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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, April 10, 1898, Image 20

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1898-04-10/ed-1/seq-20/

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WITH all this talk of war prep
arations It seems strange
that so little has been said
or written about that most
Important adjunct of our
military, the cavalry, j-. 1 should the
seat of war be Cuba the cavalry would
really play a very important part in
the fighting. Therefore it is Interesting
to know just how our gallant troopers
are getting themselves in readiness.
The horse is just as much a part of
the army as the man who rides and
guides him. And when he Joins the
army he has to be thoroughly recon
structed. We have heard a great deal
of late about making big guns and buy
ing warships and turning out projec
tiles and strengthening our fortifica
tions, but never a word about breaking
in horses for the cavalry. Go out to the
Presidio or any other Government post
if you want to see how superbly the
animals render themselves in practice
The animals, you know, must be
thoroughly trained in war tactics. The
greatest patience is necessary in this
operation, and as each army post
breaks its own horses, one man con
nected with each post, who is specially
fitted for the work is assigned to that
duty. A man who is liable to lose his
temper could never train an army
horse in a thousand years. It requires
the greatest tact and perseverance.
Those of you who have seen a mod
ern cavalry drill must realize to a cer
tain extent the amount of patience re
quired in breaking in a horse for that
sort of work. The animal must not
only learn to stand steady under fire
and in the midst « f flashing sabers, but
he must know how to turn at just the
right moment when the bridle is hang
ing loose over his mane, how to lie
down and get up and a score of other
minor details which are combined in
his complete education.
And all of this must be drilled into
him slowly, patiently and by degrees.
For. according to an authority on the
! subject, a horse has really very little
natural Intelligence. The expression
"horse sense" consequently loses much
of Its significance.
A Presidio otlicer, In speaking of the
horse the other day, said: "A horse has
no sense. That is. very few of them
have. They are essentially creatures of
habit. Once you make them under
stand -what is expected of them, and
make them realize that they must do
ttiat thing, and they will never forget
That is the whole secret of breaking
horses for the cavalry.
The horses are brought raw from the
West. Your cavalryman would rather
have an animal that has never felt the
weight of a saddle, for he claims the
raw material is better in the lonp run
for his purpose than the civilized pro
Upon bis arrival at the nrmy post the
new recruit is stabled with the other
horses. fl" is probably travel sick
from the effects of his long ride on the
oars. The first thing to do is to get
him in good physical shape and make
him feel at home amid his new sur
roundings. He is shy. and everything is
strange to him. lie is just like a new
boy at school.
After he has been thoroughly rested
he is taken out into the paddock some
morning and given his first lesson in
cavalry tactics. The initial instruction
is in kneeling and lying down. In or
der to make him understand what is
required of him a simple arrangement
of harness is used.
A surcingle is placed around his belly,
to which are attached two iron rings,
one underneath and one at the horse's
back. Straps containing rings are also
placed about each foreleg just above
the hoof, and another strap is placed
about the head just above the nose. The
officer in cljarge is supplied with two
long ropes, by moans of which the horse
is rendered quite at the mercy of his
One rope is fastened to the ring on
the right leg, extends up through the
ring on the surcingle under the horse's
belly down to the ring on the left leg
and back again through the surcingle
ring. The other end of the rope is held
by the officer. The minute the horse
begins to show a fractious spirit a
! strong pull on the rope brings him
down on his knees.
The other rope passes on the right
side of the horse from the ling just
above the nose to that in the surcingle
:at the horse's back. A pull on this
' brings the animal's head around close
I to the right shoulder, and he is power-
I less. A pull on both ropes at once
' will cause him to lose his equilibrium,
' and down he comes on his left side.
A few repetitions of this, admlnis
j tered in such a way as to demonstrate
| to the horse that he is entirely at the
i mercy of the trainer, and the first les
i son is over. The horse is taken back
• to his stable, often without the stroke
of a whip. In some instances, how
! ever, it is found necessary to apply the
; lash with discretion.
The next step is to mount him. A
light snaffle bridle is adjusted, and
while the horse is on the ground the
officer hands the ropes holding the anl
mal in check to one of his men. Then
they are slackened, and as the horse
attempts to struggle to his feet the of
ficer leaps on his back.
With a snort of surprise the equine
recruit jumps and rears. Another pull
on the ropes and down he comes again
to the turf, the trainer leaping from
him as he falls. He lies there tremb
ling; a few softly spoken words, a gen
tle caress, and it is tried all over again.
Finally, the pupil, who has previously
learned to realize that he is powerless,
gets used to the weight on his back
and doesn't mind it.
The greatest shock to his nerves is
yet in store for his horseship. This is
in getting accustomed to firearms.
While the animal is down on the ground
i the officer takes a pistol and fires it
i close to his ear. Then in rapid order
! he fires the weapon over his back, un
der his neck, between his legs, any
where that an opening presents itself
during the horse's futile struggles. Not
until he sinks back exhausted, all
a-tremble and showing the whites of
{ his eyes does the pistol practice cease.
After two or three lessons of this
I kind it is considered safe to mount him
! with a bridfe furnished with a curb bit.
1 Up to this time the horse has never
felt a curb. The light snaffle is still
retained and the curb bridle is only
given a gentle pressure at first— Just
enough to let him know that it Is there.
Gradually the strength of the pull is
increased, and with this safeguard the
horse is taught to stand fire from ais
rider's pistol or carbine.
i In carbine practice the horse must be
thoroughly broken, as both hands are
required in using this weapon, whereas
with the pistol the rider may retain the
bridle with one hand.
Then comes saber practice, and that
is another trial tQ the horse. Again is
he thrown to the ground, and he prob
ably can't understand why he should
have to suffer this indignity all over
again, for he has learned that lesson
very well. But when the bright blade
of the saber, with quick thrusts flash
ing before his eyes and cutting the air
in close proximity to his ears, appears
to him, he is again terror stricken.
But the lesson he has learned from
the smell of gunpowder stands him in
good stead, and he soon gets over his
fear. And even with a man on his back
and another mounted on a seasoned
horse coming at him with saber raised
in the air or slashing left and right, he
knows that it is all a part of his educa
tion and something to be expected. So
he stands his ground or cavorts about
the other horse, while the two troopers
indulge in th^ir saber practice.
With his instructions in jumping, the
new recruit's education is nearly com
pleted. He is drilled in what is known
as large jumping, that is to say, he 19
placed in a shoot, with two high fences
converging toward a gate. He is still
kept in check by a long rope, held by a
man outside the fence.
Two other men run at his flanks with
whips, and in - Jer to escape the lash
he is bound to jump. If he does not go
over clear, the rails are tied up. and at
the next attempt he comes a cropper
on the tan bark, landing in a heap.
The next time, with the whips behind
and the fear of another fall before him,
he clears the bars like a bird.
After a little practice of this sort, the
horse knows just what he has got to do,
and then a man mo .ts him. With the
extra weight the jump is made lower,
and he eventually takes his final degree
as a full-fledged cavalry horse.
Our Country's Horoscope Says There Will Be Peace.
THE oldest of sciences is prob
ably astrology. No other can
boast such an illustrious list of
names among its believers and
exponents. It was the favorite
study among the Egyptian
priests in the days of Pharaoh and
Rameses; we are told that Moses
taught and professed it, independently
of the gift of prophecy.
Solomon did not consider himself too
! wise to learn from the astrologers, and
1 David owed his escape from Saul, at
i the time when the latter was coming
i to besiege him in Keilal, to their ad
| vice. The Magi, or wise men, of the
! Persians were astrologers, and the re
. markable future which the science
; foretold for the youthful Mohammed
j (which was fully realized) made it a
I religious institution among the fol
l lowers of the prophet of Mecca,
So much for the past of astrology.
1 Most persons, no doubt, believe that it
!is to-day an obsolete science. Such is
| not the case. There are at present in
i New York City nearly a dozen as
j trologers, soothsayers, star readers or
j horoscope casters, as they variously
I elect to call themselves. There are
others scattered about in various parts
of the country, and altogehter the pro
fession seems to be in a flourishing
and prosperous condition.
It certainly is not without its devo
tees. The headquarters of the best
known New York astrologer is lo
cated in one of the Park row sky
scrapers. This seer occupies a suite
of offices equipped with desks, type
writers, telephone and all 'the para
phernalia of the modern business es
tablishment. A procession of clients
keeps this astrologer busy all day
Astor, for this is the astrologer's
name, does not look like an exponent of
ancient occultism. He has a business
j like manner and might easily be mis
taken for a broker or a lawyer. There
is no suggestion of hidden mysteries
| about his workshop; ev.rything is
I plain, modern and commonplace.
The spectacle afforded by the seer
dictating the mystic lore of 5000 years
I ago to a modern graphophone may
seem a trifle incongruous, but it merely
goes to show that astroloe^, as prac
ticed at the present time, is strictly up
to date.
One of the business uses to which his
skill is put was shown by the recent
city election in Philadelphia. One of
the candidates for the City Council was
a Mr. Byram. On looking over the
firround. after hia nomination. Byram
made up his mind that the chances
were against his election. He decided
t<> work a new wrinkle. So he called
in the services of astrology, and during
the remainder of the campaign his ac
tions were under he constant direction
of the planets favorable o his cause.
Byram was elected. The politicians of
the Quaker city were willing to fight
.such ordinary evices as jobs, deals and
combinations, but when it came to
bucking against the stars in their
courses they gave up the battle.
With this imposing array of prece
dents, from Moses of Palestine to By
ram of Philadelphia, it is interesting to
know what answer astrology gives to
the absorbing question of the day: Will
there be war between Spain and the
United States? This problem was pre
sented for the consideration of Astor a
few days ago.
After carefully studying the existing
astrological situation the prophet con
structed the accompanying "war map "
which clearly proves to the initiated
that, while there is considerable vexa
tlous trouble in store for Ppain and the
United States, .hich may lead even to
a "clash of arms," there will be no war.
To those who are not familiar with
the symbols of astrology the diagram
may seem a trifle obscure, and a word
or two of explanation is necessary.
Briefly, the astrologer bases his" pre
dictions on the positions which the
different planets occupy at a given
time in the belt of the Zodiac. Each of
the planets indicates a certain tendency
which may be favorable or otherwise.
Likewise each of the twelve signs of
the Zodiac relates to certain subjects.
When the relations and influences of
the different members of the two
groups are known the prediction be
comes a comparatively simple mat
The reckoning is made from the sign
Aries, which stands, in the present In
stance, for the United States. Spain
is represented by Gemini, which, in
spite of some disturbance, is governed
by distinctly peaceful influences. This
indicates that Spain, however she may
bluster, is really anxious to preserve
peace, and will endeavor to do so. The
governing powers of the United States,
on the othsr hand, are symbolized by
Capricornus, which has at present a
decidedly bellicose attitude, with Mars
in the ascendant.

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