In keeping horses, competent supervision is a matter of primary importance, and no real success can be relied upon without it. Where the owner has the knowledge and time, this duty will devolve upon himself; but wherever these are lacking, a competent substitute must be employed. In large studs financial and other considerations soon demonstrate the benefits of expert management, and the employment of veterinarians possessing special training and experience in stud management, as superintendents, is increasing. In smaller studs the employment of such experts is unattainable, but where the charge is placed with a natural horseman with the necessary training the best results are obtained. In many cases, however, the necessity for trained supervision is unrecognized, and any odd man with little knowledge and no natural qualification for the position undertakes the duties of horse manager. Again, no matter what the natural aptitude may be, no man is competent to exercise supervision without the knowledge which practical experience alone can give. Wherever economy with efficiency is the order, trained experience with natural aptitude must be possessed by those in control.
The man who knows a horse thoroughly in good health will be the first to recognize any departure from that condition. There is no truer saying than the old one, that "prevention is better than cure"; and the difference between success and failure depends far more than is generally recognized upon the apt appreciation of anything amiss, and the prompt employment of suitable measures to relieve it.
But besides a general knowledge, a special knowledge of the class of horse in charge is requisite. Although the natural inclination and experience possessed by one man may make him a first-class supervisor of a stud of cart-horses, he may be wholly unfitted to take charge of a stud of racehorses, and vice versa. But in addition to being a class specialist he should be an individualist capable of recognizing the individual capacity of each horse in his care, so that each horse may be employed in accordance with his powers. The ability to select the horse most suitable for a given purpose requires keen observation and long experience, and is even frequently of more importance than the question of technical soundness. Only those possessing the knowledge can thoroughly appreciate the delicacy of the points upon which selection has sometimes to be based. In a large stud the man who can carefully select horses most suitable for their work is simply inestimable. As a large livery-stable proprietor remarked the other day: "It is the misfits which ruin our business".
Having a suitable horse, the next point is that he should be in fit condition; and it must be remembered that no horse can be fit for prolonged severe exertion without a requisite amount of previous exercise. The number of horses that are ruined through non-recognition of this is incredible. Many men assume that a new purchase, simply because it is new, should equal, if not surpass, similar horses in hard condition, and ignore the fact that the new horse is generally young, and frequently in no condition for hard work, for which he has to be prepared by gradually increasing daily exercise.