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Horsemanship And Etiquette

( Originally Published 1962 )

The observance of a few generally recognized rules of behavior will make the existence of the horseman considerably safer and more pleasant.

In the riding ring there will quite often be people riding together who are not in the same group or under the command of one instructor. Some of them may be practicing various techniques that require concentration and freedom from disturbing elements; others may be exercising their horses at a lively gait; and others, again, may just be loafing. If everybody will be careful not to neglect elementary manners there will be room for all. Otherwise the roughriders will soon have the arena to themselves.

Everyone should endeavor to ride in the same direction and change hands at the same time. Those working at the fastest gait should be allowed a free track by those riding slower. The latter should accordingly keep inside the track. It is very bad form and is inconsiderate and dangerous to come up behind a slower rider and tear past him unexpectedly. Instead of passing him, the faster rider should turn in and cross to the other side of the arena before he gets near enough to disturb the other.

When it is necessary to ride in different directions riders should pass with their right sides toward each other. This rule goes back to the time when it was always safer to keep a stranger to the right when encountered on the road. One could never tell whether he would be called upon to shake hands or to draw his sword.

Most riders who have frequented the bridle paths know by painful experience how it excites a horse to have someone come up from behind and pass at a wild run. In passing someone on the trail do so slowly and quietly, without creating any disturbance. When two riders or groups meet on the trail both parties should slow down and pass at a walk or a slow trot. Beginners or children should never be passed at a fast gait.

When riding in a group it is extremely annoying to have someone follow you too closely. Besides, he may get kicked; or the horse behind may step on and injure the hind foot of your horse in front. Always keep at least four feet between the tail of your horse and the nose of the one following you. On the other hand, none of a group should allow themselves to be left too far behind. To do so may mean trouble to themselves and inconvenience to others.

It is also bad form for one or more riders in a group on the trail to suddenly start off at a fast run. They may stampede the other horses. In short, never do anything that may frighten or excite the horses of other riders around you.

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