The back of the roadster should be rather straight, and not too long, a hollow or concave back being objectionable on account of its weakness; while a convex or "roach" back, though generally strong, makes a horse unpleasant and rough to ride. The ribs should be long and oval, and they should continue to be so as far as the very last rib, while the space between this and the point of the hip should be easily covered by the bieadth of the hand. The hind quarters must be long, deep, full, and broad, as well as straight from the back to the tail; the distance from the point of the haunch to the hocks should be great, the stifles prominent, and from there to the hocks large and full. The hocks themselves should be large and fine, without being coarse or puffy; the point of the hock ought to be prominent, and the leg below it incline very slightly under the body, but it should not be too perpendicular, nor deviate laterally from the perpendicular, or, in other words, it should not be "wide behind," or "cow-hocked." Those parts below the hocks may be compared with the description of those below the knee. With regard to the tail, this should pass in a straight line from the croup, and then droop in a graceful curve.
Such is the description of the roadster, and it is applicable more or less to the hunter and the troop horse, when these make any approach towards perfection.
The price of a good roadster will vary with his shape, size, and qualities, and may extend from thirty or forty pounds to eighty or a hundred pounds, but for a useful animal probably the mean between the two extremes is sufficient.
The cover or covert hack differs but little from the roadster except in height, which is from fourteen to fifteen hands high; and he should be capable of carrying his rider at a trot at the rate of twelve or thirteen miles an hour, canter fifteen or sixteen miles an hour, or gallop twenty; he should also be nimble enough to jump a ditch, a fallen tree, or a low fence. His pace should be easy and elastic, his walk free and true, without any tendency to tripping or stumbling in front, or knuck-ling-over behind. Such an animal must be well-shaped, and it must be confessed that a perfect covert hack is nowadays far more difficult to procure than a perfect hunter; but there are many which, though far from perfect, yet do most excellent service.
For light-weight carrying, that is, for anything under fourteen stone, such a hack may be nearly, if not quite thoroughbred; but if to carry a heavier weight, then he must be a stout cob.
The price of a covert hack will depend upon quality, size, and symmetry, but it should average something like that of the roadster. Fifty pounds would not be too much for a tolerably perfect one to carry a light weight; for a stout one to carry a heavy weight, more money would have to be given.
The park hack should be something like the covert hack, but with more style and show, as he is not so much for work as for display. His height may be from fifteen to sixteen hands, and his walk, trot, and canter should be easy and graceful, while his temper and mouth should be good in every way. "He must be intelligent (amongst horses senseless brutes are legion), for without intelligence, even with fine form and action, he can never be pleasant to ride. Thorough-bred is to be preferred, and if not quite, as nearly thorough-bred as possible. He may be of any colour except mealy or foul marked; white marks often much improve, but they also sometimes quite disfigure a horse. The head should be of the finest Oriental type; the neck well arched, but not too long; the shoulders light at the points, long, and well grown into the back. The loins should be accurately arched, and the quarters level and nicely rounded - not drooping abruptly toward the tail (like many capital hunters, famous race-horses, and useful road hacks). The mane and tail should be full, straight, without the least suspicion of a curl, and every hair as soft as silk; four clean, well-shaped, well-placed legs, the fetlocks rather longer than would be chosen for a hunter; from such a form, action pleasant to the rider may be confidently expected, and paces agreeable for even the commonest observer to follow. The walk of a park hack should be perfection - fast, springy; the legs moving, as it were, independently of the body, without apparent exertion, with all the certainty of machinery, the head carried in its right place, the neck gracefully curved, and the tail displaying a full flag gracefully keeping time with the foot-falls. From the walk he should be able to bound into any pace, in perfectly balanced action, that the rider may require."
A park hack, perfect in symmetry, manners, and paces, will bring a high price, say from a hundred to three hundred pounds, or even more. But over one hundred pounds the price is a fancy one, and will depend upon many circumstances, the most important of which is, doubtless, the long purse of the purchaser.
The lady's hack, like the park hack, should be perfect in conformation, paces, mouth, and temper. The back should be rather longer than in the gentleman's hack, the head well placed and carried on a rather long neck, and the shoulder at a good angle. The animal should be particularly sound and strong on his fore legs; no woman should be put on a stumbling horse, or one with weak fore limbs. Pasterns rather more oblique than usual are not a disadvantage in a lady's hack; on the contrary, like the long back, they make the pace more elastic, and therefore pleasanter.
The price of a lady's hack, like that of the park hack, varies within wide limits, according to breeding, style of going, temper, conformation, etc., as well as the means and fancy of the intending purchaser. So that while a useful animal may be purchased for forty or fifty pounds, one of perfect manners, good shape, and attractive colour, may reach three figures.
Closely allied to hacks come what are called cobs, which range widely in style, qualities, and price, according as they are park cobs, weight-carrying cobs, ordinary cobs, harness cobs, etc.
The cob proper is described as of two kinds: one, the priceless animal of grand symmetrical form, short legs, a round barrel, well ribbed-up; a well-bred intelligent head, a neck beautifully set on and carried, and a tail to match - in a word, he should possess the strength of a dray horse, the spirit of a race horse, the manners of a perfect gentleman, and at least two good paces, both easy - a square walk over four miles an hour, and a square trot of eight miles an hour - or a very slow canter, performed quite on the haunches. "With these merits, a cob of a proper sober colour is worth at least two hundred guineas to a dealer, and to the dealer, when a heavy-weighted millionaire comes to him in despair, any price he chooses to ask. No less a sum than £400 has been given for a perfect cob fit to carry a rider weighing seventeen stone. But such cobs are the few and far between exceptions - more difficult to find than even a heavy-weight hunter, because they are only bred by chance, as it were; though there is no reason why they should not be bred with some degree of certainty.
It has been remarked, that the vulgar idea of a cob is a diminutive cart-horse, and that such, even if without action, but if very fat and not absolutely hideous, are constantly sold to ignorant people with plenty of money in their pockets, at double their worth, because they fancy that thick legs (perhaps carefully shaved) and a fat body imply strength. One of the best tests recommended for a weight-carrying cob is to try if he can walk down a steep hill with a heavy weight on his back, and a loose rein.
The second kind of cob, the ordinary sort, if he is sound, has substance, can carry fourteen stone, move at a fair pace, with useful though not showy action, and will go in harness, should be worth a price ranging between £50 and £100.
Cobs, as distinguished from park hacks, are of the generally useful class, so-called because of their weight, which enables them to pull a loaded carriage.
It is supposed to be a disadvantage to a saddle cob to have been in harness, for it is said that those riders who are fastidious will not, if they know it, buy one that has ever been in a collar; but, as has been also noted, since such animals are, in nine cases out of ten, bred by chance, and work their way by degrees into good society, after graduating in bakers' or butchers' carts, there is every probability of their being accustomed to the collar, even if they do not bear the marks which so frequently attend its use. Indeed, harness appears to be "the badge of all their tribe." Mention is made of a cob, fourteen hands three inches high, five years old, and rather plain than otherwise, which won a leaping prize at one of the Agricultural Hall shows, and was sold for eighty guineas, to a heavy-weight financier who intended to use the animal as a "constitutional" park hack, notwithstanding a collar blemish; a year later the cob was sold at a profit.
The ordinary cob is a most useful animal, either in saddle or harness, and may be looked upon as the "horse of all work," either in large or very limited studs, and especially for household work.
Next to the cob for usefulness comes the pony, especially in an establishment where there are children; but of this animal we will treat hereafter.