Xenophon – On Shying

“Consequently, when your horse shies at an object and is unwilling to go up to it, he should be shown that there is nothing fearful in it, least of all to a courageous horse like him; but if this should fail, touch the object yourself that seems so dreadful to him, and lead him up to it with gentleness. Compulsion and blows only inspire the more fear; for when horses are at all hurt at such a time, they think that what they shied at is the cause of the hurt.”

From “The Art of Horsemanship” by Xenophon. Translated by Morris H Morgan and published by Dover (2006).

Xenophon was a cavalryman, a mercenary general who fought for Cyrus of Persia. He was also a pupil of Socrates and I rate his ‘Apology’ a better, more trustworthy, account of Socrates’ trial than the one Plato wrote. I have a high regard for Xenophon. It is an instinctive reaction to reading some of the writing he left behind. He seems balanced, honourable and decent. I love the way he talks about horses. “On Horsemanship” is a very good read and I would highly recommend it.


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