secrets of horse training

Few would claim that they know how to properly address a panicked, aggressive horse in this modern society, but it is a skill that is undoubtedly worth knowing. Taming a vicious horse is something that can change the way one looks at the world; the feeling of accomplishment is unrivaled by any other casual activity. Therefore, I present this third installment in the publication of Magner’s Farm and Stock Book and Complete Instructor, and the most valuable information yet shown. Please visit the literature link (found above) to download the digital versions of these chapters, and to acquaint yourself with the first several sections of the book and find their accompanying discussion links.

Download the PDFs and follow along!

Part 4: Horse Taming and Training Introduction

On page 265, Magner describes how the following chapter is drawn from his other work, The Art of Taming and Educating Horses. He notes that he has never received a returned copy of the book and that he has only received acknowledgments of highest regard (265). Robert Bonner, owner of the noted horse Dexter, said of the work, “Every horseman in the land ought to have a copy of it” (Magner 265). Magner then proceeds to alternate between praise of his previous work and more wise adages, some rivaling those found earlier in the book (in the introduction) (265-266). My favorites are these, found on page 266:

Getting men to use tobacco and whisky is one way the devil has of taking up a collection.

If you always look through cobwebs, you will always see spiders.

It is also worth noting that if Frank B. Root of 859 Grand Street in New Haven, CT were offered $100 for his copy of the book, he would not take it if he could not get another copy (266). It is after these testimonies that Magner begins to become more substantive: the art of taming horses is next (eventually).

Magner even begins by stating, “For several reasons this part must be accepted as one of the most interesting and important in this work” (268). Apparently, no farmer can adequately conduct the business of his farm without the use of a horse (269). At least one fourth to one third of all the horses in general use would be found unsafe and dangerous if subjected to anything startling or unusual (269). On pages 271-273, Magner describes his initial interest in taming horses, and on page 275 he talks of how he “practically revolutionized all previous ideas on the subject.” The author basically just flaunts his abilities on pages 275-277.

Pages 278-283 lack much necessity; they further the case that Magner is an excellent horse trainer and that horses can, indeed, be civilized. It is not until page 285 that Magner begins to describe his technique for breaking troublesome horses. These are “valuable secrets, formerly given by the author only under an oath of secrecy” (285). He lists four difficulties that must be overcome on 285-289, and on page 287 he writes one of the greatest single-sentence paragraphs ever penned in the English language:

While the horse is in some respects superior to man, being deficient in reasoning powers and consequently unable to understand the degree to which he may be imposed upon or taken advantage of, no matter how wild, vicious, or dangerous, we can, by intelligent means, so neutralize or overcome his resistance, whether general or local, that successful resistance becomes impossible, until there is not only entire submission for the time, without the use of force, but it will continue afterward, thereby demonstrating the most interesting and remarkable result.

Yes, you saw that correctly: 88 words and 13 commas in one sentence. His detailed horse taming lessons will only begin in the next section.

Part 5: Detailed Horse Taming

Magner begins on page 291 with the Second Method, rather than the first. Succinctly, the Second Method of Subjection consists of tying the horse’s halter to his tail (292-295). And then you poke him with a stick (293). After he runs around in circles for a while with you poking him, he apparently learns to behave. It’s simple, really.

The First Method, found on pages 295-301, is a bit trickier and doesn’t work on horses of a “slow, sullen, or mustang nature” (297). His directions are somewhat intricate, but it seems that the goal is to tie the horse’s halter and one front leg to a harness on his back, and then roll him onto his side. If he’s sensitive anywhere, the horse tamer should poke him with a stick (300). This demonstrates mastery over the horse and constrains him to your will.

The Third Method, or Passive Method, isn’t for everyone; Magner does not have room enough to tell the details, but he attempts to relate it anyway (302-308). Apparently, pressure is applied to the spinal marrow at a place where an inch of spinal cord is not covered by vertebrae (302). Don’t do it enough and it won’t work, but do it too much and it’s abuse (303). After this is done, you poke him with a stick (306).

The rest of the chapter is a bit dull, dealing with war-bridles (308-313), breaking-bits (314-317), foot straps (317-318), and breaking rigs (318-320). I included them for the sake of completion, as I’m sure Magner did. I have no doubt that he considered the first three methods sufficient for breaking any horse, so there really is no point to reading further (unless your horse is refusing to pull your carriage, in which case you should definitely consider the foot strap and breaking-bit methods).

The next entry will be a surprise…but it will probably be more about horses.

4 thoughts on “secrets of horse training

  1. I made the mistake of reading this at work, and was brought to tears with laughter as my coworkers looked on with fear and contempt in their eyes.

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