Xenophon – Riders

 

Xenophon – Riders

On Mounting , Riders Position and Training by Xenophon. (430BC – 350BC)

 
Lusitano-019In this section of his book On Horsemanship, Xenophon discusses mounting, riders position and training:   The horse should be approached from the side or front.   The rider should let the horse know he is coming.   Reins in the left hand with some slack, the right hand should hold the reins up closer and also some hair from the mane or the saddle pommel so as not to hurt the mouth when the rider pulls himself up on the saddle.   The rider should mount evenly and slowly.   He should not hit the horse’s back but pass his leg over the saddle completely.
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Lusitano-049The rider should sit on the saddle like he is standing with his legs apart and not like he is sitting on a chair.   He should hold himself in place with his thighs and not his feet and lower part of legs.   Holding on with his legs will make him more difficult to throw off and will enable him to throw a javelin comfortably.   His torso should remain relaxed so it helps him to maintain balance and keep him rested for long periods of time on the saddle.   His left arm, holding the reins, must always remain close to his body.
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Lusitano-018Once the rider is on the saddle the horse must remain standing still until urged forward.   It must be started on a walk holding his head up but not too high.   The horse must then be exercised a bit by doing a volte to each side while trotting.   This will guarantee an equal response from the mouth to turns going either way.   While collecting, the horse must be given a little rein.   The rider must keep his body straight and must not lean to either side because this would change their gravity point.   He might fall off the horse.   After each turn the horse must be urged into a fast gallop to prepare it for charges and sudden offensive and defensive maneuvers.
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Lusitano-063After a hard gallop the horse must be given a break by first trotting and then walking for some distance before galloping again.   The constant change of speeds and activities will build the horse’s endurance levels and his lung capacity.   When the exercises are finished the horse must never be dismounted when there are other horses or people about.   He should be dismounted on the exercise field and then walked towards the other animals and people.
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