By T. B. Thorpe
The world is indebted to Mr. Rarey, not only for applying old experiences and making new discoveries with regard to the manner of breaking horses, but also for the greater discovery, that kindness is a universal and imperative law for their successful management; that the horse is constituted by the Creator an intellectual being, with no malignant spirit to control; but being too ignorant to reason, and learning nothing except from experience, he becomes in the hands of his master precisely what he is made—kindly and intelligent, or savage and intractable, by example. That kindness and intelligent treatment, almost as much so as is demanded by our children, operate in harmony with the original design of his existence; and for this Mr. Rarey justly ranks among the benefactors of his race, and deserves the wonderful consideration he has received among the representatives of the enlightened Christianized nations of Europe and this country.
The key to his entire method is given in his simple directions as to the best manner of introducing yourself to the horse, so that there will spring up mutual confidence. He says: "When you have entered the stable, stand still and let your horse carefully examine you, and as soon as he seems reconciled to your presence, approach him slowly with both arms stationary, your right hanging by your side, the point of your whip, if you have one, toward the ground, the left arm bent at the elbow with your hand projecting. As you approach him, go not too much toward the head or croup, else he will probably move either forward or backward. If with this precaution he is restive or suspicious, move yourself to the right or left cautiously, and this will keep the horse in one place. Once very close, stand near his shoulder and stop a few seconds; if you are within his reach he will turn and smell your hand—not that he has any preference for your band, but that is already projecting, and the nearest portion of your body toward him. As soon as he touches your hand, and finds it harmless, and probably agreeable to his sensitive touch, you can then delicately caress him, being always careful to move your hand the way the hair lies. As you continue, rub his neck, the side of his head, and, if possible, his forehead, and be careful to favor every inclination of the horse to touch you with his nose. Meantime follow every touch and communication of your hand in this with kindly looks, and accompany all your tender caresses with affectionately expressed words, such as Ho, my little boy — pretty boy!' 'Ah, my beauty—nice lady!' with similar expressions constantly repeated, with the same even and steady tone of voice. From all this the horse soon learns to read your expression—and they are all good physiognomists—becomes acquainted with your voice, and will know at once when fear, love, or anger inspire your actions—two emotions of which, fear and anger, a true horseman should never feel." To the true friend and admirer of the noble animal those few words are as expressive as a volume: to such no more need be said.
Mr. Rarey, now thirty-three years of age, is an honored son of the great West—a native of Franklin County, Ohio. His father was a pioneer in the rich wilderness, where, surrounded by the comforts of a substantial home, he was isolated from neighbors who, in the times alluded to were few and far between. John was the youngest child, and being the only one at home, had no youthful playmates; decidedly of a sociable disposition, he naturally made companions of the living occupants of the farm, prominent among which were the horses and colts. This feeling was rather encouraged than otherwise by his father—to whom it was a source of pleasure to take the child with him into the fields, where, at the early age of three years, he was set astride the plow horse, and in this (to him) exalted position had his natural fondness for the animal encouraged. When four years of age his father excited his ambition by giving him control of a pony, which he fondled, and actually became such an intimate friend that the animal willingly let the child mount his back and direct him as he saw fit. As a result, young Rarey soon became famous in the neighborhood, visiting the farmers' houses, the nearest of which was several miles away; his consequence was also much increased by being employed in carrying messages and doing errands. Before he was ten he became the hero of some remarkable adventures, and the recipient of some severe falls, the moral effect of which was only to make him more ambitious. When about nine, an unruly animal upon which he was mounted became unmanageable, and in his unrestrained career crossed a narrow bridge, ran through a village, swam a deep ditch, and finally reached home, young Rarey meantime, with great presence of mind, keeping his seat—a feat which gave him an unrivaled reputation for horsemanship in his neighborhood.
At twelve his father formally presented him with an unbroken colt, which he undertook to train according to his own notions (for Rarey was already possessed of the idea that there was something wrong in their education). The result was, that the colt became one of the most remarkable "trick horses" at that time ever known; nothing seemed impossible to the intelligent quadruped; but the idea among the people who witnessed the animal's performances was, that the creature was by nature a phenomenon, and nothing was accorded to young Rarey's tact for teaching. Encouraged by his success, young Rarey soon had the means to purchase undistinguished colts, and also took his neighbors' horses to educate, and soon found himself doing a prosperous and most attractive business, for he seemed to constantly improve, frequently, as a reward, obtaining high prices for his trained steeds, not only from professional exhibitors, but from wealthy and intelligent gentlemen. In fact, he had pupils at last sent from the distance of several hundred miles.
It was at this time that he first had the glimmering idea that the horse was, after all, an animal of higher intelligence than usually supposed; and, looking back, he recalled to mind the fact that his greatest successes were invariably the result of kind treatment, joined with firmness and perseverance. It now occurred to him that, as the Creator intended the horse as the companion of human beings, he must necessarily have intellectual endowments in harmony with his destined purposes.
With this rapidly developing idea, he, for the first time, practically noticed that colts, however wild, allowed cows, sheep, and other domestic animals to associate with them with impunity. He therefore argued that the colt was not by nature indifferent to society; but, on the contrary, was friendly with those beings who offered no harm. With this idea predominating, young Rarey made it a business to get upon intimacy with the wild colts, and was soon gratified to find his friendly-disposed advances were not repulsed; but, on the contrary, rewarded in many instances with positive demonstrations of affection. The result was that he could catch and halter any of the "younglings," while others could not get within their reach by many rods. Now was confirmed clearly in his mind the omnipotence of the law of kind treatment, which is the entire foundation of his system, and the secret of his wonderful success.
His fame having now spread far and wide, he was invited to try his skill on ungovernable animals, which were sent to him from considerable distances. Always successful in producing the required result, gentlemen who could not always command his services desired the key to his seemingly mysterious power, and for which they expressed themselves willing to pay. This naturally originated the idea of instructing people in the art of horse-taming. In 1855 his success was so positive that the true magnitude of the field before him opened on his view; and now he felt that he must in turn become a student. With this modest idea he left Ohio for the distant plains of Texas, where upon the wild inhabitants of the prairies he found his law of kindness operated "as a charm." On his return he gave his first public exhibition at Columbus, the capital of his native State; and to increase his usefulness as a teacher, he wrote and printed a little book of instructions for the use of his pupils, which was soon reproduced and sold by the unscrupulous, and so overladen with trash that he did not recognize the work—a fact that caused much misrepresentation of his purposes to other than his personal friends. His past experiences finally determined him to adopt, as a permanent business, a course of action that was originally entered upon without any thought of the future; and correctly conceiving that England, where the horse is more respected than in any other country, was the true field to make his first professional entrance into public life, he at once set to work to carry out his design. Without difficulty he procured letters from the then chief magistrate of his native State, which secured him a favorable reception at Toronto, the capital of the united British Provinces of Canada, where a single exhibition of his remarkable powers before the Governor-General and the principal officers of the army there stationed secured letters which cordially indorsed him as a person worthy of the notice of the proper officials in. Great Britain.
|Taming a groom|
Upon Mr. Rarey's arrival in England he found no difficulty with his introductions in eliciting the active support of the best persons to aid him in carrying out his designs. Sir Richard Airey, Lieutenant-General of the army, at once became deeply interested in the fortunes of the adventurous American, and not only offered to attend a private exhibition himself, but to see that other influential persons were present. A proper place was obtained, his audience assembled, but its members were skeptical and suspicious; but to remove all doubt, and secure a fair hearing, Mr. Rarey entered the arena with the full knowledge on the part of those present, that the horses to be submitted to his manipulation were unmanageable in the hands of their owners, and in some instances positively vicious, and never before seen by Mr. Rarey. His triumph created the most unbounded astonishment, which sentiment was more particularly expressed by the cavalry officers. The way was at once opened to him to visit Prince Albert's farm near Windsor, where Colonel Hood, the Prince's equerry, and Lady May Hood paid him every possible attention, expressed themselves in advance delighted with the object of his visit, and took the first possible occasion to mention his wishes to the Queen. Her Majesty, of whom Mr. Rarey speaks with the most hearty enthusiasm as a kind and noble lady, at once expressed a desire to witness an exhibition of Mr. Rarey's skill. The arrangements were made, and the result exceeded the most sanguine expectations, not only of the royal spectators, but of Mr. Rarey himself, for from that moment he entered upon a career of success, commanding the attention of the great and enthroned of the world to an extent in many respects without a parallel in history, for Mr. Rarey can truthfully say that he has had more social and intimate intercourse with the sovereigns of the world than any other man living, he proving literally an American sovereign himself.
Mr. Rarey's permanent success, however, was not achieved without the usual opposition which falls to the lot of all new discoverers, for it requires an immense manipulation and kind treatment, to say nothing of straps and firmness, to conquer the obstinacy of prejudiced Englishmen, an attempt that Mr. Rarey was probably more successful in than any other man. His first triumphs were therefore looked upon with no kindly eye by the professed knowing ones who were up to " 'osses ;" and the consequence was, there was a challenge to Mr. Rarey, from a most respectable quarter, which read as follows:
"Mr. Rarey is a public man, and of course exposed to criticism. Some of his experiments have been successful, but there has not been time enough to develop whether the docility of these horses upon whom he has operated is as durable as he alleges. If, however, he would walk over the course, and set criticism at defiance, let him go down some morning to Murrell's Green, with a few of his aristocratic friends, and try 'Cruiser,' and if he can ride him as a hack I guarantee him immortality, and an amount of ready money that would make a British Bank director's mouth water. The 'initiated' will not be surprised at my selecting Cruiser; but as the public may be ignorant of him, I will append some particulars of his history : Cruiser was the property of Lord Dorchester, and was a favorite of the Derby in Wild Daynell's year, but broke down about a month before the race. Like all horses of Venison blood, his temper was not of the mildest kind, and his owner was glad to get rid of him. When started for Rawcliffe, the man who had him in charge was told on no account to put him in a stable, as he would never get him out. This injunction was of course disregarded, for when the man wanted some refreshment he put Cruiser in the public stable and left him. To get him out the roof of the building had to be ripped off. At Rawcliffe Cruiser was always exhibited by a groom with a ticket-of-leave bludgeon in his hand, and few were bold enough to venture into the animal's enclosure, the cordial wish of every visitor being that some friendly bullet would lay him low.' This animal, then, whose temper has depreciated his value perhaps a thousand pounds, I think would be the right horse in the right place to try Mr. Rarey's skill; and as the locale is so near London, the sooner the experiment is made the better."
This, as it proved to be, opportune challenge was at once accepted by Mr. Rarey, and he applied promptly to Lord Dorchester for the permission to try his skill on Cruiser, which request was readily granted.
To understand, even in a partial degree, the character of the horse thus most unexpectedly brought to Mr. Rarey's notice, it should be remembered that at this time the horse, loaded down with a heavy muzzle of iron and thongs, had been otherwise abandoned to himself; his water and food were deposited by stealth in his stable, no one daring to approach him. The long months of oppression and cruelty required to thus make a demon of an animal full of kindly feelings—a creature, indeed, far superior to most of the ignorant beings who had direct charge of his keeping—can scarcely be realized or thought of except with pain. It is indeed almost repulsive and harrowing to contemplate Cruiser standing year after year upon his dignity, and demanding a respect due to his kingly lineage, determining never to yield, conceiving it better to die by blows than to submit to force. It is almost pitiful to contemplate the noble animal tormented with huge bits, loaded with chains, his head incased in a complication of iron ribs and plates, so that he had to procure his sustenance by licking it up with his tongue, to overcome the huge bar which was necessary to protect his teeth from the ignoble flesh of his misguided keepers. It is no wonder that the English people, with their natural fondness for horses, and their generous impulses, looked upon Cruiser with a kind of superstitious veneration, their imagination conceiving him possessed of the spirit of some say-age and captive monarch, who, too hardy to die, lived only to spit on and defy his jailers.
Lord Dorchester, the owner of Cruiser, after giving his pedigree, which justly entitles him to the rank of the best blood stock in England, and of course inferior to none in the world, continues to say that he considered the horse vicious from a foal; he was always difficult to handle, and showed temper on every opportunity. He was known often to lean against the side of his stall and kick and scream as if insane for ten minutes together. In 1855, when he was three years old, a half interest in this valuable animal was sold to a stock-raising company, but notwithstanding the purchasers were desirous of being satisfied with their bargain, Lord Dorchester was obliged finally to take him back, the savage propensities of the horse rendering the care of him too dangerous for any of the men in the employ of the Company, for he finally would allow no one to enter his stall, and having, in one of his furious moments, absolutely torn an iron bar, an inch in diameter, in two pieces with his teeth, Cruiser was now returned to his original owner, and without a redeeming trait of character, but with a spirit un-subdued, he lived a sullen and ferocious savage, ever plotting vengeance upon his tormentors. Improving, as he grew older, in the power of resistance, he finally resented the approach of any one by fearful screams and yells of fear and fury, at the same time attempting to destroy every enemy within his reach, besides frequently kicking the heavy planks that formed his prison into splinters.
Mr. Rarey, with entire confidence on his own part, undertook the task of taming this formidable stallion, and in three hours' time. Lord Dorchester mounted Cruiser's back—a thing not before done in three long years—and Mr. Rarey rode him as a hack. The prophetically graphic consequences of a triumph over Cruiser was realized—Mr. Rarey from that time "walked over the course," and set criticism at defiance; gained immortality and secured an amount of money even greater than many sums that have made the mouth of a British bank director water.
After Cruiser was reformed, and under control of his better nature, he was an object of never-failing interest to the English people, her Majesty Victoria herself caressing his head, at the same time expressing joy at his regeneration, and regret at the hard usage through which he had passed. The horse himself, under the ameliorating influences of his new position, rapidly improved in his appearance. Gradually the rough haggard grew, plump and attractive; his eye "gleamed with a tranquil Christian brightness," instead of the malignant flash that was wont to extinguish grooms and stable-boys; his coat assumed a silky smoothness, showing that his old prejudices against the solicitations of the curry-comb had passed away. In short, Cruiser became, and is now, a tractable, useful, peaceful member of society, warranted to carry a Bishop without risking the interests of the Church, and a lady without taxing her courage or her hand.
The popularity of Mr. Rarey now became worldwide. The exhibitions of his horse-taming powers, and of Cruiser, were attended by crowds of every class of people; but the ladies of the nobility and gentry were Mr. Rarey's most intelligent, most numerous, and most enthusiastic patrons—they not only filling the portions of the exhibitions allotted to them, but overflowing into every excellent place. Whether it was the admiration the sex is known to feel for the horse or some vague and undefined but still ever-present notion that the art of horse-taming could be applied to domestic uses, is not evident. Certain it is they formed a clear moiety of the audience.
Thy triumph of Mr. Rarey over a zebra was, in many respects, one of his most remarkable achievements. This beautiful but wild creature has not, at least in modern times, been looked upon any more as a beast of burden than is the lion; its nature was supposed to be essentially unmanageable—partaking, indeed, of the worst qualities of the lowest representatives of its species, and really not possessed, it has always seemed, of intelligence enough to be subdued. That Mr. Rarey, therefore, found in this "child of the desert" enough of the horse nature to control and inspire with confidence in the friendly intentions of man is indeed remarkable.
The zebra's mode of proceeding before he was tamed, if any one entered his stable, was, first to spring to the top of the rack, seize the crossbeam with his teeth, and absolutely hang in that position, which extraordinary proceeding enabled him to keep all his feet freely kicking in the air, ready to destroy any one who should approach him.
On the zebra's first appearance in the arena he was firmly lashed and held by his keepers, and while thus restrained he crunched upon his immense gag, or hard wooden bit, screamed like an infuriated hyena, and flung his heels wildly about, as if desirous of demolishing innumerable keepers' heads. Mr. Rarey consumed four hours in giving the creature its first lesson of subordination to kindly meant authority; and he afterward stated that it gave him more trouble and anxiety than would four hundred horses. Once fairly conquered, the zebra walked, trotted, and ambled in the ring as if trained from his infancy; and Mr. Rarey further gratified his admiring audience by—the first time in the world, perhaps riding a zebra. Naturalists have, from the time of Aristotle to Cuvier, pronounced the zebra untamable; yet Mr. Rarey has put the learned philosophers in science to shame, vindicating the power of kindness, the spell through which man should have dominion over the beasts of the field, the law that was ordained in the very beginning of time.
The social attentions which Mr. Rarey now received were among the greatest rewards ever bestowed upon any benefactor. Not only the good and the great vied with each other in doing him honor, but also the active members of the different humane societies of London took an active interest in Mr. Rarey's fortunes, and gentlemen who were admirers of the horse and of his successful treatment frequently testified their pleasure by letters and substantial acknowledgments. One gentleman, as Mr. Rarey was about leaving London, introduced himself, said that he had attended all Mr. Rarey's lectures, and was so impressed with the novelty and beneficence of his system that he desired to show his appreciation by presenting Mr. Rarey with a watch, on the case of which was a most complimentary inscription. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals testified their regard by a splendid gold medal, of wonderfully fine workmanship, on the reverse of which, after the title of the Society, is engraved:
John S. Rarey,
For introducing to the public his humane method of
training and managing animals
|An untamed groom|
The last, and possibly the most marked compliment Mr. Rarey received while in England, was from the Queen. It is one that will be fully appreciated by our American readers, for it was the royal hostess of the most magnificent and august assemblage ever called together to celebrate a wedding, complimenting Mr. Rarey with the acknowledgment that of all England's resources to amuse England's guests, Mr. Rarey's exhibitions were deemed the most worthy and acceptable. On the night before the morning appointed for the marriage of the Princess Royal her Majesty sent a command to Mr. Rarey to give an exhibition in the magnificent riding-school of Buckingham Palace. Among the spectators present were the Prince Regent, now the King of Prussia, and Prince William Frederick, the King of Belgium, and all the high dignitaries invited from abroad to witness the royal marriage. The horse on this memorable occasion submitted to Mr. Rarey was owned by Queen Victoria—a powerful cream-colored horse of state, that had, from his vicious nature, and possibly his pampered life, been long discarded as too dangerous for use. Mr. Rarey's entire exhibition was watched throughout with the most intense interest—the Queen, in the enthusiasm of the moment, herself applauding with her hands. After Mr. Rarey's exhibition ended, Lord Alfred Paget, equerry to the Queen, caused another noble and restive steed to be brought in, and went through most of the performance himself, exciting much surprise and merriment by placing a plank on the side of the prostrate horse and wheeling a barrow up and down its plane. Among the noble acknowledgments received by Mr. Rarey on this occasion was the unexpected compliment of an invitation to witness the marriage of the royal couple on the following morning, and for this purpose Mr. Rarey had a favorable place assigned him at St. James's Palace.
In accordance with Mr. Rarey's original intention when he went abroad, and encouraged by the cordial invitations he received, he arranged his plans to visit the several capitals on the continent of Europe; and then, passing on, made a study of the horse in his native wilds of the Steppes and Arabia; and neglecting no locality, indeed, where the animal could be seen and studied under favorable circumstances. We have space only for an epitome of his most prominent movements.
Mr. Rarey's visit to Stockholm was characterized by an unusually warm reception from the Prince Regent, now King, who took occasion to say, on Mr. Rarey's presentation, that he had been attentively reading the different accounts of his performances, and that he had already in his mind selected a subject for reformation—a remarkably spirited animal, of Arabian and English thorough-bred stock, which, though four years old, had never been broken, except to lead, if gently treated, by the halter. The Prince Regent even went further, and appointed the time for the exhibition. The royal riding-school was especially prepared by the addition of splendid carpets and sofas to the already magnificent furniture. As Mr. Rarey, proceeded with his performance the members of the royal family, from excitement, all rose to their feet. At the conclusion his Royal Highness called Mr. Rarey to him, put many questions regarding his treatment of horses, and finally took from his pocket a medal and presented it to Mr. Rarey as a token of special regard. This medal has a peculiar significance. It is not the sign of an order, nor does it confer a title: it is a social distinction, conferring upon the wearer especial privileges in visiting the Royal palaces and arsenals, commanding everywhere regard from the servants of the King, being one of the most coveted and gratifying notices that can be received by the Swede; the motto is, Illis Quorum Meruere Labores.
The Prince Regent of Prussia, now King, received Mr. Rarey with great cordiality, and of his own accord alluded to the exhibition that took place in London on the night previous to the marriage of the Princess Royal. The riding-school which was used by Mr. Rarey was fitted up with all the exquisite taste of a drawing-room; there were present the high dignitaries of the Court; but most prominent of all was Baron Humboldt, who, just before the exhibition commenced, spoke to Mr. Rarey and expressed his pleasure at meeting him. Subsequently, on receipt of an invitation to dine with the American minister, he remarked to Mr. Rarey that he hoped he would be polite enough to live to be present. His desire was gratified; and upon one of the guests giving the toast "Humboldt, the King of Science, whose shoe-latchet other kings are not worthy to unloose," the venerable scholar replied with intense feeling, declaring, among other things, his great admiration and love of this country, and that he had always considered himself at least half American.
Mr. Rarey's visit to Russia was exceedingly characteristic of the popular idea of that gigantic empire. His introductions, which were now from crowned heads, joined with his extended fame, brought him at once to the notice of the men most likely to further his wishes; consequently, after arriving in St. Petersburg, he repaired promptly to the residence of Baron Meyendorff, equerry of the Emperor: which distinguished personage Mr. Rarey met at his palace door, on the point of going to the Neva to witness some national sports, the day not only being Sunday but also the anniversary of some festival. Without ceremony Mr. Rarey was invited to take a seat in the splendid sleigh, and was at once hurried away as fast as three spirited horses abreast could carry him. Arriving at the place of sport, Mr. Rarey was surprised to find himself in a crowd of thousands of the nobility and common people all bent upon amusement. Upon the solid surface of the ice were erected gigantic buildings, which, for strength and durability, seemed intended to last for centuries rather than to serve a temporary purpose of the winter season. Thousands of gay turnouts, filled with beautiful ladies half-buried among costly furs, showed the presence of the wealthy classes, while the prominent stands, filled with people, designated the nobility. The race-track was a circle marked out on the ice by the location of green boughs, and round the entire ring congregated the peasantry in sleighs or on foot, all, however, scrupulously regarding the conventional line marked out by the sprigs of fir and cedar. Here Mr. Rarey observed that trotting was the favorite national pastime, and he saw horses many of which approached a speed that would have commanded applause from an American audience. The style was three abreast, the center horse ornamented with a towering yoke, decorated with gay streamers and a tinkling bell. After the grave amusements had been indulged in, and the stiffness of etiquette gave way, a number of scrub races were extemporized, which afforded most unexpected amusement, the hilarity being brought to a climax by an obscure peasant entering three half-wild horses from the Steppes, beating the best blood and most renowned steeds on the Neva. This feat was hailed by the most genuine demonstrations of pleasure: the young sprigs of nobility crowded round the fortunate victor, carried him about on their shoulders, and at last bore him off in triumph to St. Petersburg, probably to present him to the Emperor.
A few days after this pleasant introduction into Russian life Mr. Rarey received "an order" from the Emperor to go to one of the imperial preserves and bring in a wild horse of the Steppes that some years previously had been presented to the Emperor by the Cossacks; but the animal proving so wild, he had been suffered to roam at large in a deer-park almost as untamed as if he had ever seen the face of man. Accompanied by Colonel Lefler, at the head of the horse department of the government, and two other distinguished officers, Mr. Rarey proceeded to the designated enclosure, and, by the aid of servants, had the horse, with some difficulty, driven into an enclosure that served as a protection in inclement weather. This accomplished, the door was barricaded, the officers remained outside, and Mr. Rarey entered by himself. The horse was absolutely wild, and the contest was long and fearful; but Mr. Rarey, after two hours of intensely hard work, the animal biting at him, striking at him with his fore-feet, and at times screaming with anger and rage, succeeded in putting on the bridle, and, to the astonishment of the gentlemen accompanying him, saddled the horse and rode him to St. Petersburg, where he was soon trained to follow Mr. Rarey, and when this was accomplished the horse was presented to the notice of the Emperor.
The surprise which this created can scarcely be realized. The Emperor expressed his astonishment and pleasure without the slightest reservation. An audience was granted, and Mr. Rarey was complimented with the announcement that it would be a private one, no person being present not personally related to the imperial household; the consequence was, that when the exhibition did take place all courtly etiquette was laid aside, and the utmost familiarity prevailed, the Emperor, the Empress, and all present entering into the humors of the evening with a hearty abandonment, not only deeply gratified at the novelty of the proposed entertainment, but also with the privilege of giving vent to their natural feelings.
That nothing might occur to mar the interest, the Emperor had brought all his vast resources as far as they were necessary, to procure such an animal as would test Mr. Rarey's powers to the greatest extent; and it can readily be imagined that the Russian wilds, one of the native homes of the horse, afforded fearful specimens of untutored and savage life. At a signal a perfectly wild brute from the Steppes was brought into the arena, and for the first time introduced to Mr. Rarey's notice. Two peasants, themselves semi-barbarous, awed by the presence of the Emperor, and filled with intense fear by the plunging and rearing of the horse in their charge, with difficulty restrained him from breaking away, biting their flesh, or knocking their brains out with his heels, which at times cleaved the air with fearful velocity, for the infuriated animal, in the insanity of his captivity, absolutely bit at interposing objects as if he were a tiger. Mr. Rarey, perfectly self-possessed, and to the surprise of all present, boldly laid his hand upon his neck, and then passed it gently over the ears, and in a few moments ordered the peasants to unloose their rigorous hold on the ropes, when Mr. Rarey proceeded to further pacify the creature. The Emperor and the imperial family looked on with amazement, which was quite equal to the comical mixture of awe and wonder of the two peasants, and the effect was heightened when the Emperor, half sternly and half playfully asked them, why they could not thus handle the horse?
The poor creatures, thoroughly convinced of the fact, told the Emperor in their native tongue that Mr. Rarey was in league with the devil; and not in the least relieved of the intense fear of the horse, at last seemed speechless with astonishment, only competent to wonder whether they would be stricken down by the orders of the Emperor, the necromancy of Mr. Rarey, or the still, at times, active heels of the horse.
The reforms inaugurated by Mr. Rarey for the treatment of unbroken and intractable horses involuntarily recall the once common torments of the demented of our own kind. But comparatively a few years ago the insane were confined in damp cells and chained to the floor. Light, air, and food, in pure and proper quantities, were deemed unnecessary. Strait-jackets, manacles, and stocks were in constant requisition. The most ungovernable were deemed to be possessed of a devil, or to be under the influence of the moon, and they were scourged and tortured to effect a cure. The "maniacal and melancholic" were sometimes even bound on wheels, and revolved round a hundred times a minute; but now all is changed, and the law of kindness, in all well-regulated institutions, alone prevails. The horse, next to man, the most usefully intelligent of created beings, has entered upon a new era for the treatment of his infirmities, and the horrors which once characterized the associations of the insane retreat and Cruiser's den, will, we trust, not again, in this enlightened age, be repeated.
Mr. Rarey personally presents none of the qualities of the gigantic gladiator we are wont to picture the horse-tamer, entering the lists with a defiant look, and appealing to brute force and physical courage alone for his triumphs. On the contrary, he is a delicately-made, light-haired, self-possessed, good-humored person; but just such a one as the keen observer of true bravery knows will grow more calm in the face of real danger—the type, indeed, of cool courage and great decision. Abroad, Mr. Rarey has been everywhere admired for his gentlemanly manners and quiet bearing. In these respects the highest arbiters of good taste truthfully and spontaneously testify, that "few men have been so little spoiled by prosperity, and none ever carried away more completely the general respect and esteem of those with whom he has been connected during his eventful English career."
From Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, April 1861.