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HITTING THE NAIL ARIGHT.
fact was, she had always been put in too good company; and though in shape and make perfect, and a little epitome of beauty, her owner feared four-yearold weight would stop her : she was under fifteen hands. I sent for an acquaintance of mine who loves a little leather-plating, telling him the circumstances that induced the owner to sell her, and venturing an opinion, that, though a dwarf, she could go on. He came and bought her, and last year at Southampton Races he told me she had been one of the luckiest little animals he ever had : adding, “at high weight I was hardly ever beat on her.” Her forte had never been found out as a three-year-old; and had she run till Doomsday at light weights she would have been at best a respectable third or fourth. I must add, that the gentleman to whom I sold her trains and rides for HIMSELF; at least he rides at anything over 9st. The mare before had always been in public training stables ; whether there had been less attention shown in one place than another, I do not feel justified in giving an opinion upon. I merely state facts—the mare hardly ever won a race under one treatment, and hardly ever lost one under another.
Trainers, giving them credit for the best intentions, are very apt to have favourite habits, which they adhere to in a great degree with all horses indiscriminately. Some (not many) stuff their horses ; others half starve them: some bring them out full high in flesh from want of work; others bring them to the post skeletons from giving them too much. Some bring nearly every horse outin such condition as a race-horse should be, but, what is the greatest, I may say only, difficulty in training, · is the getting horses in such condition as each particular horse should be in; which may be either with a good
APPEARANCES FREQUENTLY MISLEAD.
deal on him, or drawn fine. Any man accustomed to look at race-horses can judge whether a horse appears to be in that condition a horse should be on coming to the post ; but I am quite clear no man but the trainer can tell whether a horse is or is not in that state he (that is, this particular horse) should be. We can judge tolerably accurately by the look and feel whether a horse is in health or sound; but we are sometimes deceived even here ; for I have known horses at their best whose muscles would feel soft and all but flabby, instead of being elastic and firm to the touch ; nor could any care make them otherwise, or even give them a coat as good as many hacks. Still such horses may be as fit to go as they can be made: but if a horse, feeling and looking in such suspicious condition, had only received the general treatment of horses of his class both as to stable management and exercise, the person who trained him would not have done his duty, for no man should be satisfied with such condition unless he had tried every change of treatment training admits of, and found that none could improve such a horse.
To show that even trainers as well as owners sometimes think once without thinking twice, I remember seeing a lot of young ones running together, perhaps about a dozen : two of them were in the Derby ; the winner was one of the two: he won by about half a length; all the others well up. The trainer remarked that this would put the owner of the winner in good spirits for the Derby. He rather stared at me when I said, “if I was the owner it would put me out of spirits.” I went upon this principle—I never saw twelve very superior ones together in my life (as young ones ) ; nor do I believe any man has. When
98 WHERE `APPEARANCES MAY BE TRUSTED. I say superior, I mean good enough to induce a man to consider them as likely to win a Derby. The inference I therefore drew was, they could not be all very good, nor could they be all execrably bad ; therefore, as they were by running pretty much on a par, it followed they were a middling lot ; and a horse beating with difficulty such a field need not raise him much in our estimation.
A feeling like this would always actuate me in looking at a string of horses in training. As to condition, if I saw them all or nearly all very high, I should infer they were short of work: if I found them all very light, I should suspect they got too much: if they were thin and looking bad in their coats too, I should say they were starved and mismanaged into the bargain : for, like the young ones in their running, is a stable of horses in their constitutions and stamina; they cannot be all of such strong constitution that proper work will not bring them into proper form ; nor can they be all so delicate that with work proportioned to their strength they cannot be brought up to the mark. I think then, under such circumstances, it would be fair to infer that the trainers of these two stables of horses were, the one addicted to give too little work, the other too much, though both in other respects good trainers, and both perhaps doing as they thought the best for their horses. As to the man whose horses look generally out of condition, and I do know one or two of this sort, he must be either superlatively unlucky or sufficiently stupid, careless, or dishonest, or all three ; for, with now and then an exception, every horse is to be got up to his mark somehow. He may be light, very light, or he may look all but fat, but he will be in condition. I say look fat, 99
: HORSES AND CHILDREN AT SCHOOL. for looking fat and being so are quite different things. We cannot look into a horse's inside; but his state at the end of his gallop will tell what is or what is not there. Too much of human flesh on a horse's back is bad enough; too much horse-flesh on his body is worse: but horse fat on his inside puts him outside of even a chance for a race; and unless we wish to put him under the turf, in such a state we had better not attempt to let him run over it. '
That there are advantages as well as disadvantages attending horses standing in public training stables in lieu of private ones, we all know. I am not now intending to enumerate either; but I must make a passing remark or two on the subject ; and though this has nothing to do with “the effect of weight on horses,” it has with other things that affect them quite as much.
I have always considered a horse away from his owner and in a public training stable to be situated very much like a child placed at school ; with this exception, that, to do trainers of race-horses justice, I really consider that their pupils generally are much better off than the pupils of school trainers. In the first place, young race-horses with very few exceptions get the very best of food at every feed, and plenty of it; the young gentlemen (or indeed ladies) with very few exceptions get just the reverse. If the racing pupil is a little out of sorts, no variety of nourishment is grudged, however expensive, to tempt his flagging appetite: in school training establishments, if their pupil is amiss, water-gruel diet is universally resorted to as a remedy: it keeps off fever; so it does the beef and mutton. It is very singular that water-gruel should be required for all
100 HORSES AND CHILDREN WORKING IN CLASSES.
school complaints, and that, however weak or debilitated a pupil may be, a couple of glasses of Port wine or good strong soup should never be necessary : at least I conclude they are not, for I never hear of such things being offered by these trainers.
In these particulars we must fairly allow horses are very well off in public training stables, indeed, much better than pupils in the training schools ; while at the same time these schools give a hint that it would be wise in trainers of race-horses to act more upon than I think they generally do—that is, to work their pupils in classes according to their qualifications as well as their age; for two-year-olds and three-year-olds in horses, like eight and ten years old in boys or girls, are not all to be worked according to age, but to ability to work. In both cases, I am quite satisfied the weak are often made worse from being put to what they are incompetent to perform, while the able are often kept back from the want of their energies being properly called into action. Now the race-horse is not bodily punished by his trainer for not doing what it is out of his power to accomplish: here is shown more sense and more humanity than the school trainer evinces, who with an inert pupil, instead of stimulating him to increased exertion by persuasion and encouragement, sets about stimulating a part that I conceive can have very little to do with learning. This may show the pedagogue to be at bottom a painstaking man, but his fundamental principle is bad; so are many other principles in such establishments, in most public establishments, and consequently in public racing establishments. If, therefore, children when unwatched by the parent's eye, suffer much, which they unquestionably do, from