Page:Notes on equitation and horse training.djvu/14

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progress in equitation. These two fashions were chivalry and tournaments. All the youths of the French nobility, eager to rise to the dignity of knighthood, received an education in which the first essential was to learn how to ride. Equitation, it is true, was very limited. The lancer's deep saddle, required to resist an adversary's shock, led to a very constrained seat. Methods of controlling the horse were neither accurate nor progressive; the legs held straight and far out from the horse could be closed only by jerks; the overloaded horses necessarily lacked suppleness. Equitation was simply an exhibition of brute strength, but it was well adapted to the form of combat and to the breed of horses then existing.

During this period of the middle ages we find no works on equitation. The horsemen of that period were certainly not writers and, moreover, equitation with them was a business rather than an art.

Italian schools.—The lack of authors and of historical documents brings us up to the time of Pignatelli, an Italian nobleman, who, in the sixteenth century, founded at Naples the first school of equitation that ever existed. His example was promptly followed in Italy, and other schools were founded, one at Ferrare by Cæasar Fiaschi and one at Naples by Frederick Grison. Their system consisted in exaggerated supplings, exacted in a brutal manner. They obtained results, however, and horses trained in these schools were certainly well in hand, but training was very long and was not always successful. All the horses of Italy, especially those of Naples, had a reputation for viciousness, which was probably due simply to the exceptional severity of the horsemen.

French schools.—Sixteenth century.— The principles of the Italian school were brought to France at the end of the sixteenth century by La Broue and Pluvinel, pupils of Pignatelli. The nobility eagerly took up the theoretical study of an art that seemed new to them;