The Book on Tending Horses


Al-Kitāb fī siyāsat al-khayl (The book on tending horses) is a short work on horsemanship by an unknown author. The manuscript is incomplete. The surviving portion of the text discusses the desirable characteristics of a horse as well as signs that indicate its good health. It also presents a list of equine ailments (including mange and cancer) and their cures. The text is interspersed with colored illustrations depicting a variety of horses. Each illustration is marked off by a circular border with decorative designs. One of the illustrations, depicting a saddled white horse, provides a map of the ailments afflicting a horse, with each ailment listed next to the part of the animal or the limb that it afflicts—while beyond the circular border a serpent slithers away. This work is undated. This and other similar works on horsemanship resulted in part from the pre-Islamic and Islamic cultural traditions of nomadism and the breeding of horses.

Last updated: September 29, 2017