« PreviousContinue »
three months old. If we reach after this class of colts, and breed in this way, success is going to be found in horse breeding as well as in other lines of work.
Professor ROBERTS. I would like to ask the lecturer a question, and with your permission I would like to preface it with one or two sentences. I have listened with a great deal of pleasure to the address, but the subject is so broad that I cannot hope to do more than touch on a few of the salient points.
The first thing which struck me was this, that I would like to emphasize the idea that energy comes from the combustion of carbon. That is nature's plan. Now, energy is worth nothing until you get courage behind it; and therefore, in order to get energy, we must have a good draft to burn the material. So we find that in our fast horses we have the lungs deep vertically and narrow horizontally. That is the law. In the draft-horse the lungs are wide or broad, and rather low vertically, so that the shoulders are wide apart, that the horse may move one side of the load at a time. Any of the old men who have used oxen and were expert in driving them knew enough when they got stuck in a mud-hole to throw a stick of cord-wood under the off wheel of the cart, and gee the oxen off; and when they had got them well “ geed” off, they threw the stick of cord-wood under the near wheel, and then “ hawed” the oxen, and kept on in that way until they got the cart out of the mud. That is the principle on which the draft-horse is built, with its shoulders as wide as possible.
But I am getting a little off the point I had in mind. We must have courage in the horse if we want a good animal, and combined with that courage must be a good amount of energy to sustain the courage. No matter how much courage he has got, if he has no energy; if he has been without his dinner for fifteen days, his courage does not help him.
The whole law must go together, - courage and energy. In order to get energy, he must burn carbon, he must get heat. Now, the difficulty of raising a colt in the winter is, that you give him heat-producing food, energyproducing food, but you do not give him bone and muscle producing food; and the colt in the stable is not to expend his life in trotting, but in growing. That is the business of the colt. When he gets older, we shall feed him differently.
Now I am coming to my question. If you have a winter colt, the first thing is to see that that colt has enough nitrogen and enough phosphate to grow, and timothy hay does not give it. Our breeders are finding out that they can grow a Hambletonian from ten to twenty per cent larger than the ordinary Hambletonian, simply by following that line in feeding. I can give you the name of a man who will do it. He will breed a Hambletonian that at two years old will measure sixteen hands. He gives his colts plenty of exercise when he is feeding them. So that it is not all in breeding; there is something in keeping.
Now, Mr. Winslow, what I want to ask is this: Why not breed a colt in the fall, instead of in the spring? Why not improve on nature's method, and direct the energies in a better channel by having the colt dropped in the fall, when there are no flies, when we have plenty of time and opportunity to take care of it in a box stall, and when we have plenty of roots stored up for the mare? Any man who knows how to make a cow give milk, will know how to make a mare give milk for a colt. Why not teach that colt to eat so that it can depend upon itself in the spring? We shall have no colt then to follow after the mare, if we want to use her. The colt will go onto fresh grass in the spring, when he is cutting his teeth; he will do that every year, cut his teeth on grass instead of timothy hay; and when he comes out in the spring he will not have hair several inches long on his abdomen until June. Now, why shall we not make a change in this matter? You are an expert in this direction. We have practiced this plan with very great
Mr. Winslow. That is a practice that is being adopted of late. I have two mares that are served to foal next fall. I cannot tell you anything about it from my own experience, but a good many tell me that they do not like it very well, because the colt sheds his hair at the wrong time of year; and they think he does not grow as well in winter, with the best care, on account of the cold, as he does in summer. But, as I say, I know nothing about it; I simply state what others have told me. There are advantages that theoretically would influence a man to adopt this plan. One advantage has been suggested, – that of having the mare to work in the summer, and the colt to grow in the winter and to cut his teeth on grass. It looks as though it might work well. I have told you that which I think is true either from my own personal experience or from close observation, but I do not know much about this matter.
Professor ROBERTS. Is it true that a fall colt sheds his hair at the wrong time of year, or differently from others ? I do not know whether it is the fact, or not.
Mr. WINSLOW. I simply state what has been told me. I never have had a fall colt, and do not know.
Mr. PETERSON. Will you tell us about the feeding and watering of our working and traveling horses ?
Mr. Winslow. I think that horses that are working should be fed according to what they are doing. A feed of oats for young horses and for driving horses I think is better than anything else. It is a bone and muscle producing food. I think a horse that is working should be fed according to his labor. In regard to watering, I would water a horse before I fed him. Horses should not be watered when they are warm ; you may safely give them a few swallows of water. You can hardly lay down a rule for the feeding and care of horses on one general principle. Horses that are doing heavy work may be fed meal, while a horse that is used for driving purposes would be better fed with a different kind of food. I do not think it is well to feed a horse very heavily with hay. His stomach is small, and he should be fed oftener than a cow. A horse should not be crowded with food, but be fed a little good food at a time. Horses will do just as well, and better, on less food fed regularly, fed methodically, than they will if they are fed in the oldfashioned way of trying to have them eat the haystack down.
Dr. TWITCHELL. Did you, in your recommendations as to early training, intend to convey the idea that you believe in driving a colt to harness before it is a year old ?
Mr. Winslow. I harness my own colts the first winter. I do not hitch them to anything, but I put the harness on
them, and drive them. They thus become accustomed to the harness, and get a little needed exercise in that way. When they are a year old, I hitch them to a very light rig and drive them a little. I do not believe in driving a colt until he is tired. I never put a bitting bridle on a colt, and go away and leave him. My time is worth too much to do that. I stand by, and when he shows any indication of being tired, I take the bridle off and put it on again after he is rested. You cannot teach a tired colt anything, any more than you can teach a mad boy. I try to make my colts feel that I am their friend, and that they can have confidence in me. I would not let any long interval pass in the summer without having the harness put on them. I accustom my colts to having the wagon come up against them. They know I am there, and it is all right.
Mr. PIERCE. I would like to ask as to feeding dry or moist food.
Mr. Winslow. I like dry feed. Moist feed does well enough, I think, for people who like it, but I prefer dry feed. I like to have my horses chew their food. But, in the case of a horse that will bolt his oats, I would crush them. You cannot lay down any general rule ; you have got to know the horse.
Mr. PIERCE. Don't you think it is the better way to feed moistened, cut feed, in case they eat slowly?
Mr. WINSLOW. I think dry feed is better. I think the horses are less liable to suffer from indigestion, and less liable to have wind colic, where they are fed on dry feed.
QUESTION. Don't you think that a mare that is worked moderately and regularly on the farm produces a healthier and more thrifty colt than one that is kept in idleness?
Mr. Winslow. Yes, I do. I think that a mare ought to have moderate exercise. Of course in the large breeding establishments a man cannot do it; but with one or two mares he can work them moderately through the winter, and he will be more likely to get strong, healthy, courageous colts than if the mares were kept in a box stall without exercise.
QUESTION. Do you use a bitting bridle?
have a colt that I can drive without pulling his head round. I think that you can teach a colt in a short time by using a bitting bridle, so that when he feels the rein he will turn his body without turning his head. I may be mistaken, but that is my idea. I would like to get rid of that method if I could.
QUESTION. Do you think it is wise to use a mare to breed from after she is past twenty?
Mr. Winslow. I was told, by a man up in the northern part of the State, that he bought a mare that was said to be too old to breed. The man of whom he bought her said she was eighteen years old, and was of no value, and he bought her for fifty dollars. She was a well-bred mare, and had produced some nice colts. He told me she was then twentyfive years old, and he had raised five or six colts from her. I see no reason why a mare should not breed, so long as she will breed good colts. Some of the colts from our old mares have been among the most valuable colts in the country.
Mr. BANCROFT. If a mare is spavined or wind-broken, is she not liable to transmit that weakness to her progeny ? Mr. WINSLOW. I do not like to breed from a spavined
A mare may have a spavin, the result of accident, but I think it will be likely to be transmitted. I had a very curious illustration come within my personal knowledge. I am a breeder of Ayrshire cattle. I once bought a bull for another man, under price, because he had a broken tail. I thought that was no special damage to the animal. Afterward I bought the bull, and used him in my own herd. The result was that I kept having broken-tailed calves. I sold him to Mr. Peter Smith of Andover, Mass., and he told me that he liked that bull very well, but said that every now and then he got a calf with a broken tail. I know that spavined mares are liable to have spavined colts, or to give to their colts a predisposition to spavin. The colts may never be subjected to a strain which will give them a spavin, but they are not in as good a condition to resist a strain, from having had a spavined mother. Why, gentlemen, you know that we inherit from our parents all sorts of ills; and why should not a colt? I would use a sound mare for breeding, and by all means a sound horse.