The Art of Horseback Riding

 

The history of the relationship between man and horse has its roots in ancient times, and it is not wrong to say that of all the animals that our ancestors domesticated, it is the animal, which has more firmly marked the slow but inexorable evolution of the human race. All the great men of history owe their own luck in this noble animal. With progress and the arrival of the means of locomotion its “value" has ' decreased’ a bit, but it certainly has not diminished in charm that it conveys to people, especially to children. Italian Traditions takes you back in time to let you discover the origins of an elegant art that conveys a deep sense of freedom: horseback riding.

In 1834, the French archaeologist Charles Texier discovered what would later prove to be Khattushash, the capital of the Hittite empire at Boõazköy, on the central plateau of Anatolia. It was here , in the citadel that once stood in the city center that, during the excavations carried out between 1906 and 1912, four clay tablets were found (dating to around 1500-1440 BC) with 946 lines engraved on both sides. These tablets contained a set of rules for training horses. The work was written by mitanno Kikkuli for King Suppiluliumas I the Great, and it represents the first documented written record so far that has been found about raising horses, constituting a veritable manual with a program based on a 180 day cycle that includes precise rules that are exclusively for the preparation of horses used for the war chariots.

The first evidence of horse riding comes to us through the mythical descriptions of the Amazonian army and the armed forces of the Ethiopian King Memnon.The history of horses and generally, the relationship between man and the horse over the centuries has concerned a wide scope of fields. However, riding and specific training of the animal were almost exclusively confined to military affairs and battles for about two thousand years. 

Used as a means of transport and work that is par to excellence. Horses began to be used for competitive purposes and leisure in the Middle Ages. Riding horses became a popular phenomenon for the aristocracy, and practicing horseback riding with top quality training was soon an obligation for all the nobles. At the courts of Europe in the Renaissance, the first true riding schools began to spring up, and there used to be one or more teachers in service for the court. In addition, horse riding was taught along with the use of arms, dance, music, painting and mathematics. The first model was born in Italy, exactly in Naples.

The Equestrian Academy of Naples reached its peak in the sixteenth century thanks to Gian Battista Pignatelli, and attracted students from all over Europe. The Neapolitan gentleman stood out in the art of riding and of instructing riders and horses. The first “riders” (stables) riding were established. At that time, Naples became the radiating center of horseback riding, and the principles of the new culture that was forming around the noble animal. It is possible to seize echoes of such phenomenon in literature throughout the century, from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice to Le Vite by Vasari. In Naples, the nobility came from all over Europe to learn the art that once belonged to kings and princes but also of popes, cardinals and prelates.