صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

We will suppose a horse has a trick of hanging back in his stall when not rack-chained up: flogging him and shouting at him, which I will answer for it most grooms would do, would certainly cure him of doing so when they were present; but the moment the stable-door is closed, back he would come. All they would teach him by this flogging would be, that if he hung back while they were present, he would be flogged. This is not teaching him that the hanging back in itself produces inconvenience. I had a horse that did this: I never allowed him to be struck or rated for it. Why frighten a horse, and make him vicious or dislike one, when we can make him punish himself for his ill-habits! I got a deal rafter, and had it well clothed with strong furze, which I fastened behind the horse so as in no way to inconvenience or confine him. I watched him : he shortly stepped back plump on to the furze: this gave him, I conclude, about five hundred sharp hints to jump forward, which he did with a movement quicker than he ever made in a stall before: he looked back, and appeared a good deal astonished: I thought he seemed disposed to give a kick: I went up to him, and made much of him, that he might not be alarmed or get angry; for in either case I knew he would have sent the whole concern flying. I made a man stay in the stable all day, with directions, whenever the horse got pricked, to speak kindly to him. I did not want to frighten him, but to make him feel that whenever he did a certain thing he hurt himself. A few days effectually cured him. The simple fact was, he forgot the trick, and did not attempt it afterwards.

This reminds me of a lady who had a favourite large fat pet spaniel: this dog would not have been

VOL. II.

242

NOT EIDER-DOWN. prevented jumping on any chair he liked, but he took a fancy to a very splendid one, covered with very beautifully worked satin : he could not be kept out of this if left for a moment in the room by himself: he was off in a moment if he heard any one coming, but on their leaving, up he was again. This chair was generally covered with a white net. I undertook to cure him of this promising not to beat him. I took away the satin cushion, and under the white net I placed some regular old strong furze. I watched, unseen: up my gentleman was in a moment but down he was much quicker, and set up a yelping that I knew would bring his mistress down in a minute. "Poor Rover!" said I, “I think anotherlesson will about do for you :" so I gave him a toss on his side on my newly invented patent anti-comfortable cushion: he bolted off, out of the room, nearly knocking down his mistress at the door, who then flew after him into the garden. I made my escape, having first the precaution to desire the servant to tell his mistress, with my compliments, not to sit on Rover's chair. She passed my house the next day, and shook her finger at me, showing me Rover's head at the carriage window : he would not even look at the anti-comfortable chair again.

I have shown in the instance of the horse hanging back where instinct will teach him to avoid what he finds gives him pain: I will now mention a case where it would not. We will suppose a horse had fallen in harness, and got his legs entangled in the spokes of the wheel, had kicked over the splinter-bar, or in a stable had kicked a hole in the boards of his stall, and got his legs in that : in either case we might conclude, that, finding kicking or struggling hurt him, he would stand quiet: this he possibly might do if he was a very

WHERE INSTINCT FAILS.

243

quiet horse, and was neither frightened nor enraged: but if he was either the one or other, he would probably kick till a broken leg would be the result; for in cases of fright or anger it seems one of the attributes or weaknesses of the horse that he loses all instinct. We can then do nothing with him, and can only apply brute force to brute force. The horse with the furze behind him did not resist, because the punishment was not severe enough to alarm his fears or rouse his anger: but if, instead of the furze, I had put a row of sharp spikes behind him, the pain would have had the effect of producing both: he would have kicked at the spikes at once, and the oftner he was wounded by them the more violently would he have kicked till he was too far maimed to kick any longer: his anger would have been roused, and then, though instinct would make him try to kick away the object of his fright or anger, it would not teach him that, by standing quiet, the object would not again injure him. Passionate men often do that which their reason, if they gave themselves time to exert it, would tell them must injure themselves: still do they it: Are we to expect more reason in a brute ?

It might at first thought appear injudicious, even cruel, to tempt anything to do wrong, when the commissior of the offence would lead to certain punishment. It would be so with a rational being in most instances, because we could tell him that such would be the case; but even in this case it would sometimes be judicious, nay merciful, to make him feel all this. For instance: if a boy would be constantly venturing on the bank of a river alone, it would be perfectly kind to allow him to fall into it when some one was at hand to get him out: if a child would play with

244

USELESS PUNISHMENT.

the fire, it would probably safe his life to allow him to put his finger on a hot coal, because we cannot make him understand or fear the consequences of such habits but through his sense of feeling. Thus it is by irrational animals: one lesson that come home to their sense of feeling does more towards preventing their doing wrong again than all the punishment we can inflict. The punishing a horse after committing an offence I suspect has much more to do with making him tremble the next time he has committed it, after it is committed, than it has with preventing the committing it. A careless, lazy, or awkward horse blunders over a fence with us with the evident chance of breaking our necks : not being hurt by it himself, and blundering over being less exertion to him than clearing it handsomely, he naturally does the same thing again. What is usually done to punish, and, as it is supposed, to prevent him doing this again ? The whip is laid about his ears, and the spurs crammed into his sides, so soon as being firm in his seat enables the rider to do it. Now what can the horse infer from this if he has any powers of inference ? (If he has not, punishment is useless.) He must suppose he was punished for not coming on his nose, or for going off in his gallop so soon as over the fence, or, in fact, anything but what the rider meant he should feel he was punished for: and the only consequence is, that at the next fence, as soon as he is over, he naturally expects to be punished for he knows not what, but that he recollects he was whipped and spurred as soon as he was over the last, and supposes or expects to be treated the same at every jump, or rather after it. This is as bad and truly absurd as flogging a horse after he has stumbled.

Soon

MAKE THE FAULT BRING ITS OWN PUNISHMENT. 245 No horse ever was made better by this, but all worse. I may be asked, what, according with my views of educating horses, I would do with such a horse, or whether I would let him blunder over all his fences as he pleased ? This I certainly would not do, for, though not particularly choice of my neck, I should not like to have it broke in so unhandsome a manner; and to prevent it I should consider what made such a horse so bungling a performer. If it proceeds from ignorance and not knowing how to do better, teach him, which is easily done; but for mercy's sake do not punish him for ignorance. If it proceeds from sheer laziness and sluggishness, rouse him before he comes to it, and clap the spurs and double thong to him when he ought to take off: this will teach him to be on the alert, and not to blunder over from the want of exerting himself. If it is from carelessness, here is a case where we must make him feel the consequences of carelessness; and one in which I would tempt him to do wrong to show him the result. Lead him over a few places, where, if he is careless, he must go in, and then flog him till he gets out: when out, if you do any thing, caress rather than again strike him, for it would not do to punish him both in and out. Such a horse would never become careful till he had personally felt the penalty of carelessness. We should recollect the horse does not know it is wrong to blunder, or to get into a ditch; therefore till by experience he finds that if he does not take care he will get into a ditch, and that when he is there we take care it becomes a most uncomfortable berth to him, he will not seek to avoid that from which he anticipates no inconvenience, but when he has found the inconvenience he will avoid it.

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »