Tradesmen employ horses of different kinds, sizes and qualities, according to their requirements, and sometimes also according to their means and fancies. We therefore find them of not only different sizes and weights, but also of different degrees of breeding. Included in the list of tradesmen's horses, we observe these ranging from the heavy draught and van horse, to that of the butcher, greengrocer, and milkman's cart. It is needless to say that, in the selection and management of these, there is much to dilate upon, and yet special circumstances must determine the course to be adopted, and influence the results arrived at in these particulars.
Upon the amount and the kind of work will depend the kind of horse to be provided to perform it, and amount of food and attention the animal should receive. In the chapter on Feeding and General Management these particulars have been already dealt with, and, as pointed out, no fixed rule can be laid down with regard to the amount or kind of food which such horses should receive. One thing is certain, that it is not profitable - to say nothing of the inhumanity of it - to under-feed or over-work such horses. In proportion to the severity of the work should be the amount of nutritious food and rest; while comfortable, clean, and well-ventilated stables ensure health and liveliness. The times as to feeding, and the kinds and preparation of food, which have been dealt with in the chapter alluded to, should be adhered to as far as may be possible, while the grooming should also be carried out as carefully as circumstances will allow.
One important point with regard to the management of the tradesman's horse which should not be overlooked, is the treatment the animal receives while it is at work. Perhaps no horse is more exposed to the danger of cruel treatment than this, from the fact that he seldom comes under the observation of his owner during working hours, and is only too often entrusted to the care of a man who may be indifferent to the animal's requirements or feelings; perhaps an ignorant, brutal person governed by a bad temper, liable to become fiendishly cruel by imbibing alcohol.
To protect horses from cruelty in every form is the duty of all; but in no form is it more repulsive, perhaps, than that it exhibits in the harsh and cruel treatment the tradesman's horse so often receives from the driver while at work. It is no rare event to see a brute of a fellow torturing and abusing a horse for no fault the animal has committed, but probably because he himself has made a mistake, or the horse has misunderstood him, or for some other trivial cause, or sometimes from no cause whatever.
Such cruelty is not only inhuman, it is a waste of property. Unkindness to animals is as damaging to them as overwork, for it materially diminishes their energy, breaks their spirit, makes them stupid, and shortens their existence; while kindness and encouragement are profitable, inasmuch as horses will do more work, and with increased intelligence, for a greater number of years. Cruelty, overwork, and insufficient or bad food, are the things to be guarded against in dealing with the tradesman's horse. Overloading and overdriving are no less to be condemned, and particularly that kind of bad driving so commonly indulged in by butchers' boys and men, which is as damaging to the temper and legs and feet of their horses as it is annoying and dangerous to those persons who have the misfortune to witness it. Scarcely anything in connection with the management of horses can be more reprehensible or unhorseman-like than butchers' driving.
Tradesmen's horses usually work on the paved streets of towns and cities; therefore the legs and feet should be carefully watched, in order to keep them sound as long as possible. In this regard, too much attention can scarcely be paid to the management of the feet, and to shoeing. Good harness and proper harnessing are essential to the satisfactory performance of work and the comfort of the horse while performing it, as has been insisted upon in the previous chapter; and the value of a feed in the nose-bag should never be forgotten, if the horse has to be many hours away from his stable.
As has been mentioned, the amount of food, as well as the kind, will depend upon circumstances, but it should always be ample and of good quality. The probable quantity we have already stated; but it may be mentioned that for omnibus and cab horses in moderate or hard work, a daily allowance of from eighteen to twenty-two pounds of corn - a mixture of oats and maize, the proportion depending on the price in the market - with chaff (meadow hay and clover) from eight to ten pounds, is considered sufficient.