1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Horsemanship

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HORSEMANSHIP, the art of managing the horse from his back and controlling his paces and the direction and speed of his movement. The ordinary procedure is dealt with in the articles on Riding and cognate subjects (see also Horse: section Management). A special kind of skill is, however, needed in breaking, training, bitting and schooling horses for a game like polo, or for the evolutions of what is known as the haute école. It is with the latter, or “school” riding, that we deal here. The middle ages had seen chivalry developed into a social distinction, and horsemanship into a form of knightly prowess. The Renaissance introduced the cultivation of horsemanship as an art, with regular conditions and rules, instead of merely its skilful practice for utility and exercise. In Italy in the 16th century schools of horsemanship were established at Naples, Rome and other chief cities; thither flocked the nobility of France, Spain and Germany; and Henry VIII. of England and other monarchs of his time had Italians for their masters of the horse. The academy of Pignatelli at Naples was the most famous of the schools in the middle of the 16th century, but a score of other less renowned masters devoted themselves to teaching the riders and training the horses. Trappings of all sorts multiplied; the prescribed tricks, feats and postures involved considerable dexterity; they were fatiguing to both man and beast, and were really useless except for show. This elaborate art, enthusiastically followed among the Romance nations, was the parent of later developments of the haute école, and of the circus-performances of modern days. In England, however, the continental style did not find favour for long. The duke of Newcastle’s Méthode nouvelle de dresser les chevaux (1648) was the leading text-book of the day, and in 1761 the earl of Pembroke published his Manual of Cavalry Horsemanship. In France a simplification was introduced in the early part of the 18th century by La Guérinière (École de cavalerie) and others. The French military school thus became the model for Europe, though the English style remained in opposition, forming a sort of compromise with the ordinary method of riding across country. In more modern times France again came to the front in regard to the haute école, through the innovations of the vicomte d’Aure (1798-1863) and François Baucher (1796-1873). Baucher was a circus-rider who became the greatest master of his art, and who had an elaborate theory of the principles involved in training a horse. His system was carried on, with modifications, by masters and theorists like Captain Raabe, M. Barroil and M. Fillis. In more recent times the style of the haute école has also been cultivated by various masters in the United States, such as H. L. de Bussigny at Boston.

See d’Aure, Traité d’équitation (1847); Hundersdorf, Équitation allemande (Bruxelles, 1843); Baucher, Passe-temps équestres (1840), Méthode d’équitation (1867); Raabe, Méthode de haute école d’équitation (1863); Barroil, Art équestre; Fillis, Principes de dressage; Hayes, Riding on the flat, &c. (1882).