Horses and the History of the Circus

The history of the modern circus is deeply rooted in horsemanship. The first modern circuses, which took place during the 18 century, were primarily demonstrations of tricks performed on a horse, first by former soldiers who learned such skills during military training, and later by talented men and women trained from a young age to accomplish acrobatics and other feats atop a horse. In order to teach horses to perform tricks for the circus amphitheater, horsemen relied upon instruction from mentors and in books such as Dr. Sutherland’s System of Educating the Horse, with Rules for Teaching the Horse Some Forty Different Tricks or Feats.