صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني



him in harness as the servant who brought him expected I should, and intended waiting to see, I put him into the stable, where I let him amuse himself by looking at the empty rack and manger that day, the whole night, and till noon the next day, about twenty-seven hours. My man wondered what keeping a perfectly quiet horse without food had to do with his drawing. Possibly he thought a good hunting whip would be more likely to effect the purpose; I should have deserved one had I thought so. After this fast, I put the harness on with a breast collar, to allow the free use of his neck. I had a very light shooting-cart drawn into the middle of a field, and there put the gentleman in with a cavesson on, and giving a rope of some ten yards long into a man's hand, desired him to sit down, and take no notice whatever of the horse, but to let him stand still till night if he wished to do so. Four hours had elapsed, and there stood the horse still as a statue. He shortly, however, began shuffling about, and looking about: at last, hunger and the tempting look of the herbage induced him to put down his head : he got a mouthful; and finding the salad quite to his taste, he ate all he could reach (without moving) till he came to the bare earth. He stretched out his neck, felt the traces tighten, and recoiled: presently he tried again, and advanced a step, then another, and another; in short, began regularly grazing as if loose. It was not my business to let him satisfy himself, so I had him taken out, and treated with the bare rack and manger till morning. He was then put in again, and at once set to eating like a Trojan. The man's sitting still was now at an end, for during the day the field was walked over and over in all directions.



I now got a sack or two of oats into the cart, and the horse went on with that. I then loaded it as heavily as it would bear, and still the horse walked away with it. I had now only to get him to draw without the temptation of grazing. This I did by making a man walk before him with a bundle of sweet hay. I got reins on : and now in about five days this horse that it was said no man could make draw, without any cleverness, coachmanship, or dexterity on my part, was as well disposed as any animal living. He had practically been taught that he could draw without inconvenience, and that a vehicle behind him was not always the precursor of punishment and ill-usage: consequently, the poor brute was quite willing to do that which he found, so far from injuring him, procured him gratification, which I conceive food to be to a hungry stomach. Of course nothing like this is usually required : I merely state the fact by way of showing that a little patience and invention will do that which brute force cannot achieve. This grazing plan may never be wanted; but as a system I am quite clear it is a rational one. I have mentioned the anecdote certainly as an extreme case, but in illustration of an opinion I must retain, that inducing horses to do what we want by in fact outwitting them, is the surest mode of succeeding with them. In this case I do not believe any powers on earth could have made this horse draw; for the more he was urged to do so, the more resolutely he would have resisted : he was, in point of fact, forced to draw, because he was obliged to do so or starve; but there was no apparent means used to do it, so the act was in one sense voluntary on his part.

Whenever we attempt to punish an irrational

268 “NEVER STRIKE BRICK WALLS.” animal for doing any thing he should not do, the punishment should be made so fully apparent as the result of the act that he cannot by any possibility mistake its being so. This is by no means always the case where the whip or spur are resorted to: at least the punishment does not always deter him from committing the act again : it is a punishment that follows an act: the true thing is, where we can, to make the act itself punish the committal of it if we wish to insure its not being again committed. I will instance this difference.

We will suppose a horse has that abominable vice of biting people : he gets well flogged for it: this may deter him in some measure from doing so; but if it does, it only prevents his doing it when we keep an eye on him ; it does not cure his inclination to do it; nor would any thing but finding he actually hurt himself by the act itself.

A boy quarrelsomely and savagely disposed will strike boys weaker than himself: he gets soundly flogged for it: he will not do so again where there is any probability of his being found out; but he has the inclination still in him. If, however, he was fool enough to strike a sharp stone wall, depend on it he would feel no inclination to strike walls again.

I never knew an instance of a biting horse being cured of the vice, and for this reason, we have never hit upon any expedient (at least I never heard of one) that would make him, like the boy striking the wall, hurt himself: if we could find any mode of making him do so, he would be cured at once. A somewhat curious mode of doing this appeared in the public prints; namely, the giving such a horse a hot roast leg of mutton to seize. Absurd as this appears, it is

LEGS OF MUTTON NOT ARMS OF MEN. 269 really not so much so as many things that are done towards horses: in fact, if a horse was addicted to biting legs of mutton, it would be a rational and certain way of curing him of the propensity; but as legs of mutton do not often come in his way, and arms of men frequently do, unless he was stupid enough not to be able to distinguish the one from the other, I fear the mutton plan could not avail much. Now, if we could cover a man with a coat of mail with invisible spikes standing from it, two or three. times seizing the man would I doubt not radically cure the horse, not of his disposition to bite, but of attempting to do so : but as we cannot well do this, I believe a short stick and keeping an eye on him in approaching or quitting him, is the only thing to be trusted to. Flogging him after he has bitten will tend to increase his propensity to do it, for this reason: it is either dislike to man or fear of man that makes him bite: he seizes us to prevent our hurting him, or in revenge for having been hurt; consequently, punishing him only confirms his fear and hate: so probably, if we do this, and he finds he dare not bite, he tries the efficacy of a kick.

A friend of mine had a favourite mare that was exceedingly troublesome to dress, and bit terribly. What made it worse was, she would on no occasion bear to be rack-chained up; she would rush back, and throw herself down. When she had the muzzle on, she would run at the manger, rack, and man, so the blow was nearly as bad as the bite. It happened the groom had killed a hedgehog the day before : seeing this in the stable, it struck me I could turn him to some account: so I got him skinned and fastened the skin to the bottoin of the muzzle, of

[blocks in formation]

course on the inside. I put it on the mare, lengthening the head-strap, so as to allow about three inches between the skin and the mare's lips, and offer her no inconvenience but of her own seeking. I begged the groom to strip, and dress her. The moment he touched the roller-strap to unbuckle it, she rushed at the rack-staves as usual, but not the usual result did she find. She ran back to the end of her collar-rein, snorting: he commenced dressing her: she went at him as usual: he was quick enough to meet her muzzle with his arm, giving it a hard blow against her nose: she did not try that game again: she had a go at the manger ; this was worse: after a few trials, she contented herself with squealing as usual, kicking and flying about the stall; but she kept her nose from coming in contact with the man or anything else: she found she punished herself, and had sense enough to leave off doing that which produced punishment by the act. The man punishing her never had, or ever would have produced the same effect. Could the groom have worn a hedgehog strapping-jacket or shirt, I dare say she would have been cured of attempting to bite him. The lesson of course only prevented her biting or trying to bite when the muzzle was on : when off, she would do as she always had done, for then she well knew a man's skin was not a hedgehog's. This we will call practical education, and is in accordance with the system of education I advocate.

I will now mention a case where what I term brute force became necessary to oppose brute force; but even in this case it became necessary, or at least it was wanted, to do that in two hours that two months would have been a very short time to effect so as to produce any lasting good. A horse was shown me


« السابقةمتابعة »