"On peut amener tous les chevaux a piaffer." - BAUCHER.*
FOR the "Piaffer" to be regular and graceful, the horse's alternate legs (off fore and near hind, and near fore and off hind) must be raised and brought to the ground together, the intervals of time between each footfall being made as long as possible.
The horse must neither lean on hand or leg, and his balance should be perfect.
Begin by communicating an impulse with the legs, light at first, but often repeated; then let the horse walk on, closing your legs gradually, and exciting him to increase his action; then, then only, feel the reins in concert with the legs, and at the same intervals of time, keeping up an imperceptible incitement, which re-acts on the horse, and makes him keep his legs going, though without any regularity or precision. Be satisfied with this at first, and whenever the horse raises his legs, bringing them to the ground again without gaining much ground to the front, halt, and make much of him, and soothe him after the excitement you have caused, by requiring of him that, the object of which he does not as yet understand.
Once the horse is brought to keep his legs moving, then begin to regulate, and increase, the interval of time at which he raises them and brings them to the ground.
It is by the pressure of each leg in succession you oblige the horse to remain longer balanced on the opposite side. At the moment the horse is preparing to bring his fore leg to the ground, close your leg on the same side; if you do this at the proper time the horse will balance himself slowly from side to side, and raise his legs well off the ground.
By quickening the alternate pressure of your legs you quicken the "Piaffer;" it therefore depends upon yourself to regulate the pace; but, remember, that the horse must be kept in perfect "equilibrium," and never allowed to lean either on hand or leg.
* Monsieur Baucher includes the "Piaffer", in his lessons for cavalry; it certainly adds greatly to their appearance, by imparting a proud and martial carriage to the horses, and assists in maintaining them always light in hand; but I think the quieter a cavalry horse is kept the better, and have, therefore, not included it in my drill, but merely add it, for the instruction of those who wish to carry out the system further than I consider necessary for cavalry purposes.
Translation from Monsieur Baucher's "Méthode d'Equitation," explaining the following performances, (called "Baucher's Seize Nouveaux Airs de Manége,") as exhibited by him on his horses, "Partisan," "Capitaine," "Neptune," and "Buridan." They are adapted only for the circus, but they are both extraodinary and interesting, as they shew to what extent the system may be carried.
Those who did systematically deny the efficacy of my "Méthode," should have also denied its results. But they were obliged to admit, together with the public, that my performance at the "Cirque Olympique" was both new and extraordinary; though one and all attributed the result to different causes, maintaining, of course, that the rider's horsemanship was nothing, compared to the sagacity displayed by the horse.
According to some, I was a new Carter, taming my horses by depriving them of rest and nourishment; others would have it, that I tied ropes to their legs, suspended them in mid air, and then made their limbs play like those of puppets; some, again, supposed that I fascinated them by the power of the eye; and part of the audience, seeing the horses work in time to my friend Monsieur Paul Cuzent's charming music, actually maintained seriously, that the horses had a capital "ear for music," and that they stopped at once with the clarionets and trombones.
Thus music had more power over the horse than I had - the beast obeyed an "ut," or a "sol," "staccato;" but my hands and legs went for nothing!
Could any one imagine such nonsense emanating from people who actually passed for horsemen!
I conceive perfectly that they could not at onne understand the means employed because my "Méthode" was new; but, before passing judgment on it in such an extraordinary way, they should, I think, have tried at least to make themselves acquainted with it.
I found the old school of Equitation so limited, and its movements all so much alike, that when you could do one, you could do them all. The rider who, on a straight line at a walk, trot, and canter, could make the horse work with his hind legs upon a parallel line to his fore, could, of course, work "Passage Shoulder In," "Passage Shoulder Out," "Shoulder In," and perform the "Voltes Ordinaires," or "Renversées," "Change of Hand," &c., &c., &c.
As for the "Piaffer," it was supposed that nature alone decided that point.
This long and tedious work had no variety but in the different names applied to its movements; since it was sufficient to conquer the first difficulty to overcome all the others.
I therefore invented some new "Airs de Manége," (movements,) the execution of which required the horse to be more supple, better in hand, and to have more finish in his education, than was formerly necessary.
With my system, this was easy; and, to convince my adversaries that in my performance at the Circus there was neither mystery nor magic, I shall explain by what means - purely equestrian - I brought the horses to execute the sixteen "Airs de Manége" that appeared so wonderful, and this without the assistance of pillars, caveçons, or whips.
I. The horse bending and raising one of his fore legs and holding it up, whilst the remaining three legs are fast to the ground.
Bend the horse's head slightly to
the right, throwing his weight to the left. Close both legs (the left
more than the right) to prevent the hand from acting too much on the
weight; then, with the same power you employ to keep fast the part
weighted, (namely, with a feeling of both reins and a pressure of
the right leg,) communicate an impulse to the off fore, sufficient to
make him raise and hold it up.
By repeating this exercise a few times you can make the horse hold up his leg as long as you like.
II. The horse resting on the fore legs, whilst the hind legs are alternately raised and balanced one over the other; the hind leg which is held up moving from left to right without touching the ground, to become in its turn the support, whilst the other hind leg is raised and executes the same movement.
Circling the haunches to the right
and left round the forehand is one of the elementary exercises I have
laid down for the instruction of the horse. Make this exercise more
complicated by bringing each leg alternately in contact with the
horse's side, until you get him to step freely from one hind leg to
the other, without the movement from right to left, and from left to
right, exceeding a step each way.
This work improves and sharpens the rider's perception of the use of hand and leg, and prepares the horse to respond to every aid, however slight.
III. From the slow "Piaffer" to the quick "Piaffer," and vice versâ.
The slow " Piaffer" is obtained by
the slow and alternate pressure of the rider's legs. The quick "
Piaffer " by quickening the alternate pressure of the leg.
Any horse can be brought to "Piaffer," both slow and quick but perfect "tact" is indispensable, for this already ranks amongst "equestrian difficulties."
IV. To "rein back" with an equal elevation of the alternate fore and hind feet, which are raised and brought to the ground again together; the horse executing this movement with as much freedom and ease as if moving forward, and apparently without assistance from the rider.
back" is nothing new in itself, though it becomes so under the
conditions I impose.
It is only by previously making the horse perfectly supple, and by having him well "reined in," that you can suspend the horse's body in such a manner, between hand and leg, that the weight be equally divided, and that the legs acquire equal energy and activity; and then the movement is as easy and as graceful as the mere "backing" a horse is painful and destitute of all elegance.
V. The horse lifts the alternate fore and hind legs, carries them back, and then forward again to their former position, to allow of the opposite two being raised and doing the same.
If the horse is supple and well in
hand, this movement is easy; for when the horse is completely
subdued, he answers to the lightest aids applied by the rider; and
these are intended in this instance to displace barely sufficient
weight, and to give just impulse enough to induce the movement of the
two alternate legs.
By practice the horse will soon get accustomed to this movement
The animal's intelligence keeps pace with the progress made in his education.
VI. Trot, dwelling on each stride; the horse having raised his legs, extends them forward, sustaining them for a moment before he brings them to the ground.
My system is based on principles
which reproduce themselves at each simple movement. How much more
then are they brought into play in these complicated ones.
If the "equilibrium" is only to be obtained through lightness in hand, in return, no lightness of hand can exist without "equilibrium;" but when these qualities are united, then the horse acquires the facility of extending his trot to the very furthest limits, and thus greatly improves his style of going.
VII. "Serpentine Trot," the horse turning to the right and to the left, returning nearly to the starting point, after taking five or six steps in each direction.
Practise the horse at bending his head and neck to both hands whilst at a walk, always closing the leg opposite to the side you bend him to, and keeping him well in hand; then practise him at it in the same way at a trot, and you will have no difficulty in executing the serpentine, but unless the above conditions are adhered to, the performance is impossible.
VIII. To halt the horse on the spot when at a gallop by the use of the spur.
The horse having been reduced to
perfect obedience, and got well in hand by the use of the spur, he is
prepared to be stopped when at a gallop by the above means.
Practise it from a slow gallop at first, and increase by degrees to the greatest speed; the legs preceding the hand will bring the haunches under the horse, when a sudden feeling of both reins stopping them in that position, immediately arrests the further spring of the horse.
IX. The horse without moving off his ground, keeps one of his fore legs in motion, performing, by the will of the rider, that movement by which he often of his own accord shews his impatience ("Pawing").
This is done by the same means
employed to make the horse hold up one of his fore legs, in which
case, the rider's legs keep up a constant pressure, so that the force
employed to make the horse raise his leg is continued to make him
hold it there; whilst in this movement the impulse must be constantly
renewed by a succession of slight pressures, in order to keep that
leg in motion.
The horse's leg acquires a movement subordinate to that of the rider, and if the leg is applied at the proper moment, it will appear almost as if he moved the animal by mechanism.
X. Reining back at a trot, the horse working at the same regular-pace, the feet coming to the ground at the same steady intervals as when trotting forward.
To rein back at a trot, the first
condition required is perfect regularity of pace, and that the horse
shall be as much collected as possible.
The second condition is dependent entirely on the rider.
He must try by degrees, whilst collecting the horse, to make the resources of the forehand press on those of the haunches, without upsetting the harmony of action which must necessarily exist.
You see, therefore, that by having your horse properly collected, you first get him to "piaffer" on his own ground, and then to "piaffer" reining back; in time, without even the assistance of the reins.
XI. "Reining back at a canter," the pace being the same as when cantering forwards, but when the forelegs are raised they are carried back instead of forward, and when brought to the ground the hind legs retrograde in the same way.
The same principles are applicable
to this as to the preceding movement; the horse being perfectly
collected, his hind legs are already so near the central point, that
by raising the forehand the houghs cannot move otherwise than "up and
A horse of high metal is easily brought to this work, but it should not be tried with an inferior animal.
*The horse in raising his hind legs cannot put them forward for the forehand in pressing him back.
XII. Changing leg when at a canter at each stride.
This is difficult work, and the
horse must have been often practised at changing leg to fit him for
Before changing from stride to stride, teach the horse to change at every two strides.
It depends upon the aptitude shewn by the horse, and above all, on the intelligence of the rider; with this last quality there is no obstacle he cannot surmount.
The horse must keep up the same degree of action, and remain light in hand throughout, if he is to perform with all desirable precision; and the rider must carefully avoid throwing his horse's forehand roughly from side to side to obtain the changes of leg.
XIII. Pirouettes renversées on three legs, during which the horse holds up the fore leg on that side to which he turns.
renversées " must be familiar to a horse broken in on my
system, and I have shewn how to make him hold up one of the fore
If these movements are well done separately, they are easily combined. In preparing the horse for the "pirouette," prepare him at the same time to raise the fore leg; once up, throw the weight to the side opposed to that you are going to turn to, by pressing on it with hand and leg; the leg on the side you turn to giving a forward impulse to the horse, to prevent the hand from throwing the horse too much back.
XIV. "Reining back," pausing at each step, the horse's right leg remaining stretched out and immovable over the ground that the left has passed over, and vice versâ.
This movement depends upon the cleverness of the rider, for it is the result of a combination of aids which cannot be particularized. Although it is not a graceful movement, the experienced horseman will do well to practise it, to make himself master of all the difficulties of his profession.
XV. "Piaffer " with a sudden halt on three legs, the fourth remaining raised in the air.
Here again, as in the pirouettes on three legs, it is by practising separately the piaffer, and the raising one of the fore legs that you afterwards succeed in combining the two. To accustom the horse to this work, stop him when piaffing, forcing him at the same time to raise one of his fore legs.
XVI. Changing leg each stride, and at equal intervals, without the horse moving off his ground.
This is done in the same way as on the move; but it is much more complicated, as you must communicate an impulse only just sufficient to make the horse change leg, without moving him forward. It requires good management on the part of the rider, and can only be done with a horse thoroughly broken in, and broken in after my fashion.
The above are the new "Airs de Manége," which I amused myself by inventing, and performed often before the public. They appeared so extraordinary, that no one would believe they were brought about by purely equestrian means; and yet they are simple enough, and easily understood by those acquainted with the principles of my "Méthode."
In every one of these movements the precepts of this work are brought into play. But I repeat, though I have added much that is new and interesting to the art of equitation, I do not pretend to have attained to its furthest limits; and some one may follow me, who, by studying my system and carrying it out with intelligence, may surpass me in my career and add to the results which I have obtained.
0n the Performances of Horses at liberty.
THE first time horses were seen to kneel, lie down, sit at table, &c., &c., &c., it created great astonishment; and even now it causes some degree of surprise*; and yet there are few persons who could not bring horses to do these things by the following means.
I shall leave out those antics requiring no cleverness in the trainer, no study for the horse, which astonish and amuse the public only because they are ignorant of the means employed. My object is not to treat of what the mountebank does+, but merely to detail that work which requires the man to have patience and "tact," and which shews decided intelligence in the horse.
The great point in teaching a horse, is to know, when he refuses to obey, whether he does so from caprice, obstinacy, vice, or from ignorance, and in this lies the only difficulty.
If the horse does not understand what you want, and you punish him because he has not understood you, will he then understand you better?
The first thing is to teach the horse to know what you want; and you must in various little clever ways try to make him sensible of it, before you attempt to impress it on his memory.
Is it with blows that you will make him sensible of it? Certainly not: but make the object in view as clearly perceptible to his faculties as you possibly can: then by punishment or caresses, applied at the right moment, impress the movements required on his memory.
The prettiest work for the horse, is that wherein he is almost entirely left to himself, and with this we will begin.
For this sort of training a circus is best; the man is nearer to his horse, and can more easily correct his faults.
We first teach the horse to remain on the track near the boards, at a walk, trot, and gallop, then to leave that track, and turn to the right or left.
Put a surcingle on the horse with a ring in the pad, to tie the snaffle or bit reins to; tie these according to the horse's action, and the way he carries his head; then put on a cavesson, with a longe about eleven yards long.
When the horse is brought in, go up to him kindly and give him some sugar, to which accustom him beforehand; hold the line in the left hand, the whip in the right, at first only allow him about six inches of longe, and accustom him to the cracking of the whip; if he does not fly from it, make much of him; place yourself opposite and about three paces from him, looking at him kindly; horses know perfectly if you are favorably disposed towards them, or otherwise, and they will more readily approach him whose look is kind. You must be equally careful in adapting the inflections of the voice, as circumstances require.
These are by no means unimportant rules; for the greater the command you wish to obtain over the horse, the more must you endeavour to make him understand and interpret your slightest gesture.
From the distance he is at (namely, three yards,) make him come to you, calling out in a loud voice, "à moi," (here, or come here). He will not understand it the first time; use the whip, touching him up under the girth, till he comes, then sooth him after the punishment administered, pat and speak to him, and give him some sugar; begin again giving him a little more line, as soon as you know that he will not attempt to rush off; the horse will soon learn to obey the voice: at last let him out to the full extent of the line, slackening it at the word "à moi," if he comes at once, caress him and give him some sugar, otherwise hold the line steady, stand fast yourself, and touch him up with the whip till he obeys.
It is better to accustom the horse to obey through fear, than through the hope of recompense. He will never forget the causes that brought punishment upon him, and as you have taught him to escape the infliction by coming to you, he will obey willingly and quickly; if on the contrary, kind means are only used, he might forget them, and play some trick, and then how punish him for such a freak? It would be difficult, because the very prank he was playing would make him forget all about the accustomed reward, and he would only come back when he pleased. Thus you would be at his mercy, for he would obey only when he bethought himself of the reward.
You must make him fear and like you at the same time.
The horse should approach when you call, and throwing your body back suddenly should make him turn in any direction.
Lead him to the boards on the right hand, stand near his shoulder, holding him by the cavesson line, go away from him gradually as soon as he no longer tries to follow you. Hold the butt of the whip to him each time he tries to leave the boards; if he starts off in a trot before you order him, give the word "Walk," dwelling on the word.
If a horse is trained by a patient and observing person, the animal's intelligence will keep pace with his education, and in a few days he will walk on steadily, though the trainer be ten yards off.
To make him trot, lift the hand, shew him the whip, and say, "Trot," raising the voice and dwelling on the word; keep him going, and prevent him with the whip from falling again into a walk, if he hurries, shake the line to restrain him, bring him often to a walk, using the word, "Walk," and slightly shaking the line.
Make him gallop by the same means as far as the whip goes, but when you say, "Gallop," let it be with a louder voice than for the trot. It is not the word, but the difference of intonation, which makes him obey.
From the "Gallop" to the "Trot," is the same as from the "Trot" to the "Walk," lowering the voice and dwelling on the word "Trot."
In addition to the variation in the voice, you must assist the meaning of the words, by moving the body more or less energetically in proportion to the increase of pace you order.
Thus, walk quicker when he is galloping, slower when he is trotting, and slower still when he is at a walk.
Though you are a good way from the horse, he will nevertheless have his eye upon you, and will follow more easily your movements than the words of command, which he only understands through the various other indications which accompany them.
The horse having been accustomed to approach at the word "à moi,," (or any other word you are in the habit of using,) you throwing your body back at the same time, he will easily learn to turn across the circus in the same way; give the word "Turn;" if he hesitates use the longe and whip to bring him to you; then lead him across, remaining at his shoulder; after repeating this till he comes to you, walk on with him, to keep him going to the opposite side.
Changes of hand are easier still, for the horse always tries to avoid you. To make him change, get a little in front of him on the side he is going to, and shew him the whip.
The mistrust he feels induces him to cut across the circus changing to the opposite hand; but you must use the line and the whip, if necessary, to make him come to you first, otherwise, instead of changing hand properly, he would finish by twisting round on his haunches.
Caress him and make him understand the way he is to go. In time, and by repeating these movements, he will come to know them perfectly, and will then anticipate your wishes.
This is so true, that I could not blow my nose whilst exercising one of my horses without the movement of my arm bringing him into the school immediately. I had mastered his faculties to such a degree, that all his attention was fixed upon me; and I could make him do all manner of things without opening my mouth, but merely by moving my head or shoulders, and this so little as to be imperceptible to the spectators.
When the horse does his work well, take off the cavesson; but when he does anything wrong put it on again. To prevent disobedience, divide the lesson into two parts, working the first part with, and the second part without the cavesson.
To teach a horse to "fetch and carry" requires great patience; but, however small the success at first, do not be discouraged. It is during this interval that the lessons are gradually taking effect on the horse's memory, and if you do not increase his difficulties by undue haste, he will profit by your lessons and come to understand your wishes perfectly.
Leave him in the stable and in his own stall, that he may not fret by thinking of you. Put in a white cloth some oats and sugar, go up to his near side, pass your right arm under his head, and make him open his mouth, by pressing the forefinger on his lower jaw; with the left hand put the cloth between his teeth; keep the thumb and forefinger on the upper and lower lip, and each time the horse tries to get rid of what he is holding, press the lips together sharply, and in a quick and marked manner; repeat this a hundred times if necessary, always putting the cloth with the oats and sugar back into his mouth; and above all, apply the slight punishment of compressing his lips, at the proper moment.
Sometimes after this tiresome beginning, the teeth will be kept closed a little longer; then caress him with hand and voice.
The oats and sugar impregnated with saliva will make the horse anxious to taste them, and he will rush at the handkerchief when you put it near his lips. Lower it or remove it to get him to follow, and soon, wherever he can see, he will try to get at it.
To make him pick it up off the ground, say, "à terre," (on the ground,) if he does not take it, try to shew him with your hand what is wanted, point out where the handkerchief is; if he will not go to it, the cavesson may be found useful.
Act carefully till you are convinced that it is not ignorance the horse's part; if, after picking it up once, he was so capricious as to refuse to do it a second time, speak to him with severity, and use the whip, without, however, losing your temper.
You cannot, without punishment, bring even a well-trained horse to passive obedience. It often happened to me, with a clever mare I had, that, when I threw the handkerchief to some distance, I could not prevail upon her to pick it up, till I threatened her with the whip, then she at once rushed off, and brought it to me.
went often so far as to induce a fear of sorcery. We have now before
us an old work on equitation, by "M. Delcampe, écuyer de la
grande écurie du roi," printed 166l, which gives us a
melancholy example of this. A Neapolitan, called Pietro, had a little
horse he named Mauraço, whose naturally good disposition he
turned to account. He broke him in, and taught him to perform without
saddle or bridle, and without any one being on his back.
This little beast would lie down, go on his knees, and make as many courbettes*, as his master told him to do. He carried a glove, or any other thing his master gave him, to the person he pointed out. He jumped over a stick, and through two or three hoops, and performed a thousand other antics.
Pietro, after having travelled over the greater part of the Continent, wished to give up these practices: unfortunately, in passing through Arles, he stopped. The people were so struck with his marvellous performance, and astonishment rose to such a pitch, that they took him for a sorcerer. Pietro and Mauraço were both burnt on the public market place.
+For instance, in a pantomime called, I think, "Gérard de Nevers," a lovelorn cavalier is in deep distress, unbridles his horse to feed him; but his faithful steed, (such is the intention,) sharing his master's grief, refuses the oats that are offered to him; and after having thrust his nose into them, he lifts his head with a negative shake, to the utter amazement and delight of the audience, who are not aware that the bottom of the basket is stuck full of pins.
*"Courbette," is a jump in which the horse raising both fore legs springs forward with his hind legs, giving ground to the front at each bound; the fore legs rising and falling together; and they are raised about half as high as a horse raises his legs when rearing.
It is with regret I publish the means of making a horse kneel, limp, lie down, and sit on his haunches, in the position called the "Cheval Gastronome."
This work is degrading to the horse and painful to the trainer, who no longer sees in the poor trembling beast the proud courser full of spirit and energy he took such pleasure in breaking in.
But having gone so far that, though reluctantly, I must fulfil the task I have imposed upon myself.
To make a horse kneel, tie his pastern joint to his elbow, make fast a longeing line to the other pastern joint; have this held tight, and strike that leg with a whip; the instant he raises it from the ground, pull at the longeing line to bend the leg. He cannot help himself, but must fall on his knees. Have plenty of saw-dust, or other soft substance, to prevent the horse hurting himself in his fall, or blemishing his knees, and, to make it more safe, wrap something round the knees. Make much of the horse in this position, and let him get up free from all hindrance.
As soon as he does this without difficulty, 1eave off the use of the longeing line to make him bend his leg; and soon after 1eave both legs at liberty; by striking him on the shins with a whip, he will understand that he is to kneel down.
Once on the knees, bend his head well to the off side, and, supporting him with the left rein, pull the right rein down against his neck, till he falls to the near side; once down at full length, make much of him,* and have his head held that he may not get up too suddenly, or before you wish him to do so. Profit by his present position to make him sit up on his haunches; raise his head and neck gently, and make him put out his fore legs; have a good hold of the bridoon reins with both hands, standing near his hind quarters; raise him gradually, and thus you will succeed in a few lessons, in making him sit in the position of the "Cheval Gastronome."
Once the horse is accustomed to kneel, by using a whip you can easily make him walk on his knees. Take the weight off the right side by bringing the head and neck to the left, then touching that part (from which the weight has been removed) with the whip, put it in motion; when the horse has moved forward on that side, repeat the same on the opposite side, and so on from one leg to the other, till the horse gets quite into the way of it.
*You can do this without assistance by placing your right foot on the right reins; this keeps the horse's nose raised from the ground, and thus deprives him of all power of struggling successfully against you.
Use the longeing line, strike his leg with the whip and hold it up with the line, and by forcing the horse to move on at the same time, he must always fall on the leg that is at liberty, and after a little practice he will limp at the slightest threat with the whip.
I shal1 not expatiate further on examples of this sort; what I have described already will prove quite sufficient to try one's patience upon. I should have abstained from the subject altogether, had not many people expressed a desire to become acquainted with the theory for thus shewing what an intelligent animal the horse really is - a theory which as yet had never been made public.
Few people take to this sort of work, and yet it is not without merit, when carried so far as to enable us to see into the animal's thoughts, and control his every movement by a mere gesture.
Every trainer of horses should devote himself to it sometimes. It is by no means useless in the profession he follows, and it is an amusing and instructive pastime when not carried too far.
This article will also have this advantage, that it will take from the mountebank the sort of superiority assumed over "school riders," whilst those antics were supposed to have been produced by means almost miraculous or supernatural, whereas they require less science and practice than is necessary to break in a horse in the most commonplace way.
PRINTED BY G. PHIPPS, RANELAGH STREET, EATON SQUARE.