Conditioning a hunter.—I shall take the case of a horse that you have bought with the idea of using him for hunting. He is trained, has been worked, and comes from a dealer or any other similar source. His conformation appears good to you from the standpoint of service and his gaits are natural. He is in good condition, fat. It is spring or summer—June, let us suppose. You wish to condition your horse for the hunting season. What will you do?
First, run your hand all over your horse, but mainly over the body, and pay special attention to the croup and neck. If you find the flesh soft and yielding under the fingers, the legs rather round and pasty, have your horse saddled, mount him, and ride him into a ploughed field or upon a road deep with sand. Put your horse into a slow gallop, keeping him well in hand; make him work his hind quarters and bend his neck a little. The horse immediately begins to blow and in a moment is dripping wet. The sweat is white, and resembles soap suds. Do not go any further; your horse is not in condition, and you must require nothing further of him for the present. Take him quietly back to the stable and for two days put him on bran mash and diet, and on the third day give him a purge. Do not be afraid that I am going to overdo this last. Perhaps, if your horse is too fat, too heavy, I will allow you one more at the end of August, but that is all. For in sane hygiene you should avoid the pit into which many hunting horses in England fall, the destruction of the stomach and intestines by an excess of purges and of drugs intended to give an appetite. Moreover, in France our hunters must be in much finer condition than in England. They are not required to do the same kind of work. A hunter in England must withstand two hours of fast gait and constant effort. The hunter in France is generally required to withstand eight or ten hours of continuous work and effort without eating, but at a much slower gait. Therefore, the question of the condition of a hunting horse in England and in France is very different.
All summer, you should feed your horse Glauber's salts, one handful in a mash at least once every ten or twelve days. He should have a substantial but gradually increasing feed of 10 to 16 pounds of hay and 10 to 12 quarts of oats every day to begin with, depending upon the temperament of the horse. Give him regular work every day or