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though ridden successively by the most skilled nagsmen Dycer's yard could produce, as well as by Dycer himself.
I proposed to try my hand, and the animal at first start pursued the same uneasy half-canter with me; but perceiving that he seemed particularly desirous to take a drink from a trough that happened to be in the way, I allowed his attention to be distracted by taking as much water as he pleased from it; and then turning him in the opposite direction from that in which he had so obstinately persisted in his own gait, patting and doing all I could to reassure him, dropping the bit-rein altogether, and taking a very light and lengthened hold of the snaffle-rein, I let him move off at his own pace, which, to the surprise of every one present (my own, I admit, included), proved to be a walk, which he immediately changed into a jog-trot all up the yard, winning for me a bet of twenty sovereigns to one from the late Edward Dycer, that the horse could not be made to trot within a quarter of an hour of the rider mounting.
Now, it is only caprice that can account for the likes and dislikes of horses about going lead or wheel in four-in-hand. One horse will not stir till removed from the wheel, and another will be equally unmanageable if assigned the leader's part, while an exchange of places will perhaps render both animals perfectly tractable.
In double harness it may sometimes be observed that an animal, while working by itself, or with others not faster, will casually show great spirit, but when coupled with another possessing more life and action, it will seem at once subdued from its former liveliness, and go along like a slug, quite out of sorts at finding itself outpaced, &c, while its more sprightly neighbour -will exhibit a double ebullition of spirits, as if in reproach to say, "Why can't you come on?" To prove such cases of whimsicality further, replace the apparent sluggard by coupling with our vivacious steed a more lively and active animal, and you will see the latter in his turn become subdued and "shut up," in comparison with his previous sprightliness.
Again, although the animal is decidedly gregarious, a horse, from some dislike to its companions or other whim, will absolutely pine and cease to thrive in a stall stabled with others, and be restored to its usual spirits and health on removal to a loose-box. Such animals are generally restless at night, and show great ability in smashing their head-collars.
On the other hand, most horses like company, and will pine away if kept alone.
These things should be studied.
IRISH HUNTERS, AND THE BREEDING OF GOOD HORSES.
Much attention has latterly been attracted to the deterioration in the superior breeds of horses, having reference more to a decline of power and endurance than to diminished swiftness.
There is no reason why our old fame for breeding good horses of every kind should not be maintained. Unrelaxed attention must nevertheless be given to some well-known and established rules respecting breeding, and more marked encouragement might with advantage be in every way afforded to the production and rearing of young animals of a superior and valuable description. We would therefore suggest that prizes for young ones should be more liberally and generally awarded at exhibitions; likewise a careful revision and alteration of many of the present regulations in connection with racing.
The importance of most careful scrutiny in selecting the progenitors of horses can never be overrated; and though in Ireland experience has proved in many instances that a good hunter can be produced from a dam which, in England, would be considered too small, too plain, the blood in both parents has invariably been of the best. The mare, or perhaps her parents, might have been half-starved—no uncommon result of the scarcity of food during many successive years of adversity among the poorer classes in the former country— but her progenitors had been large powerful animals.
As, in the due course of things, it results in time that every denomination of useful horse, excepting, perhaps, the heavy dray and cart horse breeds, is influenced by the characteristics transmitted more particularly to the powerful, enduring, moderately fleet animal properly designated the hunter, it is a subject of deep interest to the community at large to know how the latter should be produced.
The "Irish hunter" is admitted to possess in a remarkable manner the qualities most desirable in a horse of that or the generally useful class. Hardy, enduring, courageous, strong, short-legged, short-backed, longsided, tolerably fast, but any deficiency in speed made up for by jumping power; all action, able to jump anything and everything; intuitive lovers of fencing; their sagacity such that you have only to get on their backs