But the Mexicans manage these things with more gallantry than the ancients did. The "pisanna," or country lady, we are told is often seen mounted before her "cavalera," who take the more natural position of being seated behind his fair one, supporting her by throwing his arm around her waist, (a very appropriate support if the bent position of the arm does not cause an occasional contraction of the muscles.)
These two positions may justly be considered as the first steps taken by the ladies towards their improved and elegant mode of riding at the present day.
At an early period when the diversion of hawking was prevalent, they dressed themselves in the costume of the knight, and rode astride. Horses were in general use for many centuries before anything like a protection for the hoof was thought of, and it was introduced, at first, as a matter of course, on a very simple scale.
The first foot defense, it is said, which was given to the horse, was on the same principle as that worn by man, which was a sort of sandal, made of leather and tied to the horse's foot, by means of straps or strings. And finally plates of metal were fastened to the horse's feet by the same simple means.
Here again, as in the case of the sturrupless saddle, when we reflect that men should, for nearly a thousand years, have gone on fastening plates of metal under horses' hoofs by the clumsy means of straps and strings, without its ever occurring to them to try so simple an improvement as nails, we have another remarkable demonstration of the slow steps by which horsemanship has reached its present state.
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