Online Encyclopedia

BREEDS OF

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 725 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BREEDS OF HORSES The British breeds of light horses include the Thoroughbred, the Yorkshire Coach-horse, the Cleveland Bay, the Hackney and the Pony; of heavy horses, the Shire, the Clydesdale and the Suffolk. The Thoroughbred is probably the oldest of the breeds, and it is known as the " blood-horse " on account of the length of time through which its purity of descent can be traced. The frame is light, slender and graceful. The points of chief importance are a fine, clean, lean head, set on free from collar heaviness; a long and strongly muscular neck, shoulders oblique and covered with muscle; high, long withers, chest of good depth and narrow but not extremely so; body round in type; back rib well down; depth at withers a little under half the height; length equal to the height at withers and croup; loins level and muscular;croup long, rather level; tail set on high and carried gracefully; the hind quarters long, strongly developed, and full of muscle and driving power; the limbs clean-cut and sinewy, possessing abundance of good bone, especially desired in the cannons, which are short, broad and flat; comparatively little space between the fore legs; pastern joints smooth and true; pasterns strong, clean and springy, sloping when at rest at an angle of 450; feet medium size, wide and high at the heels, concave below and set on straight. The action in trotting is generally low, but the bending of the knee and the flexing of the hock is smooth, free and true. The thoroughbred is apt to be nervous and excitable, and impatient of common work, but its speed, resolution and endurance, as tested on the race-course, are'beyond praise. Many of the best hunters in the United Kingdom are thoroughbreds, but of the substantial weight-carrying type. The Hunters. Improvement Society, established in 1885, did not restrict entries to the Hunters' Stud-Book to entirely clean-bred animals, but admitted those with breeding enough to pass strict inspection. This society acts in consort with two other powerful organizations (the Royal Commission on Horse-breeding, which began its work in 1888, and the Brood Mare Society, established in 1903), with the desirable object of improving the standard of light horse breeding. The initial efforts began by securing the services of thoroughbred stallions for specified districts, by offering a limited number of " Queen's Premiums," of. £200 each, to selected animals of four years old and upwards. Since the formation of the Brood Mare Society mares have come within the sphere of influence of the three bodies, and well-conceived inducements are offered to breeders to retain their young mares at home. The efforts have met with gratifying success, and they were much needed, for while in 1904 the Dutch government took away 350 of the best young Irish mares, Great Britain was paying the foreigner over £2,000,000 a year for horses which the old system of management did not supply at home. The Royal Dublin Society also keeps a Register of Thoroughbred Stallions under the horse-breeding scheme of 1892, which, like the British efforts, is now bearing fruit. The Yorkshire Coach-horse is extensively bred in the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, and the thoroughbred has taken a share in its development. The colour is usually bay, with black or brown points. A fine head, sloping shoulders, strong loins, lengthy quarters, high-stepping action, flat bone and sound feet are characteristic. The height varies from 16 hands to 16 hands 2 in. The Cleveland Bay is an ancestor of the Yorkshire Coach-horse and is bred in parts of Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland. He is adapted alike for the plough, for heavy draught, and for slow saddle work. Some specimens make imposing-looking carriage horses, but they have low action and are lacking in quality. The colour is light or dark bay, with black legs. Though rather coarse-headed, the Cleveland Bay has a well-set shoulder and neck, a deep chest and round barrel. The height is from 16 to 17 hands. The Hackney has come prominently to the front in recent years. The term Nag, applied to the active riding or trotting horse, is derived from the A.S. hnegan, to neigh. The Normans brought with them their own word haquenee, or hacquenee, a French derivative from the Latin equus, a horse, whence the name hackney. Both nag and hackney continue to be used as synonymous terms. Frequent mention is made of hackneys and trotters in old farm accounts of the 14th century. The first noteworthy trotting hackney stallion, of the modern type, was a horse foaled about 17J5, and known as the Schales, Shields or Shales horse, and most of the recognized hackneys of to-day trace back to him. The breeding of hackneys is extensively pursued in the counties of Norfolk, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Lincoln and York, and in the showyard competitions a keen but friendly rivalry is usually to be noticed between the hackney-breeding farmers of Norfolk and Yorkshire. The high hackney action is uncomfortable in a riding horse. Excel-lent results have sometimes followed the use of hackney sires upon half-bred mares, i.e. by thoroughbred stallions and trotting mares, but it is not always so. As regards the movement, or " action," of the hackney, he should go light in hand, and the knee should be well elevated and advanced during the trot, and, before the foot is put down, the leg should be well extended. The hackney should also possess good hock action, as distinguished from mere fetlock action, the propelling power depending upon the efficiency of the former. The hackney type of the day is " a powerfully built, short-legged, big horse, with an intelligent head, neat neck, strong, level back, powerful loins, and as perfect shoulders as can be obtained, good feet, flat-boned legs, and a height of from 15 hands 2 in. to 15 hands 31 in. Carriage-horses hackney-bred have been produced over 17 hands high. The Pony differs essentially from the hackney in height, the former not exceeding 14 hands. There is one exception, which is made clear in the following extract from Sir Walter Gilbey's Ponies Past and Present (1900) : Before the establishment of the Hackney Horse Society in 1883 the dividing line between the horse and the pony in England was vague and undefined. It was then found necessary to distinguish clearly between horses and ponies, and, accordingly, all animals measuring 14 hands or under were designated " ponies," and registered in a separate part of the (Hackney) Stud-Book. This record of height, with other particulars as to breeding, &c., serves to direct breeders in their choice of sires and dams. The standard of height established by the Hackney Horse Society was accepted and officially recognized by the'Royal Agricultural Society in 1889, when the prize-list for the Windsor show contained pony classes for animals not exceeding 14 hands. The altered polo-rule, which fixes the limit of height at 14 hands 2 in., may be productive of some little confusion; but for all other purposes 14 hands is the recognized maximum height of a pony. Prior to 1883 small horses were called indifferently Galloways, hobbies, cobs or ponies, irrespective of their height. Native ponies include those variously known as Welsh, New Forest, Exmoor, Dartmoor, Cumberland and Westmorland, Fell, Highland, Highland Garron, Celtic, Shetland and Connemara. Ponies range in height from 14 hands down to 8 hands, Shetland ponies eligible for the Stud-Book not exceeding the latter. As in the case of the hackney, so with the pony, thoroughbred blood has been used, and with good results, except in the case of those animals which have to remain to breed in their native haunts on the hills and moorlands. There the only possible way of improvement is by selecting the best native specimens, especially the sires, to breed from. The thin-skinned progeny of thoroughbred or Arab stock is too delicate to live unless when hand-fed—and hand-feeding is not according to custom. Excellent polo ponies are bred as first or second crosses by thoroughbred stallions on the mares of nearly all the varieties of ponies named. The defective formation of the pony, the perpendicular shoulder and the drooping hind quarters, are modified; but neither the latter, nor bent 'hocks, which place the hind legs under the body as in the zebra, are objected to, as the conformation is. favourable to rapid turning. One object of the pony breeder, while maintaining hardiness of constitution, is to control size—to compress the most valuable qualities into small compass. He endeavours to breed an animal possessing a small head, good shoulders, true action and perfect manners. A combination of the best points of the hunter with the style and finish of the hackney produces a class of weight-carrying pony which is always saleable. The Shire horse owes its happily-chosen name to Arthur Young's remarks, in the description of his agricultural tours during the closing years of the 18th century, concerning the large Old English Black Horse, " the produce principally of the Shire counties in the heart of England." Long previous to this, however, the word Shire, in connexion with horses, was used in the statutes of Henry VIII. Under the various names of the War Horse, the Great Horse, the Old English Black Horse and the Shire Horse, the breed has for centuries been cultivated in the rich fen-lands of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, and in many counties to the west. The Shire is the largest of draught horses, the stallion commonly attaining a height of 17 to 17.3 hands. Though the black colour is still frequently met with, bay and brown are more usually seen. With their immense size andweight—1800 lb to 2200 lb—the Shires combine great strength, and they are withal docile and intelligent. They stand on short stout legs, with a plentiful covering—sometimes too abundant—of long hair extending chiefly down the back but also round the front of the limbs from knees and hocks, and when in full feather obscuring nearly the whole of the hoofs. The head is a good size, and broad between the eyes; the neck fairly long, with the crest well arched on to the shoulders, which are deep and strong, and moderately oblique. The chest is wide, full and deep, the back short and straight, the ribs are round and deep, the hind quarters long, level and well let down into the muscular thighs. The cannon-bones should be flat, heavy and clean, and the feet wide, tough, and prominent at the heels. A good type of Shire horse combines symmetrical outlines and bold, free action. There is a good and remunerative demand for Shire geldings for use as draught horses in towns. The Clydesdale, the Scottish breed named from the valley of the Clyde, is not quite so large as the Shire, the average height of stallions being about 16 hands 2 in. The popular colour is bay, particularly if of a dark shade, or dappled. Black is not uncommon, but grey is not encouraged. White markings on one or more of the legs, with a white star or stripe on the face, are characteristic. The long hair on the legs is not so abundant as in the Shires, and it is finer in texture. It is regarded as an indication of good bone. The bones of the legs should be short, flat, clean and hard; the feet large, with hoofs deep and concave below. With its symmetry, activity, strength and endurance the Clydesdale is easily broken to harness, and makes an excellent draught horse. This breed is growing rapidly in favour in Canada, but in the United States the Percheron, with its round bone and short pasterns, holds the field. A blend of the Shire and Clydesdale strains of the British rough-legged draught horse (virtually sections of the same breed) is a better animal than either of the parents. It is an improvement upon the Shire due to the quality contributed by the Clydesdale, and' it surpasses the Clydesdale in strength and substance, as a result of the Shire connexion. To secure success the two Stud-Books will require to be opened to animals eligible to be entered in either record. The blend is being established in U.S.A. as a National breed. The Suffolk is a horse quite distinct from the Shire and the Clydesdale. Its body looks too heavy for its limbs, which are free from the " feather " so much admired in the two other heavy breeds; it possesses a characteristic chestnut colour. How long the Suffolks have been associated with the county after which they are named is unknown, but they are mentioned in 1586 in Camden's Britannia. With an average height of about 16 hands they often have a weight of as much as 2000 lb., and this may explain the appearance which has given rise to the name of the Suffolk Punch, by which the breed is known. The Suffolk is a resolute and unwearying worker, and is richly endowed with many of the best qualities of a horse. The Suffolk Stud-Book and History of the Breed, published in 1880, is the most exhaustive record of its kind in England. (W. FR.; R. W.) MANAGEMENT Breeding.—Animals to breed from should be of good blood, sound and compactly built, with good pluck and free from nervous excitability and vicious tendency. A mare used to be put to the horse at three years old, but latterly two has become the common age. Young sires begin to serve in moderation at two. May is considered the best month for a mare to foal, _s there is abundance of natural food and the weather is mild enough for the mare to lie out. Show specimens generally profit by being born earlier. The period of gestation in the mare is about eleven months. No nursing mare should go to work, if this can possibly be avoided. A brood mare requires plenty of exercise at a slow pace and may work, except between shafts or on a road, till the day of foaling. To avoid colic an animal has to be gradually prepared by giving small quantities of green food for a few days before going to grass. Shelter against severe storms is needed. Succulent food encourages the flow of milk, and the success of the foal greatly depends on its milk supply. Mares most readily conceive when served at the " foal heat " eleven days after foaling. A mature stallion can serve from eighty to one hundred mares per annum. Foals are weaned when five or six months old, often in October, and require to be housed to save the foal-flesh, and liberally but not overfed; but from the time they are a month old they require to be " gentled " by handling and kindly treatment, and the elementary training of leading from time to time by a halter adjusted permanently to the head. When they are hand-reared on cow's milk foals require firm treatment and must have no fooling to teach them tricks. Young horses that are too highly fed are apt to become weak-limbed and top-heavy. Breaking.—Systematic breaking begins at about the age of two years, and the method of subduing a colt by " galvayning " is as good as any. It is a more humane system than " rareying," which overcame by exhaustion under circumstances which were not fruitful of permanent results. Galvayning is accomplished by bending the horse's neck round at an angle of thirty-five to forty degrees and tieing the halter to the tail, so that when he attempts to walk forward he holds himself and turns " round and round, almost upon his own ground." The more strenuous his resistance the sooner he yields to the inevitable force applied by himself. A wooden pole, the " third hand," is then gently applied to all parts of the body until kicking or any form of resistance ceases. " Bitting " or " mouthing," or the familiarizing of an animal to the bit in his mouth, and to answer to the rein without bending his neck, is still a necessity with the galvayning method of breaking. Experience can only be gained by a horse continuing during a considerable time to practise what he has been taught. Three main characteristics of a successful horse-breaker are firmness, good temper and incessant vigilance. Carelessness in trusting too much to a young colt that begins its training by being docile is a fruitful source of untrustworthy habits which need never have developed. Driving with long reins in the field should precede the fastening of ropes to the collar, as it accustoms the animal to the pressure on the shoulders of the draught, later to be experienced in the yoke. If a young horse be well handled and accustomed to the dummy jockey, mounting it is not attended with much risk of resistance, although this should invariably be anticipated. An animal ought to be in good condition when being broken in, else it is liable to break out in unpleasant ways when it becomes high-spirited as a result of improved condition. If should be well but not overfed, and while young not overworked, as an overtired animal is liable to refuse to pull, and thus contract a bad habit. Most bad habits and stable tricks are the result of defective management and avoidable accidents. Feeding.— Horses have small stomachs relatively to ruminating animals, and require small quantities of food frequently. While grazing they feed almost continually, preferring short pasture. No stable food for quick work surpasses a superior sample of fine-hulled whole oats like " Garton's Abundance " (120 lb per week), and Timothy hay harvested in dry weather. The unbruised oats develop a spirit and courage in either a saddle or harness horse that no other food can. A double handful of clean chaff, or of bran mixed with the oats in the manger, prevents a greedy horse from swallowing a considerable proportion whole. L-nchewed oats pass out in the faeces uninjured, so that they are capable of germination, and are of less than no value to a horse. Horses doing slow or other than " upper ten " work may have oats crushed, not ground, and a variety of additions made to the oats which are usually the basis of the feed—for example, a few old crushed beans, a little linseed meal, ground linseed cake or about a wine-glassful of unboiled linseed oil. Indian pulses are to be avoided on account of the danger of Lathyrus poisoning. A seasoning of ground fenugreek or spice is sometimes given to shy feeders to encourage them to eat. A little sugar or molascuit added to the food will sometimes serve the same purpose. Newly crushed barley or cracked maize, even in considerable proportion to the rest of the food, gives goodresults with draught, coach, 'bus and light harness horses generally. Boiled food of any kind is unnatural to a horse, and is risky to give, being liable to produce colic, especially if the animal bolts its food when hungry, although it generally produces a glossy coat. Too much linseed, often used in preparing horses for market, gives a similar appearance, but is liable to induce fatty degeneration of the liver; given in moderation it regulates the bowels and stimulates the more perfect digestion of other foods. In England red-clover hay, or, better still, crimson-clover or lucerne hay, is liberally fed to farm horses with about ro lb per day of oats, while they usually run in open yards with shelter sheds. Bean straw is sometimes given as part of the roughage in Scotland, but not in England. In England hunters and carriage horses are generally fed on natural hay, in Scotland on Timothy, largely imported from Canada, or ryegrass hay that has not been grown with nitrate of soda. Heavily nitrated hay is reputed to produce excessive urination and irritation of the bladder. Pease straw, if not sandy, and good bright oat straw are good fodder for horses; but with barley and wheat straw, in the case of a horse, more energy is consumed during its passage through the alimentary canal than the digested straw yields. Three or four Swedish turnips or an equivalent of carrots is an excellent cooling food for a horse at hard work. The greater number of horses in the country should have green forage given them during summer, when the work they do will permit of it, as it is their natural food, and they thrive better on it than on any dry food. When a horse has been overstrained by work the best remedy is a long rest at pasture, and, if it be lame or weak in the limbs, the winter season is most conducive to recovery. The horse becomes low in condition and moves about quietly, and the frost tends to brace up the limbs. In autumn all horses that have been grazing should be dosed with some vermifuge to destroy the worms that are invariably present, and thus prevent colic or an unthrifty or anaemic state. On a long journey a horse should have occasional short drinks, and near the end a long drink with a slower rate of progression with the object of cooling off. In the stable a horse should always be provided with rock salt, and water to drink at will by means of some such stall fixture as the Mundt hygienic water-supply fittings. Overhead hay-racks are unnatural and are liable to drop seeds into a horse's eye.
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