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· TRUSTING TO TRAINERS.
error, avarice, and indifference when under the care of their trainers, who are or ought to be persons of enlightened minds, what may we often expect to be the fate of horses unwatched by their owners' eye, and left to the sole management of illiterate persons, whose only recommendation is practice in the more executive part of their business, without inind or perhaps disposition to combine circumstances, and are furthermore open to such temptations to do wrong as it is hardly in human nature to withstand ? It may be said that many persons who keep race-horses do not themselves understand either the treatment or the proper placing of them: if so, let them get some one who does, or give up racing altogether. Others may not have time or inclination to attend to their horses : then let them find some one who has, or let them also give up racing. Trusting to trainers to think for employers' interest would be leaning not only on a reed, but a very doubtful one indeed. If they do not act against an employer's interest, situated as they are, they deserve great credit. We have hardly a right to ask them to think for us; but suppose the owner does not know how to think for himself, then let him get some one who does, or he had better give up racing, for somebody must think. If the trainer thinks enough to get his horse ready to go, he has done all he ought to be asked to do; the owner or some one for him, should decide where the horse should go ; for leave it to the trainer, and a horse will not go very often. It is very well to bottle up such a horse as Eclipse as we do Champagne, only to be brought out on extraordinary occasions; but moderate horses, like moderate liquors, must be kept on draught for every-day purposes to be useful. In
CONDITION AGAINST WEIGHT. dependent of this, I am quite satisfied, that, figuratively speaking, the more they run the better they run unless they are put in too good company, and then the more they run the worse they run. I really consider winning a race or two with comparative ease to be to a race-horse what blood is to a fox-hound, and am quite clear the being often beat dispirits them as much as it does their owners.
What I have been saying in the last page or two has nothing to do certainly with the effect of " weight on horses,” but it has with “ other weighty effects as applied” to them, so is still in accordance with the heading of these Papers ; for though weight tells heavily, there are other things tell equally so, and one more-- this is, condition. A horse may win with overweight; he can't win without condition ; he may, and often does, win on three legs; but he can't win in three parts' condition. Witness Harkaway at Wolverhampton. But we will now return to the effect of weight.
I have stated that the being accustomed to carry weight greatly increases the power of doing so; partly from those parts of the frame most called upon getting accustomed to its pressure, but still more from a horse learning how to go under weight with the greatest ease to himself. Let us see whether the accustoming a race-horse to go under such weight as he may be expected to race with would not be advantageous to him. I do not presume so far as to say it would be ; and I am quite sure that trainers, without giving the thing a moment's consideration, would say " it would not;” and some of them could probably give no better reason for saying this so decisively than “they don't know why, but they are sure it
103 would not.” But why ? “Why, because it's contrary to sense it should.” Against such sound, sensible, and conclusive reasoning it is I allow arrogant in me to say a word: but as no man is asked, still less expected, to be influenced by what I may say—I consider the thing can do no harm if it sets a clever man considering - it may do good, even should he reject my theory altogether; for in this particular case I am writing theoretically I admit.
In exercising or working race-horses, it is generally the practice to put as light weights on them as the temper and disposition of the horse will allow. With two-year-olds this is of course quite judicious, and with many, indeed the generality of, three-yearolds equally so: first, because at that age when in strong work, that work alone is quite as much as their frames are equal to, so it is right to get the lightest weight we can on them that will answer the purpose ; and secondly, in their races it is only light weights they will have to go under : but when a horse becomes four, five, six, and aged, it is quite a different affair. He will then at many places have to run under light or moderate hunting weight, namely, from 9st. up to 12st. ; and here he begins to want to get into the secret of carrying weight. A four-year-old, going the first half of the Ab. M. with 8st. Ilb., may go as he likes; but then let him go over the Eglinton Course with 11st. 4lb., he will find a different style of going required : he must leave his three-year-old style at home, or he will never get home with this weight, or at all events he will be very late there. Now therefore comes the quære — how far, when a horse is at an age where he must expect to go under high weights, would it be 104 ACCUSTOMING RACE HORSES TO WEIGHT. beneficial to accustom him at his exercise to go under weight coming nearer to what he must carry in his races. If hunters learn to go faster under weight from practice, why not race-horses also ? The trainer, in objecting to this, if he gave any reason why they should not, further than “he knows they would not," might say, exercising under 9st. 7lb. instead of 6st. 7lb. would make them shorten their stride. I allow it would, and this would be a bad thing to have done with a horse rising three years old ; but it by no means follows it would be equally so when he is rising five: it would if he had still to carry 6st. 71b. But his future racing will be of a different character; so his qualifications must become of a different character also, or he will shortly have no character at all, unless it be a bad one. If — which I do not think any one will deny— long striding horses cannot golong lengths or carry weight—and the horse in question will have to do both—so far from his learning to somewhat shorten his stride being detrimental to him, I should say the sooner we get him to do this the better. At this age no doubt the trainer will get or try to get a longer length into his horse than he did at three years old ; but if it is necessary to accustom him to go longer lengths at exercise to enable him to go them in his races, why is it not equally necessary to accustom him to carry something like the weight he must expect to go under also ? This said shortening of stride is, I know, a bugbear in some trainers' ideas: they say ,and to a certain extent very justly, that the long stride must as a matter of course cover more ground than the short one: no one can deny this; but having allowed the truth of this self-evident proposition, it by no means follows that I mean to
RACE HORSES AND MEASURING RODS. 105 allow that therefore the long stride must have the advantage on all occasions.
Let us suppose a case with which horses have nothing directly to do. Two men are set to measure a distance, say half a mile: the one is furnished with a rod ten feet long, the other with one eleven for the purpose. They both put down and take up their rods at the same time; and after having put down and taken up their rods one hundred times, the man with the ten-foot rod finds himself a hundred feet behind; thus far a trainer's predilection in favour of stride is borne out.
But we have not done yet, and will have another bout at measuring. This time we get a quick active fellow, and put the ten-foot rod in his hand: now instead of taking measure for measure with his elevenfoot opponent, he removes his rod one hundred and eleven times, while the other removes his one hundred only, and is consequently ten feet in advance. “ This,” as the legal gentlemen say, “is my case.”
We will now see how far it bears affinity to two horses running; for they may be said to measure a length of ground by their stride, as my supposed men have by their measuring rods.
Various are the lengths of stride of the race-horse, varying of course according to the horse's size and style of going, and equally so according to the rate of speed he is going at: we will say this varies from fifteen to twenty-two feet in different paces in different horses : we will take as an average, when going at three-quarters speed, seventeen feet as a fair stride. Thus, supposing each stride to be the same, it would take him two hundred and ninety-three strides and a fraction to cover a mile. A horse going with him