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heard o'er muckle of the same sound at Waterloo, and ye have ne'er liked the screak of the pipe sin sine.”
Thus it is with Pug: if he has heard the tongue of harmony once he has heard “o'er much," and if this is heard in a gorse cover or spinney, he knows it is too near to be pleasant, so, like Lady Macbeth's guests, he stands, “not on the order of” his “going," but goes “at once.” For such reasons I doubt not but that the generality of foxes in our best hunting countries are wilder and in better wind than foxes were formerly.
When hounds were in the habit of getting on the drag of their fox and hunting up to him, as he had probably had a comfortable nap since his nightly round, a good deal of slow hunting took place before they got near him. This gave him time to collect himself, stretch and yawn in a lazy gentleman-like way, and turn out leisurely. He trotted or cantered off to a thicker part of the cover, and then took a good deal of badgering before he chose to make his appearance in public, and when he did it was "all without hurry or care.” In all this our ancestors showed the courtesy of the olden school; but now, however refined, in many respects, our manners may be, we show no refinement to poor Pug: we burst into the sanctity of his dormitory at once, and a crack pack gives him no time to put his slippers on ; so as he has a most unchristian-like objection to die on his bed, he turns out like one of the “unwashed,” prudently considering that where life or death are at stake appearances must be dispensed with. This of course makes the burst doubly fast for going off so close to him, the scent is fresh and strong, and
“NEEDS MUST WHEN (SOME ONE) DRIVES.” 367 should it happen to be a good scenting day in a good scenting country, hounds have little to do but chase; and under such circumstances I wonder what the Frenchman would say of it, who when asked some sixty years since his, opinion of one of the (then) good runs, pronounced it une chasse diabolique. If it was the spirit of a fox in the shape of a Frenchman who gave the above opinion, I give full credit for its being a genuine one. The fact is, it is only going out so late in the day as we do now, that gives the unfortunate varmint a chance, and poor one it is he has on such terms as I describe. If we went out while the dew was still on the ground, he would have no chance at all, if found in such a way, and chased by hounds that can go like race-horses: this renders the training of hunters necessary, and this also renders the numbers necessary that are kept.
It would be urged by one of the old school, that if a man rode his horses often enough no intermediate days of training would be wanted : and for the mode of hunting in those days, the hunting a horse three days a fortnight or twice a week was, with mere exercise between the days, quite enough for a hunter's condition. But hunting now is racing with hounds before you, so in point of fact it is not the hunter's condition but the form (to use a stable phrase as alluding to condition) of the race-horse that must now be had; it is not the powers of endurance of several hours of severe exertion that is wanted, it is the power of enduring a racing pace for a burst of four or five miles across a country that is necessary. To enable a horse to do this, if he has to go, we will say, on the Monday, he must now as much be got ready for that day as the race-horse for the day on
which he is to run; in fact the one must be as fine in point of wind as the other. It is true the race-horse may be expected to do his four miles in something close upon eight minutes, whereas four miles across a country in thirteen is very fast indeed, and the wind and exertion called for is as great in the one case as in the other; the exertion perhaps greater in the last than in the first, for four miles over sound turf, with, say, eight stone, is quite a different affair to going the same length under an average of thirteen, and that over all sorts of ground with from fifteen to twenty exhausting leaps to make during such a burst. The different stamina and wind required between the hunter of to-day and that of former times is analogous to that of a man required to run four miles in four minutes at four starts, and that of one undertaking to run twenty-one miles in three hours. They would both require condition and first-rate stamina; but the wind and speed necessary to accomplish these tasks are of a different order. Horses being what used to be called knockedup is now a matter of rare occurrence. They are now frequently blown and ridden to a stand still, but this is only a temporary prostration of the animal powers, and the same horse will probably in a quarter of an hour be perfectly recovered ; it is in this case the wind that is gone, and the temporary failing of the powers of the limbs. I consider it to be very like what we feel in running quickly up a hill: we are compelled to stop, but ten minutes' rest enables us to go on a twenty mile walk: our powers have not been exhausted by the exertion, they have only failed for the time being, from having been urged beyond their lasting powers of endurance. Fatal results will
• FESSUM QUIES PLURIMUM JUVAT.” 369 very rarely follow riding a horse in condition, even to a stand-still, if it only arises from the wind having been pumped out of him : but if the stand-still arises from the thoughtless, or rather merciless conduct of the rider, in having urged a failing horse to unnatural exertion, then the owner is more lucky than he deserves, if his horse recovers that day, that season, or perhaps ever. Hunters in tip-top condition, like fighters in the same state, will stand a great deal of hammering, and will recover from what would kill other horses or other men, and it is fortunate for both that they can; but horses and men, even in such condition, have like maids “ died and worms have eaten them,” from the system having been over taxed.
The hunter of former times, if knocked up, was generally reduced to that state, not from the pace, but from being worn out by distance; he was, in short, exhausted by sheer labour, and, when in that state, it took many hours to restore the wearied limbs and muscles to their tone and strength : still, a horse thus tired on the Monday might be perfectly fit to hunt on the following Thursday; he would only want food, and rest, and walking exercise, or a canter to prepare him; but, to go again now-adays, he will also want that wind which training only can give.
It must be clear that a horse, after a severe day, is not fit to take a gallop the next; he must get comparative rest for a short time. During this time he is, to a certain degree, going back from that high state of wind he was in on the morning of his last day's hunting, for which brushing, gallops, and a VOL. II.
370 ASTONISHMENT FOR THE MILLION. sweat had prepared him. His training, short as it is, must be begun again to bring him up to his mark, and put him in his best form : the walking exercise, canter, gallops, and, probably, a sweat, will have to take place prior to his next day's hunting : without all this the horse would be quite fresh again, and, without a gallop, fit to go with some hounds, in some countries, and under some people, but not under our first flight men over Leicestershire.
Persons but little acquainted with hunting matters, or those who only look to what hunting was, may, very naturally, ask how a man can possibly use from twelve to fifteen hunters for his own riding: no doubt it seems a pretty strong stud for one man, and the argument seems all in favour of those thinking one third of the number would carry a man five days a week. I am afraid I must, in candour, say (though I tremble for my credit while I do say it) no man can use half the number, but, by abusing them, he may quite render the whole number necessary. By abusing I do not, of course, mean what comes under the general denomination of ill-usage, but, if men will have horses go over a country at a racing instead of a hunting pace, and will take that out of them in forty minutes that used to last them an entire day, he must either go home or have a second horse to finish with. Here then comes double the number formerly wanted, and as supernatural exertion would require supernatural legs and stamina to stand it, and horses have neither, some out of the fifteen are always pro tem. out of work; so, what with having two horses a-day in use, horses not being able to be brought up to their mark under several days' training, the sick list, and, perhaps, occasionally