The original European riding was meant to have the horse trained as a working equitation horse for narrow combat with other riders or animals. An image on a 4BC sarcophage for example, shows Alexander the Great on his horse, Bucephalos, in the lion hunt. Although the horse looks afraid, it is collected under the rider with one ear pointed towards the lion, and the other towards his rider. A well-trained combat horse, must be collected so that it is easy manouvereable for attack and for flight. It must be obedient and trustworthy, one with its rider so that it can be trusted into battle. If a horse was not trained to senstive aids and the seat of the rider, it could be dangerous to take into battle, and in the past, many a war was lost because of horses that were not under control. Thus, the best horses and riders were naturally selected, since they were the ones to survive!
In these days, riding was only for nobility, and lots of time was put into the training of both young men and horses. The basic training of a working equitation horse would easily take 6-8 years, the training of a rider would take even longer. In the 15-16th century AD, a rider would first have his seat trained on a well-trained school horse between 2 pilars and on the volte around one pilar, before getting a rein in his hands. These riders had the perfect feeling and perfect seat in their systems before they started to communicate with their horses through hand and leg aids. (...)
More in Part II, Coming Up!
I like to share my thoughts on the Art of Riding with you here. Topics related to training and keeping horses and reports of my own experiences you can find here. Enjoy!