« السابقةمتابعة »
STARS, COMETS, AND HORSES.
coming very near what I have described ; but a heavy weight must not expect anything of the kind, give what he will. Probably the more money a man gives the nearer he will get to the thing: but it is not always the extraordinary powers of a horse that bring the most extraordinary prices. There are many horses of great beauty and of wonderful qualifications carrying whips, that would command any price, but for a something: they are, with all their superior qualifications as to speed and fencing, either perhaps a little uncertain, want getting along, or want holding: these little or great failings make the difference between five hundred and one; and perhaps the hundred-guinea horse can really achieve greater things than the other; but he is not so perfect for a gentleman's riding. Supposing, however, a man lucky enough to have a fortune equal to giving such prices as to entitle him to expect to get a horse capable of doing all horses can do, and that without much attention on the part of his rider; mind, he must not expect to get a stable of such horses. We may see stars every clear night, some brighter than others, but comets are not seen every week or inonth, nor are such horses oftener to be met with; and in truth, if we do get a horse that will or can gratify the aristocratic ease and pride of his owner by doing his business without assistance - of course I mean comparatively without it—this horse could do more if properly assisted; and I really consider it a wanton expenditure of the animal powers of a good horse when we occasion a greater expenditure than is necessary in order to gratify our indolence or vanity: for there is among certain men a good deal of vanity and affectation respecting their horses; and the affec
EVERY ONE HAS HIS HOBBY.
tation of saying, “If a horse cannot take care of himself, his rider will not give himself the trouble of taking care of him,” is but an empty boast, and a little attempt to impress others with an idea of the importance of the boaster. A sensible man, a good horseman, and good sportsman, smiles at the absurdity, and sees through the flimsy veil that only very partially conceals a very weak head and not over kind heart. Few persons admire affectation anywhere or in any person: in a boy or very young man in a drawing-room it may be tolerated ; but in the hunting field it is as misplaced, ridiculous, and in fact disgusting, as stable or kennel observations and conversation would be in a lady's boudoir.
Let us not, however, misconstrue the term “assisting a horse across a country.” We hear persons saying, such a man is very strong on his horse : that he absolutely lifts him over his fences. I am inclined to think this term “lifting" is a little exaggerated; and to doubt whether it is or not the pain the
uffers from a strong arin on the bridle that causes him to make a great exertion to rise at a large fence, and induces people to think his rider has, as it is termed, lifted him over; for with most horses, I conceive it is only his head and neck we lift, and that he lifts his fore-quarters from the signal, or perhaps pain given him. As some attempt at elucidating this, let us place a man astride a four-legged bench of (say) five feet in length and he in the middle of it, of course his feet not touching the ground: we will fasten a pair of strong bridle reins to the end of it: our seated horse, or rather bench, man may lift as long as he pleases, he cannot lift the end of it. Let him put his feet on the ground, he
LIFTING HORSES AT FENCES.
will do so, because he gets a fulcrum from the ground; but this fulcrum he has not on his horse. True, his feet are in the stirrups; that is a fulcrum to a certain degree, and gives power to his arms and loins : but let us remember the fulcrum is still on the horse's back ; so at last it only gives power to pull, not lift. This pull can lift the head, but can no more lift the body, without the exertion of the horse to do so, than it can lift the four-legged stool. Now let us affix a yielding board, a gig-spring, or a green ash stake to the end of the stool, and fix the reins to the end of that; the strength of the muscles and sinews of the rider can raise the end of this : so he can the horse's head and neck, and for the same reason; he is not sitting on the yielding board or spring, or on the horse's neck. Let one man sit on the back of another, and put his hands under the other's chin; he may pull his head back certainly if . he is strong enough; but though he may produce all the effect that Mr. Calcraft could do, he would not in any way lift the man he was sitting on, nor if they were placed in a weighing machine could he cause the man beneath him to make the slightest difference to the machine. Now if he could in the smallest degree lift the other, of course the weight would be lighter on the machine; but it will be found all his lifting does not lift the man one ounce, though he might choke him in trying to do it.
I have seen many huge fellows hauling and mauling at an unfortunate horse's mouth, and because by this they forced him to make great efforts at fences, really imagined they, as they termed it, lifted him over: this they perhaps also termed assisting him. Whether they do so or not, it is a somewhat rude
74 ENGLISH URBANITY EXEMPLIFIED. inode of assistance—something like the manner in which I once heard a friend, indeed a distant relation of my family, relate he did an act of kindness. It happened that in an engagement a French officer fell into his hands : he gave up his sword, but pleaded a young wife and family dependent on him, and begged hard not to be detained prisoner. My relative, though a fine-hearted fellow, was one made of such materials that nothing could polish down. However, the goodness of his heart induced him to accede to the officer's solicitation; but the urbane way he did so, from his own account, was this: on being asked what he did on the occasion, he said, “Oh, I gave the devil a kick, and sent him about his business.” The generosity of the act and the feeling of the heart were commendable, but it was quite done in the hauling, lifting way.
It is quite clear therefore that all the strength a man can exert on a horse's back can only act on the head, neck, and very partially on the fore-quarters ; and, fortunately for the horse, that strength is very limited in proportion to what it would be if the man stood on the ground; were it otherwise, one of our Life Guardsmen, with their powerful bits, would break a horse's jaw. And in further illustration of our not being able to actually lift a horse to the extent generally supposed—or I should rather say, in farther confirmation of my opinion, that it is in a great measure the pain given to the mouth that causes the horse to lift himself - if it was not so, we could make a strong-mouthed horse recover himself as much if we pulled by a halter as by the most powerful bit: we could, in fact, lift him, or assist him in lifting himself, as much by the one as the other;
HUNTERS' MOUTHS MAY BE TOO DELICATE.
but we could not force him as much to lift himself as he will do in yielding to the pressure of a bit. We should therefore regulate the hold we take of a horse's mouth by our experience of the sensibility of that mouth. Some are so tender and delicate that we really cannot afford a horse any assistance at all ; for it is quite clear that if a mouth is so delicate (which some are) that a horse will not bear a pull that would break a packthread, we must either put him to absolute torture, or we can in point of assistance afford him little or none; and this is one reason why I consider a hunter's mouth may be too light. We can of course so bit him as in a great measure to remedy this; but if a horse will not even pull fairly at an easy snaffle, I consider this a failing in a hunter. By pain we can make such a horse do what we want, but we cannot help him to do it. In using the term “ assisting,” or helping a horse across a country, we must take the term in two senses : first, actually in a limited degree helping him; and secondly, helping him, by preventing him doing that which would distress himself unnecessarily, or endanger the neck of his rider, and in some cases his own. For instance: on a horse alighting, or, in hunting phrase, landing from a drop leap, it rarely if ever happens that all his legs come to the ground at the same moment; consequently his fore-legs have for a time to support the whole shock, not merely of his own specific weight, but that increased by the velocity with which he comes over, and farther still by the weight of his rider. This leap he would generally perform with safety with no weight on his back; but not always then; for I am sure many of my brother sportsmen have seen every hound come on their heads or chests