Wonderful Works on Horses

By Margaret Kaiser

The Library has acquired two wonderful works on horses.

The first, Il Cavallo da maneggio… is by Giovanni Battista di Galiberto, a Neapolitan count and riding master to Emperor Ferdinand IV, King of Hungary and Bohemia. This book,  printed in 1650 in Vienna, Austria, is the first edition of this beautifully illustrated work on horses and horsemanship. Il Cavallo da maneggio… (the manege or riding arena horse) is divided into three parts.  The first part is devoted to the proper training of horses. The second discusses horsemanship and the third deals with the illnesses of horses.  The engraved plates depict horse training scenes and equestrian equipment including bridles, spurs, and harnesses.

The second work, is the first English edition of the Duke of Newcastle’s work on horsemanship, A General system of horsemanship, printed in 1743 in London, England. The Duke of Newcastle was renowned as a scholar and an athlete and was particularly famous as a horseman. He felt that there was a natural elegance and art of horsemanship and that riding in harmony with the horse was important. This comprehensive two-volume work, illustrated with exceptional engravings, is also a landmark in the evolution of the art of riding. The Duke of Newcastle’s humane system of training was based on the use of firm discipline rather than force and was very influential on the art of horsemanship. The first volume includes information on the care and training of horses, riding, and equestrian equipment such as saddles, harnesses, and bridles.

The second volume covers the causes and symptoms of the diseases and disorders of the horse, and their treatments, as well as the anatomy of the horse.  A dictionary of technical terms relating to horses is also included.

Superb plates accompany the descriptions of the bones and muscles of the horse. The descriptions are given in Latin and English. In addition to this plate depicting all of the bones of the horse, there are separate plates for the bones of head, the feet, and the ribs and vertebrae.

For questions about these titles, including how to consult them, please contact the History of Medicine Division Reference staff at hmdref@nlm.nih.gov or (301) 402-8878.

Margaret Kaiser is Acquisitions Librarian for the Rare Books and Early Manuscripts Section in the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.