صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني



ment and horsemanship will do, we need go no farther than to see Colonel Wyndham ride a chase : he shoves his horse along most awfully certainly; but depend on it he saves him whenever he can, though he will risk his and his own neck the next minute at fencing. What makes him do this arises from the same cause that actuates his every action in lifehis heart is where every heart should be, and where so few are, in the right place.

In some proof of my assertion (I should say opinion) that even weight will not tell like pace, I will mention an anecdote: it does not speak much in favour of my own judgment on the occasion ; but no matter; if it elucidates anything that will save horses it will answer a much better purpose. I went to get a couple of days' hunting with a friend of mine, an 18st. man, and sent a couple of horses for the purpose; but my friend insisted on mounting me, and paid me the compliment of putting me upon his favourite horse Beggarman, a very fine horse certainly, and a perfect hunter, for a certain pace. I eyed the nag rather suspiciously I own; for it struck me we should differ widely in our ideas of going along. However, the compliment could not be refused. Pug was at home, and away we went, I on my general plan, of not going perhaps as well as many others, but at all events as well as I can, as straight as I can, and as long as I can. Beggarman certainly went very well for a quarter of an hour, took his fences admirably; but I felt nothing of his being " rather inclined to pull a bit” (which the groom had warned me of); for the fact was (though I did not at the time know it), he was going his very fastest, so did not of course pull to try to go faster. I soon


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

found him hesitate on seeing a leap before him, and thought he was sulking a little: however, I persuaded him to go straight for a few fields further, but then perceived symptoms I could not mistake: the stretching out the head, the occasional widening of my knees, and a sob, told the tale: Beggarman was beat. Now I trust I never rode a horse unfairly in my life, and certainly I did not do so in the present case. Still I was wrong. I had been used to sail away on thorough-breds. I could certainly say I rode him as I should have done my own; but this was the very thing that I should not have done. However, I stopped in time, got out of the way not to disgrace my friend's crack, made a lucky cast, got well in again, saw our fox killed, kept my own counsel, and on my friend asking me how I liked my horse, I said, like old Dick Knight, “ was never so carried." Notwithstanding this, I took care to mount myself the next day.

I may be asked, if this said horse, with fair riding and only 11st. on him, could not live with hounds in a commonly fair run, how did he get on with 18st.? I will endeavour to account for this, for get on with his master he certainly always did, and was there or thereabouts at the finish. A man of great weight may see a great deal of a run, enough, if he is really fond of hunting, to be able to tell more about how the hounds behaved than half the field who care nothing about them. He may be always near enough for this ; but he must not expect to be at all times with them. Harkaway, if he was a hunter, could not carry the weight and be always there. My friend knew every field and covert in the country; consequently he rode at times (as greyhounds sometimes




get to run ) cunning ; and if he knew a fox's point, with his weight it was quite fair in him to avail himself of that knowledge, and ride a little wide of hounds; and if by this he could, as he did often, save his horse a field or two, some heavy fencing, and heavy ground, he was right: for when I say I consider the men who go straightest with hounds on an average distress their horse the least, I only mean it to apply to fencing, and in comparison with those who lose time in going round to avoid leaps they may not like. Go straight for ever; that is, do not go round: but if, without losing anything of the sight of the hunting, you can save distance, I see nothing unsportsmanlike in doing so even for a light weight, for he may be too heavy before he has done. So I say, Go like a good ’un as long as you can : I do not of course mean till your nag is regularly sewed up, without an effort to save him: I mean, go as long as the bellows last; in short, till they begin to squeak; but we must not burst a hole in the leather, or what the deuce shall we do to light the fire again ? Wind is strength; and the want of it pro tem. prostrates the powers of the proudest and the best. The cob, that most beastly of locomotive conveyances for any thing but a sack of grain, would beat Bee's-wing if the puff was taken out of her. Light weights, remember this, and be not surprised when at times you find even 20st. giving you the “go by.” While the wind lasts, weight does not make so great a difference in pace (I mean hunting pace) as people may suppose. I believe it has been pretty well ascertained that the difference between the pace in a charge of our household troops or that of the 7th Hussars is very trifling indeed ; but make that charge a mile, weight would

EFFECT OF WEIGHT, PACE, AND DISTANCE. 49 tell ; not that perhaps the horses would be in one mile positively tired and leg-weary; but the exertion would act on the lungs, and when they become weary it is weary work indeed. It matters not whether increase of pace or increase of weight produces the effect; the effect produced reduces the horse to the same state of inability. Let two men of about equal weight and pretensions in running make a match to run fifty yards, the one to carry a man of moderate weight, say 11st., on his back, the other to run unloaded, but to give the weighted man 25 yards; the loaded man would invariably beat the other, perhaps many yards. Let them make it one hundred, the weight-carrier to be allowed 50 yards, frequent experience has taught us that with men equal in running and strength the man carrying the weight will always win. But make it one hundred and fifty yards, and still allow the same proportion of law to the loaded man, he would then in turn be always beaten: and why? because the supporting muscles and joints would be tired, and the wind exhausted. This shows why the heaviest men will and can go a short burst with the first fight; but the pace continued must beat them; that is, if it is a fast one. It is not entirely the weight that does it, but the weight at the pace : weight and pace no horse breathing can stand long. Still I maintain pace is the real killer. We could scarcely find a man under whom a good and well-bred horse will not go at a really hunting pace for a couple of miles; but we may easily find a pace at which no horse would go the distance under Derby weight.

I conceive that from what I have said as yet, I have in some degree borne out the assertion I made at the commencement of these pages, that the effect of



50 A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION ON WEIGHT. weight on horses is not quite easy to comprehend, when placed in comparison with speed, with good and bad judgment and horsemanship ; nor do I flatter myself with the hope of being able to produce anything like a clear definition of the subject. In my own defence I must be allowed to remind my readers, I neither promised nor even insinuated that I would. I confess there is a mystery about weight I cannot quite understand, nor have I ever found the man who did. And again, the extraordinary powers of some horses, when put in competition with others, will beat all calculation on the subject. I may, however, be quite wrong in this conclusion, but I venture to go on.

A friend of mine, who knew a good deal more than I ever did of sporting matters, though I could not but think sometimes he was a little wild in his opinions, used to say, “ If 7lb. is equal to a distance in a race, what must it be in a day's hunting ?” Now, taking his first propounder as a datum, his sequitur may be quite appropriate and just. I do not pretend to say he was wrong in his first statement; but I certainly do say I doubt in a general way the fact. I can conceive two horses, running in together at a certain weight, might afterwards be so weighted as the 7lb. to be equal to a distance ; but I doubt its being so at the weights and lengths of ordinary racing. But we cannot make any close analogy between weight telling in racing and hunting; for a horse extended as a racehorse is at speed, makes weight tell awfully on him. We will, however, consider this by and by. I am now only considering hunters in speaking of weight.

I believe it is quite an allowed fact by heavy weights, that a horse which has carried them one season well will (supposing him to continue well and

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »