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Management Of Horses

MANAGEMENT OF HORSES Breeding. Animals to breed from should be of good blood, sound and compactly built, with good pluck and free from nervous excitability and vicious tendency. A mare used to be put to the horse at three years old, but latterly two has become the common age. Young sires begin to serve in moderation at two. May is considered the best month for a mare to foal, as there is abundance of natural food and the weather is mild enough for the mare to lie out. Show specimens generally profit by being born earlier. The period of gestation in the mare is about eleven months. No nursing mare should go to work, if this can possibly be avoided. A brood mare requires plenty of exercise at a slow pace and may work, except between shafts or on a road, till the day of foaling.

To avoid colic an animal has to be gradually prepared by giving small quantities of green food for a few days before going to grass. Shelter against severe storms is needed. Succulent food encourages the flow of milk, and the success of the foal greatly depends on its milk supply. Mares most readily conceive when served at the " foal heat " eleven days after foaling. A mature stallion can serve from eighty to one hundred mares per annum.

Foals are weaned when five or six months old, often in October, and require to be housed to save the foal-flesh, and liberally but not overfed; but from the time they aie a month old they require to be " gentled " by handling and kindly treatment, and the elementary training of leading from time to time by a halter adjusted permanently to the head. When they are handreared on cow's milk foals require firm treatment and must have no fooling to teach them tricks. Young horses that are too highly fed are apt to become weak-limbed and top-heavy.

Breaking. Systematic breaking begins at about the age of two years, and the method of subduing a colt by " galvayning " is as good as any. It is a more humane system than " rareying," which overcame by exhaustion under circumstances which were not fruitful of permanent results. Galvayning is accomplished by bending the horse's neck round at an angle of thirty-five to forty degrees and tieing the halter to the tail, so that when he attempts to walk forward he holds himself and turns " round and round, almost upon his own ground." The more strenuous his resistance the sooner he yields to the inevitable force applied by himself. A wooden pole, the " third hand, " is then gently applied to all parts of the body until kicking or any form of resistance ceases. " Bitting " or " mouthing," or the familiarizing of an animal to the bit in his mouth, and to answer to the rein without bending his neck, is still a necessity with the galvayning method of breaking. Experience can only be gained by a horse continuing during a considerable time to practise what he has been taught.

Three main characteristics of a successful horse-breaker are firmness, good temper and incessant vigilance. Carelessness in trusting too much to a young colt that begins its training by being docile is a fruitful source of untrustworthy habits which need never have developed. Driving with long reins in the field should precede the fastening of ropes to the collar, as it accustoms the animal to the pressure on the shoulders of the draught, later to be experienced in the yoke. If a young horse be well handled and accustomed to the dummy jockey, mounting it is not attended with much risk of resistance, although this should invariably be anticipated. An animal ought to be in good condition when being broken in, else it is liable to break out in unpleasant ways when it becomes high-spirited as a result of improved condition. It should be well but not overfed, and while young not overworked, as an overtired animal is liable to refuse to pull, and thus contract a bad habit. Most bad habits and stable tricks are the result of defefctive management and avoidable accidents.

Feeding. Horses have small stomachs relatively to ruminating animals, and require small quantities of food frequently. While grazing they feed almost continually, preferring short pasture. No stable food for quick work surpasses a superior sample of fine-hulled whole oats like " Carton's Abundance " (120 ft per week), and Timothy hay harvested in dry weather. The unbruised oats develop a spirit and courage in either a saddle or harness horse that no other food can. A double handful of clean chaff, or of bran mixed with the oats in the manger, prevents a greedy horse from swallowing a considerable proportion whole. Unchewed oats pass out in the faeces uninjured, so that they are capable of germination, and are of less than no value to a horse. Horses doing slow or other than " upper ten " work may have oats crushed, not ground, and a variety of additions made to the oats which are usually the basis of the feed for example, a few old crushed beans, a little linseed meal, ground linseed cake or about a wine-glassful of unboiled linseed oil. Indian pulses are to be avoided on account of the danger of Lathyrus poisoning. A seasoning of ground fenugreek or spice is sometimes given to shy feeders to encourage them to eat. A little sugar or molascuit added to the food will sometimes serve the same purpose. Newly crushed barley or cracked maize, even in considerable proportion to the rest of the food, gives good results with draught, coach, 'bus and light harness horses generally. Boiled food of any kind is unnatural to a horse, and is risky to give, being liable to produce colic, especially if the animal bolts its food when hungry, although it generally produces a glossy coat. Too much linseed, often used in preparing horses for market, gives a similar appearance, but is liable to induce fatty degeneration of the liver; given in moderation it regulates the bowels and stimulates the more perfect digestion of other foods. In England red-clover hay, or, better still, crimson-clover or lucerne hay, is liberally fed to farm horses with about 10 ft per day of oats, while they usually run in open yards with shelter sheds. Bean straw is sometimes given as part of the roughage in Scotland, but not in England. In England hunters and carriage horses are generally fed on natural hay, in Scotland on Timothy, largely imported from Canada, or ryegrass hay that has not been grown with nitrate of soda. Heavily nitrated hay is reputed to produce excessive urination and irritation of the bladder. Pease straw, if not sandy, and good bright oat straw are good fodder for horses; but with barley and wheat straw, in the case of a horse, more energy is consumed during its passage through the alimentary canal than the digested straw yields. Three or four Swedish turnips or an equivalent of carrots is an excellent cooling food for a horse at hard work. The greater number of horses in the country should have green forage given them during summer, when the work they do will permit of it, as it is their natural food, and they thrive better on it than on any dry food.

When a horse has been overstrained by work the best reme'dy is a long rest at pasture, and, if it be lame or weak in the limbs, the winter season is most conducive to recovery. The horse becomes low in condition and moves about quietly, and the frost tends to brace up the limbs. In autumn all horses that have been grazing should be dosed with some vermifuge to destroy the worms that are invariably present, and thus prevent colic or an unthrifty or anaemic state. On a long journey a horse should have occasional short drinks, and near the end a long drink with a slower rate of progression with the object of cooling off. In the stable a horse should always be provided with rock salt, and water to drink at will by means of some such stall fixture as the Mundt hygienic water-supply fittings. Overhead hay-racks are unnatural and are liable to drop seeds into a horse's eye.

LITERATURE. For riding, etc. see RIDING, DRIVING, HORSEMANSHIP, and HORSE-RACING. For diseases of the horse see VETERINARY SCIENCE. The literature about the horse and its history and uses is voluminous, and is collected up to 1887 in Huth's Works on Horses, etc., a bibliographical record of hippology. See also, besides the works already mentioned, various books by Cant. M. Horace Hayes, Points of the Horse (1893, 2nd ed., 1897); Stable Management and Exercise (1900); Illustrated Horse-breaking (1889, 2nd ed., 1896); and The Horsewoman (1893) (with Mrs Hayes); E. L. Anderson, Modern Horsemanship (1884); W. Day, The Horse: How to Breed and Rear Him (1888); W. Ridgeway, Origin and Influence of the Thoroughbred Horse (1905) ; Major-General Tweedie, The Arab Horse (1894); J. Wortley Axe, The Horse; its Treatment in Health and Disease (1906) ; R. Wallace, Farm Live Stock of Great Britain (1885, 4th ed., 1907); Sydney Galvayne, The Twentieth Century Book of the Horse (1905); C. Bruce Low, Breeding Racehorses by the Figure System (1895); J. H. Wallace, The Horse of America in his Derivation, etc. (1897); Weatherly's Celebrated Racehorses (1887); Ruff's Guide to the Turf; T. A. Cook, History of the English Turf (1903) ; The General Stud-Book (issued quinquennially) ; and the Stud-Books of the various breed societies. (R. W.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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