These useful animals are of various degrees of utility, quality, and consequently cost. . Pair-carriage horses, if well matched in size, pace, and colour, and in their way of first-class quality, will bring a large price - say from two to four or five hundred pounds.
The size of carriage horses will depend upon their work, or rather upon the size of the vehicles they are required to draw; so that we have them measuring from fourteen to sixteen and even seventeen hands high.
The barouche is always a pair-horse carriage, as is also the landau and the brougham, unless these are specially adapted for a single horse. Such horses are generally half-bred, and are chiefly reared in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and Shropshire; they are, as a rule, the produce of the thorough-bred horse and agricultural or cart mares, the best of these belonging to the now somewhat rare Cleveland breed. Many of them have been bred for weight-carrying hunters, but have not turned out sufficiently good or fitted for that purpose, though they often realise nearly as good prices if well matched. The best colours are bay, either dark or light, and brown (and especially dappled); chestnut is not so common, and does not appear to be so much sought for, neither is grey.
It is generally recognised that a good horse for double harness in these carriages should be lengthy, and yet have a tolerably short back, with oblique and muscular shoulders, long, straight, and strong quarters, strong hocks, and good fore-limbs and feet. The obliquity and shape of the shoulder is not so important in harness as in saddle horses; nevertheless, if they are to have safe and good action, the shoulders must be well formed and placed, as a good forehand is essential in a harness horse, both for appearance and action; the latter, it is needless to remark, should be easy and free, both in knee and hock.
A neat head and long gracefully curved neck are likewise to be looked for, as well as a deep girth, round body, and ribs carried well back.
The height, as has been said, will depend upon circumstances, but sixteen hands, or a little over, is the usual size; when he measures seventeen hands, the horse is often long-backed, long-legged, and gaunt-looking.
For single harness, in a landau or brougham, it may be necessary to have a horse a trifle heavier and stronger than for double harness, but this will depend on the size and weight of the carriage. A first-class brougham horse is a valuable animal; he should be long and low, well-bodied, and from fifteen and a half to sixteen hands high, according to the height of the fore-wheels of the carriage; for it is important that the horse should match the carriage, as if he is too small he looks overweighted (even if strong enough), and if too tall the carriage looks out of proportion, and the horse is lifting up the weight instead of drawing it horizontally. He should have a broad chest, a lofty crest, a broad back (if rather hollow it is no objection), a flowing mane, a full and well-carried tail, and present a combination of breeding and power, with grand and stately action all round; and though only supposed to travel at the rate of eight miles an hour, he should be within his pace at eleven or twelve miles. Such a horse fetches a high price in the dealer's hands, and especially if the action of the animal be what is termed "grand"; the price may then be what is designated "fancy," and rise high in the three figures.
For lighter carriages, such as the wagonette, dog-cart, Victoria phaeton, etc., a lighter and better bred horse is more suitable. The height here again will depend on the size of the carriage, and may run from fifteen hands one or two inches to sixteen hands. Good conformation and action are, of course, essential, with a fair amount of speed. Sound forelegs and hocks are not to be neglected in this description of horse, the price of which may vary from £25 or £30 to £80 or £90. The best of the class are generally found in Norfolk, which produces good steppers, with strength and just proportions.
The omnibus, van, and trader's horse is to be found in many parts of the country, and varies in size and quality more than perhaps any other kind of horse. He generally has but little breeding - a half-bred mare and a cart-horse sire being usually the pedigree of the great majority of van and omnibus horses. Light agricultural horses - such as those bred in many parts of Wales - come in very useful for this kind of work, and are largely used. The chief objection to them is the coarseness of their legs, which are very hairy, and their hoofs are often large. The price is from £25 to £50.