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THE HORSE OF TROY AND ECLIPSE. but it is better (though but little better) than following the Frenchman: so to hit off the hunted fox, I make a cast back. “Whenever you do so, Huntsman, do it quickly:" so do I.
I consider the materials of which a thorough-bred or even a highly-bred horse is made to differ as much in quality from those of which a regular cob is made, as good tough lancewood from elm, or whipcord from common rope ; and in one way this accounts for the lancewood and whipcord animal being absolutely, independently of other attributes, physically stronger than the one of elm and rope, if the proportions of each are at all the same. I do not remember, I ever heard, of what materials the famous horse of Troy was made. Certes, he was as renowned in one way as Eclipse was in another; still the materials of which the former was made it seemed answered the purpose, however coarse they may have been; for very coarse stuff would do for a nag to carry a hundred men in his belly: but to carry (in our days) one on his back as he ought to be carried requires material of the first order, and of such is the high-bred horse made. In using the term physical strength, I do not of course mean to infer, that, to pull a dead weight, Economist could equal a good strong cart-horse: but even here practice goes a long way; and get Economist accustomed to the duty of the cart-horse, he would be found much stronger than his appearance would lead us to suppose. The cart-horse on a level road will walk along with two tons after him: Economist I dare say could not, and certainly would not; but use him to the thing, I doubt not his being able to draw thirty hundred. This is only sheer strength, like that of the elephant; but it is where strength is 62
combined with pace that the thorough-bred shows his matchless powers.
I remember once taking the reins, or, in road phrase, “ working" for a few stages on one of our heavy six-in coaches. Now three tons we will allow a tolerably decent weight for four horses to trot along with. I thought the coach heavy, and had the curiosity to drive on to a weighing-bridge: three tons seven hundred was our weight, a pretty good dose at even the moderate pace of eight miles an hour; and, let me tell those who know even less than I of such matters, a pretty good dose “ for he wot drives them.” Over thirteen miles of this ground I was accommodated with four as seemingly sound ablebodied horses as could be seen, and positively fat. I shook my head at the team, and no more liked them than I subsequently found they did the coach or the stage. The horse-keepers had no difficulty in getting off the quarter-cloths in time: God knows, had a roller been on over them they could have unbuckled it. I soon found a little “ waking up” was necessary; but I as soon found that this waking up was not to be accomplished by a hint: nothing but a stroke (and that ditto) that would flay the hide of a whale had any effect; and then unless the ears and inside the thigh were visited in the quickest succession, the two fore legs would have stood still while you were giving an accelerator to the hind ones. Save me from able-bodied horses! They rolled along, however, somehow, and did their thirteen miles in the allotted time. I know they also pretty nearly did me. The next was a kind of make-up-time stage: four light goodish-looking nags were put to; they scratched along over a nine-mile stage without any trouble in
A VARMINT TEAM. fifty-five minutes, allowing the coachman, guard, and the pro temp. coachman five minutes to take some tea. The next was a middle stage, and, as it is generally managed in such situations, all the cripples of the establishment were kept for this and the next stage, each about six miles. Here, as is always the case where the coachman at one end devils them up, and the one at the other devils them down, they had not much waste and spare on them, but in point of wind they were fit to race; not the vestige of a sound leg among them; in short, had they attempted the impossibility of trotting before they had got a little on their legs they would have broken their necks; but four more wicked varmint-looking ones I never saw: in fact, I should say they were one and all thorough-bred. To look at their legs many would suppose it would be impossible they could go. I can only say, after being put to the coach, it was very difficult to get them to stand still. One required a man exclusively at her head, and amused herself by kicking at the bars till she was off. None of these wanted a word from a coachman at starting; the “ right from the guard was enough. Over the whole stage not a horse wanted to feel the whip, or if it was gently passed over him, he did not want telling twice. I do not exactly know what they thought, but I thought they had made up their minds to give their new coachman as great a “waking up” as he had given the able-bodied ones; they were sound enough, for like many others, they were not good enough to make themselves or be made otherwise, For this they deserved as much credit as some most chaste mortals who boast of their adherence to virtue, when they are so merely because the blessed coolness of 64
66 TO LADIES' EYES, A ROUND, BOYS."
their temperament affords them no inducement to do otherwise. I hate absolute vice, but I love a little bit of a sinner in horse or man, and, “name it not, ye chaste stars,” I fear also sometimes a very little bit of a one in woman. I love a little deviation from a beaten path, whether it be the path of rigid right, or the one we daily tread in our pilgrimage through life. Heaven knows a monotonous and weary one it would be if we did not sometimes stray a little from its lengthened course in search of the very few flowers that bloom beside us. I love a little deviation even from strict beauty. I love a squint — that is, some squints in some women: I do not mean a pair of ogles that turn simultaneously so far into the nose that we are inclined to say, “God send you safe back again !” but a little roguish cast, that speaks of a little wickedness, and says, “but for a something I certainly would,” delightful. We have only to do away with that something, and then ...... I mean no harm, Ladies; I mean then we will return to the three teams I was writing about, a subject much more suited to the pen, though not to the wishes, of Harry HIE'OVER than ladies' eyes.
I have mentioned the three different teams merely to show what blood and its usual attendant, resolution, will do even with a heavy weight to bring along. It may be said the light horses had short stages ; granted: but if the ground had been a level one over the thirteen miles, I am satisfied the blood would have told equally : indeed, it is in lengthened exertion where breeding tells the most: no cocktail can race four miles. But to return to the thirteen miles at eight miles an hour. Over that particular stage I do not think the lightest of the teams could have got along, not from the length,
LUGGAGE TRAIN PASSENGERS.
65 but because there were two or three hills that could only be done at a jog trot, and required regular cart-horse pulling and strength to get up. I do not mean to say Sir Hercules could in a walk carry as much flour as a miller's horse ; but he would beat him into fits, and bring him to a stand-still, with 17st. on each of their backs in a gallop: and when a man weighs more, let me remind him that railroads go very fast, and that particular trains will carry him very cheap: if he weighs more, there are luggagetrains.
But, suppose our friend not reduced to this extremity, and to be merely -- forgive me, spirits of departed horses, for saying merely – 16st. : never let such a man be persuaded into buying a slow horse because he looks or is a strong one: he will be told he is “a sticker ;" he will find him so; he will stick in the middle of a field with him, and he will find his nag's adhesive qualities very difficult to remove. Speed, so far as it can be got, with sufficient strength, is the first thing a heavy man should look for, and for a very simple reason : it is quite enough for a horse to be distressed by weight, but if he is a slow one he will be distressed by pace also. It is for this reason horses apparently overweighted get along; for independently of many of those (like men) being much stronger than they look, they not being, like the slow one, going at their best, they are not beat by pace: the slow one would be if turned loose. I am quite satisfied in my own mind that horses that pull hard carry weight better than those which do not. In the first place, such horses of course have not tender delicate mouths; so they can be assisted without putting them to pain. A very light-mouthed horse is