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Historical Question about Spade Bits
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MtnHorse
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 Posted: Wed Jul 8th, 2015 12:54 am
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I have read The Conquerors and other historical sources like Lieutenant Colonel George Greenwood”s (England) 1861 discussion on types of seat. I have also looked at a fair amount of artwork in your book and online. As I look at these sources I start drawing a general conclusion that the “Eastern” way of riding or La Jineta was less about collection and controlled riding. The stirrup broad and the leathers were short. Its strength seems to be in the ability to move around so as to reach down and pick up something off the ground, hide behind the horse’s body, ride over rough terrain and etc.

In contrast, la estradiota seems to be all about collection and being able to move the horse with the legs. Hence the long stirrup leathers so the calf of the leg comes in contact with the horse in a way that will encourage the horse to lift and bend. Even the Persians without stirrups have that same long, hip forward look about them. Later, Greenwood aligns it with the riding in the manege. I realize this might be somewhat of a generalization as we are discussing a lot of geography and time but it seems to make sense until I hit the spade bit.

Here we have an item that is designed for collection but is attributed to the Eastern horsemen. Is it possible that someone drew an incorrect conclusion many years ago and it has been repeated so often that it has become fact? What providence ties the spade to the Eastern riders?

I am going to sneak in one more observation here to as well. It seems that Western Europe abandons the Eastern ideas for some years and then suddenly Caprilli “revolutionizes” riding with a forward seat. Which to me, doesn’t seem so vastly much more forward as it does shorter in the stirrup leathers. (To bad he didn’t also reinvent the big stirrups as they are pretty comfortable.) Is the “forward seat” just a reinvention of an old idea?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jul 12th, 2015 12:57 am
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Mtn., lest you think I'm ignoring your very interesting question, I'm not; it's just that you posted at the worst possible time, two days before I go to Australia. I am out the door this very minute to the airport, but promise to reply from Down Under once I'm settled into the hotel. Sometimes I just can't help the schedule. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jul 18th, 2015 09:20 am
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Mtn horse, the more you read the more you will discover that MOST "revolutionary" ideas are old ideas -- what makes them revolutionary is that they are old ideas placed in a new context or seen in a different light. So yes, Caprilli's "forward" seat is really not "forward" but balanced over the stirrups, exactly as in la jineta. In general this does the same thing for someone trying to jump -- i.e. trying to maximize the up-down flexibility of the horse's spine, as it does for someone trying to perform a rollback, i.e. maximizing the lateral flexibility of the horse's spine. The idea is to get the rider's weight off the horse's loins and even off the rear part of its ribcage, so as to encourage and allow this flexibility. The old "viewpoint" on jineta emphasized its ability to maximize lateral maneuverability; the Caprilli or new "viewpoint" emphasizes its ability to maximize up-down bascule. Old idea; new context.

The history of the curb bit was that it was invented by Gauls living in Turkey in the fourth century BC. Their invention was a "crudification" of the ancient collection-inducing bit -- similar the bit now traditionally used in Peru for the Peruvian Paso horse -- that had been invented about a century earlier in the same area (Persia used to take in parts of southern Turkey). The Persians were, by a very long stretch, the first people to discover how to induce collection and to value the horse trained to move in collection, and they used this bit, which has teeney shanks and a teeney little spade no bigger than the last joint of your little finger, for military and civilian purposes and to play the game of polo. The popularity of polo took the bit into northern India (modern Pakistan) and eastward along the Silk Road and other trade routes as far as China, but no farther westward than just barely across the Bosporus to Macedonia.

After the rise of Islam we begin to see modifications in the original 'spade' bit that make it look much more like a modern Chileno or ring-bit. This was very popular among Muslim horsemen during the Middle Ages and we see images of it throughout medieval Spain. The ring-bit design was far more common than anything like a Santa Barbara, which really is a New World design originating in Mexico.

So no, there's been no mixup as to what tools came first in time. The ancient and crude bit is the snaffle, and it is still the snaffle that is responsible for vastly the majority of mouth injuries in ridden horses (in other words, where a mouth injury can be attributed to a bit, it is far more often due to a snaffle bit than to a 'curb' or leverage bit of any type). Indeed, injuries from specifically spade bits are almost nonexistent, as it is almost impossible to hurt a horse with a spade bit that has been properly fitted and adjusted before use.

You will also pick up from this answer, Mtn., that it is way way oversimplistic to say 'jineta is about maneuverability and estradiota is about collection.' They are BOTH about collection; what's different is the armamentarium that goes with each -- the scimitar and the bow and arrow with jineta, vs. the javelin, lance, and broadsword with estradiota. Remember that estradiota itself is a hybrid form, derivative of the old knightly style a la brida, which had nothing at all to do with collection, as is outlined in some detail in my book, "Conquerors". -- Dr. Deb

 

Kuhaylan Heify
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 Posted: Sun Jul 19th, 2015 10:08 am
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Some of the Tahawy Sheiks still have ring or Chileno like bits in their tack collections. The Mamelukes in Egypt used curbs also. Bedouin are more frequently associated with a halter and lead strap or nose chain. Makes sense when you think they usually had no fixed base and had to carry Everything with them. The Tahawy came up out of north central Arabia and at one point ended up as far as Tunisia before returning to Egypt. They may have picked up the collection bits from the North African folk they encountered.
best wishes
Bruce Peek


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