Page:Notes on equitation and horse training.djvu/98

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work him two days and let him rest the third day. His work must last at least two hours; at first, one hour at a walk on soft or heavy ground, preferably over ploughed ground, then a moderate but continuous trot over ground that is not too hard, for at least 3 miles; then at least a half hour at a walk. Continue this work for six weeks—that is, till about the 15th of July. Then increase the length of time at the trot and begin to trot in place of walking in the work in the open field, but never push the horse into the rapid gaits. Continue this until about the 15th of August. The muscles of your horse will already begin to grow harder and firmer; they will be stronger and his endurance and wind will be improved. Begin to increase the speed at which he works and then, if he is still too fat, you may give him another purge. A few days later you may increase his oats a little, up to 14 or 16 quarts, depending upon the temperament of the horse. The work is then increased by a gallop over plowed ground, always following a progressive course, beginning with a short and rapid gallop, and ending, on the 15th of September, with a good gallop at hunting speed for 5 or 6 miles. If the horse is still too fat, if the muscles of the neck, loins, and thighs do not stand out well, if he perspires too freely, if the sweat is a white lather and not a colorless fluid, give him two or three gallops under blankets, covering well the parts you wish to lighten. For instance, if the neck is too heavy, too flabby, put on one or two hoods. If, on the contrary, he has too large a belly, put on two or three blankets. Naturally you should always finish at a walk and see that there is a very good grooming when you come in. Put on good flannel bandages after careful hand rubbing of the legs.

By following this course of preparation, your horse should begin to be in condition toward the end of September. He is far from being entirely ready, but he may begin to hunt without much fear of injury. By this time he has started to shed and is beginning to suffer from the action going on inside of him, which takes away part of his strength and exhausts him. Redouble your care by covering him carefully so that the heat may hasten the shedding, and above all give him abundant and substantial feed. Accordingly, from the 15th of September to the 15th of October, I recommend a feed of beans every day (2 quarts soaked in three different waters) and put iron, nails, horseshoes, etc., in his drinking water. All this gives him strength to support the work going on inside of him, for it is very important that the shedding and sweating in October should not put him out of condition. If it does, you will not be able to get him back in condition again the rest of the winter, and in January he will be completely run down. Consequently it is from the 20th of September to about the 15th of November that you should feed a hunter the most.