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EXTRA WEIGHT SOMETIMES A COMFORT. 141 We often see jockeys on a four-pound saddle, and their horse with loaded saddle-cloths :- why is this? it arises merely from its being more handy to carry them about with them than three or four saddles. Now there is nothing particularly soft or pleasant to a horse's back in a saddle-cloth lined with lead. If we want to make up weight, surely the more sensible thing is to begin with a good comfortable ten, twelve, or fourteen pound saddle. They may say that for the short time they are on the horse it does not signify. It does not to them, but depend upon it it does to the horse. How commonly do we see a pocket handkerchief put over the withers to protect them! Do they suppose this enough to make a horse go comfortably with only a few folds of silk between his bone and the iron plate of the saddle, or that a horse will not shrink from exerting himself when every stride hurts and bruises him ? If he has röt the best of tempers, this is enough to put him in the worst. If he has, why should we annoy him for no earthly use ? I like to see every thing neat and wellappointed about a race-horse, and every horse: I like to see a jockey well-appointed in himself; but, by George, before my horse's back should be hurt, he should be ridden on a down pillow, and Mr. Jock might ride in a nightcap if he pleased to make the thing in character—not a bit more ridiculous, and in some ways preferable, to riding in cocked or wide-awake hats. The idea of a heavy man making himself as light as he can by means of his saddle is preposterous. If his horse is fit to carry 16st., he can carry 16st. 41b., and there can be no doubt the four pounds of additional weight is fourteen of comfort both to horse and rider. Light men may say they do not want such
strong large saddles : they do not; but let me tell them, 10st. is quite weight enough to hurt a horse's back very much with a short saddle; and in fact, a tall light man should have as long a saddle as a heavy weight, though it may be a lighter one. High cantles are quite an abomination in a hunting-saddle, and of no earthly use: they do not keep a man in his saddle, for his body has no business to touch them: it is the proper sweep of the saddle that must do this, the lower part of the waist of which should be at least seven inches from the cantle : then a man sits in his proper place, if anything can make him. If he wants a high cantle to effect this, let him get one made three feet high at once, and have it painted to represent a peacock's tail. This would really have a most imposing appearance, and make such a man a distinguished character in the field, which I should say nothing else would.
I am afraid it is not even so considerate an idea as the saving of weight to the horse that induces men to ride on small saddles; for I have heard old sporting men say, that when leather-breeches were in general use, they were not considered first-rate unless they weighed 91b. So much for fashion! Gentlemen, at least some of them, are particular enough now-a-days in preserving the delicacy and softness of the visible parts of their skins. I conclude this attention was carried still farther in former days : seven pounds of unnecessary additional weight was, I should say, a very heavy tax to make horses pay for delicacy of skin in situations where I should conceive it was uncalled for, if not inconvenient.
Although, as I commenced by saying, it is extremely difficult to define the comparative effect of
WE ARE ALL HEAVY ENOUGH: QUERE, IN POCKET? 143 weight on horses in different situations, one thing is quite clear, which, if we always bear in mind, will be greatly advantageous to our horses, and in fact to ourselves — WE ARE ALL HEAVY ENOUGH: but be we light or heavy, the oppression of that weight can be rendered twofold by carelessness and ignorance, or very materially lessened by a small exercise of judgment and consideration.
When I began these papers on the effect of weight, I supposed some one accusing me of having selected a subject that could require but little consideration, and that he had jumped to the conclusion that all that could be said upon the subject merely amounted to the evident fact that weight made horses go slower; but on looking a little closer into the matter, we have found that weight is not in all cases such a stopper as it may be supposed; and that though we are quite aware of the great exertion the carrying a heavy weight calls forth, still want of judgment in the rider often occasions much greater distress to the horse than any reasonable additional weight he may have put on him.
I have as yet only called the attention of the reader to the effect of weight as applied to the saddle-horse, as race-horse, hunter, or hack: let us now see how weight: acts upon the horse in harness, and how far in this situation want of judgment in the driver is not also as fatal to the animal as when he is used under the saddle. I am indeed perfectly convinced that a much greater number of horses are doing their work under disadvantageous circumstances in harness than when ridden, and this is perfectly easily accounted for when we bear in mind how many more circumstances there are to facilitate or act against the powers 144 BAD ROADS WORSE THAN BAD RIDERS. of the horse when drawing than when ridden. We will suppose a horseman to be a moderate weight, 13st. in his saddle: it quite clear that, be he the best. or worst horseman living, he cannot make his weight either lighter or heavier than the real avoirdupois of that specific weight; and provided he has a saddle under him that fits his horse comfortably, and he rides him twenty miles at a fair pace only, his horse could not suffer much from any want of knowledge of horse affairs on the part of the rider. There can be no doubt but that a man with a neat steady seat, good hands, and good judgment, must be pleasanter to the horse to carry ; but the difference between the two riders in such a situation would not materially affect him: under such circumstances the case would be very materially different were the horse drawing a carriage that distance, unless the road was as level as a canal and as hard as a railroad. Twenty miles of injudicious driving on an ordinary road will take a good deal out of very good horses; but make that road heavy, such a one would affect the saddle-horse but little, though it would go a long way towards bringing the harness-horse to a stand-still. This, if any one chose to attend to the sort of thing, he might easily see exemplified with weak horses : he might ride behind a team to-day, and see them run over their ten or twelve mile stage, and come in fresh and cheerful: let there then come two or three wet days, and then a dry one ; let him the day after ride behind the same four horses, he would find them, on coming in, in a very different state. He saw them a few days before springing without a word into a gallop: he would now see they wanted a little tying together to keep them from being all over the road, and only a workman
would have brought them home at all. We know that to horses ridden a slight rise of ground makes but little difference; but a rise, if it was not that of ten feet in a mile, makes the whole difference between ease and hard work in harness. If it was not that gentle declivities put the coach-horse comparatively at rest, he could not live at his work. The trotting up a hill of perhaps nearly half a mile in length with three tons after him takes more out of a horse than can be conceived by many persons: he has fairly earned going a mile at his ease afterwards, and quite deserves to be allowed to make the best of his way where the coach runs after him, though it does frighten Uncle Thomas and Aunt.
We will suppose two individuals travelling together, the one with a gig and two persons, the other with a four-wheeled phaeton and four persons. We will say they ought not to keep company; that is, not go the same pace: granted; but suppose they do, how will the difference of weight affect the two horses ? It will be found to do this in a very eminent degree with the horse in draught, unless the road is a perfect level, for every half-hundred-weight tells wofully on the shoulders when pulling up hill.
We will conclude an ordinary gig to weigh 300 lb., which is rather a light one, though. I always limit my own to 200 lb., quite strong enough if made of good materials for any gig for two persons. We will average the two persons at 164 lb. each, 11st. 10 lb. ; say, with gig and some luggage, 660 lb. Now with this after him any good free stepper will run along nine or ten miles an hour without fatigue; will be able to trot up or down most hills, and consequently need not vary his rate of going more than from eight