We will suppose him to have been got quietly between the shafts, traces fixed, kicking strap and belly-band fastened, of course, the precaution must be taken of having a flat-headed hemp halter under the bridle. Let him stand-the man at his head encouraging him, and another at his side doing the same thing. He may, probably, be a little fidgetty; if, in doing so, he brings himself in contact with the shaft, he will not mind that more than bringing himself in contact with the standing of his stall, a wall, or gate. But it would be found a very different thing if the shaft was brought in contact with him; he would feel that as the approach of some extraneous object that he knows not of, and, not being able to see what it is, would probably kick at it: the shoving himself against an opposing object, he feels to be his [own act; and he is not alarmed by doing so.
His being restless is rather a favourable symptom. In all probability he will be inclined shortly to move forwards; on no account let any audible click of the tongue be used. The moment he voluntarily at tempts to move, let him do so, in any direction he may be disposed (that is, if you have space to admit of it). His fidgetting does not matter a farthing, he has voluntarily moved in some direction. You will have little trouble with a horse acting thus; all that will be wanting is a man gently leading him about for a day or two-a driver getting quietly into the cart, gig, or break, the man still leading him; he may thus be coaxed into a trot, by the man by his side running on, and encouraging the horse to follow. He then insidiously slips away, fastens the shank of the halter to the harness, and quietly seats himself by the driver's side. This horse is broke - all he wants is practice: the time occupied has only been four or five days. He has been gradually brought to a knowledge of his business: so far as not feeling alarm, or having found it irksome to him.
It is quite possible a horse might be at once put in harness, and go quietly; but the next time he was put in he might kick the vehicle to pieces. He would not, as in the first case, have been taught; he had merely at a risk been once driven.
We have supposed a docile and good-tempered horse to have been, without much trouble, broken to harness, have shown the rational way of effecting it, and at the same time the inattentions quite likely to have marred the attempt. But we are to recollect that all horses are not docile or good-tempered, and it thus becomes a matter requiring the superior sagacity of man, compared with that of the brute, to circumvent any ill designs on the part of the latter, and, by superior tact and patience, to wield him to our purpose.
I am aware that some readers will be, to a certain degree, surprised at my having said it was, on the whole, a favourable symptom-a horse being somewhat fidgetty on first finding himself in harness. I assert this on the broad basis of experience. His fidgetting shows at least a desire to move somewhere; and, being carefully indulged in this wish, care and gentleness will probably shortly render him willing to go anywhere.
We now come to one who, finding himself in harness, with some sort of vehicle behind him, stands still enough, but places his fore-feet forwards, and looks from side to side as far as his neck will serve him to this effect, or those by his side permit him; he makes no attempt to move, but stands doggedly still. This horse will plunge-(and do not be deceived by his fallacious appearance of quietude)-he will probably plunge violently; but give him a chance; let him stand, but with plenty of help at hand; the probability is, it will be wanting. No "klk" or other sign of wanting him to move must be made till we find further patience of no avail; then some indication that he will not be permitted to stand still ad infinitum must be given. The best is the man at his head coaxing and patting him, at the same time trying to lead him gently forwards; but let the man take care of himself, for instead of, as invited to do, stepping forwards a pace or two, the chances are that in some direction he will suddenly plunge twenty. Perhaps after doing so he will again stand still in dogged sulkiness, then again play the same game on being required to move, or will continue plunging in successive desperate bounds. The only thing to do in such a case is with a man on each side to hold him, let him plunge till he is tired with the effort. Now, I do not mean to say that such a horse is not to be conquered in single harness; but the wisest plan would be to take him out, put on the proper harness, and at once put him to a double break, with a steady resolute break-horse who has both the power and the will to hold such a reprobate, and to teach him that, with a break behind him, and a companion beside him who knows his business, plunging will avail him little. A good break-horse will hold him till he is tired of his exertions, or, on the signal being given, will at once lug him off, break and all.
It may be asked, Why not adopt such plan at first? My reason for putting horses in single harness as a beginning is this: if disposed to kick, he can do no mischief by this, either to himself or other s In single harness the kicking-strap will hold him down; now in double harness, though the splinter-bar be stuffed to prevent his scarring his hocks or legs, he may kick over it and get entangled in the fore part of the carriage; or if he only kicks over the bar, the roller-bolt renders the getting the leg off sometimes a troublesome and dangerous job, for it is a singular fact that a horse with his leg thus fixed will lean so heavily on it as to endanger its being broken. It might be inferred that, from the pain occasioned by thus leaning on the limb, instinct would teach him not to do so. Experience, however, shows us that in such cases instinct will not teach him to do otherwise; or, at all events, sulkiness and ill-temper are stronger than instinct, for lean he most probably will. I have before now had the pole of the break taken out and passed under his body, to support him while his leg was being extricated, and even then the sulky brute would lean on this till the united strength of a couple of men, with even this strong lever, had quite enough to do to hold him up and prevent his falling, in which case a broken leg would be almost the certain consequence.