Page:Notes on equitation and horse training.djvu/13

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The history of equitation reaches back to remotest antiquity. The horse has always been used in combat, and here we find the origin or, more properly speaking, the cause of the equestrian art. If man had utilized the horse merely to cover long distances or to bear burdens, sufficient training for the purpose would have been an easy matter. But when he decided to fight from the horse's back he was obliged to develop a complete and logical system of steps in training and handling.

Antiquity.— We will not concern ourselves with the manner in which the Greeks, Gauls, and Romans rode. Covering this long period, only the works of Xenophon need be cited; they are especially worthy of mention because they include all the fundamental principles of equitation, and even in our day may be consulted to advantage. It should also be stated that prior to the fifth century a covering stretched over the horse's back was the only form of saddle. The Orientals made slaves bend their backs to serve as mounting blocks, and the Romans made use of stones called "stades," which were set along the roads for the same purpose. It was not until the end of the fifth century that the saddle-tree was invented, and later stirrups were added. This invention materially modified methods of equitation and permitted the rider to remain longer in the saddle without becoming fatigued.

Middle ages.— During the long period that constitutes the middle ages, two customs contributed largely to