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Monday, 27 July 2015

Horse riding

From the 2nd millennium BC, and probably even earlier, the horse was employed as a riding animal by fierce nomadic peoples of central Asia. One of these peoples, the Scythians, were accomplished horsemen and used saddles.

It is thought likely that it was the Scythians who  realised the importance of a firm seat and were the first to devise a form of stirrup.

The earliest written manual on the care, feeding, and training of horses dates from about 1500 BC in Asia Minor.

The oldest treatise on horse-riding goes back to Xenophon (430-354 BC), the famous Greek soldier and author. His twelve-chapter manual On Horsemanship was a comprehensive study of the horse, containing most modern ideas. He advocated the use of the mildest possible hits and disapproved of the use of force in training and in riding.

According to tradition, the Mongols of Genghis Khan employed 300,000 horses, stationed at 10,000 posts. They were kept in constant readiness for couriers who, riding through day and night, could sleep and eat in the saddle. Bells attached to the horses announced their approach from afar.

Thomas Hobson (c. 1544 – January 1, 1631) was an innkeeper, who also arranged the delivery of mail between London and Cambridge, operating a lucrative livery stable of 40 horses near St Catharine's College, Cambridge. When his horses were not needed to deliver mail, he rented them to students and academic staff of the University of Cambridge. When a customer came for a horse, they were obliged to take the one nearest the stable door or go without, to prevent the best horses always being chosen. From this comes the phrase Hobson’s choice: A free choice that means no real choice at all — in other words, ‘take it or leave it’.

The world record for the highest obstacle cleared by a horse and rider was set by Alberto Larraguibel Morales on a stallion called Huaso in Santiago, Chile. Huaso jumped 2.47m (8ft 1in) on February 5, 1949.

Breaking the record

During filming of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Christoph Waltz was thrown from his horse and broke his pelvis. To cheer him up, co-star Jamie Foxx gave him a gift: a saddle with a seat belt.

It is claimed that the Reiterdenkmal, an equestrian monument in the centre of Windhoek, Namibia, is the only monument in the world where an ordinary soldier is placed on horseback.

In Colorado, riding a horse while intoxicated is considered a traffic offense.

A Louisiana man called Jake Williams was arrested for drunkenly riding his horse, Sugar, on a highway in 2015. When detained, he said, "The horse knows the way home" and the sheriff concluded it did not constitute DUI.

Sources Encyclopedia Britannica, Europress Encyclopedia

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