« السابقةمتابعة »
A ROUGH CUSTOMER.
that the owner had been most particularly anxious should go in harness from his being a perfect match for another he had. This horse was so determined a kicker, that he had gone on from kicking in harness to refuse being put in, and from that to being so vicious that he would not allow the harness to be put on. I had no inclination to experimentalise with so hardened a pupil, fond as I always was of such things; but a little bantering on the owner's part in having produced a subject that set at nought my general opinion that patience or contrivance of some sort would beat almost every horse, gave me all but a determination to see what could be done here. A champagne dinner from the owner for twelve against a chop and a bottle of port settled it, I merely engaging to put him in single harness, and make him draw the vehicle and myself in it. I must add that I was told he did not refuse to go when in, but would kick till he got himself out by breaking every thing to pieces if possible : but the great difficulty was to get him in, for he kicked as furiously at the harness as when in the vehicle.
I got the winker-bridle on, then the collar: even this he did not relish, and his tail began going. I got him out of the stable, and put a false martingal to the collar ; fastened this by a surcingle to prevent the collar rising ; then made a smith turn the ends of the grains or prongs of a stable-fork into two eyes, measured the length wanted, cut the handle to that length, and made a hole through it to allow some strong cord to pass. The horse's jaw was placed between the prongs, a strap passed through the two eyes, and buckled over his nose : each prong was then tied to the cheeks of the bridle. I made two 272 . GAGGING, BUT NOT JOKING. men elevate his head as high as he could raise it, and then tied the end of the fork-handle to the collar, so there the head was fixed. Every one knows that, if we lay a stick across a chair, we cannot elevate one end without depressing the other, unless it be a bending cane. This a horse's spine is not, or at least in a very small degree. Consequently, while the head was thus elevated, the rump could not be elevated at the same time, unless the spine was whalebone in the middle. We next got the harness on, crupper and all: he could lash out straight with one hind leg at a time, but kicking was out of the question. He began shaking his head from side to side to try to loosen the gag: two side reins beat him on that tack: he stamped with rage, and no pig undergoing the pleasant operation of ringing squealed louder. We brought the vehicle up; a man's shoulder to each quarter (fixed as he was) kept him straight: in he was in a minute; he wriggled all he could; kicked as well as he could, and well he fought; but it was no use: trot of course he could not, but I made him most majestically walk, and, as I engaged, draw me. We took him out in a perfect lather: he would not want sweating again for some days to come.
I do not mean to say, nor do I think, this horse could ever have been cured of his propensity to kick. I think it by no means impossible that he might have been deterred from doing so, so as to be driven; but he was too far gone ever to have been worth the risk. Old offenders as kickers, like biters, never lose the inclination; at least I never knew one that did ; but if we look to the cause of both vices, they generally, like all ill-manners, proceed from bad education.
Among all the various purposes to which we apply
- NONE BUT THE BRAVE DESERVE THE FAIR.” 273 the horse, there is not one that requires a more perfect education than that of carrying ladies. A lady's horse should be almost born one : their requisite qualifications are so numerous, that unless they are begun with very early indeed, they rarely arrive at perfection. They may do their business moderately, nay very well; but the most careful and scientific rearing and educating is necessary to make them perfect. A naturally timid nervous colt, however we may improve the infirmity by proper treatment, will never be a perfect lady's horse. He should be naturally bold and fearless, and, from being properly educated, should not know fear; for as ladies are naturally more easily alarmed than men, so in proportion should their horses be bolder, for if both get alarmed, the danger is imminent. Many ladies would fear to be put on a high-couraged horse ; fair ones, your fears are misapplied : high-courage in man or horse is your best safeguard, and will induce both to bend with cheerfulness to your slightest will, while the timid, actuated by fear, seeks his own safety, nor heeds the danger of his fair mistress.
Though no advocate for a riding-school education for a hunting man or a hunting horse, it is the only place where a lady's horse can be properly made. There is a peculiar style of going that is only to be acquired here—a handiness that cannot be taught on the road: turning safely and easily cannot be learned elsewhere. Changing voluntarily the leading leg, so indispensable for this horse, must be practised by the figure of eight to perfect him in it; and till he is perfect in this, he cannot carry a lady safely. She will find it necessary, if riding in crowds, to turn her horse often suddenly to avoid coming in contact with
274 UNDIVIDED ATTENTION NECESSARY TO TUITION. different objects. Suppose a horse going a quick canter leading with the right leg, something coming suddenly up may oblige his rider to turn quickly to the left. If the horse does not change his leg, it is an even chance whether he does or does not let his legs interfere, and come on his head. Here he may be taught that quite necessary qualification in a lady's horse, to moderate his pace, stop by degrees or stop short according to the voice that directs him: a lady's horse should be perfect in this with the reins resting on his neck. Why this is learned so much more readily in a school than elsewhere is, that the animal's attention is solely occupied by his rider's voice and movement, whereas out of doors it is more than divided by other objects. Independently of this, there is a confinement felt by a horse when encircled by four walls, that he of course does not feel in any open space, that makes him obedient.
In a school there are found, or ought to be found, guns, flags, drums, trumpets, umbrellas, and every other monstrosity to which a lady's horse should be accustomed : it therefore follows that in such a school a horse would be placed in a situation to see more strange sights in six weeks than in ordinary situations he would see in six years. For instance: a lady might ride her horse about Bath, and not see the colour of a regiment once in seven years : in London it might happen she never rode at an hour when regiments were moving; consequently years might elapse, and the first time her horse saw such a sight he would start at it; and so on with any unusual thing that came across him: but in the school a day makes him conversant with any thing of the sort. Let a man walk at fifty yards' distance
CUSTOM PRODUCES COURAGE.
275 from him round the school with a banner, he hardly notices it: get nearer to the man by degrees, and in an hour or two the horse will walk with the banner fluttering before his face without alarm (so with any thing we wish to accustom him to see). The great mistake people make is in thinking that by doing too much at a time they accelerate what they wish, when, in fact, they retard it by such means.
If, for instance, we wish to teach a horse to stand fire--if we let off a gun, we should alarm him to an extent that it would perhaps take a month to re-assure him, if we even did it then. A more judicious man might let off a small pistol with a little powder in it. This is ten times too much. A flash in the pan is too much, except at a great distance. First burn a few grains of gunpowder so as to show no flash while he is eating his corn in the stable: let him smell that: even this will arouse his attention, but, while it accustoms him to the smell, will not alarm him. Begin by clicking a pistol twenty yards from him; then put powder enough in not to make more ignition than the light of a rushlight : go on by imperceptible degrees, and in two days he will hear a musket go off without the least fear, and thus by never creating alarm he may in a week be brought to stand by a cannon without wincing. Absolutely hurting or absolutely alarming produce nearly similar results in brutes as the human race. A person that has been pursued by an infuriated ox, has the same dread of an ox as another who has been tossed on his horns; perhaps more, if the latter was not much hurt; the anticipations of the former being probably much more terrific than the tossing of the latter; as, in the ordinary cir