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The bridles generally in use for harness appear to require little or no improvement.
The Bit must be equally adapted to the horse's mouth, &c, as for riding (page 38), except that with harness, while to all appearance using the same kind of bit with a pair of horses, the leverage on the mouths can be altered, by placing the billets or buckle-end of the driving-reins high or low in the cheeks of each, according to the animal's temper, his bearing on it,
In placing the billets in the bit, it should be borne in mind that the more use is made of the curb the more will be taken out of the horse; therefore, when a long journey or severe work has to be done, animals should lie driven in snaffle, or the billets should be placed as near as possible to the mouthpiece of the bit.
Experience only can demonstrate the difference in the wear and tear of the general physique, resulting from a judicious arrangement or otherwise of the reins and bit.
Blinkers.—The question of "blinkers or no blinkers" can best be answered by the observation, that if you can find horses that may be depended upon to work safely and steadily without them, they may be dispensed with; but as such animals are rare, blinkers are likely to continue in general use.
Placing crests or ornaments on blinkers, unless the latter are light and well hollowed, and kept extended in front by stiff blinker-straps, is a practice likely to be injurious to the animals' eyes; in fact, all blinkers, unless light and well hollowed, are dangerous for the eyes, and of course the increased weight of crests and their fastenings aggravates the objection.
Heavy forehead-bands and rosettes, though ornamental, are anything but desirable, as far as the horse himself is concerned.
The Noseband of the harness bridle, like the riding one, can by tightening be made very useful with some descriptions of hard-pulling horses.—See "Noseband," page 42.
The Breastplate, or head-stall martingal, can be made useful in the same way.—See page 40. Throat-lash.—See page 43.
Reins.—Saddlers generally suit the reins admirably to the work for which they are intended. A buff hand-piece with pullers is decidedly preferable to plain leather, as its roughness enables the driver to have a much firmer hold of the reins, but will become slippery in wet.
The Bearing-Rein is only used to keep up a horse's head and give him a showy appearance, therefore no experienced person will use it except with that object, and it is injurious in every other respect.—(See " Broken Knees," pages 52 and 141.)
Crupper.—This strap is intended to keep the terretpad and back-band in their proper places, and to restrain the former from running too far forward or pressing on the withers (see "Sore Withers," page 151); also as a sustainer to the terret-pad against the bearing-rein when the latter is strained into its hook. Grooms have a very improper habit of leaving the whole of the hinder part of the harness suspended in one mass by the crupper-dock on a peg in the wall of the harness-room; this should not be allowed. Let the terret-pad when not in use be always placed across a proper saddle-rack, with the britching and crupper suspended therefrom; or let them, at all events, be put somewhere by themselves.
To put on Harness.—First, while the horse's .head is towards the manger, place the terret-pad loosely across the back—take hold of the tail, and carefully turn down the hair over the end of the flesh; thus grasping and holding the tail and its hair together in the left hand, with the right draw the crupper-doclc over it, and adjust the latter to its place at the root of the tail, being careful not to leave a single loose hair under it. Then arrange your terret-pad in the place where it should work by shortening or lengthening the crupper-strap; which done, tighten the bellyband.*
Now turn the horse in his stall, and, your collar and haines having been hung up close at hand, slip the wide end of the former by itself over the head.
Leave the collar so, on the narrow part of the neck, till you place your hames within the collar-rim, and fasten them thereto by buckling the top strap over the narrow part or top of the collar: now turn the collar and hames round on the neck in the direction of the side over which the mane hangs.
Put on the bridle and attach driving-reins, temporarily doubling their hand-piece through the terrets. Fasten the horse thus harnessed to the pillar-reins till you are ready to "put to."
To take off Harness, begin by removing the reins and bridle; then take off the hames by themselves, then the collar, and lastly the terret-pad and crupper.
* When a hame martingal strap is used, the pad belly-band should not be finally buckled until it has been passed through the other.
In driving, a man should sit up against his work, and be thoroughly propped by his legs and feet, with the left or rein hand held well into his body, in front of or a little below the waist. Nothing looks more ungraceful than to have the reins at arm's-length, held out at a distance from one's chest.
A driver should always be seated before any one else in or about the vehicle; and having carefully taken a firm hold of the reins in his left hand Before mounting his seat, they should so remain, and never be shifted. But should the driver be either obliged or find it convenient to allow others to be seated first, he will then of necessity have to mount from the off or right side, in which case he will in the first place have to take the reins in his right hand until seated, when he will at once transfer them to their proper position in his left.
The whip should invariably be placed in the socket, or be handed carefully to the driver after he has mounted. To mount with it in hand is highly dangerous; the sight of it over the blinkers, or an accidental touch to an animal when the driver is unprepared, may startle and set off a team—while holding a whip in the act of mounting renders that piece of gymnastics doubly awkward to accomplish. All turns and manoeuvres may be effected by the fore-finger (and thumb if necessary) of the right or whip hand, either on the off or the near side rein, according as the direction of the intended movement is towards the right or left.* But in driving four
* Yankee fashion is to drive with a rein in each hand. This style in Ireland is humorously described as "driving with a rein in each hand and a whip in the other."
in-hand, unicorns, or tandems, insert the fourth finger of the whip-hand between the lead and wheel reins on the side you want to pull, to turn or direct your horses.
With four-in-hand the general principle is, while allowing only a certain amount of play to the heads of your leaders, to keep your wheelers well in hand, ready for any sudden emergency, bearing in mind that it is only with them, as they are attached to the pole, that you can stop the carriage.
A driver having occasion to raise his right hand for any purpose, should first place the whip transversely under the thumb of the left or rein hand (above, but upon, one of the reins), leaving the other hand at liberty; indeed, the whip should always lie in this transverse position, whether in the right or the left hand, unless when in use for correction. Many horses are very clever at watching the whip over the blinkers, and careless pointing forward with it may keep a highspirited animal in a continual fret.
To ascertain how each horse is doing his work, judge not only by the test of the willing horse bearing more on your hand; see also how each horse keeps his traces. In whichever case they are slack, you may depend that that horse has no draught upon him; if tight, he is doing his share of the work, or more. A good whip will correct the defaulter so as to avoid annoying the other horse. There is no better criterion of skill in the use of the whip than this.
With the leaders in tandem and four-in-hand, and in low-seated carriages, unless the dash-board be very high, the reins are apt to get under the horses' tails. In such cases, to avoid a kicking match, no immediate attempt