« السابقةمتابعة »
PALMAM QUI MERUIT FERAT.
97 attempted. Here is a proof of what fine hands and horses properly bitted can do. Look at Batty or the late Ducrow driving, or rather riding and driving, their horses with long reins round the arena : there is also a proof of what hands and proper training can do with the same animal we see pulled and hauled about, whipped and punished by animals on two legs, with scarcely more intellect than their quadruped victims. The Petersburg driver, with his bells and sleigh, is equally a coachman in his way. The Canadian recklessly, as it appears to us, crosses his corduroy roads, drives over half-formed bridges, or down declivities, with his pole three feet above his horses' heads, in a way none here could do it. The conducteur of the Paris diligence brings his five horses, with his town behind them, in a trot into the innyard at Calais. All three are coachmen in their way, and, mutatis mutandis, none of them could perform the parts of the other. I have no doubt but to do each well requires about an equal share of intellect and practice.
I trust, by what I have already said, I have shown that driving, to do it well, should be learnt scientifically, and that there is much more danger in trusting ourselves in the hands of persons ignorant of these matters than is generally supposed. My object has been not to instruct, but to induce some abler person to do so. If I succeed in this desirable object, I can only say I shall read such a work with much interest; and, aware as I am that I have much to learn, I doubt not, if such a work is written by one qualified for the task, I shall be convinced I have much more to learn than I at present imagine. I hope the
98“ A CONSUMMATION DEVOUTLY TO BE WISHED.”
generality of persons will estimate their own pretensions in the same way; for, whatever they may think, God knows it would be much to the advantage and safety of themselves, their friends, their horses, and the public, that they should do so.
“Humanum sum, nihil a me alienum puto."
I HAVE used the above quotation, being quite aware that my subject will appear at first to be one of very minor importance. So it would had I chosen a perchbolt as a subject to write about. Now a perch-bolt most persons know is a common-place round piece of iron of some nine or ten inches long, and of about one diameter; yet upon this simple piece of iron depends in a great degree (or rather depended when perches were more in use) the limbs and lives of perhaps some sixteen or eighteen passengers. I mention this to show on what trifles we often rely for our safety or comfort, or perhaps both; and if I can show that we owe both these to a martingal, it will appear, that, small and slight as it is in bulk and strength, and trifling as it is in value, it is not altogether a subject of such utter insignificance as may be supposed. Should I fail to do this, I shall not only candidly allow, but strenuously maintain, that the fault rests with the stupidity of the writer, and not from the want of utility in his subject. As I never venture to write on any subject from theoretical principles, but draw my premises from practical experience, I am quite willing to admit that where I am wrong I have very little excuse to bring forward, and must take it for granted that with me the bump of intellectuality is very faintly 100
AUTHORS AND PEGMAKERS. developed, if developed at all. For I am in about the same situation as a man who has passed the last twenty years of his life cutting pegs for shoemakers. If, during that time, he has not learned the best mode of making a point to a wooden peg, what a glorious fellow he must be! I will tell you, Reader, what he must be—he must be as stupid a fellow as myself, if I am wrong. As, however, I am sure that all I write is not wrong, I beg to remark that I throw out my ideas just as the husbandman does his chaff from the barn-door, leaving my Readers to pick out the few grains of corn it contains, rejecting the rest or the whole together just as it suits their judgment or fancy
Little as this subject may call for any very erudite polemical discussion, its use or disuse has nevertheless given rise to many differences of opinion among riding men; and though all perhaps quite competent judges of horses and horsemanship, still prejudice or habit has induced them to form very opposite opinions of its merits—some at once anathematising the martingal as an adjunct only used by those resolved on self-destruction, as in fact a kind of suicidal instrument, the sure prelude to an inquest of felo de se; whilst others as strongly advocate its utility. Among those who ride, but are not horsemen— which comprise at least ninety-nine out of a hundred of those who do ride-I scarcely ever found one who at the bare mention of a martingal did not at once exclaim against it; and though they might not exhibit quite as much horror in their countenance as Priam did of old when he found the ghost wishing to cultivate his acquaintance in his bed-room, still throwing a very sufficient degree of terror into their looks at the idea of using one, and a very fair proportion of surprise and conMARTINGALS AND MUSTACHIOS. 101 tempt at my ignorance in offering a word in its favour, though you might see them very composedly riding the next day on some stumbling brute absolutely fastened down by a NOSE martingal. And why? because they were not aware it was a martingal, and one of a really dangerous description. If you asked them why they had it put on, probably half of them could give no better reason than that they thought it looked well. Probably the same man could give you about as good a reason for wearing mustachios. If he had but an ostrich feather stuck in his horse's tail, or his own, they would be complete.
I have mentioned one description of martingal as being a very useful adjunct; of another, as in nine cases out of ten as useless; and in the way it is gene· rally put on more or less a dangerous appendage
to a horse's head. I will presently state my reasons for these opinions; but, first, we will enumerate the different kinds of martingals in use. The term martingal I consider as applicable to any thing we attach to a horse's head in order to keep him from raising it higher than we wish; and I consider there are five different modes of doing this, all of which may be termed martingals.
First, the running rein (as we generally call it), which is fastened to the girths, passes through the ring of the snaffle, and thence to the hand. By this, if a man knows what he is about, and has hands, he can bring his horse's head as low as he pleases, and keep it there. This is of great use to a regular stargazer, but should never be put on to any other.
Secondly, we have the running rein fastened near the points of the saddle, and, as the other, passing through the snaffle-rings to the hands. This is com