Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

15 erthygl ar y dudalen hon











CIRCUS HORSES AND CIRCUS PEOPLE. From an interesting description of Circus Horses and Circus People"—one of the many pleasing sketches that so often appear in the Daily XC/I.'8-We take the followilJg ex- tracts, from which the reader will perceive that the "schoolmaster" must possess great patience and per- severance, whether directing reason or instinct :— No entertainment is more popular among us than an equestrian performance, and old and young take equal pleasure in the marvellous intelligence of a clever "trick" horse. Hnt for the most part we ac- cept and enjoy results witliouttroubling to inquire into the means by which the results were brought about. We note how curiously the "trick" horse is marked and spotted how cunningly he nibbles carrots off a plate while sitting at table on his lyum /lies, and how deftly he picks the ring-master's pocket of a handkerchief. Horses of rare and eccentric markings were first in- troduced into circus work by the elder Astley, and the demand is constantly on the increase. All over the country the leading circus proprietors have their agents who buy up at once any horse that may come under their notice with anything remarkable in its colour or markings. But the leading circus proprietors do not now wholly depend on their agents, but breed their own horses, and, by dint of experiments, haye reduceù the breeding of remarkably-marked horses to something like a regular system, in which the production of the desired markings can be depended on with something approaching assurance. At their stud farm at Tottenham the Messrs. Sanger, whose entertainments are now attracting crowds to the Agricultural-hall and to Astley's, breed a large proportion of their own horses. The trainers like the" green" horses to come to hand as two-year-olds. If they are mnch oldcr wilen ¡ put to learn their duties, they are found apt to sulk, less easy to teach, and prone to go off their food and lose condition. A two-year-old is more impressible, and. presently gets to take a pleasure in the lessons, and to manifest joy when brought into the training ring. Some horses, like some men, are stolid dunces, and can be taught nothing; their stupidity is unsurmountable. A costermonger, whose wife had thrashed him. was overheard consoling himself with the muttered reflection that he "wouldn't give a farden for a woman as hadn't a temper of her own." Circus trainers are of much the same opinion as regards horses patience and courage conquer the temper without breaking the spirit, and the animals with a temper" almost invariably develop the most intelligence. As soon as the youngster is mounted and lunged, his tuition in tricks commences. The trick schoolmaster must possess many gifts. His resolution must. be unquestionable, his patience not to be strained, his perseverance indomitable. He must have a qu'ek perception of individual equine idiosyncracy; and if his temper is not thoroughly under control, he may as well lay down the riding switch at once. It is a pro- fession sui generis, that of "trick" schoolmaster. The schoolmaster of the establishment already referred to is Mr. George Sanger; and the schoolmistress, MissTopsy," his daughter. The motto of the school is Kindness and perseverance." At every forward step, no matter how infinitesimal, the pupil is encouraged by being made much of and rewarded by afew pieces of car- rot which the schoolmaster always carries in his pocket. A good mutual understanding is very soon established, and the horse, if an intelligent animal, begins to divine with surprising alacrity what is desired of him. He must never be punished, else his nerve is weakened if he continues to make blunders, his instructor must just continue the practice in hand till time tells its tale, and the blunders are no longer perpetrated. But there must be no mistake about it—the instructor must be the master. If the horse turns sulky, the lesson must be persevered with till he comes out of his sulks. But if he is "good," as the children say, short and frequent les- sons are found to answer best—say, half an hour at a time, and perhaps eight or nine lessons in the day. The only excuse for striking a horse during its tuition is when lie rushes at the teacher with intent to savage him. In this case a sharp, hard cut over the nose is a salutary arguiiientuni ud cquum, and he generally takes the hint. Spectators of a scene in the circus often wonder how the horse has the intimation of what he is desired to do. The most careful watching may fail to detect the "cue," if one does not know what the cue is but, nevertheless, it is always given, and by it alone the horse, whose concentrated attention when in the ring upon its prompter is easily discernible, is directed in his performance. The professional phrase is "giving the office." In teaching, the "office" is given by touching the horse sharply on particular parts with a light slender wliip. Of course each instructor has "onices" special to himself, just as every short- hand writer has his own special contraction signs; but a great many offices are standard and general. For instance, the "office" for marching is to touch the horse sharply on the front part of the shoulder on the off or near side, according to the leg he is desired to march with. The "omce" for crawling is a touch under the belly; for lying down a tap below the knee, and so on. In teaching a compli- cated trick, such as the firing of a pistol, months are often expended, and then it may happen that the animal's fright at the sudden noise is insurmountable. But the horse has a remarkable memory. When a step in his instruction is once gained, it is never lost again. After ceasing for years to perform a trick, a circus horse retains the most vIvIdrecollectlOn of it, and if on the first few essays after resumption, he is a little awk- ward, he very soon gets quit of the rustiness, and is as expert as ever. About the age of three, the circus horse begins his training in the ring if he is a "trick horse after he has acquired some proficiency in tricks. But all "trick "horses are not" ring" horses, and compara- tively few "ring" horses are "trick" horses. The qualifications for each function differ in some respects. The trick horse must be an animal of int ellect, plenty of brain about him;" the ring horse may be of a more commonplace mental calibre if he has only steadiness nerve, andreasonable sagacity. The lessons for Some time consist merely iu walking round to enable the animal to_overcome the giddiness which affects men and horses alike on their first entry into the ring. Both are some- times found unable to conquer it, no matter after what practice. A giddy horse staggers and ends by rollin" over the edge of the ring. After the animal has felt. the ring," as it is called, the canterin" lessons begin. False cantering must be peremptorily checked. The horse is taught to strike off with the inner legs to whichever hand he is working. If he can- not be relied on to do this he is not safe, for a single round. The object is to get the horse to that slow, col- lected, equal >le canter which is an artificial pace' but indispensable for circus work. After the Artist mounts, which generally is within two months after the horse comes into the ring, some time elapses before the horse adapts himself to the lateral sway which comes from the heightened centre^ of gravity in the rider standing on a pad, instead of sitting on a saddle. In profes° sional phrase, the artist "rolls the horse," but the horse gradually acquires a compensatory style of carrying himself. With trick or with ring'horses the education by no means ceases with the period of apprenticeship. Their acquirements do not remain stationary after leaving school. On the contrary, the circus horse whenever he is out of his appren- ticeship, becomes an "improver," and continues so till the day comes when his work is done. Circus performers begin their training very early, being usually apprenticed to the work at the age of about seven or eight. Some are at it much younger. | Mr. John Sanger has a tiny mannikin of a son now riding at Astley's in an actcalledthe Morning Star," who is not yet a year and eight months old. The little ¡ chap absolutelj^rode before he could walk. The con- tinual gymnastic practice necessarily fetches up the muscles and develops the physique generally. Con- trary to the general impression, the" artists" of the e' circus find their profession remarkably healthy; and they are a long-lived race, performing often with all the vigour of youth at quite an advanced age. "Horse-riding" is by no means an unremunerative profession. General utility men get from £5 to flO a week clever men, without any claim to rank as stars, run up to near £ 20 and a star of magnitude often comts down on the treasury to the tune of £ 50 a week. Robinson, the great somersault rider, had £ 60 a week all the year round. Amanders, the Am- erican star, had a full half of Cooke's gross receipts at Vauxhall, averaging over jE60 per week, and notwith- standing, had to be sent home by subscription when his health gave way. It is te be feared that provident habits are not among the special virtues of the craft, but of late years there has been marked improvement in this respect.