Horsemanship for Women/Part 1/Lesson 12

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Up to this time your horse has been guided as in driving, by a pull upon one side of the bit, that is to say, upon one corner of the mouth, and it is time now to substitute a simple pressure of the rein upon his neck. The chief difficulty to be encountered is in the fact that, as the rein is attached to the bit, the tension of it against one side of the neck pulls the bit on that side, consequently conveying to the horse an impression exactly opposite to that intended. This difficulty must be overcome by patience, for this instruction cannot be completed in a single lesson, but will have to be carried on simultaneously with other work for a week or more. It is given by carrying your hand over, whenever you turn, to the side towards which you wish to go, so that the reins will press against the neck. Thus, if you wish to turn to the left, draw on the left snaffle-rein, and as the horse answers to it, carry your hand to the left, so that the right reins press against the right side of the neck. This must be done with judgment, or the bit, being pulled too hard on the right side by the tension of the rein on the neck, will stop him in his turn. Of course you will seek as many occasions as possible for turning, choosing, in preference, places where your intention cannot be misunderstood, as at a corner, for instance. There is no better spot than some old orchard, for the horse instantly takes the idea of going

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around a tree, and there will be more or less shade, and probably good turf. While he is learning this lesson do not distract his attention by other instruction; but as soon as he has mastered it, see that his head is always turned in the direction towards which he is to go, for it is a habit with horses, as awkward as it is common, to turn one way and look the other. At the same time always lean in your saddle towards the centre of the curve you are describing, and at an angle increasing in proportion to your speed.

Some English writers depreciate the above method of guiding the horse, preferring to use the bit exclusively, but it is almost universal in the United States, and its advantages for ordinary riders are numerous and evident. Indeed, Stonehenge, a well-known English authority, says that in "this way a horse can be turned with a much greater degree of nicety and smoothness than by acting on the corner of his mouth."