Page:Horses and roads.djvu/19

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3
THE BRAKE.

those that come after, and so on, until the axletree comes down on the ground and is either broken or bent, the shaft horses being generally injured, and sometimes the driver also.

The brakes used on the Continent are always applied to both wheels on the same axle, and they are not screwed up tight enough to effect an entire stoppage of the wheels, as it is found that wheels with smooth tires skidding on a smooth road do not break momentum as much as when the wheel is almost stopped, and biting, by friction, the blocks of the breaks. These brakes vary in form. For horses driven from a box or dickey they are generally worked by means of a screw with a cranked handle, sometimes by a lever and a toothed rack; and for such vehicles as are driven by carters that walk alongside their teams, or even a single horse, they are most commonly a lever which has a ring at the top, to which is attached a rope, the other end of which passes through another ring in the shaft, enabling the driver to pull down the lever. He then makes a fast knot, but a slip one, which he can easily pull loose, and thus throw off the action of the brake without stopping his horses to either put it ‘off’ or ‘on.’ As being safer, the lever is sometimes placed behind the vehicle. Two-wheeled vehicles, with half a dozen horses, with one of these horses only in the shafts, are thus safely used.

A horse should not have to work when going down hill; but, on the contrary, it should be so managed for him that at every descent, however gentle,