Originally published in the January 1951 issue of Western Horseman
In many of the private schools throughout the country, horsemanship plays an important role. One such school is the Fountain Valley School for Boys, located a short distance south of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Although the school goes in strongly for all sports, horsemanship is one of the most popular. Each spring the school holds a good horse show and gymkhana, which is well attended by contestants and spectators.
F. Dexter Cheney Jr., the instructor at the school, furnished us with the following highlights of the school’s horsemanship activities:
“We have five different classifications of riders here at the Fountain Valley School, namely: greenhorns, mossbacks, shorthorns, longhorns and horsemen. When any one of the horsemen class reaches a high enough excellence of horsemanship, he becomes top horseman and receives a gold and silver trophy buckle, and rides the school’s trophy top horseman saddle as long as he remains at school. The award is not necessarily made each year.
“The boys try to work up to the top class horseman, through their own aptitude and our coaching. On the average, about five a year reach this class. We keep the standard high. One of the early requirements is that the following 12 points distinguishing a good horseman be memorized so that they can be said in one’s sleep.
“A good horseman—
—is firm but kind, overlooking no opportunity to save his horse;
—is patient and never loses his temper;
—has lost fear through experience;
—tries to think ahead of the horse, to anticipate;
—does not yank at the bit and rides with a light hand;
—rides in the saddle, not on the cantle, and puts plenty of weight in the stirrups;
—does not cinch too tight and loosens the cinch if his horse is to stand any length of time;
—never races or attempts to ‘cowboy’ unnecessarily;
—never overheats his horse when it is avoidable;
—allows a hot horse six to eight swallows of water only (and counts them) and no grain for at least an hour;
—walks his horse the last half mile home;
—he is humble enough to know that if he lives to be 100 years old, he may never learn from his experience and from other horsemen all there is known about a horse.”