BREAKING COLTS. There is a general want of well qualified men in this way, as well as of good farriers. Our chance-medley breeders either break their horses themselves, or commit it to persons equally ignorant ; whence the number of our garroons, the breed and education of which are so well matched.
The utmost care should be used to teach a colt his paces distinctly. You will observe numbers of horses trained and ridden by little farmers and countrymen, which confuse and jumble the paces one into the other, shuffling between walk and trot, and trot and gallop, till they acquire a kind of racking pace, from which it is no easy task to reclaim them; or they will, perhaps, do one pace only. If the colt be unfavourably made forward, and it appear from' the mal-conformation of his neck, and the ill setting on of his head, that he can never have a handsome carriage, double care must be taken to give him a well tempered mouth, the only thing which can possibly render a horse of this unfortunate description tolerable.
Such as show much blood, or stoop forward and lounge in their gait, in the usual manner of bred cattle, ought to be well set upon their haunches.
The future goodness and value of the nag materially depend upon early tuition. If he be defective in bending his knees, let him be ridden daily in rough and stony roads; or if that fail, cause him to be ridden every day, for a month or more, with blinds. Being blinded, he will naturally lift up his feet. I have experienced the use of it.
When a colt is refractory, it is usual to tame him by riding him immoderately over deep earth. It is a silly custom, and often productive of great mischiefs, by weakening the tender joints of a young horse, breaking his spirit, or rendering it totally desperate. Coolness and perseverance are here the requisites ; there is no horse with a stomach so proud, which a level course will not bring down.
The most proper period for breaking a saddle-colt is the usual one, when three years old. Iu the common mode of performing this premier act of horsemanship, there is very little variation since Baret's days; or rather, it may be said, we have universally adopted his improved method. A head-stall is put upon the colt, and a caversane over his nose (from the old Italian word, cavazana, Englished, by Blundeville, cavetsan, or head-straine), with reins. He is saddled, then led forth with a long rein, and, in due time, lunged, or led around a ring, upon some soft ground. As soon as he has become tolerably quiet, he is mounted, a proper mouth and carriage given, and his paces taught. When sufficiently instructed, he ought (in general) to be dismissed until the following spring ; an early period for serious business.
There are some who choose to defer breaking their colts until four years old, for which they often find just cause of repentance, in the strength and stubbornness of the horse; such practice would, however, be at least somewhat more safe, if a favourite method of mine were adopted, which is, to accustom colts to handling, to the halter, and the hitt, immediately upon their weaning.
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835.
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