Bridling the Horse

 

Xenophon – Bridling the Horse

On Grooming and Bridling the Horse Correctly and Safely by Xenophon. (430BC – 350BC)

 
Lusitano-Bridling the HorseIn this section of his book On Horsemanship, Xenophon discusses grooming and bridling the horse correctly and safely:   Groom should always face backwards when attending to the horse’s needs, including saddling, feeding, currying etc.   He should never approach the horse by the head or tail straight on.   He should always approach carefully letting the horse know he is coming whether by speaking to him or touching him lightly as he comes near.   A distracted horse which is suddenly surprised by a touch can react with a bite or a kick that may hurt the groom seriously.
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Lusitano-040The groom must always clean the frog before saddling the horse and after it returns from a ride, lifting the hoof by folding the pasterns upward.   He should always stand to the side and never behind the horse or in front of it.   The horse must not be led or allowed to lead when walking him.   This will give control of his actions to the horse.   If he decides to sprint off or change directions, the groom will be unable to control him.   The groom must always walk besides the horse’s shoulder, the rope must be kept short but not too short, just enough for the horse to move his head comfortably without being able to walk away or separate himself from the groom.   The groom must always be attentive to the surroundings and the horse himself while he walks him anywhere at any time.
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Lusitano-060To insert the bit into his mouth the groom must stand on the side besides the shoulder and pass the reins over his head first.   Then with his right hand he should bring the head stall into place while he brings the bit to the mouth with his left hand, all the time speaking gently to the horse so he knows there is nothing to fear.   If the horse refuses to take the bit the groom must hold the bit against the horse’s teeth and pry his jaw open with his left thumb until he opens enough to place the bid correctly in the horse’s mouth.   This must be done firmly but without hurting the horse’s mouth.
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Lusitano-058The horse must not only be bitted when he is going to be ridden or worked, it should also be bitten when he is going to be fed or curried or when he is going to be taken into his stable.   By doing this the horse will understand that the bit is not only related to work and discomfort but also with things he likes.
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Lusitano-048The groom must know how to give leg Persian style in case his master is too old to ride or his armor is a bit heavy for him to mount comfortably.   The groom must understand that the horse is unable to reason like humans do.   He must never approach and deal with the horse in anger or fear because the animal will feel his anger or fear and will be repelled by it.   Patience and practice are the keys to success.   The establishment of a permanent trust bond between the groom and the horse are imperative too.
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