V
 

It is the duty of a horseman, as we think, to have his groom trained thoroughly in all that concerns the treatment of the horse. In the first place, then, the groom should know that he is never to knot the halter[1] at the point where the headstall is attached to the horse's head. By constantly rubbing his head against the manger, if the halter does not sit quite loose about his ears, the horse will be constantly injuring himself;[2] and with sores so set up, it is inevitable that he should show peevishness, while being bitted or rubbed down.

It is desirable that the groom should be ordered to carry out the dung and litter of the horse to some one place each day. By so doing, he will discharge the duty with least trouble to himself,[3] and at the same time be doing the horse a kindness.

The groom should also be instructed to attach the muzzle to the horse's mouth, both when taking him out to be groomed and to the rolling-ground.[4] In fact he should always muzzle him whenever he takes him anywhere without the bit. The muzzle, while it is no hindrance to respiration, prevents biting; and when attached it serves to rob the horse of opportunity for vice.[5]

Again, care should be taken to tie the horse up with the halter above his head. A horse's natural instinct, in trying to rid himself of anything that irritates the face, is to toss up his head, and by this upward movement, if so tied, he only slackens the chain instead of snapping it. In rubbing the horse down, the groom should begin with the head and mane; as until the upper parts are clean, it is vain to cleanse the lower; then, as regards the rest of the body, first brush up the hair, by help of all the ordinary implements for cleansing, and then beat out the dust, following the lie of the hair. The hair on the spine (and dorsal region) ought not to be touched with any instrument whatever; the hand alone should be used to rub and smooth it, and in the direction of its natural growth, so as to preserve from injury that part of the horse's back on which the rider sits.

The head should be drenched with water simply; for, being bony, if you try to cleanse it with iron or wooden instruments injury may be caused. So, too, the forelock should be merely wetted; the long hairs of which it is composed, without hindering the animal's vision, serve to scare away from the eyes anything that might trouble them. Providence, we must suppose,[6] bestowed these hairs upon the horse, instead of the large ears which are given to the ass and the mule as a protection to the eyes.[7] The tail, again, and mane should be washed, the object being to help the hairs to grow--those in the tail so as to allow the creature the greatest reach possible in brushing away molesting objects,[8] and those of the neck in order that the rider may have as free a grip as possible.

Mane, forelock, and tail are triple gifts bestowed by the gods upon the horse for the sake of pride and ornament,[9] and here is the proof: a brood mare, so long as her mane is long and flowing, will not readily suffer herself to be covered by an ass; hence breeders of mules take care to clip the mane of the mare with a view to covering.[10]

Washing of the legs we are inclined to dispense with--no good is done but rather harm to the hoofs by this daily washing. So, too, excessive cleanliness of the belly is to be discouraged; the operation itself is most annoying to the horse; and the cleaner these parts are made, the thicker the swarm of troublesome things which collect beneath the belly. Besides which, however elaborately you clean these parts, the horse is no sooner led out than presently he will be just as dirty as if he had not been cleaned. Omit these ablutions then, we say; and similarly for the legs, rubbing and currying by hand is quite sufficient.

[1] Lit. "by which the horse is tied to the manger"; "licol d'ecurie."

[2] Al. "in nine cases out of ten he rubs his head . . . and ten to one will make a sore."

[3] Al. "get rid of the refuse in the easiest way."

[4] Cf. "Econ." xi. 18; Aristoph. "Clouds," 32.

[5] Or, "prevents the horse from carrying out vicious designs."

[6] Lit. "The gods, we must suppose, gave . . ."

[7] Lit. "as defences or protective bulwarks."

[8] Insects, etc.

[9] {aglaias eneka} (a poetic word). Cf. "Od." xv. 78; xvii. 310.

[10] For this belief Schneid. cf Aristot. "H. A." vi. 18; Plin. viii. 42; Aelian, "H. A." ii. 10, xi. 18, xii. 16, to which Dr. Morgan aptly adds Soph. "Fr." 587 (Tyro), a beautiful passage, {komes de penthos lagkhano polou diken, k.t.l.} (cf. Plut. "Mor." 754 A).