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should be made to replace the reins while they are confined; but a very light lash of the whip on the leg will engage the attention of the animal, and while the tail is switched up on the touch of the lash, the reins may be released. Horses should always be kept well in hand, unless that, upon a long and tiresome journey, some consideration may be shown for what they have to go through. Under such circumstances, attention may well be directed to the manner the billets are placed in the bit (page 62).
On the level a fair pace can be maintained, but up hill no merciful man will ever press his beasts. When a heavy load has to be drawn up a sharp short hill, it is not a bad plan to cheat the horse out of the first half of it by going at it with an impetus, suffering the pace to merge into a walk without further pressure as the first impetus declines.
When the ascent is long and gradual, horses should be allowed to walk the whole way, which can always be admitted of on ordinary roads, where the pace is not intended to exceed eight miles an hour, as the speed may be accelerated when the fall of ground is reached, without distressing the animals.
Let a man suppose himself to be obliged to wheel a hand-cart with a heavy burden for a given distance within a given time, on an undulating roadway, and he will soon discover the course he would pursue to effect his object ; he would certainly save himself by going very slowly up the hills, and make up the time and distance with most ease by rolling the vehicle at a rapid rate down the declivities. Let the principle of working thus exemplified be always applied to the usage of horses in harness.
An old driving maxim may be added, though not recommended by the metre :
“ Up the hill spare me ;
Down the hill let me run and bear me ;
“ Walk me a mile out and a mile in ;
In the stable forget me not.” I have driven a great deal in my life, and have never met with an accident from driving at a fair trot down a moderate hill, with plenty of road-room, and no turning to be made till after gaining the level, the team being well in hand throughout.
This observation applies equally to any number of horses ; but with tandem or four-in-hand the wheelers should be held particularly tight, and the leaders pulled back.
If, in descending a hill, the wheel can be drawn along rough stones without the horses being also brought on them, it is desirable to avail of such a drag. · In such hilly countries as Wales, Devon, &c., the constant use of a skid is indispensable. The uninitiated may not quarrel with me for reminding them of the necessity for keeping always to their own or the left side of the road (the right on the Continent, in America, and other countries). In turning a corner, however, if it be to the left you intend going, before you make your turn get from your proper side of the road a little towards the right, if possible, and from thence make your turn, by which means you will more easily reach the left, or your proper side, of the new route you intend to take, besides being able to see everything that is approaching on the other. To turn a right angle you must have space accordingly, and it is better to make use of that which you see insured to you than to be depending on that which is uncertain.
It is hardly necessary to remark that it is infinitely safer to make your turns at a slow pace than faster. Turning quickly round corners is reckless work, but the faster your pace the more necessary it is to get to the wrong side of the road when turning to the left before you make your turn to the new, or before entering a narrow gateway or passage. When the turn is to the right, you will keep to your own or left side of the road.
Where a narrow gateway has to be entered with four wheels, having brought your vehicle fairly in front of it, place your pole directly over the centre or bolt stone; in the absence of this guide, mark with your eye some object in the centre, and bring your pole right over it. The wheels will take care of themselves, if there is at all room for the carriage.
With single harness the horse is brought direct at the gate, and kept very straight, bis hind feet passing over the centre object.
In driving through crowded streets or in a narrow way, especially with vehicles coming rapidly towards you, and every prospect of a collision, take a stronger hold of your horses, and moderate your pace, remembering that, if you cannot avoid grief, the less the impetus the less the crash, if it should come. This result is amusingly exemplified by the stage-coachman's definition of the difference between the results of road and rail accidents. Coachey says, “If even an upset occur on the road, there you are ; but if an accident takes place by rail, where are you?”
Remember to collect your horses well in hand before
you alter your course on the road, or to cross it, in order to have them alert and handy for any emergency.
When travelling in damp weather, the roads being sticky, half wet and dry, your horse requires saving and consideration, no matter to what extent the wind may be blowing, if it goes only in the same direction as himself. When the roads are perfectly dry with a light wind blowing against your horse, he travels under the more favourable circumstances.
Neither blinkers nor bit should ever, upon any consideration, be removed from a horse while he is attached to a carriage, whether to feed or for any other purpose, Want of caution in this respect has been a fertile source of most serious accidents.
When a horse falls irretrievably in harness, the driver should avoid leaving his seat till some assistant can go to the animal's head, who, placing his coat or some soft substance between it and the road, to prevent injury to the eyes, presses one or both knees lightly on the neck, but so as to prevent the beast from rising ; which done, the driver can get down from his seat, and, availing of all the aid he can procure, frees all the harness as rapidly as possible, and, running back the carriage from the horse, assists him to rise. To disengage buckles easily in such cases, instead of dragging at the point of the strap in the usual way, force both ends of it to the centre of the buckle, which will cause the tongue to turn back, and so free the strap.
When a fall in harness occurs on slippery pavement such as some of the London streets, or in frosty weather, before the horse is permitted to make any effort to rise, some ashes, dry clay, sand, sawdust, hay or straw, or even any old rug or piece of cloth or carpet, should be so placed as to prevent him from slipping in his ineffectual and distressing endeavours to recover his legs.
Backing.—When a horse takes to backing, and danger is threatened, if you cannot get him forward, and have no assistant to take him by the head, the more rapidly you bring the brute's head to the point where he aims at bringing his tail the better. It is a bad habit, however, to give an animal, to allow of his being taken by the head when he is obstreperous, and should only be resorted to when quite unavoidable.
Kicking in Harness.—When there is no kicking-strap or other means of restraint available, and an animal seems disposed to persist in kicking, the driver, retaining his seat, should direct some one to hold up one of the fore feet (if he finds a difficulty in doing so, doubling the knee and tying a handkerchief tightly round it) so as to prevent the foot reaching the ground, which done, the driver may help to unharness, while the other assistant takes hold of the horse's head.
Shying.–See page 88.
Runaways are frequently checked by sawing the mouth. In such cases, retain your presence of mind, determined to stick to the ship to the last; if you have the luck to meet with an ascent, that is your time to get a pull.
A horse that has once run away, especially if, in connection with that feat, he has met with any noisy disaster or breakage, is never, as long as he lives, safe to drive again. It only remains for his owner to use humanity and judgment in disposing of him.
Stubborn horses, or jibbers, in single harness.—On the first appearance of this disposition at starting, the neck should be examined, to discover whether the fit