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is not too much. Never buy a shallow horse ; I mean high on the leg for his girth, I have seen many narrow, but deep, horses go well carrying weight ; but I never saw a horse shallow from the withers to the arm do a good day's work, or a bad one, well. Mind the hind legs ; all the propelling power comes from the rear. The hocks need not be large ; flesh is often mistaken for power. They should be clean, and the legs incline outwards from them. Many persons think a straight hind leg a warrant for jumping ; I confess I do not agree with them.
In commencing dealing, many youngsters begin with an error, and find much difficulty in suiting themselves with a stud. The mistake is this--an idea that all horse-dealers are rogues ; never was a greater error. The trade holds out temptations, but these temptations are often resisted. I venture to say that, though there are rogues, and a vast number of them, amongst the fraternity, they do not outnumber more honourable professors. What say you to lawyers ? I should like to see some of these two persuasions shaken out of a bag together. There are good and bad in all trades, and, my dear boy, you must excuse me if I enquire after the honesty of the bishops. “O tempora, O mores ! ” these are sad times. But let us draw a veil over the shortcomings of those who should know better, and give the horse-dealer a little credit, if only on the score of mutual obligation, for he frequently gives you a good deal. Moreover, only lay something to the account of the buyers themselves ; their greenness, their utter ignorance of the animal, and their extreme arrogance and pretension, are wonderful. beyond human forbearance to resist ; their absurdities are very
dear at a fifty pound note.
Before entering upon the mysteries of dealing, and the selection of a stud, there is one rule by which you should endeavour to abide. No rule is without an exception; but generally avoid buying of a gentleman -I mean, from one of your own friends or acquaintances. There may be circumstances which render it desirable ; and you may serye yourself and him ; but usually you disappoint yourself and lose your friend. If you could only get at the real secrets of a stable, it would prevent a nervous man from ever buying a horse again. Few men sell what thoroughly suits them, excepting when a fancy price commands a fancy article ; but a good looking, well bred, slashing goer, and fine fencer, with enduring qualities, and good temper, if perfectly sound, seldom leaves a gentleman's hands until he has had the best of him, and not always then. You may get a perfectly sound horse; for few gentlemen, no true gentleman, would tell a direct lie, if questioned upon the subject. All the hells and betting-list houses, with every other abomination of the sort, have not brought them to that yet (God knows what it may do!) But perfect soundness is a very small item in a perfeet horse. What do you know of his powers, his stable-management, his constitution, his riding, his performances ? for whilst in your friend's hands he was not made the least of in a run over the mahogany. Add to all this that there is a certain consideration due to the feelings of a gentleman, which prevents that searching investigation and undeniable trial, so necessary on the buyer's side ; not but that an honest dealer has feelings to be respected too, but they are of a different kind. Besides, from the very nature of things, you go to the gentleman unsus
picious of fraud---half asleep, to say the least of it--and consequently too often deceive yourself ; but you go to the dealer's yard wide awake, and too sharp by half, very often, to buy the horse that would have suited you out of a million. Then comes the afterpiece ; suppose he turns out wrong, or you can't ride him. In the one case, two or three letters, beginning very affectionately and ending very punctiliously “My dear Sir” and “ Yours very faithfully," never getting you a shilling of your money back, and invariably creating distrust and coldness between two good fellows, if not a downright quarrel. In the other case, all satisfactory and straightforward ; a written warranty, or a vet.'s opinion (which is not always worth much), a few short and decisive letters-on your part, at all events, distinctly containing what they mean--sale on a market hill, or a comfortable stand at livery, a return of the whole or part of the money, or an offer to take back and exchange on reasonable terms; and if the worst comes to the worst, it's only a little law with someone you don't care about ; and we all know the dealers are sure to get the worst of it, and not you-but the lawyers the
So stick to the legitimate trade, and avoid dealing with gentlemen, excepting under particular circumstances ; such as unavoidable absence, incapacity, broken thigh at the beginning of the season, young and timid bride, or infuriated mother-in-law with at least £60,000 in the funds at her own disposal; nothing short of something of this overpowering guarantee for safety should induce you to become the purchaser of your friend's best horse, as long as a dealer's yard remains open to your speculations. There is a way of buying horses, there is a way different from either; but, mind, I don't recommend it to you; for it requires natural powers of discrimination, a long head, and nice judgment. I mean of a farmer-a farmer's young'un, four, or even three years old. The first inquiry should be for pedigree, and mind you get it. A friend of mine went to buy a horse of a small dealer in one of the midland counties, and was much struck by the handsome appearance of a hunting-looking mare in foal. He was not long without a price being put upon the mare; and as the Belzoni blood was fashionable for hunters, there was no difficulty in finding a sire for the expected produce. “You're quite sure it was old Belzoni ?" Out came letters by the dozen, and curses and asseverations by the hundred. “Very well, if what you say is true, I'll take the mare; but if you were half up to your trade in buying as you are in lying, you would know, what I do, that Belzoni died just sixteen months ago.” So much for pedigree; but you must have one from a farmer ; and try for the right one if you like the look of the young'un. Some of these have a good many (pedigrees, I mean), and then you can have which you like they are very useful for selling again.
The first consideration, after a close inspection of shape and make, and a pretty well-founded notion that the good points will be sufficiently developed to cover the bad, is as to your own capabilities. Have you nerve and hands? and, having these, can you tax your patience ? Can you school through the summer, and wait patiently upon hounds in the winter, without attempting a first-flight place? Will a second-class suit you, or even an honorary fourth? Can you leave a good place in a long thing for the sake of the young ’un, and turn your head towards
home, facing two-thirds of the field in your retreat ? This requires much moral courage ; and unless you can do so, give up all thoughts of a farmer's horse. Go at once to the dealer : be carried like a gentleman : do or die. This is always my advice in the first instance. Have a hunter, and you will see sport ; and when you are unlucky enough to have got to the bottom of him, you must simply replace him in like
Grooms, horse-dealers, young farmers, and young gentlemen in cord trowsers, are to be seen upon unbroken horses by the cover-side; but a man of known character as a sportsman, or a country parson, on a plunging horse, or one restive with houuds, you never see. These men are much too good judges. As young as you please ; but never make an exhibition of yourself. To say nothing of the pleasure of being run away with, or of being left behind, or of rushing into a fence, or of carrying away a gate-post with your knee-cap, conceive the grinning multitude all round you, and the execrations of the politest Master in the world—not loud, therefore, but very deep. Besides, my dear boy, it reduces itself simply to a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence. A made horse is seldom, in the hands of a gentleman, intended for sale. A young one, untried, is too often a temptation to a man to ride for sale a thing, of all others, calculated to make you unpopular with every description of sportsman. A young 'un is usually sound, and an intolerable bore to yourself and the rest of the field. Having said that, I've said all ; and recommend you to begin with a made horse, if you wish to ride like a gentleman.
Oxbridge, amongst its other luxuries, rejoices in dealers of every sort. There is the broad-brimmed and long-priced, in shiny black and well-polished boot-high priest of St. Boniface and Muddlehed, offering up his victims, whole hecatombs of aristocrats and gentlemencommoners, at the shrine of his own mammon. His stables are clean, well-appointed places, where you may walk or sit, or smoke your cigar, and read yonr Bell. His servants are clean and civil, and never stink of pipes and gin, until the business of the yard is over, and the stable closed for the day. What mysteries of all-fours and blackguardism go on after that is nothing to you. Then come the horses-a fresh importation from Horncastle and Lincoln and Ballinasloe-clean-legged, smooth-coated, and sleek. The bad-looking ones are for other customers not the worst of the lot, perhaps, amongst them. I own my curiosity to see these dark-hole-and-corner quadrupeds, with their ragged hips and sore backs and fleshless ribs-pretty pickings for the trouble of conditioning
“Now, Jim, quick! Put a bridle on 23, top stall. The gentleman will see him out.
Not a word more. At last, the animal makes his appearance. Halfmaster, the dealer, as quiet as a lamb: his turn for talking has not come yet. The horse has a small head, not very well put on, but relieved by a neck good where it should be ; a beautiful barrel, and very handsome round quarters, with not so much length as you will like, and are sure to want ; very clean legs, of remarkable blackness ; feet somewhat small; hocks somewhat fleshy ; and a tail most beautifully set on, and magnificently borne. He carries himself admirably, moves like a gentleman, and is as soft as butter. This is the flatcatcher of the
party-very taking to our friend Jolly Green, of Allcash Park, at £150. "I don't like his shoulders.”
Perhaps not, sir. We think them very good—a little defective behind, sir, perhaps; but very nice oss- very nice oss indeed. Take him in, Jim!”
"If Mr. Scribble won't have him, I know plenty as will,” says Mr. Halfmaster to himself ; and as you have treated him in his own way, and are evidently not quite such a fool as you look, you have risen in his estimation ; and after another plant or two, you'll have something to carry you. He is, in his trade, as honest as most men. The marketprice of his article is whatever he can get for it ; and he does not invite you to buy what you don't like. He tells you no falsehoods about his wares ; but he certainly takes care to put the best face upon the worst points, and leaves the good ones to take care of themselves. He wants no dealings with the poor man ; and when he gets a bad artiele, as he often does, he gets rid of it as well as he can, to some greenhorn that ean afford to pay for it. He is civil and respectful to all his betters and to all his customers, of whom he appears to have an instinctive knowledge, and distinguishes by a rather more empressé style of salutation the St. Boniface man from the humble student of Ironsides Hall,
The next stable into which I should recommend you to look, and a very likely place to find a moderately priced good horse, without much fashion and a blemish or two--no beauty, but lots of work-belongs to a good-humoured looking fellow, rather talkative, full of civility, with an air of bustle that means to say—“Here we are again ! more customers; if this goes on I shall be the first man in Oxbridge.” The stable consists of seven or eight horses, in full working condition, and bought just as the fancy or purse of the buyer has dictated, at odd times and places-in fact, whenever a bargain was to be had. The master of this establishment has been the head groom for so many years in a large repository, that he can't help carrying the groom a little with him into. the mastership. In this yard you will have to remember how the horses were bought ; in all cases supposed bargains, in many without warranty, though not in the face of a known defeet ; and in one or two positive speculations on averred unsoundness, which has, to all appearance, come right. Alee Pullen, familiarly known as Alec by the undergraduates, and Mr. Pullen by his helpers, is dressed in the shooting-jacket and tight drab-trouser and gaiter style, and speaks of all his superiors, without distinction, as gents. This he brought with him from the Birmingham Repository. He may have left Oxbridge, or he may be a Half-master by this time, or he may be dead and buried; but he existed in full force in my young days, and I will venture to say there are plenty there to take his place, if empty. His pattern horse is shown to you first, after your general inspection. A favourable impression is his great object ; and
you will be very likely to buy him, if he is the sort of horse I recollect in those stables, notwithstanding his want of fashion, but for one thing. As Alec Pullen bought him for twenty sovereigns at the end of the season, and he has been doing gentle work since, he can afford to take forty-five for him ; but you have made up your mind to give £70, or not be carried at all, and you will therefore turn your back upon him.
The horse is something, I take it, after this fashion : not the prettiest head in the world, but beautifully put on, something to pull at without fatigue, a good hold in fact ; neck lean, shoulders admirably placed, deep in the girth, but not very thick through the heart ; capital arms and good wearing legs and feet, with a scar or two; ragged hips, with long drooping quarters, and hind legs well under him ; fired in the hocks, though what for you cannot very well make out; and a quick wiry goer, with good knee action, and when mounted worth certainly donble what you calculated him at. Caveat emptor is what a late master of hounds called his dog Latin ; it should here be your horse Latin, and not be forgotten ; never let it be a dead language to you. And with that in your mind, and a warranty in your pocket, i think a young gentleman in the pig skiu at llst. 10lb. might have got as much for his money as for £70 elsewhere. However, for security, and as a rule, go to the highest dealers your pocket will permit; their character is worth more to them than your money.
Alec was a civil fellow, and as he bows you out of Sanctity Lane yard he "hopes you will allow him to find you something as 'ad suit, which he has no doubt he can do in a short time, at a moderate figure.” If those middle-class fellows' figures were not so moderate sometimes, I think they might occasionally do more amongst the Greens.
And now, my dear fellow, before I conclude I shall put you on your guard against a set of men, of whom luckily there can be but few, if any, in Oxbridge--I mean a low dealer, such as are occasionally met with in our small market towns, and sometimes in large ones; an unmitigated ruffian, hardly a step above a common character. He shows you round his yard with a bad cigar in his mouth, and his hands in his pockets ; his servants are dirty, and one always has a black eye. He has not a horse in the stable that he bought for a sound one, but he will give you a warranty for the whole lot. Those that are not lame, or about to become so, or blind, or whistlers, are carnivorous, and are dressed over with two broomsticks and an iron muzzle. What he can't sell he sends to his partner, and his partner returns him the compliment from twenty miles distant. He swears and curses in the most offensive manner ; and as each successive screw is brought out, he “wishes he may drop" if he can't go longer and faster, and jump higher and farther, than any hanimal as hever wur foaled; and if you don't bang the field on him, why! — his eyes if he don't give him to you for nufin. You need not go there, so we won't have his horses out. I could tell you some curious anecdotes of my experience, and perhaps I may. Adieu, my dear boy. Ever your affectionate uncle,