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I have shown where it is very much to the interest of a Nickem to privately ascertain whether a horse left with him for sale will go in harness or, not. It may be easily conceived when it is desirable to make a vicious one go steady: this is, of course, when he is to be got off. When it is equally desirable that he should not go quietly may require a word or two of explanation: but to be able to effect this, a thoroughly practised breaksman is required. Now, a man may be a very good coachman, though know very little of his business as a breaksman; but the latter cannot be fit for his business unless he is a first-rate coachman : and he requires much more than this: he must perfectly understand the habits and tempers of young horses, and, indeed, of all horses : he must have a clear head, quick apprehension, good temper, great presence of mind, strong nerves, strong but light hands, know every contrivance to thwart the intentions of violent horses, and the mode of soothing timid ones: he must be able, from habit, to judge at once by the manners of a horse what he is likely or is preparing to do: in short, to judge at once what sort of a customer he has to deal with. If he is all this, and, moreover, a civil, sober, and honest man, he is worth any wages he can reasonably ask to a respectable dealer or repository-keeper. He must be all this to suit Nickem (leaving out the honesty), for, to suit him, he must be as great a rogue as his master: he must know by a turn of the eye of that master whether a horse is to go quietly or the reverse: he must not always even wait for this: he must have quickness enough to judge by the circumstances of the case what he is to do, as well as be equal to do it; and I
can assure my reader, to do it is much easier to talk about than to perform. But in case he should see a horse of his own tried in harness, and that he may be able to judge whether all is being done as it should be, I will give him the best information experience enables me to do on the subject. He will then, should his horse not go quietly, be enabled to judge whether the fault is in the animal, or arises from ignorance or design in those about him; that is, supposing the method I point out to be correct : of that others must judge, but I do not think I am very far astray.
When a horse is tried for the first time, it is the usual practice to put him in double harness—I always try him first in single, for reasons I will hereafter give; but this horse we will suppose to be going into the double-break, and that we have time to do what we wish. Having been always fond of this sort of thing, I have, of course, broke many to harness for my own use, ten times as many for my friends, and, by dint of patience and perseverance, have seldom been beat even by the roughest pupils. Where there are breaks, break-horse, breaksman, and help at hand, what I should do, expect, and, indeed, insist on being done with a horse of mine, would be this. The horse should be harnessed in the stable : this prevents him shying from the harness when being put on him. An open collar should be put on to avoid shoving one over his head and eyes to alarm him : the harness is then very gently put on his back; the crupper, of course, unbuckles at the side, so as to allow his tail to be easily placed on it, and let down by degrees: this being done, the horse is to be turned round in his stall, and, with his winkers on, put on the pillar reins: he thus feels the harness, and gets
INSTALLING A PUPIL.
accustomed to the winkers, which, of course, make every object come suddenly before him. After standing for a time, and reconciled to the feel of his new trappings, he should be led out, and let feel them hanging about him : then trotted, that he may also feel them more sensibly. When he is reconciled to this, and while he is being so, the break is got out, the break-horse in it, and placed in a situation, if possible, where a plunge or two can do no harm. He is then to be led up to the break, the breaksman having first ascertained, if he did not know before, what sort of a mouth he has. This may be judged of by laying hold of the cross-bar of the bit. The horse's own side of the driving-rein should be on him, so as only the coupling-rein is required to be fastened when he is put in. In forty-nine cases out of fifty, the drivingrein should be to the cheek with a raw or young horse, but sometimes, of course, even to the lower bar. On putting him alongside the break-horse, great caution is necessary to prevent him touching the break hastily: the breaksman stands at the head of his horses to give directions and see how things go on: one man is ready to pole-piece him loosely up, while, at the -same moment, another puts on the outside trace; the inside one is not of the same consequence, as the horse is now secured. A man now takes the breaksman's place, caressing the young one: if he is very restless, let him lay hold of his ear. The breaksman jumps up; his break-horse, if he is a good, quick, and powerful one, which he should be, either takes the break off quite gently, or will pull off Mr. Recruit, whether he likes it or not, as the breaksman wishes. The gentle mode, except with a very refractory customer, is always the best, the latter being a kill-or
cure sort of business. A man runs alongside the young one to encourage him, and to keep his shoulder against him if he hangs too much out of harness. The pupil should be allowed to trot along without feeling either pole-piece or trace, till he begins to wish of his own accord to get forward; he may then be allowed to do so. So soon as he has become a little steady, a mile is the most he should be driven, or his shoulders will probably be scalded. This would make him shy of facing the collar again, and prevent a lesson next day. On coming home, the greatest caution is required in taking him out. The couplingrein and inside trace must be first undone: then the pole-piece and outside trace, as in putting to, and care taken he does not touch any part of the break in going off. If this is done, very few horses will do mischief to themselves or anything else.
Having got home safe with our horse in double harness, we will now put him or another in the single break. Of course the same routine as to harnessing must be gone through: he is brought with his driving reins on at their proper place on the bit; the break is to be placed where it can be easily drawn off; not uphill, or on a thick straw bed. The horse is to stand till he is quiet: the break is then quite noiselessly to be drawn up to him, and gently let down on him. Three men are quite necessary to put him in; that is, two, and the breaksman at his head. The traces, belly-band, and kicking-strap must be got on as quickly but as quietly as possible. The gentleman is now caught, and with three men about him he cannot hurt or be hurt. One thing I forgot to mention, which should never under any circumstances be omitted in trying a horse in single harness; I may indeed say in double.
“HOOLY AND FAIRLY.”
A common flat-headed hempen halter should be put on under his winker-bridle, the rope or shank of which should be passed round and tied in a knot on the cross-bar of the bit. With this held by the man at his side, and a good pair of reins, there is little fear of a run-away, a thing most of all to be dreaded. The horse being in the break, the driver takes his place quietly ; no touch of a whip, no cl_k even, to start bim; one man is at his side with the shank of the halter in his hand : another, with one hand on the shaft and the other on the step-iron, is ready to ease the break off the moment a sign from the breaksman shows it is time to do so. When it is, the man at the horse's head moves gently on, leading (not pulling) the horse forward; the other pulls, but by no means forces the break after him. If the horse hesitates, let him stand till he is inclined to move; when he does go, let him walk away, the man at his side keeping hold of the halter ; at a proper time coax him into a trot, the man still running by his side. When he goes quiet, let this man gently fasten the halter shank to the D of the hame, and leave the horse's side. He then quietly gets into the break, and the drive goes on. Should the horse stop, which is likely enough, let him stand: he will very shortly want to go somewhere. Let him, if it be possible, take any road he likes; no matter which way he goes, provided he draws the break after him; he can easily be turned when going; but of all things, in harness or out of harness, avoid a fight with a horse till the last extremity. It is always a risk, and should be avoided. Our horse is now going gently, so we will take him home and get him gently out of harness. Having attempted to show what should be done to