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our supply of racing stock is not kept up in number equal to the continuous demand made on its resources, is a regrettable fact which no one can help seeing. This deficiency has, with more or less probability, been attributed to various causes. It is said by some, and believed in by others, that the increasing numbers which we are exporting to all parts of the world, year after year, is the cause of the scarcity, and that, if we had double the quantity, a ready market among foreigners would be found for them all. To a certain extent this is so, yet it is not the sole, or even the main, cause. I look upon the foreigner as a welcome addition to home purchasers of our surplus thoroughbreds, for without their assistance the value of every description of blood stock would certainly fall, and they would be of no more value than they were a few years ago. Still, to another and more certain cause may the scarcity of our blood stock be ascribed, and this is disease. Ailments that kill many and ruin others—whether in brood mares and their offspring, their progenitors or stock of any other age--are what the nation has chiefly to fight against. That brood mares could be made more productive under better treatment than the generality of them now receive, there can be no manner of doubt, and it would be the height of folly to deny the palpable fact that the lives of stallions can be prolonged and mares be rendered more fertile under a more judicious system of management. Out of every hundred of our brood mares one-third are annually barren, slip, or have dead foals. This is not the proportion seen in the breeding of any other description of stock with which I am acquainted, and it should not be so with thoroughbred horses. The nonproductiveness of our mares is, in many instances, traceable to the sterility of the stallions; and this comes mainly from bad management. Then we have illness from preventible causes, that every year carries off hundreds of our stock. Thoroughbred mares and their foals should be less liable to disease than are many other horses, owing to the former having more fresh air and exercise, with more green food than have yearlings and the older horses in training. Stallions, that during the greater part of the year have only dry corn and hay, with insufficient or no exercise, are subject to disease in a variety of forms, and particularly to inflammation of the feet and lungs, rendering many of them useless. These facts have been noticed by other writers, and have been condemned by all practical and intelligent men; yet the mismanagement exists with little or no abatement. Now, many foals and yearlings are every year lost entirely from want of knowledge. We are sometimes told that illness has not been so prevalent in late years as it was formerly, except in cases of epidemics. I am not, however, one of those that think this; I believe we lose as many horses now-or at least as large a proportion-as we did in days gone by, though we may not hear quite so much of the fact. Very few people, when they could keep it a secret, like to reveal the unpleasant truth, which would cast grave reflection on those that had the care of the lost patients. Some people say yearlings never escape having the strangles in some shape or form ; just as others aver that dogs always have distemper. The latter assertion may or may not be true; but I am sure the former idea is a pure fallacy. I have for many years known horses from foals that never had strangles, or any other disease, and which ultimately died of old age. I think strangles in many cases may be averted, where, but for precautions, horses would have them, and may be cured in others, if the disease is attacked in its incipiency. Let this be neglected, and the patient will probably be lost. Now, if thirty per cent. of our mares fail to produce a live foal, or if a quantity of foals are every year lost from accidents or illness, which a more careful supervision may have prevented or lessened, there can be no doubt what is making blood stock scarce. It is much the same with yearlings, both before and after they get into the trainer's hands. With brood mares and their produce what else can be expected, when we see how many retired tradesmen that have lately taken to breeding? These generally make choice of some cheap horse to put their mares to, irrespective of his breeding or suitability, and then bring the produce up in the careless way I have described. Not half the proportion of misfortunes occur in studs belonging to gentlemen that have some experience in breeding, who employ stud grooms well acquainted with their duties to attend to them. We often see brood mares kept too high, and some too low in condition ; and the offspring of the mismanaged mare-if she happens to have any-comes into the world in a more unnatural state than its dam. Then the owners, seeing their mistake, in their haste to remedy it will often fall into the other extremes, and proceed to stuff with all sorts of corn, cake, and meal, as well as condiments of which they know nothing of the ingredients, and thus will increase the severity of the evil; and the last error is worse than the first, as, having less exercise than usual from being now kept in the stable, inflammation of the bowels often sets in, or some other disease, and the death of either mare or foal is the result, when the owner calls himself the most unlucky man in the world, not considering that he has been the cause of his own misfortunes. Fancy thirty per cent. of our flock-master's stock being barren or otherwise unproductive; and some ten per cent. more lost before being any service to the breeder or benefit to the community! or fancy the owner of herds having little or no more than sixty per cent. of their stock useful, and a third of their herd fit only to be looked at! What but ruin would be the state of our stock breeders if such a calamity overtook them? It would create a famine in the land; and all sorts of plans
would speedily be set forth to remedy, or at least mitigate, the devastating evil. We should have Government inspectors sent in every direction, and a parliamentary commission sitting to ascertain the cause and to provide a remedy. Yet this is just what is taking place in our midst every day of our lives, with stock ten times more valuable than either sheep or bullocks ; and no restraining hand can be found to stay its progress or expose the error. What we see now and deplore was nothing new to our forefathers. There was the same ignorance, or want of ability characterised their doings, causing the same nonproductiveness of their mares and the sterility of their stallions as we witness to-day; and the same faults will assuredly be transmitted to the next and succeeding generations, if the cause be not traced and the error exposed, so as to rob the evil of most of its deadly power.
We must not think that all studs are treated alike, for some breeders may and do take proper precautions for assisting the reproductive powers of their stock, as well as for the prevention of disease among all their animals. Such men succeed; but it is not so with others, who follow a different system of management, and this a very superficial view of the circumstances will show. Men will commence breeding on wrong principles, and their mares, to begin with, are of a poor description. The owner has picked them up, cheap, as he tells you, at public auctions, or has bought them privately of some proprietor more enlightened than himself, who has sold because the mares are likely to be barren, or liable to slip, or known to kick their foals. And the breeder that has just taken to the pursuit has other economic notions. He selects the cheapest horse to put his mare to, and this is the crowning error. Yet such an one supposes that he has a right to be disappointed if he does not get high prices for his worthless stock, and if, after losing half his stud from incapacity or inattention to his occupation, he does not find himself well remunerated for his time and trouble. Retired tradesmen, who can gauge accurately the value of a yard of cloth or a bar of soap, because they have made their mark in such a line of business, may know very little of country pursuits. Yet we see many of this class become farmers and breeders of cattle, sheep, and swine ; and when, from incapacity more than inattention, they find the business is not remunerative, they retire, after losing their time and capital, or a good part of it. And it is just the same with butchers and bakers that take to breeding thoroughbred stock. On the principle before enunciated, the like result follows; and what else can be expected with men wanting even a rudimentary knowledge of what they have taken in hand ? It is in the studs of such men that the greatest amount of illness and the largest percentage of deaths are usually to be found. The mortality is not confined to one description of stock more than another. The stallion (to keep
VOL. LIII.-NO. 363.
which is a hobby with some breeders) usually is one of the earliest victims, from the want of proper exercise, and being stuffed with fat-producing provender and condiments. He is treated much as would be the case with a bullock intended for the Christmas Cattle Show at the Agricultural Hall, Birmingham, or some other exhibition of fat stock. In such an unnatural state of enervating obesity, is any stallion likely to stint his mares? Or if produce be the result of such intercourse, is it to be supposed that the offspring will be healthy, wellformed, and of natural size ? I trow not. Would breeders of cattle that understood their business send their cows to a ball that, “ with all his blushing honours thick upon him," had just returned from an exhibition of fat cattle, physically incapacitated, deprived of his natural powers of exerting himself in the reproduction of his species? No; cattle-owners would refrain from doing anything so injurious to their own interests; yet this is what inexperienced breeders do with their stallions, till they have lost one or two, and found that half their mares are annually barren. In this course is not only a loss incurred by the individual, but one to the community, and the mischief must be added to others before mentioned. The loss of many of our thoroughbred stock may be accounted for in other ways, and without diving into very abstruse causes. Any careful observer may see in the treatment of many yearlingsbefore they come into the hands of the trainer—the secret of their failure. Lots of them are stall-fed, and wanting exercise and everything else but fat; yet, if they are only large they are sure of a sale. Who suffers for all this but the purchaser ? and through him the community at large, for such horses seldom live long. The loss of life from mishap that too often takes place even in a wellregulated stable is, when unavoidable, very vexatious, and at times is very difficult to bear; but when, through carelessness, the losses are quadrupled, they are unpardonable. Of horses that thus lose their lives, it is often stated that they have met with an accident, and that they have had to be destroyed. With respect to disease with horses in training, maladies are on the increase, and how can it be wondered at, whilst in the absence of the trainer all sorts of vile antidotes for the cure of imaginary disease are freely administered by the head lad, or the man immediately under him, who has access to the drugs? There never was a more fatal error than is this putting strong doses into the hands of men without knowledge. It has been the cause of the death of hundreds and hundreds of horses, which, had they been but left to themselves, would have recovered, as undoubtedly they would have done, too, had they been practically treated by the skilful hands of a qualified veterinary surgeon. A trainer as such (except those that have passed the veterinary examination) knows little of the internal structure of the horse, hardly more than he does of the anatomical conformation of the mastodon. In many cases he has no more knowledge of the properties of medicine than he has of the disease that it is given to cure. Such an one cannot expect to treat successfully anything but the most common complaints. It is no part of the business of a trainer to prescribe nostrums for disease. That is the duty of the veterinary surgeon, who in case of sickness should always be called in, and the patient be placed under his care. The owner, if no one else, should always insist on this being done, and if this course was pursued, the mortality among horses in training would be greatly diminished. An investigation into each loss under treatment would act as a deterrent of the head lad, and save the life of many a horse. I know very well that, under any management, horses will get ill, and that some will die, however skilfully they may be treated; still it is quite certain, and is well known among practical people, that a greater proportion of horses die when they are kept in small, ill-constructed, and worse ventilated stables than they do in those built on hygienic principles, with plenty of room and light, and with properly placed air-holes for the free admission of fresh air. How often, in turf phraseology, do we hear that So-and-so's horses are amiss ? which may, and often does, mean that he is losing many of them. The rumour, however, passes off, and then comes the welcome intelligence that the stable is better, but there is no record of the dead. I saw some such announcement not long ago, when I knew, from a reliable source at the time, that many had been near death's door, and that eighteen horses in training, within the space of a few weeks, had actually succumbed to the disease. I may say that this loss was sustained within about four weeks, but what the mortality was during the other forty-eight weeks of the
year I have no knowledge. Yet the probability is that it was not small. Then why should not such fatal results happen to other horses in different stables, thus increasing the deathrate enormously?
Can anything more clearly show to what the deficiency in the number of our blood stock is due than the causes which I have here enumerated ? Every day's experience tells us, with concurring and minute accuracy, that it is much easier to report faults than it is to correct and amend them. But though this may be true, practical knowledge timely applied would save the lives of many horses. The mistakes to which I have referred, various as they are, present no insuperable barrier to the removal of the evil. There is no reason why more care should not be taken of animals, or why more experienced persons should not have charge of them, two reforms which would lessen disease, and sensibly diminish the death-rate of the thoroughbred stock. Ignorant men are generally more