Posturing Horses: Xenophon on Biomechanical Soundness in The Art of Horsemanship
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As early as the Bronze Age, ancient Greek horses shared in the social status of the military elite. The ritual inclusion of horses and their equipment in burial practices from the Bronze Age to the Classical period marked the elevated status of horses and the wealth of those who cared for them. It is possible to discern the level of care elite equines received through artistic depictions on Athenian pottery and from literary descriptions on the training, care, and stable management of horses as found in Xenophon’s manual, The Art of Horsemanship. The longevity of military and sport horses indicates the level of care they received. Based on the detailed practices Xenophon recommended for the selection, care, and training of 4th century BCE cavalry horses, it is possible to discern the ideal conformation (εἶδος) and posture (σχηματοποιεῖσθαι) that he desired for a horse. A comparison of Xenophon’s anatomical vocabulary to modern equine anatomy and physiology shows that he preferred riding practices that align with biomechanically sound training.
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Heather Mavis Rigg (2022). Posturing Horses: Xenophon on Biomechanical Soundness in The Art of Horsemanship. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/18541
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