« ForrigeFortsett »
that his strength gives him an advantage over his master—man. Unconsciously deprived of his power of resistance, his courage vanishes; the spirit which rose against all accountable efforts to subdue it, that would scorn to yield to overweight, pace, work, or any other evidence of man's power, and which in the well-dispositioned animal causes him to strain every nerve to meet what is required of him rather than succumb, is by Rarey's system subdued through a ruse so effected that the power which overwhelms all the creature's efforts at resistance appears to originate and be identified with the man who can thus, for the first time, take liberties with him, which he has lost the power of resenting; and man thenceforward becomes his master. The method pursued by Mr Rarey in subduing such a vicious and ungovernable horse as Cruiser, is this : Placing himself under a waggon laden with hay, to which the animal is partly coaxed, partly led by guideropes, and stealing his fingers through the spokes of the waggon-wheel, he raises and gently straps up one fore leg, and fastens a long strap round the fetlock of the other, the end of which he holds in his hand and checks when necessary. The beast, thus unconsciously tampered with, is quite disposed to resent in his usual style the subsequent impertinent familiarities of his tamer; but being by the foregoing precautions cast prostrate on his first attempt to move, and finding all his efforts to regain his liberty and carry out reprisals abortive, worn-out and hopeless, he at length yields himself helplessly to his victor's obliging attentions, of sitting on him as he lies, drumming and fiddling in his ears, &c., and is thenceforward man's obedient and tractable servant.
There is no doubt that Mr Rarey's plan of thus overcoming the unruly or vicious beast by mild but effectual means, is the right one to gain the point, as far as it goes; but breaking him in to saddle or draught, improving his paces, or having ability in riding or driving any horse judiciously, must be considered another affair, and only to be acquired through more or less competent instruction, and by practice combined with taste.
In training, the use of a dumb jockey * will be found most serviceable to get the head into proper position, and to bend the neck. Two hours a-day in this gear, while the horse is either loose in a box or fastened to the pillar-reins if in a stall, will not at all interfere with his regular training, exercise, or work, and will materially aid the former result.
I greatly advocate the use of the dumb jockey without springs, even with formed horses, who, being daily used to it, need no such adjuncts as bearing-reins, but will arch their necks, work nicely on the bit, and exhibit an altered show and style in action that is very admirable in a gentleman's equipage.
Should my reader be much interested in breaking-in rough colts, I recommend him to consult “Stonehenge,' by J. H. Walsh, F.R.C.S., editor of the 'Field.'
Training for Draught.—Before the first trial in the break-carriage, give your horse from half-an-hour to an hour's quiet ringing in the harness, to which he should have been previously made accustomed by wearing it for a couple of hours the two or three preceding days. The first start should be in a regular break, or strong but inexpensive vehicle, and stout harness, with also saving-collar, knee-caps, and kicking-strap-no bearingrein. He should be led by ropes or reins (in single harness on both sides of the head), and tried on a level, or rather down than up a slight inclination. The place selected should be one where there is plenty of unoccupied roadway.
* The old-fashioned pattern, with leather gear, is, after all, the best, as proved by the most practical men of the day.
Better begin in double harness, and let the breakhorse with which the driver is to start the carriage be strong and willing, so as to pull away the untried one.
The Neck usually suffers during the first few lessons in training to harness; and until that part of it where the collar wears becomes thoroughly hardened by use, it should be bathed with a strong solution of salt and water before the collar is taken off, that there may be no mistake about its being done at once. Should there be the least abrasion of the skin, do not use salt and water, but a wash of 1 scruple chloride of zinc to 1 pint of water, dabbed on the sore every two or three hours with fine linen rag, and give rest from collar-work till healed; then harden with salt and water; and when the scab has disappeared, and the horse is fit for harness, chamber the collar over the affected part, and employ for a while a saving-collar. A sore neck will produce a jibbing horse, and therefore requires to be closely attended to in his training.
It is desirable that a master should appoint a particular place for the exercising of his horses, coupled with strict injunctions to his groom on no account to leave it. No master should give his servants the option of going where they please to exercise, their favourite resort being often the precincts of a public-house, with a sharp gallop round the most impracticable corners to make up the time. An occasional visit of the master to the exercising ground is a very salutary check upon such proceedings.
The best possible exercise for a horse is walking—the sod or any soft elastic surface being better than the road for the purpose ; and if the latter only is available, use knee-caps as a safeguard.
Two hours' daily exercise (if he gets it) at a fast walk will be enough to keep a hack fit for his work; and it is usual with some experienced field-horsemen never to allow their hunters, when once up to their work, to get any but walking exercise for as much as four hours daily, two hours at a time—that is, when they desire to keep them “fit.”
Ladies' and elderly gentlemen's horses ought most particularly to be exercised, and not overfed, to keep them tame and tractable, and to guard against accidents.
The foregoing directions refer to the preparations for the master's work, and are what I should give my groom.
Sweating.-In case it is desirable to prepare an animal for any extraordinary exertion, the readiest, safest, and most judicious means is by sweating, carefully proceeded with, by using two or three sets of body-clothes, an empty stomach being indispensable for the process, and a riding-school, if available, the best place for the necessary exercise,-a sweat being thus sooner obtained free from cold air, and the soft footing of such a place
saving the jar on the legs more even than the sod in the field, unless it happen to be very soft.
Sweating is a peculiarly healthy process for either man or beast; and to judge of the benefit derived by a horse through that means, from the effect of a heavy perspiration through exercise on one's self, there seems little doubt that it is very renewing to the physique.
Ringing or Loungeing with a cavesson, though not ordinarily adopted, except by the trainer, is nevertheless most useful as a means of exercise. It is a very suitable manner of “ taking the rough edge off,” or bringing down the superabundant spirits of horses that have been confined to the stable for some time by weather or other similar cause producing restiveness, and is peculiarly adapted for exercising harness-horses where it may not be safe or expedient to ride them.
The master on the road or in the field using bis bearer for convenience or pleasure, will do him less injury in a day than a thoughtless ignorant servant will contrive to accomplish in an hour when only required to exercise the beast.
To the advice already given, never to allow your horses to be galloped or cantered on a hard surface, it is well to add, refrain from doing so yourself. On the elastic turf these paces do comparatively little harm; but for the road, and indeed all ordinary usage, except hunting or racing, the trot or walk is the proper pace. My impression coincides with that of many experienced sportsmen, that one mile of a canter on a hard surface