view raw text
OLD TIME WAYS OF TRAINING HORSES. Methods Pursued in Feeding and Conditioning in England Over Three Hundred Years Ago. My reference a few days ago to the methods of feeding horses, expounded by Sir Fredrick Fitzwy-gram. has brought si many letters that I am encouraged to give the views of Gervis Markh un on the s;ime subject. As long ago as 1"9. this writer published a oliinie OH "The Secrets and Alt of Training and Dieting tin- Horse or | Course, com inoiily i alb d Punning Horses." Marfcham flourished in the days of Queen Elisabeth and. besides books relating to hanea and hnrismaaahln. he left behind the- record of many ri niarkable experiences, among tliem a trial bf the Star Chamber for libeling Lord Pmy after a quarrel la the hunting field, which culminated in a fine of 500 pounds and com mittal to pi is, ,n. As a soldier he served with distinction during the reign of .lames I. The first peine lees laid down by Markham with regards to race horses was to breed from the Arab stallion, which he described as of reasonable stature, neither too Iul-Ii nar to.. Lev. saudl lean bead, ejrea llki fire; ears sharp, small, but somewhat long; crest high, tliin. and firm: short, strong hack, long, upright buttocks, small, chan legs, slender and round of body: in short, peerless, possessing all tl.e parity and virtue of other horses, plus wonderful har.li h I of constitution nad indomitable pluck. He regarded he period bet we, ii mid -March and mid May "when the in", hi nad newly changed," as the beat time for mating mares. Preparation for the Race. Of the training of the bane "whose shape, countenance and demeanor promised assurance ,.f great swiftness" the first necessity was to see th.it. being "fair and fat" when first taken up. he should for tin- "upm t of three weeks or a month be fed on wheat straw nad aata." Alter that hay was substituted for straw and bread was provided com noaed of a "strike of beans two necks of wheat, one peck of rye, groaad together, sifted and kaeeded with water and bran, baked thorotmlilv in loaves of :i peck each, and not lo lie used for f 1 until tl,. were at bast a day old." This feed appears to have continued until the day prior to the rue. when the regimen was cut dawn to a light supper. so that tie- horse might "be pa- ling empty" in the morning. On the eventful day he was taken out far an hour or two before being well rubbed down, his lags were thoroughly anointed with either neatsfoet, treaae, sbeepsfool or linseed oil and far food he had a "penny loaf, cut into slices, toasted steeped in Muscadine and placed between hot cloths and thoroughly dried again before the fire." Failing this diet ■ pock of fine, well dried oatmeal will serve equally well, being Min nad easily di-gested, tboagh not. perhaps, so palatable. After being red I lis maasle was t.. be pal an ami "a great store of litter provided, his surcingle was to I •• ui lo — d so that his clothe* may hang about him and allow him to rest until be was led forth to run his wager, not suhTering any man to come within his stable for fear of disquieting Mm." Finally, before hading him out. Markhams advice was to "gird on hi- clothes handsomely, bridle him up. and then take your month full of strong vinegar and apart it into his nostrils, whereof it will search and open his pipi s. making them apt for the receipt of wind. This done, lead him to the race, unclothe him. repeal the vinegar process and bequeath him and yourself to God and good fortune." A Sporting Queen. James I. was a keen patron of all sports an ! horse racing i:: pnrticalar, so also was "Good * a Bees," whose racing establishment, "the Barbery horse stables" were at Greenwich, and in addition there were similar establishments at Wulthum. SI. Albans. Oaklands. Baton, Hampton Court, Kichmoud. Windsor ami Charing Cross, all tin- property of the crown. It is recorded that the queen usually kept about forty horses in training, and retained the services of two Jockeys, who received twenty two paaada per annum, while her two "keepers of the course" which 1 take to mean trainers each received sixpence per day. Daring the reign of i.iuei n Elisabeth racing played a considerable part in the sporting life of England, and mention is made of meetings at Salisbury, Don caster. Huntingdon, Croydon the Ascot of those times, Richmond Yorks, Carlisle and various places in Scotland. Doubtless the queens sporting instincts were Inherited from her sire. Henry VIII., who kept a racing establishment, and imported Arab blood lor his broodmares. It is curious to read nowadays how that Qaeen Elizabeth, accompanied by a brilliant retinue, attended the races nt Cray don. and for In r especial accommodation a stand was erected a a cost of 84 shillings. Elisabeth wis equally keen on atag hunting, and attended the meets frequently, being herself an expert horse woman. At a grand meet on one occasion at Oaklands a remarkable Incident occurred. loha Belwya, the nader-keeper, who was in attendance and famed as a wonderful horseman, overtook the quarry, and leaped from his horses back on to that of tl* stag, which be guided by means of bis hunting knife to the queens feet, when he administ red the "roan de grace," a marvellous feat, which is chronicled on his monument in the church at Walton on Thames. Then as Now — The Faddist. Even in thane far-off tines the faddist was in evidence. Thus Lord Herbert of Cherbury wrote in his autobiography thai lie did not approve of running horses, "there being too mach cheating." nor could he see "why a brave man should delight in a creature whose chief use was to help him to run away." Hunting was equally objectioii.il, because it absorbed more time than could be spued "for a siudh us man to acquire knowledge." Hawking was the better sport, because it occupied less time, and for a similar reason a little bowling mighl he tolerated "provided the company be choice and good." Horsemanship of the riding school pattern, swimming and duelling he regarded as necessary accomplishments, bat dicing and cards were held up as a means "to eoaea young gentlemen of all their money." Bartoa, more moderate in tone, wrote at the dose of the Shakespearian era that "horse races are sports of greal nam and good in them selves, though many gentlemen by such means gal lop ..at of their fortunes." In those days, beyond satisfying individual ambition to possess the speediest and stoutest racehorses, breeding had little but immediate significance as regarded from the acien tific point of iew: but the seed was sown. Which has grown and fructified Into that marvel of perfection, that pride of the nation and admiration and eavj of the rest af the world the British blood horse. — "Vigilant" in London Sportsman.