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IN a former work, namely, "Practical Horsemanship,” I gave such hints on ordinary riding as I trusted would be useful to the reader, based as they were on principles that I found, when put in practice, had usually answered their intended purpose.
But that work was confined exclusively to road riding; and my motive in limiting it to that branch. of equestrianism arose from deference to what I conceived might be the wishes and interest of the reader. If he only wants to practise road riding, he has there the best advice I can give; and if he wishes to become acquainted with hunting riding, he will find the subject discussed in the present volume-"THE HUNTING-FIELD."
That there are thousands of hunting riders to
whom it would be the height of arrogance in me to offer any advice, I am quite aware; and if such should think proper to peruse this book, that they will only do so from curiosity, or to pass away an idle hour, I am aware also. But, fortunately for the Author, there are tens of thousands who hunt; and numbers of these are widely different from the real hunting man. The two are about on a par with the man who sails on the sea and the sailor.
If all men who hunt were really hunting men, not a line of advice on the subject of riding to hounds should ever have been penned by me. I write for some who hunt, and any who intend to hunt; and so far much practice and experience may, I trust, give me some pretence to offer ad
The book in no way pretends to make any one acquainted with the mode of hunting hounds, or of becoming conversant with the intricacies of the chace; it does not even pretend to make a man a sportsman. Neither theory nor precept could do this, however good might be the former, or however ably advanced might be the latter. Practice and observation must be called in to achieve this.
But as to becoming a sportsman, a man must be able to ride with hounds; if a book affords such instructions to the tyro as will enable him to do this with safety to himself and horse, it has some claim to utility; and that utility will be further increased if, in teaching him how to promote his own sport, it also tells him how and where to avoid marring that of others; for, though "I hope I don't intrude" could always produce a laugh for Liston, if it was quoted on maiming a favourite hound, or heading a fox just breaking cover, the offender would be told he did intrude most abominably; and "Tally ho, back!" from the huntsman would probably be followed by anathemas both loud and deep.
Those who have seen what horses have done and will do with such weights as Messrs. Gurney, Edge, or Colonel Wyndham, and have also seen the best dead beat under the lightest man, must be quite aware of the wonderful difference between riding with judgment and the reverse. It is, in fact, almost in effect as great as that between a good and bad horse. Any ordinary difference of weight is slight when put in comparison with that between judicious and injudicious riding; and in
knowing what does or does not distress horses, this difference mainly depends.
Figuratively speaking, any man with common judgment and moderate nerve can keep a fair place with hounds, if he rides the same horses, if those are good and handy, and the country an average one as to its general character and fences; but to make the most of a moderate horse, manage a queer-tempered one, or keep an uncertain fencer straight and on his legs, requires a knowledge of horses, fencing, ground, and hunting, not to be acquired in a season or two.
may be unequal to impart such information as is requisite to make my reader what he may wish to become in such matters; but he may at least derive this advantage from a perusal of this volume-it will probably enable him to understand and appreciate superior instructions from any better informed than myself, in the matters on which I have written.
If, however, such joint efforts fail in teaching him to acquire the indispensable requisites for a hunting rider, let him again read this preface, where I give him such advice as, under such circumstances, I know to be good; namely, let