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if you do that, I'll give you a halfpenny. Rejoiced
' at my father's generosity, ‘Oh, then, never fear,' said I. I scarcely need add that my task was easily accomplished, and that I then had the valuable sum of a halfpenny at my own disposal.” This way
of life lasted until he was nine or ten years old; then came a spell of shoemaking and a violent attack of asthma, aggravated by the stooping position, which continued a year or two longer. The disease was at length removed by the skill of a country apothecary, and a fresh impulse was given to the poor boy's aspirations by the sight of a strongly-contested horse-race at Nottingham. His longings to be allowed to minister in some way to that noble animal became irrepressible; he confided them to his father, and was fortunate enough to be received into the service of a respectable man who kept a training stable near Newmarket. There being placed on a horse too spirited for his youth, his feebleness, and his inexperience, he got a terrible fall, and what he grieved for more, a dismissal. He was received by another trainer and dismissed again. At last he made a third application:
“ It was no difficult matter to meet with John Watson : he was so attentive to stable hours, that, except on extraordinary occasions, he was always to be found. Being first careful to make myself look as like a stable-boy as I could, I came at the hour of four, and ventured to ask if I could see John
Watson. The immediate answer was in the affirmative. John Watson came, looked at me with a serious but good-natured countenance, and accosted me first with : 'Well, my lad, what is your busi
? I suppose I can guess; you want a place ?' 'Yes, Sir.' Who have you lived with ? Mr. Woodcock, on the forest. One of your boys, Jack Clarke, brought me with him from Nottingham.' • How came you to leave Mr. Woodcock ?'
"I had a sad fall from an iron-grey filly, that almost killed me. * That is bad indeed. And so you left him ?'
He turned me away, Sir.' That is honest. I like your speaking the truth. So you are come from him to me?' At this question I cast my eyes down, and hesitated : then fearfully answered: ' No, Sir. "No! What, change masters twice in so short a time?' “I can't help it, Sir, if I am turned away. This last answer made him smile."
So his character proving satisfactory, he is hired.
“My station was immediately assigned me. There was a remarkably quiet three years old colt lately from the discipline of the breaker, and of him I was ordered to take charge, instructed by one of the upper boys in everything that was to be done, and directed to back him and keep pace with the rest when they went out to exercise, only taking care to keep a straight line, and to walk, canter and gallop the last.
I did not long ride a quiet colt at the tail of the string (on whose back
John Watson soon put a new comer), but had a dun horse, by no means a tame or safe one, committed to my care. I contrived to ride the dun horse through the winter. It was John Watson's general practice to exercise his horses over the flat, and up Cambridge Hill, on the west side of Newmarket; but the rule was not invariable. One wintry day he ordered us up to the Bury Hills. It mizzled a very sharp sleet, the wind became uncommonly cutting, and Dun, the horse I rode, being remarkable for a tender skin, found the wind and the sleet, which blew directly up his nostrils, so very painful, that it suddenly made him outrageous. He started from the rank in which he was walking, tried to unseat me, endeavoured to set off full speed; and when he found he could not master me so as to get head, began to rear, snorted most violently, threw out behind, plunged, and used every mischievous exertion of which the muscular powers of a blood-horse are susceptible. I, who felt the uneasiness he suffered before his violence began, being luckily prepared, sat him as steadily and upright as if this had been his usual exercise. John Watson was riding beside his horses, and a groom, I believe it was old Cheevers, broke out into an exclamation : 'I say, John, that is a fine lad! “Ay, ay,' replied Watson, highly satisfied, you will find some time or other that there are few in Newmarket that will match him.' To have behaved with true courage, and
to meet with applause like this, especially from John Watson, was a triumph such as I could at this time have felt in no other way with the same sweet satisfaction. My horsemanship had been seen by all the boys, my praises had been heard by them all.
“ Horses, generally speaking, are of a generous and kindly nature. Of their friendly disposition towards their keepers, there is a trait known to every boy that has the care of one of them, which ought not to be omitted. The custom is to rise very early, even between two and three in the morning, when the days lengthen. In the course of the day horses and boys have much to do. About half-past eight, perhaps, in the evening, the horse has his last feed of oats, which he generally stands to enjoy in the centre of his smooth, carefully-made bed of clean long straw, and by the side of him the weary boy will often lie down, it being held as a maxim, a rule without exception, that were he to lie even till morning, the horse would never lie down himself, but stand still, careful to do his keeper no harm.
“Except by accident, the race-horse never trots. He must either walk or gallop; and in exercise, even when it is the hardest, the gallop begins slowly and gradually, and increases till the horse is nearly at full speed. When he has galloped half a mile, the boy begins to push him forward without relaxa
tion for another half mile. This is at the period when the horses are in full exercise, to which they come by degrees. The boy that can best regulate these degrees among those of light weight is gene. rally chosen to lead the gallop ; that is, he goes first out of the stable and first returns.
“In the time of long exercise this is the first brushing gallop. A brushing gallop signifies that the horses are nearly at full speed before it is over, and it is commonly made at last rather up hill. Having all pulled up,
the horses stand some two or three minutes and recover their wind; they then leisurely descend the hill and take a long walk, after which they are brought to water. But in this, as in everything else (at least as soon as long exercise begins), everything to them is measured. The boy counts the number of times the horse swallows when he drinks, and allows him to take no more gulps than the groom orders, the fewest to the hardest exercise, and one horse more or less than another, according to the judgment of the groom. After watering a gentle gallop is taken, and after that another walk of considerable length; to which succeeds the second and last brushing gallop, which is by far the most severe. When it is over, another pause, thoroughly to recover their wind, is allowed them; then a long walk is begun, the limits of which are prescribed, and it ends in directing their ride homeward.