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India, is everything. If therefore, worthy dominie, thou art not
good at cricket, at football, at the half-dozen exercises in which
fond youth indulges, let them alone. To absent yourself from them,
to ignore them, is bad enough 5 but to be beat at them^ to raise a
smile at your awkwardness or incapacity, is lamentable folly. It is
to risk your self-respect, and the respect of those whom you are to

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l86l.] TREATMENT OF HUNTERS IN AND OUT OF SEASON. 377

command. * Omne ignotum pro magnifico,^ Rest satisfied with what
they will give you credit for. Tell them of what you have been, if
you will, but let them not know what you are. Once I have seen
a gray-haired fat old man, and a melancholy sight it was ! perspiring
at every pore, swathed in flannel, and performing antics which he
called cricket — his fingers knocked about and his legs a mark for

* shooters,' running out when he ought to stop at home, tumbling
down when he ought to be running, and doing everything but what
was right. Shouts of laughter from the youngsters rent the air.
And yet he thought he was raising himself in the estimation of his
boys. Raising himself, indeed ! yes, like the monkey, who, * the
higher he climbs, the more he shows his tail.* On the other hand,
great influence has he over the juvenile mind who does what he
attempts with the hand of an artist. How often has a slashing leg
hit wiped out an act of injustice, or a well-kicked goal balanced a
flogging.

These are words of wisdom, my friends, from a gentleman who is

* amang ye, takin' notes.' In all your ' sports and pastimes * study to '
preserve the character of gentlemen, of English gentlemen ; which
words are not synonymous with ' fashionable indifference,' but with
a love of honesty, courage, and skill.

Condition is the sine qua fion of success in your pursuit, and
temperance and exercise the basis of condition. Learn A'om your
games, too, * obedience to constituted authority,* without which
nothing goes on well. Many a match of every description is lost,
not from want of strength or skill, but from want of plan. All
games require a head, and he ought always to be obeyed. I love an
honest rivalry : to it we owe the various excellencies for which
Englishmen are proverbial, our endurance, our courage, our com-
merce, our existence ; but it must never degenerate into animosity.
May the British youth have a clear conscience and a good digestion ;
what the Eton Latin grammar calls * mens sana in corpore sano.* So
will it have foot-ball and cricket, and hunting, and shooting, and
fishing (which all, by a most fortuitous chain of circumstances,
follow or supersede each other), as naturally as pap, mutton, pastrjr,
olives, and pati de foie gras (the seasons are not more regular m
their courses, than the sports that accompany them) ; until tne one
great cricketer comes upon the ground, and bowls us out at last.



THE TREATMENT OF HUNTERS IN AND OUT
OF SEASON.
After Nimrod's letters, and so manv other publications on stable
management, it may be, and will no aoubt be considered by many a
work of supererogation, my presuming to offer my own crude ideas
and home-spun opinions upon this subject ; but as this is not a
volunteer movement on my part, I will endeavour to afford the in-
formation asked for, as derived from my own practice and experience,

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378 TREATMENT OF HUNTERS IN AND OUT OF SEASON. [April,

and not under the vain delusion of being able to bring any new light
to bear upon a theme which has been so fully and ably handled hj
more talented writers.

As the most useful of all animals subjected to the dominion of
man, it is natural that the horse should attract particular attention,
and his proper treatment be considered of paramount importance.
The question, however, may be yet fairly asked — Does the horse,
notwithstanding all the treatises written upon his breeding, tuition,
and management, receive that attention generally to which he is so
pre-eminently entitled ? or is not rather almost every other of our
domestic animals more truly domesticated, cared for, and petted by
their owners than the horse ? What pains are taken to instruct or
attach him to his master ? What is his education generally, but a
wrong system of rough usage, instead of gentle treatment and kind
words ? In short, it would appear to be the common impression that
the horse, as to sagacity, ranks the lowest of our domestic animals,
and is quite incapable of understanding anything unless conveyed to
his dull apprehension through the medium of whip or spur. * The
^ ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib,' but the poor
neglected horse is supposed to know nothing. Yet compare our
treatment of the equine race with that of the Arabs, and what is the
result ? Amongst the wild descendants of Ishmael, the horse is as
quiet, gentle, and intelligent as a Newfoundland dog. See him or
her, horse or mare, lying at the tent door, with his master's children
crawling and scrambling like so many brown froes over his belly,
back, or limbs, as careless and secure from injury, kick, or bite, as if
they were playing with a pet lamb ! It is a feet, not less notorious
than discreditable to us as a civilized Christian nation, that this most
useful of all animals is more hardly used and less cared about by his
owner in this country than any other upon the fece of the globe.
And what is the treatment of that class of horses with which we are
now more immediately concerned —hunters ? In the common
acceptation of the term, they are cared for well enough — that is, as
to lodging, feeding, and clothing, under the supervision, perhaps, of a
clever head-groom in large establishments, and a stupid one in small
ones. It is the man with one horse only, or a couple at most, who
really cares about, and familiarizes himself with the character and
disposition of his dumb slaves, endeavouring by kind words and
gentle handling to attach them to himself; and there is one animal
only — the dog — capable of stronger attachment to his master than
the horse. Is it not quite natural such should be the case ? Look
at the life of a hunter — it is one of almost solitary confinement in his
loose box during the season. What communication has he with any
others of his own species, save when at exercise or in the field ? and
yet his nature is not like that of a bullock— dull, heavy, and sluggish
— but lively, sociable,, and animated ; and he is characterized also by
strong passions when occasions arise for their exhibition.

The great drawback to the development of that sagacity and sen-
sibility possessed by the horse in a high degree, is the rough, brutal



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jS6i.] treatment of hunters in and out of season. 379

usage he experiences from the verv commencement of his education*
What is the common process of colt-breaking, and by whom per-
formed ? Are any pains taken to gain the confidence and attachment
of the young animal upon his first entrance upon this new state of
life ? Is he caressed, petted, patted, and taught by slow and gentle
means the first lessons of his education — or rather, are not these
enforced too generally by brute force opposed to brute ? The man
presuming upon his profession of colt-breaking, is too often the very
reverse of the character who ought to be employed in such a delicate
undertaking, which requires firmness, coolness, patience, and good
temper ; in place of which we find very few of these qualities in
men of this class, to whom the name of rough rider most appro-
priately belongs. Rough usage will create rough tempers, as a
general rule, whether applied to man, woman, or child — horse, dog,
or any other animal ; and many of the faults and vicious habits of
horses owe their origin to ill-treatment when first broken in.

We must now take a glance at the second stage of a hunter*s
education for the freli^and here we find the rough rider again at his
unseemly work with whip and spur. Now is it not a notorious fiict
that ninety horses out of a hundred ridden after hounds know little
of their business — to use the common term— as made hunters ? And
this is another proof of the great defect in their education, which
ought to have been perfected at home before these horses are
brought into the hunting field. It is all very fine to talk of breaking
young four-year-old colts, by putting a rough rider upon their backs,
to ride them haphazard across country, bundling both neck and
crop through hedges and into ditches — or crashing through gates,
with the anticipation, that after a few good pulls, the horse will
know better the next time. 1 his is very properly distinguished as
* breaking with a vengeance,* in opposition to our system of breaking
without a vengeance. You are, in the first case, at the mercy of
your horse : he will go, as he has been taught to go, at his fences —
rushing and rasping at high and low alike, with an impetus sufficient
to clear thirty feet of water ; and if you don't give him his head for
his swing, he will bring you into trouble, and when dislodged from
the pigskin, should your head come into contact with his heels, he
will knock your brains out if he can — and why ? because he recog-
nizes you as a rough rider only, not as a kind, gentle master. Again^
what will he do for you in cramp places— in a gravel pit — across a
wooden bridge over a canal, with a high stile in and out, and no
room for a run to take off? — through the bed of a stream, too wide
to jump, and too low to drift him on to the opposite slimy, slippery,
broken bank ? What plunging, splashing, and scrambling ensues I
or if brought up suddenly against a five-barred gate, nailed or locked ?
What in such emergencies (and there are hundreds of cases similar
to these, which occur in fox-hunting) are you to do, with a rushing,
pulling, kicking animal, which has been educated by a rough rider
only?
. What would you say of a pugilist who should enter the roped

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380 TREATMENT OF HUNTERS IN AND OUT OF SEASON. [April,

arena to contend with a scientific opponent who had not been first
instructed in the art of self-defence ? What of a general who would
lead a regiment of untrained soldiers into the battle-field, to fight,
before they knew how to use their arms ? It may be answered,
^ There is no analogy between the cases ; it is natural for horses to
^ jump. So is it for men to fight ; but to know how to jump, and
^ when to jump, is as necessary a piece of instruction to a horse as
^ training and drilling to a man.' The old and excellent system of
breaking young horses for the hunting field seems almost if not
entirely superseded by the present rough-riding plan. One seldom
hears of a leaping-bar now-a-days, formerly considered a necessary
appendage to an establishment of hunters. Even the owner of a
couple of horses had generally such a thing in his little bit of paddock,
and the advantages attending this home education can never be com-
pensated for by the harey-starey course now adopted, in which there
are so many self-apparent damnatory defects, as to defy all com-
parison with the former. Under the old r^ime, young horses were
taught their lessons by slow degrees and gentle^eatment — in contra-
distinction as now to these lessons being crammed and rammed into
them bv force and violence, whip and spur. The horse was invited
by his leader, patted, and induced to walk over first a very low bar ;
it was gradually raised to make him spring higher — but never very
high for the first two days. He was instructed, also, how to take his
standing leaps, by being led up to the bar, and by word of mouth told
to follow his master ; then over low fences, open ditches, and small
watercourses. All his lessons, in short, whether standing or trocdi^,
were conveyed to him by the voice — walk, trot, jump, halt. And
one of the most important of all was, never to leave his rider when
thrown, or attempt to injure him in any way. This was the system
formerly adopted by fogies of the old school. Our young horses
were taught by the voice and hand — by firmness, patience, and per-
severance, without violence — and thus they became as attached to us
as dogs, doing what' we required of them at the word of command —
willing, cheerful, obedient servants, instead of unwilling, ill-used
slaves.

But it is not of young horses only I am writing. I have bought
old ones — their dispositions soured, and tempers spoilt by inhuman
treatment ; vicious kickers, biters, almost unmanageable — and these,
within a very few months, by firm, kind treatment, instructed by the
voice, never by whip or spur, have become entirely refi>rmed cha-
racters, and obedient to my word in the hunting field ; for I seldom
rode with spurs, being thoroughly satisfied that a good, generous
horse will do his utmost for a good master, without prick of steel or
blow of stick.

' Well, now you have told us how to make hunters, perhaps you
' will next inform us how we are to keep them.*

Well, I suppose everybody knows that, who has ever kept a horse,
at least he thinks so ; and if not his groom does, which will do just
as well. Thus argue the majority of horse-owners, whether possess-



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1 86 1.] TREATMENT OF HUNTERS IN AND OUT OF SEASON. 38 1

ing large or small studs. Yes : it is the business of the groom to
manage the stable, as it is that of the keeper to know how to breed,
break, and feed a kennel of pointers. And yet there is not pne in a
hundred of these officials who does really and truly understand the
nature or proper treatment of the animals committed to his care.
There are, it is true, some head grooms who profess to combine
the veterinary art with their stable knowledge, and often prove the
truth of the old adage, ^ a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,' by
the &ilure of their experimental philosophy. The lancet, as well
as medicine chest, are dangerous things to intrust to men wholly
unacquainted with the internal structure of the animal, and the causes
and symptoms of diseases to which horses are subject. I have,
however, met with some clever, sensible men of this class in my
travels, without conceit and vain pretensions to great scientific know-
ledge, such as Whiteall, head groom to the Earl of Stamford, when
I visited his lordship's establishment three years ago. The large
stud of hunters under his management looked well and healthy, and
in first-rate condition ^ with bright eyes, glossy coats, and clean legs,
notwithstanding their severe work; their treatment being rational
and natural — ^no cordial balls, diaphoretic or diuretic medicines being
used by him except when absolutely required ; neither were the three
doses of aloetic compound given as a general rule to every horse alike,
whether requiring them or not, which rule of three appears to run in
the heads of most grooms, as a cabalistic number to get hunters into
condition. The stables at Quom w^re cool, and a single rug con-
sidered by Whiteall as sufficient clothing. When returning from
hunting a bucket of gruel was given to each horse, and a little moist
hay, but no com until an hour after. We have been frequently
recommended by writers on stable management to bear in mind that
hunters are kept in an artificial state and therefore require artificial
treatment. If by the term artificial state is meant their eating hay
and oats during the winter months instead of grass, which in this
country as well as in some others ceases to grow at that time of the
year, horses have been used to this diet since the day when Noah
first entered the ark. Therefore, as use by long usage becomes
second nature, it is a long time ago that horses first commenced
living upon hay for an entire year, without any change of food. But
man since the Deluge has been living in just as much an artificial
state as the horse, and we know by experience that the more
luxuries he Indulges in the more physic he will require. By the
same rule, if a horse is over-crammed with a lot of oats and beans —
enveloped in half a dozen rugs, and every breath of air excluded from
his stable, his frame will be brought into a state bordering on fever.
Just make the addition of a few favourite nostrums of ignorant grooms,
delightfully called cordial and condition balls, generally containing
highly inflammatory ingredients, and you have the unfortunate
animal ready for the lancet or the knacker's knife.

The first great rule to be observed in the feeding of horses is to
regulate their diet by their work. The process of training, or, as it



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382 TREATMENT OF HUNTERS IN AND OUT OF SEASON. [April,

is commonly called, getting them into condition, must bs gradual.
Every groom with an ounce of common sense ought to knoMr this,
and that the allowance of corn should be increased as his work
increases, instead of the four or five feeds of oats per diem with beans
being crammed into him at the commencement. Exercise also
should be gradual — 6rst walking only, then trotting, and last of all
cantering. I think it was one of Nimrod's maxims that as the pace
of the hunter is now the pace of the race-horse, the preparation
should be the same, -or he has not justice done him, adding, ^ that it
* took twelve months to bring a racer to the starting post.* This
would imply that a hunter should be kept in training all the year
round, from which and several other doctrines of his, regarding horses
and hounds, I have always dissented since the first publication of his
letters, as contrary to general practice and common sense. A hunter
which does not come up as fat as a bullock from grass, may by
proper treatment be got into very feir condition, sufficient to com-
mence hunting within three months. Walk him one month as a
preparatory step, and walk him only on plain ground first, then up
and down hill, gradually extending the time and distances ; and by
this moderate exercise his sinews will acquire their usual elasticity,
his lungs resume their respiratory functions, under pressure from
without; and his heart, reins, and stomach be relieved of any obese
pressure within by a couple of doses of physic. The next month
may be devoted to trotting and walking, and the third to all three
paces, by which time he will be fit to go with hounds.

The treatment of hunters in the stable, as to their diet, should
be plain and rational. Their dwelling-place well ventilated, only
moderately warm, and their clothing a single rug in winter or a linen
sheet in summer. During the training or preparatory months, our
hunters were turned out early in the morning for an hour's exercise,
during which the doors and windows of the stables were thrown
open ; the litter shaken well up, all the soiled straw removed, and
the stalls or boxes thoroughly brushed out. The same process was
repeated in the afternoon, when the horses again went out for their
exercise. Without great attention to the cleanliness and ventilation
of the stable, it is unreasonable to expect health in the horse, and
this as well as his eyesight becomes seriously aflected by the ammonia
arising from foul litter. Disinfectants have been recommeoded to
obviate this evil, such as a thin layer of gypsum, or peat charcoal
under the straw, muriatic acid, and other things ; but prevention by
cleanliness is far better than to substitute an excuse for idleness*

Except in cutaneous eruptions, generally produced by over-feeding,
I am no advocate for alteratives, m place of which carrots may be
used with great advantage, which act slightly both upon the bowels
and the kidneys, and also upon the skin j and during the. hunting
season even,' a few given twice a week will be found most beneficial
to health and condition. Nitre is a simple and cooling remedy in
urinal obstructions, to be succeeded by a bucketful of well-boiled
oatmeal, which should also be given to every horse after his return



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l86l.] TREATMENT OF HUNTERS IN AND OUT OF SEASON. 383

from hunting. Hay and oats are the staple food of hunters and
racers, which should of course be of the best quality, old and bright ;
but beans should be given very sparingly, except at particular times and
seasons ; when they are hard worked or shedding their coats, bruised
com is preferable to that in a whole state, being more easy of diges-
tion and nutritious, of which any man may be convinced by observ-
ing that many whole oats are voided without mastication. You
will never be able to persuade erooms of the feet, that sweet clean
wheat straw is an excellent substitute for hay chafF, and may be
mixed advantageously with bruised oats ; and to nice feeders a little
may be given daily, to pick over between their usual meals.

The general allowance of oats and hay to each horse per day and
night is from four to six quarterns of the former, according to his
work, and from fourteen to eighteen pounds of the latter ; and, as I
have before remarked, the day after hunting a few carrots should be
given, about twelve o'clock, which will tend more materially than
many may think possible to keep the horse in a healthy and cool
state of body after severe work, and improve rather than deteriorate
his condition. I do not see why a horse, to be fit for hunting,
should necessarily be supposed to be in a state bordering on high
fever, for, were such the case, he would not be called in proper
condition to undergo severe work. My idea of condition is, that
there should be a total absence of ail febrile symptoms in the system,
and this state is certainly not incompatible with, but a natural
sequence to judicious training. What is a thorn, a blow, or cut, to
horses or hounds in really good case? is it not soon healed, and
little regarded ? But if the animal be in a state of fever the simplest
wound becomes a serious sore. By training I understand the
intention to be to divest the corporeal framework of all superfluities
of fat and improper juices internally and externally, and to bring the
flesh and muscles into a firm, healthy condition, so as to be enabled
to undergo the greatest amount of labour with the least degree of
fever : in short, a man to fight, as well as a horse to hunt, should be
as cool as a cucumber. Man, horse, or hound, when in proper
trim, ought —to use a vulgar saying — * to be ready to jump out of his
skin.' That horses are continually brought up into a state of fever
by the quackery of ignorant grooms — hot clothing, suffocating stables,
over-allowance of oats and beans, and an under-aJlowance of water —
admits of no doubt, and hinc ilia lacrynue about puffed legs, swelled
joints, constipation of bowels, colic, and other maladies.

A friend once asked my advice about his hunter — at that time he
kept one only — how to cure his insatiable thirst for water, saying
that his man declared ^ he would drink the well dry, if allowed to
' do so.'

' Then let him try,' was my reply, ' it's the only way to cure
' him.'

' Nonsense,' he said, * he would drink until he burst himself.'

' So much the better for me ; I want flesh for the hounds. But,
' joking apart, place a tub large enough to contain eighteen or twenty

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384 TREATMBNT OF HUNT£RS IN AND OUT OF SEASON. [April,

^ gallons of water in your horse's loose box, and make your man
^ keep on filling it up to the brim all day long, as fast as he drinks,
' and if that don't cure his craving for water nothing will short of
^ drowning. But, mind/ I added, ^ that the tub must be always
*■ standing there, as full as possible, day and night, so that he never
' can reach the bottom.'

' What 1' he asked, * the night before hunting ?'

' Just so : fuller then — up to the very brim.'

A week after giving this advice my friend rode over to thank me
for it, saying that his horse never cared since about water. Our

Elan was to leave a large knee-bucket fiill of water always in eveiy
>ose box, filling it up throughout the day, and putting all fresh at
night, so that every horse could drink when he liked. A far better
plan, where a spring or outlet of a stream can be made available, is
to introduce running water into a small tank, made of slate, placed
at the back of each box or stall, against the wall. I say the back
wall, because there are objections to this receptacle for water being
placed in the same range with the manger and rack, and so under
the head of the horse when eating his food. To this tank a wooden
coverlid is necessary, to prevent the horse drinkine when heated,



Online LibraryL PylodetBaily's Magazine of sports and pastimes, Volume 2 → online text (page 50 of 55)