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Persia than in England, a good Persian horse. man is not so skilful as a good English rider : but no persons can exceed the Persians in the boldness and even rashness with which they ride. A Persian boy is a fearless rider before an English boy has done with his rocking-horse; and the people generally have a maxim, that any path which is safe to the foot of a man is safe to that of a horse, and they therefore climb the most dangerous steeps, over rocks or loose ground, and dash along the most perilous mountain paths without the least apprehension. And so well are the horses trained to the difficulties of the roads, that they very seldom stumble, nor are their riders often thrown, in places where horses brought from a level country, the Arabian horses for example, tremble to venture, and stumble at every step. The Persians are convinced that they are the best horsemen in the world. It is, indeed, their national pride; and they never praise any man without placing his horsemanship among the foremost of his virtues.
H. Do they use spurs ?
U. O. No. But the stirrup-iron is a flat piece of sheet-iron, about six inches long by four broad. It is turned up at the sides, and its sharp corners,
being kicked against the flanks of the beast, serve the purpose of a spur. But they always use long and heavy leathern whips, the mere sight of which is generally enough to make the horse quicken his pace. These whips have sometimes a very short handle, but they are quite as commonly without any. The bit which they put into the mouth of the horses is fastened to the rein by a large iron ring at each end, and is so very severe, that it would drive a horse, not used to it, to madness. Thus a slight twitch of the rein answers the purpose of a spur, and is, I think, more dreaded by the Persian horses than a spur is by the English. I always wished to treat my horses very tenderly; but, with all my care, I seldom failed to fill their mouths with blood in riding twenty miles, till I got used to the native way of managing the reins.
The trappings of the horses are finer than ours; but not so fine as those of the Turks. The head-stall of the bridle is frequently ornamented with bits of gold, silver, or brass; and ornaments are often suspended under the animal's throat or above its forehead, while silver chains are sometimes twisted round its neck. The saddle, which rises high above the back of the horse, is placed
on a stiff quilted cloth, on which various figures are worked with bright-coloured silk or worsted. Sometimes a velvet saddle-cloth with silk fringe is used; and a piece of felt is always laid next the horse's back.
Jane. What is “ felt ?”
U. O. Felt is a kind of thick cloth made either of wool alone, or of wool and hair. It is not spun or woven like proper cloths, but is made by working up the fibres of wool or hair with lees and size, forming a substance similar to that of your beaver hat. Indeed, felt is the substance with which beaver hats are made. The better sort of eastern felts are soft and thick, and coloured in carpet patterns. The front or pommel of the saddle is raised and formed into a knob or handle, which is decorated with gold, silver, or ivory, and which, although it was not, I believe, intended for that purpose, is useful to bad riders, who can lay hold of it when they are in danger of falling. I had two little bags, one containing books, and the other bread or fruit, which I hung at this handle, so that I could, whenever I pleased, refresh either my mind or body.
F. How nice that was! But what were the books about, Uncle ?
U. O. Different matters of course ; but I most generally read a book called The Fairy Queen, written in the reign of Queen Elizabeth by a person called Spenser.
The furniture of horses and mules, that carry loads upon their backs, is often much ornamented with shells and tassels; and they have also bells hanging from their necks or breasts : I have sometimes counted nine bells on one horse.
H. I think I have read that the Mohammedans do not use any bells.
U. O. Nor do they, except upon their baggage horses and mules; and you may easily imagine what a dreadful din is made by the bells of a vast number of animals travelling in company.
F. But what is the use of them?
U. O. They say the sound of the bells keeps the animals in good spirits. This may or may not be true; but the bells are certainly very useful in keeping a whole company together when it travels by night, which it often does. A stray horse may also be found in the night by the sound of its bells; and a stray traveller, by following the sound, may easily join his party again, which would otherwise be very difficult in the night time. I think these are the reasons which make the people allow bells in travelling, though they hate them in general.
J. But if the people have no bells in their houses, how do they call their servants ?
U. O. A servant is generally within hearing, and when he is wanted the master claps his hands for him. This reminds me to tell you that when a man of consequence rides abroad he has a servant with him whose business it is to keep charge of his smoking instruments, and who has generally a pot of burning charcoal hanging from his saddle. I will describe these smoking implements to you one day ; but shall now only tell you that when the gentleman wants to smoke, the servant makes the pipe ready, and having lighted it, gives it to his master, who smokes at one end while the man runs along by the side of the horse holding the other.
F. And does the master ride fast ?
U. O. Not very fast, when he is smoking; but as I understand your question, I must tell you that great men have, among their servants, a number of runners called shatirs, whose business it is to keep about the horse of their master while he is riding; and he never abstains from riding