What is Riding ‘Forward’?

Posted on August 1, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: history, riding, training.

excerpts from:        Charles de Kunffy’s article in Dressage Today magazine:

photo from Dressage Today

photo from Dressage Today

Straighten your horse and ride it forward” was dressage master Gustav Steinbrecht’s admonition to equestrian scholars in the 19th century. Riders understood what he meant because they lived in an equestrian culture that spoke its own scholarly language with established meaning by tradition. However, in recent times, those not familiar with the intentions of Steinbrecht’s command have managed to misinterpret the urging of “forward” as a command to chase the horse into rushing, and then they have to pull on his mouth because he goes too fast. Remember, speed is also the enemy of impulsion.
When driving is misguided into demanding speed and agitated toward restraining hands, horses have nowhere to escape but upward with their croups. Their buttocks bounce with stilt-like, open-jointed hind legs—what we call “out behind” or “butt bouncing”—while heads are pulled behind the vertical with over-flexed necks. While these speedy chargers  often display a high, short and forced neck posture, let me assure you that they are the very documentations of horses on the forehand.
While this misplaced devotion to the “forward” part of the admonition has been championed, the “straighten your horse” part has been disastrously, continuously ignored. Yet straightening a horse is a precondition for the correct achievement of forward, the real meaning of which is locomotion with correctly articulating joints propelled by supple muscles. In other words, going forward means moving forward with strengthened and, therefore, engaged haunches.
Sadly, we often see a caricature of what was meant as guiding advise to those who lived in an equestrian culture of the past when horses were vastly important and horsemanship was an academically sound discipline. Too often we see tense horses running away with passenger riders balancing on their mouths. However, there are reasons for this misinterpretation and remedies for it.

from artuk

from artuk



The urge to run:
We all know the horse is an animal of flight. He survived by early notice of lurking predators (startling instincts) and outrunning them (the flight instinct). If he were to be overtaken and contacted by the predator while in flight, he would fight by bucking, kicking, or striking. Hence, when a startled horse takes flight his rider should not act as his predator and try to pull him down, but rather accompany him in an unrestricted partnership in flight fully reverent to the horse’s survival instinct. Had horses not been strong and swift, we would have nothing to ride today for their ancestors would have been eaten. Only those horses alert enough to be startled in time to run fast to escape their predators remained in the genetic pool. A horse can take off in full speed even from a halt. Therefore, the halt is also a “movement” because it is latent energy, potential for flight.
The instinct to flight was what attracted mankind to riding horses. A fast-running horse was a treasure for traveling and military action. Desire for speed became one of the guiding principles in breeding horses. Indeed, it was racing that contributed considerably to the creation of the contemporary “super horse.” Without the horse’s forward instinct and energy for flight, we would have nothing to tame, shape and ride for our precisely controlled transportation. However, the horse’s ability to speed is just the starting point. It is the energy reserve and the raw material that by taming and training is groomed and altered into the wondrous variety of movements a correctly gymnasticized horse can offer his rider.

GreyEagle2

Kyra Kurkland riding

Kyra Kurkland riding

How to avoid running: Begin by developing an adhesive seat. The rider’s seat is a “transformer” whose role is to modify the energy emitting from the horse’s haunches. Remember, riding is controlled transportation, not just where we go and at what speed, but how effortlessly we arrive due to the schooled use of the haunches. The horse needs a relaxed, well-balanced tempo in order to take a longer stride and step with his hind legs past or into the footprints left by the front legs. Riders must learn to induce the correct posture of the horse (longitudinal flexion) and only then influence the level of engagement in his haunches. Horses not in a correct posture should not be driven, because they cannot engage to move and are forced to proceed under duress. With gradually increasing strength and skills, the horse begins to shorten the distance between his hocks and the bridle. That distance could be likened to the string of a bow, which could be “tightened” or “loosened” by the rider. According to the engagement of the horse, the “bow string” will determine the amount of kinetic energy in the longitudinal flexion of the horse’s body. To achieve this, riders must slow the horse to a tempo that allows him to move by articulating the joints in his haunches evenly and unencumbered by the reins. Slow the horse until he is balanced, taken off his dwelling shoulders and gathered more weight toward his haunches.  Slowing the tempo allows the rider to create impulsion, the indispensable foundation of engagement of the haunches. “Impulsion” refers to the horse’s ability to use all joints in his haunches with equal and unhindered articulation and thereby produce an efficient—not rapid—source of energy. Impulsion improves with the gradual increasing articulation of the joints. Impulsion, not running, is the source for strengthening and suppling the joints. Impulsion is based on the taming of the flight instinct and altering it into effortless efficiency. The rider’s understanding of the goals of training and his knowledge of the means to attain them comes from Baroque ideology. This means that the horse’s natural potential can evolve into a monument of art only by the intelligent schooling of his rider. In other words, correct schooling makes the horse more beautiful. It all begins with “Straighten your horse and ride it forward.”

Riding After 50?

Posted on July 31, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, riding, training.

groundpole

Are you over fifty and still enjoying activities such as: bicycling, skating, hiking, skiing, jogging, dancing? Then perhaps you would enjoy the sport of horseback riding. The world of horses holds the interests of many senior citizens, although it is largely overlooked as an activity for retirees. Did you know that some participating Olympic Riders have been in their  sixties and seventies? Ian Millar is a Canadian rider whose passion is horse jumping. He competed in his ninth consecutive equestrian games at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when 65 years of age. Kyra Kyrklund, from Finland, was 61 had participated in five Olympic Games, four World Equestrian Games, and six World Cup Equestrian Dressage Finals. Josef Neckermann rode in the 1984 Olympics at 71 years old. Are these the only older people riding horses?

Well, in southeastern Massachusetts, where we have a thriving horse community, over half of the riders are over 50, and most of these are in their mid-sixties. These riders participate in every facet of horsemanship, from horse clubs, riding clinics, overnight trail rides, to costume making and saddle-bridle decoration. They also participate in equine expositions including horse shows, horse breed demonstrations, or equine educational seminars. Each of these venues requires knowledgeable riders either willing to explain or to demonstrate good horsemanship skills.

But is horseback riding for you? Learning to ride a horse does require similar intensive learning as that required when learning to ski or to ride a bike, if you’ve never done so before. These sports depend heavily on technique and specific equipment in order to insure a safe and enjoyable experience. Also, every potential rider over 50 needs to accurately assess their degree of mobility and agility. The highly motivated, energetic individual will find the intense pace of competition riding easily equal to their passion for cutting edge excitement, once their riding skills are intact. Likewise, the nimble but more meditative environmentalist will enjoy the interaction of the horse-rider relationship with its opportunity for trail riding in local recreational parks or secluded natural habitats. Many senior riders in rural areas sign up for local Search and Rescue Posses. These riders help the Sheriff Department to find lost hikers, missing children, or even other lost animals. The photo is the author’s brother, (in his mid-sixties) participating in the training program for the Yolo County Sheriff’s posse.

learning rescue techniques

learning rescue techniques

There are riding and training facilities in nearly every agricultural or urban town. You can use the local listings, computer, or local livestock/feed store for inquiries into locations of horse farms. A recommended professional is best for learning technique and equipment basics. They may even have a horse owner willing to half-lease a reliable horse for you to begin to gain your mileage and balance in the saddle. Another great starting point is the local horse club where you can meet other horse enthusiasts eager to add you on to their events. So what are you waiting for? Let’s saddle up and go!

Mark Russell’s “En”-lightening Approach

Posted on by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, riding, therapy, training.

“..elicit a calm thoughtful movement from the horse..”

While he is no longer with us to teach in person, Author and Horse trainer Mark Russell continues to explain the value of suppling the horse before and during the riding session in his book, “Lessons in Lightness”, available through his website. The book delves into the bio-mechanics of both saddle and ground work with engaging additions of his own personal life lessons that helped to shape his riding talent.   His web site: naturaldressage.com still provides insights through his articles. Here is an excerpt of one that was published in PRE Magazine:

The Pursuit of Artful Riding  (by Mark Russell)


author demonstrating: Lessons in Lightness

Artistry and lightness in riding is often an elusive goal for riders although paving the path to its development is really very simple. The integration of a few basic principles and adherence to them throughout the training process will create a scenario in which responsiveness and lightness will flourish.  The Reality We Present to the Horse is the Reality That He Lives In.. One of Natural Horsemanship’s most significant contributions to the development of the horse is its approach to the training process from the perspective of the horse. This includes an understanding of who our horse is and how he learns: qualities to which we temper our approach. The horse learns from us every moment we are with him and each of his behaviors, no matter how subtle, reflects a message he is sending us.  Importantly, this process includes mindfulness of ourselves: where we are emotionally, what information we are sending the horse through the reins and through our seat. There is a continuous back and forth conversation between us and our horses every moment we are with him whether intentional or not.

Artistic dressage forsakes force. A horse that has been brought down the path of learning in his comfort zone will easily learn balance without brace. Channels of energy will be opened in the relaxed horse which the rider can then direct. Once the basic principles become a staple in the horse’s training we can begin to advance the concept of relaxation through releases of the jaw, poll, neck, through the back and hind end of the horse. Flexion, impulsion, balance, and freedom of movement will thus come easily. An attentive and conversant rider creates a scenario where their requests can comfortably be followed by the horse. The outcome will be a horse who will be able to express free flowing energy and movement which is a pleasure to ride and beautiful to watch.

You can read the entire article at: Mark Russell Dressage     videos of his sessions are on our Equi-TV page

 

 

 

The First Cowboys; the Vaquero

Posted on July 5, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding, training.

The Vaquero vaquero.jpg

The Vaquero, or Mexican cattle herder, came from Mexico in the 1800’s and eventually became employees of the cattle and horse ranches that developed in the southwest.  Two parts of the southwest were predominantly Vaquero namely, Texas and  California. In these states the parents of many vaqueros  raised their families on the ranch where they worked, and as their children became Vaqueros and married, they too raised their families there. The beef industry was a powerful market, rising to its peak in the nineteenth century. The daily duties for a vaquero required long hours of strenuous livestock management, seeing to the transportation of cattle which they drove through rugged, raw territories to the markets where they were sold and shipped. The vaquero was also responsible for the breeding, branding, and safety of all the cows and horses on the ranch as well as the maintenance of the fencing and stabling. Although the western United States was still Mexican territory during this time, the ranchers carried a lot of influence since they were the providers of the food and the mounts for the Mexican Calvary, and eventually the US Calvary.

‘Most vaqueros were men of mestizo and Native American origin while most of the hacendados (ranch owners) were ethnically Spanish. Mexican traditions spread both South and North, influencing equestrian traditions from Argentina to Canada.  As English-speaking traders and settlers expanded westward, English and Spanish traditions, language and culture merged to some degree. Before the Mexican-American War in 1848, New England merchants who traveled by ship to California encountered both hacendados and vaqueros, trading manufactured goods for the hides and tallow produced from vast cattle ranches. American traders along what later became known as the Santa Fe Trail had similar contacts with vaquero life. Starting with these early encounters, the lifestyle and language of the vaquero began a transformation which merged with English cultural traditions and produced what became known in American culture as the “cowboy”. ‘ (J.Malone, p 3)

As eastern and mid-western settlers began their migration into the western territories they watched and learned the vaquero methods of cattle ranching. They adopted these methods when establishing their own ranches. When the western territories became adopted into the United States, many vaqueros stayed on to work for smaller ranches since many of the elaborate Mexican ranches were dissolved and their territories divided.
For a rare opportunity to learn more about the history of the Vaquero from someone who had personal experience, read Jesse Wilkinson’s site:   Vaquero.

Doma Vaquera Equitation

Posted on July 1, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding, training.

doma_vaquera.jpgby Jerrilee Streeter

Doma Vaquera is a Spanish phrase that defines the individuals in Spain who work with the cattle and bulls on the ranches and out on the hillsides. The doma vaquera is a person who has a special manner, or style, in which they dress. There is special riding tack , and a unique, individual way in which their horses are taught and ridden that distinguishes them from other riding disciplines. In Spain, some Doma Vaquera still go into the bullring to challenge the bull and still others demonstrate their skillful riding as they guide their horse in their work among the cattle. Included with the regular gear that a doma vaquero works with is the use of a garrocha. The garrocha is a long wooden pole used as an extension of the doma vaquera’s arm to activate, push, and guide cattle along the hillsides. In countries outside of Spain, the Doma Vaquera has evolved into a riding discipline that simulates the pattern work and movements of a working bullfighter mount. The rider still wears the traditional outfit and saddles the horse with the traditional gear to practice a combination of lateral jumps, sudden stops, and pirouettes which are used by today’s working doma vaqueras. There are even riding competitions where participants can show their horse’s special abilities in performing the patterns and movements of the doma vaquero horse. This includes the garrocha which, when used in the competition arena, can be an artful, breathtaking performance, especially when the rider works through the maneuvers without the use of the reins. A demonstration of this can be viewed on the La Garrocha . (To preserve the purity of the performance the link has been kept in its original Spanish format.Click video to begin)  Doma Vaquero will show an public demonstration.

for riding demo.

Why use a Dressage Whip?

Posted on June 16, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, riding, training.

*article by Karl Mikolka

photo Amd Bronkhorst

photo Amd Bronkhorst

 

Why Riders Need Whips
I frequently encounter riders who refuse to carry a whip for two main reasons. The first is always that their horses are afraid of the whip. I tell these riders that their horses’ fear stems from lack of trust, confidence and obedience: the three pillars that a rider must erect to ensure success in training. 
The second excuse is that the horses do not need the whip. This might be correct: The horses might not need a whip, but the riders do. Riding with a whip in the proper length of three to four feet requires a very relaxed wrist and a good feel in the hand. Feeling exactly when the whip makes contact with the horse’s side and maintaining this contact while in motion is possible only when a rider has acquired a proper arm-elbow-shoulder alignment and is relaxed in the wrist. All of that, of course, will improve sensitivity in the hands and, in the long run, will benefit the horse tremendously.

The gateway to the circle of aids is a horse well tuned to the whip. This is a horse who…
• is in front of the whip. He moves forward without fear or hesitation to a soft touch of the whip.
• is responsive to invisible aids. He pays attention to the softest movement form the rider.
• is guided by the rider’s legs. He withholds nothing that is possible and exerts himself as directed by his rider’s legs.
The ultimate goal of this type of training is to create a horse who “drives himself,” a horse who goes forward merely because he respects the presence of the rider in the saddle. Of course, this response shall not even remotely resemble one in which a horse races in fear of his rider. Forward always indicates a dignified, positive reaction on the part of the horse.

Each horse reacts differently to the touches of the whip. Some twitch their skin, others swish their tails, a few kick out and some react not at all. None of these is correct. The only correct response is one in which the hind legs become more lively, stepping more forward and under and flex more visibly. This is a true forward response. It is never correct for a horse to react to the whip by trying to run from it or by throwing himself into the rider’s hands. 
The old masters used to advise: “Do as little as possible but as much as necessary to reach your goals.”
It will take constant alertness on the rider’s part to never allow the horse to forget his level of sensitivity. If the touch of the whip creates liveliness in the horse’s hind legs, resulting in free forward motion, then the first stage of the circle of the aids has been established. Only then can the rider proceed to the second stage: the use of the legs in order to bring the horse on the bit, to make the horse relaxed and to prepare the horse to accept the half halts, in other words, to close the circle of the aids.

When we say that the legs should mainly act as guiding rails, we must not forget that guiding a horse on something like a circle involves a certain degree of bend if the horse is to conform to the circle. The bending around the rider’s inner leg is the foundation for all two-track movements, which are best achieved when the inner leg of the rider guides the inner hind leg of the horse slightly in the direction of the rider’s outside heel when working on a circle, riding a turn or passing through a corner. This action, known as “enlarging,” will bring the inner hind leg of the horse better underneath the rider and closer to the center of gravity.

bending around garrocha pole

bending around garrocha pole

Without acceptance of the rider’s outside leg, no horse can be truly on the outside rein. It is indeed a wonderful experience to be able to control the entire horse with just a single rein and the seat, of which the outside leg is an extension. Every dressage horse must eventually reach this stage, and the best way to achieve it is through work on the circle. We see here again the interrelationship between the circle as a ring figure and the circle of aids. Forward on the whip, enlarging away from the inner-leg pressure into the outside rein and from there to and through the rider’s seat over the horse’s back and—with half halts—into the horse’s hind legs to complete the circle of aids.

If the use of the whip is misunderstood, so too — among a broad majority of riders—is the application of the legs. Nothing is more detrimental to the training of a horse than legs that constantly kick, push, squeeze or noodle. Not only do such legs kill all sensitivity in a horse’s sides but they also teach a horse to stiffen his belly muscles in order to block against these pushes or kicks. Such tightening in the torso renders all influence by the rider ineffectual.

Credit: Micki Dobson As you hold your hand slightly away from your normal rein position, twist your wrist to the left (in this case) to lift it up, then flex your wrist to bring the whip down, onto your thigh

Credit: Micki Dobson As you hold your hand slightly away from your normal rein position, twist your wrist to the left (in this case) to lift it up, then flex your wrist to bring the whip down, onto your thigh

Which One? How Long?

Whips come in all shapes and sizes. When choosing a whip, find one that fits your hand. Also, look for a length that is appropriate to your build and your horse’s size. If you are a tiny person on a big horse or a person with rather large thighs, you probably need a longer whip. If you are small and riding a small horse you should choose a smaller whip. A “good” whip also stings a bit and bounces well when you flex your wrist and use it against your thigh. So be sure to try several whips before buying. Another aspect to pay attention to is the button or knob at the end of the whip. The button should be large enough that you don’t have to grip it to keep from losing it. When allowed in [USEF] or USDF competitions, the whip cannot be longer than four feet. Editor’s note: Today your whip can be no longer than 47.2 inches (120 cm) including lash.

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This story was first published in the November 1996 issue of Dressage Today. Austrian-born Karl Mikolka was a chief rider with the Spanish Riding School and later coach to the Brazilian Olympic dressage team. He later moved to the United States and worked with the Tempel Lipizzan Stallions in Wadsworth, Illinois.

Book Review

Posted on May 13, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, history, riding, training.
Learning Riding Posture

Learning Riding Posture

“Dude! Did You Just Fall Off?” is a delightful new kid’s e-book on Amazon’s Kindle that skillfully and humorously attempts to prepare the horse newbie for their first and, hopefully, subsequent encounters.  It boldly asks:  what would you do if you were invited to go horseback riding, had never even been near a horse, but really wanted to go?

Obviously this is not a common invitation for inner-city dwellers, but for the nearly 30% of rural school children, and even higher percentage of suburban students, a recreational weekend just may indeed include a friend’s offer to see their family’s stabled horse. Facing the reality of being near such a big animal and actually sitting on its back can seem adventurous,  but nearly everyone quickly discovers a sudden level of panic once they become face to face with such a large animal.

This is why we picked the “Dude!” book off the shelf of Amazon. This book stands apart from the plethora of previous books by the way it brings horseback riding into your home and helps you practice balance and posture before you even head out to your friend’s barn. The list of straightening and correcting exercises range from simple body adjustments to learning ready-to-use moves while in the saddle. It had such great ideas plus a wallet saving price of only $2.99. Download it to your phone or tablet and refer to it right on the way to the stable. Personally, we found it just as helpful for adults. Enjoy..

Anzac Day

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, handicap, history, training.

photo:warwick daily news

A poem by Australian Horse Whisperer, Guy McLean honoring the equine soldiers drafted for service in wartime. Due to quarantine restrictions, only one Waler horse is known to have been returned to Australia; “Sandy”, the mount of Major-General W.T. Bridges, an officer who died at Gallipoli in May 1915.

Remembering the LightHorse:

I was one of thousands of horses Bred on the mountains and plains
Known as a breed called the ‘Waler’ With courage and stamina a-flow in my veins
Like the men and women of our country We were called upon for war
And just like our human comrades We were drafted by the scores
I was broken in to the bridle They were trained to the rifle and bayonet
I learnt to jump and run with stifling weight They learnt from blood and tears and sweat
I was a trooper’s horse, a ‘Lighthorse’ Known for bravery and speed
My larger brothers pulled the heavy guns Each one, a credit to our breed

Our training days were over And the best of us walked the line
Thousands of Australians Who were called upon to shine
We were loaded on a metal ship Spending months upon the sea
Floating to a land of war To our very destiny
I was fearful, I was wary But obedient and brave
My trooper asked for brilliance And that is how I would behave
As the shoreline of the war fields Broke the far horizon grasp
The gunfire and the burning sand Would make a bold soul gasp
We waited for the order Then plunged onto the sand
We were ready for this challenge Noble steed and brave young man
We galloped to the war zone To join our comrades side
Jumping bodies of the fallen Who had fought and died with pride
Our line was being peppered And I watched my brother’s fall
But the vast majority made it safely And we were ready for the call

We were picketed out at night time Fed small rations from the stores
We were bred for this, to be hardy Brave and honest to the core
Our victories were many As we charged the enemy line
Jumping bunkers and gun turrets We would surge, time after time
Casualties were common Injured horses, injured men
But we were soldiers, so come morning We would saddle up again
The conditions were atrocious And the challenges were great
But I’d treasure every meal time And a kind word from my mate
His gun would kill the enemy His actions, regimental
But his heart was kind and honest And his touch was kind and gentle
While the war exploded round us I would calmly wait his cue
He would stroke my mane to ease me Just one soul, from bodies two
I can’t recall the miles we trudged Or the numbers that we lost
But we were fighting for a greater good And a triumph worth the cost
Our Victory was won from courage That made us famous round the world
Our Lighthorse brigades, unbeatable And the ‘Waler’ horse, the pearl
But unlike most other victories Where the winner takes the spoils
Our Victory meant the end for us No more would we touch the soil……
…..Of our homeland, of the mountains Of the lush and rich grass plains
We were laid to rest on a land of war Our blood and bone to stain……
……The beaches and the memories Of the soldier men who ride
They couldn’t take us home with them And with us, a piece of them would die
So though our earthly gallops finished We still roam the plains of dreams
Where our history shaped the future Like rushing water in a stream
And as I talk to you from the pastures That lay beyond this world
Please remember me ‘The Lighthorse’ As your destiny unfurls
Written by Guy McLean ANZAC DAY April 2010

Australian light horsemen on Walers prior to their departure from Australia

Banjo Peterson – Australian Poet

Posted on May 1, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: history, riding, training.

Featuring A.B.Peterson’s poem:
Man From Snowy River

artwork by Julie Duell

There was movement at the station, for the word had

        passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a
thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near
and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush
horses are
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon
won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was
fairly up–
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a
hand,
No better horsemen ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the
saddle-girths would stand
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy
beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred
at least-
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized,
He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that
won’t say die-
There was courage in the quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and
fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his
power to stay,
And the old man said, “That horse will never do
For a long and tiring gallop – lad, you’d better stop
away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”
So he waited, sad and wistful – only Clancy stood
his friend-
“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;
“I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at
the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.”

He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint
stones every stride’
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make
their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first
commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”

So he went; they found the horses by the big mimosa
clump-
They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,
And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them
from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel
them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills.”


So Clancy rode to wheel them – he was racing on the
wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stock-horse past them, and he
made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the
dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a
sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges
deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they
fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held
their way,
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid
the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side.”

When they reached the mountain’s summit, even
Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden
ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have
his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent
down its bed
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint-stones flying, but the pony kept his
feet,
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his
seat-
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringy barks and saplings, on the
rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and
sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed
the farther hill,
And the watchers on the mountain, standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely; he was right
among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two
mountain gullies met
In the ranges – but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses
racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.


And he ran them single-handed till their sides were
white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound on their track,
Till they halted, cowed and beaten; then he turned
their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely
raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage
fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges
raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white
stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around the Overflow the reed-beds
sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The Man from Snowy River is a household word
today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

 


 

 

 

 

Tribute to those at Little Big Horn

Posted on April 25, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, history, military, riding, training.

Excerpt from the historical pages of QuarterMaster Museum

Water Carrier Ravine – Little Big Horn, Montana 25 June 1876

On 25 June 1876, the 7th Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, engaged the combined Sioux and Cheyenne forces along the banks of the Little Bighorn River in Eastern Montana. The 7th was part of a combined Army campaign to bring the Sioux to the reservations. Approaching the Indian village, Custer divided his command into three battalions; one under Captain Frederick Benteen, who took three companies and Regimental pack trains and maneuvered to the south; one under Major Marcus Reno, who launched a frontal attack against the village from the south. Then the remaining five companies went with Custer, to attack the village from the north. Every man in Custer’s command died. Reno’s attack was repulsed and he, along with Benteen were besieged for two days on the bluffs above the Little Bighorn, besieged by an estimated 3000 warriors.

Major Reno’s command attacked the village as ordered located on the plains in the background. Repulsed, Reno led his men up a ravine, losing a third of his regiment along the way. Joined by Captain Benteen, neither man knew of Custer’s fate but knowing that their own situation was desperate, ordered their men to dig in.  By the second day, the men were suffering from lack of water, especially the wounded. Survivors later described the situation: “..the sun beat down on us and we became so thirsty that it was almost impossible to swallow.”

Quartermaster Medal of Honor Recipients:

Captain Benteen called for volunteers to make an attempt to get to the river. Seventeen volunteered. Four men were selected to provide covering fire including Blacksmith Henry Mechlin and Saddler Sergeant Otto Voit, both Quartermasters. The attempt was successful. Nineteen Medal of Honors were later awarded for heroism at the Little Bighorn. Two of those went to Mechlin and Voit. These two, along with two other sharpshooters, positioned themselves on the bluffs on either side of the ravine to provide covering fire. During this engagement only one trooper was seriously wounded.  

The above is a canvas at the Quartermaster Museum,Fort Lee, Virginia


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