Page:Horse shoes and horse shoeing.djvu/46

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
22
HORSE-SHOES AND HORSE-SHOEING.

ing was principally directed to make the horse particularly adapted for war, as the importance of cavalry was beginning to be perceived by the Greeks in their contests with that nation of horsemen, the Persians. He displays great judgment when specifying the proper form and disposition of parts which collectively make up the nearest approach to a perfect horse, and markedly shows to what a high degree in that distant age this kind of knowledge was cultivated; indeed, from his writing, we are led to infer, that in his time, and perhaps for long before, there were accomplished horse-breakers and public riding masters, as well as men who were excellent judges of horses' qualities.

Xenophon's instructions are well worthy of a place in every treatise on horses and horsemanship, and as his chief experience was no doubt derived while following the profession of arms, and during his command of the cavalry in conducting and covering the glorious retreat of the Ten Thousand Greeks from the interior of Persia, abundant opportunities must have presented themselves to justify him in afterwards urging on the attention of those who had the care of horses, the most scrupulous circumspection in the preservation of their hoofs; thus strongly indicating that shoes were not in use.

In advising as to the good ‘points’ to be sought for in a horse, he employs the clearest terms to express his meaning. ‘A person,’ he says, ‘may form his opinion of the feet by first examining the hoofs; for thick (or strong) hoofs are much more conducive to firmness than thin ones; and it must not also escape his notice whether the hoofs are high or low, as well before as behind; for high