For those who don’t know me, I’m Nathaniel Griffith. I have worked hard since 1652 to build this farm, and I’m pleased you dropped by for some good fellowship.
What’s that ye say? That’s a goodly mare? Yes, it is. I bought her last week from Mr. Bradford. Ye know, I look far for good stock, and this mare shows some fine breeding.
Take a look at her hooves. That’s where I begin. If a horse doesn’t have a good foot it isn’t worth having. Good sized, round hooves that are healthy. No cracks. No ripples. Smooth, and my preference, black.
Now, this mare not only has good hooves, she’s healthy as well. Her breathing is clear, and she has a wide chest. A wide chest coupled with wide nostrils gives her plenty of room to take deep breaths. She’ll have endurance, and that I like, as do my buyers.
She’s a nice weight and her coat is healthy looking, nice and shiny with no sign of disease, as is often the case in this wet country.
Of course, I never buy a horse without first looking at its teeth. Mostly that tells me whether the seller be honest or not. If the man says the mare is eight, and I look at her teeth and they are long and the groove on the animal’s incisors is long, then I know she be older than eight. I can then reach in like this and grab the mare’s tongue, pull it to the side so I can see the teeth. The black mark here is called a dental star. If it shows in all the incisors then I am definitely certain this mare is older than eight.
Best I buy a mare of three or more for breeding. At least that be my preference. My uncle says a bred mare is settled, less likely to be high strung. Not sure I quite agree, but he’s been at this far longer than I. For riding, I’d like a bit more experience and would prefer a horse of five or more, especially if choosing one for my goodwife.
‘Tis been my experience that a boss mare is not a wise buy. See, each herd has a pecking order. The mare highest on the pecking order often is more aggressive to more timid people. Since I never know when my children will be around my animals, I don’t want to risk an aggressive one. It’s a tenet of mine, that is all.
You see that gelding over there? He’s a fine one. He’s my wife’s favorite mount and fine with the children as well.
Now, just last week a lad from the other side of the bay came with his father to purchase an animal. Had it in his head he’d by a stallion. Such a foolish thought.
See that sweet horse in the pen behind the barn, away from the other horses? That’s my personal mount, though I rarely take him out where other horses are, except to race. He’ll be used for breeding when he’s retired from racing. He’s as quiet and well-mannered as they come, but he’s not a child’s mount nor for any inexperienced rider, and certainly not for a woman. Stallions, by nature, are more high-strung and difficult to manage. God created them to breed and that’s their focus, no matter how well trained. Yes, I can take this stallion around mares and have him behave…as long as I’m keeping my eye on him, but he’s a wise one. He knows when he can take advantage of an inexperience person and about the time ye’re not looking, he’ll attempt to mount a mare. Nay, I fear these who think a stallion is a good mount need think twice what they are about. They’d best be knowing what they are doing.
I wouldn’t sell my stallion to that boy’s father, even if he was capable of handling him. He’s too valuable. I pray his good disposition and speed will be passed to his offspring. He has a name for himself now, and I’ll expect many a good return when I put him up for stud.
Ah, there is my good brother-in-law, Davis Owen. He’s here to watch me work on that young gelding tied to the fence. That animal is two and beginning his training. First, he’ll learn to pull a cart then when he’s three I’ll mount him. He’s a goodly type, not just in the way he is put together, but also in his mind. That’s what you want, a horse that is tractable. I weed from my herd any that show signs of willfulness.
Well now, I hope ye have come away with some good knowledge. And if ye may lend me ye’re ear, dear writer, I suggest ye keep the stallions in the stories to breeding and not to mounts. ‘Tis a rare man in these parts that would risk his breeding animal to ride, especially into battle. Geldings are by far more reliable and more generally used. ‘Tis my opinion, of course, but I think I have wisdom in it.
I wish you Godspeed.