HORSES VS. AU­TO­MO­BILES

EQUUS - - Insights Conformation -

Cana­dian ho­tel owner Wil­liam H. Ed­wards and his wife per­form for a pho­tog­ra­pher in Nova Sco­tia. Ap­par­ently an an­i­mal trainer and some­thing of a sideshow man, the “trick” shown in this tableau was care­fully staged: Note the sturdy boxes to sup­port the horse’s weight placed un­der and on the run­ning board of the

Al­ready by 1895, Ital­ian cav­alry cap­tain Fed­erico Caprilli had be­come dis­sat­is­fied with the way jump­ing was han­dled in the mil­i­tary. He de­cided to ig­nore the the­o­ret­i­cal ideas—at the time iron­clad be­liefs—that to “help” the horse jump the rider needs to lean back and pull the horse’s head and neck up. In­stead,

car. On the hood of the car sits an “or­gan grinder’s” mon­key, placidly groom­ing it­self; and un­der Mr. Ed­wards’ left arm, there is the stuffed head of a croc­o­dile. The beau­ti­ful and in­tel­li­gent horse ap­pears to be an Amer­i­can Sad­dle­bred, the world­wide num­ber one choice for solo-per­for­mance cir­cus and High School ex­hi­bi­tion.

Caprilli de­cided to sim­ply pay at­ten­tion to em­pir­i­cal re­sults—that is, to what the horses and their rid­ers them­selves were telling him—and thus by 1907 he had de­vel­oped what is now called the “for­ward seat.” Prior to Caprilli, it had been con­sid­ered an out­stand­ing feat to clear an ob­sta­cle higher than two and a half

Races be­tween horses and early au­tos were crowd­pleasers a cen­tury ago. From a stand­ing start, the horse would eas­ily win at any dis­tance up to one mile—which was not what

feet, and in hind­sight it is amaz­ing that Caprilli faced enor­mous re­sis­tance from his com­mand­ing of­fi­cers, who in­sisted upon cling­ing to the old par­a­digm. Pho­tos like this one did much to over­come their doubts, so that by 1910 ev­ery cav­alry school in the world was teach­ing Caprilli’s tech­nique.

many “technophiles” of the era were bet­ting on. Only when au­to­mo­biles be­came ca­pa­ble of quickly com­ing up to a speed of over 30 mph did the horse con­sis­tently lose the race.

This im­age of a home­made horse trailer circa 1915 is from Eng­land, where draft horse num­bers did not drop as sharply with the com­ing of the au­to­mo­bile as they did in the United States. Noah Zeringue’s rig built to carry Fly­ing Bob to his widely scat­tered book of mares in Texas would have been sim­i­lar.

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