The Modern Art of Taming Wild Horses/Chapter 11

The Modern Art of Taming Wild Horses  (1858)  by John Solomon Rarey
Remarks on Powel's Treatment How to Govern Horses of any Kind

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These instructions are very good, but not quite sufficient for horses of all kinds, and for haltering and leading the colt; but I have inserted them here because they give some of the true philosophy of approaching the horse, and of establishing confidence between man and horse. He speaks only of the kind that fear man.

To those who understand the philosophy of horsemanship, these are the easiest trained; for when we have a horse that is wild and lively, we can train him to our will in a very short time—for they are generally quick to learn, and always ready to obey. But there is another kind that are of a stubborn or vicious disposition; and although they are not wild, and do not require taming in the sense it is generally understood, they are just as ignorant as a wild horse, if not more so, and need to be taught just as much: and in order to have them obey quickly, it is very necessary that they should be made to fear their master; for, in order to obtain perfect obedience from any horse, we must first have him fear us, for our motto is, fear, love, and obey; and we must have the fulfilment of the first two before we can expect the latter; for it is by our philosophy of creating fear, love, and confidence, that we govern to our will every kind of horse whatever.

Then, in order to take horses as we find them, of all kinds, and to train them to our liking, we will always take with us, when we go into a stable to train a colt, a long switch whip (whalebone buggy-whips are the best), with a good silk cracker, so as to cut keenly and make a sharp report, which, if handled with dexterity, and rightly applied, accompanied with a sharp fierce word, will be sufficient to enliven the spirits of any horse. With this whip in your right hand, with the lash pointing backward, enter the stable alone. It is a great disadvantage in training a horse to have any one in the stable with you; you should be entirely alone, so as to have nothing but yourself to attract his attention. If he is wild, you will soon see him on the opposite side of the stable from you; and now is the time to use a little judgment. I should not want, for myself, more than half or three quarters of an hour to handle any kind of a colt, and have him running about in the stable after me; though I would advise a new beginner to take more time, and not be in too much of a hurry. If you have but one colt to gentle, and are not particular about the length of time you spend, and have not had any experience in handling colts, I would advise you to take Mr. Powel's method at first, till you gentle him, which he says takes from two to six hours. But as I want to accomplish the same, and what is more, teach the horse to lead, in less than one hour, I shall give you a much quicker process of accomplishing the same end. Accordingly, when you have entered the stable, stand still, and let your horse look at you a minute or two, and as soon as he is settled in one place, approach him slowly, with both arms stationary, your right hanging by your side, holding the whip as directed, and the left bent at the elbow, with your hand projecting. As you approach him, go not too much towards his head or croup, so as not to make him move either forward or backward, thus keeping your horse stationary; if he does move a little either forward or backward, step a little to the right or left very cautiously; this will keep him in one place. As you get very near him, draw a little to his shoulder, and stop a few seconds. If you are in his reach he will turn his head and smell your hand, not that he has any preference for your hand, but because that is projecting, and is the nearest portion of your body to the horse. This all colts will do, and they will smell your naked hand just as quickly as they will of anything that you can put in it, and with just as good an effect, however much some men have preached the doctrine of taming horses by giving them the scent of articles from the hand. I have already proved that to be a mistake. As soon as he touches his nose to your hand, caress him as before directed, always using a very light soft hand, merely touching the horse, always rubbing the way the hair lies, so that your hand will pass along as smoothly as possible. As you stand by his side, you may find it more convenient to rub his neck or the side of his head, which will answer the same purpose as rubbing his forehead. Favour every inclination of the horse to smell or touch you with his nose. Always follow each touch or communication of this kind with the most tender and affectionate caresses, accompanied with a kind look, and pleasant word of some sort, such as, "Ho! my little boy — ho! my little boy!" "Pretty boy!" "Nice lady!" or something of that kind, constantly repeating the same words, with the same kind, steady tone of voice; for the horse soon learns to read the expression of the face and voice, and will know as well when fear, love, or anger prevails, as you know your own feelings; two of which, fear and anger, a good horseman should never feel.