HORSEMANSHIP OR WAYS TO COGNIZE, GROOM AND BREED HORSES
“Horsemanship or ways to cognize, groom and breed horses” by Krzysztof Pieniążek was published in 1607. This modest publication has been somewhat forgotten, though undeservedly so. Fortunately, the original edition, kept in the Old Prints Cabinet of the Warsaw University’s Library, was digitalized and thus made available to the general public.
Observations and advice imparted by Krzysztof Pieniążek, an educated Renaissance man, knight, breeder, diplomat and adventurer, are still highly valid and up to date. Even upon a superficial analysis of the text by Pieniążek, there emerges a picture of the Old Polish approach to horses. We can clearly see that horse whisperers, so popular nowadays, are not a contemporary invention but an ancestral Old Polish tradition.
From the 16th to the 18th century, the Polish cavalry was not only famous throughout Europe, but it was also feared by enemies, while considered as an example to follow. In his work, Pieniążek meticulously describes issues related to horse breeding, the choice of a proper saddle horse, as well as the training of horses for knights.
In old Polish horse literature, including works by Pieniążek, we can find descriptions of many “patents” used in horse training. Great importance was attached to the sensitivity of the horse’s mouth, which reveals a huge experience in working with the horses.
Thence, our ancestors possessed the know-how and patience necessary to work with a horse. Since not everyone could afford a horse both beautiful and valiant, one had to enter the battlefield on what was available in the stables when homeland was in need.
The digitized book is available on the website of the Warsaw University’s Library at the link:
Prepared by: Hanna Sztuka & purepolishsociety