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does more injury to the frame and legs of a horse, than twenty miles' walk and trot: for this reason, that in the act of walking or trotting the off fore and near hind feet are on the ground at the same moment alternately with the other two, thus dividing the pressure of weight and propulsion on the legs more than even ambling, which is a lateral motion ; while in anything approaching to the canter or gallop, the two fore feet and legs have at the same moment to bear the entire weight of man and horse, as well as the jar of the act of propulsion from behind.
Ambling is a favourite pace with the Americans, whose horses are trained to it; also with the Easterns. It is, as before mentioned, a lateral motion, much less injurious to the wear and tear of the legs than either canter or gallop on the hard road, the off fore and hind being on the ground alternately with the near fore and hind legs.
Though unsightly to an Englishman's eyes, this pace is decidedly the easiest of all to the rider, and may be accelerated from four to six or eight miles an hour without the least inconvenience. Some American horses are taught to excel in this pace, so as to beat regular trotters.
By trotting a horse you do him comparatively little injury on the road ; but observe the animal that has · been constantly ridden by ladies (at watering-places and
elsewhere), who are so fond of the canter : he stands over, and is decidedly shaky on his legs, although the weight on his back has been generally light. Observe, on the contrary, the bearer of the experienced horseman ; although the weight he had to carry may have been probably what is called “a welter,” his legs are right enough.
The softness of the turf, as fitting it for the indulgence of a gallop, is indicated by the depth of the horse-tracks; there is not much impression left on a hard road.
It should be always borne in mind that “it is the pace that kills,” and unless the wear and tear of horse-flesh be a matter of no consideration, according as the pace is increased from that of five or six miles per hour, so should the distance for the animal's day's work be diminished.
For instance, if you require him to do seven miles in the hour daily, that seven miles must always be considered as full work for the day; if you purpose going eight miles per hour, your horse should only travel six miles daily at that rate ; if faster still, five miles only should be your bearer's limit; if at a ten-mile rate, then four miles; or at a twelve-mile rate, three miles per day. But of course such regulations apply to daily work only, as a horse is capable of accomplishing a great deal more without injury, if only called upon to do so occasionally.
A man may require to do a day's journey of thirty miles, or a day's hunting, and such work being only occasional, no harm whatever to the animal need result; but about eight or ten miles a-day at an alternate walk or trot (say six-miles-an-hour pace) is as much as any. valuable animal ought to do if worked regularly.
No horse ought to be hunted more than twice a-week at the utmost.
The work of horses, especially when ridden, ought to be so managed that the latter part of the journey may be done in a walk, so that they may be brought in cool.
A horse in the saddle is capable of travelling a hundred miles, or even more, in twenty-four hours, if required; and if the weight be light, and the rider judicious, such feats may be done occasionally without injury : but if a journey of a hundred miles be contemplated, it is better to take three days for its performance, each day's journey of over thirty miles being divided into two equal portions, and got through early in the morning and late in the afternoon; the pace an alternate walk and trot at the rate of about five miles an hour, to vary it, as continuous walking for so long as a couple of hours when travelling on the road, may prove so tiresome that horses would require watching to keep them on their legs; and it is good for both horse and man that the latter should dismount and take the whole, or nearly the whole, of the walking part on his own feet, thus not only relieving his bearer from the continual pressure of the rider's weight on the saddle on his back, but as a man when riding and walking brings into play two completely distinct sets of muscles, he will, though a little tired from walking, find himself on remounting positively refreshed from that change of exercise.
This recommendation is equally applicable to the hunting-field at any check, or when there is the least opportunity. So well is the truth of the above remark known to the most experienced horsemen, that some of them, steeplechase riders, make it a practice before riding a severe race to walk rapidly from five to ten miles to the course, in preference to making use of any of the many vehicles always at their disposal on such occasions.
It is only surprising that the expediency of making
dragoons dismount and walk beside their horses on a march, at least part of the way, for distances of one or two miles at a time, is not more apparent to those in authority (many of them practical men), in whose power it lies to make a regulation so very salutary for both man and horse. The more the beneficial effect of such an arrangement is considered, the more desirable it would appear to be, especially in dry weather. The great occasional relief to an overweighted horse of being divested of his rider now and then, would rather serve than injure the latter, on account of the variety of exercise, as before remarked, while his handling of the horse would decidedly be enlivened by the change.
Signals of Distress on increased pace.—Prominently may be mentioned a horse becoming winded, or, as sportsmen call it, having “bellows to mend,” which in proper hands ought seldom to occur, even in the hunting-field, as there are tokens which precede it—such as the creature hanging on his work, poking his head backwards and forwards, describing a sort of semicircle with his nose, gaping, the ears lopping, &c.
Some horsemen are in the habit of giving ale or porter (from a pint to a quart of either) to their horses during severe work. This is not at all a bad plan, if the beast will take it; and as many masters are fond of petting their animals with biscuit or bread, a piece of either being occasionally soaked in one of the above liquids when given, will accustom the creature so trained to the taste of them.
After the work is over a little well-made gruel is a great restorative ; and when a long journey is completed, a bran-mash might be given, as mentioned under the head of “ Feeding,” page 22.
One of the worst results to be dreaded from a horse going long journeys daily, is fever in the feet (page 132), which may be obviated by stopping the fore feet directly they are picked and washed out at the end of each day's journey.--See page 13.
After a long journey, it would be desirable to have the animal's fore shoes at Icast removed.
The saddle ought not to be taken off for some time after work; the longer it has been under the rider, and the more severe the work, the longer, comparatively, it should remain on after use, in order to avoid that frightful result which is most like to ensue from its being quickly removed—viz., sore back. With cavalry, saddles are left on for an hour or more after the return from a field-day or march.
A numna or absorbing sweat-cloth under the saddle is in cases of hard or continued work a great preservative against sore back.
When an extraordinary day's work has been done, after the horse is cleaned and fed he should be at once bedded down, and left to rest in quiet, interrupted only to be fed.
Every horseman before he mounts should observe closely whether his horse is properly saddled and bridled.
Bits must be invariably of wrought steel, and the mouthpiece in all bits should fit the horse's mouth exactly in its width : the bit that is made to fit a sixteen-hands-high is surely too large for a fourteen-hand cob. The bit ought to lie just above the tusk in a