The Faithful Horse and his Rider
by W. H. G. Kingston
Horses have been known to fight for their friends, both human and canine.
A farmer near Edinburgh possessed a hunter which had carried him safely for many a day over moorland heath as well as beaten roads. He was one day returning from the city, where he had attended a jovial meeting, when, feeling more than usually drowsy, he slipped from his saddle to the ground, without being awakened by the change of position, and letting go the bridle as he fell. His faithful steed, which had the character of being a vicious horse, instead of galloping home, as might have been expected, stood by his prostrate master, keeping as strict a watch over him as a dog could have done.
Some labourers, coming by at daybreak, observed the farmer still sleeping near a heap of stones by the roadside. Intending to assist him, they drew near, when the horse, by his grinning teeth and ready heels, showed them that it would be wiser to keep at a distance. He did not, probably, understand their humane intentions; but not till they had aroused the farmer, who at length got on his feet, would his equine guardian allow them to proceed.
Mrs F— mentions another instance of a high-spirited Irish horse, which, under similar circumstances, used to defend his master.
This man, a dissipated character, often coming home at night tipsy, would fall to the ground in a helpless state. Had the horse, while the man was in this condition, forsaken him, he would have been run over by any vehicle passing along the road; but the faithful horse was his vigilant guardian and protector. If nobody approached, the animal would stand patiently beside his prostrate master till he came to himself. He has been known to stand at his post during the whole of the night. If any one came near, he would gallop round him, kicking out his heels; or rearing and biting, if an attempt were made to touch him. Thus the man and animal changed places, the intelligent brute protecting both himself and his brutalised master.
I have a word to say even on this subject. Beware lest you take the first step which may lead you to become like the man I have described. You cannot expect, like him, to have a sagacious horse to watch over you. Yet, at the same time, do not be less faithful to an erring companion than were those noble steeds to their owners; watch over and protect him to the utmost. Learn to be kind to the thankful and to the unthankful.