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SCIONS OF A NOBLE STOCK.
117 rally some head, which if they have not acquired by education they have by practical experience, from having been generally through the duty of extra lad, regular riding-boy, riding the light weights, head-lad, probably jockey, and finally trainer. By this time, the man has learned to think, to combine circumstances, to look to causes and effects, to study the different tempers of horses, to circumvent, by his superior sense, experience, and cunning, their cunning and evil propensities, of which some possess á very considerable share. By evil propensities, I do not mean absolute vice, for very few young horses are naturally vicious; but still they have various tricks and propensities that would shortly degenerate into absolute and most determined vice if they were put into the hands of a common country colt-breaker. I do not consider that young racing colts are on an average naturally more vicious than other colts; but I have always found them disposed to play those pranks that coarser-bred horses seldom dream of. In short, if I may use the expression to a horse, they are always ready for a lark if you give them the slightest chance. Now if, in one of these larks, they were to throw a boy off, and which they certainly would do or attempt to do if he began taking improper liberties with them, the colt will probably become trickey ever afterwards; and if he does, he becomes of little use as a race-horse. To render these colts steady and amenable to the hand and will of the rider and jockey requires more patience, contrivance, foresight, and head than many people imagine. They must not be allowed to have their own way with you: you must have your own way with them (of course supposing it to be a right one).
118 PREVENTION BETTER THAN CURE. They must be brought to a state of subjection; but at the same time they must neither be flurried nor frightened, and must be on high feeding. Starving down would not do here: no damp must be put on their spirits: the stamina must be kept up, and you have a high-couraged animal to deal with: if he is once provoked sufficiently to exert his powers, once comes to know them, by getting the best of the set-to, which in such a case he is very likely to do, no race-horse will ever he be.
Now the difference of the system of the common colt-breaker and the trainer is this: the first, by punishment and brute force, breaks his colt of doing wrong: the latter teaches his to do right: he takes care to avoid his being placed in situations and under circumstances that might induce him to rebel. Let the common breaker get a colt that is nervous, timid, and apt to be frightened at any thing he meets or sees, what would he do ? He would take the horse purposely where he would be sure to meet constant objects to alarm him: every time he starts, the whip and spurs go to work — in other words, the heels : now, if he had a head that was of any use to him, he would reflect a little, and this would show him the folly and brutish ignorance of his conduct. So because the colt is alarmed already by what he sees, he frightens him ten times more by voice, whip, and spur. Hence we so often find that after a horse has shied, say at a carriage, when the object has passed it takes a considerable time before he becomes pacified. All this arises from the dread of punishment which he has been accustomed to. Horses have good memories, and do not easily forget ill usage. We frequently see a man (if he be not
ADDING FUEL TO FIRE.
119 a timid rider), on his horse refusing to face an object, determine that he shall do it, and immediately forces him up to it: the very exertion used to make him do this increases his terror of it, and a fight ensues, when, should the rider gain his point and get him up to the object, the inoment his head is turned to leave it he bolts off as quickly as possible : he has not been reconciled to it, and will shy at it just as much (perhaps more) the next time he sees it; for now he recognises it as an enemy, and has been taught to know by experience what he only feared before ; namely, that it was a something that would (and as he found did) cause him annoyance and injury. Had the rider, as soon as he found his horse alarmed on seeing this object, stopped him, let him stand still, caressed and encouraged him, the horse would have looked at it, and, finding no attempt made to injure him, would have gradually approached it; then smelt at it (if a stationary object), and finally have walked away coolly, collectedly, and satisfied, and the next time he saw it, or a similar object, would care very little about it. A little reflection would tell us that these would be the different results of the two different treatments; but, unfortunately for horses, reflection or consideration are not the predominant qualities of the generality of horsebreakers or grooms. Race-horses, it is true, are not used much on the public roads, still they frequently have to go there, and as on a race-course they must see all kinds of strange sights, it is quite as necessary to teach them to face such objects without alarm as any other horse. Indeed a race-horse liable to be alarmed by crowds or noises never could be depended upon; but they are taught to be fearless of both, and
in rather a different manner from that used by the colt-breaker or groom. Now we will suppose a trainer had a colt which was easily alarmed by passing objects, other horses galloping near him, or persons coming up to him, how would he be treated ? he would be sent away by himself, where it was certain no objects would approach close enough to alarm him : here he would be exercised, whether for three days or three weeks, till he had gained composure and confidence: he would then be brought à little nearer the subjects of his alarm, where they might attract his observation, but could in no ways annoy or frighten him. Day by day he would be brought still nearer to them, till they became so familiar to him that he would cease to notice them at all, or merely as indifferent objects. Assuredly this is rather a more reasonable mode of treatment than the one generally resorted to, and, what is more, it never fails — the fault or infirmity is got over and for ever.
There is one description of horse with which I might be tempted perhaps to oblige a common coltbreaker; namely, some brute which appeared so incorrigibly sulky and vicious that I might not wish men who were valuable for better purposes to undergo the trouble and risk of having any thing to do with him; not but that I should be quite aware that a man with a better head would be more likely to succeed; but for the reasons I state, I would perhaps give the savage to one of these kill-or-cure gentry, and let the two brutes fight it out.
As I said before, all men about horses require head, but few more so than a trainer; not that there is any mystery in training: proper feeding, properly watering,
THE WEAK GO TO THE WALL.
121 proper physic, exercise, work, and sweating, are all the means that can be employed to bring a race-horse into the highest or rather best condition his constitution is capable of: but it is in properly administering and adapting all and each of these to each particular horse where the head of the trainer is required ; and in doing this is shown the difference between the mere practical trainer and the man who has discrimination enough to watch his treatment as it affects these different horses, and vary it accordingly—that is, if he will give himself the trouble to think about the subject. This requires a degree of integrity and devotion to the interest of his employer that every man is not disposed to show, and ingenuity and mind that few men in such situations possess. This leads me to make a few remarks on large and first-rate racing or training establishments. These are no places to send a third or fourth rate race-horse to: first-rate trainers hate even second-rate horses : they feel they will do them no credit: their whole and sole attention is devoted to the pets or flyers of their stables; while the inferior horses (who by-theby require the greatest attention to their training in order as much as possible to make superior condition make amends as far as it will go for their want of speed or stoutness) are turned over to the head-lad, and may think themselves fortunate if they engross much of his attention: consequently, bad as they may be, they are rendered worse from their not being brought out in their best form. A very little from being quite right will bring a firstrater to the level of a second : what then will, being very far from up to his mark, bring an inferior horse