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A horse on being spurred naturally flies forward, but the curb at the same moment restraining him, he is thrown upon his haunches, and the action of the fore-legs gains in height what it loses in length. Horsedealers and their men are of course well aware of this trick, and fail not to turn it to account. The leg that is farthest from a purchaser is usually employed for the purpose of spurring ; but most horses will sufficiently indicate to a close observer, by the switching of the tail, when he feels the rowels. It is said that a really good dealer's man understands whether a horse is to be ridden for purchase or sale, the two styles being totally different; and this is strictly true. I have seen a horse of my own ridden repeatedly at a bar by one of these gentry, and refuse the leap every time ; but, on mounting him myself, he took it without hesitation, and would of course have done so before had I been going to buy instead of to exchange him. Be not, therefore, satisfied with seeing a dealer's man shew a horse, but let him be slowly trotted with a loose halter first, in order both to judge of his style of action, and also of his being free from lameness. If you can have him trotted gently down hill, so much the better, for, if he be lame, he will infallibly show his defect much more while going down a declivity than when on level ground.
In trotting, as in walking, it is essential that the foot be placed firmly and flatly on the ground. If the toe dig into the earth, the horse will always be liable to trip, and cannot be a safe goer. The wear of the shoe will indicate at once if the principal point of attrition be before or behind; although, as the toe is longest in contact with the ground on raising the foot, this part will almost invariably be somewhat sooner destroyed than the rest of the shoe. Experience will, however, soon shew if it be unduly worn, and subsequent observation will enable you to detect the cause in faulty delivery of the feet.
Blood-horses--more particularly those that have been in trainingare apt to step nearer to the ground than the half-bred horse. This they are taught to do, in order that they may gain in the length of their stride what would be wasted in high action. They are thus made to cover a larger extent of ground, and consequently to gallop quicker than they would be enabled to do were their action more rounded. These horses seldom make very pleasant road hackneys, their early habits causing them to raise the knee no higher than when stepping on perfectly level turf; but when a thorough-bred horse has not acquired this low gait, no animal is so delightful to ride, whether on the road or in the field. The action of this race of horses seems to be somewhat in extremes, for those which have shewy action generally are found to be particularly high steppers, and are consequently useless on the Turf. To conclude my remarks upon this pace, I will just observe, that when you find a horse lifting
his legs very high, if you think you have, according to my recommendation, already well examined his eyes, do not deem it time thrown away to scrutinize them yet a little more closely, for a horse with imperfect vision or totally blind is sure to be a high-stepper.
The canter is a pace which is so great a favorite with many people that every hackney well drilled to it is sure to find many
admirers. A good judge of this pace does not like to see that species of canter so VOL. XIX.--SECOND Series.No. 112.
often noticed in a very tractable and quiet lady's horse, a style of going in which you hear three distinct strokes of the feet upon the ground, which are repeated after a slight pause. This I call a three-legged canter. It is performed slowly, with the legs but little raised from the ground, and gives to the mind of a beholder the idea of an animated rocking-horse. Horses with this pace are nevertheless much esteemed by timid ladies, or those of a certain age who are fond of locomotion with the least possible expenditure of human exertion. Such horsewomen and their cattle afford about as much pleasure to the eye of a spectator as do the jog-jog old gentlemen who stick out their legs, and suffer a pursy cob to roll under them at a pace as nearly approximating as may be to a walking trot, and imagine all the while that the sleepy animal they bestride is unequalled in pace, unrivalled in activity. That such offcasts of horsemanship and their steeds are well assorted I pretend not to deny; and, therefore, if you are on the look-out for an easy-going pad for an antiquated lady or gentleman, why the brute I have described is just the thing for your purpose, otherwise I had not noticed him; but if, on the other hand, you require a smart cantering hack, either to ride to covert, on the road, or perchance to bear the lovely burthen of some young lady full of life and spirits, pick out one that throws himself well from the hind-legs, performing as it were a succession of easy leaps, and not one that raises himself up and lets himself down again much after the fashion of an Alderney cow when not stimulated to great exertion. A horse in cantering should be accustomed to lead with either leg as may be required, and should also be made to do so in order that the wear and tear of both may be equal. Those horses that shift their legs while going, and alternately lead with one and the other, are generally strong and active, and consequently preferable for this reason, cæteris paribus.
It should not be forgotten that in the canter the hind-legs should be thrown well under the body, as in the other paces which I have already noticed. The canter is a minor gallop; and as in this latter pace it is requisite that a horse should be able to stretch himself well out, and cover a good quantity of land, it will always be found that horses with an oblique shoulder will be more likely to excel in galloping than those differently formed. Now although a hack may not be required to gallop, still this obliquity of the shoulder ensures a freedom of action before, which renders a horse thus shaped little liable to fall or make blunders, provided his feet and legs be good. Thus a sloping shoulder is as requisite in the cantering hackney as in the racer, and without it the motions of the fore-legs will generally be found cramped and defective.
I shall now proceed to say a few words respecting the gallop, the only remaining pace that requires to be noticed ; for in this country we do not teach our horses to move both legs of the same side simultaneously, as they do in the West Indies (where horses with this action are
valued on account of the ease of their motions), and also in many parts of France, where a running bidet of this description may frequently be met with bestridden by a huge farmer, his legs enveloped in jack boots somewhat heavier than himself, and gracefully stuck out as far as possible from the sides of his pony, whose easy run-and-shuffle pace
enables his rider to balance himself upon the seat of honor without the trouble of holding on by the knees.
In galloping there is an essential difference between the racer and the hunter or Park horse. The former, from being constantly ridden in a snaffle bridle, and having a very light boy on his back, who is probably not strong enough to hold him, acquires very generally a habit of going with the head carried low, and the consequence of this position (to which he is trained) is, that he does not raise his legs high, but stretches them out, thereby covering a greater quantity of ground in a given number of strides than the horse whose head, reined up or confined by the curb, is thereby driven into more dashing but less speedy action. Moreover the difference of the ground on which the racer and hunter have to perform necess
essarily occasions a dissimilarity in their style of going. The former is always trained on level turf, and is therefore unaccustomed to meet with obstacles in his track; accord.' ingly he gallops near the ground, fearless of any impediment to his progress. The latter, on the contrary, encounters every species of diversity of ground; now he gallops on turf, and the next moment he is speeding across a ploughed field studded with innumerable flints, out of which he has to make his way over deep ridge and furrow, to find himself perhaps in a wood where stubs and roots beset his path at every step. Such a horse cannot fail in a short time to acquire a knack of lifting his limbs sufficiently high to enable him to surmount the difficulties opposed to him, otherwise his rider runs a tolerable chance of kissing Mother Earth every time he mounts him ; and therefore it is that, in purchasing a horse for the chase, you are not to expect or to desire in him the same style of gallop as in the racer. His action should be somewhat higher and more rounded; for were the hunter to stretch himself to the same extent as the racer, he would frequently be unable to recover himself when on difficult ground. Those horses whose feet may be heard to beat four distinct and rapid strokes on the ground at every stride are generally very strong in their gallop, and particularly safe at the same time. Their action is generally high, but they carry their rider with amazing power, and create a feeling of security, which is sometimes wanting while skimming over a field well covered with mole hills on a daisy-cutter.
A horse unusually high in his gallop must of course perform a greater degree of labor in getting over a certain quantity of ground than one whose action is less shewy. As in the lofty trotter, the legs soon give way from the battering endured by the high galloper, an animal well fitted to shew off in the Parks, but ill-calculated for steady work. For the road or the field, then, choose the horse whose gallop, without too great exertion to himself, ensures you from danger and shews a good share of speed; but in choosing a racer, pick out one that extends himself well, seems to go easily to himself, rather rises in the hind quarters (which should be lengthy), and appears to be formed somewhat on the model of the hare, that is to say, longer in the hind than in the fore-legs.
It must be understood that in these “ Hints”--these “ETTEà Trépoevta" to purchasers of horses, I do not pretend to go deeply into all the points, properties, or defects of the animal on which I write, otherwise
I might dilate very considerably on the formation proper to the racer ; but as a vast deal of the most useful discrimination is only to be acquired by experience, and no man ought to wish to purchase a horse for the Turf on his own judgment until it be matured in that school, ['would recommend every one desirous of becoming the owner of a Plate-horse either to be well acquainted with his performances in public previous to purchasing him, or, if he have never vet run, to obtain if possible a trial of him with some known horse, rather than choose him for mere symmetry. A racer is never merely prized for his beauty. He is a machine by which money is to be won; and be he the ugliest animal ever foaled, provided he can go faster than most others of his breed, he will be more valued than the handsomest blood-horse in the world without the necessary quality of speed. With hacks and harness-horses this is not the case. There we want beauty combined with good and often with shewy action ; but a fast racer or a splendid fencer of enduring powers will fetch their price despite the want of beauty.
Some horses in galloping will throw the hind-legs so wide and so forward as to be before and outside the fore-legs. This species of action is certainly faulty, as it is often the cause of over-reach and bruises of the heels. In a trot this species of action seldom occasions the above injuries; but ir the hurry of a fast gallop, when a horse too is very frequently thrown out of the evenness of his pace by the application of the spurs at a wrong moment, such accidents will occasionally occur. Nevertheless they are seldom of such moment as to lead you to reject an otherwise good horse on account of this peculiarity in his action, which I have already elsewhere said is usually found in horses endowed with considerable strength in the hind-quarters.
I have now concluded all the remarks that at present occur to me on the subject of action, and shall therefore only add, that, when buying a horse, you will find your advantage in never choosing one that in any pace appears to drag his hind-legs after him instead of throwing them freely forwards. In the walk, trot, or gallop, this springy action behind is absolutely indispensable. Besides denoting strength and muscularity, it both looks well and gives comfort to the rider. If you find fault with the want of action in a horse's hind-legs, a dealer will be sure to reply, “Oh! never mind the hind-legs, Sir; if he moves his fore-legs well, the others must follow.” This is a truism which no one will dispute ; but, since they are to follow, let them do so handsomely and with vigor.
One word more respecting strength in a horse generally. You will hear every one talking of a horse's bone, but no mention is ever made of his muscles. Now bones are of themselves incapable of any motion whatever; they are merely the fixed points to which the muscles, the active agents of motion, are attached. The greater the expanse of bone in those situations to which muscles are affixed, the greater room will there consequently be for their attachment to those parts; and hence the opinion that large bones beget large muscles. This, however, is by no means a sequitur, and consequently I would recommend you never to be simply satisfied with the mere size of a horse's bones, unless they be covered by well-developed muscles. Those parts to which are affixed strong ligamentous expansions, as the knees, pasterns, and
hocks, should never be small; but too much stress is generally laid upon the necessity of large bone below the knee, a point of no great consequence, unless the size of this part be disproportioned to others.
And now, having touched upon most of those points to be first noticed in looking over a horse, let us have him put quietly into his stall, and proceed to examine him a little in the stable, where we may peradventure, by watching him, discover some fault or other which must not be lightly passed over.
(To be continued.)
COLONEL WYNDHAM AND THE PETWORTH COUNTRY,
It is matter of serious regret to Sportsmen when differences arise between Masters of Hounds as to rights of country and coverts—it is more particularly so when they arise between near relatives.
I should not have noticed the present circumstance had there been any probability of friends effecting a better understanding and feeling. between the parties, but as one of the gallant Masters has commenced destroying foxes in his coverts hunted by his brother, mediation is at an end, and silence useless.
I; is now many years since General Wyndham first hunted the Petworth country under the sanction of his father; but on his being ordered to join his regiment in Spain, the hounds were given up, and Colonel George Wyndham was offered the country. This he declined, preferring the Goodwood country which he then hunted. During General Wyndham's absence, Mr. Fielding kept a few hounds, and hunted the Petworth country, but these were given up; and on General Wyndham's return the Earl of Egremont proposed to his son to keep hounds, as conducive to good feeling and fellowship among the country gentlemen. The subject was canvassed among the gentry assembled at quarter sessions, and a subscription of £400 or £500 was entered on the spur of the moment, the Earl of Egremont contributing £100, with an intimation that the needful should be found beyond that sum. The General in consequence commenced hunting the country, which he did with the sanction and countenance of all the landed proprietors, with the Earl of Egremont at their head, their strong supporter and zealous friend. But lol the old king died, and another reigned in his stead.
Colonel George Wyndham, now proprietor of Petworth and a princely fortune, claims to hunt the coverts belonging to Petworth, and to prevent his brother the General from drawing them.
The General has been long established in the Petworth country, with as fine a pack of hounds as ever drew covert, and an establishment of the highest order, which has afforded splendid sport. The limits of the country are not disputable or disputed; but the Colonel asserts, that, being owner of Petworth, he has a right to displace the hounds that are established there, and hunt it himself-a position, I venture to assert, to be utterly untenable, and to which every Sportsman will give a veto. More than this, it is utterly useless, as the neighbouring proprietors will never assent to it, and he will be warned off the first field he gets into that is not his own.