If you will have your horse fetch and carry a glove

These fragments come from The English Horseman (1607), a complete guide to horse ownership. What follows are some curious instructions on how to get a horse to perform tricks, such as fetching a glove, counting with its hooves, and pissing on demand.

I will shew you in this breefe relation, by the example of two or three tricks, how you shall make your Horse to doe any other action as well as any Dogge or Ape whatsoever, except it bee leaping upon your shoulders, climbing uppe houses, or untying knots, all which are contrary to the shape and strength of his greate body; but for fetching or carrying, (as commonly Dogges do) for counting numbers with his feete, or for chusing out any particular person amongst a multitude.

You shall therefore know, that if you will have your Horse fetch and carry, either Glove, Handkerchife, Hat, or any such like thing, you shall first bring your Horse to an especiall love, fear; and knowledge of your person by this meanes; You shall not suffer any Man whatsoever to rubbe, dresse, or so much as to speake to the Horse, but your selfe only, neither shall you let him have any foode, Drinke, or other nourishment, but what he receives from your hand, and to that end you shall continually keepe him in the Mussell, you shall seldome bee from him, but either picking or trimming him, you shall when you walke abroade, take him in a string abroade with you, and make him conversant and familiar with you, (suffering no other Man to give him either faire word or faire looke). If your Horse out of ignorance bee about to doe contrary to your will, then to use this word, Be wise, at which if he do not stay and take better deliberation, but wilfully pursue his error, then correct him and use this word Villayne or Traitor, or such like, so you use but one word; and when he doth as you woulde have him, cherrish him, and use this word So boy, and in a short space you shall bringe him to that knowledge that he will wholly be directed by those words and your commandement.

Then you may begin to teach him to fetch your glove, first by making him take your Glove into his mouth and holding it, then by letting the glove fall to the ground, and making him take it up, and lastly by throwing the glove a pretty way from you, and making him fetch it and deliver it unto you, & every time he doth to your contentment, yow shall give him two or three bits of bread, and when he offends you then two or three strokes.When your horse will receive your glove, take uppe your glove, and fetch your glove, you shall then make him carrie a Glove whether you will in this sort: first you shall make him receive it in his mouth, and then pointing out a place with your rod you shall say unto him Deliuer, and not leave repeating that word sometimes more sharpely, sometimes gently til he lay or at least bow his head down with it to that place where your rod pointed, and then you shall cherrish him, and give him bread.

Now if you will teach your Horse to reckon any number, by lifting up and pawing with his feete, you shall first with your rodde, by rapping him upon the shin, make him take his foote from the ground, and by adding to your rod one certaine word as Up: or such like. Now when he will take up his foote once, you shall cherrish him, & give him Bread, and when hee sets it uppon the ground, the first time you shall ever say one, then give him more bread, and after a little pause, labour him againe at every motion, giving him a bit of bread til he be so perfect, that as you lift up your rod, so he will lift up his foot, and as you move your rod downeward, so he will move his foot to the ground. Then you shall make him encrease his numbers at your pleasure, as from one to two, from two to three, and so fourth, till in the end hee will not leave pawing with his foote, so long as ever you move your rod up and downe.  Then you may adventure to bring him into any company or assembly, and making any Man thinke a number, and tell it you in your eare, you may bid the Horse tell you what number the man did thinke, and at the end of your speech bee sure to saye last Up: for that is as it were a Watch-worde to make him know what hee must doe, and whylest you are talking, you shall make him looke in your face, and so your eye dyrecting him unto your rodde, you may with the motions thereof, make him with his foot declare the number before thought by the by-stander. From this you may create a World of other toyes, as how many Maydes, howe many Fooles, how many Knaves, or how many Richmen are amongst a multitude of gazing persons.

Now to conclude, that you may make a Horse to pisse when you woulde have him (or at least to straine and move himselfe thereunto) or to leave pissing when you please, you shall for two dayes at the least, watch him, and keepe such distance of times, that hee may never pisse, but when you urge him, and to that end you shall once in two or three houres leade your horse uppe and downe upon straw, so softly, that hee may as it were but put out one foot and stand still, then another & stand still, your selfe continually saying unto him Pysse, Pysse, and thus you shall do if it be a whole day togither, till he do pisse or straine himselfe to pisse, and then you shall reward him with bread; and til he do pisse or straine himselfe to pisse, you shall neither moove him in any other lesson, nor let him taste foode though it were for a weeke together, and by this meanes after he understands your meaning, you shall no oftner say pisse, but he either will pisse, or straine himselfe to Pisse, and then at your pleasure acquainting him with a contrarie worde as No more or such like, which being spoken in threatning sort, and accompanied with correction, you shall make him staie his pissing when and as oft as you please. As this motion of pissing, so you may use him in his eating, drinking, or anie other naturall action, and though these appeare verie unnatural, yea even to horsemen themselves, yet they are as easie to bee effected, as anie toye whatsoever.
© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

2 Comments

  • April 12, 2012 - 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Bookmarked! Interesting article you got here! Shakespeare is indeed a great writer. I love the images of the horse.

  • April 12, 2012 - 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Nice article. Really interesting. I’ll book mark this!

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