THE reduction of the horse to a domestic state, is the greatest acquisition, from the animal world, ever made by the art and indu|stry of man. This noble animal partakes of the fatigues of war, and seems to feel the glory of victory. Equally intrepid as his master, he en|counters danger and death with ardour and magnanimity. He delights in the noise and tu|mult of arms, and annoys the enemy with reso|lution and alacrity. But it is not in perils and conflicts alone that the horse willingly co-ope|rates with his master; he likewise participates of human pleasures. He exults in the chace and the tournament; his eyes sparkle with e|mulation in the course. But, though bold and intrepid, he suffers not himself to be carried off by a furious ardour; he represses his movements, and knows how to govern and check the natu|ral Page 307 vivacity and fire of his temper. He not on|ly yields to the hand, but seems to consult the inclination of the rider. Uniformly obedient to the impressions he receives, he flies or stops, and regulates his motions entirely by the will of his master. He, in some measure, renounces his very existence to the pleasure of man. He delivers up his whole powers; he reserves no|thing, and often dies rather than disobey the mandates of his governour.
These are features in the character of the horse whose natural qualities have been matured by art, and tamed with care to the service of man. His education commences with the loss of liber|ty, and is completed by restraint. The slavery of the horse is so antient and so universal, that he is rarely seen in a natural state. When em|ployed in labour, he is always covered with the harness; and, even during the time destined for repose, he is never entirely delivered from bonds. If sometimes permitted to roam in the pastures, he always bears the marks of servitude, and of|ten the external impressions of labour and pain. His mouth is deformed by the perpetual friction of the bit; his sides are galled with wounds, or furrowed with cicatrices; and his hoofs are pierced with nails. The natural gestures of his body are constrained by the habitual pressure of fetters, from which it would be in vain to deli|ver him; for he would not be more at liberty. Those horses, the servitude of which is most Page 308 mild, which are kept solely for the purposes of luxury and magnificence, and whose golden chains only gratify the vanity of their masters, are more dishonoured by the elegance of their trappings, and by the plaits of their hair, than by the iron shoes on their feet.
Art is always excelled by nature; and, in a|nimated beings, liberty of movement constitutes the perfection of their existence. Examine those horses which have multiplied so prodigiously in Spanish America, and live in perfect freedom. Their motions are neither constrained nor mea|sured. Proud of their independence, they fly from the presence of man, and disdain all his care. They search for, and procure the food that is most salutary and agreeable. They wan|der and frisk about in immense meadows, and collect the fresh productions of a perpetual spring. Without any fixed habitation, or other shelter than a serene sky, they breathe a purer air than in those musty vaults in which we con|fine them, when subjected to our dominion. Hence wild horses are stronger, lighter, and more nervous than most of those which are in a domestic state. The former possess force and dignity, which are the gifts of nature; the lat|ter have only address and gracefulness, which are all that art can bestow.
These wild horses are by no means feroci|ous in their temper; they are only wild and fiery. Though of strength superior to most ani|mals, Page 309 they never make an attack. But, when they are assaulted, they either disdain the enemy, frisk out of his way, or strike him dead with their heels. They associate in troops from no other motive than the pleasure of being toge|ther; for they have no fear; but acquire a mu|tual attachment to each other. As grass and vegetables constitute their food, of which they have enough to satisfy their appetite, and, as they are not carnivorous, they neither make war with other animals, nor among themselves. They dispute not about their common nourish|ment, and never have occasion to snatch prey from each other, the general source of quarrels and combats among the rapacious tribes. Hence they live in perpetual peace; because their appe|tites are simple and moderate, and they have no objects to excite envy.
All these features are apparent in young hor|ses, bred together in troops. Their manners are gentle, and their tempers social; their force and ardour are generally rendered conspicuous by marks of emulation. They anxiously press to be foremost in the course, to brave danger in traversing a river, or in leaping a ditch or pre|cipice; and, it has been remarked, that those which are most adventurous and expert in these natural exercises, are the most generous, mild, and tractable, when reduced to a domestic state.
Wild horses are mentioned by several antient authors. Herodotus takes notice of white sa|vage Page 310 horses on the banks of the Hypanis in Scythia; and, in the northern part of Thrace, beyond the Danube, he remarks, there were wild horses, covered all over with hair, five inches long. Aristotle says, they were to be found in Syria; Pliny, in the northern regions; and Stra|bo, in Spain and the Alps. Among the mo|derns, Cardan says the same thing of Scotland, and the Orkney isles*; Olaus, of Muscovy; Dapper, of the island of Cyprus, where he says, there were beautiful wild horses, of great strength and swiftness*; and Struys, of the island of May, one of the Cape de Verds, where he saw wild horses of a small stature*. Leo of Africa likewise relates, that there were wild horses in the deserts of Africa and Arabia; and he assures us, that he saw, in the solitudes of Numidia, a colt with white hair, and a crisped mane*. Marmol confirms this fact, by inform|ing us, that small wild horses, some of them of an ash-colour, and others white, with short curl|ed hair and manes, are to be found in the Ly|bian and Arabian deserts*: He adds, that they out-run the dogs and domestic horses. We likewise learn, from the Lettres Edifiantes*, that there are small wild horses in China.
Page 311 But, as Europe is now almost equally peopled, wild horses are no where to be found in this quarter of the globe. Those in America are the offspring of domestic horses, transported origi|nally from Europe by the Spaniards. In these uninhabited, or rather depopulated regions, hor|ses have multiplied prodigiously. That this species of animal was unknown in the New World, appears from the terror and astonish|ment expressed by the Mexicans and Peruvians at the sight of horses and their riders. The Spaniards carried great numbers of horses to these regions, both with a view to their ser|vice, and to the propagation of the breed. Ma|ny were, accordingly, left on the islands, as well as on the Continent, where they have multiplied like other wild animals. M. le Salle*, in the year 1685, saw, near the bay of St Louis, in North America, these horses grazing in the mea|dows; and they were so wild that he could not approach them. The author of the history of the Bucaniers* remarks, 'That troops of hor|ses, to the number of 500, are sometimes seen in the island of St Domingo, who all run to|gether; that, when they perceive a man, they all stop; and that one of them approaches to a certain distance, blows through his nostrils, takes flight, and is instantly followed by the Page 312 whole troop.' He adds, that he is uncertain whether these horses have degenared by be|coming wild; but that he found none of them so handsome as those of Spain, though they sprung from the same race. 'They have,' he continues, 'very gross heads and limbs, and long necks and ears. The inhabitants tame them with ease, and then train them to labour. In taking them, gins of ropes are laid in the places where they frequent. When caught by the neck, they soon strangle themselves, unless some person arrives to disentangle them. They are tied to trees by the body and limbs, where they are left for two days without victuals or drink. This trial is generally sufficient for rendering them more tractable, and they soon become as gentle as if they had never been wild; and, even if they should by accident re|gain their liberty, they never resume their sa|vage state, but know their masters, and allow themselves to be approached, and retaken with ease*.'
Page 313 These facts prove horses to be naturally of gentle dispositions, and much disposed to asso|ciate with man. They never forsake the abodes of men, to regain their liberty in the forests. They discover, on the contrary, great anxiety to return to the stable, where they find only coarse food, which is always the same, and of|ten measured to them more by the rules of oe|conomy, than by the strength of their appetite. But the sweets of habit supply all they have lost by slavery. After being oppressed with fatigue, the place of repose is full of delight. They smell it at a distance, can distinguish it in the midst of great cities, and seem uniformly to pre|fer bondage to liberty. They form a second nature out of those habits to which they have been forced to submit; for horses, after being abandoned in the forests, have been known to neigh continually, in order to be heard, to run to the voice of man, and even to grow meagre, and die in a short time, though sur|rounded with a profusion of nourishment.
Thus, it is obvious, the manners of a horse originate entirely from his education, which is accomplished by a care and industry bestowed by man upon no other animal; but he is amply rewarded by the perpetual services of this noble and laborious creature.
Page 314 The foals are separated from their mothers at the age of five, six, or at most seven months; for experience shows, that, when allowed to suck ten or eleven months, though generally fatter and larger, they are not of equal value as those which have been more early weaned. Af|ter six or seven months, the foals are removed from their mothers, and are fed twice a-day with bran and a little hay, the quantity of which is augmented in proportion as they advance in age. They are confined to the stables as long as they discover any anxiety to return to their mo|thers. But when this inquietude is gone, they are allowed to go out, and are conducted to the pasture: They must not, however, be permitted to graze when their stomach is empty. An hour before being put to the grass, they should have a little bran, be made to drink, and should never be exposed to great colds or to rain. In this manner they pass the first winter. In the month of May following, they may be allow|ed to pasture freely every day, and to remain out continually till the end of October, only ob|serving not to permit them to eat the after|maths. If accustomed to feed upon this de|licate herbage, they will reject hay, which ought nevertheless, together with bran, to be their principal food during the second winter. They are managed in the same manner, namely, al|lowing them to pasture in winter during the day, and in summer during both day and night, Page 315 till they arrive at the age of four years, when they are confined to dry food*. This change of nourishment requires some precautions. Du|ring the first eight days, they should have only straw; and a few vermifuge draughts may be given, to destroy those worms which may have been engendered by the bad digestion of crude herbs. M. de Garsault* recommends this prac|tice, the utility of which he had often experi|enced. It is, however, an established fact, that the stomachs of horses, at all ages, and in all circumstances, whether they feed upon grass, or upon oats and hay, are perpetually stuffed with a prodigious multitude of worms*. The sto|mach of the ass is always in the same condition; and yet none of these animals are incommoded by this species of vermin. These worms, there|fore, ought not to be regarded as an accidental malady, occasioned by the indigestion of crude herbs, but rather as an effect depending on the common food and ordinary digestion of the horse and ass.
After young colts are weaned, they should not be put into too warm a stable, otherwise they will be rendered too delicate and too sen|sible to the impressions of the air. They should Page 316 be often supplied with fresh litter, and kept clean by frequent friction. But they ought neither to be tied nor handled till they are near three years of age. The manger and rack should not be too high; for the necessity of stretching their neck and raising their head, may induce a habit of keeping them in that position, which would spoil their neck. When 12 or 18 months old, their tails should be cut; the hair will shoot af|terwards, and become stronger and thicker. At the age of two years, the male colts should be put with the horses, and the females with the mares. Without this precaution, the young males would fatigue and enervate themselves.
At the age of three years, or three and a half, we should begin to dress the colts, and to render them tractable. At first, a light easy saddle should be placed on them, and allowed to remain two or three hours each day. They should like|wise be accustomed to receive a snaffle into their mouths, and to allow their feet to be lifted and struck, in imitation of shoeing. If destined for the coach or the draught, they ought to be har|nessed as well as snaffled. A bridle is unneces|sary at first: By means of a halter or cavesson on their nose, they may be made to trot up and down on a smooth piece of ground, with only a saddle and harness on their bodies: And, when they turn easily, and approach, without fear, the man who holds the longe or halter, they may then be mounted and dismounted, without Page 317 making them walk, till they be four years old; for, before this period, a horse has not strength enough to walk with a rider on his back. But, at four years, they may be mounted, and walk|ed or trotted at small intervals*. When a coach|horse is accustomed to the harness, he may be yoked with a bred horse, and guided with a longe or halter passed through the bridle, till he begins to know his duty. The coachman may next try to make him draw, with the assistance of a man to push him gently behind, and even to give him some slight lashes. All this education should be gone through, before the young horses have their diet changed; for, after being fed with grain or straw, they are more vigorous, and con|sequently less docile, and more difficult to* break*.
The bit and the spur have been contrived to command the obedience of horses; the bit for the direction, and the spur for the quickness of their movements. Nature seems to have destined the mouth solely for receiving the impressions of taste and of appetite. But the mouth of the Page 318 horse is endowed with such an amazing sensibili|ty, that, to this organ, in place of the eye and ear, man applies for conveying the indications of his will to this animal. The slightest motion or pres|sure of the bit gives him notice, and determines his course. This organ of sensation has no fault but that of perfection; its too great sensibility requires the most dexterous management; for the smallest abuse spoils the mouth, by render|ing it insensible to the impressions of the bit. The senses of seeing and hearing cannot be blunted in this manner: But it is probable, that all attempts to govern horses by these organs have been found inconvenient. Besides, the signs transmitted by the touch have a stronger effect upon animals in general, than those conveyed by the eye or ear. The situation of a horse's eyes, with regard to his rider or conductor, is extremely unfavourable: And, though they be often animated and conducted by the ear, it ap|pears that the use of this organ is abandoned to the coarser species of horses; for, in the menage, they are seldom addressed by the ear. In a word, when horses are well educated, the small|est pressure of the thighs, the slightest movement of the bit, are sufficient to direct them. Even the spur is almost useless, being seldom employed but to force them to exert violent motions: And when, from the ignorance of the horseman, he gives the spur, and at the same time retracts the bridle, the horse, finding himself incited on Page 319 one side and restrained on the other, is obliged to rear, or make a perpendicular bound.
By means of the bridle, the horse is taught to keep his head in the most beautiful and advan|tageous situation, and the smallest sign or slight|est movement of the rider is sufficient to make the animal assume its different paces. The trot is perhaps the most natural motion of a horse; but the pace, and even the gallop, are most easy to the rider; and these are the two motions which are most in request. When a horse lifts his fore|leg in order to walk, this movement must be made with steadiness and facility, and the knee must likewise be bended. The lifted leg must appear, for a moment, to be supported, and when let down, it must be firm, and equally supported on the ground, before the head receive any impression from this movement; for, when the leg falls suddenly down, and the head sinks at the same time, this motion is generally made to give a speedy relief to the other leg, which is not strong enough alone to support the whole weight of the body. This is a very great defect in a horse. It is also worthy of remark, that, when he rests on his heels, it is a sign of weakness*; and when he supports himself on his toes, it is an unnatural and fatiguing attitude, which the horse cannot long continue.
Page 320 Walking, though the slowest of all motions, ought to be brisk, light, and neither too long nor too short. Lightness depends much on the freedom of the shoulders, and is distinguished by the manner in which the horse, in walking, car|ries his head. If he carries his head high and steady, he is generally vigorous and light. When the movement of the shoulders is not sufficient|ly free, the limbs are not lifted high enough, and the horse is apt to stumble upon the road. In walking, a horse should raise his shoulders, and lower his haunches*. He should also ele|vate Page 321 and support his leg; but, if he supports it too long, and allows it to fall down slowly, he Page 322 loses every advantage of lightness; his walk be|comes hard, and he is good for nothing but state and parade.
Page 323 But lightness is not the only good quality in the movements of the horse: They should like|wise be equal and uniform both before and be|hind: For, if the crupper vibrates when the shoulders are supported, his motion will be jolt|ing and incommodious to the rider. The same thing happens, when the horse lengthens so much the step of the hind-leg, that the foot lights beyond the print of the fore-foot. Horses with short bodies are subject to this fault. Those whose legs cross each other, or hew, have an unsteady motion; and, in general, long-bodied horses are most commodious to the rider, because he is placed at a greater distance from the two centres of motion, the shoulders and haunches, and is of course less jolted.
Page 324 The general mode of walking among quadru|peds is to lift, at one time, a fore-leg and a hind-leg of opposite sides. As their bodies rest on four points which form an oblong square, the most commodious manner of moving is to change two at a time in the diagonal; so that the centre of gravity of the animal's body may always remain nearly in the direction of the two points of sup|port which are not in motion. In the three na|tural movements of the horse, namely, the walk, the trot, and the gallop, this mode is always ob|served, though with some variations. In walking there are four beats or times of moving: If the right fore-leg moves first, the left hind-leg instant|ly follows; then the left fore-leg moves, and is instantly followed by the right hind-leg. Thus the right fore-foot rests first on the ground, then the left hind-foot, next the left fore-foot, and, lastly, the right hind-foot, which makes a mo|tion consisting of four beats and three intervals, of which the first and third are shorter than the middle one. In the trot, there are only two beats: If the right fore-leg parts from the ground, it is accompanied, at the same time, by the left hind-leg; then the left fore-leg moves at the same time with the right hind-leg; so that, in this motion, there are but two beats and one interval; the right fore-leg and the left hind-leg rests on the ground at the same time, and the same thing happens with regard to the left fore-leg and the right hind-leg. In the gallop, Page 325 there are commonly three beats: The left hind-|leg moves first and rests first on the ground; then the right hind-leg is raised along with the left fore-leg, and both rest on the ground at the same time; and, lastly, the right fore-leg is raised instantly after the left fore-leg and the right hind-leg, and falls last upon the ground. Thus in the gallop, there are three beats and two intervals: In the first interval, when the motion is quick, the four legs, for an instant, are in the air at the same time, and the four shoes appear at once. When the horse has supple limbs and haunches, and moves with agi|lity, the gallop is most perfect, and the feet fall at four times, first, the left hind-leg, then the right hind-leg, next the left fore-leg, and, lastly, the right fore-leg.
Horses generally gallop upon the right foot, in the same manner as they set out in walking or trotting, with the right fore-leg. In gallop|ing, they first cut the road with the right fore-|leg, which is farther advanced than the left; and the right hind-leg, which immediately follows the right fore-leg, is likewise farther advanced than the left hind-leg. Hence the left leg, which bears the whole weight, and pushes the others forward, has the greatest fatigue; so that it would be proper to learn horses to gallop al|ternately upon the left and right legs; because it would enable them to continue this violent motion much longer. This is practised at the Page 326 menage, but perhaps for no other reason, but because, in galloping round a circle, the centre of which is sometimes on the right, and some|times on the left, the rider is frequently obliged to change his hand.
In walking, the horse raises his feet very little above the surface; in trotting, he elevates them a little more, and, in galloping, still higher. The walk ought to be smart, light, and sure; the trot should be firm, quick, and equally sup|ported, and the fore-legs pushed with rapidity by the hind ones. The trotting horse should carry his head pretty high, and keep his body straight; for, if the haunches rise and fall alternately at every movement, and if the crupper rocks, the animal is too weak for this motion. To throw the fore-legs out, is another fault: They ought always to be on the same line with those behind, and to efface their prints*. When one of the hind-legs moves, and if the fore-leg on the same side rests too long, the movement becomes hard by this resistance. It is for this reason, that the interval between the two beats of the trot ought to be short: But, however short it may be, this resistance is sufficient to make the trot harder than the walk or gallop.
Page 327 The spring of the hocks contributes as much to the motions of galloping as that of the loins. While the latter make an effort to elevate and push forward the anterior parts, the spring of the hocks breaks the stroke and softens the shock. Hence the more uniform and strong the spring of the hocks, the gallop is softer and more rapid.
Though walking, trotting, and galloping be the natural and ordinary movements of horses, yet some of them have another natural motion, known by the name of ambling, or pacing; which is very different from the other three; and, though less quick than the hard trot or gallop, it appears, at first sight, to be extremely fati|guing to the animal. The foot of the horse, in this movement, grazes the surface still nearer than in walking, and each step is much longer. But, what is singular, to make a pace, the two legs of the same side part from the ground at the same time, the fore and hind leg, for ex|ample, of the right side, and then the two legs of the left side; so that each side of the body alternately want support, which must greatly fa|tigue the animal, who is obliged to support a balance forced by the rapidity of a movement which is hardly elevated above the ground; for nothing but the rapidity of the motion, and the smallness of the elevation, could possibly prevent the creature from falling on his side. In the motion of pacing, as in that of trotting, there are Page 328 only two beats. This movement, which is very laborious to the horse, and in which he ought not to be indulged excepting on smooth ground, is very easy to the rider; it has not the hardness of the trot, because the hind leg moves along with the fore one, and creates no resistance to the motion. We are told by connoisseurs, that horses which naturally amble, never trot, and that they are much weaker than those that have no such movement. Colts, indeed, often assume this mode of moving, when forced to go quick, and when they have not strength enough to trot or to gallop; and even good horses, after being fa|tigued, or when they begin to decay, are apt, when pushed, to amble spontaneously*.
The amble may therefore be regarded as a mo|tion occasioned by weakness or defect. But there are two other movements assumed spontaneously by weak or decayed horses, which are still more defective than that of the amble, and are known by the name of Broken ambles. The one is a motion between walking and ambling, and the other between trotting and galloping. Both proceed from great fatigue, or weakness in the loins, and are conspicuous in many of our hack|ney and post-horses.
Of all quadrupeds, the horse possesses, along with grandeur of stature, the greatest elegance and proportion of part. By comparing him with the animals immediately above or below Page 329 him, we find that the ass is ill made; that the head of the lion is too large; that the limbs of the ox are too slender and too short, in propor|tion to the size of his body; that the camel is deformed; and that the grosser animals, as the rhinoceros and elephant, may be considered as rude and shapeless masses. The great difference between the head of man and that of the qua|drupeds, consists in the length of their jaws, which is the most ignoble of all characters. But, though the jaws of the horse be very long, he has not, like the ass, an air of imbecility, nor, like the ox, of stupidity. The regularity and proportion of the parts of his head give him a light and sprightly aspect, which is well sup|ported by the beauty of his chest. He elevates his head, as if anxious to exalt himself above the condition of quadrupeds. In this noble attitude, he regards man face to face. His eyes are open and lively, his ears handsome and of a proper height, being neither too long, like those of the ass, nor too short, like those of the bull. His mane adorns his neck, and gives him the ap|pearance of strength and of courage. His long bushy tail covers and terminates with advantage the extremity of his body. His tail, very different from the short tails of the deer, ele|phant, &c. and from the naked tails of the ass, camel, rhinoceros, &c. is formed of long thick hairs which seem to arise from his crupper, because the trunk from which they proceed is very short. Page 330 He cannot, like the lion, elevate his tail, but, though pendulous, it becomes him better: And, as he can move it from side to side, it serves him to drive off the flies which incommode him; for, though his skin be very firm, and well gar|nished with close hair, it fails not to be extreme|ly sensible.
The attitude of the head and neck contributes more than all the other parts of his body, to give him a graceful aspect. The superior part of the neck from which the mane issues, should first rise in a straight line from the withers, and then, as it approaches the head, form a curve nearly similar to that of a swan's neck. The inferior part of the neck should have no curva|ture, but rise in a straight line from the poitrel, or breast, to the under jaw, with a small inclina|tion forward. If it rose in a perpendicular direc|tion, its symmetry and gracefulness would be di|minished. The superior part of the neck should be thin, with little flesh near the mane, which ought to be garnished with long delicate hair. A fine neck should be long and elevated, but propor|tioned to the general size of the animal. When too long, the horse commonly throws back his head; and, when too short and fleshy, the head is heavy to the hand. The most advan|tageous position of the head is, when the front is perpendicular to the horizon.
The head of a horse should be thin and mea|gre, and not too long. The ears should be Page 331 small, erect, but not too stiff, narrow, and placed on the upper part of the head, at a proper distance from each other. The front should be narrow and a little convex, the eye-pits, or spaces between the eyes and ears, well filled, and the eye-lids thin; the eyes should be pretty large and prominent, clear, lively, and full of fire; the pupil should be ra|ther large, the under jaw a little thick, but not fleshy, the nose somewhat arched, the nostrils open and deep, and divided by a thin septum or partition. The mouth should be delicate and moderately split, lips thin, the withers sharp and elevated, the shoulders flat, and not confined; the back equal, a little arched lengthways, and raised on each side of the back-bone, which ought to have the appearance of being sunk; the flanks should be short and full, the crupper round and plump, the haunches well furnished with muscular flesh, the dock or fleshy part of the tail firm and thick, the thighs large and fleshy, the hock round before, broad on the sides, and tendinous behind; the shank thin be|fore, and broad on the sides; the tendon, (or tendo Achillis) prominent, strong, and well de|tached from the leg-bone, and the fetlock some|what prominent, and garnished with a small tuft of long hair behind; the pasterns should be of a middling length, and pretty large; the coronet a little elevated, the hoof black, solid, and shining, the instep high, the quarters round, the heels broad, and a little prominent, Page 332 the frog thin and small, and the sole thick and concave.
Few horses possess all these perfections. The eyes are subject to many faults, which it is often difficult to distinguish. In a sound eye, two or three soot-coloured spots appear through the cornea above the pupil; for, unless the cornea be clean and transparent, these spots cannot be seen. When the pupil is small, long, and nar|row, or surrounded with a white circle, or when it is of a greenish blue colour, the eye is unque|stionably bad*.
Without entering into a long detail, the fol|lowing general remarks will enable the reader to form a judgment of the principal perfections and imperfections of a horse. The motion of the ears affords a tolerable criterion: When a horse walks, the point of his ears should incline forwards; when fatigued, his ears hang down; and, when angry, or of a malignant disposition, he points alternately one of his ears forwards, and another backwards. Every horse turns his ears to that side from which he hears any noise; and, when struck on the back or on the crup|per, he turns his ears backward. Horses with hollow eyes, or with one eye smaller than the o|ther, have generally a bad sight. Those whose mouths are dry, have not such good constitutions Page 333 as those that have moist mouths, and foam with the bit*. The shoulders of a saddle-horse should be flat, supple, and not too fleshy. A draught-horse, on the contrary, ought to have thick, round, fleshy shoulders. If, however, the shoulders of a saddle-horse be too meagre, and the bones advance too much through the skin, it is an indication that his shoulders are not free, and that, of course, he will be unable to under|go much fatigue. Another defect of a saddle-horse is to have the poitrel, or breast, too pro|minent, and the fore-legs inclined or placed too far backward; because, in this case, he is subject to lean heavy upon the hand in galloping, and e|ven to stumble and fall. The length of the legs should be proportioned to the stature of the horse. When the fore-legs are too long, he is not steady on his feet; and, when too short, he bears heavy on the hand. It has been remark|ed, that mares are more liable than horses to be low before, and that stone-horses have thick|er necks than mares or geldings.
It is of great importance to know the age of a horse. The eye-pits of old horses are commonly hollow: But this mark is equivocal; for young horses begot by old stallions have likewise hol|low eye-pits. The teeth afford the best criterion of the age of horses. The horse has, in all, 40 teeth, viz. 24 grinders, 4 canine, or tushes, and Page 334 12 fore-teeth. Mares have either no dog-teeth, or very short ones. The canine and fore-teeth on|ly afford indications of the age. Five days af|ter birth, the fore-teeth begin to shoot. These first teeth are round, short, and not very solid; and they fall out, at different times, to be repla|ced by others. At two years and a half, the four middle fore-teeth fall out, two above and two below. The next year, other four are shed, one on each side of the first, which are now re|placed. At four years and a half, other four fall out, always on each side of those that were for|merly shed and replaced. These last four foal-teeth are succeeded by other four, which grow not near so quickly as the first eight. It is from these four, called corner teeth, that the age of a horse is distinguished; and they are easily known, being always the third, both a|bove and below, reckoning from the middle to the extremity of the jaw. They are hol|low, and have a black mark in their ca|vities. At four and a half, or five years, these teeth hardly rise above the gums, and their ca|vities are very perceptible. At six years and a half, the cavities begin to fill up, and the mark gradually diminishes till the animal is seven and a half, or eight years, when the cavities are per|fectly filled, and the mark totally effaced. Af|ter this period, the age is attempted to be disco|vered by the tushes or canine teeth. These four teeth lie immediately adjacent to the other four Page 335 above described. Neither the tushes nor grinders shed. At the age of three years and a half, the two tushes of the under jaw generally begin to shoot; the two of the upper jaw appear at the age of four, and, till six years be completed, they are very sharp. At ten years, the tushes of the upper jaw seem to be blunted, worn out, and long, because the gums retract with age; and the more this appearance takes place, the older is the horse. From ten to thirteen or fourteen years, there are hardly any marks by which the age may be discovered. Some hairs of the eye-brows, indeed, begin to grow white; but this mark is equally equivocal as that derived from the depth of the eye-pits; for, it has been remarked, that horses begot by old stallions and old mares, have white hairs in the eye-brows at the age of nine or ten. The teeth of some horses are so hard, that they wear not by eating, and never lose the black mark. But these hor|ses are easily known, because the cavities of their teeth are perfectly filled up, and their tushes are very long*. The age of a horse may likewise be known, though with less precision, by the bars or ridges of the palate, which are effaced in proportion as he advances in years.
At the age of two years, or two and a half, the horse is in a condition to propagate; and the mares, like most other females, are still sooner ripe for this operation. But the foals produced from such early embraces, are weakly, Page 336 or ill-formed. The horse should never be ad|mitted to the mare till he is four or four and a half; and even this period is too early, except|ing for coarse or draught-horses. When fine horses are wanted, the male should not be ad|mitted to the mare before he is six years old; and Spanish stallions not till they be full seven. The mares may be one year younger: They generally come in season from the end of March to the end of June. But their chief ardour for the horse lasts not above 15 days or three weeks; and, during this critical period, the mare should be admitted to the stallion: He ought to be sound, vigorous, well-made, and of a good breed. To procure fine saddle-horses, foreign stallions, as Arabians, Turks, Barbs, and Andalousians, are preferable to all others. Next to these, British stallions are the best; because they originally sprung from those above mentioned, and are very little degenerated. Italian stallions, especially those of Naples, are extremely good. With mares of a proper size, they produce excellent horses for the saddle; and, with strong large mares, they produce good coach-horses. It is alledged, that, in France, Britain, &c. the Arabian and Barbary stallions generally beget horses larger than themselves; and that those of Spain, on the contrary, produce a breed more diminutive. The best stallions for coach-horses are those of Naples, Denmark, Holstein, and Friesland. The stallions for saddle-horses should be* four feet Page 337 eight or ten inches, and five feet*, at least, for coach-horses. Neither ought the colour of stal|lions to be overlooked, as a fine black, gray, bay, sorrel, &c. All party-coloured, or ill defined colours, ought to be banished from the stud, as well as every horse which has white extremities. Besides these external qualities, a stallion should be endowed with courage, tractability, and spi|rit; he should have agility, a sensible mouth, and sure limbs; his shoulders should be perfectly free, and his haunches supple; he should have a spring and elasticity in his whole body, especial|ly in his hind legs; and he ought to be trained and dressed in the riding-school. These precautions in the choice of a stallion are the more necessary, because it has been found by experience, that he communicates to his offspring almost all his good or bad qualities, whether natural or acquired. A horse naturally cross, skittish, restive, &c. pro|duces foals of the same dispositions: And, as the defects of conformation and the vices of the humours are more certainly perpetuated than the qualities of the temper, one should reject from the stud every horse that is deformed or diseased, extremely vicious, glandered, broken-winded, frantic, &c.
In our climate, the mare contributes less to the beauty of her offspring than the stallion; but she contributes more, perhaps, to their stature and constitution. It is, therefore, of great im|portance, Page 338 that mares for breed should be sound, tall, large, and roomy in the trunk of the body, and good nurses. For elegant horses, Spanish and Italian mares are best; but, for draught|horses, those of Britain and Normandy are pre|ferable. However, when the stallions are good, fine horses may be produced from mares of any country, provided they be well made and of a good breed; for, if the mares have sprung from a bad stallion, their offspring are generally de|fective. In horses, as in the human species, the young very frequently resemble either their male or female predecessors; only, it would appear, that, among the horse-kind, the female contri|butes less to the work of generation than in the human species. The son more frequently re|sembles his mother than the foal does the mare from which he is produced; and, when the foal happens to resemble his mother, the likeness is generally confined to the anterior parts of the body, as the head and neck.
To judge of the resemblance of children to their parents, the comparison ought not to be made till after the age of puberty. For, at this period, so many changes take place, that a per|son, with whom we were formerly familiar, we will hardly, at first sight, be able to distinguish. In the human species, the son, after puberty, of|ten resembles the father, and the daughter the mother, and, not unfrequently, each retains a partial likeness to both parents; and this family-likeness Page 339 is generally recognisable in uncles, aunts, and in every ascending or descending branch. Among horses, as the male contributes more to the offspring than the female, mares very fre|quently produce foals which have a great re|semblance to the stallion, or which always re|semble the father more than the mother. And, even when the mare has been begot by a bad horse, it often happens, that, though served by a good stallion, and though handsome herself, her offspring, though beautiful and well made at first, gradually decline as they grow up; and other mares, sprung from a good race, produce foals, which, though they have an unpromising aspect when young, improve as they advance in years.
These facts, though they seem to concur in proving that the males have greater influence on the offspring than the females, appear not to be sufficient to render this point altogether unque|stionable. It is by no means surprising, that stal|lions, which are always selected from a great number, generally imported from a warm cli|mate, and fed and managed with the greatest care and circumspection, should prevail, in the business of generation, over common mares, bred in a cold country, and often subjected to hard labour. If mares were selected from warm climates, managed with equal attention, and ser|ved with the common stallions of our own coun|try, I have not the smallest doubt, that, in this Page 340 case, the superiority of the females would be equally apparent as that of the males; and, in general, that, among horses, as well as the hu|man species, the influence of both parents, when placed in equal circumstances, is nearly the same. What renders this opinion both more natural and more probable, is the well known fact, that, in studs, the number of females produced is e|qual to that of the males; which is a clear proof, that, with regard to sex at least, the female contributes her full proportion.
But, to return to our subject. When the stal|lion is chosen, and the mares are assembled, an|other stone-horse should be allowed to teaze them, for no other purpose but to discover those which are in season. Those that are not in proper condition repel his attacks. But, instead of al|lowing him to proceed with the mares which are in season, he is led off, and the true stallion is substituted in his place. This trial is chiefly useful for discovering the condition of such mares as have never produced; for those which have produced are commonly in season nine days af|ter their delivery, and may be safely covered on the tenth day. Nine days after, their condition may be tried by the above proof, and, if still in season, they should be covered a second time, and so on every ninth day, till their ardour a|bates, which happens a few days after concep|tion. But, to conduct this matter properly, requires considerable attention and expence. The Page 341 stud should be established on good ground, and its dimensions proportioned to the quantity of mares and stallions employed. This ground should be divided into several apartments, and well fenced with ditches or hedges. The impreg|nated mares, and those which are suckling their young, should have the richest pasture. Another enclosure, where the grass is less rich, should contain the uncovered mares, those that have not conceived, and the female foals; for a rich pasture makes them grow too fat, and weakens the generative faculty. Lastly, the young male foals and geldings should be confined to the driest and most unequal part of the ground, that, by ascending and descending the eminences, they may acquire a freedom in their limbs and shoulders. This last enclosure should be well fenced from that which contains the mares, to prevent the young horses from enervating them|selves by premature efforts. If the field be suf|ficiently extensive, each of these enclosures should be divided into two, and grazed alter|nately by horses and oxen. This mode of gra|zing improves the pasture; for the ox repairs what is injured by the horse. Each park should likewise be furnished with a pond, which is bet|ter than a running water, and also with trees to shelter the animals from too much heat; but, to prevent accidents, all old stumps should be root|ed out, and deep holes filled up. These pastures will afford sufficient nourishment to the stud du|ring Page 342 the summer; but, in winter, the mares and foals should be put into stables, and fed with hay, excepting in very fine weather, when they may be set out to pasture during the day. The stal|lions should be always kept in the stables, fed with a greater proportion of straw than of hay, and moderately exercised till the time of cover|ing, which generally lasts from the beginning of April till the end of June. During this pe|riod, they should be fed plentifully, but with nothing more than their ordinary food.
When the stallion is conducted to the mare, to augment his ardour, he should be well dressed. The mare should have the shoes taken off her hind feet; for some of them are apt to kick at the approach of the stallion. One man holds the mare by the head, and two others lead the stal|lion by long reins. When in a proper situa|tion, he should be assisted by the hand, and by turning aside the tail of the mare; for the op|position of a single hair might wound him in a dangerous manner. The stallion sometimes quits the mare without consummating. If the trunk of his tail near the crupper vibrates before he descends, we may be certain that he has consum|mated; for this motion always accompanies e|mission. After consummation, the act should not be reiterated; but he ought to be carried back immediately to the stable, there to remain two days: For, though a horse might be able to cover every day during the season; yet, if only Page 343 admitted once in two days, he is both more vi|gorous and more successful. During the first seven days, therefore, let him have four differ|ent mares, and, on the ninth, let him again co|ver the first mare, and so on as long as they continue in season. When one of the mares ceases to be ardent, another should be substituted in her place; and, as many are impregnated at the first, second, or third time, a stallion, mana|ged in this manner, may cover 15 or 18 mares, and produce 10 or 12 foals, during the three months that these amours continue. Stallions throw out a vast profusion of seminal fluid; mares likewise emit, or rather distill, a fluid du|ring the time they are in season; and, as soon as they are pregnant, these emissions cease. This fluid was called Hippomanes by the Greeks; and of it they are said to have made love-po|tions, which rendered horses, in particular, fran|tic with desire. The Hippomanes in totally different from the fluid found in the membranes that cover the foal, which was first discovered and described by M. Daubenton*. The ap|pearance of the hippomanes is the most certain mark of ardour in mares. This passion may like|wise be discovered by the swelling of the under part of the vulva, and by the frequent neighing of the mares, who, at this period, have a strong desire of approaching the horse. After a mare has been covered, she may be led to the pasture Page 344 without any other precaution. The first foal is always more puny than the subsequent ones: To compensate this defect, a mare should be served, for the first time, with a large stallion. The differences in the figures of the horse and mare should be attended to, in order to correct the faults of the one by the perfections of the other; and no disproportioned conjunctions ought to be admitted, as of a small horse and a large mare, or of a large horse and a small mare; for the produce of such conjunctions will either be small or ill-proportioned. In order to improve nature, we must advance by gradual steps: A plump, but handsome horse, for example, may be admitted to a mare that is too gross, a small mare to a horse a little taller, a mare with a bad fore-hand to a horse with a fine head, neck, &c.
It has been remarked, that studs kept in dry light soils produce active, nimble, and vigorous horses, with nervous limbs and strong hoofs; while those kept in moist ground, and in too rich pasturage, have generally large heavy heads, gross bodies, thick legs, bad hoofs, and broad feet. It is easy to perceive that these differences proceed from the varieties in climate and food. But the necessity of crossing the breed, to pre|vent the degeneration of horses, is more difficult to understand, and of more importance to be known.
There is in Nature a general prototype of e|very species, upon which each individual is mo|delled, Page 345 but which seems, in its actual production, to be depraved or improved by circumstances; so that, with regard to certain qualities, there appears to be an unaccountable variation in the succession of individuals, and, at the same time, an admirable uniformity in the entire species. The first animal, the first horse, for example, has been the external and internal model, upon which all the horses that have existed, or shall exist, have been formed. But this model, of which we know only copies, has had, in com|municating and multiplying its form, the power of adulterating or of improving itself. The o|riginal impression is preserved in each individual. But, among millions of individuals, not one ex|actly resembles another, nor, of course, the mo|del from which they sprung. This difference, which shows that Nature is not absolute, but knows how to vary her works by infinite shades, is equally conspicuous in the human species, in all animals, and in all vegetables. What is sin|gular, this model of the beautiful and the excel|lent, seems to be dispersed over every region of the earth, a portion of which resides in all cli|mates, and always degenerates, unless united with another portion brought from a distance. In order, therefore, to obtain good grain, beau|tiful flowers, &c. the seeds must be changed, and never sown in the same soil that produced them. In the same manner, to have fine horses, dogs, &c. the males and females of different Page 346 countries must have reciprocal intercourse. Without this precaution, all grain, flowers, and animals degenerate, or rather receive an impres|sion from the climate so strong as to deform and adulterate the species. This impression remains; but it is disfigured by every feature that is not essential. By mixing races, on the contrary, or by crossing the breed of different climates, beau|ty of form, and every other useful quality, are brought to perfection; Nature recovers her spring, and exhibits her best productions.
I mean not to enter into a detail of the causes of these effects; but shall confine myself to such conjectures as most readily present themselves. We know by experience, that animals or vege|tables, transported from distant climates, often degenerate, and sometimes come to perfection, in a few generations. This effect, it is obvious, is produced by the difference of climate and of food. The operation of these two causes must, in process of time, render such animals exempt from, or susceptible of certain affections, or cer|tain diseases. Their temperament must suffer a gradual change. Of course, their form, which partly depends on food and the qualities of the humours, must also, in the course of generations, suffer an alteration. This change, it is true, is hardly perceptible in the first generation; be|cause the male and female, which we supposed to be the origin of this race, being fully grown, had received their form and structure before they Page 347 were transported. The new climate and new food may change their temperament; but cannot have influence upon the solid and organic parts sufficient to alter their form. The first genera|tion of these animals, therefore, will not suffer any change in their figure; nor, at the instant of birth, will the stock be vitiated or depraved. But the young and tender stranger will feel a much stronger impression from the climate than its father or mother experienced. The opera|tion of food will likewise be so great as to in|fluence the organic parts during the time of the animal's growth: A change will, of course, be introduced into its form; the seeds of imperfec|tion will be sown, and appear, in a sensible man|ner, in the second generation, which will not only labour under its own proper defects, or those proceeding from its growth and nourish|ment, but inherit all the vices of the second stock. Lastly, the imperfections and deformities trans|mitted to the third generation, being combined with the influence of the climate and food du|ring the growth of the animal, will become so great as to obliterate entirely the characters of the original stock. Hence, in a few generations, animals transported into a climate different from their own, lose all their distinctive qualities, and acquire those peculiar to the country they are obliged to inhabit. In France, Spanish or Bar|bary horses, when the breed is not crossed, be|come French horses sometimes in the second ge|neration, Page 348 and always in the third. Instead of preserving the breed distinct, therefore, it is ne|cessary to cross it every generation, by admitting Spanish or Barbary horses to the mares of the country. It is singular, that this renewing of the race, which is only partial, produces better effects than if it were complete. A Spanish horse and mare will not produce such fine horses in France, as those bred from a Spanish horse and a French mare. This may easily be con|ceived, if we attend to the compensation of de|fects which necessarily happens, when males and females of different countries are allowed to in|termix. Every climate, by its influence, joined to that of the food, gives a certain conformation of parts, which errs either by excess or defect. When a warm climate produces redundancies in particular parts, a cold climate gives rise to deficiencies in the same parts: Hence, when a|nimals of opposite climates intermix, an exact compensation is effected. As the most perfect work of nature is that in which there are fewest defects, and as the most perfect forms are those which have fewest deformities, the production of two animals, whose faults exactly compensate each other, will be the most perfect of the kind. Now, this compensation being always completest, when animals of remote, or rather of opposite climates are joined, the compound resulting from the mixture is more or less perfect, in proportion as the excess or defects in the constitution of Page 349 the father are opposed to those peculiar to the mother.
To have good horses, therefore, in the tempe|rate climate of France, stallions should be brought from the warmest or the coldest countries. The Arabian or Barbary horses ought to have the preference; and, after them, those of Spain and of Naples. With regard to cold climates, the horses of Denmark should be preferred, and, next to them, those of Holstein and Friesland. All these stallions, when admitted to French mares, will produce very fine horses; and they will al|ways be better and more beautiful, in propor|tion as the climate is more remote from that of France; so that the Arabian horse is preferable to the Barb, and the Barb to the Spanish. In the same manner, stallions brought from Denmark will produce finer horses than those brought from Friesland. When stallions from very warm or very cold countries cannot be procured, they should be brought from England or Ger|many, or even from the southern provinces of France to the northern. Some advantage is always obtained by serving mares with strange horses; for, when those of the same race, and in the same stud, are allowed to intermix, they infallibly degenerate in a very short time.
The influence of climate and of food upon the human species, is not so great as upon other animals. The reason is obvious. Man defends himself better than any other animal from the Page 350 intemperance of the climate. He accommodates his lodging and his cloaths to the nature of the season. His food is more various, and, conse|quently, does not operate in the same manner upon every individual. The defects or redun|dancies which proceed from these two causes, and which are so constant and so perceptible in the animals, are by no means equally conspicu|ous in man. As migrations have often happen|ed, as whole nations have intermixed, and as many men travel and disperse themselves through every quarter of the globe, it is not surprising that the human race are less subject to the in|fluence of climate, and that strong, handsome, and even ingenious men, are to be found in e|very country. It is probable, however, that, from an experience, of which all remembrance is now lost, men had discovered the evils that result from alliances of the same blood; for, e|ven among the most unpolished nations, a bro|ther has rarely been permitted to marry his sister. This custom, which, among Christians, is a di|vine law, and which is observed by other people from political motives, may have originally been founded on observation. Policy, unless when derived from physical considerations, never ex|tends in a manner so general and so absolute. But, if men once discovered by experience that their race degenerated, when intercourse was permitted among children of the same family, they would soon regard the alliances of different Page 351 families, as a law established by Nature. In a word, we may presume from analogy, that, in most climates, men, like other animals, would degenerate after a certain number of genera|tions.
The variety in the colour of animals is ano|ther effect to be ascribed to the influence of cli|mate and food. Wild animals which live in the same climate, are of the same colour, varying only in brightness or deepness, according to the seasons of the year. Those, on the contrary, which live under different climates, differ likewise in colour; and domestic animals are so prodi|giously varied, that we have horses, dogs, cats, &c. of every kind of colour. But the stag, the hare, &c. are uniformly of the same colour. The injuries received from the climate, which are always the same, and the constant eating of the same food, produce this uniformity in the wild animals. The care of man, the luxury of shelter, and the variety of nourishment, ef|face and variegate the original colours in do|mestic animals. The mixture of foreign races, especially when the males and females are not of the same colour, produce the same effect, and sometimes give rise to beautiful varieties, as the pied horses, in which the white and black are often disposed in a manner so fanciful, as to seem to be rather the operation of art than of nature.
In coupling horses, regard should be had to the stature and the colour: The figures should Page 352 be contrasted, and the breed crossed by stallions from the most opposite climates. Horses and mares brought up in the same stud should never be allowed to intermix. These are essential re|quisites. But there are other circumstances which ought not to be neglected. For example, in a stud, no mares, with short tails, should be kept; because, being unable to defend themselves from the flies, they are perpetually tormented. The continual agitation occasioned by the stinging of these insects, diminishes the quantity of milk, which has so great an influence on the constitu|tion and stature of the foal, that its vigour is al|ways proportioned to the goodness of its nurse. Brood-mares should be chosen from those which have been always pastured, and never fatigued with labour. Mares which have been long nou|rished in a stable with dry food, and afterwards turned out to grass, conceive not at first. Time is necessary to accustom them to this new kind of nourishment.
The common season of mares is from the be|ginning of April to the end of June; but the ardour of some not unfrequently appears at a more early period. An ardour so premature should be repressed; because the foal would be brought forth in cold weather, and, consequent|ly, suffer both from the intemperance of the season, and from bad milk. If this ardour ap|pears not till after the month of June, it should likewise be repressed; because the foal would be Page 353 produced in summer, and would not acquire strength enough to resist the rigours of winter.
Instead of conducting the stallion to the mare, it is not uncommon to allow him to go loose in the parks where the mares are feeding, and to single out such as are in season. By this me|thod the mares conceive more readily. But it injures the stallion more in six weeks, than he would be by six years exercise, moderated and conducted in the manner above directed.
When the impregnated mares begin to grow heavy, they should be separated from those which are not in that condition, to prevent them from receiving any injury. Their period of gestation is generally eleven months and some days. They bring forth in a standing posture, while almost all other quadrupeds lie down. When the de|livery is difficult, they require the assistance of man; and, when the foal is dead, it is extracted with cords. As in most animals, the colt first presents its head. In escaping from the uterus, it breaks the membranes, and the waters flow a|bundantly. The waters are accompanied with several solid masses, formed by the sediment of the liquor of the allantoides. Those masses, called hippomanes by the antients, are not, as they sup|posed, pieces of flesh attached to the head of the foal. They are, on the contrary, separated from the foal by the amnios. Immediately after birth, the mare licks the foal: But she never touches Page 354 the hippomanes, though the antients assert that she instantly devours it.
It is usual to cover a mare nine days after she has foaled, that no time may be lost, and that every possible profit may be derived from the stud. It is certain, however, that her strength being divided, she is unable to nourish both a foal and a foetus so successfully as if she had but one at a time. To procure excellent horses, therefore, the mares should be covered but once in two years, which would make them live long|er, and hold more surely; for, in ordinary studs, it is well if a half or two thirds bring forth in a year.
Mares, though impregnated, can suffer to be covered; and yet there are no instances of su|perfoetation. In general, they are capable of producing to the age of 14 or 15 years, and the most vigorous produce not after 18. Stallions, when properly managed, retain their prolific powers to the age of 20 years, and sometimes longer: And, as in man, those which began too early are soonest extinguished; for the large horses, which come sooner to maturity than fine ones, and are employed as stallions at the age of four years, are commonly useless at 15.
The life of horses, as in every other species of animals, is proportioned to the time of their growth. Man, who grows 14 years, can live six or seven times as long, i. e. 90 or 100. The horse, whose growth is accomplished in four Page 355 years, can live six or seven times as much, i. e. 25 or 30. The exceptions to this rule are so few, that no conclusions can be drawn from them: And, as the large horses come sooner to maturity than the delicate ones, their lives are likewise shorter, and they are superannuated in 15 years.
In horses, and most other quadrupeds, the growth of the posterior parts seems at first to be greater than that of the anterior. But, in man, the growth of the inferior parts is at first less than that of the superior: For the thighs and legs of infants are, in proportion to their bodies, much less than those of adults. The hinder legs of the foal, on the contrary, are so long that they can reach his head, which is by no means the case after he acquires his full growth. But this difference proceeds not so much from the ine|quality in the total growth of the anterior and posterior parts, as from the unequal lengths of the fore and hind feet, which uniformly holds through all nature, and is most remarkable in quadrupeds. Man's feet are larger, and like|wise sooner formed, than his hands. The great|est part of the horse's hind leg is only a foot, be|ing composed of bones corresponding to the tarsus, metatarsus, &c. It is not, therefore, sur|prising, that this foot should be sooner expand|ed than the fore-leg, the inferior part of which represents the hand, being composed of the bones of the carpus, metacarpus, &c. This difference Page 356 is easily perceived immediately after a foal is brought forth. The fore-legs, when compared with the hind ones, are proportionably much shorter than they are to be afterwards. Besides, the thickness which the body acquires, though independent of the proportional growth in length, increases the distance between the hind|feet and the head, and, consequently, prevents the animal, when full grown, from reaching it.
In all animals, each species varies according to the climates; and the general results of these varieties constitute different races. Of these we can only distinguish the most remarkable, or those that sensibly differ from each other, passing over the intermediate shades, which here, as in all the operations of nature, are infinite. We have even augmented their mumber and confu|sion by cherishing the mixture of races. If the expression may be used, we have dealt roughly with nature by bringing into our climates the horses of Asia and of Africa. By introducing into France the horses of every country, the primitive race cannot now be recognised; so that, to distinguish horses, there remains only a few slight characters produced by the actual influence of the climate. These characters would be still better marked, and the differences more sensible, if the races of each climate were pre|served without mixture. These small varieties would be more apparent, and less numerous. Page 357 But there would be a certain number of great varieties, which every man could distinguish with ease. Instead of which, habit, and even long experience, are necessary to enable us to know the horses of different countries. On this subject we have no light but what is derived from the books of travellers, the works of New|castle, Garsault, Gueriniere, &c. and some re|marks communicated to us by M. de Pignerolles, master of horse to the King of France, and pre|sident of the academy of Angers.
The Arabian horses are the most beautiful. They are larger, more fleshy, and handsomer than the Barbs. But, as they are seldom brought into France, few observations have been made with regard to their perfections or defects.
Barbary horses are more common. They have a long, fine neck, not overcharged with hair, and well divided from the withers. The head is small and beautiful. The ears are handsome and properly placed. The shoulders are light and flat. The withers are thin and well raised. The back is straight and short. The flank and sides are round, and the belly not too large. The haunch-bones are properly concealed; the crupper is some|what long, and the tail placed rather high. The thigh is well formed, and rarely flat. The limbs are fine, handsome, and not hairy. The tendon is prominent, and the foot well made; but the pastern is often long. They are of all colours, but generally grayish. In their movements, they Page 358 are apt to be careless, and require to be checked. They are swift, nervous, light, and make ex|tremely fine hunters. These horses appear to be the most proper for improving the breed. Their stature, however, is not so large as could be wished. They are seldom above four feet eight inches*, and never exceed four feet nine. It is confirmed by repeated experience, that, in France, England, &c. they produce foals which grow larger than their parents. Of the Barba|ry horses, those of the kingdom of Morocco are said to be the best, and next to these are the Barbs from the mountains. The horses of Mau|ritania are of an inferior quality, as well as those of Turkey, Persia, and Armenia. All the horses of warm climates have smoother and shorter hair than those of other countries. The Turkish horses are not so well proportioned as the Barbs. Their necks are generally slender, their bodies long, and their legs too thin. They are, however, excellent travellers, and have a long wind. It will not be thought surprising, that the bones of animals are harder in warm than in cold climates. It is for this reason, that, though they have thinner shank bones than the horses of this country, their limbs are stronger.
The Spanish horses, which hold the second rank after the Barbs, have a long, thick, hairy neck. The head is rather gross and fleshy. The ears are Page 359 long, but well situated. The eyes are full of fire, and their air is bold and noble. The shoul|ders are thick and the chest broad. The reins are often a little low, the sides round, and the belly frequently too big. The crupper is gene|rally round and large, though in some it is some|what long. The limbs are fine and not hairy; the tendons in the legs are prominent; the pa|stern is sometimes too long, like that of the Barb; the foot is rather long, like that of the mule; and the heel is often too high. The Spanish horses of the best race are thick, plump, and of a low stature. Their movements are likewise quick and supple; and they are re|markable for spirit and boldness. Their colour is commonly black, or a dark chesnut, though they are to be found of all colours. Their noses and limbs are seldom white. These marks are disliked by the Spaniards, who never breed from those which have them. Their favourite mark is a star in the fore-head; and they esteem a horse without a single spot, as much as we despise him. Both of these prejudices, though opposite to each other, are perhaps equally ill founded; for we find excellent horses with all kinds of marks, or with no marks whatever. These little differences in the coats of horses, seem to have no dependence on their disposi|tions or internal constitution; but take their rise from external circumstances*; for a slight Page 360 wound on the skin produces a white spot. Be|sides, Spanish horses, of whatever kind, are all marked in the thigh, with the mark of the stud from which they were taken. They are gene|rally of a small stature, though some of them are four feet nine or ten inches*. Those of Up|per Andalusia are said to be the best, though their heads be often too long. But their other rare and excellent qualities make this fault be overlooked. They are obedient, couragious, graceful, spirited, and more docile than the Barbs. For those talents they are preferred to all the horses of the world, for the purposes of war, of pomp, or of the manage.
The finest English horses, in their conforma|tion, resemble those of Arabia and Barbary, from which they originally sprung. Their heads, however, are too large, though handsome; and their ears are too long, but well situated. By the ears alone, an English horse may be distin|guished from a Barb. But the great difference lies in their stature; for the English horses are much larger and plumper, being commonly four feet ten, and even five feet high*. They are of all colours, and distinguished by every sort of Page 361 mark. They are generally strong, vigorous, hardy, capable of enduring much fatigue, and excellent either for hunting or the course. But they want grace and docility; they are stiff, and have little play in their shoulders.
The English race-horses are extremely fleet, and are managed with great dexterity by their riders. I cannot give a better example than by relating the substance of a letter I received from a respectable nobleman*, dated London, 18. Feb. 1748. Mr Thornhill, post-master of Stilton, laid a bet, that he would ride three times the road from Stilton to London, or 215 English miles, in 15 hours. He set out from Stilton on the 29th day of April 1745, and, after mount|ing eight different horses on the road, arrived at London in three hours fifty-one minutes. He instantly set off from London, and, having mounted only six horses, he reached Stilton in three hours fifty-two minutes. For the third course, he used seven of the same horses, and fi|nished it in three hours forty-nine minutes. So that he not only gained his bet, but, instead of fifteen hours, he had performed what he had undertaken in eleven hours thirty-two minutes. I suspect that no example of such fleetness was ever exhibited at the Olympic games.
The Italian horses were formerly much hand|somer than they are now; because, for some time past, the breed has been neglected. How|ever, the Neapolitan horses are still excellent for Page 362 carriages. But, in general, they have large heads and thick necks; they are also untrac|table, and, of course, not easily managed. These defects are compensated by the stateliness of their form, by their high spirit, and by the grace|fulness of their motions.
The Danish horses, both on account of size and beauty, are preferred to all others for car|riages. Some of them are perfect models; but their number is small: For most of them are not very regularly formed, having thick necks, gross shoulders, backs too long and too low, and cruppers too narrow in proportion to the thick|ness of their fore-parts. But they are all grace|ful in their movements; and, in general, they are excellent for war and for pomp. They are of all colours; and the tiger-spotted horses are peculiar to Denmark.
Germany produces very sine horses: But, though generally bred from Barbary, Turkish, Spanish, and Italian horses, most of them are heavy and short-winded; and therefore ill qualified for hunting or coursing. The horses of Hungary and Transylvania, on the contrary, are light and nimble. To prevent their neigh|ing in time of war, and also, it is said, to improve their wind, the Hungarians slit the nostrils of their horses. I have never had an opportunity of ascertaining the fact, that horses, whose no|strils are slit, lose the power of neighing. But I should rather imagine, that this operation only Page 363 renders their neighing more feeble. It is re|marked of the Hungarian, Croatian, and Polish horses, that they are noted for retaining what is called the mark in their teeth till they be very old.
The Dutch horses answer very well for draw|ing coaches, and are commonly used in France for that purpose. The best kind are brought from the province of Friesland: Those of Bergue and Juliers are also very good. The Flemish horses are much inferior to the Dutch. Almost the whole of them have large heads, and broad feet; and their legs are subject to humours. These two last faults render them very unfit for carriages.
In France there are horses of all kinds; but few of them are handsome. The best saddle|horses are brought from the Limosin. They resemble the Barbs, and are excellent for the chace. But they grow very slowly, require much care when young, and must not be used till they arrive at the age of eight years. There are likewise good ponies in Auvergne, Poitou, and Burgundy. But, next to the Limosin, Nor|mandy furnishes the finest horses. They are not so good for the chace; but they make bet|ter war-horses. They are plump, and soon ac|quire their full growth. Good coach-horses, lighter and more alert than those of Holland, are bred in Lower Normandy and Cotentin. Franche-Comté and the Boulonnois furnish us Page 364 with very good draught-horses. In general, the French horses have their shoulders too wide, while those of the Barb are too narrow.
Having described those horses with which we are best acquainted, we shall now give the rela|tions of travellers concerning foreign horses, of which we have little knowledge. There are good horses in all the islands of the Archipela|go. Among the antients, the horses of Crete were in high estimation for agility and swift|ness*. However, horses are now little used in that island, on account of the ruggedness of the country, which is every where mountainous, and full of inequalities. The best horses in these islands, and even in Barbary, are of the Arabian race. The native horses of the kingdom of Morocco are much smaller than those of Arabia, but very nimble and vigorous*. Mr Shaw al|ledges *, that the breed of Egypt and of Tingi|tania is superior to those of the neighbouring countries; and yet, more than a century ago, excellent horses were found throughout all Bar|bary: These Barbary horses, he says, never stumble; and they stand still when the rider dis|mounts, or drops the bridle. They walk very fast, and gallop with great rapidity; but they are never allowed to trot or amble, these move|ments being considered by the natives as rude Page 365 and vulgar. He adds, that the Egyptian horses are superior to all others both in stature and in beauty. But these Egyptian, as well as most of the horses of Barbary, sprung originally from the Arabians, which are unquestionably the handsomest horses in the world.
According to Marmol*, or rather Leo Afri|canus *, whom Marmol has copied almost ver|batim, the Arabian horses are descended from the wild horses in the deserts of Arabia, of which studs were formed very antiently, and which multiplied so greatly, as to spread over all Asia and Africa. They are so swift as to out-run the ostrich. The Arabs of the desert and the people of Lybia rear numbers of these horses for the chace. They never use them either in war, or for travelling. They pasture them as long as the grass remains, and, when it fails, they feed them with dates and camel's milk, which make them nervous, light, and meagre. They catch the wild horses in snares, and, when young, they eat their flesh, which they esteem to be very delicate. These wild horses are small, and commonly of an ash-colour, though some of them are white; and the hair of the mane and tail is short and crisped. Curious relations, concerning the Arabian horses, are given by o|ther travellers*, of which I shall only mention some of the principal facts.
Page 366 There is not an Arabian, however poor, who has not his horses. They generally ride upon mares, having learned from experience, that mares endure fatigue, hunger, and thirst, better than horses. These mares are so gentle, that, though numbers of them are often left together for whole days, they never strike or do each o|ther the smallest injury. The Turks, on the contrary, are not fond of mares; but they pur|chase from the Arabs those horses which they intend not to use as stallions. The Arabs pre|serve with great care, and for an amazing length of time, the races of their horses. They know all their alliances and genealogies*; and they di|stinguish Page 367 their races into three different classes. The first, which are of a pure and antient race on both sides, they call Nobles; the second are likewise of an antient race, but have been de|graded by vulgar alliances; and the third class consists of their common horses. The latter sell at a low price. But those of the first class, and even of the second, among which some indivi|duals are not inferior to the nobles, are exces|sively dear. Mares of the noble class are never permitted to be covered but by horses of the same quality. The Arabs, by long experience, know all the races of their horses, as well as those of their neighbours. They know their Page 368 names, sirnames, colours, peculiar marks, &c. When a family have no noble stallions, they borrow one of a neighbour to cover their mares, which is performed in presence of witnesses, who give an attestation of it, signed and sealed, be|fore the secretary of the Emir, or some other public person. This attestation contains the names of the horse and mare, and a complete history of their pedigrees. When the mare has foaled, witnesses are again called, and another attestation is made, including a description of the foal, and the day of its birth. These attesta|tions enhance the value of their horses, and they are always delivered to the purchasers. The smallest mares of this first class are worth 500 crowns; and many of them sell at a 1000 crowns; and even higher prices are sometimes given. As the Arabs live in tents, these tents serve them likewise for stables. The mare and her foal, the husband and his wife and children, sleep together promiscuously. The infants of|ten lie on the body, or on the neck of the mare or foal, without receiving any injury from these animals, which seem afraid to move, for fear of hurting them. These mares are so accustom|ed to society, that they submit to every kind of familiarity. The Arabs never beat their mares; but treat them gently, and talk and reason with them. They are so careful of them as to allow them always to walk, and never spur them, un|less the occasion be very urgent. Hence, when|ever Page 369 the creatures perceive the rider's heel make an approach to their sides, they instantly set off with incredible swiftness, and leap hedges and ditches as nimbly as stags. If their riders chances to fall, they are so well trained, that they stop short, even in the most rapid gallop. All the Arabian horses are of a middle stature, very easy in their carriage, and rather meagre than fat. They are dressed every morning and evening with so much care, that not a spot of dirt is left on their skin, and their legs, mane, and tail, are washed. Their tails are allowed to grow long; and the comb is seldom used, to prevent the hair from being broken. During the day, they are not permitted to eat; but are watered twice or thrice. At sun-set, a bag, containing about half a bushel of barley, is pas|sed over their heads, and fastened to the neck. This bag is not removed till next morning, when the barley is entirely consumed. In the month of March, when the grass is good, they are turned out to pasture. This is also the sea|son in which the mares are covered; and, on these occasions, water is employed in the same manner as in other countries. After the spring is past, the horses are taken from the pasture; and, during the rest of the year, they are allow|ed neither grass nor hay, and rarely straw, barley being their only food. At the age of a year or ten months, the Arabians cut the manes of their foals, with a view to make them grow long and Page 370 bushy. When two years, or two years and a half old, they are mounted, having never, before that period, been either saddled or bridled. Every day, from morning to night, all the Arabian hor|ses stand saddled at the tent-doors.
This race of horses is spread over all Barbary; and the great men among the Moors, and even among the Negroes along the Gambia and Se|negal, have Arabian horses of great beauty. In|stead of barley or oats, they are fed with maize, reduced to a powder, which is mixed with milk, when they require to be fattened. In this warm climate, they are allowed little water*. On the other hand, the Arabian horses are dis|persed over Egypt, Turkey, and, perhaps, Persia, where very considerable studs were formerly kept. Marc Paul* mentions one of these studs which contained ten thousand white mares; and he says, that, in the Province of Balascia, there is a vast number of large nimble horses, with hoofs so hard as to require no shoes.
The Levant horses, like those of Persia and Arabia, have very hard hoofs: They are shoed, however; but with shoes extremely light and thin. In Turkey, Persia, and Arabia, the same manner of feeding and dressing horses is ob|served. Their litter is made of their own dung, which is first dried in the sun, to remove Page 371 the disagreeable smell, and then reduced into a powder. Of this a bed is laid in the stable or tent, about four or five inches thick. This lit|ter lasts very long; for, after being soiled, it is dried a second time in the sun, which clears it entirely from its offensive odour.
In Turkey there are Arabian, Tartarian, and Hungarian horses, beside the native horses of that country, which last are exceedingly handsome*, swift, and spirited. But they are delicate, and soon fatigued. They eat little, are easily heat|ed, and their skin is so sensible, that they are unable to bear the friction of a comb; in place of which, they are brushed, and washed with water. These horses, though beautiful, are in|ferior to the Arabians, and even to those of Per|sia; the latter, next to the Arabians*, being the handsomest and best horses of the East. The pasture in the plains of Media, of Persepolis, of Ardebil, and of Derbent, is extremely fine; and a prodigious quantity of horses, most of which are beautiful and excellent, are raised there by order of government. Pietro della Valle* pre|fers the common horses of Persia to the finest Neapolitan horses. They are generally of a middle stature*; and some of them are very small, but Page 372 strong and active*; while others exceed the size of the English saddle-horses*. They have light heads, and fine necks. Their ears are handsome and well situated. They have slen|der legs, sine cruppers, and hard hoofs. They are docile, spirited, bold, and capable of endu|ring great fatigue. They are extremely swift, and never stumble. They are robust, and so easily nourished, that their only food is barley mixed with cut straw; and they are grazed du|ring six weeks of the spring only. Their tails are allowed to grow long; and they are never gelded. Coverings are used to defend them from the injuries of the weather. Peculiar care and attention are bestowed upon them; and they are managed by a simple bridle, without em|ploying the spur. Great numbers of them are transported to Turkey and the Indies. Those travellers, who bestow so much praise upon the Persian horses, allow, however, that the Arabi|ans are superior in agility, courage, strength, and beauty; and that they are more valued, e|ven in Persia, than the horses of that country.
The horses which are bred in the Indies are very indifferent*. Those used by the great men of the country are brought from Persia and A|rabia. Page 373 They are fed with hay during the day; and, at night, in place of barley and oats, they get pease boiled with sugar and butter. This nourishing diet supports them, and gives them some degree of strength; without it, they would soon perish, the climate not being adapted to their constitution. The native horses of India are very small. Some of them are so exceed|ingly diminutive, that, Tavernier informs us, the young Prince of Mogul, aged about seven or eight years, generally rode on a handsome little creature, whose stature exceeded not that of a large grayhound*. Very warm climates, it would appear, are destructive to horses. Those of the Gold Coast, of Juida, of Guiney, &c. are likewise extremely bad. They carry their head and neck very low. Their movements are so feeble and tottering, that one is apt to imagine they are always ready to fall. If not continu|ally beat, they would not stir a limb; and the greatest part of them are so short, that the feet of the rider almost touch the ground*. They are, besides, very untractable, and fit only to be eaten by the Negroes, who are equally fond of horses flesh as that of dogs*. This appetite for horses flesh is common to the Negroes and Ara|bians, and discovers itself in Tartary, and even Page 374 in China*. The Chines horses are as bad as those of India, being feeble, sluggish, ill made, and very small*: Those of Corea exceed not three feet in height*. Almost all the horses of China are gelded; and they are so timid, that they cannot be used in war. It may, indeed, be affirmed, that the Tartarian horses made the conquest of China. The horses of Tartary are very proper for the purposes of war. Though not of the largest size, they are strong, vigorous, bold, fiery, and extremely swift. Their hoofs are hard, but too narrow; their heads are light, but too small; their necks are long and stiff; and their limbs are too long. Notwithstanding these faults, they may be regarded as good hor|ses; for they are indefatigable, and run with a|mazing rapidity. The Tartars, like the Arabi|ans, live with their horses. At the age of seven or eight months, they are mounted by children, who walk and gallop them by turns. In this manner they are gradually trained; and they are accu|stomed to suffer long abstinence. But they are not mounted for hunting or travelling, till they arrive at six or seven years of age, when they are Page 375 obliged to undergo the most incredible fatigues*; as walking two or three days without stopping; receiving, for four or five days on end, only a handful of herbage every eight hours; and, at the same time, kept from drinking for 24 hours, &c. These horses, which are so robust in their own country, become seeble and useless when transported to China or the Indies: But they thrive very well in Persia and Turkey. In Little Tartary, there is a race of small horses, of which the natives are so fond, that they never permit them to be sold to strangers. They possess all the good and bad qualities peculiar to the horses of Great Tartary; which demonstrates, that the influence of the same manners and education create, in these animals, the same dispositions and temperament. In Circassia and Mingrelia, there are many horses still handsomer than those of Tartary. Fine horses are also to be found in the Ukraine, in Walachia, in Poland, and in Swe|den. But we have no particular information concerning their excellencies or defects.
If we consult the antients as to the qualities of horses in different countries, we shall find*, that the Greek horses, and especially those of Thessaly and Epirus, were in high estimation, and were excellent for the purposes of war; Page 376 that those of Achaia were the largest then known; that the handsomest came from Egypt, where they were very numerous, and where Solomon sent to purchase them at a very high price; that, in Ethiopia, on account of the great heat of the climate, the horses did not thrive; that Arabia and Africa furnished the handsomest, lightest, and best horses, either for travelling or for the course; that those of Italy, and particu|lary, of Apulia, were likewise very good; that Sicily, Cappadocia, Syria, Armenia, Media, and Persia, produced excellent horses, which were remarkable for lightness and fleetness; that those of Sardinia and Corsica were small, but bold and vivacious; that the horses of Spain resem|bled those of Parthia, and excelled in war; that, in Transylvania and Walachia, there were swift horses, with light heads, long manes which hang down to the ground, and bushy tails; that the Danish horses were handsome, and fine leap|ers; that those of Scandinavia were small, but well-formed, and very agile; that the horses of Flanders were remarkable for strength; that the Gauls furnished the Romans with good hor|ses for the purposes of riding and carrying bur|dens; that the German horses were ill-formed, and so vicious, that no use was made of them; that the horses of Switzerland were numerous, and good for war; that those of Hungary were also very good; and, lastly, that the Indian horses were small and very feeble.
Page 377 From all these facts, it is apparent, that the Arabian horses have always been, and still are, the best horses of the world, both for beauty and goodness; that from them, either directly, or by the mediation of the Barbs, are derived the finest horses in Europe, in Africa, and in Asia; that Arabia is, perhaps, not only the ori|ginal climate of horses, but the best suited to their constitution; since, instead of crossing the breed by foreign horses, the natives anxiously preserve the purity of their own race; that, at least, if Arabia be not the best climate for horses, the Arabs have produced the same effect, by the scrupulous and perpetual attention they have paid towards ennobling the race, and never permit|ting individuals to mix which were not the most handsome, and of the finest quality; and that, by the same attention, continued for ages, they have improved the species far beyond what Na|ture would have performed in the most favour|able climate. It may still farther be concluded, that climates rather warm than cold, and above all, dry countries, are best adapted to the nature of horses; that, in general, the small are better than the large horses; that care is equally ne|cessary to them as food; that, by familiarity and caresses, we procure more advantage from them, than by force and chastisement; that the horses of warm countries have their bones, hoofs, and muscles, more firm and compact than those of our climates; that, though heat is more con|formable Page 378 to the nature of these animals than cold, yet excessive heat is exceedingly hurtful to them; that excessive cold is not less injurious; and, in fine, that their constitution and disposi|tions depend almost entirely upon climate, food, care, and education.
The practice of gelding horses, so generally diffused over Europe and China, is unknown in Persia, Arabia, and many other parts of the east. This operation greatly diminishes their strength, courage, sprightliness, &c.; but it endows them with gentleness, tranquility, and docility. In performing it, the animal is thrown on his back, by means of ropes fixed to his legs; the scro|tum is opened with a sharp knife; and the testes, with their vessels, and the ligaments which sup|port them, are removed. The wound is then closed up; and the patient is bathed twice a day with cold water. His food, during this period, consists of bran drenched in water, with a view to cool him. The operation should be perform|ed in spring or autumn, much heat, or much cold, being equally dangerous. With regard to the age at which it should be executed, the prac|tice differs in different places. In certain pro|vinces of France, horses are gelded at the age of a year or eighteen months, or as soon as the testes are very apparent without the body. But the most general and most rational custom is to de|lay the operation till the age of two or three years; because, when protracted this long, the Page 379 animal retains more of the qualities peculiar to the male sex. Pliny says, that, if a horse be gelded before he loses his milk-teeth, they never shed. But I know, from repeated observation, that this remark is false. The antients, it is probable, were led into this error, by an analogy drawn from the stag, roe-buck, &c.; for the horns of these animals never fall off after castra|tion. Geldings lose the power of impregnating; but there are many examples of their being still able to copulate.
Horses of all colours, like most animals co|vered with hair, moult or cast their hair every year, commonly in the spring, and sometimes in autumn. As they are then weaker than at any other period, they require more care, and should be more plentifully fed. Some horses likewise cast their hoofs, especially in moist and marshy countries, as in Holland*.
Mares and geldings neigh less frequently than perfect horses. Their voices are also neither so full nor so deep. In horses of every kind, five different species of neighing, expressive of differ|ent passions, may be distinguished. In the neigh proceeding from joy, the voice is long protracted, and begins and terminates with sharp sounds: The horse, at the same time, flings, but without any inclination to strike. In the Page 380 neigh of desire, whether from love or friend|ship, the horse does not fling, the voice is long continued, and finishes with graver sounds. The neigh of anger, during which the animal flings and strikes with fury, is very short and sharp. The neigh of fear, during which he also flings, is not longer than that of anger; the voice is grave and hoarse, and seems as if it proceed|ed entirely from the nostrils. This neigh re|sembles the roaring of a lion. The noise ex|pressive of pain is not so much a neigh, as a groan or snorting uttered with a grave voice, and following the alternate motions of respira|tion. It has likewise been remarked, that horses which neigh most frequently from motives of joy or desire, are the best and most generous. The voice of unmutilated horses is stronger than that of geldings or mares. The female voice, even from the moment of birth, is weaker than that of the male. At two years, or two and a half, which is the age of puberty, the voice both of males and females, as in man and other ani|mals, becomes stronger and more grave.
When the horse is fired with love, he shows his teeth, and has the appearance of laughing. He likewise shows them when angry and incli|ned to bite. He sometimes thrusts out his tongue to lick, but less frequently than the ox, though the latter is less sensible of caresses. The horse remembers injuries much longer than the ox, and is also more easily dispirited. His na|tural Page 381 disposition, which is bold and impetuous, makes him exert his whole force at once; and, when he perceives that still more is requisite, he grows indignant, and obstinately refuses to act. But the ox, who is naturally slow and slothful, seldom employs his whole strength, and is not so easily disheartened.
The horse sleeps much less than man. When in good health, he never lies above two or three hours at a time. He then rises to eat. After being much fatigued, and after filling his belly, he lies down a second time. But, upon the whole, he sleeps not above three or four hours in the twenty-four. There are also some horses which never lie down, but sleep standing; and even those which are accustomed to lie down, sometimes sleep on their feet. It has been re|marked, that geldings sleep oftener and longer than perfect horses.
All quadrupeds drink not in the same manner, though all are under an equal necessity of ex|ploring with the head that liquor which they have no other method of apprehending, except|ing the monkey, and some other animals that have hands, and can drink like man, when a proper vessel is presented to them; for they car|ry it to their mouth, pour out the liquor, and swallow it by the simple movement of deglutition. This is the ordinary way in which man drinks, because it is the most commodious. But he can vary his method of drinking, by contracting Page 382 the lips, and sucking the fluid, or rather by sink|ing both mouth and nose into it, and then per|forming the motions necessary to swallowing. He can even seize a fluid by the simple motion of his lips; or, lastly, he can stretch out and expand his tongue, make a kind of little cup of it, and, in this manner, though with some diffi|culty, satisfy his thrist. Most quadrupeds might also drink in different ways: But, like man, they follow that which is most convenient. The dog, whose mouth opens wide, and whose tongue is long and slender, drinks by lapping, or licking, with his tongue, which he forms into a kind of cup or scoop, fills at each time, and thus carries a sufficient quantity of fluid into his mouth. This method he prefers to that of dipping his nose into the water. The horse, on the contrary, whose mouth is too small, and whose tongue is too thick and too short, for forming a scoop, and who, besides, drinks with more avidity than he eats, briskly sinks his mouth and nose deep into the water, which he swallows plentifully by the simple motion of deglutition*. But this obliges him to drink without drawing his breath; while the dog respires at his nose during the time he is drinking. After running, when the respiration is short and laborious, horses should Page 383 be allowed to drink at leisure, and to breathe as often as they incline. Neither should they be permitted to drink water that is too cold; for, independent of the colics frequently occasioned by very cold water, it often cools their nose to such a degree, as brings on rheums, and perhaps lays the foundation of the disease called glanders, the most obstinate of all maladies to which this noble animal is subject. It has lately been discovered, that this disease is seated in the pituitary mem|brane*; and that it is a genuine rheum, which in time produces an inflammation in that mem|brane. Besides, those travellers who give a de|tail of the diseases of horses in warm countries, alledge not that the glanders is equally frequent in Arabia, Persia, and Barbary, as in cold cli|mates. Hence I am led to conjecture, that this malady is owing to the superior coldness of the water; because these animals are obliged to keep their noses in the water a considerable time, which might be prevented by never allowing them to drink very cold water, and by always drying their nostrils after drinking. Asses, which dread cold more than horses, and resemble them so greatly in their internal structure, are not equal|ly subject to the glanders, which is owing, per|haps, to their drinking in a different manner from the horse; for, instead of sinking the nose into the water, they barely touch it with their lips.
Page 384 I shall mention no more of the diseases of horses. It would extend Natural History be|yond all bounds, if, to the history of each ani|mal, we were to join that of its diseases. How|ever, I cannot finish the history of the horse, without regretting that the health of this useful and valuable animal should be still abandoned to the blind care, and often absurd and cruel practice, of a set of men who have neither un|derstanding nor letters. Of the art, called by the antients Medicina Veterinaria, we now hardly know more than the name. If any physician would turn his views to this subject, and make it a principal object of his inquiry, I am convinced that he would be amply reward|ed for his trouble; and that he would not only acquire a fortune, but obtain the highest repu|tation. This species of the medical art would by no means be conjectural, or so difficult as the other. The manners, the food, the influence of sentiment, and all the other causes of disorders, being less complicated in these animals than in man, their diseases must also be more simple, and, of course, more easily investigated and treat|ed with success. To these advantages may be added the perfect liberty of making experiments, of trying new remedies, and of arriving, with|out fear or reproach, to a most extensive know|ledge of this kind, from which, by analogy, de|ductions might be drawn of the greatest utility to the art of curing men.
WE have already described the manner in which the horses of Arabia are treated, and given a detail of the pains and attention be|stowed on their education. This dry and warm country, which appears to be the original cli|mate of this beautiful animal, and most conform|able to its nature, permits or requires a number of usages that cannot be practised, with equal effect, in any other region. In France, and o|ther northern nations, it is impracticable to train and feed horses in the same way as is done in warm climates. But men, who are interested in these useful creatures, will not be displeased to learn how they are managed in countries less favoured by heaven than Arabia, and how they conduct themselves, when they act independent of the human species, and when left entirely to their own dispositions and instincts.
Horses are differently fed, according to the different countries to which they are transported, and the different uses to which they are destined. Those of the Arabian races intended for hunting in Arabia or Barbary, seldom eat herbage or grain. Their common food, which consists of dates and camels milk, is given them every morn|ing Page 386 and night. These aliments, instead of fat|tening them, render them meagre, nervous, and very fleet. They spontaneously suck the she|camels, whom they follow* till the time they are ready for mounting, which is not before the age of six or seven years.
In Persia, the horses are exposed night and day to the open air. But, to protect them from the injuries of the weather, from damp vapours, and from rain, they are covered, especially in winter, with cloths; and sometimes an addition|al covering is added, which is made of hair, and very thick. A spot of dry even ground is pre|pared for them, greater or smaller according to their number, which is swept and kept extreme|ly clean. Here they are all tied to a long rope, which is well stretched, and firmly fixed at each end to two iron rods stuck in the earth. Their halters, however, are sufficiently free to allow them to move with ease. To prevent them from hurting each other, their hind-legs are tied with a rope, which has iron buckles at each extremity; these are brought about to the fore part of the horses, and fastened to the ground by pegs, but loose enough to allow them to lie down or to rise at their pleasure. When put into stables, they are managed in the same man|ner. Xenophon informs us, that this practice was observed in his days; and it is alledged, that, by this means, the animals are rendered Page 387 more gentle, and tractable, and less peevish a|mong themselves; qualities extremely useful in war, when vicious horses, tied up in squadrons, often injure one another. For litter, the Persi|ans use only sand or dry dust, upon which their horses lie down and sleep as well as if it were straw*. In other countries, as Arabia and the Mogul empire, the horses are littered with their own dung, well dried and reduced to a powder*. The eastern horses are never allowed to eat from the ground, or even from a rack; but are served with barley and cut straw in pocks tied to their heads; for, in these climates, no hay is made, nor do the natives cultivate oats. In spring, they are fed with grass or green barley, and great care is taken to give them only as much as is barely necessary; for too much nourishment makes their legs swell, and soon renders them useless. These horses, though ridden without bridle or stirrups, are easily managed. They carry their heads very high, by means of a sim|ple snaffle, and run with great rapidity and sure|ness upon the worst roads. The whip and spur are very seldom employed. The latter, when used, consists only of a single point fixed to the heel of the boot. Their common whips are made of small strips of parchment knotted and twisted. A few lashes with this whip are suffi|cient for every purpose of the rider.
Page 388 Horses are so numerous in Persia, that, though excellent, they sell cheap. Some of them are very tall and heavy; but all of them are more remarkable for strength, than for grace|fulness and beauty. For easy travelling, the Per|sians use pacing horses, which are taught this motion by tying the fore-foot to the hind-foot on the same side: When young, their nostrils are slit, from a notion that it makes them breathe more freely. These horses travel so well, that they perform with ease a journey of eight leagues without stopping*.
But Arabia, Barbary, and Persia, are not the only climates which produce good and handsome horses. Even in the coldest countries, if not too moist, these animals succeed better than in very warm climates. The beauty of the Danish horses, and the excellence of those of Sweden, Poland, &c. are universally known. In Iceland, where the cold is excessive, and where often no other food can be had than dried fishes, the hor|ses, though small, are extremely vigorous*; some of them are indeed so diminutive as to be fit for carrying children only*. Besides, they are so plentiful in this island, that the shepherds tend their flocks on horseback. Their number is not expensive; for their food costs nothing. Such as the owners can apply to no immediate use, they mark, and turn out to the mountains. Page 389 There they soon become wild; and, when want|ed, are hunted in troops, and caught with long ropes. When the mares foal in the mountains, the proprietors put their peculiar marks on the young, and leave them there for three years. Those horses which are brought up in the moun|tains, are generally more handsome, bold, and fleet, than those raised in stables*.
The Norwegian horses are likewise small, but well-proportioned. Most of them are yellow, with a black line running the whole length of the back. Some of them are chesnut, and others of an iron-gray colour. These horses are very sure-footed, travel with great caution through the rough paths of the mountains, and slide down steep declivities, by bringing their hind-feet un|der their bellies. They defend themselves a|gainst the assaults of the bear. When a stallion, in company with mares or foals, perceives this voracious animal, he makes them stay behind, approaches, and boldly attacks the enemy, whom he beats with his fore-feet, and generally kills. But, if the horses attempt to defend themselves by striking with their hind-feet, they are infallibly gone; for the bear leaps upon their backs, where he sticks with such force as suffocates them in a short time*.
The horses of Nordland never exceed four feet and a half in height*. The nearer we ap|proach Page 390 to the pole, we find that horses become smaller and weaker. Those of West Nordland are of a singular form. They have large heads and eyes, short necks, large poitrels, narrow withers, long thick bodies, short loins; the up|per part of their legs is long, and the under short and naked; their hoofs are small and hard; their tails and manes are large and bushy; and their feet are small, but sure, and never defended with shoes. These horses are good, seldom restive or stubborn, and climb with patience the highest mountains. The pasture in Nord|land is so excellent, that, when horses are brought from thence to Stockholm, they seldom remain above a year without losing their flesh and their vigour. On the contrary, when horses are car|ried from more northern countries to Nordland, though sickly for the first year, they recover their strength*.
Excess of heat or of cold seems to be equally hostile to the stature of horses. The Japanese horses are generally small, though some of them are of a tolerable size. The latter probably come from the mountains of that country. The same remark applies to the horses of China. We are assured, however, that those of Tonquin are nervous, of a good size, gentle, and easily trained to any kind of exercise*.
Page 391 It is well known, that horses bred in dry warm climates degenerate, and even cannot live, in moist countries, however warm. But they suc|ceed very well in all the mountainous countries of our continent, from Arabia to Denmark and Tartary, and, in America, from New Spain to the lands of Magellan. It is, therefore, neither heat nor cold, but moisture alone, that is noxious to these animals.
There were no horses in America when it was discovered. But, in less than two centuries af|ter a small number of them had been transported thither from Europe, they multiplied so prodi|giously, especially in Chili, that they sold at very low prices. Frezier remarks, that this great increase was still more surprising, because the Indians eat horses, and kill many of them by fatigue and bad management*. The horses carried by the Europeans to the most eastern parts of our continent, as the Philippine islands, have likewise multiplied exceedingly*.
In the Ukraine*, and among the Cossacks a|long the river Don, the horses live wild in the fields and forests. In that large and thinly Page 392 peopled country comprehended between the Don and the Nieper, the horses go in troops of three, four, or five hundred, and have no shelter even when the ground is covered with snow, which they remove with their fore-feet in quest of food. These troops are guarded by two or three men on horseback; and it is only in severe win|ters that they are lodged for a few days in the villages, which, in this country, are very distant from each other. These troops of horses give rise to some remarks, which seem to prove that men are not the only animals who live in socie|ty, and obey, by compact, the commands of one of their own number. Each of these troops have a chief whom they implicitly obey; he di|rects their course, and makes them proceed or stop at his pleasure. This chief likewise gives orders for the necessary arrangements and mo|tions, when the troop is attacked by robbers or by wolves. He is extremely vigilant and alert: He frequently runs round the troop; and, when he finds any horses out of their rank, or lagging behind, he gives them a push with his shoulder, and obliges them to take their proper station. These animals, without being mounted or con|ducted by men, march in nearly as good order as our trained cavalry. Though at perfect li|berty, they pasture in files and brigades, and form different companies, without ever mixing or separating. The chief occupies this important and fatiguing office for four or five years. When Page 393 he becomes weaker and less active, another horse, ambitious of command, and who feels his own strength, springs out from the troop, attacks the old chief, who, if not vanquished, keeps his command; but, if beat, enters with shame in|to the common herd; and the conqueror takes the lead, is recognised as sovereign, and obeyed by the whole troop*.
In Finland, when the snows are dissolved in the month of May, the horses depart from their masters, and go into certain districts of the fo|rests, as if they had previously fixed a rendez|vous. There they form different troops, which never separate or intermix. Each troop take a different district of the forest for their pasture. To this territory they confine themselves, and never encroach on the lands belonging to other troops. When the grass is exhausted, they de|camp, and take possession of a fresh pasturage in the same order as before. The police of their society is so well regulated, and their marches so uniform, that their owners always know where to find their horses, when they have oc|casion for them; and those which are carried off, after having performed their task, return, of their own accord, to their companions in the woods. In the month of September, when the weather turns bad, they quit the forest, march Page 394 home in troops, and each takes possession of his own stable.
These horses are small, but good and spirited, without being vicious. Though generally very docile, some of them resist when their owners offer to take them, or to yoke them in carriages. When they return from the forests, they are fat and in fine order. But the perpetual labour they undergo during the winter, and the small quantity of food they receive, soon make them lose their flesh. They roll on the snow as other horses do on the grass. They pass the night, indif|ferently, either in the court or in the stable, even during the most violent frosts*.
These horses, which live in troops, and are often removed from the dominion of man, form the link or shade between domestic and wild horses. Of the latter there are some in the island of St Helena, which, after being transported thither from Europe, became so savage and fe|rocious, that, rather than suffer themselves to be taken, they leap over the highest precipices into the sea*. In the environs of Nippes, some of them are not larger than asses; but they are rounder, and well proportioned. They are vi|vacious, indefatigable, and possess a strength and dexterity beyond what could be expected from them. In Saint Domingo, the horses are of a middle stature, and much esteemed. Numbers Page 395 of them are taken with snares and ropes; but most of these continue to be extremely restless and skittish*. There are also horses in Virgi|nia, which, though sprung from the domestic kind, have become so ferocious in the woods, that it is difficult to approach them, and, when taken, they belong to the person who apprehends them. They are commonly so stubborn that it is no easy matter to tame them*. In Tartary, and particularly in the country between Urgenz and the Caspian sea, birds of prey are employed in hunting wild horses. These birds are trained to seize the horse by the neck and head, who fatigues himself by running, but is unable to disengage himself* from his tormentor. The wild horses in the country of the Mongous and Kakas Tartars, differ not from those which are tame. They are found in great numbers upon the western coast; and some appear in the coun|try of the Kakas which borders on the Harni. These wild horses are so swift, that they often escape the arrows of the most dexterous hun|ters. They march in numerous troops; and, when they chance to meet with tamed horses, they surround them and oblige them to fly*. In Congo, considerable numbers of wild horses are still to be found*. They are sometimes Page 396 seen also in the environs of the Cape of Good Hope; but they are seldom taken, because the inhabitants prefer the horses transported from Persia*.
When formerly treating of the horse, I re|marked, that, from all the observations of the breeders of horses, the male appeared to have greater influence upon the offspring than the female; and I then gave some reasons which rendered the universality of this fact doubtful, and even made it probable that the influence of the male and female were equal. But numerous experiments and observations have now convin|ced me, that, not only in horses, but in man and every other animal, the male has more influence on the external form of the young than the fe|male, and that, in every species, the male is the principal type of the race.
I have said*, that, in the common order of Nature, it is not the males, but the females, which constitute the unity of the species: But this prevents not the male from being the true type of each species; and, what I have advan|ced concerning unity, ought to be extended only to the greater facility of representing the species possessed by the female, though she submits to the embraces of different males. This point I have fully discussed in my history of birds*, Page 397 and, in the present work, under the article Mule; from which it appears, that, though the female seems to have more influence upon the specific character of the breed, she never improves it, the male alone enjoying the faculty of support|ing the purity of the race, and of rendering it more perfect.