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monly applied to young horses, and is of the greatest use in keeping their heads steady, in proper place, and preventing them from avoiding the restraint of the bit by throwing them up. Now with both these assistants a man may add to or relax their restraint by his hands, or, in more riding phrase, may give and take with his horse: in fact, no description of bridle or martingal is fit for general use that in any way prevents his doing this to its fullest extent.
We will call No. 3. the racing-martingal, coming from the girths to the hand-reins. This is the martingal whose utility I contend for con amore.
No. 4. is the severest of all descriptions of martingals, and only to be used on a very determined rearing or plunging horse, and as a severe punishment in case he does either. It consists of a ring of iron made in the shape of a heart, with rings on each
o to fasten the head-stall to, and two more
near the bottom to receive two billets, which end in a strap that goes to the girths, supported by the neckstrap, similar to the one in common use to the racing or hunting martingal. The strap, going to the girths, may of course be lengthened or shortened to any degree, by which latter process the severity of the restraint is increased. The way it should be put on is this. Put the wide part of the bit in the mouth, and the narrow part under the jaw; the headstall must be left just long enough to allow the bit to rest on the bars of the mouth, behind the tusks, and beneath the riding bit (of whatever kind that may be); then bring your horse's head as low as you wish it to be. If he is only moderately restive, about
103 the ordinary place in which a head should be in a gallop will do: if he is more violent, or is apt to rear, but not dangerously, bring his nose to about a level with the point where the neck is set into the chest : if he is a determined rogue, an old offender, and one disposed to hog up his back, plunge violently, and then vary the entertainment by rearing, so as to leave it an equal bet whether he falls backwards or not, bring my gentleman's nose nearly on a level with the point where the forearm is set into the shoulder. In either of these cases, fasten his head to the level you bring it to by the strap going to the girths, and mind the strap be of sufficient strength to prevent his breaking it. Should he set plunging, which he is likely enough to do on finding himself restrained, it then becomes, in magic-lantern terms, “pull devil, pull baker;" it is, in short, which tires first — the martingal holding him, or he hurting his mouth in trying to break the martingal. “Ten to one on martingal:" martingal has it all the way, and wins in a canter. I have seen several set-to's in this way, but never saw a different result, or any thing even like a dead heat.
I should always recommend as a proper precaution, the first time this martingal (or rearing-bit as it is called) is put on, that it be tried in a meadow, or some place where a horse cannot bark his knees or hocks should he throw himself down, which, though rarely the case, he might do, if a very determined one, when restrained to a very great degree for the first time. I never saw one do so, however vicious, but it might happen; nor did I ever see one that was not cowed after a few plunges. He gets such a lesson in a few minutes, that he generally leaves the da capo to less experienced pupils. The great merit of this 104
THE FIGIIT. bit with a plunger or rearer is, that it makes him practically feel that whenever he attempts to do wrong he hurts himself; and he also finds he is so completely baffled in every attempt at violence, that he gives it up, or in recent slang, cuts it. The way it acts is simply this: before a horse plunges or rears, he is sure to begin by flinging his head about, and this he generally does suddenly: the moment he does so, or flings it up, the bit acts on the bars of his mouth, and being firmly held by the strap to the girths, no elasticity or yielding can take place; consequently he gets a positive sharp blow on the bars every time he calls the bit into action. He soon finds this out; finds also he cannot break it, and submits : in short, is completely subdued. I do not mean to say it would be impossible for a horse to rear with this bit on, inasmuch as we see a goat do so, with his nose between his forelegs; but the goat has been practising this all his life; the horse has not, nor did I ever see one attempt the feat. The same thing holds good with plunging: he cannot well plunge and keep his head quiet; and if he does not keep it so with this bit on, I wish him joy.
I had a horse which had sense enough to be quite aware that though a canter with light summer clothes on and six stone on his back was rather a pleasant recreation, a four-mile sweat with heavy sweaters and eight stone over them, was toute une autre chose : in short, he knew as well when he was to sweat as I did. His usual exercise-lad could not get him along at any pace at all, and when a stronger and consequently heavier lad was put up, though he by dint of a good ash-plant and rating him might hustle him along for a couple of miles, more or less, before he had got him
WON THE FIRST ROUND.
105 more than half his proper sweating-distance he would begin shaking his head, throwing it as high as the martingal would let him, then throw it nearly to the ground, and away he would bolt any where, in spite of fate, or at least of any lad. I got one of these bits for him, put it on moderately tight, and sent him up the gallop: he began his old tricks, but found himself hampered; had a short fight, was beat, and never attempted the least resistance afterwards. I must, however, remark, that this bit, or martingal, whichever we may term it, is by far too severe to be trusted in the hands of any common groom, who it generally happens has no riding hands at all; but, with the management of a man who has, it is in extreme cases a very useful and efficacious assistant.
No. 5, and last, comes the nose-martingal. This is a very mild counterpart of the last; and its being in any degree a counterpart is the very reason why I reprobate its use for general purposes, for which, as I before said, no bit or martingal can be proper where we are, as with both these, unable to relieve our horse of its restraint by our hands. This martingal, like the rearing one, fastens to the girths; no elasticity or yielding exists here; but the reason why this does not possess the severity of the former is, the one acts on the horse's mouth, this only on his nose; but even this is often made a mode of punishment, or, to say the least, of great annoyance to the horse if he is ridden by a man with bad hands. A rider of this sort never keeps them down; consequently he is constantly pulling his horse's head up : the poor brute naturally gets into the habit of poking out his nose and carrying his head too high, and, in order to get some relief for his mouth, keeps con
RATHER HARD TO PLEASE. tinually tossing his head up, by no means a pleasant trick to the rider, whatever it may be to the horse, particularly if he happens to be one who foams at the mouth, and is ridden against the wind. That all this has been taught him by bad hands never enters his rider's head; consequently on goes a nose-martingal : this remedies the evil, it is true, but the result is, the poor horse is punished for the rider's awkwardness : for, mind, he makes no difference in the position, and consequent effects of his hands; so it just amounts to this, the martingal pulls the horse's head down, and the gentleman pulls it up; and thus his mouth is kept in a kind of vice of the rider's own invention
-(I wish he would take out a patent for it to prevent any one else from imitating it). If it is not put on short enough to produce the wished-for effect, it is useless: if it is, it is converted into a mode of punishing a well-disposed animal, which would willingly learn to carry his head as the rider would wish him, if he had knowledge enough and hands good enough to teach him how to do so. I am only surprised a horse does not at once turn sulky and restive under such unreasonable treatment; for were he endowed with the faculty of the renowned ass of Balaam of olden memory, would he not naturally say, “If I attempt to carry my head high in compliance with your hands, a strap on my nose pulls it down ; if, in obedience to that, I attempt to carry it low, your hands pull it up: pray, Sir, how am I to carry it ?”
But there is one occasion in which I could tolerate the use of the nose martingal, and that is in harness, where horses have learnt this truly annoying habit of constantly tossing up their heads : and here again I am satisfied it in fact arises from improper treatment,