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HABIT IS SECOND NATURE.
or young gentlemen are to be put in the situations of adults thus early, the earlier must their adult habits commence. Eighteen months old, it may be said, is surely soon enough for any horse to have a saddle on him. If a man is to be added to the saddle, it is certainly a great deal TOO soon for the animal's future well-doing; but we have two-year-old stakes, so the horse must be prepared for them. This being the case, though I allow a saddle, a man, and a race is taxing the powers of a two-year-old somewhat unnaturally, and that training, and consequently sweating, is not likely to improve his legs, still I consider that every colt long before that age should be quite accustomed to have every thing done with him that is done with the horse, excepting doing the work of one. For any purpose but racing I certainly never would put a two-year-old in a state to want a scraper; but I would answer for it that a yearling of my rearing should stand perfectly quiet if I wanted to use one, merely from having from his birth been accustomed to be handled in every way. Long before I might want to shoe him, he should give any leg he was told to lift without fear or hesitation; and long before he ever should be ridden by a man, he should have had a saddle on scores of times; and I will answer for showing him eating his oats with a boy on his back apparently unconscious of his being there.
The breaker, in an ordinary way, gets a colt as wild as a hawk, and in a month he has got him to carry a saddle, and himself on it. It may be depended on, if he tells the truth, he has not done this without alarming the colt, and having had a fight, or perhaps several fights, for it. He lunges the colt before he backs him, to take a little of the keen edge off him. He must do this; for he has not had time to make him, or rather
222 SUSPICION THE ANTIDOTE TO CORDIALITY. to teach him, to submit to what he wants from habit; consequently he makes him do it by fatigue and intimidation. No one is pleased to be made to do what he dislikes, nor does he like the person that makes him do it. The colt in an ordinary way does not like the saddle, still less the breaker on it; so it amounts to this — we may fairly suppose the colt says, “I will get you off if I can,” and he certainly would if he could: whilst the breaker says, “I know you would, but you shall not if I can help it.” Observe a colt, and a breaker on him : the looks of both show their suspicion of each other: there is no confidence between them; they are both prepared for a set-to, and this should never, if it can possibly be avoided, take place. Now none of this caution on one part, or attempt to resist on the other, takes place on giving the colt his corn or hay: -- why? because he has been accustomed to that from his earliest days. From as early an age should my colt be accustomed to every thing else; and it as easy to use a colt to walk along, and let you hold him by the tail if you wish, as it is by the head. If he is accustomed to have a boy get on and off him for months together, he will become as accustomed to that as to have his feed, and will no more resist the one than the other ; but he will fly from a sieve full of oats the first time it is offered to him.
This I consider the rudiments of educating horses. I hope some will think it better than bringing them up wild, and then breaking them. If I understand what is meant by the term colt-breaker, it means a man to cure a colt of bad habits, and to make him quiet. Now if we do not allow the colt to contract bad habits, he will not want being cured of them. If we bring him up quiet, he cannot be quieter than quiet. Who is so proper a person to do this as he
RENDERING THE TASK EASY.
who has the charge of him from his birth? They or he should be the colt-breaker, or rather the coltteacher.
Now the riding-master is quite a different person, and a very necessary one — not to make the colt carry quiet, for this he ought to have done long before he takes him in hand, but he is wanted to teach him to carry himself handsomely, to do all his paces in the same way, ride to a good mouth, get accustomed to be ridden in crowds, go in company with other horses, face all sorts of strange sights, and hundreds of other things that his age and the situation he has hitherto been placed in rendered it impossible to teach him before. None of this will require any severity on the part of the rider: on the contrary, merely encouragement and practice: nor to effect this will it be necessary to strike the colt in anger with whip or spur during the whole of his tutelage, no part of which should be made fatiguing, or, in short, even unpleasant to him. Whether the riding-master may be wanted at all will depend on whether or not the owner has capability, patience, or inclination to act the part himself; if he has, so much the better for the colt. Some colts are naturally fine goers, and as naturally carry themselves well. With such very little trouble will be required; but as many do neither well, they will require a considerable quantum on the part of the rider of that sovereign panacea for perfecting horses in any thing — patience. This with many horsemen, and I think I may say with all coltbreakers, gets exhausted much too soon. A man might ask, if he had had patience for a considerable time with an uncommonly awkward colt, “how long am I to have patience with the brute ?” The answer
AUT CÆSAR, AUT NULLUS.
would depend on what he said he wanted to effect. If he had got hold of a restive one, and had tried all that caressing, patience, and gentle urging would do to induce him to go one way, and he still insisted on going another, I should say, try the whip and spur, and try them effectually, or not at all. Make him do it, and never leave him till he does. Every thing in such a case must be sacrificed, or at least risked, for he may as well be killed as left master. Thus it will be seen I have no overwrought feelings of kindness where kindness is thrown away. Still even here we should not be acting quite justly either; for depend on it this would not happen had the colt been well brought up: but as he is, we must act a little unjustly for interest's sake. We will say that by such severity we break the restive habits of this colt; but depend on it he will never forget it, nor will he ever be the even-tempered animal that the colt will be that never required such usage.
Now if the colt was merely awkward or stupid (and there is a wonderful difference in the capacities of different horses), and the question had been asked of how long patience was to last, I should say in two words, for ever — ay for ever; for patience will eventually teach any thing the animal has capacity to learn. The whip and spur severely applied will TEACH NOTHING : they may force him to do some things, and, if only used as a hint, will assist in even teaching: but the most severe use of them will neither make a colt go pleasantly nor safely, prevent his shying, render him indifferent to noise, bustle, crowds, or excitement: they will never make him a neat, cool, and perfect fencer, moderate his pace, nor stop if told to do so, or in fact obey the voice in any thing except
BITTING YOUNG ONES.
225 increasing his speed. The rest are only to be taught by patience, and of course good judgment and good riding.
One of the first desiderata in a horse is a good mouth. I need scarcely say, patience and judgment can alone produce this in the grown horse; for if the colt has not this naturally, these alone can bring him to have one. If he has it naturally, the want of either will spoil it. As I would put a saddle on the mere foal to use him to bear it, and the being girthed at the earliest period, so should the bit be put into his mouth equally early; at first with merely a head-stall on it without reins, and he should be allowed to champ and in fact play with it. This makes the mouth lively, and does away with all tendency to that abominable habit of bearing on the bit. In proper time the reins may be put on, and of course very loosely fastened. Walking about with this, slight as the restraint will be, still it is restraint, and, without being irksome, accustoms the colt to submit to the bit. From this, the transition to submitting to the hands is very small ; that is, of course, supposing the hands to be as delicate as the colt's mouth. But I have a much more cogent reason for beginning the bitting thus early : all horses intended for the same purpose are not made alike, yet with the exception of the race-horse we wish them all to carry themselves alike or nearly so.
With the race-horse, provided he goes in a way that is likely to make him go long and fast, we need not give ourselves much trouble. We do not value him by his pleasantry, or even safety to ride, by the pleasing style of his going, or the elegance of his carriage. He may bore like a bull, and be worth