Page:Equitation.djvu/124

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the rider tends to stiffen the joint. Both causes interfere with free movement, and occasion kicking, rearing, and buck- jumping.

It is, therefore, essential, during the work on foot, to complete the mobilization of the entire body by exercise in backing to supple the coupling.

Some authors advise, for this purpose, having the trainer stand in front of the horse, facing it, and with one rein in each hand, either of bit or snaffle, pushing the animal backward by "sawing" back and forth on the bridle. Fillis advocates having the man, in addition, step on the horse's feet, first on one, then on the other, as the sawing goes on.

But how, I ask, is the horse to understand that it is to flex its spinal column, just because somebody saws its mouth or walks on its feet? I myself proceed in quite a different manner. I put my horse straight, right side near a wall, "at left hand," as it is called. I stand at the shoulder, whip in my right hand, snaffle reins in my left. With the whip, I touch the back close behind the saddle, repeating several times, very gently, never at all violently or severely. Meanwhile, I pull lightly on the snaffle reins. Commonly, within two minutes, the horse lifts one hind foot. If at this moment I pull on the reins, I hinder with my left hand the movement forward of this leg, which will at once be carried backward. The diagonal front leg will at once follow, and I have obtained the first step. Caress-