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MAKING AN IMPRESSION.
as I before said, in technical terms, in a fast pace, 56 we don't give them time to fall;” that is, if he does make a mistake, his feet come to the ground again before his body can overbalance. It is true, if a horse does come down at speed, we get a regular spinner; but on the whole, it is perhaps as well to be tossed a little bit farther and faster than we bargain for, as to have the experiment tried as to how small a compass our bodies can be squeezed into, our horse playing the part of an animated cheese-press.
A circumstance of this sort that once occurred to myself gave rise to a little stretch of veracity on the part of a friend of mine that I do not think Jonathan has outdone. Riding at top speed at a bulfinch, down came my horse in the next field, a regular burster. I felt a momentary sensation, something like what I conclude Mr. Jonas did when playing leapfrog with the whale : this was my horse making a momentary use of my body as a kind of springboard in performing his second summersault. Now the cause of my fall, and also of my escaping unhurt, was, he had landed in a very soft piece of wet, clayey, ploughed ground. I had fallen somehow on my face, and on getting up I found I had left a very correct impression of my person in the clay; in fact, a clever fellow with a wheelbarrow-full of plaster of Paris might have taken off some well-executed medallions as souvenirs for my friends, one of whom, who followed me, roundly swore (my nasal organ being none of the smallest), that "he heard Harry's nose give a suck as he drew it out of the clay, and it left such a hole that his horse put his foot in it, and nearly came on his head !”.
Race-horses are conclusive illustrations of the fact, HORSES NATURALLY TROT BY CHOICE. 137 that however great a cripple a horse may be, he can keep on his legs in a fast pace, for even when a horse breaks down in running he seldom falls. They also prove that even violent exertion can be borne by a weak limb (when continued but less violent) exercise could not; for if many race-horses that are running as cripples were to get a long day's hunting, they would not come out of the stable again for a month or perhaps a season. A very few minutes' galloping is all the generality of race-horses get, and then, if requisite, in bandages: even the longest sweat is soon over.
It may be said, in opposition to my opinion that a continued canter fatigues more than a continued trot, that many horses, if too lame to trot, will canter. This in no shape proves it to be the easiest pace for a sound horse. The lame one does it for two reasons : by doing so, if he is lame on one leg or foot, he can use it so as not to get its proportion of the weight of his body; and secondly, if lame on both legs or feet, he cannot step out with them sufficiently to go the pace we want him, so he is forced to gallop: but so soon as he gets warm, he will be found to begin to trot. Put a lame horse in a coach, and go off six miles an hour, he will trot; but as coaches now-a-days must go off at a fast pace at once, the cripples know this and start off in a gallop. Horses, except from habit, hardly ever willingly canter, if the pace they are asked to go is only such as they can trot with perfect ease, say seven miles an hour. Let a man ride one horse and lead another at such a pace, the led horse would not attempt to canter: put him into a canter, and he would very shortly return to the trot.
138 LADIES' HORSES SHOULD BE STRENGTHY.
Ladies generally canter. This being the case, nothing can be so great an error as putting them on slight horses. A lady's horse should always be at least a couple of stones above the weight he is wanted to carry; first, because he is wanted to canter at his general pace; but still more, because on all occasions he ought to be both able and disposed to do all he is asked to do with the utmost activity. He should be highly bred, to give him action and courage; and should at the same time be firm and strong, to make him safe: for ladies neither do nor can assist horses much. Whatever ladies wish to do, they always wish to do as soon as possible; so when they wish to become horsewomen, they always wish to exhibit as soon as possible, which they generally do long before they have got hands or seat. Their teachers naturally wish to please them ; so they have the management of their horses given up to them before they have learned to manage themselves. Their horses should therefore be such as require but little, in fact no absolute management at all; and management they will require if they are not more than equal to the task demanded of them.
The opinions of men relative to the comparative strength required for the saddle and harness horse have changed greatly of late years. Our ancestors, even our fathers, considered those horses that were not strong enough for harness were quite sufficiently so for hunters. This was all correct enough when the old gravel roads were in use. In those days, what they " called mending the roads ” was rendering them all but impassable for some days or weeks, according to the traffic on them; but thanks to M‘Adam, we have done things better, and now many
SIR J. M'ADAM A BREEDER OF TROTTERS. 139 a horse is doing his work well in harness that could not carry 11st. with hounds. Now-a-days, if we get hold of a spiry spindle-shanked cameleopard, we say “ he will make a flash harness-horse;" and so he will, for excepting where our roads are on the rise, when a carriage is once in motion, horses have nothing to do but carry their harness. Horses would have rare berths of it if we were contented now with seven miles an hour. I heard an old gentleman say a few weeks since that he thought we bred more trotters now than formerly. I told him that I thought we did look more to pace in the trot than I dared to say they did formerly; but that, though the world might not recognise Sir J. M‘Adam as a breeder of horses, he had brought out more fast trotters than any man in existence-in fact, many hundreds every year. I saw he did not take my meaning, so said nothing farther: perhaps on my authority he has asserted that Sir James is the most extensive breeder in the world!
Whether horses have to carry heavy or light weights, but of course more particularly in the former case, many men run into a great error respecting their saddles. Of all articles of discomfort to a horse, a small saddle is the most so; and then, to add to this, saddlers, in order to make them look neat, put the least quantity of stuffing possible into the pannel; so by the time it has been ridden on a few weeks, it becomes as hard as a board. Fashion leads us into many follies. We should consider it looked “ slow” to use one of the very sensible saddle-cloths our ancestors hunted with. I should be afraid to sport one myself; but if I was such a man as many I have mentioned as noblemen and crack riders, I can only say I would
140 SHORT SADDLES POSITIVELY INJURIOUS. never hunt without one, and heavy men most decidedly never should; and that not a bit of thin kersey, but one made as neatly as you please, but double and nicely stuffed. To make amends for this, the pannel need not be so full. Grooms may dry their pannels as carefully as they may, and beat them afterwards; it won't do; they may beat half the dry sweat out of them, but they beat the other half in. They can soften the flocks on the side they can get at them ; but the other next the saddle, lined as it is with leather, will not be affected by all the beating they can bestow. The saddlecloth, properly dried and beat on both sides, is as soft every time it is put on as the first day it is used. Hunting-saddles are never made long enough for tall and heavy men : what is the consequence ; the rider is sitting nearly on the cantle, and the horse's loins are crushed by the back part of the saddle. I have seen many men the back part of whose bodies was positively over the cantle, instead of that being some inches beyond their bodies. How many horses are seen to crouch down behind on being first mounted : this in nineteen cases in twenty arises from the use of short saddles : the horse is either hurt by them at the moment, or, from having been so, gets into the habit of crouching to avoid a repetition of their effect. A man standing six feet, and riding even a moderate weight, should never hunt on a saddle of less than twenty inches in length. The difference of (say) three or four inches would not make the saddle more than a pound heavier, and this in a hunting-saddle is no object at all. Look at race-horses after a season's running—how often are their backs sore ? and these carry light weights, and that for a few minutes only.