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EFFECT OF WEIGHT AND OTHER WEIGHTY EFFECTS
AS APPLIED TO HORSES.
I HAVE been led into considering the effect of weight as applied to horses from having somewhere read an extract from the works of Nimrod, where he is quoted as having given it as his opinion that a heavy weight could get across a country better than a light one, as the former could break down and break through fences that the other could not. .
I do not remember where or when I saw this opinion quoted, so of course do not either vouch for its authenticity, or pretend to state the precise terms in which this opinion was couched, but such was the spirit of it.
It may appear singular when I assert, that, as a sporting man myself, I never read such popular works as Nimrod's: such, however, is the case, excepting his work on “The Road,” and that only in part. This neglect in no way arose from my not properly appreciating them : the public opinion taught me better: but so it was, and I am glad it was so, for, however severely anything I write may deserve to be criticised, I must now escape the charge of plagiarism
- a crime I hold to be about on a par with a man stealing a handsome cloak from another to hide the barrenness of his own costume. I hold it better and more creditable to sport my own threadbare suit, and say to the public it is the best I have. In it,
NIMROD QUOTED. such as it is, I am at your service; I rob no man's wardrobe, and hate second-hand clothes, though they might have belonged to my superiors.
“ Mais apropos de bottes” – apropos to writing — and apropos to riding, I am quite willing to subscribe to the fact that Nimrod could write a chase better than I; but I must take the liberty of saying he could not ride one as well; and this is not saying much in my favour in this respect either: assuming the opinion I have stated as emanating from him, I can only say I very much doubt whether in his own person he ever rode at a fence in his life, where, if the specific gravity of himself and horse did not break it, a regular burster must have been the result. We all know that horses ridden hard at fences or even timber will break what we should have considered it all but impossible they would even crack. I have had horses break gates with me, and that both with and without getting a fall; but candour must make me allow I never rode at one contemplating such a result; nor do I conceive, if any man saw Lord Maidstone now and Sir Francis Burdett (when he rode) refuse a bulfinch that they saw their horses could not force themselves through, that he or any man would ride at it, because he might weigh 17st. instead of 12st. : I mean of course when such riders as I have named considered the thing impracticable to them. The man would soon get sick of it, and so would his horse. We know that a ball of 50lb. weight let fall from a height will make more impression where it falls than one of 20 lb., but this does not hold good in breaking fences: if it did, what a devil of a fellow the famous Daniel Lambert would have been on the twenty-one hands' high horse! Why, such names as Waterford, Wilton, Forester,
WE MAY BE TOO FAST.
Oliver, Craufurd, Gilmour, even that feather weight Colonel Wyndham, might in future go and hunt on Putney Heath or Wimbledon Common ; but as the first alluded to somewhat larger couple never took a spin from Grimstone's Gorse to Trussington by way of a breather to show what they could do, I am of opinion any of the names I have mentioned would have been nearly as forward. “Velocity is force," as Tom Belcher used to say: “hit sharp enough you'll hit hard enough.” Now as the Noble Lord I first mentioned generally goes sharp enough, “I rather think the 17st. gentleman (who I should conceive would not be quite as fast) would find that weight takes more effect on horses than it does on bulfinches, unless indeed he bored through in a walk like a pig. Then, perhaps, one of Meux's dray-horses might be useful.
Some persons may say, “we all know the effect weight has upon horses.” I do not pretend to say but that these gentlemen (that is, the we) may know all about it, but I do not; and this has induced me to take the subject into consideration. We may say, “the thing requires no consideration at all ; weight makes horses go slower, that's all; so HARRY HIE'OVER must be slower still to write about it.” May be so, Gentlemen, but take care you are not a little too fast (at least in your conclusions). I have just sense enough to know that the same horse ( where all the concomitant circumstances attending his going are the same) cannot go so fast with a heavy weight as with a lighter one ; but this is not “the be all and the end all here.” I would wish, if I could, to ascertain what the effect of weight is when put in comparison with other things, which is not so easy to come at as we may suppose. Weight does not always under every circumstance as
effectually stop the speed of horses as Mr. Tongue's patent drag does that of carriages. I hear the same talented gentleman has now invented a bridle that can be made to stop horses much sooner than any welter weight can; and really when I see such attempts at horsemanship as I do daily see, I consider it a most useful addenda to such horsemen's set-out. As an old coachman, I am quite clear that whoever considers the safety of his bones, and still more the comfort and well-doing of his horses, would always use the drag to his carriage: and really it would be charity to many horsemen as well as to fellowwayfarers to recommend the patent stopper as equally indispensable. In truth there are some riders for whose sakes I should like to lay the same inventive genius under contribution to produce a man-drag that should prevent them getting on a horse at all. Great as unquestionably is the merit of his carriage drag, let him but invent the man-drag, and he will immortalise his name.
Whether the observations I shall make respecting the effects of weight be correct or erroneous, they will certainly do some good if they call the attention of those to the subject who have hitherto given it but little consideration. In proof that there are many such, I will venture to say, that among country gentleman who constantly ride with hounds, unless they have had a touch at racing, there is not onethird of them who know what weight they really are: numbers of them never got into a scale in their lives, and those who have, have not done so for perhaps years. Thus many, I am quite confident, who think themselves 12st. are nearer 14st.
In some proof of the little consideration given to
weight by persons who have never attended to racing pursuits, I will mention one instance in a person who one might suppose ought to have known better, being a dealer in horses. When in London last year, I saw a horse being led out of the yard in his clothes that I recognised as having belonged to one of our best steeple-chase riders, but now the property of the deal. er. I asked where the horse was going, and was told, as a secret, that he was going to — to be tried against another— his owner having some idea of entering him for a steeple-race. Three miles was to be the trial length — a pretty good dose I thought for a horse that had not had a gallop, much less a sweat. On my remarking that the horse was not in a fit state to go a trial, I was informed " that did not signify." Had the horse been mine, I should have thought it did, and a good deal the more so when I was told the other horse had been a month preparing for some Stakes. I then asked who were to ride the trial, and was told, “the owners.” The owner of the other horse I knew by name; he can ride a bit on a flat; but the dealer, though a fair ordinary horseman, knows about as much of riding a race or trial as Van Amburgh's elephant does of the polka. To crown all, on my asking what were to be the weights, I was told he did not know his friend's weight or his own, but there could not be more than a stone either way. I will answer for it the other knew his own, and that it was on the right side ; so he obliged his friend, and thought his own horse might as well take a gallop in this way as any other. I never heard the result of this well arranged trial. I know of course what it must have been if it had been meant as a trial on both sides : but as I heard the dealer ran his horse afterwards, and he was nowhere, I should not