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76 HEADS MAY BE HELD TOO HIGH. on alighting from a deep leap. We are therefore compelled on a horse's landing to act with a little severity for self-preservation, in order both to assist and force him to recover himself. But this, if a horse's mouth is so light that he will throw up his head, we cannot do; for, as I said in an article I wrote on martingales, throwing up the head is not lifting up the fore-quarters; and that is what all our safety depends upon in such a situation as this. Even where a martingale is not, I allow desirable, it is better than letting him throw up his head. If we keep his head in its place, be it even by a martingale, we can support him, and do something ; but if he gets his head up, we can do nothing ; and though we feel him likely to go on his knees and roll over, go he must, for we can neither help nor force him to make increased exertion to help himself.
There are few situations, if any, where a close seat is so necessary as in a drop leap. I have seen many otherwise good riders whose seat was so loose as to leave space to put a loaf between their fork and the saddle in going over a leap : such riders, on their horse landing, come whap down on their horse's back, mostly rather inclining forwards : and with slack reins, it can only be good luck that saves them when they do not get a roll. The man with a close seat goes. over upright on his horse, and on his landing, with his hands in their place and his body thrown back, with great part of his weight taken off his horse's fore part, he gives him a pull and a bit of a twist into his gallop, and away he sails again.
Assisting horses also comprehends the preventing them taking too much out of themselves by making unnecessary exertion at fences, and also by making
A SHORT STRIDE A STROKE OF POLICY.
them go within themselves. This, with a heavy weight on them, should be particularly attended to, and, more than all, in putting a horse at a fence. We may spin him to it as free and as fast as we like, if we do not want him to jump high ; but care should be taken to make him go at it with a shortened stride ; for a horse going up to a fence, taking perhaps sixteen or seventeen feet each stroke, can scarcely collect himself so as to take off to a certainty at the precisely proper place. We will suppose a lengthy horse going thus striding along up to a brook, say of fourteen or fifteen feet, and supposing his last stride brought his fore feet within ten feet of the bank, he could hardly be able to collect himself so as to take another short stride before taking off; consequently he would, to clear the leap, have twenty-seven feet to jump, when seventeen would do if he took off as close as he might do; and probably it may require as much exertion to take twenty-seven feet with 12st , as it would to take seventeen with 16st. on him. This we perhaps cannot prove to be or not to be the fact; but we can very easily judge, that if heavy weights did let their horses make these uncalled-for exertions, they could · not be carried as they are. It is bad enough when
they are occasionally obliged to call upon their horses for such unnatural exertions; but they must be, and are (such as ride well) very careful not to call oftener than they can help, or they would soon find their nag “not at home.”
There is an experiment relative to weight that I never saw tried, nor have I heard of its ever having been tried, but I certainly will make it, which is this. I will put a 16st. man on a horse equal to his weight, and a high wide jumper; then make up a 78 TEMPORARY EXERTION AND CONTINUED EXERTION.
fence, say of furze fagots, and see what width he can carry this weight over; then put 11st. on him, and see the difference it makes in the horse's powers of jumping. If this be tried with three or four horses, we should come a little at the effect (on an average) the weight in this particular makes; and this I do not think has ever been ascertained. I am inclined to think that the horse being fresh, the difference that weight would make for a temporary exertion would not be so great as might be imagined: it is in continued exertion where it tells such tales.
I have stated thus much on the power of carrying weight; let us now look at it as regarding the racehorse. There is no comparison between the effect it has on a horse in a race and in crossing a country. Let a man of 11st. or 12st., whose horse is as equal to his weight as a hunter should be — by which I mean, he should always be equal to a stone more than he is bought to carry — put a saddle-cloth under his saddle loaded with fourteen pounds of shot; probably he would find little or no difference in his horse in the chase : put it on in a race, and it in most cases would make it a horse to a hen. This arises from two causes: first, weight telling so much more on a horse when extended than when going within himself: and secondly, because the race-horse is called on to the utmost extent of his powers: he could not last at it five minutes. A race-horse, in making severe running, may appear to be going at the top of his speed, and he is going at the top of the speed he can go on at; but no race-horse was ever at his very best for half a minute. No one ever ascertained at what pace a race-horse can go for a very short distance. Eclipse and Flying Childers are reported to have done a mile
" THE LAST POUND BREAKS THE MARE'S BACK.” 79
in a minute. This, of course, is at the rate of sixty miles an hour (supposing them to have done it), but then it merely shows in how short a space of time they could do a mile, but in no way shows how fast they could go. If they could do a mile in a minute, I have no doubt, that, instead of the rate of sixty miles an hour being their speed, they could do perhaps half a distance at the rate of a hundred; and I think it very probable that where, as it is sometimes the case in a slow-run short race, horses are quite fresh when called on at the finish, they often do go a hundred yards at that pace. I believe it requires little argument to prove, that if a horse is doing his best, he can do no more; so, supposing two horses, each carrying Sst. 7lb., or any other weight, have run a dead heat, by which we will conclude each had done his very best, neither being able to do more; if we put two pounds additional on either, he must lose. A tea-spoonful of wine will not make a perceptible difference in a large glass half full: when apparently full to the brim, we know the glass will hold considerably more, because, like the race-horse being as we imagine at his best when he is not so, the glass looks full, but is not so; but if we really fill it and could divide a drop, one half of that drop would cause it to run over: so when a horse has so much on his back that the extent of his speed and powers only enables him to run a dead heat with another, a pound would lose it. This is, I allow, an extreme case; but something very near it constantly occurs in racing; and where horses are very equally matched, each being at his very best, a mere trifle of weight must turn the scale. Where a race is won easily, we can only guess at what would bring horses toge80 WEIGHT TELLS ACCORDING TO CIRCUMSTANCES. ther. With some, 7 lb. would do it to a certainty, while in another case, even a stone would not be too much, enormous as the addition would be with horses of the same year: but even with race-horses, to whom weight is of much greater import than with any other, the effect of additional weight depends greatly -- I will not say entirely, though it is very near it — on the weight previously put up. Match Alice Hawthorn with a good fair strong slowish horse at 8st. each, you may bet 50 to 1 in ponies, and give a man 10 sovs. to make the bet'; put 9st. or 10st. on them, she would win, or we will suppose she would; make it twelve, the slow one becomes, not, as the saying is, a horse of another colour, but a horse of quite different qualifications, and possibly would win easy.
We will suppose a lot of three-year-olds running together, carrying (we will say) 8st. and 8st.3lb. We have a pretty close race with three of them, a good fourth, and a respectable fifth, the others tailed off. We may naturally infer, that, supposing all to have been fit to go on the day, and that no particular event happened during the race to any of them, the winning horse and second were the two fastest horses: they were most undoubtedly the fastest in that race, at that weight, run as that race was, and at that particular distance, say a mile and a half; but as animals, it is by no means impossible that one of the not placed may in him or herself be by far the fastest of the lot; that little mystic gentleman weight, without any of the confederacy or sleight of hand of the Wizard of the North, would (perhaps merely by a little subtraction or addition of vulgar human flesh or shot, which stops race-horses as well as partridges) make as great a