HORSES VS. AUTOMOBILES
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.