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From the history of riding

At different times horses were trained differently. Here is some information about how and what the Hittites, Greeks taught horses. And also what the Romans taught fighting horses and what horses were taught in the Middle Ages.

The earliest written information about the care and training of horses was left by Kikkuli, a stable Hittite king, circa 1400 BC. The texts that reached us, written by the Hittite scripts and Babylonian cuneiform on clay tablets, contained detailed instructions on how to follow to tame horses, to look after them and to harness in chariots. Apparently, many of this information was borrowed by the Hittites from the Indians, as evidenced by some special terms and digital data in the Kikkuli treatise on horse breeding. The treatise collects the experience of handling horses accumulated by mankind for many centuries.
Kikkuli, like many modern experts, recommends that at the age of one year the foals be beaten away already at the age of one from free herds, so that under the supervision of a person they gradually get used to the difficult horse weekdays. He accurately indicates how much hay, fresh grass, salt and grain the foal should receive daily, how to increase this diet as the young grow up, what distances the foal must cover daily, first in steps, then trot. Galloping on a horse is possible only after it is sufficiently strong.
Kikkuli also writes that the horse must be led to the river, watered there and bathed.
“Then let her lie on the sand, and after she dries, she must be sure to clean her skin with a comb.” When the foal is strong enough and well trained, it is subjected to a severe test: after two days of exposure without water and food, it is forced to drag a heavy chariot along an impassable rocky road. And only the one who successfully passes this exam can get into the royal stables.

The Greek writer and the head of the horsemen, Xenophon, along with historical and philosophical works, left us the book “On Equestrian Art”. He was well versed in the merits and demerits of horses and believed that they were cowardly by nature. In case of danger, this animal instinctively thinks of flight, but not of resistance, Xenophon declared. Therefore, he wrote, horses must be carefully raised and trained so that they can overcome this shortcoming. Although they learn slowly, but once they have learned, they never forget. Especially important the Greek writer considered the gentle and friendly attitude of the owner to his horse. “You can’t expect the dancer to perform high jumps if you push him with a whip,” said Xenophon. The young horse’s courage and courage can be instilled, from the first months of her life she’s being accustomed to being not afraid of street noise, the screams of the crowd, fire, the sound of blades and colorful flags fluttering in the wind, if she feels the owner’s affectionate and friendly attitude to herself.
Like the Greeks, the Romans usually assigned the training of young horses to an experienced mentor. When the three-year-olds, who began to go round precisely at this age, obeyed the rider and calmly walked with any gait, it was possible to start learning their simple figures, such as serpentine, volts, turntables. Horses intended for military service, as well as for parades and circuses were treated more strictly. In order to develop a noble posture, they were bridled with strict bit and used sharp spurs for urging. The Greeks, like the Romans, highly appreciated those horses who, taking part in the battles, were ready to bite and kick enemies. Bucephalus, the horse of Alexander the Great, according to legend, significantly helped his rider in the battles.

Also in the Middle Ages, cavalry played an important role. However, the art of riding was not yet particularly developed. In most cases, the knights forced their horses to do what was required of them: they bridled them with iron snappers tearing their lips, pricked their sides with long sharp spurs. Knights rode mainly with a step; they rushed into battle at a gallop. Later, when the equipment of the horseman and the horse became heavier and harder to move, there was nothing to dream about the art of riding: lucky, and, thank God!
Chained in armor, weighing about 60 kilograms, the knight was deprived of the opportunity to move if he did not sit astride a horse. Accordingly, with this, he needed not a fast and hot horse, but a powerful and calm one to support the rider’s weight in full gear, and fast enough to chase the enemy at a gallop. The war horses of the knights were predominantly heavy trucks, ennobled by an admixture of the blood of purebred stallions, and even purebred Arabs. Knightly horses can be compared with graceful Lippicans, who inherited their own from the Andalusian breed, highly valued in the Middle Ages.
A well-trained war horse not only carried his master, but also helped him in battle.

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