BLACK BEAUTY - online book

The Autobiography Of A Horse, With Fifty Illustrations.

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First, there were the tight-rein drivers—men who seemed to think that all depended on holding the reins as hard aa they could, never relaxing the pull on the horse's mouth, or giving him the least liberty of movement. They are always talking about " keeping the horse well in hand," and " holding a horse up," just as if a horse was not made to hold himself up.
Some poor, broken-down horses, whose mouths have been made hard and insensible by just such drivers as these, may perhaps find some support in it; but for a horse who can depend upon his own legs, and who has a tender mouth and is easily guided, it is not only torment­ing, but it is stupid.
Then there are the loose-rein drivers, who let the reins lie easily on our backs, and their hand rest lazily on their knees. Of course such gentlemen have no control over a horse, if anything happens suddenly. If a horse shies, or starts, or stumbles, they are nowhere, and cannot help the horse or themselves till the mischief is done. Of course, for myself I had no objection to it, as I was not in the habit of either starting or stumbling, and had only been used to depend on my driver for guidance and encourage­ment; still, one likes to feel the rein a little in going downhill, and likes to know that one's driver has not gone to sleep.
Besides, a slovenly way of driving gets a horse into bad and often lazy habits; and when he changes hands he has to be whipped out of them with more or less pain and trouble. Squire Gordon always kept us to our best paces and our best manners. He said that spoiling a horse and letting him get into bad habits was just as cruel as spoil­ing a child, and both had to suffer for it afterwards.
Besides, these drivers are often careless altogether, and will attend to anything else more than their horses. I went out in the phaeton one day with one of them; he had a lady and two children behind. He flopped the
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