Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/169

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142
PERSIA.

half hands; but upon the whole, they are taller than the Arabian. Those of the desert and country about Hillah run very small, but are full of bone and very swift. It is the practice to feed and water them only at sun-rise and sun-set, when they are cleaned. Their usual provender is barley and chopped straw; hay is a kind of food not known here. The bedding of the animal consists of his dung, after it has been carefully exposed to the drying effect of the sun during the day; it then becomes quite pulverized, and in that state is nightly spread under him. Little of it touches his body, which is covered by his clothing, a large nummud, from the ears to the tail, and bound firmly round his belly by a very long surcingle. Jut this apparel is only for cold weather; the night-clothes are of a lighter substance in the warmer season, and during the heat of the day the animal is kept entirely in the shade. At night, he is tied in the courtyard; his head being attached to the place of security by a double rope from the halter, while the hinder legs are cord]nod by cords of twisted hair, fastened to iron, rings and pegs driven into the earth. These precautions are used to prevent them from attacking and maiming each other, the whole stud generally consisting of stallions. Their keepers also sleep on their rugs among them, in case of such accidents; and sometimes, notwithstanding all their care, the animals contrive to break loose, and a combat ensues. A general neighing, screaming, kicking and snorting, soon rouse the grooms, and the scene for a while is terrible: indeed no one can conceive the sudden uproar of such a moment, who has not been in the eastern countries to hear it. They seize, bite, and kick each other with the most determined fury, and frequently cannot be separated before their heads and haunches stream with blood. Even in skirmishes between the natives, their horses take part in the fray, tearing each other with their teeth, while their masters are at close quarters on their backs.

The Turcoman breed of horses is preferable to the pure Persian race; they are of a larger size, commonly standing from fifteen to sixteen hands high; they have considerably the advantage in hone, are inexhaustible under fatigue, and their powers of speed are very great. A fine pure-blooded horse from Turcomania is worth two or three hundred toomauns.


SECTION IV.

GAMES.

The Mahometan religion interdicts games of chance, and the police fines those who transgress this prohibition: the Persians, nevertheless, pay but little attention to this precept. They can-