Beautiful Joe
Chapter 25, Page 3


Please be aware that this book was originally published in 1894 and may contain words, descriptions, or other passages that may be considered offensive today.


"I am so glad you don't," said Miss Laura. "You are like the Russians. Many of them control their horses by their voices, and call them such pretty names. But you have to use a whip for some horses, don't you, Cousin Harry?"

"Yes, Laura. There are many vicious horses that can't be controlled otherwise, and then with many horses one requires a whip in case of necessity for urging them forward.

"I suppose Fleetfoot never balks," said Miss Laura.

"No," replied Mr. Harry; "Dutchman sometimes does, and we have two cures for him, both equally good. We take up a forefoot and strike his shoe two or three times with a stone. The operation always interests him greatly, and he usually starts. If he doesn't go for that, we pass a line round his forelegs, at the knee joint, then go in front of him and draw on the line. Father won't let the men use a whip, unless they are driven to it."

"Fleetfoot has had a happy life, hasn't he?" said Miss Laura, looking admiringly at him. "How did he get to like you so much, Harry?"

"I broke him in after a fashion of my own. Father gave him to me, and the first time I saw him on his feet, I went up carefully and put my hand on him. His mother was rather shy of me, for we hadn't had her long, and it made him shy too, so I soon left him. The next time I stroked him; the next time I put my arm around him. Soon he acted like a big dog. I could lead him about by a strap, and I made a little halter and a bridle for him. I didn't see why I shouldn't train him a little while he was young and manageable. I think it is cruel to let colts run till one has to employ severity in mastering them. Of course, I did not let him do much work. Colts are like boys — a boy shouldn't do a man's work, but he had exercise every day, and I trained him to draw a light cart behind him. I used to do all kinds of things to accustom him to unusual sounds. Father talked a good deal to me about Rarey, the great horse-tamer, and it put ideas into my head. He said he once saw Rarey come on a stage in Boston with a timid horse that he was going to accustom to a loud noise. First a bugle was blown, then some louder instrument, and so on, till there was a whole brass band going. Rarey reassured the animal, and it was not afraid."

"You like horses better than any other animals, don't you, Harry?" asked Miss Laura.

"I believe I do, though I am very fond of that dog of yours. I think I know more about horses than dogs. Have you noticed Scamp very much?"

"Oh, yes; I often watched her. She is such an amusing little creature."

"She's the most interesting one we've got, that is, after Fleetfoot. Father got her from a man who couldn't manage her, and she came to us with a legion of bad tricks. Father has taken solid comfort though, in breaking her of them. She is his pet among our stock. I suppose you know that horses, more than any other animals, are creatures of habit. If they do a thing once, they will do it again. When she came to us, she had a trick of biting at a person who gave her oats. She would do it without fail, so father put a little stick under his arm, and every time she would bite, he would give her a rap over the nose. She soon got tired of biting, and gave it up. Sometimes now, you'll see her make a snap at father as if she was going to bite, and then look under his arm to see if the stick is there. He cured some of her tricks in one way, and some in another. One bad one she had was to start for the stable the minute one of the traces was unfastened when we were unharnessing. She pulled father over once, and another time she ran the shaft of the sulky clean through the barn door. The next time father brought her in, he got ready for her. He twisted the lines around his hands, and the minute she began to bolt, he gave a tremendous jerk, that pulled her back upon her haunches, and shouted, 'Whoa!' It cured her, and she never started again, till he gave her the word. Often now, you'll see her throw her head back when she is being unhitched. He only did it once, yet she remembers. If we'd had the training of Scamp, she'd be a very different animal. It's nearly all in the bringing up of a colt, whether it will turn out vicious or gentle. If any one were to strike Fleetfoot, he would not know what it meant. He has been brought up differently from Scamp.