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In the Riding-School; Chats with Esmeralda   By:

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Transcribed by Elizabeth Durack, who is very pleased to be able to share this rare and charming book.




We two will ride, Lady mine, At your pleasure, side by side, Laugh and chat. ALDRICH



I. A PRELIMINARY CHAT WITH ESMERALDA The proper frame of mind Dress Preparatory exercises. II. SHALL YOU TAKE YOUR MOTHER, ESMERALDA? The first lesson Various ways of mounting Slippery reins Clucking After a ride. III. CHAT DURING THE SECOND LESSON Equestrian language Trotting without a horse Exercises in and out of the saddle. IV. ESMERALDA'S TRIALS AT THE THIRD LESSON Pounding the saddle A critical spectator A few rein holds. V. ESMERALDA ON THE ROAD Good and bad and indifferent riders A very little runaway. VI. THE ORDEAL OF A PRIVATE LESSON Voltes and half voltes "On the right hand of the school" Imagination as a teacher. VII. ESMERALDA AT A MUSIC RIDE Sitting like a poker The ways of the bad rider. VIII. ESMERALDA IN CLASS Keeping distances Corners Proper place in the saddle Exercises to correct nervous stiffness. IX. ELEMENTARY MILITARY EVOLUTIONS "Forward, forward, and again forward!" How to guide a horse easily. X. CHAT DURING AN EXERCISE RIDE The deeds of the three legged trotter The omniscient rider Backing a step or two Fun in the dressing room. XI. ESMERALDA IS MANAGED Intervals The secret of learning to ride. XII. CHAT ABOUT THE HABIT Riding dress in history and fiction Cloth, linings and sewing Boots, gloves, and hats. XIII. CHAT ABOUT TEACHERS Foreign and native instructors Why American women learn slowly "Keep riding!"


Impatient to mount and ride. Longfellow .

And you want to learn how to ride, Esmeralda?

Why? Because? Reason good and sufficient, Esmeralda; to require anything more definite would be brutal, although an explanation of your motives would render the task of directing you much easier.

As you are an American, it is reasonable to presume that you desire to learn quickly; as you are youthful, it is certain that you earnestly wish to look pretty in the saddle, and as you are a youthful American, there is not a shadow of a doubt that your objections to authoritative teaching will be almost unconquerable, and that you will insist upon being treated, from the very beginning, as if your small head contained the knowledge of a Hiram Woodruff or of an Archer. Perhaps you may find a teacher who will comply with your wishes; who will be exceedingly deferential to your little whims; will unhesitatingly accept your report of your own sensations and your hypotheses as to their cause; and, Esmeralda, when once your eyes behold that model man, be content, and go and take lessons of another, for either he is a pretentious humbug, careless of everything except his fees, or he is an ignoramus.

It may not be necessary that you should be insulted or ridiculed in order to become a rider, although there are girls who seem utterly impervious by teaching by gentle methods. Is it not a matter of tradition that Queen Victoria owes her regal carriage to the rough drill sergeant who, with no effect upon his pupil, horrified her governess, and astonished her, by sharply saying: "A pretty Queen you'll make with that dot and go one gait!" Up went the little chin, back went the shoulders, down went the elbows, and, in her wrath, the little princess did precisely what the old soldier had been striving to make her do; but his delighted cry of "Just right!" was a surprise to her, inasmuch as she had been conscious of no muscular effort whatsoever. From that time forth, incessit regina .

You may not need such rough treatment, but it is necessary that you should be corrected every moment and almost every second until you learn to correct yourself, until every muscle in your body becomes self conscious, and until an improper position is almost instantly felt as uncomfortable, and the teacher who does not drill you steadily and continuously, permits you to fall into bad habits... Continue reading book >>

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