From Xenophon to Charlotte Dujardin, the Byerley Turk to artificial insemination, Pippa Cuckson charts equestrianism’s watershed moments
Circa 431-354BC, Xenophon: the Ancient Greeks — who had already developed shoeing — realised they would do better in battle by developing trust with their horses.
Turning on a drachma or galloping from a standing start were taught by patience, repetition and reward. They also understood the benefits of balance and light rein contact. Xenophon, a student of Socrates, recorded the system in his seminal tome On Horsemanship.
Enlightened riding — besides many other things — sunk without trace in the Dark Ages. Xenophon’s philosophy, if not necessarily all his techniques, was revived in the Renaissance, most famously at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, founded in 1565.