown the best means
to employ to keep himself in the saddle, i.e. by the
seat and by the stirrups.

(a) The seat. — The seat is the quality which
enables the rider to remain master of his balance
under every circumstance, no matter what reactions
the horse may cause.

It is the principal quality to attain because it is
the foundation of all good horsemanship, giving full
confidence and the assurance of good hands, without
which neither the control nor the training of the
horse are possible. The seat is the result of a general
decontraction, and in particular the suppleness of
the loins. It is prepared by carefully thought-out
exercises of the joints, and is acquired on the lunging
rein, by trottmg and galloping without stirrups, and
also by the number and varying characteristics of the
horses ridden. This alone will make a man one with
his horse, but a great amount of practice is necessary,
and care should be taken not to overdo the exercise
and produce loss of skin and undue fatigue.

(b) The stirrups. — To rapidly give confidence to
young horsemen, recourse must be made to another
means of helping to keep them in the right place in
the saddle, viz. by the use of the stirrups, which
enable the learners to remain longer on horseback,
and to proceed with their education without abrasions,
and without hurt to the horse's mouth.

The trot without stirrups should be confined to



8 CAVALRY HORSEMANSHIP

the riding school, or to short rides out of doors ; that
is, as a suppHng exercise, and a proof of decontraction.
All the work in the school, including jumping, should
be carried out without stirrups, and, on the other
hand, all long work out of doors, sword instruction
and field work, active service, etc., should be done
with stirrups.

Special gymnastic exercises. — Control of the " Re-
flexes." The reflexes are the nervous reactions,
unconscious and involuntary, which arise in man
from exterior impressions.

The control of the horse depends upon the inde-
pendence of the aids, on which rests their future
harmon}^ From the commencement of the pre-
paratory work, one should accordingly make use of
the exercises which the young soldier has to go
through as a means of acquiring the elementary
control of his reflexes, which the handling of the reins,
when Avorking with the bridoon and the bit, will
enable him to completely obtain. The instructor
concentrates his attention on securing —

(1) The independent action of the hands with
regard to the movements of the body and legs.

To attain this result he teaches the bending of
the body forward, backward, to the right, and to
the left, and suppling exercises for the shoulders.

In all these movements the hand or the hands
which hold the reins, should be held without stiffness
in their proper position, in contact with the horse's
mouth, but independent of the movement of the
body. One should act in the same way in dealing
with the legs and the elevation and rotation of the
thighs ; the bending of the legs should not in any way
affect the horse's mouth.



ELEMENTARY IIORSKMANSllIP 9

(2) The indcpciKkiicc ol" the hands and k'<rs one
ol' another.

To obtain this Hbcrty of the hands and legs the
instructor will put the rider through the suppling
exercises, which tend to make the movements of the
hands and legs independent of one another.

The most suitable movements to obtain this
result are the movement of the arm backwards ;
patting the horse on the right quarter with the left
hand, and on the left quarter with the right hand ;
the girthing and ungirthing of the horse when moving.

The instructor will take care in the execution of
all these movements that the displacement of one
part of the body does not affect any other part.

The results of these exercises are noticeable when
the stride is lengthened in the trot without stirrups.
If this exercise has been well directed, the joints
acquire a suppleness and the limbs an independence,
of such a nature, that the reactions from the horse
received by the spine have no effect on the rider's
hands, which remain both fixed and light.

From the first it is necessary to make the rider
understand the importance of these exercises. One
should, moreover, watch that contact is never lost
with the horse's mouth, and that excessive force is
not used. The endeavour should be to give the
rider the proper fecHng of the horse's mouth. This
feeling, as it develops little by little, will serve to
establish the principle of stretched reins, and of the
elastic contact of the hand with the mouth. From
the very first one should inculcate this principle and
endeavour to attain its application.

The rider's position. — This is as laid down by
the regulations. Its value results from the fact that



10 CAVALRY HORSEMANSHIP

the position which it gives to the hands and legs is
that which permits them to act Avith the greatest
promptitude, a jjropos, intensity, and fineness.

Certain exercises supple the joints, bring about
an improvement of physical defects, and overcome
the contractions which arise therefrom. This general
suj^pleness having been acquired, the instructor should
devote his attention to placing the rider, then to
fixing his position in all the paces, on varying types
of horses, and on different kinds of ground.

When the instructor commences to occupy himself
with the man's position, he takes advantage of the
first ride at the walk to place individually every man,
before starting the trot. Immediately the positions
cease to be correct, the horses should be brought
back to the walk, the men put back into position,
and the trot restarted : from this method arises the
necessity of at first having short but frequent trots.
It is by proceeding thus that a good seat is obtained.

Firmness of seat is the absence of all involuntary
or useless movements, and the reduction to what
is strictly necessary of those which are indispensable.
It allows the aids to be applied with precision and
lightness, and consequently brings steadiness to the
horse, while contributing to his lightness.

It must be quite understood that regularity of
position must give way to the necessity of adapting
oneself to the horse's movements.

To be with the horse is the first of all qualities
of a horseman, and to be well placed, as a general
rule, leads to the rider becoming one with the horse.

The good position of the rider depends principally
on the direction in which he looks and how he places
his hands, his thighs, and his knees.



ELEMENTARY IIOIISEMANSIIIP 11

(a) TIic fact that the eyes should be active and
looking straight to the front makes it necessary for
the rider to hold his head high, to straighten his
body, and to bring his seat well under him. More
than this, from the first the men get into the habit
of observing what happens around them, which is
the duty of a cavalry soldier.

(b) If the hands are wtII placed, separated, and
the nails facing one another, the elbows are naturally
close to the body, in consequence of which the


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Online LibraryHenri Louis Paul Robert Blacque BelairCavalry horsemanship and horse training : (Responses an questionnaire D'Equitation de l'Ecole de cavalerie) → online text (page 1 of 10)