A horse and a man have been on friendly terms for a long time. Horses often help people to overcome difficulties and win prizes. A. Brehm related an Arabic legend about the “creation” of this wonderful animal in his famous book “Animals’ Life”. When God created a horse, he told her: “You have no equal; all treasures of the Earth lies between your eyes. You will trample my enemies and drive my friends. Prays will be pronounced from your back. You will be happy on the whole Earth and will be appreciated higher than other creatures…” However horse’s happiness was miserable on the Earth, but it’s true that a man always appreciated a horse and often idolized this animal. God Viol’si, Volos, Vlas. Different nations calledhim differently, but it was always connected with revering a Horse. Ancient myths are full of such figures as fairy-tale horses and centaurs. The winged horse Pegasus is among them.
“On the Earth paradise can be found on the horseback, with a book of wisdom and in the heart of a woman”, - the Arabic proverb says. The inhabitants of Arab countries were always considered to be the greatest admires of horses and perfect masters of horse training. Arabic horses are famous all over the world. Count Vrangel’, an expert on horses, thinks that famous Russian saddle-horses of Count Orlov-Chesmensky came of the cross between Arabic and English breeds, then with Danish, Dutch and Ukrainian breeds. In 1802 a stud of saddle-horses was founded by Count Rostopchin in Voronovo Village near Moscow. Then it was transferred to Orlov Province and in 1815 – to Voronezh Province.
The prophet Mahomet said: “All evil comes from 2 reasons: from a woman and a horse” and “Real wealthis a clever woman and a fecund horse.”
A lot of women werecrazy on riding and were perfect horsewomen. The unity of a woman and a horse was so effective, that inspired a lot of painters for creating their masterpieces.
However, before becoming a horsewoman, a lady had tomaster the art of riding: to know how to saddle, bride and hold the rein. Moreover, she had to be patient and fearless and love riding. It’s not a simple matter to become a horsewoman!
Young ladies started riding at the age of 16-17, because their muscles were considered to be too delicate and weak for riding without prejudice to the health.
A great importance was attached to the technique of riding. Count Vrangel’ gave an interesting description of trotting, galloping and riding at a walk in his book “A Book about a Horse”, which was published in 1886 in St. Petersburg.
“If a horsewoman wants a horse to goat a walk, she should pull the rein and carefully press the ribs of the horse with the left leg. When the aim is achieved, the leg and the lady’s whip take the point of departure. Turnings are also made with the leg, the whip and with the help of the rein…
If a horsewoman wants a horse to go at a trot, she should do the same, but to an even greater degree.”
“During the jump a horsewoman shouldn’t exert any influence on the horse; she should sit in the saddle calmly and firmly… At that moment when the forelegs of the horse will be on the ground… she should help the horse with her arms… then the body takes the point of departure. If the horse stumbled, young lady should lean back quickly and at the same time prevent an accident with the help of the rein.”
If a horse doesn’t heed a horsewoman, Count Vrangel’ advised young ladies not to cry, irritating the horse, but sit firmer, lean back and try to reduce the speed. He also recommended horsewomen to let their hands down if the horse held the head high and to raise their hands if the horse lowered the head.
A lot of magazines offered horsewomen special costumes for riding: austere suits without any bands, fillets, veils and, of course, jewelry. They also offered low-heeled patent-leather jack-boots as shoes and a felt hat (or a straw hat for the country ride) as a head-dress. Ladies used special hear-pins, which were entwined with thin silk treads and held their coiffure well. Leather gloves were worn a size bigger. Wearing rings wasn’t recommended.
So, if everything is ready and mastered, it’s time to enjoy riding.
Pictures from the book of Count Vrangel’ “A Book about a Horse”, published in 1886 in St. Petersburg.