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without burning them. After they have been boiled, before they are put down to roast, care must be taken to prick the skins; as, if this is neglected, the chestnuts will fly about in all directions as soon as the outer skin becomes parched.
BOOK III. DOMESTIC ANIMALS.
QUADRUPEDS KEPT FOR AMUSEMENT. — HORSES FOR RIDING
AND DRIVING IN PONY CARRIAGES. MULES, ZEBRAS, QUAGGAS, AND DONKEYS, - DOGS AND CATS.
I am delighted, my dear Annie, to find that you are fond of riding. There is something noble and invigorating in the exercise. If your horse is tractable and docile, you will soon begin to consider him as your friend; and if he is refractory, you will feel a pride in being able, by skill, to conquer a powerful being possessing strength so superior to your own. I like to see a lady ride well and fearlessly; and, in short, the only drawback I can find to the pleasure your letter gave me is, the somewhat mysterious malady of your horse, on which you consult me. You say that, though a fine spirited creature when you are on its back, it appears dull and stupid when first brought out, and that it shuffles against things as if it were half-blind. You say you have consulted a veterinary surgeon, who says that there is no disease in the eyes, so that I suspect the evil lies where you have probably never thought of looking for it, viz. in the stable. If your stable is dark, the mystery is explained at once; and I think it is very probable that this may be the case, as you tell me that your horse is kept in a stable apart from the rest, that it may be taken more
I believe, indeed, that more of the diseases of horses depend on the stable than is generally imagined. If the stable be dark the eyes are affected; and if it be damp the horse is liable to catch cold; and coughs, inflammation of the lungs, and finally broken wind, are the results. Another evil in many cases arises from the stable that you would not readily think of, and that is, if the doorway is too small and the posts on each side of it sharp-edged, the hair of the horses is frequently injured in going in and out. Horses are, in fact, much more delicate than is generally imagined, and many of the diseases with which they are afflicted arise from a want of proper attention to their comforts. On this account, the first thing in the management of a horse is, to see that its stable is spacious, light, well aired, and dry. In attending to the latter point, however, care should be taken that it is kept dry by a drain in the centre and at the back of the stall, and that the paving is as nearly level as possible. It has for some years past been the fashion to make the pavement of stables slope so considerably towards the door that the horse's fore-feet stand much higher than his hind feet; and this is not only a most uncomfortable position for a tired horse, but it is very apt to bring on diseases in the fore-feet and legs. It is also of great importance that the stalls should be large enough to allow each horse room to turn himself, and to lie down comfortably in any position he may fancy. We all know what a comfort it is when we are tired, to stretch ourselves out how we like; and a hunter turned into a loose box, after a hard day's work, will often be found lying with his legs stretched out like a dog, instead of having them doubled under him as horses are obliged to sleep when confined in narrow stalls.
It is a great advantage when there is a wide space between the stalls and the door, as it prevents the wind from blowing directly upon the horses every time the door is opened. It is also best not to have the stable in an exposed situation, but to have it so placed that it may be sheltered by some other building from the north and east winds. The loftiness of the stable is another very important
point. It is the custom in many places to have the hay-loft over it; but this is bad in every point of view, as it not only makes the ceiling of the stable low, and by confining the air renders the horses liable to take cold every time the door is opened, but the dust and seeds from the hay are apt to fall from the loft whenever the horse is supplied with hay, and to injure him by getting into his eyes. I am fully aware when I am saying this, that you can neither alter the position of your stables nor make them larger, without more expense being incurred than your husband would perhaps approve of. I do not, however, think that he would object to having an additional window made, or to adding to the height of the stable by removing the floor of the loft, particularly if there be any small room adjoining the stable in which the hay can conveniently be kept.
A great deal, also, may be done by cleanliness. Whenever the horse is out, the stable should be thoroughly cleaned and the windows opened, and whenever there is an opportunity the rack and manger should be well cleaned and scoured with a brush. It is, however, important that the stable should be dry when the horse returns to it. In some places stables are warmed by flues or hot-water pipes, or by a fire being kept in the harness-room adjoining; and, when there are no means of this kind, the stable may be