Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/222

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188
SAWDUST AND SPANGLES

the irritation ceases in a short time. Riders are first trained to do their tricks on the ground. When complete masters of themselves on the ground they are put upon the back of a horse having an even gait and a reliable disposition. To the performer's belt, at the back, is attached a stout rope which runs to the end of a strong arm or beam running out from a post set in the center of the ring. This arm is swung around by a helper, who keeps the loose end of the rope in his hand in order to regulate the slack and prevent the young performer from having a heavy fall should he lose his footing. Again and again the rider is pulled up just in time to prevent him from falling under the hoofs of his horse. He is swung forward, dangling from the arm of the derrick, until he regains his balance and his footing upon the back of his horse.

To describe in detail how every feat and specialty is taught would require a volume, but on general principles it may be said that all tricks are first learned on the ground, or at a safe and minimum elevation. Then when the performer has attained absolute self-confidence and is wholly without fear he is allowed to swing higher, until he finally reaches the height required in the public performance.