A disproportionately large head is always objectionable, and especially so when found on horses designed for speed or for uses where beauty counts for much. The head, as seen from the front, should look broad between the eyes, rise rather high at the top between the ears, and have the appearance of being cut away below the eyes and along the nose; that is, the head should be free from flesh, and loose, thick skin, and should have a fine-boned framework.
A fine head necessarily implies a flexible ear; bright, alert eyes; open, thin-skinned nostrils, and an under jaw narrow where connected at the lower end. A jaw wide at the upper end gives ample room for the windpipe.
Fig. 54. >From a photograph. This shows bad breeding.
Fig. 55. From a photograph. Such ears would condemn any horse.
Next, the horse should be viewed frou the side. The symmetry, general outlines, length of limbs, their setting on, their curvatures, length and appearance of the middle and the harmony or lack of harmony of each part with the other, may be discovered best from this position. From the front and side views correct general impressions may be secured. These, supplemented by a critical inspection of each part, should result in a good understanding of the make-up of the horse, his value and adaptation to the uses contemplated.
Fig. 56. Goldsmith Maid.
If the neck be thin vertically at the setting on of the head, the animal should be a pleasanter and safer driver than if the neck at the throat-latch be thick. The head should not be set on to the neck of the animal like that of a pig, or the animal will be likely to "hog the bit," that is, take the bit in his teeth, thrust his nose straight out ahead, and be as unmanageable and as contrary as the animal whose neck is of the same style. If the horse is designed for fast work, his neck should be thin and rather light, with little or no crest.
Fig. 57. From a photograph. Beauty of form counts for much. Who could admire such a neck and head?
Beauty of form counts for so much that, in most cases, the ewe-neck should be avoided. For most purposes, the neck should be a trifle long, but all-embracing where it joins the body. It should be set on the body at an angle of about thirty degrees above the horizontal; or, as the horsemen would say, on the corner, and not on the end of the body. The all-embracing neck, well set on, is not only beautiful but is indicative of strength, vigor and endurance. The above thought should be somewhat modified when the pony and the draft-horse are considered. The word pony usually implies a short, compact, small animal, and of necessity this build requires a rather plain, short neck. A good draft-horse may be said to be an en-larged, modified pony. Some of the better breeds of draft-horses show unmistakable signs of having had some admixture (probably mostly through their dams) of the warm blood of the east, which blood has done much to give symmetry of form and courage to many varieties of horses. If the shoulders of the draft-horse be too oblique, as they sometimes are, the collar tends to rise under great pressure, and this may result in seriously obstructing free respiration.
The hollow or protruding breast, the bend of the back, the length of bottom and top body lines, the length and slope of the hind quarters, the curby leg, the thorough-pin, the length and direction of the legs between the fetlock joint and the hoof, can all be seen easily from the side when the horse is viewed by the trained eye. If in this general inspection the horse is not condemned for the purposes desired, a more critical inspection should next be made of the legs and feet. By bending down while standing in front of the horse, one may see clearly the contour of the inside of all the legs. Splints, spavins, wind-galls, ring- and side-bones, if of any considerable size, are immediately discovered. In this position comparison is easy, since, if one limb is enlarged at any point, the other serves to call attention to it. Only in rare cases is more than one limb affected in the same way and to the same extent. Not infrequently a blemish may be incipient and slight, and hence likely to escape detection; therefore the limb should be examined by passing the hands downward over two legs at a time, pressing hard and keeping the hands opposite to each other. A blemish which could not be seen may be discovered by the sense of touch. A horse may pass all of these examinations successfully and yet be unsound; therefore, if any doubt remains, other tests should be made. Standing in front of the horse, force him to move backward slowly and quietly. If he picks up his forefeet and steps backward without dragging the toe of the foot, he may be pronounced sound in the shoulders; but if the foot, instead of being lifted fairly clear of the floor, is moved back with a dragging motion, the horse is not normal. (For practice, observe a horse when backed that is known to be unsound.)
Fig. 58. Hassan. An all-embracing neck.
If not fully satisfied with the inspection already made, force the horse back by the bits and then turn him to the right or left quickly. This will throw extra weight on the rear legs, and the twisting motion given to them by the turning will cause the animal to flinch in case of an incipient spavin.
The feet should be observed with the greatest care, keeping in mind the work the horse will be called on to perform. Feet which might not be seriously objectionable if the horse is to be used at slow work in the soft fields might be totally unsuited to fast work on pavements.
Horses which have a strong infusion of warm blood frequently have naturally erect hoofs and rather high heels. If this feature of the hoof be accentuated by bad shoeing and previous fast road work, the foot may be in danger of becoming so contracted as to produce lameness, although the foot at the time of the examination appears normal. On the other hand, feet may be so flat and open at the heel and the shell of the hoof so weak as to endanger the usefulness of the horse, and yet be technically sound. This class of feet is most often found on horses of the draft type. There is a happy medium between feet which are too narrow at the heel and too erect and those which are too open at the heel, too flat and deficient in bony structure. The open flat foot often becomes injured by the frog coming into too violent and intimate contact with hard earth and stones, while the narrow-heeled foot is more likely to be associated with navicular troubles.