Assyrian Groom and Horses

Assyrian Groom and Horses

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(from the November 2009 Issue of “The Cattleman’s Advocate” – by Susan Dinkler)

FIRST-HAND KNOWLEDGE: Tom Usnick can point out various stalls that quartered world-famous horses, drawing from his experience with the inner workings of the barn while working as a groom when he was a youth.
(Advocate photo by Susan Denkler)

(Publisher’s Note: The life of a groom is where all the great trainers started. Tom Bass, William Lee, John T. Hook – all started out in the Grand Barn on the Boulevard, usually at young ages, learning to care for horses and how they were trained. When they showed skill at training, they would work their way up to training and showing these horses for the stables. This interview, tapping the unique insight of Tom Usnick, is perhaps the only written history from someone who has been a groom at the Big Barn.)

MEXICO, Mo. &ndash How did a stable &ndash that&rsquos become a monument to the Saddlebred industry &ndash really operate under Art Simmons?

Mexico native Tom Usnick, curator of the American Saddlebred Horse Museum, worked as a groom at Simmons Stables for a time as a youth, and his behind-the-scenes experience gives insight into how the barn became so prominent.

Tom was a friend of Simmons&rsquo son, Jim, and got his start at the stable doing odd jobs.

&ldquoI went to work for Art the summer I turned 13. I started painting fence, and on rainy days when we couldn&rsquot paint, I&rsquod come into the stable where Art had me walk hot horses. We&rsquod just walk in circles &lsquotil we cooled those horses out. After that, I did a little more horse, a little less painting.&rdquo

The renowned stable drew premium Saddlebreds, owned by people who traveled in the upper stratospheres of wealth and society. They wanted their horses boarded and trained by the best. And so they got Art.

Like Tom Bass in his day, Art had shown a special talent for horses since a boy of 7, who hung out at the rural stables around California, Mo., where he grew up. Later taking on stable duties and horse training jobs beyond his years, Art came up in the school of hard knocks, sometimes bumping from house to barn to home after his mother died when he was 11. Not content to become an &ldquoalley rat,&rdquo as one acquaintance told it, Art had a vision for his future and it was bound to involve horses. By the time he owned his own stable in Mexico, he was among the best.

Simmons Stables had a certain rhythm, with everyone expected to pull his own weight. Art&rsquos day started around 7 a.m.

&ldquoHe&rsquod come over here and grain first,&rdquo said Usnick. &ldquoIt was just a ritual that he did every day. Each of these stalls had a light in there &ndash probably a 40-watt bulb &ndash and he would put the feed in the feed hole, and always flip on that light, look at that horse, turn the light off, and go to the next stall.

&ldquoPrimarily he was looking to see if the horses had slipped their tail set,&rdquo which he explained as a special harness that supports the tail in an upright position, for a high tail carriage. After inspecting the horses, he&rsquod leave to go out to a farm where he kept the brood mares and colts. Meanwhile, the grooms would clean out the stalls and water the horses. The barn was so huge that its two haylofts above the stalls, which ran the length of the stable, could hold a total of 5,000 bales of hay. Catwalks above the aisle on both ends allowed stable workers to access the hay, which they flaked off and dropped into the hay racks of each stall.

Red Oak Citation in one of the completed stalls at the Grand Barn.
(Photo credit: Brenda Fike of the Mexico Ledger

By the time the grooms finished up their morning duties, Art would be back and ready to train.

&ldquoEvery groom had six horses on his string,&rdquo said Usnick. &ldquoA lot of times you&rsquod clean their stalls out in the morning, and get one or two worked before lunch. Then you&rsquod work the other four that afternoon. And those six horses were your responsibility as far as their care.&rdquo

It was the grooms&rsquo job to keep the horses coming for the trainers, who worked them outside on the sawdust and cinder tracks.

&ldquoMost of the time, except for a harness horse, Art would ride one day, and jog them the next. A harness horse got jogged every day. Every day they got worked, and they got exercised every day.&rdquo

Perhaps Usnick, now a locomotive engineer for the Kansas City Southern, earned his precision railroad timing during these early years.

&ldquoA lot of times when they were out jogging a horse or riding a horse, then you&rsquod come in and strip your next horse. You&rsquod tie them up and take the tail set off, and start brushing them up then you&rsquod kind of peek out for Art or Jimmy to come back in, then go down and take their horse. If it needed walked, you&rsquod walk it, and got your next horse ready to go. Yeah, it was a great time.&rdquo

Tom Usnick shows typical saddlebred tailset harness.
(Photo credit: Brenda Fike of the Mexico Ledger

Tom is still amazed at the caliber of horses that came through this stable. Pointing out different stalls, he said, &ldquoTashi Ling was in the third stall. She was a world champion in fine harness. Courageous Connie was a five-gaited champion. She was a real light chestnut mare with a flax painted tail, and a great head set. She was in the first stall. Colonel Boyle was down at the other end of the barn. He was six-time world champion.

&ldquoOh my gosh, there&rsquos been so many … Sea Beauty, she stood right along in here.&rdquo Recalling the night she won at Madison Square Garden, he added, &ldquoShe could trot this high. As a matter of fact, an auctioneer once said she could trot higher than a woodpecker&rsquos hole. A lot of motion, that trot.&rdquo

These finely-bred horses were in their element, showing at gaited events that became a spectacle of horsemanship, from the music and lights of the arena, to the exhilaration of the audience, to the high-stepping vigor of the animals, right down to showmanship of the trainer.

The horses were shown in both riding and fine-harness classes. Art had been known to take as many as 16 horses to a single event, where he, or Jim, or the horses&rsquo owners showed them. There were three-gaited events &ndash familiar to all horsemen as the walk, trot, and canter &ndash and the five gaited events peculiar to the Saddlebred, which adds the slow gait and rack to the repertoire.

&ldquoA rack is a four-beat, man-made gait, and this is the only breed of horse that can do it,&rdquo said Usnick. &ldquoA rack is real smooth. Only one foot&rsquos on the ground at a time. It&rsquos real fast, and it&rsquos really cool.&rdquo

He said the Saddle Horse makes this breed perfect for showing.

“The Replica”, Art Simmons up.
(Photo courtesy of Audrain County Historical Society

&ldquoThey&rsquore fine through the barrel, and they&rsquove got nice long necks that come right up out of their withers. And when they set their head, they look like a swan. Of course, that tail&rsquos up over their back, and they have a big eye and animated way of going. They just don&rsquot look like any other horse.&rdquo

Jim Simmons describes his father as a near &ldquoworkaholic,&rdquo and his sister Jane recalls their dad was often on the show circuit for weeks at a time. But Art knew a winning outcome could build status for the horses, and prestige for the stable.

Usnick went along to some of these events as a groom. What was it like?

&ldquoHard work. No showers. You slept in a stall. We had canvass we&rsquod put around a stall, and call it tack rooms or show rooms. We had cots, and you just slept in there. And we had to haul everything. Everything you needed for every horse, you had to take with you. It was just like taking the whole barn.&rdquo

But the work paid off with ribbons and trophies, and they came pouring in for Art, who was a real showman in the ring. He was particularly colorful at the harness class, especially when it came build time for the judge to turn the trainers loose by announcing, &ldquoShow your horse!&rdquo

&ldquoThat&rsquos when those guys whistle &lsquoem up, right? And Art, he would drive that thing,&rdquo grins Usnick. &ldquoHe&rsquod have his foot up there in that high harness buggy, hanging out the side (of the cart). I don&rsquot know whether he was showing that horse, or the horse was showing him.&rdquo

Usnick said a champion horse could be as big of a showboat in the arena as the trainer.

&ldquoYou can just listen for that applause to follow that horse around the ring, and those horses get bigger, and bigger, and bigger,&rdquo he said, puffing out his chest. &ldquoThere was a fine harness horse called the Lemon Drop Kid, and the more those people clapped, the bigger he got. He&rsquod just look up in the crowd as he trotted by &hellipand you couldn&rsquot turn that horse&rsquos head straight if you&rsquod had a come-along.&rdquo

With the experience he gained at Art&rsquos stable, Usnick went on to train and show his own Saddlebred and society horses, and personally owns a 17-year-old Saddlebred named Catch Me Sir, a mare he got from Jim Simmons.

He and Jim are still close friends, sharing a special bond that just happens to connect to a big white barn, and a man born with a special talent for horses.

&ldquoArt had a gift,&rdquo said Usnick. &ldquoI&rsquove had old trainers tell me that when you or I ride a horse, we&rsquore just riding a horse. But Art would help the horse &hellip with his hands, with his feet. While he was on that horse, he would actually help that horse go. with his body, with his weight, And how he did it, no one knows.&rdquo

Assyrian Groom and Horses - History

Assyrian Death Penalty

Assyrian Captives Being Impaled

This sketch represents the usual death penalty given by the Assyrians which was hoisting on poles. The victims were tied with their stomachs or throats on the point of a stake so that their own weight thrust them downwards.

There are many examples revealing Assyrian severity. A captured king was taken to the capital and compelled to pull the royal chariot of triumph. Rings were put through their lips or noses and sometimes hands, feet, noses and ears were cut off, they were blinded and their tongues were torn from their mouths. Prisoners were skinned alive and set on fire. Their skins were also hung near enemy city gates in order to collect tribute. The Lord allowed the ruthless Assyrians to capture the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC because of Israel's rebellion against Him. They were never seen again.

"So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, "Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings." And they drew near and put their feet on their necks." - Josh 10:24

Assyrian Captives Blinded and Led Into Captivity

But it wasn't long before the Lord executed judgment upon the Assyrians:

"Behold, I am against you," says the LORD of hosts "I will lift your skirts over your face, I will show the nations your nakedness, And the kingdoms your shame. I will cast abominable filth upon you, make you vile, And make you a spectacle. It shall come to pass that all who look upon you will flee from you, and say, 'Nineveh is laid waste! Who will bemoan her?' Where shall I seek comforters for you?" - Nah 3:5-7

The Bible Mentions the Word "Assyria"

Jeremiah 2:18 - And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?

2 Kings 16:10 - And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that [was] at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.

2 Kings 19:4 - It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up [thy] prayer for the remnant that are left.

Isaiah 37:4 - It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up [thy] prayer for the remnant that is left.

Jeremiah 2:36 - Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.

2 Chronicles 32:9 - After this did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, (but he [himself laid siege] against Lachish, and all his power with him,) unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that [were] at Jerusalem, saying,

2 Chronicles 30:6 - So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.

2 Kings 16:7 - So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I [am] thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me.

2 Kings 18:9 - And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which [was] the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, [that] Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it.

2 Kings 18:17 - And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which [is] in the highway of the fuller's field.

2 Kings 17:26 - Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.

2 Kings 17:24 - And the king of Assyria brought [men] from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed [them] in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.

2 Kings 20:6 - And I will add unto thy days fifteen years and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.

2 Chronicles 28:21 - For Ahaz took away a portion [out] of the house of the LORD, and [out] of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave [it] unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not.

Zechariah 10:10 - I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon and [place] shall not be found for them.

Jeremiah 50:17 - Israel [is] a scattered sheep the lions have driven [him] away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.

2 Kings 18:16 - At that time did Hezekiah cut off [the gold from] the doors of the temple of the LORD, and [from] the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

Isaiah 36:8 - Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.

Nehemiah 9:32 - Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day.

Micah 5:6 - And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver [us] from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.

2 Kings 23:29 - In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.

Isaiah 27:13 - And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

Isaiah 36:2 - And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field.

2 Kings 18:23 - Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.

2 Kings 18:28 - Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria:

2 Kings 19:10 - Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.

Isaiah 36:13 - Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.

2 Kings 15:19 - [And] Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.

2 Kings 16:8 - And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent [it for] a present to the king of Assyria.

2 Kings 18:30 - Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.

Assyrian Groom and Horses - History

The original capital of the Assyrian Empire, which dates back to 2600 BCE.

Assyrian Empire

A major Semitic kingdom of the Ancient Near East, which existed as an independent state for a period of approximately nineteen centuries from c. 2500-605 BCE.

The Assyrian Empire was a major Semitic kingdom, and often empire, of the Ancient Near East. It existed as an independent state for a period of approximately 19 centuries from c. 2500 BCE to 605 BCE, which spans the Early Bronze Age through to the late Iron Age. For a further 13 centuries, from the end of the 7th century BCE to the mid-7th century CE, it survived as a geo-political entity ruled, for the most part, by foreign powers (although a number of small Neo-Assyrian states arose at different times throughout this period).

Map of the Ancient Near East during the 14th century BCE, showing the great powers of the day. This map shows the extent of the empires of Egypt (orange), Hatti (blue), the Kassite kingdom of Babylon (black), Assyria (yellow), and Mitanni (brown). The extent of the Achaean/Mycenaean civilization is shown in purple.

Centered on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia (northern Iraq, northeast Syria, and southeastern Turkey), the Assyrians came to rule powerful empires at several times, the last of which grew to be the largest and most powerful empire the world had yet seen.

As a substantial part of the greater Mesopotamian “Cradle of Civilization,” Assyria was at the height of technological, scientific, and cultural achievements for its time. At its peak, the Assyrian empire stretched from Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea to Persia (Iran), and from the Caucasus Mountains (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan) to the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt. Assyria is named for its original capital, the ancient city of Ašur (a.k.a., Ashur) which dates to c. 2600 BCE and was located in what is now the Saladin Province of northern Iraq. Ashur was originally one of a number of Akkadian city states in Mesopotamia. In the late 24th century BCE, Assyrian kings were regional leaders under Sargon of Akkad, who united all the Akkadian Semites and Sumerian-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia under the Akkadian Empire (c. 2334 BC-2154 BCE). Following the fall of the Akkadian Empire, c. 2154 BCE, and the short-lived succeeding Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur, which ruled southern Assyria, Assyria regained full independence.

The history of Assyria proper is roughly divided into three periods, known as Old Assyrian (late 21st-18th century BCE), Middle Assyrian (1365-1056 BCE), and Neo-Assyrian (911- 612BCE). These periods roughly correspond to the Middle Bronze Age, Late Bronze Age, and Early Iron Age, respectively. In the Old Assyrian period, Assyria established colonies in Asia Minor and the Levant. Under king Ilushuma, it asserted itself over southern Mesopotamia. From the late 19th century BCE, Assyria came into conflict with the newly created state of Babylonia, which eventually eclipsed the older Sumero-Akkadian states in the south, such as Ur, Isin, Larsa and Kish. Assyria experienced fluctuating fortunes in the Middle Assyrian period. Assyria had a period of empire under Shamshi-Adad I and Ishme-Dagan in the 19th and 18th centuries BCE. Following the reigns of these two kings, it found itself under Babylonian and Mitanni-Hurrian domination for short periods in the 18th and 15th centuries BCE, respectively.

However, a shift in the Assyrian’s dominance occurred with the rise of the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365 BCE-1056 BCE). This period saw the reigns of great kings, such as Ashur-uballit I, Arik-den-ili, Tukulti-Ninurta I, and Tiglath-Pileser I. Additionally, during this period, Assyria overthrew Mitanni and eclipsed both the Hittite Empire and Egyptian Empire in the Near East. Long wars helped build Assyria into a warrior society, supported by landed nobility, which supplied horses to the military. All free male citizens were required to serve in the military, and women had very low status.

Beginning with the campaigns of Adad-nirari II from 911 BCE, Assyria again showed itself to be a great power over the next three centuries during the Neo-Assyrian period. It overthrew the Twenty-Fifth dynasty of Egypt, and conquered a number of other notable civilizations, including Babylonia, Elam, Media, Persia, Phoenicia/Canaan, Aramea (Syria), Arabia, Israel, and the Neo-Hittites. They drove the Ethiopians and Nubians from Egypt, defeated the Cimmerians and Scythians, and exacted tribute from Phrygia, Magan, and Punt, among others.

After its fall (between 612-605 BCE), Assyria remained a province and geo-political entity under the Babylonian, Median, Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, Roman, and Sassanid Empires, until the Arab Islamic invasion and conquest of Mesopotamia in the mid-7th century CE when it was finally dissolved.

Assyria is mainly remembered for its military victories, technological advancements (such as using iron for weapons and building roads), use of torture to inspire fear, and a written history of conquests. Its military had not only general troops, but charioteers, cavalry, bowmen, and lancers.

Baffert claims Medina Spirit ate hay that was contaminated with a groom’s urine

Baffert says one test issue was created by a groom urinating in the stall after the groom had been taking cough medicine. Horse ate some of the hay.

&mdash rickbozich (@rickbozich) May 10, 2021

The excuses didn’t stop at cancel culture.

According to Rick Bozich of, the trainer blamed a groom for ingesting cough medicine and urinating on some hay in Medina Spirit’s barn. He said the horse ate some of the contaminated hay, which could’ve caused the positive test.

As of now, Medina Spirit is still eligible to race in the Preakness Stakes this coming Saturday.

Assyrian Groom and Horses - History

The Assyrian Symbol of Asshur

Asshur the King of the Assyrian Gods

The monuments excavated at Nineveh have revealed much about the religion of the ancient Assyrians. They worshipped the sun, moon and stars, and among their idols were heroes and rulers from earlier times who were made deities.

Asshur was the father of the Assyrians and the country was named after him. He was regarded as "the great god, king of all the gods." It was Asshur who gave power and life to every priestly king, and this was his symbol. A winged circle or globe with the human figure of a warrior god armed with a bow in its center.

"And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city."
- Genesis 10:10-12

"For through the voice of the LORD Assyria will be beaten down, As He strikes with the rod."
- Isaiah 30:31

"And He will stretch out His hand against the north, Destroy Assyria, And make Nineveh a desolation, As dry as the wilderness."
- Zephaniah 2:13

"He shall pass through the sea with affliction, And strike the waves of the sea: All the depths of the River shall dry up. Then the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, And the scepter of Egypt shall depart."
- Zechariah 10:11

"Asshur is there and all her company: his graves are about him: all of them slain, fallen by the sword"
- Ezekiel 32:22

Hosea 14:3 - Asshur shall not save us we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, [Ye are] our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.

The Bible mentions a lot regarding "Idolatry"

1 Samuel 15:23 - For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king.

Colossians 3:5 - Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Galatians 5:20 - Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Acts 17:16 - Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

1 Corinthians 10:14 - Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Neo-Assyrian kingdom and her neighbors equids

Neo-Assyrian Kigdom ( List of Assyrian kings ) and its art ( wiki/Neo-Assyrian_Empire Arts of Assyria ) always invokes the strongest feelings because of a degree of brutality shown (in this XIX century book there are many images taken from Assyrian sculptures showing that side of their art Assyria ).
But at the same time their art is the best place where to find images of fabulous horses, horse tack and ample evidence of horsemanship for the period between 900 to 600 ( I millennium) BC (BCE).
From the cuneiform tablets we can learn that the best breeding ground for the horses were in Mannea, east and south of Lake Urmia ( wiki/Lake_urmia ). Their horsemen were allegedly the first non-steppe cavalry organized in the so called civilized world of Western Asia, and their art gives ample proof of gradual changes in the horse tack, seat and weaponry and armour for these horsemen.
Paintings from Til Barsip, strategic Assyrian stronghold located along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, c.100km northeast of Aleppo, Syria, provide beautiful examples of Assyrian horses and their tack eg til barsip chariot some originals at Louvre and Aleppo Museum, many paintings copied by Lucien Cavro (I got mine from Andre Parrot, The Arts of Assyria Arts Assyria Parrot )
Assyria had many enemies, including Egypt, Syrian princedoms, Elam elam , desert nomads, Medes, Persians, Anatolians, Babylonians to name a few. War was essential to their survival and wealth, while a mighty stallion, whether mounted or pulling a chariot, was the symbol of it.

'Horse' books to read : 'Selected writings on chariots and other early vehicles, riding and harness' Littauer et al Hyland Horse in the Ancient World Azzaroli
Finally, from Assyria we get the very first image (during the reign of Ashurnasirpal II or Shalmaneser III - palace at Nimrud, ancient Kalhu) of so called 'Parthian Shot,' a tactic of turning around in the 'saddle' and shooting arrows, from one's bow while sitting astride a cantering or galloping horse, at the pursing enemy.
Here, the Assyrian royal chariot is pursuing these most likely Iranian Skuda mounted riders and one of them is about to fire his arrow at the chariot crew.

Should necessity cause the horse to arrive in that state, the groom should walk him about for a few minutes this done, he should take off the moisture with the scraper, and afterwards wisp him over with a handful of straw and a flannel cloth if the cloth is dipped in some spirit all the better. He should wash, pick, and wipe dry the legs and feet, take off the bridle and crupper, and fasten it to the rack, then the girths, and put a wisp of straw under the saddle. When sufficiently cool, the horse should have some hay given him, and then a feed of oats: if he refuse the latter, offer him a little wet bran, or a handful of oatmeal in tepid water. When he has been fed, he should be thoroughly cleaned, and his body clothes on, and, if very much harassed with fatigue, a little good ale or wine will be well bestowed on a valuable horse, adding plenty of fresh litter under the belly.

Every time a horse is unbridled, the bit should be carefully washed and dried, and the leather wiped, to keep them sweet, as well as the girths and saddle, the latter being carefully dried and beaten with a switch before it is again put it on. In washing a horse's feet after a day's work, the master should insist upon the legs and feet being washed thoroughly with a sponge until the water flows over them, and then rubbed with a brush till quite dry. Harness, if not carefully preserved, very soon gets a shabby, tarnished appearance. Where the coachman has a proper harness room and sufficient assistance, this is inexcusable and easily prevented. The harness room should have a wooden lining all round, and be perfectly dry and well ventilated. Around the walls, hooks and pegs should be placed for the several pieces of harness, at such a height as to prevent their touching the ground and every part of the harness should have its peg or hook one for the halters, another for the reins, and others for snaffles and other bits and metal work: and either a wooden horse or saddle-tree for saddles and pads. All these parts should be dry, clean and shining.

This is only to be done by careful cleaning and polishing, and the use of several requisite pastes. The metallic parts, when white, should be cleaned by a soft brush and plate powder the copper and brass parts burnished with rottenstone powder and oil steel with emery powder both made into a paste with a little oil.
The Book of Household Management, by Mrs. Isabella Beeton, 1861, 1907
Published Originally By S. O. Beeton in 24 Monthly Parts, 1859-1861. First Published in a Bound Edition 1861.


A COACHMAN must be clean-shaven, and in the city his livery should consist of white leather or stockinette breeches, close-fitting and fastened at the bottom by small buttons on the outside of the knee, top boots, and a single-breasted, high-buttoned frock coat of dark blue, bottle-green, brown or plum-colored kersey. White linen, a standing collar, with a plastron or coachman's scarf, black silk hat, and tan, white or gray driving-gloves complete his livery. In winter weather, over his livery, the coachman draws a double-breasted over-coat of any of the livery colors chosen. This coat is very long, and fastens high with large brass or silver buttons. In the summer and in the country, unless a Victoria or brougham is used, this heavy and formal livery should be put, aside for a complete suit of brown or gray whipcord, the trousers, waistcoat and coat all of the same goods, A brown felt hat and brown driving-gloves and black or brown shoes are essential details.

Career Options

All areas of the equine industry employ grooms to assist with basic equine management duties. Grooms may find positions with racing stables, showing stables, riding schools, boarding farms, breeding farms, stallion farms, polo clubs, equine vet clinics, and nutritional research centers.

Some grooms specialize by working exclusively with one equine age group, such as foals, yearlings, or mature stallions. Others choose to focus their efforts on working in a particular sport or with a particular breed.

Grooming skills are highly transferable from one area of the equine industry to another, so there is always the option of transitioning into another area of equine sport or production. Some individuals also choose to travel internationally while working with horses in grooming positions.

Grooms often are able to move up into management positions as they become more experienced. Many former grooms have transitioned to careers as stable managers, trainers, exercise riders, show riders, breeders, veterinary assistants, or farm managers.

Water empire

Morandi Bonacossi said that the Faida canal appears to have been built by Assyrian king Sargon for local irrigation, but it became part of a much larger canal network established by Sennacherib.

Sargon, who ruled from 722 B.C. until 705 B.C., is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, where he is said to have defeated the Kingdom of Israel in an invasion. He was the father of his successor Sennacherib, who ruled until 681 B.C. and rebuilt the ancient city of Nineveh alongside the Tigris River, on the outskirts of modern Mosul.

Sennacherib's canals transformed the core regions of the Assyrian Empire from relatively dry farms into highly productive irrigation agricultural areas.

"These irrigation networks with their associated monuments were part of highly structured, centrally planned and elite-sponsored programs that engineered the landscape of the Assyrian core," he said.

Vandalism, looting and urban expansion &mdash including the construction of a modern aqueduct nearby &mdash now threaten the Faida archaeological site it is now the subject of a salvage project to document the carvings, protect them and create an archaeological park nearby.

Watch the video: Entire History of the Neo-Assyrian Empire 911-609 BC. Ancient History Documentary