Selecting an Older Horse

 

Xenophon – Selecting an Older Horse

On Selecting an Older Horse by Xenophon. (430BC – 350BC)

 
Lusitano-Selecting an Older HorseIn this section of his book On Horsemanship, Xenophon discusses selecting an older horse:   The first thing to do is to look at the horse’s teeth.   If the milk teeth are gone he is older than five years and too old to learn how to be a war horse.   Don’t buy it if the horse is older than five years.   Bridle the horse to find out if he will accept the bit.   Mount it and hold it to find out if it will wait for the rider’s instructions and remain still.   Ride away from the stable to find out if it is willing to leave the other horses.
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Lusitano-Selecting an Older HorseThe softness of the mouth was also important for Xenophon.   The rider should do a volte to each side while the owner watches the horse’s reaction.   It must then be galloped and pulled back suddenly turning the other way to see how it responds to the rein.   Xenophon also believed that the horse should be tested with the whip because an un-submissive horse would not obey his master when it was vital that it do so.
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Lusitano-Selecting an Older HorseThe horse should also be taken out on the field to jump ditches, go up and down hills, jump over walls and run around obstacles to determine its stamina, eyesight and courage.   He believed these were signs of the soundness and spirit of the horse.   Yet he warned the buyer not to be hasty about discarding a horse which did not jump nor completed some of these exercises.   It was always possible to teach him. A nervous, skittish, aggressive and hesitant horse was unacceptable as a war horse.
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