Horsemanship for Women/Part 1/Lesson 16

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This lesson has been deferred thus far because, while it is one of the most practically and frequently useful, yet it is also the method which the horse naturally takes to escape from the unwonted constraint put upon the muscles of his neck and jaw in the course of the preceding lessons. You have had, therefore, to be on your guard hitherto against it; and had you taught it earlier you would have found your horse cunning enough to pretend to believe every play of the bit to be a signal to step back, and thus protract the instruction.

Having, then, got your horse, as usual, well in hand, lean back and give a pull on the reins. If he steps back, well; if not, touch him with the heel or tap his side with the crop, and when he lifts his foot to step forward repeat the pull on the reins, when the foot will be replaced farther back; then pat and praise him, and persevere until he will, at each tug of the reins, move backward one step and no more.

Should he swerve to right or left, straighten him by a tap or pressure of the crop on his right side, or by the
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pressure of the heel on the left, as the case may require.

Your horse having learned to obey the pressure of the rein upon the neck, you may now, if you choose, adopt another method of holding the reins. It differs from that described in Lesson XIII. in that the two snaffle reins, instead of being separated by three fingers, have only one — the middle finger — between them; while the curb-reins, instead of coming into the hand between the snaffle-reins, come in below, having the little finger inserted between them.

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This method, though formerly the one usually taught, being that adopted by the English cavalry, has not, on

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the whole, as many advantages as the other for a civilian.

If you have occasion to use the left hand, or wish to rest it, change the reins into the right hand by placing the right, still holding the whip, over and in front of the left, both palms downward, inserting the right forefinger between the reins separated by the left little finger, and so on, then grasping all together with the whip, and allowing the ends to pass out to the right.

This does not disarrange the reins, but makes it possible for you to take them back into the left hand in an instant by passing the left hand in like manner over the right.