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231 A regular vaulter, be he man or horse, must accustom the springs to early action.
Where horses are wanting either in proper carriage or good action, unless it arises from absolute malformation, it proceeds from a want of tone or strength in those ligaments or muscles, or both combined, that should otherwise produce both: for instance, if a colt does not in his gallop bring his hind-legs well under him, if we let him go boring forward, he will always go in the same way; and if this is continued till the muscles and tendons become rigid, no power can ever after make him a good galloper: but if in early life we throw him on his haunches, and force him in his pace, we shall bring the propelling powers into action. This will produce strength and elasticity in them which were before wanting, and that want increased by the bad way of going to which I have alluded. I need scarcely say that no pains should be spared to rectify it as far as possible in the colt; for I can safely affirm I never saw a horse that was really clever or good for any one purpose to which we put horses, unless he had his hind-legs well under him. Whether in his gallop or trot, he cannot go unless they are so; and as to jumping, the man who could make an elliptic spring out of a flagstone might make such a horse a jumper, but no one else could.
Whatever may be the failing we may perceive in young horses-or indeed in any horses, but of course more especially in young ones — whatever those failings may be, whether in temper, courage, or action, the first thing to be done unquestionably is to en. deavour to find out from what cause that failing arises ; and having ascertained the cause, the next thing is to apply the remedy. Unfortunately for horses, they
ABC DIFFICULT TO THE BEGINNER. are very generally put into the hands of those who give but little consideration to either cause or remedy, and, when they do, often hit upon the wrong cause, and still oftener fail in hitting on the proper remedy. One thing may be depended on as fact, in nineteen cases out of twenty violence and punishment will be resorted to as the remedy, while it is an equally certain fact that in ninety-nine cases in a hundred it is the wrong one.
One of the most material things in teaching men, children, or brutes, is to make them perfectly understand what it is we want of them, and this I suspect is not always done in either case. Children, I am satisfied, are often punished from our fancying them unwilling or obstinate, when in truth their not completing their task arises from our fault in not making them comprehend it: with horses I am quite certain this is a matter of hourly occurrence. We are too apt to fancy that easy which we know ourselves, forgetting that A B is as difficult to learn as a first lesson as solving the most difficult problem in Euclid is at a maturer age, or in more advanced education.
It certainly requires no great exertion of the instinct of the horse to stop when we cry “who-ho;" but till he knows what “who-ho” means, we have no right to expect him to stop at the word, or be surprised or angry if he does not. With some horses, repeating the word twenty times, with a corresponding pull at the reins, will teach this lesson ; with others, we must do so a hundred or five hundred times before he will perfectly comprehend our wishes; for, as I will by and by instance, there is as much difference in the capacity to learn in the horse as there is in man, and for this difference there is seldom a
THE TUTOR IN ERROR.
233 proper allowance made. If one colt learns anything we wish him in a few days, and another does not, the failure of the latter is at once set down to obstinacy, and the poor brute is punished for not doing that which he would willingly do if he really knew what we wanted of him. We will say a horse has been cried “ who-ho” to many times, but does not stop: the rider fancies the horse ought to know his wishes, and consequently will also fancy that he does. What would the generality of breakers do on such an occasion ? Why, give a violent snatch at the colt's mouth, accompanied with a “who-ho” loud enough to frighten a drove of oxen, probably with the addition of " and be
d d to you” at the end of it. Could any thing be inore absurd than this ? and what would be the probable result of such conduct ? Not assuredly that which was wanted, namely, to make the colt quietly stop; but on the contrary, the violent pull would make him throw up his head if he had liberty to do so, or run back or plunge if he had not ; in short, it would make him do any thing but what he was wanted to do; and he will get punished for committing a fault of the rider's own creating. Now, if a colt had learned his lesson, and had constantly stopped on being spoken to, we should then know that he understood our wishes; and if he on particular occasions did not obey, a properly proportioned punishment for his disobedience would be allowable; but we should be perfectly satisfied on this head before we administer the punishment, however slight it might be, for, wrongly applied, it would undo what had been done before.
I am very much afraid that punishment is often had recourse to, not as a painful alternative that the future well-doing of the objects compels us to inflict,
AN INSENSATE BRUTE. but as a means of gratifying the irate and savage feeling of the inflictor: when this is the case, he is the greater brute of the two, and moreover a fool for his pains.
I remember once seeing a horse that had been left standing in a cart at a door walk quietly away, which gave the driver a run to bring him back. Getting up to the horse, he beat him unmercifully : on my remonstrating with him on his conduct, and stating the horse could not know why he was so abused, the savage said, he did not care for that; he had had the trouble of coming after him, so he would “take it out of him." I fear many such feelings bring punishment where the cause of it is as little known to the animal. I merely instance the very simple process of teaching a horse to stop at the word of command as perhaps the most simple of any lesson we may have to teach him.
We should always consider, before we attempt to punish any animal we may be teaching (that has only instinct to guide him), that the punishing a rational or irrational animal are two very distinct things. We may flog, imprison, or transport a man for any given offence, because he is told and knows the punishment is the consequence of such offence: to the irrational animal, we must make the fear of punishment or the anticipation of reward also evident, or either the one or the other will have no effect. We cannot tell the horse what he is to expect, so it is only by repeated results we can teach him the consequences of any one act of his. We might cane a boy if he refused to move from the fire-side, or another if he was riotous to an unbearable degree, and should by such means procure the desired end :
EGOTISM NOT IN ALL CASES CENSURABLE. 235 so we might use the whip and spur to a horse that nothing else could rouse into activity, and here we should also succeed : but if we used the same means to make a hasty hot horse go quietly, we should, as a matter of course, make him ten times worse ; and why ? simply because he would not know what he was whipped and spurred for : yet I have seen many sapient people adopt this course; and many equally absurd things are done in the common way of educating, or I should say of spoiling, horses : such men want educating more than they.
But to revert to my stating that action may be most materially altered, particularly with colts, I shall bring forward a case in point, and where I completely altered the action of a young horse.
And here I must implore my reader, in any case where I may be guilty of the egotism of stating what may have occurred to myself, not to attribute my doing so to any improper self-estimation, but mainly to a wish to show, that, where I venture opinions on any subject, I rest such opinions on practical experience, and not on any fancied ingenuity of my own.
A friend of mine had been for some years in the habit of breeding horses for his own riding on the road: he showed me a particularly handsome wellmade four-year-old horse, but who unfortunately had no action: in fact, though his legs were capital and well put on, he used them like a pair of stilts. My friend assured me that but for this he would have been invaluable as a hack.
This reminded me of an acquaintance who had pleased to take as a chere amie a lady who was as crooked as (allowing a foot for each turn the height of the human frame will admit of) she could be: he,