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  I want to create here a source of knowledge for people who are interested in the technical details of classical equestrian maneuvers from the Renaissance period. I address this blog mainly to riders aspiring to ride in the style of that historical period.

INCAVALCARE – CROSSING THE LEGS

Fig. 1. Could it be teaching of crossing legs between pillars? Graphic from Antoine de Pluvinel (1626).

The term "Incavalcare" referred to describing the movement of a horse's legs, which was given importance in training a horse.

One of the clear definitions is given by John Florio in his Italian-English dictionary (1598) where he lists two meanings of "Incavalcare / Incavallare".

Incavalcare, is when a horse doth set one foote over other in turning round.

Incavallare le braccia, when a horse doth set one fore foote over the other.” [1]

Movement of Incavalcare is what we now call the crossing of the legs in riding the horse and can refer to the horse's hind legs and to the forelegs. This element appears today, for example, in the pirouette, traverse, reverse, shoulder in and out, half-passes or in western spins.

In the 16th-17th centuries this movement was used in elements like: volta, raddoppiare[2], fiancheggiare[3], ciambetta[4], biscia[5] or in another's maneuvers.


          

                       Video. Raddoppiare (pirouette) with front legs in Incavalcare.

Gervase Markham pointed out that there was no corresponding term in his native language (English) and therefore he used "Incavallare" to refer to the mentioned manouevre. He also indicated that this was one of the basic movements a horse needed to know. 

"I thinke it not amisse to use those titles, which the ancient Italians used; being both proper and significant; as the incavallare which is the first straite or narrow turne that a horse should learn, which indeede importes a lapping or folding over of the outmost legge over the inmost (...)"[6]

                      Aids the rider must apply to obtain Incavalcare are as follows:

"(...) and there, by lying your left reyne close to his necke, your left legge close to his side, and your rodde upon his left shoulder, make him bring his body about, and make iust quarter of a complete Circle upon your right hand (...)"[7]

Gervase Markham also presents us with the pattern that allows to learn Incavalcare. (Fig 2).


Fig 2. Incavalcare pattern. Gervase Markham (1617).

Video. Performing the above pattern with moving the hind legs as well.

Pasqual Carraciolo when describing the performance of Raddoppiare (pirouette) also indicates that it was performed with Incavallcare, which helped not to widen this tight circle and to keep the horse on the track.

„(…) che volendo il Cavallo voltarsi a mano destra, dourà sopra il braccio destro incavallare il sinistro; e cosi all'incontro; nè mai cessarete di forzarlo, che vada giusto, e che non s'allarghi da quella volta, che prima ha fatta; ma sépre torni alla pista sua: e che muova le spalle, e le braccia, non mutãdo della misura, e dell'ordine sopradetto, i piedi di dietro (…)”[8]

“(…) that if the horse wants to turn on the right hand [side], he will have to put his left arm [leg] over his right arm [leg]; and in this way also in skirmish; you should/ will never stop forcing him to do this until he walks correctly and does not widen the volta [raddoppiare] like he did before; but he always returns on his track: and let him move his shoulders and arms, without changing the measure and order of the hind legs (...) "

Claudio Corte in the chapter of Incavallcare also points out that Incavalcare is used in Ciampetta[9].

„Se volete che incavalchi bene una gamba sopra l’altra, il che è di giovamento grande al cavallo nel maneggio, & di bellissimo vedere, trottatelo in volta stretto stretto hora sull’una & hora sull’altra mano, senza lasciarli prender fiato, (…) Di passo ancor potrete osservare i medesimi ordini. Et il fosso fatto à barca & à conca gioverà molto: ne i quali verrete anco, così essercitando, à facilitarlo alla ciampetta, over gambetta.”[10]

"If you want him to cross well one leg over the other, which is very beneficial for the horse in maneuvering and it is a beautiful sight, trot in a tight volta [turn] on the one hand [side] and on the other one, not letting him take a breath (... )

You can observe the same rules at walk. And a ditch shaped like a boat and like a basin/vessel will be of great use: which you will also come to practice in this way to facilitate ciampetta, also [called] gambetta.”

Giovanni Battista Galiberto in 1650 describes the lateral movement (Fig. 3), which includes the Incavalcare movement not only with the front legs, but also with the hind legs.

DEL FIANCHEGGIARE, ET ANDAR DI COSTA, Ó INCAVALCARE LE GAMBE.

Quando il cavallo farà ammaestratto nelle sopra dette lettioni, li potrai insegnare l'andare di costa acciò impari di tener le gambe, et incavalcar l'una sopra l'altra d'avanti, e di dietro (…)”[11]

"ABOUT SIDEWAYS AND LATERAL WALKING, OR CROSSING THE LEGS.

When the horse has been trained in the above-mentioned lessons, you will be able to introduce him to lateral walk so that he learns to hold his legs and cross one over the other in the forepart as well the the hind part (...) "


Fig. 3. Graphic from Giovanni Battista Galiberto (1650).


Video. Fiancheggiare (sideways) with Incavalcare movement of the front and hind legs.

Antonio Pirro Ferraro shows us how to perform one of the "Snake" types with the Incavalcare movement.

„Appresso vorrei che'l vostro Cavallo addestrato fosse in altri movimenti anchora, prima che à tal'atto si riponga, come sarebbe, ridurlo di passo ad incavalcar le gambe, tanto per l'uno, quanto per l'altro lato, con introdurvelo in modo d'una picciola biscia sù l'una, & l'altra mano, ripartendo quel moto, quasi come mezza volta, incaminandola, & dividendola in due, ò tre passi per ciascun lato dolcemente, & tal volta dandogli prestezza, accioche si vada accomodàdo ad incavalcar le gambe (…)”[12]

“Next, I would like your horse to be trained in other movements as well; before you undertake this activity, as if reducing the walk by crossing the legs [Incavalcar] both to one side and to the other one, putting him into the small snake exercise, on one and the other hand, walking and dividing this movement  gently into two or three steps to each side, giving speed in rotation, so that he will walk adapted to crossing the legs [Incavalcar] (...) "


                  Video. Biscia (snake) with Incavalcare movement of the front legs.

The benefits of this maneuver are also presented by Giovanni Gamboa in 1606.

"(...) venghi costretto ad incavalcar l'un sopra l'altro le braccia, quale atto è neccffario per potersi volteggiare in picciolo giro, poi che in quel modo haveranno no bisogno di minor spatio di terreno, nel che essendo assuefatto, li farà molto più facile il radoppiare, tanto in dette corbette, come in tutti maneggi (...)"[13]

"(...) you go to force the crossing of the horse's legs one above the other which action is necessary to be able to turn in a small circle because in this way you will need less space in the terrain where you will do much easier" radoppiare "[pirouette, Fig.4], both in the aforementioned "corbette" and in all [other] manners (...) "

 

Fig. 4. „Radoppiare” - Künstlicher Bericht (1570).

        The famous Federico Grisone (1550) also describes the Incavalcare maneuver in Repolone, i.e. in the mezza volta[14] at the end of the path. [15]

Fig. 5. Crossing of the front outside leg over the front inside leg in the "mezza volta". Künstlicher Bericht (1570).

 



REERENCES:

[1]Florio, s.173.

[2]Tight traverse on the circle.

[3]Lateral movement.

[4]Probably modern „media vuelta”.

[5]Snake.

[6]Markham, s.173.

[7]Markham, s.174.

[8]Caracciolo, s.448.

[9]Probably modern „media vuelta”.

[10]Corte, s.107.

[11]Galiberto, s.19.

[12]Ferraro, s.49.

[13] Gamboa, s.112.

[14]Type of half piruette.

[15]Tobey, s.117.


BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Florio, John. "A WORLD of Words", Londyn; Arnold Hatfield, 1598.

Markham, Gervase. Cavalarice. „Or the English horseman: contayning all the art of horsemanship, asmuch as is necessary for any man to vnderstand, whether hee be horse-breeder, horse-ryder, horse-hunter, horse-runner, horse-ambler, horse-farrier, horse-keeper, coachman, smith, or sadler. Together, with the discouery of the subtil trade or mystery of hors-coursers, and an explanation of the excellency of a horses vnderstanding”. London: E. Allde for E. White 1617.

Caracciolo, Pasqual. „La gloria del cavallo”. Venice: Gabriel Giolito, 1587.

Corte, Claudio. "Il cauallarizzo". Wenecja; Giordano Ziletti, 1573.

Galiberto, Battista. "IL CAVALLO DA MANEGGIO", Wiedeń; GIOVAN GIACOMO KYRNERI, 1650.

Ferraro, Pirro Antonio. „Cavallo frenato di Pirro Antonio Ferraro,... diviso in quatro libri. Precede l'opera di Gio. Battista Ferraro,... dove si tratta il modo di conservar le razze,... disciplinar cavalli e il modo di curargli”. Neapol: Antonio Pace, 1602.

Tobey, Elizabeth. Federico Grisone's "The Rules of Riding". Tempe, Arizona: ACMRS, 2014.

Gamboa, Giovanni. "La Raggione dell'arte del caualcare, composta per lo sig. D. Giouanni de Gamboa caualiero Napolitano. Nella quale se insegna quanto conuiene di sapere ad un caualiero à cauallo, .." Palermo; Gio. Antonio de Franceschi, 1606.

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