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line, I should say more so on the whole than on any other road in England : but Smitham Bottom does not last for ever, nor do the exuberant spirits of horses; and the team that requires a strong hand to hold them for seven miles sometimes wants a little tying up during the last two or three if against collar, good as they may be.
Various have been the complaints made against coachmen for what in a city or legal phrase is termed “ furious driving,” and as many have been fulminated against coach-owners for employing such homicidal coachmen: but let me tell these originators of such complaints, that they know nothing at all about the matter of which they are complaining ; that their twaddle is all nonsense, their animadversions injustice, and the wisest thing they can do is to hold their tongue, and in future travel in an invalid chair, or, as an old aunt of mine once actually did to the ridicule of the rest of her family, wend their way from London to Finchley in a sedan.
A coach-owner advertises and engages to set down his passengers a hundred miles from a given place in ten hours. Now those persons who expect this to be done by horses trotting the whole distance at a good fair pace know nothing about the thing, and have no business in a fast coach. The coach-owner does not guarantee or promise to set you down safely at your destination (nor do they now do so by the smoke conveyance), he only engages to use every means in his power to do so, and, comparatively, very few accidents occur. But whoever knows any thing of coaching or driving must know, that to do 100 miles at ten miles an hour, and that including stoppages, part of the road must be done at six, the majority of it at twelve,
and many parts of it at fifteen miles an hour. This is the furious driving complained of. If the coachproprietor fails in fulfilling his contract with the public, he is considered as having imposed upon them, and here is a source of complaint. People like the shortness of time occupied in travelling, are anxious to get to their journey's end, but want this to be done without inconvenience or any risk. The ladies would wish to have time to arrange their curls every time the coach changes horses; the gentlemen to sip their Sherry or Claret after dinner, and then not to be hurried in arranging their curls or cravats, and all this to be taken out of the ten hours independent of no galloping allowed. Talking of galloping, this is a thing little understood among the uninitiated : people are apt to imagine, because all four horses are galloping, that the coach must be going at a dangerous and quite unlawful rate. Such persons, I suspect, have never ridden umpire to a trotting-match; if they had, they would have found that even a moderate trotter would keep their horse to a fair hunting gallop; and it by no means follows, because horses are galloping, that they are going faster than they would were they all fast in their trot. But it is difficult to get four horses to trot fast together ; whereas put them in a gallop, they can all be made to do their equal portion of work, though they probably do not exceed eleven or twelve miles an hour.
I am, in a limited sense of the word, a great advocate for a little galloping where a fast pace is required. I know that so far from its distressing horses, it greatly relieves them if judiciously done and over proper ground. It would not have done in former days when seven miles an hour was held to be fast,
EXPERIENTIA DOCET. .
for the horses then employed were not generally a galloping sort: but now-a-days no horse is fit for fast harness work who is not; consequently, that pace is as natural to him as the trot. He gains relief by change of pace: either in trotting or galloping, nearly all the tendons and muscles of the animal are more or less at work ; but in each pace the strain is greater in some than in the others. By change of pace, the points that have been the most strained on are relieved, and others more directly called into action. This produces something like the relief a man finds from changing his burthen from one shoulder to the other: he does not of course get rid of any portion of the labour, but the fatigued muscles are enabled to recover their tone and energy. There is another reason why I am confident that a little galloping, or, in road phrase, “ springing 'em a bit,” is a relief, even should the pace be accelerated by it. Pace of any sort becomes distressing when that pace is forced to its utmost speed. A man compelled to walk six miles within the hour is much distressed : allow him to vary his pace, that is, run a portion of the distance, he will do the six miles with very little effort. Upon the same principle, the horse will do his ten miles in forty minutes comparatively with ease if allowed to gallop a portion of the distance. The rate of fifteen miles an hour in a trot will keep the tendons and muscles of a very fast horse to nearly their utmost tension ; whereas the same rate in a gallop, not being any thing like what they are in that pace capable of, leaves them comparatively at ease. Take a child by the hand, and walk at such a pace as to enable him at his best walk to keep up with you, you will very soon find the little fellow begin to run.
A YOUNG JOCK AND AN OLD PHENOMENON.
The fact is, he cannot walk at the rate of three miles an hour without putting his muscles to their utmost stretch : he would tire at the pace in a walk in a quarter of a mile; whereas he will trot along cheerfully at an increased rate of going, and gambol before you into the bargain. Reasoning by analogy, the horse finds out the same thing, and this so often induces him voluntarily to endeavour to canter in harness. In my humble opinion, trotters much oftener rise in their trot from distress than people fancy, who are apt to impute their doing so to impatience. It may be in one sense of the word from this feeling, but it is not from impatience to go faster; for probably from habit such horses as Dutchman, Confidence, Wanky, and many others, can trot a mile nearly as fast as they could gallop it: it is impatience under the aches and pains they feel in their limbs and muscles from having been kept at their top speed for a length of time, which they try to ease by breaking into a change. It is difficult to get some irritable horses to settle to the trot at first, and impatience of temper causes this : but when old practised horses such as I have mentioned, after having settled to their pace, do rise, I am quite satisfied it generally arises from the cause I mention. I may be wrong: but such has ever been my opinion.
As some proof of this, when quite a young boy I was put on old Phenomenon, whose owner assured a gentleman present that from practice in her trot, and never being allowed to be cantered or galloped, she positively could trot at a greater rate of speed than she could gallop. Whether this was the case or not I cannot say, but I will state what occurred; the reader will then draw what inference
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF A MILE. 81 he pleases from the result. I was desired to take her half a mile up the road, to turn, and, as well as the short distance would permit, to get her up to her top speed in her trot; then to get her into a gallop (which I did with difficulty), to her best in that pace; and then to strike her three or four times with the whip. I did so'; and from her gallop, as quickly as she could, she actually did change to her trot, and so far as I could judge she went faster than in her gallop: she ought to have been a pretty good judge of her own powers at that time, for I believe she was eighteen years old, at least so I understood.
Now, though I plead guilty to being an advocate for a little galloping in harness, I do not mean that sort of scrambling harum-scarum driving I have sometimes seen, where, like the general representations of the steeds of the Sun, each horse appears to go his own way; and, as if ten miles were not long enough, they are made thirteen, the track of the wheels on the road leaving a very correct drawing of the worm of a corkscrew. Such a driver should never be given but one description of carriage, and that is a wheelbarrow.
We certainly hear of accidents occurring frequently enough: God knows it appears quite miraculous to me that they do not occur much more frequently than they do, when I see the number of persons undertaking to drive, who, take their horse or horses from the carriage they draw, could positively no more put them into it again properly than a dogribbed Indian could put together a Chinese puzzle. To show that I by no means exaggerate the probability of this case, I will mention an instance or two corro