I had one, a stallion, good hunter as need be, had always passed as a half-bred; it was few horses he could not run up to; but there he would stick, and all the hustling, threatening, or whipping, could not get the villain to go in front; he had lost two or three country stakes in this manner. I entered him for a hunters' stake, and rode him. He went manfully up to the leading horse, and I knew perfectly well all the whipcord or spur persuasion in the world would be of no avail, so I sat quietly on him till about two or three lengths from the winning-post; then a couple of sudden strokes of the whip, which might have been heard at the distance, so electrified him, that he made, I may call it, an exertion of astonishment that landed him a half-head in front; twenty yards further, the rogue would have died away, and run as usual.
There is, no doubt, a different style of going in trotters, but by no means or in any degree so different as is found in the ordinary horse. Let us look at professional pedestrians, to whom I have paid no little attention. Let me see a man start and go ten yards, I could tell in a moment whether he is a runner or walker-they go no more like common men than a Derby horse goes like a charger. The practised trotter goes as a horse (if I may use the term), professionally, like the man; there is a peculiar snatch (I can use no other term) up of the legs as if they were influenced by internal wires, a kind of motion that appears involuntary. We may admire the way in which an ordinary horse lifts or handles his legs, but the trotter, once set in motion, seems as if some spring acted on his limbs, that without any effort on his own part caused the peculiar action to which I allude-the chief difficulty being to detect the moment they are on the ground: in other words, they appear to be going on an India-rubber surface, that would return each leg to its elevation, without any seeming effort on the part of the animal. There is a certain springiness indispensable to the man if he would become a walker, runner, or vaulter; the same is required to enable the horse to become a trotter, jumper, or racehorse; a good deal of this is to be acquired by practice, but where it is absolutely wanting all practice is thrown away.
A horse may be an excellent harness-horse and tolerably fast into the bargain-the quickness of his step will enable him to do this; but mere quickness will never suffice to make a regular trotter, though it will make an excellent hack, and is precisely what we want in the latter animal. Tiger, the celebrated hack that used to carry George the Fourth when Prince of Wales, in a way that few others could have done, was a good goer, as a hack, and fast, but he was no trotter: had he been, most probably he could not have carried his royal master as he did, and certes the Prince would not have ridden him if he could have done so.
Those not conversant with trotters are in no shape aware of the bounds they make. Persons look at the horse's legs, and by their quick successive strokes are quite aware the horse is going fast. They may see at the same time some other going at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, who appears (or rather would appear if seen singly) to be going quite as fast perhaps; he moves his legs faster even than the trotter; but it is the space the latter covers while all legs are off the ground that carries him along at the wonderful rate some of them can go. The hack clears little more ground at each step than, like an ordinary man walking, he can as it were stride, be it more or less. If, for instance, in leaping, a horse only took the space he could compass between his fore and hind legs at their utmost stretch, perhaps a dozen feet would be all he could cover, but the impetus and spring of the flying leap carries him on sixteen feet while in the air. I hope this will in some measure explain the vast difference between the quick going of the best hack, and the bounding movement of the trotter.
At some future time we will turn our attention to the style of going of road horses, as regards pleasure and safety to the rider.
Among many absurdities in daily use is the practice of teaching horses to lead with the off leg only in their gallop; a still greater one is the not permitting them to change it when inclined to do so. It may be urged that from custom we should hold unsightly the seeing a horse leading with the near leg. Let us use our common sense in considering this. We consider the latter act as unsightly. Why it is so held is merely because we are unaccustomed to it; so we diminish the facility of the horse's going, and impede his powers, merely to please our fancy-for it is but fancy after all. A horse can go as handsomely, as smoothly, and as fast, leading with one leg as the other. What should we say of a dancer or danseuse who always kept advancing the right leg? yet, if such was the custom, I suppose we should consider the using either alternately as unsightly.
We all know that the supporting leg - which, I need scarcely say, is the reverse of the leading one - sustains a far greater weight than does the latter; hence why a horse lame on one leg only, invariably leads, if permitted to do so, with the ailing one. Having established this fact, how great must be the folly of confining the animal to go in such form as causes the one leg, whenever or while he gallops, to perform twice the labour of the other. I have not the smallest doubt but that many horses fall from the sustaining leg having become wearied by constantly performing an undue portion of the work. A man carrying a weight on his shoulder shifts that weight to ease the wearied part. A horse cannot do this; but he can bring the less-tired limb to its support. It is absolute tyranny to prevent his doing this. All horses should be taught to do so readily whenever obstacles, turns, fatigue, or any other casualty renders such act necessary to his own comfort, convenience, or safety, and consequently to the safety of his rider also. A horse should be as handy with his legs as a man is with his hands and arms: and well it would be for the latter if he was as effective with the one as with the other, which using both in similar acts from childhood would make him.