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2007.02.20 =>

More on the Horse

It's hard to sustain enough interest in contemporary bad writing even to censure it; but bad writing of the past can still delight, since I don't see it nearly as often except in Joyce's and Orwell's parodies. My Valentine's Day gift to fans of "Eumaeus" and "Politics and the English Language" is these introductory paragraphs from Learning to Ride by Captain Piero Santini, published 1941. Note especially the bewildering heap of verbs in the final sentence, sucked bloodless and wan through noun constructions and the passive voice.

Convinced as I am that “forward” riding, understood as a method and not as an attitude, has come to stay, and will eventually spread to all forms of outdoor equitation, I consider it imperative that the rising generations be clearly enlightened as to its true features. The main reason, therefore, that has induced me to write the present book, besides the desire synthetically to crystallize the principles more cursorily dealt with in preceding works, is definitely to establish the minimum that, in my opinion, beginners should know on these lines before being allowed to take any active part in field or ring.

It is, I hope, superfluous to point out that I address myself exclusively to those who conceive riding primarily as an outdoor sport. By this I do not mean that I do not give a certain type and measure of school work due place and importance, but it does signify that I regard any training not directly and continuously aimed at open air activities of some kind not only useless but deleterious to both horse and rider... I consider that the tyro for whose benefit the following pages are written will have left the chrysalis stage when he will have learnt sufficient to venture abroad with reasonable safety and comfort to himself and his mount. The minimum a novice should know is:

(1) To mount and dismount correctly.
(2) To walk, trot and gallop correctly.
(3) To halt correctly.
(4) To back correctly.
(5) To circle, half-circle and “change” correctly.
(6) To jump varied obstacles of reasonable height, and/or breadth, correctly,

to which may be added the ability to control pace and direction.

“Correctly” has been repeated deliberately to stress the necessity for continually striving to conserve the proper attitudes from head to heel under all circumstances.

 

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