IV
 

We will now suppose the purchaser has found a horse which he admires;[1] the purchase is effected, and he has brought him home--how is he to be housed? It is best that the stable should be placed in a quarter of the establishment where the master will see the horse as often as possible.[2] It is a good thing also to have his stall so arranged that there will be as little risk of the horse's food being stolen from the manger, as of the master's from his larder or store- closet. To neglect a detail of this kind is surely to neglect oneself; since in the hour of danger, it is certain, the owner has to consign himself, life and limb, to the safe keeping of his horse.

Nor is it only to avoid the risk of food being stolen that a secure horse-box is desirable, but for the further reason that if the horse takes to scattering his food, the action is at once detected; and any one who observes that happening may take it as a sign and symptom either of too much blood,[3] which calls for veterinary aid, or of over-fatigue, for which rest is the cure, or else that an attack of indigestion[4] or some other malady is coming on. And just as with human beings, so with the horse, all diseases are more curable at their commencement[5] than after they have become chronic, or been wrongly treated.[6]

But if food and exercise with a view to strengthening the horse's body are matters of prime consideration, no less important is it to pay attention to the feet. A stable with a damp and smooth floor will spoil the best hoof which nature can give.[7] To prevent the floor being damp, it should be sloped with channels; and to avoid smoothness, paved with cobble stones sunk side by side in the ground and similar in size to the horse's hoofs.[8] A stable floor of this sort is calculated to strengthen the horse's feet by the mere pressure on the part in standing. In the next place it will be the groom's business to lead out the horse somewhere to comb and curry him; and after his morning's feed to unhalter him from the manger,[9] so that he may come to his evening meal with greater relish. To secure the best type of stable-yard, and with a view to strengthening the horse's feet, I would suggest to take and throw down loosely[10] four or five waggon loads of pebbles, each as large as can be grasped in the hand, and about a pound in weight; the whole to be fenced round with a skirting of iron to prevent scattering. The mere standing on these will come to precisely the same thing as if for a certain portion of the day the horse were, off and on, stepping along a stony road; whilst being curried or when fidgeted by flies he will be forced to use his hoofs just as much as if he were walking. Nor is it the hoofs merely, but a surface so strewn with stones will tend to harden the frog of the foot also.

But if care is needed to make the hoofs hard, similar pains should be taken to make the mouth and jaws soft; and the same means and appliances which will render a man's flesh and skin soft, will serve to soften and supple a horse's mouth.[11]

[1] Lit. "To proceed: when you have bought a horse which you admire and have brought him home."

[2] i.e. "where he will be brought as frequently as possible under the master's eye." Cf. "Econ." xii. 20.

[3] "A plethoric condition of the blood."

[4] {krithiasis}. Lit. "barley surfeit"; "une fourbure." See Aristot. "H. A." viii. 24. 4.

[5] i.e. "in the early acute stages."

[6] Al. "and the mischief has spread."

[7] Lit. "A damp and smooth floor may be the ruin of a naturally good hoof." It will be understood that the Greeks did not shoe their horses.

[8] See Courier, p. 54, for an interesting experiment tried by himself at Bari.

[9] Cf. "Hipparch," i. 16.

[10] Or, "spread so as to form a surface."

[11] Or, "may be used with like effect on a horse's mouth," i.e. bathing, friction, oil. See Pollux, i. 201.