OATS. A well known grain, constituting a material part of the food of horses. Gibson reckons them to be of a middle nature between wheat and barley: they are so generally palatable to horses, that he never knew a foreign horse, accustomed to barley and other kinds of grain, refuse to eat them. Many of our horses will not relish barley unless it be scalded, or they are first suffered to be very hungry, and even then they do not care to eat it. Formerly wheat was given to racehorses, as more nourishing than oats; but now the latter form the chief food for all descriptions of horses. " Oats," says he, " are cleansing and opening, and horses seldom receive any damage from them, unless given with too liberal a hand, and then they are looked upon to be heating. Besides, when horses have too many oats, they are apt to eat little or no bay. But this seldom happens, except where hay is scarce, or not good of its kind, and oats are plentiful; but horses that eat little hay, and many oats, though their flesh is generally firm, yet they seldom carry any belly, and, if they have not a great deal of exercise, are apt to fall into fevers." Mr. White observes, " New oats are difficult of digestion, and apt to cause flatulent cholic and diarrhea. At whatever price good old oats may be sold they will always be found the cheapest." In confirmation of this opinion, we add the authority of Nimrod, who, in one of his admirable letters on the Condition of Hunters, thus counsels: — " Oats should be short and sweet, and should rattle as they are put in the bin, and if of the last year's sweeping, and the tone of its voice peculiarly deep and mellow. It possesses the most exquisite sense of smelling, and can often discover the scent an hour after the beagles have given it up. Dogs of this kind were formerly more common in Britain, and said to have attained a greater size than they do at present.
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835
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