Takeichi Nishi – One of the greatest riders of the 20th Century

Takeichi Nishi was possibly the greatest rider of the 20th Century. His technique was the perfect forward seat (“Italian Seat” as Caprilli taught). More riders today should emulate his jumping style and technique.

Takeichi Nishi

You don’t often see riding like this today.

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Obama Signs Bill to Legalize Horse Slaughter

Call President Obama on Promise to Stop Horse Slaughter!



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Communicating With Horses: Horses, Humans and Body Language

Baba The Mustang and The Goat

There’s an old saying that goes, “be casual with your horse and your horse will be casual with you.”  This is one of the basic essentials of using body language as a tool for communicating with horses. The converse of this statement would be, “never approach a horse in anger. If you can’t control yourself then you cannot control your horse”.

There have been many books written on the subject of body language and horse-human communication.  Most of them are based on valid and sound theory but most of them concentrate on and get lost in the methodology. When one gets lost in the method, the theory often gets lost or otherwise forgotten. Since ‘how too’ books on how to use body language when working with horses are somewhat ubiquitous and generally present sound methods, I’d like to talk here about some philosophy and theory I have found to be true as a result of many years of experience that sometimes get overlooked.

One of the first things that is important to remember is that horses (and that I have found from experience) is that horses innately understand human body language. The reason that horses understand human body language is because both horses and humans are basically, on the grand scheme of things, ‘wired’ in the same way and share a lot of traits imparted by the common aspects of evolution that both species share. In this sense, horses and humans are more alike than different. Whether this is the result of selective breeding imposed upon the horse by the several millennia that horses and humans have been working together is irrelevant. Even ‘wild’ horses like mustangs descend from domestic horses gone feral, but the human influence on their genetics and breeding is still there. Either way, domestic and wild/feral horses behave and respond to body language in the same way despite the latter having regressed somewhat to a more natural and ‘wild’ state.

Humans, on the other hand, do not usually innately understand the body language of horses let alone the body language of other humans. The reason for this is that the horse, lacking language and the ability to ‘intellectualize’ has to rely on reading body language. This may or may not be an entirely innate skill on the part of horses given that horses in a ‘wild’ environment have the advantage of living in a horse ‘society’ in which ‘family’ ties exist as something not imposed in an unnatural fashion by human control. Horses such as mustangs have their own ‘social’ structure dictated by nature which makes them, in my opinion, more sensitive to the body language of other horses and when the opportunity arises, with humans also.

Horses, on the other hand have a human pegged in terms of body language before the human gets halfway across the pasture. Have you ever noticed that certain horses don’t like certain people from the get-go? It’s exactly the same phenomenon as when you for some unknown reason dislike a certain person within seconds of meeting him. There’s nothing mystical about it – you, like the horse, are ‘reading’ a certain individual’s body language below the level of conscious understanding.

Learning to read the body language of horses usually takes having a lot of experience. Some people can do it innately and usually without actually being aware that they are doing so. Experience with horses and careful observation of horses in the context of the herd and in the context of interaction with humans is the best tool in getting a deeper understanding of the body language of horses and how to use it to your advantage when working with horses.

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How to Properly Fit a McClellan Saddle

Well, after many requests, I finally got around to doing an article on How to Properly Fit a McClellan Saddle.

M1904 McClellan Saddle

The M1904 McClellan Saddle

“For a while now I have gotten a number of requests to write an article on the proper fitting of the McClellan Saddle. The best and most detailed description of the proper fitting of this saddle can be found in ¶310 of the 1914 issue of the “Cavalry Service Regulations, United States Army (Experimental) which I have included at the end of this article.


A few brief comments must be considered concerning the McClellan saddle before discussing it’s proper fitting to the horse’s back.

The McClellan Saddle (M1904 and later) was designed with purely military applications in mind. The saddle came in seat sizes ranging from approximately eleven to 12 ½ inches with some rare exceptions. The seat sizes accommodate a wide range of riders within the desired weight of those riders as well as the combined weight of rider an kit (which could be upwards of 250 lbs total).” Read More: How to Properly Fit a McClellan Saddle

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The Best Books on Horse Cavalry

Saber Charge - Cavalry Service Regulations United States Army (experimental) 1914

Saber Charge - Cavalry Service Regulations United States Army (experimental) 1914


I spend a lot of time reading as I can as many books and source documents about horse cavalry. Occasionally, there are a few really good books that stand out in terms of technical and historical aspect. Three particular books stand out amongst that number:


Cavalry Service Regulations United States Army (experimental) 1914; War Department, Office of The Chief of Staff; Government Printing Office; Washington, DC; 1914.

Duties of Outposts, Advance and Rear Guards with Manual of Guard Duty, U.S. Army; Prepared by Lieut. W. P. Burnhame, 6th U.S. Infantry; C.W. Bardeen, Publisher, Syracuse, NY; 1893.

The Elements of Modern Tactics Practically Applied To English Formations; Wilinson J. Shaw, M.A.; Captain and Brevet-Major 102nd Fusiliers; Garrison Instructor Aldershot Camp; C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1 Paternoster Square, London; 1879.

These particular three books hold a wealth of information for anyone who is interested in the nuts-and-bolts of cavalry tactics, structural organization, terminology, formations and evolutions, equipment, and how cavalry was employed and related to other arms of land forces. The information in these books enables the reader to get a better understanding of how cavalry was used in warfare from the mid-1800’s until the demise of the horse cavalry in the 1940’s.

Fortunately, many of these books are still in print and in digital format (the latter often for free) in online archives. If you want to read these books (and a whole plethora of other related books), do a search for them in http://books.google.com/.

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The Horseman as Historian – Advice to Young and Old Riders

Pluvinel CaprioleIt has been said that history is the least expensive lesson one can get on how to avoid making mistakes. This is especially true when it comes to horsemanship yet very few horsemen ever take the time to become well read and versed in the history of horsemanship, theory, technique and method.

One of the most important things about understanding the history is that one, through actual study of the literature, can avoid repeating a lot of the mistakes of the past. Humans have been riding for thousands of years and it all has been written about in detail. There is a vast body of literature out there written by such greats as Pluvinel, Barriol, Baucher, Baron de Bohan, Broue, DeCarpenty, Dupate de Clam, Fillis, Castellamonte, Endrödy, Goubeaux and Barrier, Guérinière, Podhajsky, Littauer, Santini, Caprilli, Chamberlin, Oliveira and the list goes on. All of these authors’ books either deal directly with history or are actual tracts on horsemanship which are history in and of themselves. Most of these names when mentioned will usually draw a blank stare from most horsemen today and that fact is a sad thing to contemplate.

Being an “educated” horseman also means Pluvinel - work between the pillarsbeing a well-read horseman who knows and understands the development of riding and horsemanship in general. Understanding the development of riding and how it got where it is today (regardless of discipline) gives the modern horseman a whole selection of tools to work with. One can also learn what not to do by studying the literature and understanding obsolete and discredited theories and practices. Only by knowing the history and development of theory, technique, method and equine locomotion can one understand, properly apply, and develop as a horseman and advance horsemanship in general. You have to know where you came from in order to know where you are going as the old adage claims. One of the ways to accomplish this is to become a well-read and well-studied horseman.

My advice to any rider, young or old, is to read as much as possible on the subject of horsemanship. Being a horseman goes beyond just riding and it should include becoming well-studied in all aspects of horsemanship.

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A Great Article on Trimming Feet on Horses

This is a great article about trimming horse’s feet linked in a post in the Horsetopia.com message board: Millwater’s Farriery: On the Barefoot Movement…versus the “Traditional Farrier Trim”

Here’s the thread on Horstopia’s message board: Traditional Farrier Trim

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Back When Artillery Was Pulled By Horses – Part 2

Some traditions never die! Royal Military Tattoo 2000 – The King’s Troop. This is something you don’t see every day.

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Which Bit For Your Horse?

Just finished this little article that explains how the various types of bits work.

Regulation  US Cavalry Double Bridal, circa 1906

Regulation US Cavalry Double Bridal, circa 1906

Controversial as it is, how bits work isn’t rocket science. Read more about it:

A Bit About Bits – The Basic Mechanics of Bits and How They Work

By Dan Gilmore

November 4, 2011

Snaffle Bits Understanding who bits work isn’t that difficult, once you know how each type of bit works and how each bit mechanically operates. That said, a given bit is not meant to be a correction for how the horse obtains the proper frame for any given discipline. Using a ‘stronger’ bit as a solution is not a solution to ‘holes’ in a horse’s training. In fact, sometimes using ‘less’ bit is the solution in that instance.

The reality is, and this is a conclusion I often get much criticism for, that most horses go just fine in a simple snaffle, curb bit, a bitless bridle or, if your discipline requires, a double bridle provided that the horse has been brought along in a rational and progressive program of training.

Nevertheless, sometimes a certain bitting scheme is required to bring a horse along in its training. Understanding how these bits work, how the forces each bit exerts and to what degree they exert those forces, along with an understanding of a particular horse and how that horse responds is required. (read more)

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Vote to make the Mustang to be the new state animal for Nevada!

Should the Mustang replace the Big Horn Sheep as the state animal of Nevada? Vote here: Help make the Mustang the state animal of Nevada!

From: Carson City Nevada – NevadaAppeal.com

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