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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Arabian Art of Taming and Training Wild
and Vicious Horses, by P. R. Kincaid
John J. Stutzman

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at
Title: The Arabian Art of Taming and Training Wild and Vicious Horses

Release Date: January 24, 2005 [EBook #14776]


Produced by Kentuckiana Digital Library, David Garcia, Michael
Ciesielski and the PG Online Distributed Proofreading Team.









The first domestication of the horse, one of the greatest achievements of
man in the animal kingdom, was not the work of a day; but like all other
great accomplishments, was brought about by a gradual process of
discoveries and experiments. He first subdued the more subordinate
animals, on account of their being easily caught and tamed, and used for
many years the mere drudges, the ox, the ass, and the camel, instead of
the fleet and elegant horse. This noble animal was the last brought into
subjection, owing, perhaps, to man's limited and inaccurate knowledge of
his nature, and his consequent inability to control him. This fact alone
is sufficient evidence of his superiority over all other animals.

Man, in all his inventions and discoveries, has almost invariably
commenced with some simple principle, and gradually developed it from one
degree of perfection to another. The first hint that we have of the use of
electricity was Franklin's drawing it from the clouds with his kite. Now
it is the instrument of conveying thought from mind to mind, with a
rapidity that surpasses time. The great propelling power that drives the
wheel of the engine over our land, and ploughs the ocean with our
steamers, was first discovered escaping from a tea-kettle. And so the
powers of the horse, second only to the powers of steam, became known to
man only as experiments, and investigation revealed them.

The horse, according to the best accounts we can gather, has been the
constant servant of man for nearly four thousand years, ever rewarding him
with his labor and adding to his comfort in proportion to his skill and
manner of using him; but being to those who govern him by brute force, and
know nothing of the beauty and delight to be gained from the cultivation
of his finer nature, a fretful, vicious, and often dangerous servant;
whilst to the Arabs, whose horse is the pride of his life, and who governs
him by the law of kindness, we find him to be quite a different animal.
The manner in which he is treated from a foal gives him an affection and
attachment for his master not known in any other country. The Arab and his
children, the mare and her foal, inhabit the tent together; and although
the foal and the mare's neck are often pillows for the children to roll
upon, no accident ever occurs, the mare being as careful of the children
as of the colt. Such is the mutual attachment between the horse and his
master, that he will leave his companions at his master's call, ever glad
to obey his voice. And when the Arab falls from his horse, and is unable
to rise again, he will stand by him and neigh for assistance; and if he
lays down to sleep, as fatigue sometimes compels him to do in the midst of
the desert, his faithful steed will watch over him, and neigh to arouse
him if man or beast approaches. The Arabs frequently teach their horses
secret signs or signals, which they make use of on urgent occasions to
call forth their utmost exertions. These are more efficient than the
barbarous mode of urging them on with the spur and whip, a forcible
illustration of which will be found in the following anecdote.

A Bedouin, named Jabal, possessed a mare of great celebrity. Hassad Pacha,
then Governor of Damascus, wished to buy the animal, and repeatedly made
the owner the most liberal offers, which Jabal steadily refused. The Pacha
then had recourse to threats, but with no better success. At length, one
Gafar, a Bedouin of another tribe, presented himself to the Pacha, and
asked what he would give the man who should make him master of Jabal's
mare? "I will fill his horse's nose-bag with gold," replied Hassad. The
result of this interview having gone abroad; Jabal became more watchful
than ever, and always secured his mare at night with an iron chain, one
end of which was fastened to her hind fetlock, whilst the other, after
passing through the tent cloth, was attached to a picket driven in the
ground under the felt that served himself and wife for a bed. But one
midnight, Gafar crept silently into the tent, and succeeded in loosening
the chain. Just before starting off with his prize, he caught up Jabal's
lance, and poking him with the butt end, cried out: "I am Gafar! I have
stolen your noble mare, and will give you notice in time." This warning
was in accordance with the customs of the Desert; for to rob a hostile
tribe is considered an honorable exploit, and the man who accomplishes it
is desirous of all the glory that may flow from the deed. Poor Jabal, when
he heard the words, rushed out of the tent and gave the alarm, then
mounting his brother's mare, accompanied by some of his tribe, he pursued
the robber for four hours. The brother's mare was of the same stock as
Jabal's but was not equal to her; nevertheless, he outstripped those of
all the other pursuers, and was even on the point of overtaking the
robber, when Jabal shouted to him: "Pinch her right ear and give her a
touch of the heel." Gafar did so, and away went the mare like lightning,
speedily rendering further pursuit hopeless. The _pinch in the ear_ and
the _touch with the heel_ were the secret signs by which Jabal had been
used to urge his mare to her utmost speed. Jabal's companions were amazed
and indignant at his strange conduct. "O thou father of a jackass!" they
cried, "thou hast helped the thief to rob thee of thy jewel." But he
silenced their upbraidings by saying: "I would rather lose her than sully
her reputation. Would you have me suffer it to be said among the tribes
that another mare had proved fleeter than mine? I have at least this
comfort left me, that I can say she never met with her match."

Different countries have their different modes of horsemanship, but
amongst all of them its first practice was carried on in but a rude and
indifferent way, being hardly a stepping stone to the comfort and delight
gained from the use of the horse at the present day. The polished Greeks
as well as the ruder nations of Northern Africa, for a long while rode
without either saddle or bridle, guiding their horses, with the voice or
the hand, or with a light switch with which they touched the animal on the
side of the face to make him turn in the opposite direction. They urged
him forward by a touch of the heel, and stopped him by catching him by the
muzzle. Bridles and bits were at length introduced, but many centuries
elapsed before anything that could be called a saddle was used. Instead of
these, cloths, single or padded, and skins of wild beasts, often richly
adorned, were placed beneath the rider, but always without stirrups; and
it is given as an extraordinary fact, that the Romans even in the times
when luxury was carried to excess amongst them, never desired so simple an
expedient for assisting the horseman to mount, to lessen his fatigue and
aid him in sitting more securely in his saddle. Ancient sculptors prove
that the horsemen of almost every country were accustomed to mount their
horses from the right side of the animal, that they might the better grasp
the mane, which hangs on that side, a practice universally changed in
modern times. The ancients generally leaped on their horse's backs, though
they sometimes carried a spear, with a loop or projection about two feet
from the bottom which served them as a step. In Greece and Rome, the local
magistracy were bound to see that blocks for mounting (what the Scotch
call _loupin_-on-stanes) were placed along the road at convenient
distances. The great, however, thought it more dignified to mount their
horses by stepping on the bent backs of their servants or slaves, and many
who could not command such costly help used to carry a light ladder about
with them. The first distinct notice that we have of the use of the saddle
occurs in the edict of the Emperor Theodosias, (A.D. 385) from which we
also learn that it was usual for those who hired post-horses, to provide
their own saddle, and that the saddle should not weigh more than sixty
pounds, a cumbrous contrivance, more like the howdahs placed on the backs
of elephants than the light and elegant saddle of modern times.
Side-saddles for ladies are an invention of comparatively recent date. The
first seen in England was made for Anne of Bohemia, wife of Richard the
Second, and was probably more like a pillion than the side-saddle of the
present day. A pillion is a sort of a very low-backed arm-chair, and was
fastened on the horse's croup, behind the saddle, on which a man rode who
had all the care of managing the horse, while the lady sat at her ease,
supporting herself by grasping a belt which he wore, or passing her arm
around his body, if the _gentleman was not too ticklish_. But the Mexicans
manage these things with more gallantry than the ancients did. The
"pisanna," or country lady, we are told is often seen mounted before her
"cavalera," who take the more natural position of being seated behind his
fair one, supporting her by throwing his arm around her waist, (a very
appropriate support if the bent position of the arm does not cause an
occasional contraction of the muscles.) These two positions may justly be
considered as the first steps taken by the ladies towards their improved
and elegant mode of riding at the present day.

At an early period when the diversion of hawking was prevalent, they
dressed themselves in the costume of the knight, and rode astride. Horses
were in general use for many centuries before anything like a protection
for the hoof was thought of, and it was introduced, at first, as a matter
of course, on a very simple scale. The first foot defense, it is said,
which was given to the horse, was on the same principle as that worn by
man, which was a sort of sandal, made of leather and tied to the horse's
foot, by means of straps or strings. And finally plates of metal were
fastened to the horse's feet by the same simple means.

Here again, as in the case of the sturrupless saddle, when we reflect that
men should, for nearly a thousand years, have gone on fastening plates of
metal under horses' hoofs by the clumsy means of straps and strings,
without its ever occurring to them to try so simple an improvement as
nails, we have another remarkable demonstration of the slow steps by which
horsemanship has reached its present state.

In the forgoing remarks I have taken the liberty of extracting several
facts from a valuable little work by Rolla Springfield. With this short
comment on the rise and progress of horsemanship, from its commencement up
to the present time, I will proceed to give you the principles of a new
theory of taming wild horses, which is the result of many experiments and
a thorough investigation and trial of the different methods of
horsemanship now in use.


Founded on the Leading Characteristics of the Horse.

FIRST.--That he is so constituted by nature that he will not offer
resistance to any demand made of him which he fully comprehends, if made
in a way consistent with the laws of his nature.

SECOND.--That he has no consciousness of his strength beyond his
experience, and can be handled according to our will, without force.

THIRD.--That we can, in compliance with the laws of his nature by which he
examines all things new to him, take any object, however frightful,
around, over or on him, that does not inflict pain, without causing him to

To take these assertions in order, I will first give you some of the
reasons why I think he is naturally obedient, and will not offer
resistance to anything fully comprehended. The horse, though possessed of
some faculties superior to man's being deficient in reasoning powers, has
no knowledge of right or wrong, of free will and independent government,
and knows not of any imposition practiced upon him, however unreasonable
these impositions may be. Consequently, he cannot come to any decision
what he should or should not do, because he has not the reasoning
faculties of man to argue the justice of the thing demanded of him. If he
had, taking into consideration his superior strength, he would be useless
to man as a servant. Give him _mind_ in proportion to his strength, and he
will demand of us the green fields for an inheritance, where he will roam
at leisure, denying the right of servitude at all. God has wisely formed
his nature so that it can be operated upon by the knowledge of man
according to the dictates of his will, and he might well be termed an
unconscious, submissive servant. This truth we can see verified in every
day's experience by the abuses practiced upon him. Any one who chooses to
be so cruel, can mount the noble steed and run him 'till he drops with
fatigue, or, as is often the case with more spirited, fall dead with the
rider. If he had the power to reason, would he not vault and pitch his
rider, rather than suffer him to run him to death? Or would he condescend
to carry at all the vain imposter, who, with but equal intellect, was
trying to impose on his equal rights and equally independent spirit? But
happily for us, he has no consciousness of imposition, no thought of
disobedience except by impulse caused by the violation of the law of
nature. Consequently when disobedient it is the fault of man.

Then, we can but come to the conclusion, that if a horse is not taken in a
way at variance with the law of his nature, he will do anything that he
fully comprehends without making any offer of resistance.

_Second._ The fact of the horse being unconscious of the amount of his
strength, can be proven to the satisfaction of any one. For instance, such
remarks as these are common, and perhaps familiar to your recollection.
One person says to another, "If that wild horse there was conscious of the
amount of his strength, his owner could have no business with him in that
vehicle; such light reins and harness, too; if he knew he could snap them
asunder in a minute and be as free as the air we breathe;" and, "that
horse yonder that is pawing and fretting to follow the company that is
fast leaving him, if he knew his strength he would not remain long
fastened to that hitching post so much against his will, by a strap that
would no more resist his powerful weight and strength, than a cotton
thread would bind a strong man." Yet these facts made common by every day
occurrence, are not thought of as anything wonderful. Like the ignorant
man who looks at the different phases of the moon, you look at these
things as he looks at her different changes, without troubling your mind
with the question, "Why are these things so?" What would be the condition
of the world if all our minds lay dormant? If men did not think, reason
and act, our undisturbed, slumbering intellects would not excel the
imbecility of the brute; we would live in chaos, hardly aware of our
existence. And yet with all our activity of mind, we daily pass by
unobserved that which would be wonderful if philosophised and reasoned
upon, and with the same inconsistency wonder at that which a little
consideration, reason and philosophy would be but a simple affair.

_Thirdly._ He will allow any object, however frightful in appearance, to
come around, over or on him, that does not inflict pain.

We know from a natural course of reasoning, that there has never been an
effected without a cause, and we infer from this, that there can be no
action, either in animate or inanimate matter, without there first being
some cause to produce it. And from this self-evident fact we know that
there is some cause for every impulse or movement of either mind or
matter, and that this law governs every action or movement of the animal
kingdom. Then, according to this theory, there must be some cause before
fear can exist; and, if fear exists from the effect of imagination, and
not from the infliction of real pain, it can be removed by complying with
those laws of nature by which the horse examines an object, and determines
upon its innocence or harm.

A log or stump by the road-side may be, in the imagination of the horse,
some great beast about to pounce upon him; but after you take him up to it
and let him stand by it a little while, and touch it with his nose, and go
through his process of examination, he will not care any thing more about
it. And the same principle and process will have the same effect with any
other object, however frightful in appearance, in which there is no harm.
Take a boy that has been frightened by a false-face or any other object
that he could not comprehend at once; but let him take that face or object
in his hands and examine it, and he will not care anything more about it.
This is a demonstration of the same principle.

With this introduction to the principles of my theory, I shall next
attempt to teach you how to put it into practice, and whatever
instructions may follow, you can rely on as having been proven practical
by my own experiments. And knowing from experience just what obstacles I
have met with in handling bad horses, I shall try to anticipate them for
you, and assist you in surmounting them, by commencing with the first
steps taken with the colt, and accompanying you through the whole task of


Go to the pasture and walk around the whole herd quietly, and at such a
distance as not to cause them to scare and run. Then approach them very
slowly, and if they stick up their heads and seem to be frightened, hold
on until they become quiet, so as not to make them run before you are
close enough to drive them in the direction you want to go. And when you
begin to drive, do not flourish your arms or hollow, but gently follow
them off leaving the direction free for them that you wish them to take.
Thus taking advantage of their ignorance, you will be able to get them in
the pound as easily as the hunter drives the quails into his net. For, if
they have always run into the pasture uncared for, (as many horses do in
prairie countries and on large plantations,) there is no reason why they
should not be as wild as the sportsman's birds and require the same gentle
treatment, if you want to get them without trouble; for the horse in his
natural state is as wild as any of the undomesticated animals, though more
easily tamed than most of them.


The next step will be, to get the horse into a stable or shed. This should
be done as quietly as possible, so as not to excite any suspicion in the
horse of any danger befalling him. The best way to do this, is to lead a
gentle horse into the stable first and hitch him, then quietly walk around
the colt and let him go in of his own accord. It is almost impossible to
get men, who have never practiced on this principle, to go slow and
considerate enough about it. They do not know that in handling a wild
horse, above all other things, is that good old adage true, that "haste
makes waste;" that is, waste of time, for the gain of trouble and

One wrong move may frighten your horse, and make him think it is necessary
to escape at all hazards for the safety of his life, and thus make two
hours work of a ten minutes job; and this would be all your own fault, and
entirely unnecessary; for he will not run unless you run after him, and
that would not be good policy, unless you knew that you could outrun him;
or you will have to let him stop of his own accord after all. But he will
not try to break away, unless you attempt to force him into measures. If
he does not see the way at once, and is a little fretful about going in,
do not undertake to drive him, but give him a little less room outside, by
gently closing in around him. Do not raise your arms, but let them hang at
your side; for you might as well raise a club. The horse has never studied
anatomy, and does not know but they will unhinge themselves and fly at
him. It he attempts to turn back, walk before him, but do not run; and if
he gets past you, encircle him again in the same quiet manner, and he will
soon find that you are not going to hurt him; and you can soon walk so
close around him that he will go into the stable for more room, and to get
farther from you. As soon as he is in, remove the quiet horse and shut the
door. This will be his first notion of confinement--not knowing how to get
in such a place, nor how to get out of it. That he may take it as quietly
as possible, see that the shed is entirely free from dogs, chickens, or
anything that would annoy him; then give him a few ears of corn, and let
him remain alone fifteen or twenty minutes, until he has examined his
apartment, and has become reconciled to his confinement.


And now, while your horse is eating those few ears of corn, is the proper
time to see that your halter is ready and all right, and to reflect on the
best mode of operations; for, in the horsebreaking, it is highly
important that you should be governed by some system. And you should know
before you attempt to do anything, just what you are going to do, and how
you are going to do it. And, if you are experienced in the art of taming
wild horses, you ought to be able to tell within a few minutes the length
of time it would take you to halter the colt, and learn him to lead.


Always use a leather halter, and be sure to have it made so that it will
not draw tight around his nose if he pulls on it. It should be of the
right size to fit his head easily and nicely; so that the nose band will
not be too tight or too low. Never put a rope halter on an unbroken colt
under any circumstances whatever. They have caused more horses to hurt or
kill themselves, than would pay for twice the cost of all the leather
halters that have ever been needed for the purpose of haltering colts. It
is almost impossible to break a colt that is very wild with a rope halter,
without having him pull, rear and throw himself, and thus endanger his
life; and I will tell you why. It is just as natural for a horse to try to
get his head out of anything that hurts it, or feels unpleasant, as it
would be for you to try to get your hand out of a fire. The cords of the
rope are hard and cutting; this makes him raise his head and draw on it,
and as soon as he pulls, the slip noose (the way rope halters are always
made) tightens, and pinches his nose, and then he will struggle for life,
until, perchance, he throws himself; and who would have his horse throw
himself, and run the risk of breaking his neck, rather than pay the price
of a leather halter. But this is not the worst. A horse that has once
pulled on his halter, can never be as well broke as one that has never
pulled at all.


But before we attempt to do anything more with the colt, I will give you
some of the characteristics of his nature, that you may better understand
his motions. Every one that has ever paid any attention to the horse, has
noticed his natural inclination to smell of everything which to him looks
new and frightful. This is their strange mode of examining everything.
And, when they are frightened at anything, though they look at it sharply,
they seem to have no confidence in this optical examination alone, but
must touch it with the nose before they are entirely satisfied; and, as
soon as this is done, all is right.


If you want to satisfy yourself of this characteristic of the horse, and
learn something of importance concerning the peculiarities of his nature,
etc., turn him into the barn-yard, or a large stable will do, and then
gather up something that you know will frighten him; a red blanket,
buffalo robe, or something of that kind. Hold it up so that he can see it;
he will stick up his head and snort. Then throw it down somewhere in the
center of the lot or barn, and walk off to one side. Watch his motions,
and study his nature. If he is frightened at the object, he will not rest
until he has touched it with his nose. You will see him begin to walk
around the robe and snort, all the time getting a little closer, as if
drawn up by some magic spell, until he finally gets within reach of it. He
will then very cautiously stretch out his neck as far as he can reach,
merely touching it with his nose, as though he thought it was ready to fly
at him. But after he has repeated these touches a few times, for the first
(though he has been looking at it all the time) he seems to have an idea
what it is. But now he has found, by the sense of feeling, that it is
nothing that will do him any harm, and he is ready to play with it. And if
you watch him closely, you will see him take hold of it with his teeth,
and raise it up and pull at it. And in a few minutes you can see that he
has not that same wild look about his eye, but stands like a horse biting
at some familiar stump.

Yet the horse is never well satisfied when he is about anything that has
frightened him, as when he is standing with his nose to it. And, in nine
cases out of ten, you will see some of that same wild look about him
again, as he turns to walk from it. And you will, probably, see him
looking back very suspiciously as he walks away, as though he thought it
might come after him yet. And, in all probability, he will have to go back
and make another examination before he is satisfied. But he will
familiarize himself with it, and, if he should run in that lot a few days,
the robe that frightened him so much at first, will be no more to him than
a familiar stump.


We might very naturally suppose, from the fact of the horse's applying his
nose to every thing new to him, that he always does so for the purpose of
smelling these objects. But I believe that it is as much or more for the
purpose of feeling; and that he makes use of his nose or muzzle, (as it is
sometimes called.) as we would of our hands; because it is the only organ
by which he can touch or feel anything with much susceptibility.

I believe that he invariably makes use of the four senses, seeing,
hearing, smelling and feeling, in all of his examinations, of which the
sense of feeling is, perhaps, the most important. And I think that in the
experiment with the robe, his gradual approach and final touch with his
nose was as much for the purpose of feeling, as anything else, his sense
of smell being so keen, that it would not be necessary for him to touch
his nose against anything in order to get the proper scent; for it is said
that a horse can smell a man the distance of a mile. And, if the scent of
the robe was all that was necessary, he could get that several rods off.
But, we know from experience, that if a horse sees and smells a robe a
short distance from him, he is very much frightened, (unless he is used to
it,) until he touches or feels it with his nose; which is a positive proof
that feeling is the controlling sense in this case.


It is a prevailing opinion among horsemen generally, that the sense of
smell is the governing sense of the horse. And Faucher, as well as others,
have, with that view, got up receipts of strong smelling oils, etc., to
tame the horse, sometimes using the chesnut of his leg, which they dry,
grind into powder and blow into his nostrils. Sometimes using the oil of
rhodium, organnnum, etc.; that are noted for their strong smell. And
sometimes they scent the hands with the sweat from under the arm, or blow
their breath into his nostrils, etc., etc. All of which, as far as the
scent goes have no effect whatever in gentling the horse, or conveying any
idea to his mind; though the works that accompany these efforts--handling
him, touching him about the nose and head, and patting him, as they direct
you should, after administering the articles, may have a very great
effect, which they mistake to be the effect of the ingredients used. And
Faucher, in his work entitled, "The Arabian art of taming Horses," page
17, tells us how to accustom a horse to a robe, by administering certain
articles to his nose; and goes on to say, that these articles must first
be applied to the horse's nose before you attempt to break him, in order
to operate successfully.

Now, reader, can you, or any one else, give one single reason how scent
can convey any idea to the horse's mind of what we want him to do? If not,
then of course strong scents of any kind are of no account in taming the
unbroken horse. For every thing that we get him to do of his own accord,
without force, must be accomplished by some means of conveying our ideas
to his mind. I say to my horse "go 'long" and he goes; "ho!" and he stops:
because these two words, of which he has learned the meaning by the tap
of the whip, and the pull of the rein that first accompanied them, convey
the two ideas to his mind of go and stop.

Faucher, or no one else, can ever learn the horse a single thing by the
means of a scent alone.

How long do you suppose a horse would have to stand and smell of a bottle
of oil before he would learn to bend his knee and make a bow at your
bidding, "go yonder and bring your hat," or "come here and lay down?" Thus
you see the absurdity of trying to break or tame the horse by the means of
receipts for articles to smell of, or medicine to give him, of any kind

The only science that has ever existed in the world, relative to the
breaking of horses, that has been of any account, is that true method
which takes them in their native state, and improves their intelligence.

Part B
Horseman's guide (Alternative cures and methods)

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