I consider it may be acceptable to some of my readers, if I mention some facts as regards practising and training trotters. We will conclude no man would be insane enough to attempt making a trotter of an animal that exhibited no trotting qualifications; we may increase speed, but we cannot give the powers of it where none exist; but supposing such do to a certain degree exist, we may, probably, considerably increase the horse's natural speed by practice; but it by no means invariably follows that a horse who can rate sixteen miles per hour, can be brought to rate twenty, or even eighteen, while others train on wonderfully. The natural powers of some horses enable them to go a certain pace; but all the training in the world, though it may improve, cannot make them perform anything very extraordinary. And this cannot be ascertained without giving the not-to-be-improved horse the same chance as the one who may be found to realize all our expectations from practice and training. It will be found that very high or, in fashionable technical terms (among dealers), "extravagant action" greatly impedes speed; a horse with such action may be fast, but he will rarely be found extraordinary. The only one I ever knew who was so, and at the same time had remarkably high action, was Mr. Osbaldeston's Rattler; but even he would, doubtless, have been faster had his action been less elevated, and certainly would have performed his work with far less fatigue to himself.
The training horses to trot and the training of the racehorse is a very different affair: it is not that the pace is different only, but the system differs. The trotter in training is very frequently put to his top-speed, and even continued at it so long as it is held judicious that he should be, that is, so long as he can stay at it without bringing on distress; he is, in fact, constantly practised to go at this pace, and he is found to increase in speed from practice. The racehorse is not practised to go at his best speed; in fact, unless in a trial, from the time the racehorse is put in training till he comes to the post, he has perhaps never once been at his top speed, unless, as I have remarked, in the case of trials. "What the effect would be of practising horses for a short spurt at speed like the trotter, I do not pretend to give an opinion upon, though I have one; but a system so new as this would be is not to be even commented upon by me. But, as speed is improved in the trotter by being practised at it, the idea is not absolutely absurd that accustoming a horse to extend himself might be attended with beneficial results. One thing is quite certain: unless there are strong indications of going in the trotter or the racehorse, it is quite useless to train either.
The training of the trotter differs from that of the racehorse in more particulars than I have as yet mentioned. It is quite true that trotting at the rate of, say eighteen miles per hour, involves far greater exertion, and consequent fatigue, than galloping at an increased rate, and requires the wind to be clear to accomplish it; but it does not require that acme of perfection which is necessary to the racehorse, to finish a race probably at a speed verging on sixty miles an hour-a rate I doubt not many do go for a short distance to the finish. Fatigue or exertion has a different effect on the lungs in velocity, and though we may not find the racehorse, on being pulled up, blow harder than a horse after a severe trot, it is the perfection his wind is brought to, that occasions it.
Severe as is the training of a racehorse towards its conclusion, I should say that of the trotter is more so. A trainer may find it quite necessary to (in technical terms) "get the length into" the racehorse; but what is that length?-happily for horses, now seldom more than two miles; but even in days when four miles was a common distance, what is that to the trotter, who is to be prepared to trot for an hour, and make the most ground he can in that space of time? The length must be "got into" him as much as the racehorse, and an appalling length it is, be it borne in mind, for horses not thoroughbred. I knew one who was nearly so-this was the late Colonel Copland's Tam o'Shanter. Well as I knew Copland, I never saw the horse at top speed; but his master told me he had done his mile in two minutes forty seconds. I will not vouch for my being correct, but I have an idea that the mare who trotted in the match with Mr. Osbaldeston's Rattler was thorough-bred; but the generality of trotters are very far from being so, some of them barely half-bred, which proves that up to a certain rate of going half-breds can do wonders; go beyond that and for a distance, nothing but thorough-breds can live at it.
To get pace and length is, of course, the great desideratum with all horses, though we may think ourselves fortunate if we get a horse that is extraordinary in either qualification: to get one that combines both is a circumstance "devoutly to be wished;" and occasionally we get it. This holds good equally as regards the racehorse as the trotter. Now to practise the latter in both speed and length, with the least possible useless expenditure of the horse's powers, is, in fact, the acme of training. Our Transatlantic neighbours, who, let us think as we may, know quite as much about horses as we do (and, in sooth, on many other matters a great deal more), have a way of practising their trotters so as to further the great desideratum I have mentioned; they practise them without a rider; the horse is, in fact driven with long reins by a man on horseback behind him; this man's horse gallops or trots, as best suits him and his rider; for provided he goes a given rate, it matters net how he goes. It has another advantage-it accustoms the trotter not to be disturbed by the clattering of a horse behind him, which frequently alone is sufficient to cause many a hasty-tempered horse to "rise," and further, does away with any reluctance a horse may have to (in technical terms) "leave his horses;" such peculiarity is, I admit, rare, but it does sometimes occur.