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As we look back over the list of the Board of Agriculture of Massachusetts, and note the names of those who, as breeders and as improvers upon the different lines of agriculture, have been benefactors of their country, it is a source of satisfaction and pride to us. The wild rose of a few years ago has been developed into marvelous forms of beauty. The roadside aster, which I think finds its natural home in Worcester County, has been developed into the many-hued flowers of that variety which now adorn our gardens and give pleasure to multitudes. In the line of the horse, the speed of the trotting horse, as has been suggested by the lecturer, has been increased from a mile in three or four minutes to a mile in two minutes and eight and three-quarters seconds. In neat stock the improvement is something wonderful. So that the true principles of breeding are very important indeed, especially with reference to the subject which we are considering to-day; for I believe horse breeding is a valuable industry to the New England farmer, and therefore I expect there will be very many questions asked and answered. But first we would like to hear what Dr. Twitchell has to say upon the subject.
Dr. TWITCHELL. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, you bore with me so patiently yesterday that I do not feel that I ought to inflict myself upon you to-day; but I would say a word upon this question, because it is one in which I am intensely interested, and relates to a line of work in which I have been engaged for several years, not in breeding or selling horses, but in trying to assist others in breeding choice stock.
I never knew a bright man or a bright horse that did not have a good mother. Take that home with you as a good maxim, and in your breeding, I care not in what line, be sure that you have a good mother. That little mare that was spoken of that came upon the track almost unknown to any of us we found afterwards had a mother of real worth, although she did not come from any popular strain of blood, and that mother gave to the colt the power of endurance and success. I believe to-day in horse breeding, and I want to commend and endorse every statement of the lecturer. I think he has given you something real and substantial, something that may be made helpful in your lines of work. The only criticism I have to make is that we ought to spend two or three days upon the subject of this paper. He has thrown out many hints, upon any single one of which hours might be spent with profit. Special lines of work for special men is a point that cannot be too strongly emphasized, and it applies as truly to the breeding of horses as to any other line of work. It is true with us and it is true with our stock, that nature seeks at all times to preserve an equilibrium, adapting the man, or the animal, to the condition in which he is placed. This is something which we have not appreciated in the past as we ought. Take a stock horse in Kentucky and bring him to Maine, and what is the result? Within four weeks his hair thickens, and he begins to adapt himself to his environment. And just so in the reverse condition. That is a fact which we should bear in mind. I think it is time that we gave up breeding for the all-purpose horse, or breeding on different lines. Successes are not to be found there. The man who has a love for trotting stock should breed that stock; the man who has a love for a draft-horse should breed in that line. We should all try to succeed in the line of work for which we ourselves are best adapted, and if we do we can feel well assured of success.
Upon a farm in New Brunswick I have found Percheron colts growing like flocks of sheep, a dozen or fifteen in a paddock together, feeding upon the coarser fodders, with oats and roots, and making substantial growth. You cannot grow a trotting horse in that way; you cannot grow highstrung, nervous colts in that way. Each one must have a pen by himself. The dangers of accident are too great. So you see there are two sides to this question of breeding. There are men in Massachusetts to-day who could make more money in breeding large draft stock and driving stock than in breeding trotters, because they are not adapted to that special work; they do not appreciate all the lines that enter in and control it.
There is one other thought. I wished, while the speaker was giving us his admirable lecture, that we might have had a horse upon the platform. In my own work, when I am
speaking upon this question, I insist, whenever it is possible, upon having a horse before me, so that, as I attempt to outline my thought, I may place my hand upon the part, and show what I mean by " conformation ;” because a horse, as Governor Hoard so clearly brought out in regard to the cow, is adapted for some special line of work in his formation. You would not take a horse for a trotter with a short hip, a heavy leg and a straight pastern. You could not make a trotter of that horse. A trotting horse should have a round, full nose; an open nostril ; firmness in the mouth; clean-cut jowl; an intelligent face, broad between the eyes ; a full, round, expressive eye; a neck of good length, and well arched; oblique shoulders; the point of the withers well back under the saddle; a well-muscled fore-arm; a strong knee; a flat, short cannon bone; a springy pastern, with an angle of about forty-five degrees; a short back, with coupling well forward; heavily muscled over the loins; a long quarter, well developed, allowing free stifle action ; a clean-cut hock, neither straight not sickle-shape; a body deep in barrel and waist, and a good foot. There must be the oblique shoulder, to allow the horse to reach out with the forward feet; and there also must be a long quarter, to insure length of stride in the propelling parts, — the hind legs. A draft-horse should be stronger built, straight in the shoulder, the shoulders well apart at the top, a rounder barrel, a shorter quarter, a stronger leg and a straighter pastern. There must be a conformation best adapted to the wants and needs of the animal, and it is for this that we should seek. When we bring these extremes together, we must lower materially the standard of perfection in both.
I do not wish to take up the time, but I will say that I think we ought to study closely this question of formation. During the past season I have assisted in passing upon nearly a thousand horses and colts, and it has been surprising to me to find how this matter of form controls action. In our own State, passing upon some six hundred horses and colts, scoring them as individuals by use of a card, we found in certain lines of breeding, and with certain horses and mares, surprisingly uniform results. Now, in breeding a high-class horse, one thing is to be avoided, and that is, cold blood in the dam. It will show itself to your disappointment, and you know not where. There are some things that we cannot control in breeding; there are some things which we do not appreciate; there are some things for us yet to reach after. One of the uncertain things is that, in mingling bloods, in bringing horses together which are cross-bred, we cannot tell which is to control, and whether in the union the best results can be attained. But I will give this rule as a safe one to follow. When you have bred a brood mare to a horse, and have got a colt which pleases your fancy and which promises to be of value, follow that breeding year after year, and every colt will increase in value. Hold to that coupling just as long as it is possible for you to bring those two animals together. I think in doing this we shall find that there is success in our work.
Gentlemen, if you have not put into the hands of your children and carefully read yourselves that little volume called “Black Beauty,” I advise you to procure a copy and read it carefully. I tell you that when you go into your stable the next morning and put your hand on the head of your horse, you will feel that you must give him better care and more kindly attention. You will feel that a horse is an animal worthy of your respect.
In New England, where so much capital has been invested in horses, and so many valuable animals have been brought in for sires, it is time we had legislation prohibiting the use of unsound stallions. If you have not such legislation, as I hope you have, you ought to have it, for the protection of farmers who, in the pressure of many duties, are unable to give the time necessary for the thorough study and appreciation of this question. I maintain that we should prohibit by legislation the use of sires which are unsound, because the margin of profit to-day will not admit of chances being taken.
I was glad to hear one thought that was expressed by the speaker, that we should never break a colt. Why, gentlemen, you can never break up anything; you break down. In breeding, your aim should be to build up, to educate, to perfect. Nature gives us what? Nature gives us flesh,
blood and bone. Man makes the animal out of his own intelligence and skill, by directing, controlling and building it up through education. I hope that the time will come when that word “ break” will disappear from our vocabulary, and we shall insert the word " educate.”
A word as to the value of skim-milk. If I was feeding a weanling colt four quarts of oats, with a good hay ration, I would rather reduce that four quarts to two, and put in two quarts of skim-milk, than continue the four quarts of oats. There is no animal to which you can feed skim-milk and find better returns than in feeding it to weanlings; and the growers of horses in my own State are finding the best results in a liberal ration of this valuable by-product.
I wish it were possible to lead the horse Nelson up on the platform, - the “ king of the turf" to-day in this country, - that you might see him, if you have not. What a magnificent exhibition of power there is in that horse! He has an eye that looks straight into yours, expressive, full, large, round; a nostril that tells the story of health and vitality in and of itself; a head that is broad and full of intelligence; a neck that is shapely; an oblique shoulder; a straight forearm, and a flat, flinty cannon bone ; an oblique pastern ; a body that is perhaps a little long, yet as you study the horse you will find in muscular development he is here a tower of strength. His garters are superb, and his hind leg symmetrical and strong. In fact, he has all the characteristics of a first-class horse ; and when he moves he is the embodiment of a machine in motion, with a heart and soul that loves to go. If he was standing there before you, you would at once recognize that you were looking at a perfect horse. I speak of him because he is to-day the highest type of the horse that we have in the State of Maine. That is just the class of horse we should be reaching after, and we can secure it in our breeding by studying carefully the formation and temperament of the brood mare and the horse that we desire to couple with her, so that we may avoid extremes. Then, having secured il colt, begin at once to grow and educate for highest perfection at maturity ; and, whenever the first offer comes that is satisfactory, that will give you a good return, sell it, even though the colt be only