A new manuscript by Bourgelat. The compelling ascent of a horseman

Bernard CLERC

Professeur honoraire des Écoles nationales vétérinaires
46 rue du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, 94700 Maisons-Alfort

A new manuscript found recently is the object of this publication. It contains writings of Bourgelat on horsemanship. Examination proves it’s authentic. The copy was written during the second part of the XVIII th century, most probably between 1765 and 1779. The choice of texts which are presented show the approach of Bourgelat dissociating himself from the teaching of François Robichon de La Guérinière, famous headmaster of riding, his contemporary and his elder. The texts it contains date back to 1748 for the oldest and 1760 for the most recent one. The first text is large memoir studying the mechanics of horse paces. It was presented to the Academy of Sciences in 1760. The second text is a corpus of definitions of 12 terms concerning horse riding with comments. Similar texts were written by Bourgelat for Diderot and Alembert’s Encyclopedie. Finally, what we call the third part contains an epistolary exchange with an eminent headmaster of riding, Pierre Amable de La Pleignière. They are not unknown texts since they can be found in publications available for consultation. They testify at the same time the evolution and the innovation of Bourgelat’s writings since the Nouveau Newcastle in 1744. They show how Claude Bourgelat evolves from the academic riding study, to a larger and more scientific knowledge of horses and horse riding, leading him to his future writings on veterinary medicine.

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Ref. : Bull.soc.fr.hist.méd.sci.vét., 2015, 15 : 179-186