Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Cavendish, Part II: In which Cavendish throws shade

(Read Part I: In which Cavendish is snarky)

" a Good Horse-man may be Thrown Down sooner than Ill ones; because Good Horse-men little think of Sitting... their Thoughts being all how to make their Horses go Well... whereas an Ill Horse-man thinks of nothing but Sitting, for Fear he should be Thrown, and never thinks how to make his Horse go Well; for he Knows not how to Do it..."
    Well...he's not wrong. Nine times of ten I find myself riding poorly it's because I've become concerned about falling off. Though, I might add, there is also something to the choice in what horses we ride, though I believe Cavendish is here referring only to already broke mannage horses.
"...But Holds by the Main, and the Pomel, and his Head at the Horses Head, ready to Beat out his Teeth, and his Leggs holding by the Flank; and is so Deformed on Horse Back, as if he were a Strange African Monster; and the Horse so Disordered, that to see him Sit in that Manner, is the most Nauseous Sight that can be, and the most Displeasing to the Beholders; and were much Better for the Spectators to see him Fall, and for his Reputation, so he received no Hurt by the Fall."

Of Grisone and Blundville, Cavendish says:

"They Teach to Ride one Horse two or three Hours at a time, when one may well Ride half a Dozen at least in an Hour, and give them sufficiently Enough."

And this, of course, is an argument very much alive today. It is, at least publicly, considered to be a mark of great skill to be able to complete a "colt-breaking" challenge, and be able to canter or lope an untouched horse by the end of the weekend. There are still 'cowboys' that get paid by the head to travel to ranches and start a number of horses by just getting on and staying there until the horse tires. And yet, even within these, they say less is more. Both the public clinicians and the hired hands tend to say many small lessons work better than one long one. I am inclined to agree, as even my older horses rarely benefitted from more than about half an hours training, if one defines training as teaching or refining new information. The rest, if they got more, was conditioning. The younger or more inexperienced the horse, the shorter the effective "training" section. Of course, that said, I am fond of getting youngsters out more than once a day, given you have the time and staff. I'd far rather do two or three short works than one long one. They tend to learn faster, with less stress (and thus they stay safer as well), and retain their lessons better.



And further:
"For a Resty Horse they Raise a whole Town with Staves to Beat him, with many Curious Inventions, with Squirts, Fire, Whelps, Hedg-hoggs, Nailes, and I know not What."
Yes, hedgehogs. Or, lacking a hedgehog, a cat on a stick. Yes, really.
     From Blundeville:
"Also the shirle crye of a hedgehog beyng strayt teyed by the foote vnder the horses tayle, is a remedye of like force, which was proued by Master Vincentio Respino, a Napolitan, who corrected by this meanes an olde restiue horse of the kinges in suche sort as he had muche a do afterward to kepe him from the contrarye vice of runninge awaye."
y'don't say. Imagine that. 

"LEt a footeman stande behinde you with a shrewed cat teyed at the one ende of a long pole with her belly vpward, so as she may haue her mouth and clawes at libertye. And when your horse doth stay or go backward, let him thrust the Catte betwixt his thyes so as she may scratch and bite him, somtime by the thighes, somtime by the rompe, and often times by the stones."
by the stones.
It is the single strangest training recommendation I have even read. Cavendish rants on about other ridiculous techniques, and then insults their understanding of terms. He also scoffs at their use of "the Chambetta, which signifies nothing."

Yes, chambetta does seem to be jambette. Which, yes, is not a particularly useful manuever in any sense of the word (to be fair, Blundeville does suggest it is best to look flashy when riding before one's King). To be more specific, Blundeville describes the jambette in turns in his chapter on the chambette. Like this:


It's fancy, it takes time to train, it impresses the crowd. But...ok, I'm with Cavendish again. It doesn't translate to the development of the horse as a whole.

Thus ends Part II


Special thanks to Lelian Maldonado for helping me dig in to the possible etymology of chambetta in the course of confirming that it did refer to a form of jambette.

Read Part III: An Interlude in the Trenches

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