Advice

 

Xenophon – Creating a Showy Horse and Advice on Bitting

On Creating a Showy Horse and Advice on Bitting by Xenophon. (430BC – 350BC)

 
Lusitano-AdviceIn this section of his book On Horsemanship, Xenophon discusses creating a showy horse and advice on bitting.   Xenophon states that horses usually enjoy showing off and walking with spirit and holding their heads up high.   It is part of their nature.   If they are treated right and they are not constantly being spurred or whipped or have the bit pulled hard constantly they will enjoy themselves and follow instructions perfectly.   If they are constantly mistreated they will react in exactly the opposite way the rider wants them to.
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Lusitano-AdviceA horse should have two bits, one that is easy to carry with smooth large disks and a second which is harsher and hurts him when pulled.   The second one would have flat disks and spikes on it.   Both are controlled with the reins which must be held firmly without pulling on them too much.   When the horse refuses to follow orders or fights against the bit too much, the second one should be used for a while so he understands that he must obey the directions the rider is giving.   Patience and practice will teach him that it is better to follow instructions and get the first bit than the second one.
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Lusitano-AdviceA good bit should be flexible to keep the mouth soft.   It must have broad, soft junctions which bend easily and the parts around the axle should not be closely packed.   The bit should not be pulled in anger or jerked.   It must only be pulled until the horse responds to it.   If the horse tosses his head sideways when the bit is pulled he is being hurt by it and it must be changed for another which fits him better.   Xenophon goes on to say that a horse which is treated with care and love and knows who his master is will be a fine horse which will enjoy working out and showing off what he knows.
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Lusitano-AdviceAll the above notations were taken from Xenophon’s guide to the care and training of horses many thousands of years ago.   We have added them here so the reader and horse lover can see that what was true back them continues to be true today.   Many of the techniques and theories presented by Xenophon in 350BC are true today and are also part of the training programs modern horsemen use to prepare their animals for competition and showmanship.
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