Page:Horses and roads.djvu/38

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22

CHAPTER IV.

LITTER—XENOPHON AND LORD PEMBROKE ON BARE PAVING FOR STALLS—PHYSICKING AND BLISTERING—THE BEARING REIN.

Servants are apt to be very exacting as to the quantity of straw for litter, and they keep some all day long under the horse’s feet, ignorantly believing that it is a comfort and a benefit to the horse.Here, again, they are wrong; and upon both points. Let any proprietor go to his stable, upon returning on a Sunday from morning church service, when the horses will, perhaps, have been left to themselves for three hours, and he will find that his horses have been trying to get rid of it by scraping holes in it, in which to stand in ease and comfort on the bare floor, having pushed as much as they can back into the gangway. It is probable, also, that instinct takes part in their dislike to it, on the score of its being unhealthy, as well as uncomfortable to them.

Xenophon wrote in praise of a bare stone pavement: ‘It will cool, harden, and improve a horse’s feet merely by standing on it.’ Lord Pembroke says: ‘The constant use of litter makes the feet tender, and causes swelled legs; moreover, it renders