Trotters, like racehorses, have their distances: some go a mile at a terrific pace, then their "bolt is shot others can keep up their speed three or four miles, others seven; while Tom Thumb and some others could do twenty, and that at about the rate of a mile in three minutes. I will bring an instance. The black mare I purchased for the late ever-to-be-lamented Duke of Gordon, and who beat the celebrated Birmingham mare, could do her mile with comparative ease in three minutes; but she could not do even a single mile five seconds under that time, for I tried her more than once; yet this mare did her three miles in nine minutes some little time before I bought her. I have reason to suspect, though I never tried her, she could not have done ten miles in anything like half an hour.
In some proof that I am not far astray in my remark, that practice goes far towards making trotters, let any man old enough call to mind what he saw thirty years since, and what he sees now; but for reflection, he might infer we had got into a breed of trotters: not a bit, the fact is simply this-our roads have become so good, that each horse drawing alight cart is now more or less practised as a trotter, and the effect of that practice may be daily seen in our streets; the horses of thirty years since were as well bred as they are now, and had the capabilities of trotting just the same, but pavement and roads prevented the pace, and consequently the practice.
I have previously stated that when called upon to exhibit great speed in his trot the horse could not do so without very considerable distress. I fear readers not very conversant with such matters may be led into error by what I have said, and conclude I mean to infer that the trot is a fatiguing pace. It is quite the contrary-it is the easiest next to a slow walk, and one far more commonly used by horses at liberty than the canter or gallop. I have no hesitation in spying a horse will trot along with a man on him, eight miles an hour, with far greater ease than he would canter seven; for, in the trot, each limb docs its fair proportion of work, each limb relieves the other in quicker succession than in the canter, and we avoid that bane to the horse I shall allude to in my article on "Horses Leading with One Leg only," throwing unfair stress on the supporting limb. In saying that a very fast trot is distressing, I allude to the forced speed, but in no way to the pace itself.
There can be no doubt but that a horse intended for a regular trotter (that is, a wager trotter) should never be permitted to canter or gallop; it is to be wished he did not know himself capable of either pace-in fact, very first-rate trotters rarely rise (as it is technically termed) when at full speed. I doubt their being able at that moment to change the pace. A regular trotter will bear the whip (like the racehorse) without "breaking" or "rising;" it is when in distress, rating fifteen or sixteen miles an hour, that they do this-not during the time they are doing twenty. I have ridden several of our first-rate trotters in my time, and, as some proof of the truth of what I say, as respects their not rising in their trot, will bring an instance.
As quite a boy I was put on the celebrated old Phenomenon mare. Her owner, among other remarks, affirmed she could trot faster than she could gallop. To prove this to my father and a friend or two who had come to see her, I was directed to trot her up the road, and in coming back to force her into a gallop (which I could not have done without instructions). I was then told to strike her while galloping with the whip. All this I steadily did; and sure enough, on the second or third stroke, she resumed her trot, and came back at a rate of something like twenty miles an hour, certainly far faster than she galloped.
We all know that the common run of horses if out-paced will break out into a gallop; this arises from want of tuition, and much more frequeutly from their riders not being accustomed to ride regular trotters. Few ordinary horses pull hard enough against their rider or driver to perform extraordinary speed, and few riders or drivers are willing that they should do so; yet unless they do they will rarely be found trotters. I in no shape mean that a horse to be fast in or out of harness must necessarily be a puller. He may be what in common estimation is held as fast, that is, he may be able to rate his fifteen miles an hour (and this is fast); but when you come to add four or five miles per hour to this, it is a very different affair. Horses capable of this are rarely pleasant to ride or drive. Tom Thumb would pull against a snaffle-bit like a locomotive; put a severe curb in his mouth, and, comparatively, he would not go at all. The well-known Birmingham mare had a way of so determinately throwing down her head, that a man unaccustomed to her habit would be fairly or unfairly pulled out of his saddle; yet it would not do to violently check her-she would have been "all abroad" in a minute. I had one who could do his nine miles in thirty minutes; he, when trotting at the rate of twelve or fourteen miles an hour, would go as pleasantly as any horse; put him to his extreme speed, and then be careful that your arms were firm in their sockets; release your hold of him. and he would drop off into ordinary fast pace. He had another peculiarity; he was apt in his first trotting days to "rise" or break; he had so often been sharply turned round for this, that when I had him, if he did rise he was so conscious of the fault, that, without any effort on the part of the rider, he would turn, as if on a pivot, and a stranger to his ways would inevitably be thrown from his saddle on the opposite side. Some trotters are extremely unpleasant (I might say unsafe) in their slow pace- they seem, in technical phrase, not to get on their legs till they go at a certain rate; while a very very few are pleasant at any rate of going. The black mare I mentioned as my having bought for the Duke of Gordon was one; she was pleasant whether going seven miles an hour or at the rate of twenty, and, more extraordinary still, rode to a good mouth whatever pace she was going at. But "one swallow does not make a summer."