52 BLACK BEAUTY.
of them. " They are an uncommonly handsome pair," he said, " and if they are as good as they look, I am sure you need not wish for anything better; but I see you still hold that pet scheme of yours for worrying your horses and lessening their power."
"What do you mean?" said the other, "the check-reins? Oh, ah! I know that's a hobby of yours; well, the fact is, I like to see my horses hold their heads up."
" So do I," said master, " as well as any man, but I don't like to see them held up; that take? all the shine out of it. Now, you are a military man, Lang'ey, and no doubt like to see your regiment look well on parade, ' heads up,' and all that; but you would not take much credit for your drill if all your men had their heads tied to a backboard! It might not be much harm on parade, except to worry and fatigue them; but how would it be ?n a hayonet charge against the enemy, when they want the free use of every muscle, and all their strength thrown forward? I would not give much for their chance of victory. And it is just the same with horses: you fret and worry their tempers, and decrease their power; you will not let them throw their weight against their work, and so they have to do too much with their joints and muscles, and of course it wears them up faster. You may depend upon it, horses were intended to have their heads free, as free as men's are; and if we could act a little more according to common sense, and a good deal less according to fashion, we should find many things work easier; besides, you know as well as I that if a horse makes a false step, he has much less chance of recovering himself if his head and neck are fastened back. And now," said the master, laughing, " I have given my hobby a good trot out, can't you make up your mind to mount him, too, captain ? Your example would go a long way."
" I believe you are right in theory," said the other, " and that's rather a hard hit about the soldiers; but—well— I'll think about it," and so they parted.