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A COOLING RECEIPT. A friend of mine was so hasty in his temper, though not a violently passionate man, that on the least supposed offence from man, woman, or child, he constantly said in reply many things he much regretted afterwards. No man felt more hurt than he did on such occasions, and on his once saying he would give a thousand pounds to any man if he could cure him of this habitual hastiness, I volunteered to give him a receipt for nothing that should cure him if he pledged his word to strictly abide by it for twelve months. He gave the pledge, and for the benefit of hasty persons I give the receipt as I gave it him. “Whenever anything is said or done that particularly irritates you, count a hundred before you make an observation upon it.” My friend became an altered man. I introduce this, because it is just what I would wish instructors of any thing to do before they give way to temper, that is, if theirs is a hasty one, and they have any thing to do with horses.
I hope it is understood, that, in alluding to the blundering leaper, I allude to an animal that ought not to be found — namely, a horse having arrived at a hunting age, and being taken with hounds without having been properly taught his business: in short, not educated. My three-year-old colt should not commit such an error - why? because, if I found he wanted it, he should have been in a dozen ditches before I ever got on his back; then he would be wise enough to keep out of them when I was.
A farmer in Essex, well known some years since in Lord Petre's hunt, had an entire horse, a remarkably clever jumper. I often tried to coax him out of the horse at a strong price. “No,” he would say,
PROFITING BY EXPERIENCE.
“it is as much as my neck is worth to part with him.” The fact was, the farmer was a determined goer in the field, but a much harder one in a publichouse, and frequently, when it was so dark the horse could hardly see, and the master not all, he used to start off across the fields home: somehow, he stuck on, and the horse went home as straight as gun-shot. I once saw him take a gate with his master on the saddle and his arms most lovingly round the horse's neck. I told him he would be found some night, horse and all, in some of the Essex ditches. “Nay,” says he, “there is not a ditch in the country we were not in the first year I had him : he knows them too well now to get in again.”
I have endeavoured to prove, what I am bold enough to say I know to be fact, that the action of horses is to be wonderfully altered by placing them in situations where they must alter it of themselves. It would be an endless work to enumerate all the imperfections of the horse, or the mode by which they may be counteracted. A little exertion of consideration will lead any man of common sense to be able in most cases to ascertain the cause of the deficiency: a little ingenuity will point out to him the most probable mode of altering it: and a great deal of patience and command of temper will generally succeed in effectually, or at all events in partially, doing this.
There is no horse which requires such variety of action as the hunter. There is no doubt a peculiar action that tends to get a horse along with the most ease to himself in peculiar situations. Even with the same hunt the country has often, we may say, two faces. To come near London, for instance, With a
“SICH A GETTING UP STAIRS."
fox found at Chipstead, and killed in the Oxted country, a man to be well carried would want two horses of quite different pretensions, or one which could vary. his style of going, from that which would do on chalk hills to that required in deep clay. The same may be said of the Downs about Goodwood, or getting over in the Petworth country. Horses accustomed to flat countries cannot live with hounds in hilly ones. Why? Not because the hillcountry horses are better, but because they adapt their style of going to the country. Ride a Leicestershire horse in a close hilly country two seasons, he will become a different horse to what he was when he came there: he will be no better horse than he was, for nothing can be harder work than crossing a Leicestershire pasture when it rides deep, taken as work; but climbing up and down hills is still harder to that individual horse, because he is not used to it: till he becomes so, a much inferior horse would beat him. The same propelling powers are not equally called upon in going up and down hills, and on a flat; consequently those powers that are most wanted in the one situation, not being in the habit of being so much exerted in the other, become distressed when they become the chief propellers requisite. · London servants will run up and down stairs all day without being fatigued : a straight two-mile walk over a down would tire them. Country servants will knock up in going the height of four-pair of stairs till they are used to it: the calves of the legs and back sinews are here called into unusual play, and they cannot bear the tension till habit strengthens them : then Dolly will trip up as quickly and coquettishly as the London Abigail.
SHORTENING THE STRIDE.
If, therefore, it is allowed to me that horses do so change their mode of going in one way, they will in another; and if we begin early enough, and have patience enough, a bad style may be made into a good one, and by very simple ineans (generally speaking).
We will say a colt is a good galloper, but goes with too long a stride for a general hunter. No undue severity, no severe labour, or cleverness on the part of his master is required to cure this: the horse need not even be rode : put a cavesson on him, a mouthing bit in his mouth, and bear him up to either a cross or his saddle or surcingle: get him into an amphitheatre circle if you can; if not, into a riding school; or, if neither are near, a rick-yard or any small inclosed place: let your leading or ringing rein be about 25 feet long: begin by thus forming a lunge of 50 feet diameter: have an assistant with you: force your colt or horse into a canter: it is pretty clear that a horse cannot stride very long round such a circle, which you may daily decrease till it comes to, say 40 feet. Now, what is the simple effect of this? The only severity we use, if severity it can be called, is forcing the colt to canter and then gallop in a space that is awkward to him at first, but the result will be he finds he cannot do this (in the situation we have placed him) with a long stride; he has therefore, no alternative but to take a short one. By this simple process you might bring him to canter round a dining room, if such a thing was wanted.
Let us now reverse the case, and suppose a colt strikes short, goes too high, and, technically speaking, fights in his gallop. Ringing such a colt would of course make him ten times worse: he must be ridden, unaccompanied by any other horse, and in a place
250 IMPROVEMENT SHOULD AT LEAST BE ATTEMPTED.
where he can neither see nor hear anything to stimulate him : put a light steady boy on him, and on a retired exercise ground let him go long and very slow gallops with as easy a bit in his mouth as he can possibly be held with : he will shortly learn to lean a little on this, and, having nothing to animate him, will in a few lessons get into an even stroke, which he would never do so long as he lived if ridden in company, ridden fast, or in confined situations.
Half the persons who breed or buy colts seem to think that if the animal has any particular fault or faults, it is a kind of dispensation of PROVIDENCE that they are to have a colt with such faults: that it is, in short, their lot, and also the lot of the colt, to pass through life with the failings he possesses. I suppose, if we gave one of these fatalists a chair with only three legs to it, they would sit on it all their lives in a most uncomfortable position to keep it on a balance. Now as I like to sit easy, and being moreover a bit of a carpenter, the first thing I should do would be to mend the chair. I certainly could not make as handsome a job of it as an upholsterer could, but I certainly would put on what should answer the purpose of a leg, and enable me to sit comfortably: at any rate the chair should not remain with three, that's poz. So with the colt: I could not make a bad goer perhaps as good a one as if he was naturally so; but I will answer for it, be a colt's fault what it might, if I did not effectually cure it, I would make it better. People not attempting to do this is one reason why we see so many brutes of horses in use as we daily do see.
I will now venture a few remarks on the education of horses destined to harness, and I believe most