TRAINING. When a horse is brought in for training, he should be fed with hay and oats, and if greedy of water or hay, or if he appear inclined to eat his litter, he should be limited in hay and water, and be muzzled the last thing at night. For the first week he should have walking and gentle exercise for an hour or two every morning.
The stable should be kept clean and cool. The second week, his exercise may be increased a little, and so may his oats. Should he appear, however, rather dull, the membrane of his eyes rather red or yellow on lifting the eyelid, and the dung hard, in small knobs, and shiny or slimy, it will be advisable to bleed moderately and give a mild dose of physic, for which he should be prepared by giving two or three bran mashes a day, for two days. The fourth week he may be worked moderately, and, if wanted for hunting, he should be put into a canter or hand-gallop once a day; and after this it will be necessary to increase his pace twice or three times a week, so as to make him sweat freely; taking care that he is walked for some time afterward, that he may become rather cool before he returns to the stable, when he must be well dressed, fed, and watered, have a good bed placed under him, and be left to his repose. When a horse has been brought up from rich pasture, he is generally loaded with fat, and requires a great deal of walking exercise and careful feeding. He may be trotted gently, however, after the second week, but will not be for a quicker pace for a month at least. During this time he should have two or three doses of mild physic, and when first taken up, such horses generally require to be bled.
" Where a person trains at home, and also keeps hunters," says the Old Forester (Lord Harley), a valuable contributor to the Sporting Magazine, " I would advise making the hunters, in their turn, lead gallops and sweats for the two-year olds; and I think both parties would receive benefit from its adoption. In the first place, the trainer's weight, in general, would be too much for the race-horse, though not so for the cocktail; by riding which himself, he could better regulate the pace they ought to go—a subject of which the stable-boy, in general, is too often wofully ignorant. Nor would the hunters be the worse for this occasional exercise, particularly when called on in a sharp burst with foxhounds.
" Horses take a longer and severer preparation than mares and geldings, and are very difficult to be kept in their places long together: the two latter, on the contrary, when once in form, will remain so, with common attention, and do not undo their training, while travelling, like the horse, with very few exceptions— hence their superiority for country purposes. The gelding, to be sure, is apt to fall away towards the back end of the year; but the mares are all the better at that time. If any proof were wanting on this head, it may be found in the fact of the Derby stakes being won only once by a filly (Eleanor), although they receive 51b. from the colts; but this is early in June or May. Eleven different fillies, have, however, won the Doncaster St. Leger, although receiving only 2 1bs. ; but this is run for in the autumn.
" The ' sear and yellow leaf proclaiming winter at hand, reminds the prudent husbandman of the necessity of well preparing the land for the harvest of the following year: so, also, should it remind the trainer, that upon the proper use he makes of this season, for preparing his young ones particularly, much of the golden harvest of next year will depend.
" The operation of training should commence—or rather the foundation of it should be laid—in the stud groom's department; since the professed trainer will find his labours most materially lightened or embarrassed by the good or bad condition which the young ones are in, when first placed under his hands. I have myself, too frequently, and others may do the same by only making use of their eyes, seen young horses sent up to public training stables, in such miserable (I might almost add disgraceful) plight, in the early part of the year, and under the
expectation of their appearing in public in the ensuing season, that an angel from Heaven could make nothing of them under six or eight months at the least. They are either (if what is called well kept) so very loaded with improper flesh, that it must be got rid of, and other laid on in its place—or else kept so hardy, as it is foolishly called (half starved is the proper definition of the term), that they should not, by rights, do any thing like good work for some weeks—and yet the trainer is expected to get them fit to run in that time. Without good work they cannot run, and in doing strong work before they are properly prepared for it, or being hurried in it, they must fall to pieces, and their legs go to ruin. Coming into good from poor keep, is the parent of innumerable ills and complaints, most of which regular keep from the first would have checked; and surely prevention is far better than cure.
" Thorough-bred stock are bred at no trifling expense, and in their nature extremely delicate; and yet too frequently, from the time they are weaned until placed under the trainer's hands, they receive as little attention as if the produce of cart mares. A certain daily modicum of corn they should never be suffered to be without, from the time they leave the dam till fairly taken into the stable. A very little attention to their condition in the paddocks, would put them half prepared into the trainer's hands, and thus much time be saved—no unimportant article in the short life of a race-horse, even formerly, but much more so now, when they last but a year or two. The earlier breaking takes place the better; first, because of the number of two-year-old stakes now going; and, in the next place (even if not wanted till five or six years old), in case of moving, accident, or illness, they are managed with comparatively very little or no trouble.
" The trouble of starting young ones, two-year-olds particularly, has been observed and allowed on all hands. The fright, novelty, and awkwardness, at making a public debut, may go a great way towards it; but there is one thing which may appear trifling, and thus often overlooked, yet may be, and is frequently, the sole cause of all this difficulty,—it is, putting a cold saddle on their bare backs for the first time. Now, were they stripped a few times previous, and accustomed to start iu line in the commencement of their gallops, now and then, instead of always following one another like a string of wild geese, most of them would go off in public as quiet as old horses; indeed, the sweating horses, in warm weather, stripped, might be more generally put in practice than at present, with advantage.
" The generality of paddocks for young cplts are too confined for them to take their natural exercise in : and it is a very nervous sensation to see a high spirited colt burst out into full speed from his box or hovel: the sudden check they receive at the end of their career throws a very severe strain on the hocks, and thus incipient lameness, in the shape of curbs, spavins, and thorough-pins, is produced. By early work, in moderation, they gain the proper use of their limbs without danger: health is insured, and the animal kept out of mischief."
" Having had a good deal to do with private training," observes Nimrod, " I may be allowed to say, that the very best effects are to be found from gentle sweats, often repeated. They keep a horse light and free in his body, without that injury to his legs by what are called ' brushing gallops,' in which every sinew about him is put to the hazard. Long-continued exercise, we are all aware, is of the greatest use in unloading the bowels, giving firmness and elasticity to the muscles, and romoting the general secretions; ut a horse cannot be fit for such severe and trying exertions as he is put to in the field, unless his vessels are kept clear and open, and his blood in a proper state of fluidity— frequently cleansed of its excrementitious matter, which so powerfully contributes to disease, after work. This can only be done by repeated perspiration; and I have heard veterinary surgeons say, that the perspirable matter which flies off through the pores of the skin is of more consequence, as far as clear wind and condition are concerned, than all the other secretions.
" The state of the bowels, too, is equally important. Rest not only generates a redundancy of blood and humours, but the bowels become overloaded, and distend beyond their proper size, in which state violent exertion must always be attended with danger. The present system of feeding the race-horse is very nearly applicable to that of feeding the hunter of the present day; and the trifling shade of difference between them exists only in reference to the work each has to perform. Here, however, the difference is much less than it was formerly; and may now be said rather to apply to the sort of horse we have to deal with than to the business he is put to. Strong and severe work is as necessary to the one as to the other: and to get a horse of a naturally hardy constitution quite fit to go to hounds, in some countries, requires that he should be nearly as much in training as if he were going to run a fourmile heat at king's-plate weights. The whole system of hunting is so revolutionized, that the preparation which a horse now requires is very different to what it was in former times. The hour of meeting is seldom before eleven; the find generally quick and certain; and horses are often not more than five or six hours from their stables after the best day's sport; and the ground they go over is frequently not so much as a plating race-horse performs in contending three or four
mile heats. Having said this, I see no reason to doubt the propriety of feeding, sweating, and muzzling the hunter much in the same manner as the race-horse, only making due and proper allowance for the relative nature of their work ; particularly as to not stripping the hunter too much of his flesh, or losing sight of the natural difference between the thorough-bred horse and the cocktail.
" It is my firm conviction that no less than nine hunters out of ten that appear by the covert side— taking into account the present speed of hounds—are short of quick work for the pace they are made to go; and let me impress one circumstance on the mind of the reader—that, barring epidemic complaints and accidents, no horses enjoy such uninterrupted good health as those in training."
The art of training this highmettled creature, and rendering him subservient to the use of man, was once in such repute that the horsebreaker was thought to be a title worthy of kings and heroes. In such admiration was this art sometimes held, that the elder poets and bards seem inclined to ascribe its discovery to a superhuman agency; and with these sentiments ^jschylus introduces Prometheus boasting that among other useful inventions he had taught mortals to render horses obedient to the yoke, and to become a sort of vicarious successors to man in his labours, as well as an ornament to the splendour of riches.
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835.
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