There are few greater drawbacks on symmetrical formation in the horse than a ewe-neck. A very trite punster would say it makes him look sheepish. It does so; for, in the common acceptation of the word, it implies poor and mean, and it has this effect on the horse. In burlesque stable phrase, such horses are described as having "their necks set on the wrong way," or "upside down"-meaning the curve or turn of the neck is the wrong side-in fact, topsy-turvy. Excepting appearance, the only objec tion to horses with such-formed necks is, from want of opposing muscle on the top or "crest" of the neck, and on each side of it just before the wither, they are apt to throw their heads up; and having, from the circumstance mentioned, the greatest facility for doing this, on the slightest restraint of the bridle up goes their heads, sometimes to the extent of "making a tooth-pick of their ears," which has occasionally been found rough practice in dentition. Such horses will rarely go without a martingal. I have said enough about these in a previous article to show I hold them in no way objectionable in any situation; I make no objection to ewe-necked horses if they possess attributes to compensate for their unsightly appearance.
When I speak of attributes compensating for ill-looks of any sort, I beg to observe I allude only to hunters and racehorses. Horses for ordinary purposes are not called upon for any superior or uncommon qualifications. Gentlemen do not nowadays ride their hacks sixty or seventy miles in a day, and expect them to do this with comparative ease to themselves and riders. Safety, pleasantness, good action, and docility are all the qualifications a hack of 1858 is called on to possess; it is hard if we cannot get these with good looks into the bargain. With a horse to carry a lady we should be a little more particular; but to have the best woman's horse that could carry a side-saddle, no extraordinary attributes, natural or acquired, are called for or required: here we must have, not only an absence of all unsightliness, but absolute good looks, if not perfect beauty. Now, I will reverse the thing. If I wanted a horse to carry a lady with hounds, I should throw looks aside-that is, as an indispensable qualification; for I, and thousands of others, know" it is not easy to get a horse to carry ourselves as we like across country; how infinitely more difficult is it to find one to carry a woman in the same situation. It is true lady does not, or, at least in my opinion, ought not to call on her horse for the same exertion of his powers that men do. It does not from this follow, that what we should term a bad horse would carry a woman (unless it be with a pack of slow beagles). We may and do, risk our necks at times on a blown or tired horse; but the bare idea of a woman doing the same thing must freeze our very blood; no, her horse must be, comparatively, always fresh, and to be this he must be a good one. For such reasons, I should more disregard looks in a lady's hunter than I should in one for my own riding. I do not, or at least did not, mind a fall-like the eels, I was used to it; but I always took care so to mount my wife that she did not get one.
Although I deprecate ewe-necks on the score of appearance, I prefer even them to the stiff full neck we see some horses possess. I can find no greater similitude to such than those we see on rocking-horses, to whom the maker always takes care to give what he conceives to be a grand appearance. Anything approaching it in the living horse, though to some men's taste even desirable, is to me intolerable. In a charger who is only required to carry his neck, as the soldier sits nearly in the same position at all times, it might be borne, but its stiffness would be unfavourable in any other horse, the harness horse, perhaps, excepted. A horse with such a formed neck cannot (however well disposed to do so) yield nicely to the reins. You very rarely see a very well-bred one with such a neck. I confess myself prejudiced against them; yet that can hardly, in fairness, be called mere prejudice that is based on reason. I will, in burlesque, compare a horse's neck to that of a wine-bottle-the nice light neck is like that of the bottle that has contained, or still contains, port or sherry; the neck I have described assimilates to that of the champagne-bottle, with comparatively no marked or decided place where it is set into the body. A neck, in my opinion, should be thin-that is, small in size-and shorter than some persons would admire. No man likes a long horse better than I do; but I should not, perhaps, call the horse so that merely measured a certain length from his nose to his tail, for his length might only be gained by a long neck-he might still be a short horse. But let me measure him from his chest to the extremity of the haunch, then if, in comparison to his height, he measures well, "I get a long 'un" (as poor Tom Smart, the dealer, used to call such); and if a deep muscular body, I get what the same authority used to call "a nice 'un." My brother sportsmen, and eke good judges of horses, will be quite sure I do not allude to them, and I am sure will join me in saying that out of the thousands who keep horses, very few appreciate, or even know a really "nice one" when they see it.
I have not the smallest doubt but that, take many men who keep what are usually termed fine horses down to Leicester or Melton, and take them through the stables there, they would be grievously disappointed, and probably think their own and many of their friends' horses to be preferred. In the first place, such persons would probably have heard that most of the Leicestershire horses were very highly or thorough-bred: they would carry in their eye racehorses, or such as they see ridden in the park as hacks, yet thorough-bred; they would not be able to amalgamate in their idea the size and strength of the horses they would find there and the highly-bred one. They would, perhaps, expect, on a stable be ing opened, to be induced to exclaim, "What beauties!" Collectively they would not find them such; they are merely (as a lot) fine horses, and horses of extraordinary merits; many of them would want to be pulled out, and their merits as to shape and form pointed out. Many a horse, like many a fine picture, would be passed over by the non-judge till its merits are pointed out by a connoisseur. To the former many a picture is to be had for two or three guineas, that in his eye is preferable to a Poussin or a Gainsborough. A man may be quite sure that the horses he will see in a Melton stable will, if they do not strike at first as beautiful, like the fine picture, bear picking to pieces; and, generally, the more they are looked at the more they will be liked. When this is not the case, you may be sure the horse possesses superior and extraordinary qualifications, that more than compensate for any deficiency in appearance. It is just as easy for a man of large fortune, who only wants horses for ordinary purposes, to get handsome, or, if you please, beautiful horses, as it is to get beautiful carriages. He has only to go to the coachmaker for the latter, and to a first-rate dealer for the former; that is, if his judgment and taste are good. But a stud of a dozen hunters is, as they say, "a horse of another colour." Beauty and merit combined are not to be got as a certain black gentleman "found sixpence, all in a lump;" nor could time, money, and judgment insure a man always having a dozen hunters by him of the above description, that is, if determined to have as good horses as any man can have on the aggregate. As with other horses, he may make sure of beauty in hunters, if that is his sole object; but the term "hunter" is not quite definite, so his beauties might not come up to what even my ideas of hunters should be. To get such, he may take my word for it, he must tolerate some drawback on beauty-aye, even the ewe-neck, the leading subject of this article.