An Investigation on the Local Experience of External Appraisal for Draft Animals In Shandong Province
In Shandong Province, an ancient agricultural area at the lower reaches of the Yellow River, the draft animals always occupy an important place, and the people have rich experience in their external appraisal. The experience described and discussed in this paper is mainly on the external appraisal of horses. It presents a total requirement for four main parts: head, neck, trunk and limbs. It includes a detailed account of the position of each point of the main parts in the whole body, the appraisal standard and the local names,the characteristics of irregularity and injury on each part and their causes, the interrelations between different portions, the differences between sexes, ages and the ways of work, the characteristics of various constructional and nervous types, and identification of ages based on teeth and looks.By studying the experience it is considered to have the following features.1. It is emphasized that every part of the body should be well-balanced so that every portion has a relative extent and size.2. It is shown that there is an interrelation between different portions, with the help of which other portion can be appraised indirectly and some injuries and nervous types can be determined.3. The standard of the same organ can be required quite differently because of different sexes, ages and the ways of work.4. It is noticed that the appearance is influenced by and connected with environmental factors, by which all injuries may be explained correctly.5. All parts are described using a lot of rich expressions and vivid pithy formulas.6. The order of the appraisal is definite. For example, "Look at the head before the legs, then the tail after the body". The job goes in proper order rapidly and correctly.Being of long standing and well established and of great attainments, the local experience in Shandong has developed the Chinese ancient tradition. Therefore, it is a valuable legacy of Chinese agriculture which should be explored, sorted and improved so as to be more systematic and scientific.