صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني



[ocr errors]

or a coach comes galloping behind. A horse in such spirits is very likely to give a squeak, and (as he means) a playful kick. This, when he can get his heels high enough, probably brings one or both of them in contact with the shaft or bar. This is a thing we cannot well accustom him to bear, so he probably gives a second kick: and if he does, you are lucky if he does not go on; for this reason I am an advocate for kicking-straps, which, if properly put on, prevent the commencing kick.

With the same pair of horses I mentioned as being so perfectly quiet as one of them to bear a loose bar knocking against his heels, we once went for the first time to see the New Forest; and, being Summer and the days hot, were going from Lyndhurst to Lymington when nearly dark. To our great suprise the horses began pulling and going something like fourteen miles an hour. My father, as he expressed himself, wondered “what the devil had got into the horses !” They were, in short, half mad. On getting into the Inn yard, and being stopped, they both began to kick, and one got over the trace: however, we got them out and into the stable: when there, the men could not get near one of them; he kicked till he actually kicked the bar-standard out of the saddle.

This was nothing but the forest flies, to which they were unaccustomed, and, being delicate-skinned horses, could not bear, though these flies only crawl, without stinging. In the middle of the night we were forced to put two posters to the curricle, and have our horses led; nor did we stop till beyond the haunts of the forest flies. Thus the quietest of horses may become unmanageable if that occurs to which they are unaccustomed : two less thoroughly trained



to harness would probably have smashed the whole concern.

I can mention another instance where a most goodtempered and perfectly trained cob would have done mischief, if not held by main force, merely from fright. I had bought him for my wife, knowing he had been constantly driven by a lady. Driving out one day, a violent hail-storm came on: my wife got under a large tree, and was perfectly sheltered, but it did not cover the cob's head, or the man standing at it. She thoughtlessly desired him to take a large oil-skin gig umbrella, and hold it over his own and her cob's head, who instantly became ungovernable: the man, to hold him the better, threw down the umbrella, and the moment he had done so, the cob became perfectly quiet: it was merely the hail rattling on the oil-skin that alarmed him ; he had not been taught to bear this, but he very soon was: perhaps this hint may be useful to some lady similarly situated.

I had a horse that would let one do any thing when on him that is usually done, but one thing he would not permit, which was, to take a letter or indeed any paper that rustled out of the pocket: he would go away with any man living who did—it set him frantic. I conclude some one had let a letter blow out of his hand, which had possibly alighted on the horse's head, and given him a fright. He was just the same in the stable: even show him a white sheet of paper, he would plunge most violently. Not wanting to read on his back, I did not take the trouble to reconcile him to this, as I could make him understand my wishes by other means than epistolary correspondence: still, the not teaching him to bear it might, if he was sold to any one without apprising A NEW GUILLOTINE.


him of the matter, be the means of getting a man's neck broke. I should also mention that you might useany coloured pocket-handkerchief you pleased when on him, but a white one he would not stand. I sold him to a gentleman in Warwickshire who was in the habit of patronisimg the white cambric; but though I told him the horse would not allow it, and my man assured him "he wouldn't have it at no price,” the gentleman thought he would; and thinking so was the cause of his losing a day's hunting, his hat, and nearly his head into the bargain.

He sent the horse on to meet the hounds. After mounting him for the first time, he had occasion to use the cambric: away went the horse, and for the six miles along the high road home he never got a pull at him. Going under a brick arch across the road, and being met unluckily by a carriage, the horse took the foot-path: his master just saved his head by the loss of his hat, and found himself at his house after perhaps a better burst than he would have had with the hounds. — Mem. an agreeable airing this would have been in harness; yet I am quite satisfied, from his good temper, he would have drawn quietly enough until something alarmed him. “It is pace that kills" the HORSE ; but it is in most cases alarm that kills the the master when horses are in harness, and sometimes out of it.

It is by no means an uncommon practice with persons in the country who wish to break a horse to harness (as I have often heard them express themselves) “ to put him into a strong cart, and then he can't do any HARM :" perhaps he may not, but the chance is, that, by this mode of commencing his harness education, he will do no GOOD. This may be break



ing; it is not teaching. The horse is not accustomed by nature to propel any thing with his shoulders : the act is therefore unusual to him ; his natural act would be to recoil from it if he could. Of course, therefore, the heavier the weight he feels against him is, the more disposed he is to recoil from it. A good and well-trained cart-horse will pull twenty times running at an immovable object, for this reason: he has been accustomed to find that by increased exertion he has generally succeeded in moving any object to which he has been attached; he therefore always expects to be able to do this, consequently will try to do so: but the novice in harness, if he feels a great weight behind, will most probably do every thing but what he ought to do, which is, to resolutely set his shoulders to the collar. The fact is, in this as in all cases with horses they should never, if possible, be put to do that which it is likely they will refuse to do: it is quite natural a horse should at first refuse to face a collar with 500lb. pressing against him: none would refuse to do so with 5lb. The 500lb. therefore should never be tried till we know he will draw the 5lb., and then increase the draft by degrees. Neglecting to do this is one of the great causes that produces jibbing, which is the almost certain result of injudicious treatment. I can bring a case illustrative of this.

A friend of mine knew I was fond of experimentalising on horses in breaking, or, as I have termed it, educating them. He brought me a horse that had been tried in all ways in harness—in gigs, breaks, carts, waggons, and ploughs —and had been punished in every way an unfortunate horse could be punished. I should mention, the carter had first taken the horse in hand, doubtless on the “ good heavy cart” system:





265 he could make nothing of him: as a last resource, he had tried a plan sometimes adopted by these gentle and scientific breakers ; namely, that of putting the horse next the shaft horse with the traces crossed, and then putting two strong horses before him : the consequence is, as soon as they draw, the cross traces come against the quarters of the pupil in the form of a wedge: of course the more he hangs back the more he gets to the narrow part of the crossed chain: so, to avoid his quarters remaining in a vice, he is sometimes induced to get forward. It is, however, a brutal mode, and seldom succeeds: it did not here; for the horse threw himself down to avoid the punishment. He was then given to a proper breaker, but the mischief was done : he could not make him draw. Now this horse had no vice in him: the only thing was, he would not face a collar, or, in stable phrase, “ draw a hat off a man's head.” He would not kick, but would stand still, and, if urged forward, would put his fore legs out as two props, and, if whipped, would plunge and then lie down. I did not of course say I would make him draw, for it was very possible I might not; but I engaged to try.

With this horse, as with all horses when they refuse to do any thing, the first thing was to consider and endeavour to ascertain why he would not draw. The probable causes in this case were, either that from having been put to a heavy weight at first he he had not drawn it, and consequently did not know that he could ; that pressure on his shoulders hurt him; or that he had been so tormented and punished that he had become sulky: in either case punishment could do no good, nor was it deserved. . On the horse arriving, instead of beginning putting

« السابقةمتابعة »