Chapter 28: A Job Horse and His Drivers
Hitherto I had always been driven by people who at least knew how to drive;
but in this place I was to get my experience of all the different kinds
of bad and ignorant driving to which we horses are subjected;
for I was a "job horse", and was let out to all sorts of people
who wished to hire me; and as I was good-tempered and gentle, I think I was
oftener let out to the ignorant drivers than some of the other horses,
because I could be depended upon. It would take a long time
to tell of all the different styles in which I was driven,
but I will mention a few of them.
First, there were the tight-rein drivers -- men who seemed to think
that all depended on holding the reins as hard as they could, never relaxing
the pull on the horse's mouth, or giving him the least liberty of movement.
They are always talking about "keeping the horse well in hand",
and "holding a horse up", just as if a horse was not made to hold himself up.
Some poor, broken-down horses, whose mouths have been made
hard and insensible by just such drivers as these, may, perhaps,
find some support in it; but for a horse who can depend upon his own legs,
and who has a tender mouth and is easily guided, it is not only tormenting,
but it is stupid.
Then there are the loose-rein drivers, who let the reins lie easily
on our backs, and their own hand rest lazily on their knees. Of course,
such gentlemen have no control over a horse, if anything happens suddenly.
If a horse shies, or starts, or stumbles, they are nowhere,
and cannot help the horse or themselves till the mischief is done.
Of course, for myself I had no objection to it, as I was not in the habit
either of starting or stumbling, and had only been used to depend on
my driver for guidance and encouragement. Still, one likes
to feel the rein a little in going downhill, and likes to know
that one's driver is not gone to sleep.