TEMPER. The ear of the horse is one of the most beautiful parts about him, and by few things is the temper more surely indicated than by its motion. The ear is more intelligible even than the eye, and an observer of the horse can tell by the expressive motion of the ears almost all that he thinks or means. It is a common saying, that when a horse lays his ears flat back upon his neck, and keeps them so, he most assuredly is meditating mischief, and the stander-by should beware of his heels or his teeth. In play the ears will be laid back, but not so decidedly, nor so long. A quick change in their position, and more particularly the expression of the eye at the time, will distinguish between playfulness and vice.
The eye of the horse, too, enables us pretty accurately to guess at his temper. If much of the white be seen, the buyer should pause ere he completes his bargain. The mischievous horse is slily on the lookout for opportunities to do mischief, and the frequent backward direction of the eye, when the white is most perceptible, is only to give surer effect to the blow which he is about to aim.
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835.
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