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Title: The Horse in America

Author: John Gilmer Speed

Release date: May 13, 2017 [eBook #54716]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Tonsing and the Online Distributed
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Transcriber's Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


Original lithograph published by Currier & Ives.


This remarkable mare was the first trotter to go a mile better than 2.20. For more than six years she was called “Queen of the Trotting Turf.” Nothing is known as to her breeding, but from 1853 to 1859 she beat all the good horses in the country. She was a light bay, 14⅛ hands in height, and weighed 835 pounds when in training.

The Horse

Copyright, 1905, by
Published, October, 1905




There have been so many books written about horses that in offering a new one I feel that an explanation, if not an apology, is due. And I am embarrassed as to how to frame the explanation without seeming to reflect on the books previously given to the public. Nothing could be further from my desire. Most of these previous books have been devoted to special kinds or types of horses without any effort to cover a very broad field. Some others have been frankly partizan with the avowed purpose of proving that this type or that was the only one that was worth serious consideration. All these are interesting, but valuable chiefly to the careful student bent on going into the subject of horse breeding and horse training in all of its branches. To do this an ordinary reader would have to study half a hundred books with ivthe danger of becoming confused in the multiplicity of theories and conflicting statements and with the final result of knowing as little in the end as in the beginning. In this modest little volume I have endeavored briefly to show how the horses in America have been developed and have come to be what they are to-day. If I have succeeded even partly in my purpose I will have my ample reward; if I fail, my book will end on a few dusty library shelves along with hundreds of others on kindred subjects.

There is a peculiar characteristic of most writers on the horse. Let a man be ever so fair in his ordinary business and social life, he is apt, when he becomes interested in horses, to throw away his judicial attitude and change into an advocate who sees only one side. When his interest in that one side carries him to the length of writing, the tendency is to be so partizan that he is even discourteous to others who do not agree with him. This queer disposition to wrangle and dispute is due, no doubt, to the fact that horse breeding is not yet by any means an exact science, and the data, guiding even those who exercise the greatest vcare and intelligence, is not trustworthy. We do not know with certainty how any of the great types has been produced, for the beginnings of all of them are covered up by fictions, based on traditions not recorded, but handed down from generation to generation, or on fictions that have been manufactured with ingenious mendacity. All this is a pity, but there is no help for it now. What we can do is to tell what is true, show what has been demonstrated by known achievements and go on working in the material that we have at hand, so that we may assist in increasing the great property value that this country has in its horses.

That property value is immense. In the beginning of 1905, the Agricultural Department estimated that the (taxable) value of the horses in the United States was $1,200,310,020, and of mules $251,840,378, or a total of $1,452,150,398. This is only about eight per cent less than the aggregate value of the cows, beef cattle, sheep and hogs in the whole country. Merely, therefore, from an economic standpoint this question of preserving and increasing the value of horses is one of prime importance. At this particular time viit is a question not only of increasing, but even of preserving, this value, for new agencies are coming into competition with horses for many purposes and are being substituted for horses in many others. The automobiles and the electric tramways are not merely passing fads. They have come to stay until substituted by something else which has not yet swum into our ken. The common horses will soon be obsolete except on our farms, and even on the farms they ought to be given up, for, notwithstanding all the great breeding establishments in the various states, by far the greater number of the horses are bred on the farms at present. That should always be the case; but it may not be so when the time comes that is rapidly approaching and a common horse will have next to no value at all. Farmers more than others need to realize that only such horses should be bred that will have a value for other than strictly farm work, for a farmer should be able to sell his surplus stock with a fair profit. If farmers have not the foresight to anticipate the inevitable, then they will have to accept the loss that will surely ensue.

viiEvery breeder whether farmer, amateur or professional, should breed to a type. Any other method is merely a haphazard waste of time and money. When I say breed to a type, I mean always a reproducing type. There are several such in this country, a few of which belong to us, though most of them are of foreign origin. The Thoroughbred is English, the Percheron is French, the Hackney is English, the Orlof is Russian, the Clydesdale is English, the Morgan is American, the Denmark is American, the Clay-Arabian is American, and the standard bred trotter a kind of “go-as-you-please” mongrel; nevertheless he is considered by many the noblest achievement of intelligent American horse breeding. When any one goes in for horse breeding on either a small or a large scale, whether with one mare or with one hundred mares, he should, in selecting mates, always strive for a definite type in the foal. If intelligence and correct information be guided by experience the results are apt to be pleasantly satisfactory.

The first cardinal principle of horse breeding was formulated in England a century and a half viiiago in the expression: “Like begets like.” This rule has been followed in the creation and maintenance of all the great horse types in the civilized world, and singularly enough all of them, both great and small in size, have descended from Arab and Barb stock. This concise rule of breeding, “Like begets like,” has been misunderstood by some who did not take a sufficiently comprehensive view of it. This likeness does not refer merely to one thing; not to blood alone, nor to conformation, nor to performance; but to blood and to conformation and performance, but most of all to blood. Where blood lines, as to likeness, are disregarded, and conformation and performance are alone considered, the result is sure to be a lot of mongrels, some of them, it is true, of most surpassing excellence, but as a general thing, quite incapable of reproducing themselves with any reasonable certainty.

The great danger always in breeding horses and other domestic animals with the idea of improving a type or a family, is that mongrels may be produced. A mongrel is an animal that results from the union of dissimilar and heterogeneous ixblood. An improved and established reproducing type has hitherto been, and probably always will be, the result of the mingling of similar and homogeneous blood, crossed and recrossed until the similar becomes consanguineous. The Arab and Barb, I have said, are the foundation in blood of all the great types from the Percheron to the Thoroughbred. To be sure, other and dissimilar blood was used in the beginning of the making of all the types, but there was such crossing and recrossing, such grading up by a selection of mates, that the blood became similar, and the rule: “Like begets like,” being constantly followed a type becomes established.

When a type has been established and is of unquestioned value to the world, it should be preserved most carefully. The French, the Russians, the Germans and the Austrians do this by means of Governmental breeding farms. The English accomplish the same result by reason of the custom of primogeniture and entailed estates. Continuity in breeding is essential to its complete success. In this country when a breeder dies, his collection of horses is usually dispersed by sale to xsettle his estate. Considering our lack of Governmental assistance we have done amazingly well to become the greatest horse-producing country in the world. Our greatness, however, is mainly due to the vastness of our area, the fertility of our soil and consequent cheapness of pasturage, and to the high average intelligence of the American people. We have not exercised the scientific intelligence in breeding that some European people have done. So as breeders we have not a great deal to be proud of. We have done better as to quantity than quality. But we can do better, and I am sure that we will, for the time is hard upon us when the four-year-old horse that is not worth $300 in the market will not be worth his keep.

There is, however, an important public aspect to this question of improving and maintaining the breed of horses. Without good horses for cavalry the efficiency of an army is very much crippled. When our Civil War broke out horseback riding in the North had as an exercise for pleasure been generally given up, and nine-tenths of the men who went into the service on the Union side could not ride. On the other hand, at least seven-tenths xiof those who went into the Confederate army could ride. Moreover, the North had a scant supply of horses fit for cavalry, while in many States of the South such animals were abundant. Here we had on one side the material for a quickly-made cavalry, and on the other side practically no material either in horses or men for such a branch of the army. Critics of the war attribute the early successes of the South to the superiority of the cavalry. The Northern side was obliged to wait for nearly two years before that arm of the service was equal to that of the South. Thus, this distressful war was probably continued for more than a year longer than it would have been had the two sides in the beginning been equally supplied with riders and riding horses. And in the Japanese-Russian War, now in progress, the Japanese are hampered dreadfully by their lack of cavalry. They have beaten the Russians time and again only to let the Russians get away because of the Japanese inability, from lack of horses and horsemen, to cut off the line of retreat. It is a most distressingly expensive thing to be without horses in time of war; unless proper xiihorses are abundant in time of peace, and the people who own them use them under the saddle, when war comes there is a scarcity of men who know how to ride. Good material for cavalry in horses and men is an excellent national investment.

In addition to my chapters on the breeding of various types I have added several others on the keeping, handling and using of horses so that if an owner have only this one book, he may be able to have at least a little useful information of many sorts and kinds.



The paleontologists tell us that the rocks abound with fossils which show that Equidæ were numerous all over America in the Eocene period. These were the ancestors of the horse that was first domesticated, and though there were millions of them on the Continent of North America in the period mentioned there were no horses here at all when Columbus made his great discovery, and the first explorers came to find out what this new India was like. The remains of the prehistoric horse, when first found, baffled the naturalists, and he was called by Richard Owen Hyracotherium or Hyrax-like-Beast. The first fossils discovered showed that the horse was millions and millions of years ago under twenty-four inches in stature, with a spreading foot and five toes. In his development from this beginning the horse furnishes 4one of the most interesting examples of evolution. When he had five toes he lived in low-lying, marshy land and the toes were needed so that he could get about. He had a short neck and short jaws, as longer were not needed to enable him to feed on the easily reached herbage. As the earth became harder, the waters receding, his neck and jaws lengthened, as it was necessary for him to reach further to crop the less luxuriant and shorter grasses. He lost, also one toe after another so that he might travel faster and so escape his enemies. These toes, of course, did not disappear all at once, but grew shorter, until they hung above the ground. The “splint bones” on a horse’s legs are the remains of two of these once indispensable toes, while the hoof is the nail of the last remaining toe.

As the neck of the horse grew longer and two toes had been dropped, the legs lengthened and by the time he became what the scientists call a “Neohipparion” he was about three feet high, and his skeleton bore a very striking resemblance to that of the horse of to-day. The teeth also changed with the rest of the animal. In the earliest 5specimens discovered the teeth were short crowned and covered with low, rounded knobs, similar to the teeth of other omnivorous animals, such as monkeys and hogs, and were quite different from the grinders of the modern animal. When the marshy lands of the too-well watered earth had changed into grassy plains the teeth of the horse also changed from short crowned to long crowned, so that they could clip the shorter and dryer grasses and grind them up by thorough mastication into the nutritious food required for the animal’s well being.

Indeed, the whole history of the evolution of the horse by natural selection is a complete illustration of adaptation to environment. Even to-day in the Falkland Islands, where the whole surface is soft, mossy bogland, the horses’ feet grow to over twelve inches in length, and curl up so that frequently they can hardly walk upon them. Where we use horses on hard, artificial roads it is necessary to have this toe-nail or hoof pared, and protected by shoes.

Where the horse was first domesticated is a matter of dispute upon which historians are not 6at all agreed. Some say it was in Egypt, some select Armenia, and some content themselves with the general statement that horses were indigenous in Western and Central Asia. It would be interesting to go into this discussion were it not that it would delay us too long from the subject in hand. At first they were used only in war and for sport, the camel being used for journeys and transportation, and the ox for agriculture. Indeed, I fancy the horse was never used to the plough until in the tenth century in Europe. The sculptures of ancient Greece and contemporaneous civilizations give us the best idea obtainable of what manner of animal the horse was in the periods when those sculptures were made. Mr. Edward L. Anderson, one of the most careful students of the horse and his history, says: “Whether Western Asia is or is not the home of the horse, he was doubtless domesticated there in very early times, and it was from Syria that the Egyptians received their horses through their Bedouin conquerors. The horses of the Babylonians probably came from Persia, and the original source of all 7these may have been Central Asia, from which last-named region the animal also passed into Europe, if the horse were not indigenous to some of the countries in which history finds it. We learn that Sargon I. (3800 B.C.) rode in his chariot more than two thousand years before there is an exhibition of the horse in the Egyptian sculptures or proof of its existence in Syria, and his kingdom of Akkad bordered upon Persia, giving a strong presumption that the desert horse came from the last-named region through Babylonian hands. It seems after an examination of the representations on the monuments, that the Eastern horse has changed but little during thousands of years. Taking a copy of one of the sculptures of the palace of Ashur-bani-pal, supposed to have been executed about the middle of the seventh century before our era, and assuming that the bareheaded men were 5 feet 8 inches in height, I found that the horses would stand about 14½ hands—very near the normal size of the desert horse of our day. The horses of ancient Greece must have been starvelings from some Northern clime, for the animals on the Parthenon frieze 8are but a trifle over 12 hands in height, and are the prototypes of the Norwegian Fiord pony—a fixed type of a very valuable small horse.”

The British horse is as old as history. He was short in stature and heavy of build. New blood was infused by both the Romans and the Normans, and when larger horses were needed to carry heavily-armored knights, Flemish horses were introduced both for use and breeding, so that by the time the Oriental blood was introduced they had in England many pretty large horses, resembling somewhat the Cleveland Bay of the present time, though not so tall by three or four inches, and not so well finished. The horses that were first brought to America by the English were such as I have suggested. But the first horses brought hither were not English, but Spanish, and these were undoubtedly of Oriental blood as were the horses generally in Spain after the Moslem occupation. But when the Spanish first came there were no horses, as has been said before, in either North or South America. Columbus in his second voyage brought horses with him to Santo Domingo. But Cortez, when he landed 9in 1519 in what is now Mexico, was the first to bring horses to the mainland. They were the wonder of the Indians who believed that they were fabulous creatures from the sun. The wild horses of Mexico and Peru were no doubt descended from the escaped war horses of the Spanish soldiers slain in battle. These escaped horses reproduced rapidly, and the plains became populous with them. So, also, with the horses abandoned by De Soto, who returned from his Mississippi expedition in boats leaving his horses behind. Professor Osborn of the American Museum of Natural History, has recently been conducting explorations in Mexico, studying the wild horses there, and his conclusions are proof of the accuracy of the surmises which have been made by the historians of the early Spanish adventurers.

Flanders horses were brought to New York in 1625 and English horses to Massachusetts in 1629. Previous to these importations, however, English horses had been landed in Virginia, and in 1647 the first French horses reached Canada, being landed at the still very quaint village of Tadousac. Indeed, during all the colonial times 10there were many importations as well as much breeding, for on horseback was the only way a journey could be taken, except by foot or in a canoe. They needed good serviceable horses, and they obtained them both by importation and breeding. I suspect that the general run of horses in the Colonial era in New England and along the Atlantic seaboard was very similar to the horse that is now to be found in the province of Quebec, Canada. Every one who has visited this province knows that these habitant horses are very serviceable and handy, besides being quite fast enough for a country where the roads have not been made first class. Harnessed to a calash, an ancient, two-wheeled, French carriage, they take great journeys with much satisfaction to their drivers and small discomfort to themselves. Then the Colonists had the Narragansett pacer, a horse highly esteemed not only for speed but for the amble which made his slow gait most excellent for long journeys. When Silas Deane was the colleague of Benjamin Franklin at the French Court during the Revolutionary War, he proposed getting over from Rhode Island one of 11these pacers as a present for the queen. Indeed, there are those who maintain stoutly that the virtues of the American trotter as well as the American saddle-horse came from these pacers. That may be the case so far as the trotters are concerned, for of the horses bred to trot fast, as we shall presently see, more are pacers than trotters. As a matter of fact, however, Barbs are apt to pace, and these Narragansetts may have had such an origin. In the blood of all our horse types there is some proportion of Barb blood, and we find pacers among all except Thoroughbreds. I am sure I never saw a Thoroughbred that paced, or heard of one.

The history of the American horses with which we are concerned to-day may be said to have begun after the War of the Revolution. But the basic stock upon which the blood of the post-revolutionary importations was grafted was most important and also interesting. It was gathered from every country having colonies in North America and blended after its arrival. The Spanish and French blood was strongly Oriental and mixed kindly with that from Holland and England. 12At any rate, when Messenger came in 1788 and Diomed in 1799 there was good material in the way of horse-flesh ready and waiting to be improved.



The Arab horse from Nejd and the Berber horse from Barbary are the most interesting and most important specimens of the equine race. This has been the case as far back as the history of the horse runs and tradition makes it to have been so for a much longer period. And, moreover, these horses in the perpetuation of established European and American types are as important to-day as ever. From this Nejdee Arabian and Berber of Barbary have sprung by a mingling of these ancient bloods with other strains, all of the reproducing horse types of signal value in the civilized world, including the Percheron of France, the Orlof of Russia, the charger of Austria, the Thoroughbred of England, the Morgan of Vermont, Mr. Huntington’s rare but interesting Clay-Arabians of New York and the Denmarks 14of Kentucky. The same is the case with other types or semi-types, but I only particularize these because the mere mention of them shows to what uses this singularly prepotent blood can be put when the two extremes of equine types, and those between the extremes as well, appear to owe their reproducing quality to the blood of these handsome little animals that have been bred, preserved and, so far as possible, monopolized by the nomadic tribes of Barbary and of Nejd. Nejd comprises the nine provinces of Central Arabia, while the Berbers wander all through the Barbary states which consist of Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, and Tripoli, but keep as remote as possible from what European influence that exists in that section of the world.


Imported by Randolph Huntington

To most horsemen in America the name of Arab is anathema. They will have none of him. So far as their light goes they are quite right in their prejudice. But prejudice in this instance, as in most others, is the result of ignorance. And I trust in the light of what I shall say about the Nejdee Arabian, the Berbers of Barbary and the influence of this blood on the equine stock of the 15world, I may say this without any offense. If I give the offense then I preface it with the apology that I mean none. The truth is that seven out of ten of the Arabian horses taken into Europe or brought to America have been inferior specimens and not of the correct breed; twenty per cent at least have been mongrels and impostures, while of the remaining ten per cent not more than one per cent have been correct in their breeding, conformation and capacity to do what was expected of them.

Some men reading the history of this type and that have persuaded themselves that a few Arabs selected personally in Arabia would enable them to beat their competitors as breeders and even to win against horses that traced back one hundred or two hundred years ago to Arab and Barb ancestors. Such folly always resulted in costly disappointment. This folly and consequent disappointment will become manifest as my narrative proceeds. But before going any further I do not wish any of my readers to harbor the notion that I think an Arab would stand any chance on an ordinary race-course to outrun an English Thoroughbred, 16or to out-trot in harness or under saddle an Orlof or an American. I maintain no such absurdity. But I do maintain that all these types, so that they may preserve their reproductive capacities, must get from time to time fresh infusions of this blood. That is why the purely bred Arabian—and the Nejdee is the purest of all—is as valuable to-day as when the Godolphin Barb and the Darley Arabian began the regeneration of the English horse into that wonderful Thoroughbred, which is one of England’s proudest achievements and most constant sources of wealth.

Historical records dating back to the fifth century show that the best quality and the greatest number of Arabian horses were to be found in Nejd. They are also to be found there to-day, and the number has not, so far as the records speak, increased. They have never been numerous, as it has never been the policy of the chiefs to breed for numbers, but for quality. It is not true, however, that a lack of forage was the restraining cause of this comparative scarcity of horses in the very section where they have been kept in their 17greatest perfection. As a matter of fact, the pasture land of Arabia is singularly good. The very desert, during the greater part of the year, supplies sufficient browse for camels; while the pasture grass for horses, kine, and above all for sheep on the upper hill slopes, and especially in Nejd, is first-rate. To be sure there are occasional droughts, but few grazing countries in the world are free from them. No, the scarcity in horses is not due to a lack of food, but to two other reasons entirely satisfactory to the chiefs of Nejd. Horses there are not a common possession and used by all. On the contrary, their ownership is a mark of distinction and an indication of wealth, as they are never used except for war and the chase and racing, the camel carrying the burdens and doing the heavy work of the caravans. The second reason for the scarcity is that Nejdee horses are very rarely sold to be taken out of the province. This is not the result of sentiment, but one purely of protection and the desire to preserve a monopoly in a race that is easily the very purest in the world.

The traditions as to the origin of the Arabian 18horse are numerous. Some hold that they are indigenous. If this were supported, then the traditions would lose interest. But the traditions are interesting and in general effect were thus expressed by the Emir Abd-El-Kader in 1854, in a letter addressed to General Daumas, a division commander who served long in Arabia and who was later a senator of France. He said that God created the horse before man, and then this domestic animal was handed down: “1st. From Adam to Ishmael; 2d, from Ishmael to Solomon; 3d, from Solomon to Mohammed; 4th, from Mohammed to our own times.” This tradition, it must be said, is very general and comprehensive in its scope, but to the Arabs it has a significant meaning, as they claim that Ishmael, the bastard son of Abraham, was not only one of themselves but their founder, for is it not written in the Bible that when Hagar, the concubine of Abraham, fled into the wilderness, an angel appeared to her and said:

“I will multiply thy seed exceedingly that it shall not be numbered for multitude. Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son and shalt call his name Ishmael; and he 19will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”

Indeed, this son of Abraham was the very personification of the Arabian people throughout their whole history, and he needed horses as the Arabian people have needed them ever since to assist in the forays and expeditions which give to life its spice and its prize. Then again, there is a tradition that Nejd got its horses from Solomon; another that they came from Yemen. This seems to me the same tradition, for Yemen’s ancient name was Sheba; and what more natural than for Solomon to have rewarded with gifts of horses the Queen of Sheba’s people for giving him one of his most satisfactory wives. Then there is a story that has been builded up in our own days by a man who was a Methodist minister before he became a manufacturer of trotting-horse pedigrees in this country. This interesting man in his old age, if he did not resume the occupation of his youth, did study the Bible in the endeavor to show that the Arabian horses never had been much in quality and many in numbers, and that their antiquity 20was not of any importance for they had not been taken into Arabia from Armenia until the third century. A century or so made little difference to a man like Wallace, who unwittingly gave to these horses two centuries more of record than history really accounts for. But whether the Nejdee Arabs were indigenous or brought into the land by Ishmael, or sent by Solomon, or taken there by the Armenians, it is certain that they were there a hundred years before Mohammed became a prophet, and in characteristics of size, temper and performance they were the same that we find to-day. So that gives us a long record of fifteen centuries during which we know that the greatest care has been taken to keep them pure in blood and to train them to the work for which they were required.

The tradition as to the Berber horse of Barbary is much simpler, as these robber tribes have not developed poets or historians, and content themselves with saying that the horses have always been there. And so far as we are concerned that statement is as satisfactory as any other. But we do know that supplies of these horses were obtained 21by Saladin in his domestic wars, and were used also in his contests with the faith-breaking crusaders who vainly tried to destroy the Moslem rule and obtain perpetual possession of Jerusalem. From the earliest times it has been a mooted point as to which was the superior, the Berber or the Nejdee. Among the Europeans who have lived much in Egypt this is still a disputed matter, and when Count de Lesseps was a young man he endeavored to decide the question by a series of races at 4½ kilometers (about 2⅘ miles). Other horses, however, were admitted. In the first heat there were three Nejdee horses all bred in Cairo—the purity of the blood being open to suspicion—and one Syrian horse. A Cairo-bred Nejdee was the winner. In the second heat there were three Nejdee horses, one bred in Cairo, and one Barbary horse from Tunis owned and ridden by Count de Lesseps himself. The Barb won. In the third heat there were three Nejdee horses, one of them ridden by de Lesseps, and one Samean horse. A Cairo-bred Nejdee horse won. In the fourth heat there were three Nejdee horses and one Egyptian horse from Abfeh. A Nejdee 22horse was the winner. Then came the final heat between the winners of the trial heats. The result was that the de Lesseps Barbary horse was first, a Cairo-bred Nejdee horse was second, and Nejdee horses third and fourth.

This trial was cited by General Daumas as evidence that at least the Barb was not inferior to the Nejdee in fleetness. It only indicates to me that Count de Lesseps was the shrewder of the contestants and had selected the best individual animal among the sixteen competitors. However, the Emir Abd-El-Kader believed in the superiority of the Barbs, and as an instance of this, quoted the practice of Aamrou-El-Kais, an ancient King of Arabia, who “took infinite pains to secure Barbary horses wherewith to combat his enemies. He was doubtful of success if obliged to trust himself to Arab horses. It is not possible, in my opinion, to give a more invincible proof of the superiority of the Barb.” This illustration may have been convincing to the learned Musselman, but to-day we should want, I think, a more modern instance to be satisfied; and we should want to know more of the individuals in the de Lesseps’s 23trials than has been recorded. That the Barbs have had as great influence in the creation of other types as the Nejdees is undoubtedly true, for while it has never been easy to get the best specimens of Barbary horses for exportation, it has never been so difficult as to get Nejdee Arabians of equivalent excellence. The Berbers were natives of Palestine and expelled by one of the Persian kings. They emigrated to Egypt, but were refused permission to settle, so they crossed over to the other side of the Nile. They were adventuresome robbers, as they are to-day, and no doubt have taken their horses with them from their first setting out from Palestine. So I quote Abd-El-Kader again: “As for the Berbers themselves, everything proves that they have been known from time immemorial, and that they came from the East to settle in the Maghreb, where we find them at the present day.”

Europe did not know much of these Arab and Barb horses until the Arabs and Moors invaded and conquered Spain. The invasion of Spain began in the eighth century and the rule lasted until into the thirteenth century, though the Moors 24held Grenada for two centuries later. What became a conquest was begun merely as a raid for rich booty, and, of course, the Arabs, of whom it has been said, “their kingdom is the saddle,” were mounted. The Berbers, of course, took their horses, and it is likely that during those long centuries, it was the first time out of the Sahara that Arabian and Barb horses were bred extensively and their blood united. It is undoubtedly a fact that after the expulsion of these conquerors, Spain was well supplied with excellent horses, horses which assisted the armies of Spain to hold what her navigators had discovered. The pilgrims returning from Palestine, also told of the excellent horses in the East, and the Crusaders, more practical men, had all the evidence that they needed in their battles with the Musselman to enable them to testify to the hardiness and the fleetness of the horses of the desert. And so when lighter cavalry was needed to replace the heavily-armed knights, whose armor the use of gunpowder had made obsolete, the soldiers and statesmen of the seventeenth century knew where to look for the blood that would improve the home-bred 25horses. It was as difficult then as now to get Arabs and Barbs of the best blood, but some at least were obtained, and from the beginning in England in the earliest years of the eighteenth century we trace back to Eastern horses to find the founders of the wonderful Thoroughbreds, which in their way are the best horses the world has seen. In France, too, there were many importations for the upbuilding of the native stock, but this took a different direction, and we are not so much concerned with it as with the English.

The English stud book of the Messrs. Weatherby, the first effort to keep trustworthy records of the breeding of horses, begins with 1700, the only Eastern horse mentioned before this being the Byerly Turk, a charger used by Captain Byerly in Ireland in 1689. Then they had the Darley Arabian, Markham’s Arabian, the Alasker Turk, Leede’s Arabian and the Godolphin Barb. The most important of these were the Godolphin Barb and the Darley Arabian. We do not know exactly whence any of these came, nor do we know the pedigree of any. Indeed, to know, or pretend to know the pedigree of a Nejdee or Berber 26horse is to show ignorance or to confess imposture. The breeders do not keep or give pedigrees except when they wish to bolster up the merits of an inferior animal. And then they do it because they have been asked to do so by European or American purchasers not acquainted with the Arab practices. It seems as sensible to ask an Arab for the pedigree of a horse as to ask a diamond merchant for the pedigree of a stone. The Arabs have had these horses time out of mind. They know them to be purely bred. What more could a sensible man want? But if the purchaser insists, then he may have any kind of pedigree that seems to please him most. He can have pure Nejdee, pure Barb, a cross between the two, or any admixture of Egyptian, Syrian, or Turkish blood that best suits his taste. But as a matter of fact, these Eastern pedigrees are pure fakes, merely made up things, such, for instance, as the recorded pedigree of the famous Hambletonian, the founder of the standard bred trotter in America. To the Arabs in their breeding, pedigree makes no more difference in mating than it does to the birds of the air or the beasts of the forest. 27They know that they have animals of pure blood and that the progeny of them will still be pure no matter how closely the parents may be related. There is selection, of course, as inferior males are not permitted to be sires. Instead of that they are sometimes destroyed, or sent to Syria and even to Mesopotamia to serve the mares of those regions where the mares are Arabs but not pure Nejdees. Here is one queer fact about the Arab and Barb blood, and proof also of its wonderful prepotency. So long as it is mingled with other blood not too heterogeneous, the most close inbreeding appears not only to do no harm, but actually to do good. This is particularly so with the English Thoroughbred, the American Morgan, and the Kentucky Denmark.

All we are told about the Darley Arabian is this. Mr. Darley of Yorkshire, had a brother who was a merchant in Aleppo. This brother brought home a black bay[1] stallion some 14 hands in stature, about 1700. He became in 1707 the sire of Flying Childers, the greatest race-horse in England and the progenitor of most of those on 28the running turf in America and England to-day. The dam of Flying Childers was also rich in Oriental blood, as she was an inbred Spanker and Spanker was by D’Arcy’s Yellow Turk from the daughter of Morocco Barb and Old Bald Peg, the latter being by an Arab horse from a Barb mare. So we see that this first great English race-horse was almost of pure Eastern blood.

1.  A very unusual color for a Nejdee.

Of Markham’s Arabian we only know that he met with the disapproval of the then Master of Horse, the Duke of Newcastle, and had scant chance. Of the Godolphin Barb we know very little previous to his coming to England, where he was held in such little esteem that he was used as a teaser for Hobgoblin. We are told, however, that he was first taken to France and held of such little account that he was used as a cart horse, in Paris. He was finally brought to England about 1725, and became the property of Lord Godolphin. He was a brown bay, 15 hands high, and with an unnaturally high crest. He served Roxana in 1731, the produce being Lath, next to Flying Childers the greatest horse in England in 29the first half of the eighteenth century. Roxana was by Bald Galloway, her dam sister to Chanter by the Alasker Turk from a daughter by Leedes’s Arabian and a mare by Spanker. Here we see again the value of these crosses of Oriental blood. From the mating of the Godolphin Barb and Roxana also came Cade, the sire of Regulus, the grandam of that most marvelous horse, Eclipse. When all this had happened the English were sure they were on the right road. And they have kept on that road with great persistency, not going back, however, in my opinion, frequently enough to the pure Nejdee and Berber stock for fresh infusions. That they have not done this is natural enough, however. A breeder wants results quickly. To get a collateral strain from fresh Arab and Barb blood equal to the present thoroughbred would probably take fifty years. No private breeder cares to do that. And the English government does not officially breed horses. The French, the Austrians and the Russians all, however, have agents in Arabia trying to buy the animals that are best suited to do just what I have suggested. And they all succeed. It is 30too much, however, to expect this from a private breeder.[2]

2.  According to the reckoning of Major Roger D. Upton of the 9th Royal Lancers, there were used in the formation of the English stud from the time of James I, to the beginning of the 19th Century, Eastern horses to this extent: 101 Arab stallions, 7 Arab mares, 42 Barb stallions, 24 Barb mares, 1 Egyptian stallion, 5 Persian stallions, 20 Turkish stallions, and 2 “Foreign” stallions, or 210 in all. In the popular mind of all of these were classed as Arabs. This is not right, as the real Arab is much purer in blood than the others, though the Barbs have virtues by no means to be despised.

One, however, in this country has had the courage and the tenacity of purpose to do this. I allude to Mr. Randolph Huntington, of Oyster Bay on Long Island. Mr. Huntington has mingled Arab and Barb blood with that of the Henry Clay family to which he is very partial. His success in creating a reproducing type has been demonstrated in the face of handicaps that would have worn out the patience of a less tenacious and determined man. This experiment of Mr. Huntington makes a story of its own which I shall tell in a later chapter.


31From the time that superior horses began to be imported into this country, and that was in the Colonial era, there have always been a few Arabs and Barbs brought over of various degrees of excellence. Of course, all of the English Thoroughbreds were rich in the blood, Messenger among them. They came also into Canada with the French, and the Spaniards who had crossed the Mississippi and gone to California from Mexico brought many horses all presumably of this breed. The hardy Mustangs of the West, which were a very distinct type, were evidently descended from the castaways of the Spanish explorers. To President Jefferson there came a gift of Arab stallions and mares. These were sold and the money turned into the treasury. After Ibraheem Pasha overran Arabia in 1817, and took several hundred head of Nejdee horses to Egypt it was easier for a time to buy them for exportation. And from there at about this time there were several importations into America. This supply, however, was soon exhausted, as the Egyptians are not skilled horse breeders. Besides, the French got the pick of this captured lot.

Then again, Teysul, King of Nejd, made a present of forty stallions and mares to Abdul-Azeez, Sultan of Turkey. From this source came Zilcaadi, the grandsire of the great Morgan horse 32Golddust, and also the Arab stallion Leopard, given to General Grant in 1879, when the Barb, Linden Tree, was also presented to him by the Sultan. It was with these two Grant stallions, by the way, that Mr. Huntington began the experiment I just alluded to.

What gave the Arab horse a kind of disrepute in America was the experiments of Mr. A. Keene Richards. Mr. Richards was a man of wealth and education and a breeder of race-horses in the Blue Grass section of Kentucky. In studying the history of the English Thoroughbred he came to the conclusion he would like to get fresh infusions of the original blood. He went to Arabia, and personally selected several stallions. These he mated with his Thoroughbred mares, and when the colts were old enough he entered them in the races. They were not fast enough to win even when conceded weight. He went again, this was about 1855, taking with him the animal painter, Troye. They took their time, and came back with a superior lot. Mr. Richards tried over again the same experiment with the same result. The colts did not have the speed to beat the Thoroughbreds. 33It seems to me that any one except an incurable enthusiast would have anticipated exactly what happened. If Mr. Richards had waited several generations and then injected the new infusions of the Arab blood, the result probably would have been quite different. The Civil War came along about this time, however, and the experiment ended in what was considered a failure. But that blood taken to Kentucky at that time by Mr. Richards has been valuable in an unexpected way, for it has been preserved in the half-bred horses in the horse-breeding section, and it crops out all the time in those wonderful saddle-horses of the Denmark strain, which are sent all over the country to delight the lovers of horseback exercise as well as to monopolize the ribbons in the horse shows. Mr. Wilfrid Blunt, in England, has had experiences similar to Mr. Richard’s. But he has gone the same wrong road, and has been in too much of a hurry. Continuity in breeding is something beyond the capacity of an individual; his life is not long enough. That is why every government should have a stud to keep up the standard of the horses. In the United States the interests are so 34diverse that it is not likely that this will soon be done in an extensive way, though already begun on a small scale, but each State, whose people are horse breeders, should do something of the sort, so that the success of an undertaking might not depend upon the uncertain life and more uncertain fortunes of any one man.

In Arabia the horses are trained at a very early age. Indeed, the suckling colt is handled almost from his birth. As a yearling he is trained to obey, exercised with the halter and the bit. At two-years old he is ridden gently but without fear of hurting him. At three there is a let-up in his work, so that he may acquire his full growth; but he is used enough to keep him from forgetting what he has been taught. At four he is considered full-grown and is put to as hard service as the Arab usually knows. It is a mistaken idea that the Arab horse is considered a member of the family to which he belongs, and that he is pampered, petted and caressed by the women and children, and stabled in the same tents as his owners. Those are all fanciful ideas of the poets. On the contrary, an Arab horse is early immured 35to hardships, so that in emergency he may subsist on scant food and little water. Every one has heard it said that an Arab would give his last crust to his horse rather than eat it himself. I readily grant that in some cases he would do so, and so would any other man of sense in a like predicament. The Arabs are great robbers and wonderful chaps to run away. In the desert they do not have telegraphs and telephones to intercept a fleeing thief. There it is a question of the fastest and longest enduring horse. So of course, a fleeing Arab, with his pursuers hot on his track, would give his last crust to his horse rather than eat it himself. He would be a fool if he did not. That last crust might be the very fuel that would keep life and strength in his engine of escape. The Arab is not a sentimentalist except when he talks or makes poetry. In his words he exhausts his whole supply. Beneath them he is a very shrewd, cold and able man of affairs.

In his horses the Arab has immemorially had the means to gratify his vanity, to give him his best beloved sport, to enable him to make war, and, above all, to run away. The distances that 36these horses can go on scant rations and small quantities of water seem incredible, while that they can carry heavy weight without inconvenience is entirely true, for I have tried them. But we have heard weird stories of them from the Arabic poets themselves, and also from the English who have used what they could get for their sports in India, where pony racing has ever been, since the English occupation, a most attractive diversion. A frequent expression that one comes across in old books of life in India is that some named Arab horse had a head so small that it could be put in a quart cup. That, of course, was an absurd exaggeration, but they undoubtedly have very small and handsome heads. Their heads, I am sure, were never so small nor their necks so long as the painters have represented the heads and necks of the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Barb to have been. At that time in England, however, the painters even took the liberty of exaggerating the length of neck and diminutiveness of head of the women who sat to them. It was the fashion of the time, and to that fashion we owe the loss of correct likenesses of 37two of the famous horses of those breeds that have left their impress upon the fleetest racers in the world, besides contributing the reproducing capacity to all the horse types that amount to anything in the civilized world.



In the previous chapter I have told, as well as I could, how the English race-horse was developed by a commingling of Oriental blood with that of horses that had been used for sporting purposes in our mother country. I confess that my explanation must seem very slipshod to any who are looking for a mathematically exact exposition of facts. Nothing would have pleased me better than to have been able to gratify the natural craving that people have for exactness. But I cannot be less general than I have, for more specific information is not at my command. It was simply demonstrated by practical experiments that the mixture of the bloods mentioned produced a very fast and sturdy horse that was superior to what had previously been known in England, together with the more important fact that this 39new Anglo-Arab was a type that was reproducing and kept on improving in speed and staying qualities so long as the cardinal principle of breeding: “like produces like” was adhered to with the comprehensive intelligence which made the rule embrace performance, conformation and blood. To the narrow-minded the law “like produces like,” indicates that the progeny of the fastest stallion and the fastest mare, when breeding for speed, would be faster than either parent. It is a well-known fact that mares whose fleetness and gameness has been demonstrated by long careers on the turf are rarely successful as dams. Of course, there have been exceptions to this general statement, but notwithstanding these exceptions, the narrow-minded application of the rule breaks down just at this point. It is likeness in blood, conformation and general characteristics that the rule more particularly refers to. At any rate, the English had, by the middle of the eighteenth century, developed a distinctive type of horse of most marvelous fleetness and courage and with a blood prepotency that has been so great, that after a century and a half the Thoroughbred is as much 40improved over what he was at the beginning as the beginners were better than the common stock of England a century earlier. And this is the type that we call to-day in America the Thoroughbred.

The importation of the Thoroughbred into this country began in Colonial Virginia, where there was then probably more sporting blood than there is now, when it cannot be said to be at all pallid, but on the contrary very red. The first Thoroughbred of which there is record, and the record is not as exact as we should like, was brought to Virginia in 1730, by Messrs. Patton and Gist, and was called Bulle Rock. He was said to have been foaled in 1718, and to have been sired by the Darley Arabian, first dam by the Byerly Turk. That was good breeding, and the gentlemen of Virginia accepted, to an extent, at least, the invitation of Bulle Rock’s owners to use his services in improving the general stock of the Old Dominion, for every now and then in the very oldest records he appears in the genealogy. How good the horses were that were landed in Virginia previous to this time, we can not say, but only 41presume that they were as good as the importers could find and afford to buy, for they were fox hunters and hard riders from the beginning of their coming. After Bulle Rock’s coming to Virginia, very quickly Dabster, Jolly Ranger, Janus, and Fearnaught followed.

The South Carolinians were not long behind the Virginians in their importations, and by 1760 a jockey club had been established in Charleston, and regular race meetings were held. Many of the wealthy land owners imported and bred horses for these contests. In the same year that this club was founded, Colonel De Lancey, of New York, brought out Lath from England, and a little later Wildair, the horse supposed by some to have been the great grandsire of the dam of Justin Morgan, founder of the Morgan type of Vermont. About the same time there came to New York the Cub Mare and Fair Rachel, both still famous in the pedigrees in the “American Stud Book.” These matrons found homes in Virginia, and assisted in the making of those old time “four mile heat” horses, the only kind which our ancestors deemed really first rate. Before the 42Revolutionary War there was much racing in Long Island as well as in Virginia and the Carolinas, but the great contests between states and sections did not begin till a later date. During the Revolutionary War there were few importations of Thoroughbreds, but when the young country had a little recovered in her industries from the effects of that conflict, the importations began again and in 1788 the gray stallion Messenger, the founder in some measure of our trotting stock, was brought out, and in 1799 the Derby winner Diomed—the most important of all horses, so far as race-horses in America are concerned—came out to Virginia. Of Messenger, much will be said in the proper place; of Diomed, here is the place to speak of his record and his influence on the Thoroughbreds born to America. As a race-horse he was par excellence the horse of his day in England, carrying practically everything before him while that day lasted. But he was kept in training too long—for what may be called two days instead of one—and rather lost his fame before he was retired to the stud. In the stud he was successful, but was not fashionable, his standing fee being reduced to two guineas before he was sold to Colonel Hoomes to be taken to Virginia. In Virginia he was an immense success as a sire, and few successful horses of American stock up to the present time lack a strain of this blood. Among his American progeny were Sir Archie, Florizel, Potomac, Peacemaker, Top Gallant, Hamiltonian, Vingt-un, Duroc, Hampton, Commodore Trixton, the dam of Sir Henry and the dam of Eliza White. He was in the stud only eight years in this country, but left an imperishable impression. While he lived he dominated all other stallions in America, and afterwards his sons worthily took his place. He was a chestnut, 15.3 in stature, and was got by Florizel out of a Spectator mare, her dam by Blank, grandam by Childers out of Miss Belvoir by Gray Grantham, and so forth. The greatest race-horse of Diomed’s get in America was Sir Archy; and Sir Archy rivaled his sire’s performances in the stud. He was retired early and, living to a great age, had opportunities denied to Diomed.


Bred by Dr. Warfield and owned by Mr. Ten Broeck and Mr. Alexander

43Before the death of Sir Archy, racing was well 44established in America in several sections and was pre-eminently the sport of gentlemen. The wagers made were heavy—would be considered heavy to-day when the sport has become defiled by being very much of a gambler’s game—but the races run were comparatively few. Section against section soon became popular—the North against the South, Virginia against South Carolina, Kentucky against Tennessee, and so on. The first, and in many regards the most important of these contests, was a race at four mile heats over the Union Course on Long Island in 1823, for a wager of $20,000 a side. Sir Henry, the representative of the South, was by Sir Archy, dam by Diomed and grandam by Bel Air. He was four years old, and carried 108 pounds. Eclipse (or American Eclipse) was by Duroc, his dam being Miller’s Damsel by Messenger. He was nine years old and carried 126 pounds. So it will be seen that the contestants were both grandsons of Diomed; indeed, Sir Henry was a grandson through both sire and dam. The description of the race I take from that entertaining book, “Figures of the Past,” by the 45late Josiah Quincy, with the consent of the publishers, Messrs. Little, Brown & Co., of Boston. Here is what Mr. Quincy wrote from his diary.


“On the 27th of May, 1823, nearly fifty-seven years ago, there was great excitement in the city of New York, for on that day the long-expected race of ‘Eclipse against the world’ was to be decided on the race-course on Long Island. It was an amicable contest between the North and the South. The New York votaries of the turf—a much more prominent interest than at present—had offered to run Eclipse against any horse that could be produced, for a purse of $10,000; and the Southern gentlemen had accepted the challenge. I could obtain no carriage to take me to the course, as every conveyance in the city was engaged. Carriages of every description formed an unbroken line from the ferry to the ground. They were driven rapidly, and were in very close connection; so much so that when one of them suddenly stopped, the poles of at least a dozen carriages broke through the panels of those preceding 46them. The drivers were, naturally, much enraged at this accident; but it seemed a necessary consequence of the crush and hurry of the day, and nobody could be blamed for it. The party that I was with, seeing there was no chance of riding, was compelled to foot it. But after plodding some way, we had the luck to fall in with a returning carriage, which we chartered to take us to the course. On arriving, we found an assembly which was simply overpowering; it was estimated that there were over one hundred thousand persons upon the ground. The condition of the race were four-mile heats, the best two in three; the course was a mile in length. A college friend, the late David P. Hall, had procured for me a ticket for the jockey-box, which commanded a view of the whole field. There was great difficulty in clearing the track, until Eclipse and Sir Henry (the Southern horse), were brought to the stand. They were both in brave spirits, throwing their heels high into the air; they soon effected that scattering of the multitude which all other methods had failed to accomplish. And now a great disappointment fell, 47like a wet blanket, on more than half the spectators. It was suddenly announced that Purdy, the jockey of Eclipse, had had a difficulty with his owner and refused to ride. To substitute another in his place seemed almost like giving up the contest; but the man was absolutely stubborn, and the time had come. Another rider was provided, and the signal for the start was given. I stood exactly opposite the judges’ seat, where the mastering excitement found its climax. Off went the horses, every eye straining to follow them. Four times they dashed by the judges’ stand, and every time Sir Henry was in the lead. The spirits of the Southerners seemed to leap up beyond control, while the depression of the more phlegmatic North set in like a physical chill. Directly before me sat John Randolph, the great orator of Virginia. Apart from his intense sectional pride, he had personal reasons to rejoice at the turn things were taking; for he had bet heavily on the contest, and, it was said, proposed to sail for Europe upon clearing enough to pay his expenses. Half an hour elapsed for the horses to get their wind, and again they were brought to the stand. 48But now a circumstance occurred which raised a deafening shout from the partizans of the North. Purdy was to ride. How his scruples had been overcome did not appear, but there he stood before us, and was mounting Eclipse. Again, amidst breathless suspense, the word “Go!” was heard, and again Sir Henry took the inside track, and kept the lead for more than two miles and a half. Eclipse followed close on his heels and, at short intervals, attempted to pass. At every spurt he made to get ahead, Randolph’s high-pitched and penetrating voice was heard each time shriller than before: ‘You can’t do it, Mr. Purdy! You can’t do it, Mr. Purdy! You can’t do it, Mr. Purdy!’ But Mr. Purdy did do it. And as he took the lead what a roar of excitement went up! Tens of thousands of dollars were in suspense, and, although I had not a cent depending, I lost my breath, and felt as if a sword had passed through me. Purdy kept the lead and came in a length or so ahead. The horses had run eight miles, and the third heat was to decide the day. The confidence on the part of the Southern gentlemen was abated. The manager of Sir Henry rode up 49to the front of our box and, calling to a gentleman, said: ‘You must ride the next heat; there are hundreds of thousands of Southern money depending on it. That boy don’t know how to ride; he don’t keep his horse’s mouth open!’ The gentleman positively refused, saying that he had not been in the saddle for months. The manager begged him to come down, and John Randolph was summoned to use his eloquent persuasions. When the horses were next brought to the stand, behold the gentleman[3] appeared, booted and spurred, with a red jacket on his back, and a jockey cap on his head. On the third heat Eclipse took the lead, and, by dint of constant whipping and spurring, won by a length this closely contested race.

3.  Arthur Taylor, a Virginian.

“There was never contest more exciting. Sectional feeling and heavy pecuniary stakes were both involved. The length of time before it was decided, the change of riders, the varying fortunes, all intensified the interest. I have seen the great Derby races; but they finish almost as soon as they begin, and were tame enough in comparison 50to this. Here for nearly two hours there was no abatement in the strain. I was unconscious of everything else, and found, when the race was concluded, that the sun had actually blistered my cheek without my perceiving it. The victors were, of course, exultant, and Purdy mounted on Eclipse, was led up to the judges’ stand, the band playing, ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes.’ The Southerners bore their losses like gentlemen, and with a good grace. It was suggested that the comparative chances of Adams and Jackson at the approaching presidential election should be tested by a vote of that gathering. ‘Ah,’ said Mr. Randolph, ‘if the question of the Presidency could be settled by this assembly, there would be no opposition: Mr. Purdy would go to the White House by acclamation.’”


Bred and owned by John Harper

The first heat was run in 7.37½, the second in 7.49, and the third in 8.24. Not very fast time considering what has been done since; and contemptible according to the pretensions made by race-horse owners of the present day, when “four-mile heats” are obsolete because they interfere with the business of the sport, and do not give the 51bookmakers frequent enough chance to turn over the money of the public. They base these pretensions on the performance of Lucretia Borgia, a four-year-old, that ran a four-mile dash in 1897, in California, in 7.11, carrying eighty-five pounds. I have no doubt that the Thoroughbreds of the present are much faster than those of 1823, but the only way to compare them as to gameness and bottom is to have them repeat and repeat again, and see whether or not this increased fleetness is maintained. Probably it will not be done, for the one-time sport of gentlemen is nowadays very much a mere gambler’s game.

The next great contest that old-time racing men spoke of with a respect that was akin to awe was that between Gray Eagle, a Kentucky horse, by Woodpecker out of Ophelia by Medley, and a Louisiana horse, Wagner, by Sir Charles out of Maria West by Marion, at four-mile heats. This was at Louisville in 1839. Wagner won the first two heats, Gray Eagle being badly ridden, in 7.48 and 7.44. This race was run on a Monday. The following Saturday the race was repeated. Gray Eagle won the first heat in 7.51; Wagner 52took the second heat in 7.43. Gray Eagle broke down on the second mile of the third race, and no time was kept. Though I was not born for many years after these races were run, they were so important in the history of the neighborhood where I lived and such frequent topics of conversation that I sometimes have difficulty in persuading myself that I was not present. In this I somewhat resemble the gallant King of England, who believed that he was at the battle of Waterloo.

Kentucky had become prominent before this time as a breeding place for Thoroughbreds. The Kentuckians, mainly from Virginia in the early days, were horse lovers by inheritance and habit, so they took with them to their new homes very little but good stock. They were not impoverished adventurers seeking new pioneer homes because they had failed in the places of their birth. Not a bit of it. They were well born and of good substance, and they went to this new country to found estates, for the gentlemen of that period had not outgrown the Elizabethan land hunger which took so many of the cavaliers to Virginia in an earlier century. That they took good horses 53with them was a matter of course. And arriving there they found that the native blue grass, which grew plentifully even in the woods, was pasturage upon which horses flourished mightily. The advertisements in the Kentucky Gazette from 1787 to 1805 show that there were many Thoroughbred stallions standing in the neighborhood of Lexington during those years, and not a few of them were imported from England, the others coming from Virginia, the noble pedigrees being printed at full length, with references nearly always to the Newmarket Racing Calendar to substantiate the turf performances of the sires advertised. So Kentucky was prepared with stock of her own to take the place of the Virginia horse breeders when the wasteful methods of agriculture, and the costly habits of hospitality, had impoverished the mother State and made racing a sport too expensive for the depleted purses of the gentlemen who stayed at home. The Sir Archy blood was what the Kentuckians seem to have been after, and soon there was more of it in Kentucky than in Virginia. Some six of Sir Archy’s sons stood in the neighborhood of Lexington at one time, and 54there were mares there fit to mate with Diomed’s grandsons.

The Whip family were also well represented, and among the other English stallions taken thither may be mentioned Buzzard, Royalist, Dragon, Speculator, Spread Eagle, Forrester, Alderman, Eagle, Pretender, Touchstone and Archer. All a reader, who wishes to go deeper, needs to do is to look at the stud book and see what pure and royal blood the Kentuckians were working with to make that foundation stock which made the State so famous, that at this time there are more Thoroughbreds foaled there than in all the other States of the Union combined.

The breeders there were amateurs, however—men who bred for the love of the horse and the love of sport—until Mr. Robert A. Alexander began his operations at the famous Woodburn farm, where the breeding of Thoroughbreds was more extensively carried on than in any other place in the world. Mr. Alexander was a native Kentuckian, but educated at Cambridge in England. He died at forty-eight, but he gave a great impetus to stock breeding in Kentucky. 55When I first visited Woodburn, the great Lexington was at the head of the stud. Later Mr. Alexander, as well as his brother and successor, had many other great stallions and brood mares, and colts and fillies from this farm for a score of years captured the richest prizes of the American turf. The history of Woodburn from 1850 to 1880 would almost amount to the same thing as a history of Thoroughbred breeding in Kentucky for that period, though there were many other smaller breeders, as there are now, when the James B. Haggin Elmendorf farm has taken the premier place, and that, too, on a very much larger scale even than Alexander’s Woodburn. As it was in Alexander’s time, however, the smaller breeders, particularly Mr. Keene and Mr. Belmont, are still fortunate in producing most admirable horses; and it will be a bad thing for the Thoroughbred industry in Kentucky when this is no longer so. The result of a monopoly of breeding horses would be the same as the result produced by the trusts in oil, in steel and in beef; the industry would be controlled by one man, or several in combination, and the only competition 56that would remain would be between the men who attend to the gambling end of the game. This is not likely to happen, unless a corporation be formed to take over the chief breeding farms, for in nine cases out of ten, when an owner dies, his horses are sold and his collection dispersed so as to settle his estate.

After the Gray Eagle-Wagner race, the next one that was watched with breathless interest by the whole country was the match at four-mile heats between Fashion and Boston for $20,000 a side. This was run on Long Island in 1842, and both heats were won by Fashion, the time being 7.32½ and 7.45. The time of this race, it will be seen, was an improvement on that of the Eclipse-Sir Henry race, and also on the time in the race between Gray Eagle and Wagner. It was called a match between North and South, and the North was again the winner. Fashion was bred in New Jersey, and was by Commodore Stockton’s imported stallion Trustee out of the Virginia bred mare, Bonnets o’ Blue. Boston came from Virginia, and was by Timoleon out of Robin Brown’s dam by Florizel. Boston was a grandson 57of Sir Archy, and foaled in 1833. From the time of his training as a three-year-old until he met Fashion, six years later, he had campaigned all over the country and had meet with almost universal success. He was considered the greatest horse of his day, and there are many students of Thoroughbreds who to-day consider that he was the greatest influence for good of any horse ever bred in this country, greater even than his very wonderful son, Lexington.

The last great race—classic races, the turf writers call them—prior to the Civil War, was at New Orleans, between two sons of Boston—Lexington and Lecompte. The former was out of Alice Carneal by imported Sarpedon, the latter out of Reel by imported Glencoe. This race was in 1854 and, of course, at four-mile-heats, for the Great State Post Stakes. The city of New Orleans, the place of the race, was packed with visitors from all over the country. Lecompte won the two first heats, the time being 7.26 and 7.38¾. Mr. Richard Ten Broeck, the owner of Lexington, was so dissatisfied that he tried to arrange a match with Lecompte. This came to nothing, so 58he issued a challenge to run Lexington against Lecompte’s time, 7.26, which was the record. This challenge was accepted and the trial was made over the Metarie Course in New Orleans in April, 1855. The most famous jockey of the time, Gil Patrick, was taken from Kentucky to ride Mr. Ten Broeck’s horse, and again the sporting world of the country crowded to New Orleans. Lexington beat the record, doing the four miles in 7.19¾, and Mr. Ten Broeck was $20,000 richer for his belief in his horse. There was at that time, and is now for that matter, a feeling that a record made against time is not so satisfactory as one made in an actual race, so the friends of Lecompte were not cast down by Lexington’s performance. This trial against time took place on the 2d of April. On the 24th of April was to be run the Jockey Club Purse of $1000, and both Lecompte and Lexington were entered. Mr. Ten Broeck and General Wells, the owner of Lecompte, bet $2500 against each other, though in the general betting Lexington was the favorite at $100 to $80. A writer of the day thus describes the race:

59“Both animals were in the finest possible condition, and the weather and the track, had they been manufactured to a sportsman’s order, could not have been improved. At last the final signal of ‘Bring up your horses’ sounded from the bugle; and prompt to call Gil Patrick, the well-known rider of Boston, put his foot in Lexington’s stirrup, and the negro boy of General Wells sprang into the saddle of Lecompte. They advanced slowly and daintily forward to the stand, and when they halted at the score, the immense concourse that had, up to this moment, been swaying to and fro, were fixed as stone. It was a beautiful sight to see these superb animals standing at the score, filled with unknown qualities of flight, and quietly awaiting the conclusion of the directions to the riders for the tap of the drum.

“At length the tap of the drum came, and instantly it struck the stationary steeds leaped forward with a start that sent everybody’s heart into his mouth. With bound on bound, as if life were staked on every spring, they flew up the quarter stretch, Lexington at the turn drawing his nose a shadow in advance, but when they reached the 60half-mile post—53 seconds—both were exactly side by side. On they went at the same flying pace, Lexington again drawing gradually forward, first his neck, then his shoulder, and increasing up the straight side amid a wild roar of cheers, flew by the standard at the end of the first mile three-quarters of a length in the lead. One hundred to seventy-five on Lexington! Time, 1.49½.

“Onward they plunge; onward without pause! What makes this throbbing at my heart? What are these brilliant brutes to me? Why do I lean forward and insensibly unite my voice with the roar of this mad multitude? Alas, I but share the infatuation of the horses, and the leveling spirit common to all strife has seized on all alike. Where are they now? Ah, here they fly around the first turn! By Heaven! Lecompte is overhauling him!

“And so he was, for on entering the back stretch of the second mile the hero of 7.26 made his most desperate effort, reaching first the girth, then the shoulder, then the neck of Lexington, and finally, when he reached the half-mile post, 61laid himself alongside him, nose by nose. Then the mass, which during the few seconds of this special struggle had been breathless with hope and fear, burst into a shout that rang for miles, and amid the din of which might be heard here and there, ‘One hundred even on Lecompte!’

“But this equality was only for a moment’s term. Lexington threw his eye jealously askant; Gil Patrick relaxed a little of his rein, which up to this time he had held close in hand, and without violence or startling effort, the racer of racers stole ahead, gently, but steadily and surely, as before, until he drew himself a clear length in the lead, in which position they closed the second mile. Time, 1.51.

“Again the hurrah rises as they pass the stand—‘One hundred to seventy-five on Lexington!’—and swells in wider volume when Lexington increases his one length to three from the stand to the turn of the back stretch. In vain Lecompte struggled; in vain he called to mind his former laurels; in vain his rider struck him with the steel; his great spirit was a sharper 62spur, and when his tail fell, as it did from this time out, I could imagine he felt a sinking of the heart as he saw streaming before him the waving flag of Lexington, now held straight out in race-horse fashion, and anon nervously flung up as if it were a plume of triumph.

“‘One hundred to fifty on Lexington!’ The three lengths were increased to four, and again the shout arose, as in this relative condition they went for the third time over the course. Time, 1.51.

“The last crisis of the strife had now arrived, and Lecompte, if he had any resources left, must call upon them straight. So thought his rider, for the steel went to his sides; but it was in vain, he had done his best, while, as for Lexington, it seemed as if he had just begun to run. Gil Patrick now gave him a full rein, and for a time as he went down the back stretch, it actually seemed as if he were running for the very fun of the thing. It was now $100 to $10 on Lexington, or any kind of odds, but there were no takers. He had the laurel in his teeth and was going for a distance.

63“But at this inglorious prospect Lecompte desperately rallied, and escaped the humiliation by drawing himself a few lengths within the distance pole, while Lexington dashed past the stand, hard in hand, and actually running away with his rider—making the last mile in 1.52¼ and completing the four in the unprecedented time of 7.23¾, I say unprecedented, because it beats Lecompte’s 7.26, and is, therefore, the fastest heat ever made in a match.”

I have taken pains to transcribe this account of the race for a double purpose. This race fixed Lexington’s place as the best horse in the country and it was also his last public appearance. Then, again, I think it interesting to show how the reporters of half a century ago dealt with an important sporting event. After this race Lexington was taken back to Kentucky and covered thirty mares without being thrown entirely out of training. It was Mr. Ten Broeck’s intention to take the horse to England and race him there. Unfortunately, exactly how even Mr. Ten Broeck never knew, the horse was over-fed just before a long gallop and went blind, so he never faced a 64starter after his contest with Lecompte at New Orleans. Mr. Ten Broeck and Mr. A. J. Alexander meeting in England, where Mr. Alexander had gone in search of a stallion for Woodburn, a bargain was struck and Lexington changed hands for $15,000. There never was a horse in Kentucky, or in the world for that matter, that was held in such esteem as was Lexington. The feeling for him was actually one of reverence. I remember being taken to see him when I was a boy by my father. We felt and acted as though we were visiting a shrine. When the sightless veteran was brought from his box it was the most natural thing in the world for us to remove our hats. A few years before I had been taken to the White House to see Mr. Lincoln. Upon my word Lexington to me at the time seemed the greater and more impressive of the two.

This best four-mile record of Lexington lasted for nineteen years, when one-quarter of a second was clipped from it at Saratoga by Fellowcraft, a colt by imported Australian out of Aerolite, a daughter of Lexington. This only lasted two years, when at Louisville it was beaten by Ten 65Broeck, by Mr. Ten Broeck’s imported Phaeton[4], the dam being Fanny Holten by Lexington. Ten Broeck’s time was 7.15¾. Mr. Ten Broeck, by the way, was the first man to take American horses to race in England. He met with moderate success and thoroughly persuaded the English that we had first class horses in this country. His Prioress ran fifth for the Goodwood Cup, much to the chagrin of the Americans who had backed her heavily. Even the “Autocrat at the Breakfast Table” preached a charming sermon on the occasion. It was left for Mr. Pierre Lorillard and Mr. Keene to win classic events on the other side, the Derby for one, the Grand Prix and Oaks for the other. Lexington’s great influence as a sire was rather through his daughters; when bred to imported English sires they were wonderfully successful in producing winners. The name of Lexington probably recurs more frequently than that 66of any other horse, except his own ancestors, in American Thoroughbred genealogies.

4.  This splendid sire was not appreciated in Kentucky until after his death. Lexington lost his eyes through neglect, and Phaeton actually lost his life. So Mr. Ten Broeck had bad luck with the two best sires he ever owned. But Lexington’s loss of his eyesight was probably America’s gain, for it is very unlikely, if this great horse had ever gone to England, that he would have been suffered to return.

During the Civil War the breeding of Thoroughbreds was severely interrupted, as in Kentucky and the South generally there were sterner things to be done. Besides, the armies were always looking for horses without any prejudices against Thoroughbreds, and the guerrilla bands had an absolute fondness for them. It did not cease, but languished. Immediately afterwards it started again, there being many new importations from England, and in 1866 Jerome Park was opened and a new era in racing began. In this new era the first horse to catch the popular affection was Harry Bassett, by Lexington out of Canary by imported Albion. This horse was the people’s idol, and whenever he was to run the accommodations of the race-course were all too small to hold the crowds. As a two and three-year old he won all of his engagements, except the first, in which he started, when a blunder at the post took away his chances. Although bred in Kentucky, the Kentuckians sought a horse to clip his laurels, and the choice fell on old John Harper’s Longfellow, by imported Leamington, dam Nantura (the dam, also, of Fanny Holton, Ten Broeck’s dam). The two met at Long Branch for the Monmouth Cup, two miles and a half, in July, 1872. Longfellow won so easily that it was difficult to believe that Harry Bassett was at his best. And he was not, for two weeks later at Saratoga, for the Saratoga Cup, two miles and a quarter, Bassett won. One of Longfellow’s plates (shoes) became twisted after he had gone a mile and a half, and for the remaining distance the horse had the entire use of only three feet. They never met again. In the stud Longfellow was a great success, and Bassett practically a failure. The whole country watched for intelligence of these two races, and they proved conclusively that the old-time sporting blood of the people was as rich as it had been in the earlier years.


67By this time the four-mile heat races, indeed, any kind of heat races, were becoming unpopular with the managers of the turf, and both breeders and trainers were called upon to turn out horses that could go shorter distances at an increased 68rate of speed. Indeed, the English methods were coming more into vogue. That the votaries of the turf might have what they wanted, the breeders imported many new stallions and not a few mares from England. The result was that what was needed for the new style of racing was obtained. I have often had doubts whether this change was a good thing either for the turf or for the breed of horses. The short dashes enable the bookmakers to bet against six races in an afternoon, and so largely increase the toll they levy on the public. The racing stables are enabled to contest for more purses and so increase their earnings. There is a greater demand for race-horses, so the breeders have a larger and a better market. But, after all, the sport of racing is only permitted because it tends to improve the breed of horses; not race-horses alone, but because the Thoroughbred, when crossed with other strains and types, tends to improve those types. Now, does the blood of the new-fashioned horse assimilate so well with the common blood as that of the more compact, and possibly sturdier, horse of thirty or fifty years ago? My opinion is that it 69does not. The modern race-horse is merely a racing machine, a racing machine very much as a Herreshoff yacht is. The contrast between this racing machine and a Denmark, a Morgan, or even an ordinary trotter is too great, and good results from the crossing of the strains is hardly to be expected; but the tendency is all towards greater speed for shorter journeys, and it will doubtless continue until the men who encourage and insist on the new style of racing bring racing under the ban of the law. Then will come the deluge. The racing machine horses will not be worth their oats, and the race-tracks will be cut up into building lots for suburban villas.

Between 1870 and 1880 the coming of the modern type was clearly indicated, but the horses that were raced in that period were certainly grand specimens. The Bonnie Scotlands were at this time particularly strong. Among these Luke Blackburn, Glidelia, and Bramble were probably the best. It is a pity that Bonnie Scotland did not have a better chance in his earlier career. When he arrived in America it was at Boston, whence he was taken to Ohio. It 70was only in 1872 that he joined the stud of the Belle Meade Farm in Tennessee. He lived only a few years later, but in 1882 the winnings of his get led the list. It was during this period that Mr. Keene sent Foxall to Europe, where he won the Grand Prix de Paris, was second to Bend Or for the City and Suburban, won the Cesarewitch and other great stakes. Then there were Falsetto, Duke of Magenta, Duke of Montrose, Aristides, Eolus, Grenada, Grinstead, Himyar, Kingfisher, Monarchist, Sensation, Springbok, Tom Ochiltree, Uncas, Virgil, and Spendthrift, the latter seeming to me to best represent the virtues of the old and the new-fashioned horse than any other of this middle period. But Bramble was the most useful of them all, being up to any weight and ready to start every day in the week.

The present period may be said to have begun at Coney Island in 1880. There have been so many wonderfully fast horses developed in this twenty-five years that even to enumerate them and their breeding would take a book by itself. The chief characteristics of the breeding, however, may be said to be in the larger infusions of 71the English blood, the English having gone into the racing machine business before we did. I shall have to content myself with going along very rapidly now, and mention only those horses and events that have enduring prominence. One of these horses was Hindoo, by Virgil, the winner of many of the greatest stakes, and the sire of Hanover and many another star performer. Thora, by Longfellow, was one of the greatest fillies that ever looked through a bridle, and as a matron is one of the exceptions to the rule that hardly worked race-horses rarely reproduce themselves in their offspring. Miss Woodford, by Billet out of Fancy Jane, came along about this time, and was so splendid a racer that she was more than once barred in the betting as invincible. In 1884 was foaled Hamburg, by Hindoo out of Bourbon Belle. This horse outclassed all of his time, winning thirty-two races out of fifty starts, was thirteen times second, three times third and unplaced only twice. His dam was by imported Bonnie Scotland. We also had Firenzi, Troubadour, The Bard, and Emperor of Norfolk. Among the most notable contests was that between Salvator 72and Tenny in 1890, over the Coney Island Jockey Club track. Salvator won the Suburban and a challenge was sent by Tenny’s owner for $5,000 a side. Mr. Haggin, Salvator’s owner, accepted. Murphy rode Salvator, and Garrison had the mount on Tenny. When the distance was half over it seemed Salvator’s race in a gallop, but Tenny made up lost ground in the last half, and Salvator won by only half a head. The first mile had been run in 1.39¾, while the mile and a quarter was covered in 2.05. Mr. Haggin, who is said to be the most laconic and imperturbable man alive, is reported to have remarked, with a sigh of relief when the race was finished: “Uncomfortably close.” After this match Salvator made one more distinguished appearance. This was at Monmouth Park, where, in a mile straight away, he ran against time and covered the distance in 1.35½. Salvator was by imported Prince Charlie. Salvator was not a success in the stud.


Bred and owned by J. R. KEENE

In 1893 appeared another popular champion in Mr. Keene’s Domino, a son of Himyar out of Mannie Gray. Domino was the perfection of 73what I have called a racing machine. He won the Futurity at two years old, carrying 130 pounds, but by a very narrow margin. As the chestnut colt Dobbins, by Mr. Pickwick, had carried the same weight and seemed to have gained on Domino in the last few strides, there were many, Dobbins’ owner included, who thought Dobbins the better colt. So it was arranged that they should run a match over the Futurity course, each carrying 118 pounds. They ran like a matched team the whole distance, and the judges not being able to separate them, it was declared a dead heat. The heat was not run off. Domino made a clean sweep of his first season. The next year he went amiss, and was retired to the stud. Though he only had one or two seasons in the harem, he was a success, and his name will be perpetuated in the American Stud Book.

The next great horse after Domino was Hamburg, by Hanover out of Lady Reel by Fellowcraft. This was a phenomenal race-horse during a long career, and his get are now doing him honor on the turf. The colts by imported Watercress have been most distinguished, and one, Waterboy, 74was the star of his year. Indeed, the horses now winning the laurels seem to be mainly by imported sires, though Ben Brush and Hamburg appear to be holding their own as sires.

These rapidly sketched events I have only meant as illustrations of the four periods in the development of the English Thoroughbred in this country. The first period was Colonial; the second period was up to the Civil War; the third period from the end of the Civil War to 1880, and the fourth from 1880 till the present writing.



The Morgan horse is the most distinctive reproducing native type in America, and has been so since the family was recognized as a type in Vermont some seventy-five years ago. For symmetry, docility, intelligence, sturdiness, and speed, the Morgans have been justly famous and have met with the approval of good judges of horse-flesh during the whole of their history. They reached their highest fame during the two decades between 1850 and 1870. After that, both as a type and as a family, they came near perishing, a victim to the desire, which merits the name of craze, to produce trotting horses of phenomenal speed by means of crossing and recrossing with the Hambletonian blood. That there is a revival of Morgan breeding is an excellent thing for the country, for the Morgan is about the best all-round, everyday, 76general utility horse that this country has had and probably as good as any type in the world.

The renascence of the Morgan horse is due to the horse shows, which have become deservedly popular in many parts of the United States. There are those who speak of the horse shows rather contemptuously as society fads in which the horses exhibited are of secondary importance and interest. To many, who care nothing about horses and know less, it is doubtless true that the social side of horse shows is the important, if not the only side. This attitude, even if it be the attitude of the majority of those who attend the exhibitions, does not detract from the value of the shows so long as the work in the ring be of the right sort, and high standards be established and maintained as to the various classes of horses that are produced in this country. Indeed, it is a good thing for the shows that people with no fondness for or taste in horses should still patronize them, for their money helps pay expenses and makes it possible to offer the handsome prizes which go along with the awards. If the horse shows had done nothing else than stimulate the renewed effort to re-establish the Morgan type they would have served a purpose far from vain.


77Twenty years or so ago, when the horse shows began to take the place of the old-time county fairs, the driving horse that was popular in the United States was the Standard Bred Trotter, which usually traced back to Messenger through Hambletonian, who has been celebrated with such insistence of praise as the great begetter of trotters that the majority of Americans believe all that has been said of him as the actual and indisputable truth. It is not a grateful task to destroy established and well-liked fictions, so for the moment I shall pass the Hambletonian fiction by, and devote myself to telling about horses of superior breeding, better manners, higher courage, greater symmetry and above all, a prepotency of blood which reproduces itself in offspring from generation to generation, so that we have in the Morgans an easily recognized and most valuable type. Before going on with my story, however, I must disavow any intention to detract from the merits of those who have bred and trained the wonderful trotters that have, 78year by year, been clipping seconds off the mile record until the two minute mark has been passed. At the same time I wish to insist that the breeding and training of these phenomenal animals should be left to the very rich, just, for instance, as yacht racing is. The breeding of trotters is far from an exact science, as the trotter, as such, is not a reproducing type, and only two or three in a hundred of the standard breeds ever go very fast, while more of the fast horses among them pace than trot. They are not a type in conformation, in action or in gait; they come in all sizes and all shapes, and are not to be judged by the two or three per cent that develop speed. Moreover, they do not pay. Counting the cost of the ninety-seven or ninety-eight per cent of failures, I venture to say that the production of each successful trotter must cost in the neighborhood of ten thousand dollars. Lottery prizes, when lotteries were in vogue, were as high as that; but buying lottery tickets was never considered a good commercial enterprise. I sincerely hope, however, that rich men will continue to breed for extreme speed, as they can afford such costly and 79interesting experiments. The breeder, however, who wishes to make his stock farm pay, and the ordinary farmer who raises a few colts annually will surely find a more profitable business in trying to secure high-grade Morgans than in pursuing the elusive course which frequently leads to bankruptcy by the well-known Hambletonian road.

The founder of the Morgan type was a horse born somewhere about 1789, and was the property of Justin Morgan, who kept a tavern in West Springfield, Massachusetts, until he moved to Randolph, Vermont, in the year the colt that has perpetuated his owner’s name was foaled. I have examined all the testimony available as to the pedigree of this first Morgan horse, and I must say with regret, but with entire respect for those who have gathered the evidence, that none of it seems to me quite convincing. This was the conclusion of Mr. D. C. Linsley, who published a valuable book in 1857, called “Morgan Horses.” Mr. Linsley in his book printed all the stories and traditions about the breeding of the Justin Morgan with candid impartiality, but he did not decide 80that any was correct. According to these stories the first Morgan was anything from a Thoroughbred to a Canadian pony. Recently Col. Joseph Battell, of Middlebury, Vermont, himself a breeder of Morgans and the editor and publisher of the “Morgan Horse and Register,” has re-examined all the records extant as to the owner of the first Morgan horse, and he announces, with a thorough belief in his conclusions, that the horse was a Thoroughbred, got by Colonel De Lancey’s True Briton (also called Beautiful Bay and Traveler) out of a daughter of Diamond, also a Thoroughbred. According to the Battell pedigree, Justin Morgan had many infusions of the blood of the Godolphin Barb, the Darley Arabian, and the Byerly Turk, and was worthy to be registered in the stud book established by the Messrs. Weatherby, in England. Indeed, Colonel Battell personally told me that he thoroughly believed in the accuracy of this pedigree, adding, however, “that while the evidence is strong enough to transfer property on, it would not hang a man.”

As I said before, none of the evidence seems 81quite convincing to me. And no wonder. This horse died in Vermont in 1820, and not until nearly thirty years after was there any systematic effort made to trace his pedigree. During his life he was known only in his own neighborhood where, notwithstanding his acknowledged value as a stallion, he was used the greater part of every year as a common work horse. My own belief is that this horse was very rich in Arab and Barb blood, but not an English Thoroughbred. He had, so far as his history has been told, none of the Thoroughbred characteristics. Nor had his descendants. But whence his ancestors came and where he was born or when are not matters of so much importance as the indisputable fact that his progeny now for a hundred years have had similar excellent characteristics and have remained a fixed type, through good and evil repute, so that we know by what we can see to-day that the old stories and songs of our grandfathers as to the strength, the speed, the beauty and the courage of Morgan horses were more than mere songs and stories—they were the truth put into pleasing form.

82This founder of the type, when the property of Justin Morgan, who, after he gave up tavern keeping in Massachusetts, became a schoolteacher, a drawing and music master in Vermont, was called Figure. When the produce of his sons began achieving fame, and the family and type needed a distinctive name, he was called after his old owner (maybe his breeder, for all that I can say to the contrary), Justin Morgan. His most famous son was Sherman Morgan, though there were eight or ten others of his colts kept entire, and the progeny of them have found place in the Morgan Register. Mr. Linsley’s description of the first Morgan is worthy of transcription:

“The original, or Justin Morgan, was about 14 hands high and weighed about 950 pounds. His color was dark bay, with black legs, mane and tail. His mane and tail were coarse and heavy, but not so massive as has sometimes been described; the hair of both was straight and not inclined to curl. His head was good, not extremely small, but lean and bony, the face straight, forehead broad, ears small and very fine, but set 83very wide apart. His eyes were medium size, very dark and prominent, with a spirited but pleasant expression, and showed no white round the edge of the lid. His nostrils were very large, the muzzle small and the lips close and firm. His back and legs were perhaps his most noticeable point. The former was very short, the shoulder blades and hip bones being very long and oblique, and the loins extremely long and muscular. His body was rather round, long and deep, close ribbed up; chest deep and wide, with the breast bone projecting a good deal in front. His legs were short, close jointed, thin, but very wide, hard and free from meat, with muscles that were remarkably large for a horse of his size, and this superabundance of muscle exhibited itself at every step. His hair was short and at almost all seasons soft and glossy. He had a little long hair about the fetlocks and for two or three inches above the fetlocks on the back sides of the legs; the rest of the limbs were entirely free from it. His feet were small but well shaped, and he was in every respect perfectly sound and free from every sort of blemish. He was a very fast walker. In trotting his gait 84was low and smooth, and his step short and nervous; he was not what in these days (1857) would be called fast, and we think it doubtful if he could trot a mile much, if any, within four minutes, though it is claimed by many that he could trot it in three.”

So we see that the founder of this great type was, whatever his breeding, a pony of most admirable conformation. In his performances he was the most remarkable horse in the neighborhood of his owner. He won against all comers in the various contests that were indulged in by the somewhat primitive sportsmen of the Green Mountain State. He won at walking, trotting, and running and also at pulling. Besides he was in great demand on muster day as the mount of the commanding officer, who would make a great show on this elegant, graceful, and intelligent horse. So we see the founder was exactly what the Morgans have been and are to-day, a good all-round, general utility horse. And his progeny have been like him. Many of them, however, have been much larger and much faster as trotters, and, as we shall presently see, a breeder of Morgans stands as much chance to produce a very fast trotter as he who breeds with speed alone as his ultimate object.


Bred by Joseph Battell

85Justin Morgan was in the stud for more than twenty years in Vermont, and became the father of many sons and daughters. How many sons were kept entire is not known. Mr. Linsley mentions only six, but Colonel Battell accounts for twelve or fourteen on “information more or less reliable.” Of the daughters we have very little direct information, but that there were many and that they had a great influence on the stock of New England, and particularly of Vermont, is inevitable. The records of most of the sons as sires have not been kept with either fullness or certainty, and the evidence is usually speculative rather than exact. This as a rule; sometimes, however, it is exact. This is the case with some of the progeny of Sherman Morgan, Bulrush and Woodbury Morgan. As to the others—Brutus, Weasel or Fenton Horse, Young Traveler or Hawkins Horse, Revenge, the Gordon Horse, the Randolph Horse, and one or two that went to the neighborhood of Boston—the records are 86not satisfactory. For instance, here is the kind of story that was once current. Revenge was in the stud at Surrey, New Hampshire, in 1823. The dam of the famous Henry Clay by Andrew Jackson was the noted mare Lady Surrey, foaled about 1824. She was said by some to be sired by Revenge. Mr. Randolph Huntington, the historian of the Clay family of horses and the staunchest advocate of their merits, does not endorse this, as he says that Lady Surrey was a Kanuck, and brought to New York with twelve other horses from the neighborhood of Quebec. Had she been the granddaughter of the original Morgan, the fact would hardly have escaped Mr. Huntington, who has also always been a believer in the Morgan blood. But there is very little profit in discussing or analyzing these old stories. There is no mortal way of getting at the truth, and we can do little more than grant that many of them are not impossible. What is important is that in the course of three horse generations the Morgan was a fixed and reproducing type in Vermont, a type which had attracted the attention of breeders and horsemen all over the country to such an 87extent that commissioners were sent, even from Kentucky, to examine and report upon the stock.

Sherman Morgan was foaled in 1808, his dam being a Rhode Island mare taken to Vermont in 1799. Of her pedigree nothing is certainly known, but Mr. Sherman, her owner, spoke of her as of Spanish breed, which means that she was, in all probability, a Barb. Her high quality, docility, speed, spirit and stamina have been testified to in unusually trustworthy fashion. She was taller than Justin Morgan, but her colt, Sherman Morgan, was not so tall even as his sire, being only 13¾ hands high, and weighing only 925 pounds. He was worked hard as a young horse on a farm, and for many years also driven in a stage from Lyndon, Vermont, to Portland, Maine. His team mate was another son of Justin Morgan, and the “little team” was famous at every inn between the two ends of the route. In that section Sherman Morgan was the champion runner in the matches at short distances then frequent in the locality. This horse was also known for a time as “Lord North,” but there was no effort to disguise the facts as to his correct lineage. 88The change of name indicates that in 1823 the true value of the horse as a sire was not fully recognized. He died in 1835, some twenty of his sons being kept entire. As in the case of Justin Morgan we have no records of the females that sprung from Sherman Morgan. His sons averaged 14¾ hands, the average weight being 1020 pounds. Here was distinct improvement in the third generation, and clear evidence also of the prepotency of the blood, together with the value in breeding of the Arab blood when transplanted.

Sherman Morgan’s most famous son was Black Hawk, foaled in 1833, his dam being a large black mare of unknown breeding, but fast and superior in quality. Those who had owned the mare said that she was from New Brunswick or Nova Scotia and of English stock. The pedigree manufacturers—Wallace, particularly—insist that she was a Narragansett pacer, with the evident idea of bolstering up their contention that all fast trotters owe their capacity to trot to the pacing capacity of their ancestors. As not two per cent of Morgans ever pace, including the descendants of Black Hawk, this contention is preposterous, to 89say the least. Black Hawk’s son, Ethan Allen, was a magnificent roadster, and his great speed in trotting matches did harm, I think, to the perpetuation of the Morgan type, for the Morgan breeders began making efforts to get fast trotters rather than to preserve the type, with the result that there was, in the course of twenty or thirty years, a distinct falling off in the interest that was felt in these very superior horses. Ethan Allen was foaled in 1849 at Ticonderoga, New York, and his dam was said to be an inbred Morgan. The colt certainly had all the Morgan characteristics, and was the fastest stallion of his day, trotting three heats with a running mate when he was eighteen years old in 2.15, 2.16, and 2.19. He was also the most popular public performer of his day; and at that time trotting was more attractive to the people in America than running. “No one has ever raised a doubt as to Ethan Allen being the handsomest, finest-styled and most perfectly-gaited trotter than had ever been produced,” was said by the “American Cultivator,” in 1873. He was a bright bay, a trifle less than 15 hands, and weighed 1000 pounds. He was the sire of a great 90many colts and fillies, but being kept in training the better part of his life he never had so good a chance as some other horses to become famous as an ancestor. Through his sons, Honest Allen and Daniel Lambert, his name and that of his sire have been kept very much alive in the records, for his descendants have been fleet in the track and most successful in the show ring. His daughters and granddaughters have also done him proud, proving the excellence of the Morgan blood as brood mares. It is only when we get to his generation that the chroniclers take much notice of the importance of the females in perpetuating the Morgan type and family. Honest Allen spent the last ten years of his life at Lexington, Kentucky, and he was mated with many of the best mares in that section, his son, Denning Allen, out of Reta, a granddaughter of Black Hawk, proving himself one of the best speed producing sires the country has had, one of his colts, Lord Clinton, being marvelously fast and courageous.

Woodbury Morgan was the largest of the stallion sons of the original Morgan. He was 14¾ hands, and usually weighed about 1000 pounds. 91He was in the stud in Vermont for twenty years, and at twenty-two was taken to Alabama, where he died from an injury received in disembarking from the ship that carried him. His sons and daughters in New England helped materially to increase the fame of the type, as they were larger than the other branches of the family, and had in a great degree the characteristic virtues—fearlessness, elegance, speed, stamina, and docility. Three of his sons—Gifford Morgan, Morgan Eagle, and Morgan Cæsar—became famous sires, their sons, grandsons and great-grandsons being reckoned among the best horses in America. One of the grandsons of Gifford Morgan was Vermont Morgan, the sire of Golddust, a horse which established one of the most noted and valuable families of the Morgan strain. Golddust was foaled in Kentucky in 1855, and was at his best during the Civil War, his opportunities being very much curtailed by the unsettled and distressing social conditions which prevailed in the neighborhood where he was owned. But he was a wonderful horse, and having received through his dam another fresh infusion of Arabian blood, 92his sons and his daughters were rich in that potent quality, without which no equine family or type has ever, in the last few centuries at least, been valuable or permanent. Golddust’s dam was by Zilcaadi, an Arabian horse given to United States Consul Rhind by the Sultan of Turkey. The Golddusts were speedy horses, but speed was not their chief virtue. If Mr. Dorsey, of Kentucky, had not been handicapped by the prevalent prejudice held by the purchasers of roadsters against any other than Hambletonians as fast trotters, he would have been able to perfect a better type of carriage horses than we have in this country, and have got, also, many very fast trotters. Golddust did get fast trotters, but his bent was certainly in another direction which was not followed. He was 16 hands high, and weighed 1250 pounds. He was a bright gold in color—hence his name—and the perfection of symmetry, while his action left nothing to be desired.

The third of the sons of Justin Morgan to establish a distinct Morgan family was Bulrush Morgan foaled in 1812, and living to the great age of thirty-six years. The breeding of the dam 93of Bulrush Morgan is not known, but she is said to have been a French mare, which I take to mean that she was brought into Vermont from French Canada. This horse left a great many descendants, and they were all singularly alike, generally being deep bays and browns with dark points and a general freedom from any marks, such as white feet or white spots in the face. They were noted also for the absence of spavins and ring bones. They were fast, good all-round horses—good on the road and in the field, in harness and under the saddle. They did not particularly attract the attention of trotting horse people until Bulrush Morgan’s great-grandson, Morrill, began a family of many branches—the Winthrop Morrills, the Fearnaughts, and the Dracos—all of much distinction in that field where fast mile records are considered the highest test of merit.

Suppose that we were to concede that phenomenal speed was the one test of merit for a driving horse and then examine the records. We should find that the majority of the really phenomenal trotters from Ethan Allen’s time till now had in their breeding rich infusions of Morgan blood. 94As I have said before, Ethan Allen, with no other than Morgan blood that we can account for, was the fastest stallion of his time, and the most popular performer on the trotting tracks, even eclipsing the famous Flora Temple in his ability to excite the enthusiasm of sportsmen by the evenness of his work, the smoothness of his gait, his endurance and courage, and that intelligent docility which made him seem to know in every emergency exactly what he was called on to do. In his great race in 1867, at the Fashion Course on Long Island, when, with a running mate, he met the fleet Dexter, who had taken from Flora Temple her long-maintained fastest record, we are told that forty thousand people had assembled to witness the contest, and the betting was 2 to 1 in favor of Dexter. In Wallace’s “Monthly” of ten years later, there was a description of the race that I venture to reproduce:


Owned by C. X. Larrabee

95“When the horses appeared upon the track to warm up for the race, Dexter, driven by the accomplished reinsman, Budd Doble, was greeted with a shout of applause. Soon the team appeared, and behind sat the great master of trotting tactics, Dan Mace. His face, which has often been a mask to thousands, had no mask over it on this occasion. It spoke only that intense earnestness that indicates the near approach of a supreme moment. The team was hitched to a light skeleton wagon; Ethan wore breeching, and beside him was a great, strong race-horse, fit to run for a man’s life. His traces were long enough to fully extend himself, but they were so much shorter than Ethan’s that he had to take the weight. Dexter drew the inside, and on the first trial they got the ‘send-off,’ without either one having six inches advantage. When they got the word the flight of speed was absolutely terrific, so far beyond anything I had witnessed in a trotting horse that I felt the hair raising on my head. The running horse was next to me, and notwithstanding my elevation in the grand stand, Ethan was stretched out so near the ground that I could see nothing of him but his ears. I fully believe that for several rods at this point they were going a two-minute gait.

“It was impossible that this terrible pace could be maintained long, and just before reaching the 96first turn, Dexter’s head began to swim, and the team passed him and took the track, reaching the first quarter pole in 32 seconds, with Dexter three or four lengths behind. The same lightning speed was kept up during the second quarter, reaching the half-mile pole in 1.04, with Dexter further in the rear. Mace then took a pull on his team and came home a winner by six or eight lengths in 2.15. When this time was put on the blackboard the response of the multitude was like the roar of old ocean.”

The team also won the next two heats in 2.16 and 2.19, and Wallace is of opinion that the team might have won the first heat in 2.12 had it been necessary. This enthusiastic description of Ethan Allen’s performance was written before Wallace “took a brief” for the Hambletonians. Then he belittled the Morgans in every way, and when reminded of his previous admiration of Ethan Allen, expressed a doubt of his Morgan ancestry. But the Morgans have kept on going fast, when it has happened to be their nature so to do, and that really is as much as can be said of any horses. The dams of the following remarkable performers 97were of Morgan breeding:—Jo Patchen, Dan Patch, Sweet Marie, Major Delmar, and Lou Dillon, while the only trotting inheritance of Rarus, Fearnaught, and Lord Clinton was from Morgan forebears. The Morgans can go fast enough. There is no doubt about that. But that is not their chief value or their highest merit. Probably not a much greater percentage of Morgans would go phenomenally fast than of Standard Bred Trotters with no Morgan strain, though such a proposition has not been proved; but the Morgans are what the Standard Bred Trotters are not—the Morgans are of a definite reproducing type, and whether they trot in 3.30, 2.30, or 2.00 minutes, they have their typical excellences to recommend them and to give them a value, which no other horse type in America can approach, because they are the best, most symmetrical, most elegant and most docile harness horses in the world, with a stamina and a courage that none but Thoroughbreds approach.

So much importance has been attached to this matter of speed with track records, that I felt obliged to dwell on it somewhat in my discussion 98of the Morgans. It is really, however, much more interesting than important. The important thing is to get a breed of horses ninety per cent of which can go with reasonable speed, showing a clean, square trot and graceful high action, and when at top speed be free of clicking or forging or interfering, performing in this manner, moreover, without boots or hobbles and without effort, and also without tiring even when the road is long. And in the Morgans we have such a type. That there should ever have been any danger that they might have perished through neglect is a curious chapter in the history of this country. It does not properly belong in this place, but to that other chapter which relates to the chicanery, the delusions and absolute forgeries which are so interwoven with the history of the Standard Bred trotter that good men believe in them though they have been pointed out again and again with elaborate detail and circumstance.

Original lithograph published by Currier & Ives.


Mile heats, best three in five heats, Fashion Course, L. I., June 21, 1867. Ethan Allen and mate won in three straight heats. Time: 2.15, 2.16, 2.19.

The Morgans are being bred in many parts of the country, more of them being in the Middle and far West, probably, than in Vermont and the rest of New England. Their blood is closely 99blended with many of the families of the Kentucky saddle-horses, and goes far in giving finish to that remarkable type, which now furnishes mounts for the great army of American park riders, while pretty nearly all the show winners in the saddle classes come from two or three counties of the beautiful Blue Grass State. The adaptability of the Morgan blood to other crosses is a strong argument in favor of its Arab origin. That its prepotency has continued so long is another argument in favor of the theory that there was other Arab blood brought by the female lines. These speculations and surmises we cannot prove, but as there is now a register we can know about the latter generations, the good qualities of which will, no doubt, show us that we were fortunate in saving this invaluable type before it was too late and madness had done its final work of extermination.



One of the most important events in the early horse history of this country was the landing from England in 1788 of the Thoroughbred stallion Messenger, a gray horse that had had some success on the turf in the old world, but was scarcely what might be called great as a race-horse. He was brought over here to be the sire of runners, and he was, to an extent, as both his sons and daughters were good performers. His greatest place in the Thoroughbred records is due to the fact that he was the sire of Miller’s Damsel, the dam of American Eclipse, the horse that upheld the honor of the North in the great contest when Sir Henry represented the South. But before Messenger’s death it had been recognized that when he was bred with the mares of the American basic stock, the produce had a disposition and a 101capacity to trot faster than was then at all usual. Naturally, therefore, he was used to further this end as much as to sire runners, though there was nothing like a trotting turf in those days, the contests being on the roads under saddle and for considerable distances.

Messenger’s sire was Mambrino, by Engineer; Engineer was by Sampson, and Sampson by Blaze; Blaze by Flying Childers (pronounced by Major Upton in his “Newmarket and Arabia,” “the best horse to be found in the stud book”); and Flying Childers by the Darley Arabian. This is pretty good breeding, as any one will say who is familiar with the early English records as kept by the Messrs. Weatherby. But even Messenger’s title to be a Thoroughbred has been bitterly disputed by the controversialists of recent time, this controversy having been precipitated and intensified when, in the effort to get faster trotters, it was proposed to put in more Thoroughbred blood. The leader of the opposition to more Thoroughbred blood was an able and ingenious writer who has never had his equal in manufacturing pedigrees to suit his own theories, and at the same 102time please the interests of those who hired him to bolster up the merits of the stock they were breeding to sell. He maintained that the dam of Sampson, the grandsire of Messenger, was a pacing mare, and hence Messenger’s capacity to transmit the trot to his progeny. He further affirmed that the trot and the pace were the same gait; but of this I will speak later when I get to the Standard Bred Trotters. Now, as a matter of fact, the Godolphin progenitor of Messenger through the female line was a Barb, and Barbs are apt to pace, though if Thoroughbreds pace I have yet to see one.

So many fictions have grown up about Messenger that he seems more like a hero of romance than a flea-bitten gray horse of not very fine finish, and worth, according to the records of sales, in the neighborhood of $4500. Indeed, the record of his landing is so obscure that I have not been able to determine whether it was in New York or Philadelphia. But he was in the stud for nineteen years and left many sons and daughters. He was kept in various places—near Philadelphia, on Long Island, in Orange County, New 103York, and in New Jersey. But in each neighborhood he made an impression on the horses that came after him, an influence which seems to have been both good and enduring.

Trotting and pacing racing in America had been popular even before Messenger’s coming, and long before his get and their get appeared on the road. But the matches were neighborhood affairs and attracted only local attention. There was absolutely no effort at organization and the construction of trotting tracks until many years later. What racing there was was in the hands and under the control of gentlemen; how much interest they took in these trotting and pacing matches I do not know. But not much I fancy, for caste in America was stronger and more separating than it is now, when, if we put the “mighty rich” in a class by themselves there is very little at all. It was not until between 1820 and 1830 that horses were trotted on tracks, and then there was little, if any, of this mile heat business to see really how fast a horse could go for a short distance. What the people of that elder day seemed to be most interested in was how far 104a horse could trot at a good rate of speed. I will not tire my readers with a recital of the fictions of the contests on the roads of Long Island and Harlem, but begin with the race of Lady Kate under the saddle against time. Her task was to go fifteen miles in an hour. This she did and easily. Nor does it seem much of a task when we consider that a few years later Andrew Jackson was doing mile after mile in much less than three minutes. This horse, by the way, was so superior to the trotters of the time that his owner could make few matches with him. His speed and endurance frightened the others off, and there was little, if any, rivalry. We find it recorded, however, that Paul Pry, in 1833, beat time in an effort to go sixteen miles to the hour, and Hiram Woodruff, then a boy, expressed the opinion that this horse could then have gone twenty miles in the hour. This same old driver tells of a horse which he thought was one of the most superior he ever knew, Top Gallant, by Messenger. This fellow, in his twenty-second year, went four four-mile heats in time very fast for that day. A little later appeared Dutchman, who, in a race of three-mile 105heats against Rattler, went the distance in 7.45½, 7.50, 8.02 and 8.24, Dutchman won the first and fourth heat, Rattler won the second heat, while the third was a dead heat. Here we see the first heat was trotted at the rate of 2.35, which was surely very fast going, considering the distance, the vehicles used and the shoeing. But such journeys are now considered too far.

Lady Suffolk, an inbred Messenger, was spoken of for a while as the Queen of Trotters, and she was a remarkably good one both in breeding and in performance. She was sired by Engineer II, by Engineer, a son of imported Messenger; her dam was by Don Quixote, son of Messenger. So it will be seen that she was closely inbred to Messenger and had as much of the Thoroughbred blood as any trotting horse of remarkable performance. She was a gray, and was foaled in 1833 on Long Island. She began trotting when she was five years old, and had a remarkably successful career. She trotted 138 races, winning eighty-eight times and receiving forfeit three times. When she was twelve years old, at Beacon Course, Hoboken, she trotted the second 106heat of a five-heat race in 2.29½, which was the first time 2.30 had been passed, and was, of course, the record. In 1849 she made a saddle record of 2.26. She was bred to Black Hawk in Vermont, but the colt was prematurely born, and she left no descendants. Although this record was reduced in 1849 to 2.28 by Pelham, a converted pacer, another second was knocked off in 1853 by Highland Maid, also a converted pacer, there was nothing in the way of trotters to take the great place of Lady Suffolk until Flora Temple, the queen of them all, came along about 1850, and proceeded to beat all that attempted to rival her for speed and courage.

When I was a boy, Flora Temple was considered almost as great as Lexington. In Kentucky at that time, her wonderful performances, her speed and her courage were considered all the more remarkable from the fact that no one knew how she was bred, and inferred that she had no breeding that was good. This was not a fair inference. Her appearance, her gameness, her fighting qualities, together with her nervousness, all indicated that she was a high-bred animal. To 107say what that breeding was is another matter. So a pedigree was fixed up for her. On the plate published by Currier and Ives when she was at the very zenith of her fame, her pedigree was set down as follows: “Sired by one-eyed Kentucky Hunter, by Kentucky Hunter; dam Madam Temple by a spotted Arabian horse.” I have no doubt that this pedigree is as arrant nonsense as was ever put in print, and was simply made up to put on the advertisements of the races in which she was entered. I doubt, even, whether there was any serious effort to trace her pedigree when she was a filly, for it was not until she was five years old that she attracted the attention of a horseman and he bought her for $175, and sold her quickly for $350. Previous to that she had been used in a livery stable, though I recall a tradition that she had been used in a milk cart.

Colonel Battell, who spares no pains when he goes after a pedigree, investigated that of Flora Temple, and says it is as follows: “Foaled May, 1845; bred by Samuel Welch, Sangerfield, New York; got by Loomis’s Bogus, son of Lame Bogus, by Ellis’s Bogus, son of imported Tom 108Bogus; dam Madam Temple, about 850 pounds, bay, foaled 1840, bred by Elijah Peck, Waterville, New York, sold when four months old to William Johnson, of whom she was purchased, 1843, by Samuel Welch, got by a spotted stallion (owned by Horace Terry, who brought him from Long Island or Dutchess County, New York) said to be by a full-blooded Arabian stallion kept on Long Island; second dam described by John I. Peck, son of Elijah Peck, as bay with black points, bob tail, low set and heavy, very smart and would weigh from 1050 to 1175 pounds, foaled about 1834, purchased by Mr. Peck of a Mr. Randall, Paris, New York. Sold when weaning with her dam to Archie Hughes, Sangerfield, who sold her for $13 to Nathan Tracy of Hamilton, New York, who kept her two and one-half years, and sold to William H. Condon, Smyrna, New York, who sold to Kelley & Richardson, livery-stable keepers, Richardson, New York. Mr. Richardson took her with a drove of cattle to Washington Hollow, New York, and sold her for $175 to Jno. Vielee, who took her to New York and sold her to George E. Perrin, for $550, who 109sold her September, 1850, to G. A. Vogel, for $600. A correspondent of the Spirit of the Times, writing from Waterville, Oneida County, New York, February, 1860, says: “Madam Temple, the dam of Flora, was foaled the property of Elijah Peck, Waterville, Oneida County, New York, in the spring of 1840: her dam was a small but fleet bay mare. Madam Temple was sired by a spotted Arabian stallion brought from Dutchess County, and owned by Horace Terry. Mr. Peck disposed of Madam Temple when four months old for a mere trifle to William Johnson of the same place.... Terry’s spotted Arabian was a remarkably strong, restless, fast-trotting horse, said to have been sired by a full-blooded Arabian stallion on Long Island. He was a great favorite in this section, and his stock for general use possesses probably more excellent qualities than that of any other horse known in this vicinity. They were uniformly strong, with rare speed and bottom. The general high reputation in which his stock was held may be judged from the fact that George W. Crowningshield, of Boston, owned a pacing gray mare of his get, so 110fast and enduring that he sold her for $1500. That was considered very high in those days. Madam Temple has always been regarded as a remarkable roadster. Mr. Hughes sold her in 1846 to G. B. Cleveland, Waterville, who soon parted with her to N. W. Moss of the same place, but now of Osage, Iowa. By him she was kept as a horse of all work for several years, from whom she was purchased by James M. Tower in the spring of 1854, and he subsequently sold to H. L. Barker, of Clinton, Oneida County, New York, in January, 1855, who now owns her. Flora was her first colt. Her second a horse colt, was foaled in the spring of 1855, and was bought by J. W. Taylor, of East Bloomfield, for R. A. Alexander, of Woodford County, for $500. This colt was sired by H. L. Barker’s Edwin Forrest (a Kentucky colt), now owned by S. Downing, Lexington, Kentucky.”

So we can take our choice of pedigrees. If Flora Temple had been born a few years later the Hambletonian advocates would surely have claimed her. It has always been a wonder to me that they did not, after all, assert that she was of collateral 111blood. When her new owner brought this most remarkable mare to New York, he had not the most remote idea that he held one of the wonders of the world. He believed that she was a pretty good pony, and could strike a good clip on the road. She was only 14.2 hands high and had a mere stump of a tail. Besides, she was nervous, and before she “found herself” had a rather choppy action. When she had learned the trick, however, her action was smooth and clock-like, and she glided along with almost unapproachable grace. Moreover, when she broke she lost scarcely nothing, as she did not have to be pulled back almost to a standstill, but caught her trotting stride from what was very like a run.

There are other books in which the record of Flora Temple can be found in all of its proud and brilliant details. She beat everything of her day, beginning with the Waite Pony on the Bloomingdale road in 1850, until Ethan Allen, Princess, George M. Patchen and all the good ones had to take her dust. She was not used under the saddle, but always to sulky or wagon. Hiram Woodruff, her first real trainer, says she was a great weight 112puller and was not in the least bothered by a 350 pound wagon, but went along with it as merrily as though she were in a racing sulky. Her first defeat was in 1853 by Black Douglas, a son of Henry Clay; but a few months later she had her revenge and beat the Clay stallion with apparent ease. In 1856 she took the trotting record away from Highland Maid by covering a mile in 2.24½. The record remained with her for eleven years; she reduced it in 1859 to 2.19¾, and so she was the first to trot better than 2.20, as Lady Suffolk was the first to go below 2.30. In 1859 the little bay stump-tail mare was at the very zenith of her fame, though Hiram Woodruff was of opinion that the next year she might have surpassed this. The next year the Civil War broke out and she, not being in good form, was retired to the breeding farm of Aristides Welch, near Philadelphia.

During the two or three last years of her public life, Flora Temple had nothing to beat, so she was sent all over the country “hippodroming” with Princess and George M. Patchen, variously. On the farm she dropped a few colts. Two were 113by sons of Hambletonian, and one by imported Leamington. They have not done much to perpetuate her prowess. My own idea is that in selecting mates for her the great cardinal principle of breeding: “like begets like,” was utterly disregarded. The blood of a Hambletonian was probably too cold to mate with hers, though we do not know what hers was, and Leamington’s conformation was too great a contrast. Though she has left no descendants that do her particular honor, she has left by her performances imperishable fame as the greatest trotter of her day, and her day lasted for more than a dozen years.

There was a lull in trotting during the Civil War, just as there was in racing, but after the war the trotting tracks became even more popular than the running courses—not the most fashionable, but the most popular. Fashion has never forsaken the running horse, and probably never will; but in the main, the trotting races have been patronized and managed by men of a slightly different social status. To be sure, there are notable exceptions, exceptions so notable, indeed, that they ought to be sufficient to lift the ban from 114the trotting world; but they have never been able to do it. And even during the ten years after the Civil War, when trotting was immensely popular, it was considered slightly a reproach to be interested in the sport. It was during this period that Dexter took the trotting primacy away from Flora Temple, and the tribe of Hambletonian came into such prominence that the legislators who framed trotting-match rules, established a register and made laws fixing a standard entitling a stallion or a mare to a place in these sacred books. And so the “Standard Bred Trotter” came into being, and his has been a long day—his advocates and admirers say a great day.



After Dexter, in 1867, took away from Flora Temple the trotting record by doing a mile in 2.17¼, his reputed sire, Rysdyk’s Hambletonian was held in such high esteem by those trying to breed fast trotters, that they considered any horse not by him or of his breed to be not in the least worth while in any attempt to improve these light harness horses. So it is quite impossible to treat of the Standard Bred Trotters without also treating of Rysdyk’s Hambletonian. There are many who do not, and never have, agreed with the Hambletonian admirers, and as I am one who once believed in the fictions as to his breeding and other excellences, I propose to be perfectly fair by giving both sides of the story of a horse that cuts a most considerable figure in 116American horse annals. Now, here is one side of the Hambletonian story, and I take the liberty of quoting from Mr. Hamilton Busbey, a noted writer on trotting horses, and the editor of a paper devoted to trotting horse interests. He says:

“Lewis G. Morris bred a mare by imported Sour Crout to Messenger, and the produce in 1806 was a bay colt who developed into a horse of 16 hands, and is known to history as Mambrino. He was never trained in harness, but was a natural trotter. Betsey Baker, the fastest mare of her day was sired by him. Amazonia, a snappy chestnut mare of 15.3 hands, showing quality, but of untraced blood, and who could trot to 2.50 was bred to Mambrino, and whose outcome was Abdallah, whose register number is 1. He was bred by John Tredwell, of Saulsbury Place, Long Island, was foaled in 1823, and developed into a bay horse of 15.3. As a four-year old, he trotted a mile in 3.10, but was not kind in harness, and was principally used under saddle. He made seasons on Long Island, in New Jersey, and in Orange County, and spent 1840 in the Blue Grass Region of Kentucky. In 1830 he passed to Isaac Snediker, and after many changes of fortune died of starvation and neglect on a Long Island Beach, and was buried in the sand....


117“The Charles Kent mare was a bay of 15.3 hands, foaled in 1834, with powerful stifles, and as a four-year old trotted a mile under saddle in 2.41. She was by Bellfounder, a Norfolk trotter of 15 hands, imported from England to Boston in 1822, by James Bort. Imported Bellfounder was foaled in 1815, and the blood of his sire, Bellfounder, is at the foundation of the hackney breed. One Eye, a determined mare by Bishop’s Hambletonian (son of Messenger), out of Silvertail, a hardy brown mare by Messenger, was the dam of the Charles Kent mare, who found a happy nick in Abdallah.

“The fruit of this union was a bay colt, foaled May 5, 1849, at Sugar Loaf, near Chester, Orange County, New York. This colt, when five weeks old, was purchased from the breeder, Jonas Seely, by a plain farmer with a lean pocket-book. The price named for mare and colt was $125, and the farmer, William M. Rysdyk, sat on the top rail of a fence and pondered for some 118time the vital question. The outlay would embarrass him if the mare or colt should die. He finally said yes, and the mother and son were taken to Chester. The bay colt, with star and hind ankles white, grew into a powerful horse 15.2, and was named Hambletonian. His head was large and expressive, his neck rather short, his shoulders and quarters massive and his legs broad and flat. His triple line to thoroughbred Messenger, over the substance imparting cross of Bellfounder, gave us the greatest progenitor of harness speed the world has seen.”

I once believed all this just as sincerely as I am sure Mr. Busbey believes it, and, some ten years ago, I wrote this fiction about Hambletonian:

“Messenger begat Mambrino, and Mambrino begat Abdallah, and Abdallah begat Hambletonian. Now, the race may be said to have fairly begun, for there is scarcely a trotting horse in America which has not in its blood one, two, or three strains of this Hambletonian blood, for Hambletonian was the great-sire of trotters. He was a Messenger on both sides, great-grandson in the male line, and grandson and great-grandson 119in the female line, from which also came a new English cross, for his dam was by the imported hackney Bellfounder.[5] In him the Messenger blood was strong, and, himself a trotter of much speed, though never trained, he had the capacity of transmitting the trotting gait in a greater degree than any horse in history.”

5.  No human being in the world knows anything whatever about the breeding of the Charles Kent mare, Hambletonian’s dam.

There are a good many misstatements in that paragraph; but when I wrote it I was deceived by the false pedigrees which have been manufactured and recorded in the trotting-horse registers and stud-books. The truth is, that Hambletonian was a bull-like horse that was trained by Hiram Woodruff, but could never develop a speed equal to a mile in three minutes—3.18, to be exact, being the best mile he ever did. As to his pedigree: Mambrino, the grandsire, was by Messenger; but he was worthless and also vicious. He could neither run nor trot. He was bred by Louis Morris, of Westchester County, New York, and sold to Major William Jones of Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. As he was worthless and a serious 120disappointment, Major Jones virtually gave him away, and he was used as a traveling stallion at a small fee. John Treadwell, a Quaker farmer near Jamaica, Long Island, had two Conestoga[6] or Pennsylvania Dutch draft-mares. Out of one of these mares, by Mambrino, was born Abdallah. This horse was so bad-tempered that he could never be broken to harness, but was ridden under the saddle. He had no speed either as a runner or trotter, not being able to do a mile in four minutes at any gait. He had a mule-like head and ears, a badly ewed neck, and a rattail. But he was a Messenger, despite the Conestoga crossing, and he was sold to Kentuckians for $4500. In less than six months the Kentuckians repented of their bargain, and sold him 121back to New Yorkers for $500—Messrs. Simmons & Smith, Bull’s Head dealers, buying him as a speculation. No purchaser could the speculators find at any price, and the stallion was virtually given away to stop expenses of keeping. About this time Charles Kent wanted a new horse for his butcher wagon, and traded, through Alexander Campbell, of Bull’s Head, his worn out mare to Edmund Seeley, a farmer in Orange County, New York, for a steer for butchering. The butcher’s mare had, originally, been sold to him by Campbell, who had obtained her in a drove of western horses, paying $40 for her. Her pedigree was quite unknown. This mare is known in American horse history as the Charles Kent mare, and is said to be by imported Bellfounder. She was in foal to Abdallah when Seeley got her, and the colt and mare became the property of Bill Rysdyk, a hired man on Seeley’s farm. Rysdyk looked around for a name for his colt—a name which should indicate the Messenger blood in him. There had been in the early years of the century a famous son of Messenger named after Alexander Hamilton. This horse 122finally became known as Bishop’s Hamiltonian. In his effort to borrow the name, Rysdyk, being weak in his orthography, called his horse Rysdyk’s Hambletonian. And so he lives in history—false in his pedigree as in his name. The public of that day believed this horse to be a son of Bishop’s Hamiltonian, and for the sake of the Messenger blood he was served to the best mares in Orange County, and Orange County was rich in the Arab and Barb blood of the daughters and granddaughters of that great and unbeatable trotting horse, Andrew Jackson. No stallion ever had a better chance, and it was almost impossible that there should not have been good horses among his get. And there were. But the bad blood of his ancestry, sire and grandsire being worthless degenerates, together with the utterly unmixable Conestoga blood in his grandam, have been continually cropping out in his progeny—for faults more readily reappear than perfections—until now, when it must be acknowledged that the boasted horse type of which he is said to be the founder is no type at all.

6.  I had a friend who was with the Confederate Cavalry when Lee invaded Pennsylvania to meet defeat at Gettysburg. He told me that the sleek, large Conestoga horses that were abundant in the section traversed were too tempting to be neglected, so many of the cavalry men abandoned their lean and battle scarred mounts and replaced them with the Conestogas. Before they reached the Potomac on their retreat southward, these cold blooded draft horses were completely used up and the soldiers swore at themselves for their folly in making the exchanges. The Conestogas are good draft horses and serviceable on farms where no quick work is required, but they are totally lacking in speed and the courage and stamina which speed requires. A more impossible cross than that between a Conestoga and a Thoroughbred could hardly be imagined.

When the pedigree manipulators were manufacturing 123this line of descent for Rysdyk’s Hambletonian, Alexander Campbell, of Bull’s Head, was offered a thousand dollars to certify to the stated pedigree of the Charles Kent mare. Campbell declined, and ordered the Hambletonian emissaries out of his office. Here is another rather amusing evidence of the careful way in which the pedigree of Hambletonian was bolstered up. There was no such horse as Bishop’s Hambletonian. The horse alluded to was Alexander Hamilton, or Bishop’s Hamiltonian. Nobody ever thought of calling a Hamiltonian a Hambletonian until old Bill Rysdyk did it, simply because he was not gifted in the art of spelling. But this did not bother the record makers. They simply misspelled the name of the elder horse. Surely old Bill Rysdyk laid a spell on the gentlemen of the press, and he kept it to the end as his horse, shaped like a cart horse, rather than one filled with high blood, was a great money-maker in the stud. His earnings by the record were $184,725.

When there was a great many men interested, and most sincerely, too, in the breeding of trotters, 124it was thought to be a good thing to inaugurate a systematic method of breeding and establish a standard which should regulate the records that were to be kept of trotters. By general consent the suggestion of the Turf, Field and Farm, Mr. Busbey’s paper, a horse that could go a mile in 2.30 was considered worthy to get a place in the register. This would have excluded all the trotters previous to the time of Lady Suffolk. But the matter was discussed, and Wallace’s “American Trotting Register” was accepted as the official record of pedigrees, thus putting the business in the hands of the most ingenious partizan that has ever been interested in the horse business in this country. These were the rules that were adopted:

“In order to define what constitutes a trotting-bred horse, and to establish a Breed of trotters on a more intelligent basis, the following rules are adopted to control admission to the records of pedigrees. When an animal meets with the requirements of admission and is duly registered, it shall be accepted as a standard trotting-bred animal.

First—Any stallion that has, himself, a record of two minutes and thirty seconds (2.30) or better; provided any of his get has a record of 2.40 or better; or provided his sire 125or his dam, his grandsire or his grandam, is already a standard animal.

Second—Any mare or gelding that has a record of 2.30 or better.

Third—Any horse that is the sire of two animals with a record of 2.30 or better.

Fourth—Any horse that is the sire of one animal with a record of 2.30 or better; provided, he has either of the following additional qualifications:—

“1. A record himself of 2.40 or better.

“2. Is the sire of two other animals with a record of 2.40 or better.

“3. Has a sire or dam, grandsire or grandam, that is already a standard animal.

Fifth—Any mare that has produced an animal with a record of 2.30 or better.

Sixth—The progeny of a standard horse when out of a standard mare.

Seventh—The progeny of a standard horse out of a mare by a standard horse.

Eighth—The progeny of a standard horse when out of a mare whose dam is a standard mare.

Ninth—Any mare that has a record of 2.40 or better; and whose sire or dam, grandsire or grandam, is a standard animal.

Tenth—A record to wagon of 2.35 or better shall be regarded as equal to a 2.30 record.”

Before much had been accomplished under 126these rules, Wallace, who was as militant as he was ingenious, got into a dispute with the Kentucky breeders over methods of breeding, the value of thoroughbred blood, the genuineness of his published pedigrees and about anything else that came along. So the Kentuckians started the “Breeders’ Trotting Stud Book,” the standard for it being a little modified. In a year or so, Wallace, seeing that the war was going against him, sold out his register and retired from the field. Then new rules were adopted, as follows:

The Trotting Standard

“When an animal meets these requirements and is duly registered, it shall be accepted as a standard-bred trotter:—

“1. The progeny of a registered standard trotting horse and a registered standard trotting mare.

“2. A stallion sired by a registered standard trotting horse, provided his dam and grandam were sired by registered standard trotting horses, and he himself has a trotting record of 2.30 and is the sire of three trotters with records of 2.30, from different mares.

“3. A mare whose sire is a registered standard trotting horse, and whose dam and grandam were sired by registered standard trotting horses, provided she herself has a trotting record of 2.30, or is the dam of one trotter with a record of 2.30.

127“4. A mare sired by a registered standard trotting horse, provided she is the dam of two trotters with records of 2.30.

“5. A mare sired by a registered standard trotting horse, provided her first, second, and third dams are each sired by a registered standard trotting horse.

The Pacing Standard

“When an animal meets these requirements and is duly registered, it shall be accepted as a standard-bred pacer:—

“1. The progeny of a registered standard pacing horse and a registered standard pacing mare.

“2. A stallion sired by a registered standard pacing horse, provided his dam and grandam were sired by registered standard pacing horses, and he himself has a pacing record of 2.25, and is the sire of three pacers with records of 2.25, from different mares.

“3. A mare whose sire is a registered standard pacing horse, and whose dam and grandam were sired by registered standard pacing horses, provided she herself has a pacing record of 2.25, or is the dam of one pacer with a record of 2.25.

“4. A mare sired by a registered standard pacing horse, provided she is the dam of two pacers with records of 2.25.

“5. A mare sired by a registered standard pacing horse, provided her first, second, and third dams are each sired by a registered pacing horse.

“6. The progeny of a registered standard trotting horse out of a registered standard pacing mare, or of a registered standard trotting mare.”

128And these are the rules that obtain to-day in keeping a register of which the rat-tailed semi-Conestoga Abdallah is No. 1.

It will be seen by the rules certain features of the great breeding principle: “Like begets like” are followed, and there is no doubt that some intelligent breeders have tried most sincerely to embrace in the mating of stallions and mares all of the principles; but, as a rule, the speed test alone was considered instead of similarity of blood, similarity of conformation (for nature abhors great contrasts), and also performance. The importance given to the time tests and the public records and the disregard of pure and similar blood has detracted, in my opinion, most seriously from the success of the experiments and the effort to create a type of fast trotting horses. Why, the Standard Bred Trotter is not a type at all. They come in all sizes and shapes, they have no fixed gait, and not more than three per cent of them can trot fast enough to be considered even a good roadster. The visitors to the Speedway in New York have opportunities to see the best and fastest trotters in the world. There are certainly 129some fine animals shown there, a few that are splendid. But they are of all sorts in conformation and method of going. It cannot be a reproducing type under such circumstances. When a hundred colts and fillies are bred we want many more than three of that number to be able to accomplish the purpose of their creation. At least half of the progeny of the Standard Bred Trotters should be trotters themselves and more than half of the remainder should be good general utility horses. That is the case with the Morgans and the Denmarks, the two true American types, for these types have substance and character, besides a systematic method of breeding is pursued where lineage and conformation rather than performance count. And even with the Standard Bred Trotters that go fast—the three per cent of them—quite half of them are pacers rather than trotters. Gen. Benjamin F. Tracy said in a letter to the Turf, Field and Farm, February 15, 1901, that the greater proportion of fast Standard Bred Trotters are not trotters at all, but pacers. There has been no one to dispute this statement, which was not one merely of opinion, but of compilation.

130The trotting men, however, avoid this by saying that trotting and pacing are the same gait, because many horses both trot and pace and because a pacer can be converted into a trotter. This theory is beyond my intelligence. I know that the natural gaits of a natural horse are walk, trot, and gallop. Many that do these gaits, as in the case of the Denmarks, can do several others besides—the rack and the running walk, for instance. Yet no one will say that these gaits are all the same. It is too preposterous to discuss. Besides, the pace is not a fit gait for a gentleman’s roadster. It may be well enough for butchers, barkeepers and gamblers, but a gentleman should have a gentleman’s horse.

It has not been a pleasure to say these things of what some call the great light harness horse of America; but when breeders, through false principles, go a wrong road it ought not to be considered an unkindness to call their attention to the fact. A few years ago in a magazine article I told the truth about Hambletonian’s breeding, and received many indignant letters of protest. One kind gentleman up in Massachusetts, asked 131me to visit him, saying he should like to have the pleasure of kicking me across the state. I requested him to have a survey made so that I might know how far I would have to be propelled by the toe of his boot, as I did not care to put him to an undue amount of trouble. He has not replied, so, I presume the survey is not yet completed. But breeders in Kentucky, in Vermont, and in Illinois wrote in complimentary terms, saying that they had paid dearly for their belief in false pedigrees and false principles of breeding. I am thoroughly persuaded that these false notions have cost the breeders of America millions and millions of dollars, for a Standard Bred Trotter that does not go fast is a pretty poor specimen of a horse and worth very little, while the amounts spent in trying to develop speed which does not exist are colossal.

But the records have unquestionably been lowered until the horse that can trot a mile in two minutes is one of the wonders of the world. Look at the record of progression.

Boston Blue, black gelding 1818 3.00
Bull Calf, bay gelding 1830 2.47¾
132Edwin Forrest, black gelding 1838 2.36½
Dutchman, bay gelding 1839 2.32
Lady Suffolk, gray mare 1845 2.29½
Pelham (converted pacer), bay gelding 1849 2.28
Highland Maid (converted pacer), bay mare 1853 2.27
Flora Temple, bay mare 1856 2.24½
Flora Temple, bay mare 1859 2.19¾
Dexter, brown gelding 1867 2.17¼
Goldsmith Maid, bay mare 1871 2.17
Goldsmith Maid, bay mare 1874 2.14
Rarus, bay gelding 1878 2.13¼
St. Julien, bay gelding 1879 2.12¾
Maud S., chestnut mare 1880 2.10¾
Maud S., chestnut mare 1881 2.10¼
Jay-eye-See, black gelding 1884 2.10
Maud S., chestnut mare 1884 2.09¼
Maud S., chestnut mare 1885 2.08¾
Sunol, bay mare 1891 2.08¼
Nancy Hanks, brown mare 1892 2.04
Alix, bay mare 1894 2.03¾
The Abbot, bay gelding 1900 2.03¼
Cresceus, chestnut horse 1901 2.02¼
Lou Dillon, chestnut mare 1903 1.58½


Owned by J. G. K. Billings. First horse to trot a mile in less than two minutes

This table shows that three minutes was reduced in forty-one years to two minutes and twenty seconds—that is in that time forty seconds were lopped off the record. It took forty-four years to take off the next twenty seconds. In 133the meantime the bicycle, ball-bearing sulky had been invented, and the last half of this twenty seconds were cut off when this weightless and frictionless vehicle was used. The Standard Bred Trotter had also been created. My idea is that the Dutchman, Henry Clay, and Lady Suffolk could either of them gone a mile in from ten to fifteen seconds faster than they did under modern conditions of training, driving, shoeing and harnessing and hitched to the modern vehicle. These experiments have all been very interesting, but I believe the same results might have been achieved at a very much less cost and loss—indeed, with a profit.

Exceeding high prices for trotting-horses have been very injurious to the horse-breeding industry. Whenever a trotting-horse brings twenty, forty or a hundred thousand dollars it sets the breeders, even the small ones wild with a desire to breed a colt that will bring such a price. Mr. Bonner began this with his purchase of Dexter, and followed it up by buying many others at very high figures, including Maud S. and Sunol. He doubtless found this an excellent advertisement for 134himself and his paper, but it was a bad thing for the horses of the country. The purchase of Axtell at $105,000 and Arion at $125,000 was even more demoralizing. No trotting-horse was ever worth that much and none probably ever will be. However, it is an excellent thing for very rich men to breed horses. They can afford to make experiments, and if their experiments are successful the men of moderate means can imitate them and succeed also. But this trotting horse breeding business is a rich man’s divertisement just as yachting is. The men who breed for profit should confine themselves to types which are reproducing, to types which come true more frequently than they prove false.

I firmly believe that if these trotters are ever made a consistently reproducing type, it will be by constant infusions of a mixture of trotting blood—Morgan or Clay—with that of the Thoroughbred. The first cross will probably not produce it, but if the mares of such unions be bred back to stallions of the blood mentioned, the result ought to be more satisfactory in the way of making a type, even though the experiments may not result 135in phenomenal speed; but there is no reason why there should not be a satisfactory percentage of phenomenal speed as well.



Henry Clay was one of the greatest horses that ever lived in this country. He was very fast, very strong and as game as it was possible for a horse to be. He founded a distinguished family, and from that family Mr. Randolph Huntington, of Fleetwood Farm, Oyster Bay, Long Island, by crossing Clay mares with Arab and Barb stallions, has created a type of as splendid horses as ever touched the earth. And it is a great pity that the United States Government has not long ago taken over all of Mr. Huntington’s horses, so as to perpetuate this new and useful type into a great national horse. On the sire’s side Henry Clay was a closely inbred Messenger. He was by Andrew Jackson, the greatest trotting horse of his day, and absolutely unbeaten during all his long career. Andrew Jackson was by Young Bashaw, and his dam was by Why Not, by imported Messenger, the grandam also being by imported Messenger. Young Bashaw was by the imported Arabian Grand Bashaw, the dam being Pearl by First Consul (Arab bred) out of Fancy by imported Messenger out of a daughter of Rockingham. Henry Clay’s dam was the famous mare, Lady Surrey. She was bred in the neighbourhood of Quebec, Ontario, and was brought with twelve other horses into New York. With her mate, “Croppy,” she was sold to one of the Wisner family in Goshen, New York. The class to which Lady Surrey belonged was then called Kanucks, though some called them “Pile Drivers,” because of their high-knee action. Records of breeding were not kept in Quebec, but all the external evidence points to an Oriental origin of the horses that were taken there from France. But the strong admixture of Arab and Barb blood in Henry Clay is evident from the recorded part of his pedigree and disregarding the blood of his dam.


Bred by Randolph Huntington

137Henry Clay was foaled in 1837, and lived until 1867. He was bred by Mr. George M. Patchen, of New Jersey, and afterwards passed into the 138hands of Gen. William Wadsworth, of Geneseo, New York. Probably, if he had remained the property of Patchen, he would have had a better chance as a sire, for there were times during the Wadsworth ownership, when this horse suffered alternately from neglect and abuse. When General Wadsworth wanted to buy the colt, he asked Mr. Patchen to put a price on him. Mr. Patchen, not anxious to sell, finally put on a price which he thought prohibitive. “We will give the horse all the water he can drink,” he said to General Wadsworth, “and then weigh him, and you may give me one dollar a pound for him.” General Wadsworth promptly accepted, and the horse weighing 1050 pounds, that fixed the price, which was paid immediately, and the horse was sent at once to Livingston County, New York.

Once when General Wadsworth had a match at mile heats, best three in five, he drove his horse ninety-eight miles the day before the race, rather than pay forfeit, and then won the race, one heat being trotted in 2.35. This was in 1847. Consider the clumsy shoes, the heavy sulkies, and other impedimenta of that time, in comparison with 139the wire-like plates, ball-bearing, pneumatic-tired sulkies, and cobweb-like harness of to-day, and decide whether even the most phenomenal of our trotters is better than that.

Another performance shows the stoutness of heart of this great horse. General Wadsworth needed a doctor for his sister. Henry Clay was harnessed to a two-seated wagon, did the journey from Geneseo to Rochester, thirty-eight miles, and then back again, the whole seventy-six miles being covered in less than five hours. A horse that could do that was worthy to found a family. He did this through his son, Black Douglas, his grandson, Cassius M. Clay, and his grandson, George M. Patchen. His female descendants are conspicuous in the trotting-horse pedigrees, the most conspicuous among them being Green Mountain Maid, the dam of Electioneer, and conceded by the Standard Bred Trotter element to be the greatest dam in American horse history. She was got by Harry Clay,[7] a great grandson of the founder of the family.

7.  It has been said that the Star mare, the dam of Dexter, was served both by Rysdyk’s Hambletonian and Harry Clay the spring before Dexter’s birth, and that it is more likely that Harry Clay was the sire of Dexter because of Dexter’s resemblance to the Clays rather than the Hambletonians, and also because of his stoutness of heart. As Dexter was a gelding and incapable of leaving progeny this question is more interesting than important. I have no opinion in the matter, but as I am convinced of the general inaccuracy of the records of the day, I am not at all prepared to believe that Dexter’s pedigree as put in the books is accurate. About the time he became famous the Hambletonian party was numerous and powerful and by no means scrupulous in claiming everything in sight.

The dam of the trotting stallion George Wilkes was also said to be by Henry Clay. The Hambletonian advocates—George Wilkes was sired by Hambletonian—were so bitter in their opposition to the Clay blood, that they refused to accept this and preferred that the breeding of George Wilkes’ dam should be set down as unknown. I have read a good deal that has been written on the subject and can only say that the statements pro and con are equally unconvincing and only illustrate over again the utter untrustworthiness of the early records, together with the partizan discourtesy of the disputants.

140Mr. Huntington has long believed that the Clay was the best trotting blood in America, and when this blood was spoken of contemptuously by Mr. Robert Bonner and called “Sawdust” Mr. Huntington’s indignation knew no bounds. However, the blood could never become unpopular after the record of the Green Mountain Maid in producing trotters. All of her colts could trot—she had sixteen—and trot fast. But Mr. Huntington’s opportunity to utilize this Clay blood came when General Grant received a present of two stallions from the Sultan of Turkey. When 141General Grant took his famous trip around the world, the Sultan entertained him at Constantinople. Among the things that particularly interested the General there were the Sultan’s stables. The Sultan hearing of this, selected two of the best stallions in his collection and gave them to the General. The stallions were Leopard, an Arab, and Linden Tree, a Barb. Mr. Huntington at once set about getting General Grant’s consent to use these horses for breeding. He got the consent and set about securing what he considered proper mares. It seems a pity that General Grant had not turned these horses entirely over to Mr. Huntington. He was not himself a breeder, and after he reached middle life was only interested in driving horses. So these stallions were really white elephants on his hands. But Mr. Huntington might have made a more extensive use of them than he did. His theory was that these horses should be bred to virgin Clay mares. And he secured several of them. As a breeder Mr. Huntington is one of those who hold to the theory that a mare once pregnant to a horse is liable, if not likely, in later foals to 142“throw back”, as it is somewhat technically expressed, and show in these later foals the characteristics of the sire of the first pregnancy. This is a matter of dispute among breeders. The theory has been proved, so far as dogs are concerned, in my own experience. I had a fox terrier bitch. She was accidentally served by a spaniel. When she was next bred it was to a proper fox terrier and there was no chance of error. The ensuing litter of puppies was a mongrel lot, showing spaniel traces, and all of them had to be destroyed. Then, as to horses. Mr. Bruce said that Dr. Warfield, the breeder of Lexington, had had thoroughbred mares served by Jacks for the producing of mules, and later had got winning colts from the same mares by Thoroughbred stallions. It is an interesting matter with breeders and by no means settled. But Mr. Huntington did not want to take any chances in making this new venture, so he sought and obtained virgin mares, that the progeny might not be tainted with other than the blood of the sires.

Mr. Huntington also holds to the theory that when breeding with homogeneous blood that 143the degree of consanguinity between sire and dam may be very much closer than is the usual practice. In other words, he is an advocate of inbreeding so long as the experiments be not between horses of heterogeneous and unmixable blood. Under the latter circumstances he thoroughly agrees with the rest of the world that the mongrelization of the product is increased. Indeed, it can be increased in no way more surely, for the prevailing characteristics of an animal type are increased by inbreeding and when the animals are mongrels to begin with, that which is bad in them becomes more and more exaggerated in the offspring. Mr. Huntington has been a breeder and a writer on breeding for more than half a century. In a controversy he is, what may be called, without any offense to him, I am sure, decidedly militant. It has, therefore, been the case that not unfrequently his discussions as to the breeding of horses have been fast and furious. If I disagreed with him in his conclusions I should refrain from saying this—indeed, I should not remark his personal characteristics at all. But I feel that the misrepresentations to which he has 144been subjected should be spoken of, for they have been cruel and continuous, and have done great injustice to one of the most sincere, most honest and most capable horse breeders who has ever lived and worked in this country. Moreover, he has had more than a due share of misfortune in one way and another.

When he had got well along with his experiments with the Clay mares and the Grant stallions, and proved to his own satisfaction and that, also, of many of the friends who were observing his operations, it was considered desirable to enlarge the plant. There were few sales, for the obviously wise course was to keep the collection together for observation and until the type sought after should be fixed and reproducing. So more capital was taken in, and a man considered one of the chief financial lawyers of New York, organized a company and became its treasurer. In a year or so this lawyer was apprehended in some of the most far reaching financial rascalities ever perpetrated in the metropolis. He ruined estates in his charge, and corporations with which he was connected. Mr. Huntington’s horse-breeding 145company among the others. Here was a blow. The collection had to be dispersed just as it had arrived at success. Though at that time Mr. Huntington was an old man, he did not give up. He bought what of the collection he could, and started in again. His second attempt proves that he is entirely right, as he produces with an absolute certainty two classes of as admirable horses as I have ever seen. The first, and the one that ought to be most useful, is represented in the illustration in this book of Clay-Kismet, and the other by Nimrod. Clay-Kismet is 16½ hands high, and is as perfectly adapted for a carriage horse as any I have seen—as well adapted even as the Golddust, of which I spoke in the Morgan chapter. His symmetry, finish and high breeding adapt him particularly for this, while the cleanness of his action gives a final perfection that cannot fail to excite admiration in those who know and love horses. He is by an Arab stallion 15 hands in stature, out of a closely inbred Clay mare, the union resulting in a horse larger than either sire or dam. It is a singular thing that even the purely bred Arabs, mated by Mr. Huntington 146and bred on his place, increase very much in size and action. For instance, Khaled, when I last saw him was 15.3½ hands, which is something like a hand taller than either Naomi, his dam, or Nimr, his sire. Here was an interesting instance of inbreeding, as Naomi was the grandam of Nimr, the sire of Khaled. Whether this increase in size was due to inbreeding or to transplantation to a different climate than the desert, with different and better food, I am not prepared to say. But it is a striking change for the better. The other horse I alluded to is Nimrod, now, I am sorry to say, in the Philippines; he is more of a pony or cob type—something, indeed, like the earlier generations of Morgans, this type is most admirable in light harness, or to use in the stud in the creation of polo ponies. This horse was sired by Abdul Hamid II, son of General Grant’s Leopard out of Mary Sheppard, an inbred Clay mare.

These Clay-Arabians are as remarkable for their intelligence and docility as are the Morgans. Their action is as clean and elegant and their bottom cannot be surpassed. If this double accomplishment of a single private owner be suffered to be wasted it will be a pity indeed, as well as a national reproach.


Bred by Randolph Huntington



The assessed value of horses tabulated by States would make it appear that Kentucky horse-flesh was not more precious than in other parts of the Union. And yet Kentucky horses have a fame that is not approached by those of any other state. This is due to the fact that in a small section of the state, none but horses of high breeding are reared. A few counties give to the whole state a reputation which, I am afraid, the whole state does not deserve. But in the famous Blue Grass region the noblest horses of several types and kinds have been bred for more than a hundred years. It is distinctively the breeding place in America of the English Thoroughbred, and comparatively few men who have gone into the reproduction of these interesting and fleet animals have refrained sooner or later from buying or renting farms in 149Central Kentucky to carry on their operations. So, also, with the trotters. Indeed, it has been maintained that in this lime stone region, where blue grass is indigenous and where it was found in abundance in the park-like woods by the early explorers that the very bones of horses that had grazed upon it from infancy were harder, stouter and less sponge-like than those from anywhere else. This much for the virtue of the lime stone nurtured merits of the blue grass.

But the people have had much to do with the excellence of Kentucky horses. They seem to have been by nature interested in the breed of horses from the beginning of their settlement there. One of the first records of the Colonial era is that of a Kentuckian who was killed by an Indian while training a race-horse on a frontier race-course. And among the seven first statutes enacted by the Colony when in preparation to become a state of the Union, was one to regulate the range and improve the breed of horses. They were horse lovers in Kentucky in the beginning as they are to-day. And to-day there is no crime that is looked upon with more contempt than to misrepresent 150the breeding of a horse. In Kentucky a gentleman may kill another gentleman if his cause be just, and suffer no reproach save that of himself; but if he palter with the pedigree of a horse he trifles with his caste, and is ranked with the sneak thieves and the pickpockets who take their victims unaware, and achieve at once a petty and cowardly advantage. This love of the horse and knowledge of him has gone on from generation to generation until it has become a part, and no inconsiderable part of the heritage of every Kentuckian who considers himself well born.

Some twenty years ago a Kentucky horse-breeder was in Boston, visiting a gentleman with whom he had business. The Bostonian, with the characteristic hospitality of those Dr. Holmes catalogued as of the “Brahmin caste,” showed the Kentuckian about. He pointed out to him the equestrian statue of Washington at the head of Commonwealth Avenue. “There is the Washington statue,” remarked the Bostonian. “And what was the breeding of the horse?” the Kentuckian inquired. The horse to him was almost everything. And, later in the day, when dinner was over at the hospitable Bostonian’s home, and the ladies and children were retiring, the Kentuckian leaned over to his host and said, with enthusiasm: “By Gad, Colonel, you have outbred yourself.” That was a heartfelt tribute expressed in the natural way in which a Kentuckian should speak. No wonder that they have fine horses when they give so much thought to this subject of breeding.


151But for all this Kentucky has produced only one distinctive reproducing type. Her trotters—if type they be—belong as much elsewhere as to Kentucky; her runners are purely English. Her Denmarks, however, belong to Kentucky. They have been bred there for more than sixty years, and as a distinctive American type, they are second only in this country to the Morgans of Vermont. It is a singular fact and not unworthy of note that only two states have produced distinct American reproducing types, Vermont and Kentucky, and those were the first two states admitted to the Union after the original thirteen got ready to embrace other sisters.

152It is most curious how a type happens. The Morgans, as has been shown in a previous chapter, came from a horse whose pedigree was not even considered, and to this day is known only by conjecture and not at all by established fact. He was considered a good horse in his day, but it was not until his sons begat colts of exceptional merit that it was thought worth while to inquire into his origin, and that of his antecedents. With Denmark it was, in a degree, different. Denmark was a Thoroughbred, though some who are over-critical, quarrel with the pedigree of his dam. Let that be as it may. In 1839, when he was foaled, begat by Imported Hedgeford out of Betsey Harrison, he was about as good a Thoroughbred as the generality of those we had in America. Moreover, he was a successful contestant on the turf and a good horse at four-mile heats. These disputes as to the purity of the blood of our early horses are rather academic than practical. In all of the early race-horses, not purely English, there were infusions of the American basic blood; and for that matter this was the case also in England, where the Thoroughbred at that time was only 153newly evolved with the aid of Oriental blood from the native strains. Here, however, is his pedigree of Denmark traced back for several generations:

Imp. Hedgeford Fihlo-da-puta Haphazard Sir Peter Highflyer
Miss Hervey Eclipse
Mrs. Barnet Waxy Pot-8-os
Daughter Woodpecker
Miss Craigie Orville Benningbrough King Fergus
Evelina Highflyer
Marchioness Lurcher Dungannon
Miss Cogden Phenomenon
Betsey Harrison Aratus Director Symmes' Wildair Imp. Fearnaught
Jolly Roger Mare
Eclipse Mare Harris' Eclipse
Betsey Haxall Imp. Sir Harry Sir Peter Teazle
Saltram Mare
(Timoleun's dam)
Imp. Saltram
Jenny Cockracy Potomac Imp. Diomed Florizel
Sister to Juno
Fairy Pegasus
Nancy McCullock
Saltram Mare
(Timoleun's dam)
Imp. Saltram Eclipse
Daughter Symmes' Wildair

154That is pretty good breeding, even though the ancestors of Potomac might not pass muster with those who look very closely back through the sixteen generations. It may be that this so-called “cold-streak” in Denmark, through his maternal great grandsire, was just what was needed when he was mated with the Kentucky mares whose produce has given him enduring fame.

In England the Thoroughbred is thought to be the ideal saddle-horse. I confess that I have had the Thoroughbred fever pretty badly. But that was a long time ago; and maybe that fever was contemporaneous with Anglo-mania; indeed, the former may have been due to the latter. Personal preferences, however, have properly little weight in a judicial inquiry. My whole effort in this book has been to be entirely fair. Personally, I care for a very few gaits in a saddle-horse. I am quite content with the walk, the trot and the gallop. The Thoroughbred does all of these with, to say the least, a reasonable satisfaction. But it is unquestionably true that a well-formed, well-trained, well-bred Denmark will go all three of these gaits 155with better style and more finish than any Thoroughbred. Besides, he can readily be taught the amble or pace, the running-walk, or fox-trot, and the rack or single foot. That some do not care for these gaits is not in the least a reproach upon the capacity of the horse that can do them at the bidding of the rider. Moreover, this multiplicity of gaits does not in the least detract from the complete finish of each and all. This fact has become so apparent that there is a kind of hostility between New York and South and Western horse-show standards as to what a saddle-horse shall be like. A thoroughly gaited horse, trained in all the paces, would look absurd in the eyes of those who like such horses if he were shorn of his tail. It is considered by many who care only for the three gaits that a saddle-horse must have a docked tail. A few years ago a man with a thoroughly gaited horse could show him, long tail and all, in the Southern and Western circuit, and then bring him to New York and Philadelphia where he would tie up the horse’s tail and only exhibit the walk, trot and gallop. Now, this still may be permissible; but, if not absolutely denied, it is sternly 156frowned upon. So really the question has become the highly absurd one of tail or no tail. It is about as absurd as to deny the place to an applicant for a position where knowledge of French was required because he also knew Italian and Spanish. The breeders and trainers of Denmarks are too practical, however, to shed tears over such foolishness. They breed their horses the same as before, but they train this one for the East and that one for the West and South. The quality tells wherever they go, and a horse in any section that takes a blue ribbon away from a Denmark is more than lucky, he is almost unique.

For several years past, however, at the Horse Show in New York, a gentleman from England has come over to judge the saddle classes. In England he is, no doubt, as good a judge of such classes as may be had, for there the Thoroughbred is the one type, except the cob, that is considered as filling the requirements for the saddle. Before the advent of this gentleman, a great master in training, exhibiting and judging saddle-horses, had acted for a good many years. He had, by his awards, established a standard that made it almost 157impossible for other horses to compete with the Denmarks. He appeared to think—I have never spoken with him on the subject—that symmetry, good manners, good mouth, style of action both in front and behind, sure-footedness, docility, and intelligence were the requisites to be aimed at. Now, these are all characteristics of the Denmark. Not all are characteristics of the Thoroughbred. For instance, in the slow gaits a Thoroughbred, particularly one that has ever been in training, is not sure-footed; he travels too close to the ground. Again, he is not docile, as he becomes very easily excited, and when his blood is up, wants to gallop at full speed. His mouth, owing to this easily aroused excitement, more frequently than not, gets all wrong, and he responds more to force than to that sympathy which makes a good saddle-horse, and his rider seem to be one. His style of action is inferior to that of the Denmark both in front and behind and, as a general thing, he lacks the symmetry of substance which is really the most remarkable thing about a Denmark. It is surely a pity that there should be in our show rings this confusion as to standards. The Thoroughbred 158type as a saddle-horse standard does not obtain away from New York. In Philadelphia, in Boston, in Chicago and all over the South and West, the Denmark is still the saddle-horse par excellence, as he deserves to be. A friend of mine, in upholding the New York authorities for getting an English judge for American saddle-horses, says that the substitution was wise, because the Kentucky horses hammer themselves all to pieces on the hard roads in the parks of the East. If the park roads in the East are harder than the Kentucky turnpikes, I have yet to see them. His idea seemed to be that every Kentucky horse was sure to rack. But that is not so at all. He racks when he is taught, and he is taught so easily that he acquires the gait by what might be called second nature; but the Denmark can be turned out whenever desired to go only the three gaits—walk, trot, and canter—and he does these with a finish that the Thoroughbred cannot approach.


Bred by Allie Jones, owned by Philippine Government

But these other easily acquired Kentucky gaits are not to be despised. The running-walk is not hard upon the horse, and it is the easiest of all on the rider. When men on business, or soldiers on a 159march both have to go great distances in the saddle, the running-walk is about as great an excellence as a horse can be endowed with. It came into being in this country when most journeys were made on horseback. In those days, when about to take the long road from Lexington to Washington and Philadelphia, a man would have been considered lacking in intelligence who expressed contempt for either the amble or the fox-trot. And when Morgan’s men, during the Civil War, were making those wonderful raids—now here, now there, and the next day out of sight—they were generally mounted on these Kentucky-bred horses—not Thoroughbreds, but Denmarks and others of the saddle-class type, the one type that particularly belongs to Kentucky, and one of the very few types that we can call American.

Long before Denmark came to Kentucky—fifty years and more—there had been good saddle-horses there. There was an urgent need for them, and men of enterprise usually get what they need. They had been brought from Virginia by the early settlers, they had come from Canada 160and from Vermont. They were excellent horses for the purposes of the time, but they lacked the fine finish that came to them from Denmark and other Thoroughbred crosses that were made about his time. It was not appreciated to the full what an excellent cross Denmark made on those old time mares until after his death, and the appearance of his sons as sires—particularly Gaines’s Denmark. From this latter horse the best saddle-horses that Kentucky has produced have descended and, in many instances, they breed back to him two, three and four times. To my mind, here is the strongest proof that the Denmark is a fixed reproducing type. Inbreeding is fatal among mongrels of any sort; but where the type is fixed it may be done with most excellent results and strictly, too, according to the rule of “like begetting like.”

Here is another peculiarity of the Denmark. His excellence as a driving horse is only exceeded by his virtues under the saddle. I am well aware that men of fortune, who can keep as many horses in their stables as they choose, rather scoff at the “combination horse.” All right for them. All 161of us, however, are not so fortunately situated. When a man whose means only enable him to keep a few horses—or even one horse—and he wants both to ride and drive, the “combination horse” is the only animal that will enable him to go how and when he chooses. The Denmarks make splendid combination horses. They trot in harness with quite reasonable speed and very good action, and the road is seldom too long for them. My personal experience has not shown me that this change from saddle to harness worked any great harm. I once had a Denmark that won first prizes at the same show in the rings for saddle-horses, for combination horses and for roadsters; all these winnings in two days. It seems only reasonable that horses with the activity, the adaptability, and the intelligence to acquire the various gaits that are within a Denmark’s range would not necessarily be injured by driving in harness. At any rate, a man who has only a small stable can get more kinds of fun out of a Denmark than out of any other type of horse.

This type of horse is bred in five or six counties grouped about Lexington. There are several 162large breeders, but pretty nearly every farmer has a saddle mare or two that are regularly bred. But the supply is not up to the demand. The dealers and trainers have their eyes open all the time for promising individuals to train for the show rings, and supply to wealthy customers in various parts of the country. They get first choice because they are willing, when they come across a particularly fine specimen, to take it even as a yearling. As these animals are usually not salable until four years old, it will be seen that the disposal of the yearling is an attractive thing for the breeder and risky for the dealer. But there are still a good many of them needed for use at home, as the young Blue Grass Kentuckian must have his saddler so that he can range the country-side at will. Most men, unacquainted with the easy gaits of a Kentucky saddle-horse, as used in his native counties, would think it rather strange to go courting on horseback, and arrive at one’s destination hot and mussed up. But these easily gaited horses do not muss one up any more than a hansom cab does. This easiness of gait reminds me of another use for which they are invaluable. 163The planters in the South, as a general thing, go about their places on horseback, also visiting the village and their neighbors in the same way. In that generally warm climate a Thoroughbred or trotting horse would get the rider so warm that a change of clothes would be necessary; but these Southern gentlemen do not find such a need. Indeed, I have been told that one accustomed to the saddle and the climate can attend to business and social duties, plus two or three mint juleps, without any great inconvenience.

When I was asked last year by the Civil Government of the Philippines to select some mares and stallions for transportation there for breeding and the improvement of the ponies in the Islands, I bought as many Denmark mares as the conditions of my commission permitted. As my time was limited I had to scour several counties very thoroughly. The gentlemen I first consulted were rather discouraging, but I got in a few weeks as fine a lot as ever left Kentucky, and the picture that is in this book shows a group of them at pasture just before they were started on their long journey to the other side of the world, 164where they arrived, I am glad to say, with a loss of only two per cent. It was more difficult to find Denmark stallions. The scarcity of these is due to the efforts of the dealers and trainers to get males for their customers. So many of the most promising are sold as yearlings and gelded. The greatest stallions of the day are, I should judge, Montgomery Chief, belonging to the Ball Brothers, Highland Denmark, belonging to the Gay Brothers, and Forest Denmark, belonging to Colonel Woodford. These are all closely-inbred Denmarks, and are most successful as sires, their progeny winning blue ribbons wherever shown.

These horses have found their way into Tennessee, Illinois, and Missouri, where the stock is most highly esteemed; but they flourish most in Kentucky. I have heard army officers say that in the hard riding days, when the Indian was still a frontier menace, that a troop of cavalry mounted on horses from Kentucky would find their horses in first-class condition when other troops on horses say from Iowa, Missouri, or Illinois would be completely worn out and unable to continue. These horses are singularly free from 165blemishes. I noticed this particularly when making the Philippine purchases just alluded to. Here every horse had to be absolutely sound, or, as they say in Kentucky, “without a pimple.” The small percentage of rejection for unsoundness really surprised me. This was testimony to the careful selection in breeding that is practised there. One other word as to this experience. When a breeder was asked whether his offering were broken or trained, he either looked bewildered or treated the question as a joke. This was because all of them are perfectly broken and, as a mere matter of course, both to saddle and harness.

The prevailing size of the Denmarks, I should say, is 15.2, the weight 1050 pounds. In color they are usually bays or chestnuts, though there are browns, blacks and grays. I never saw a dun; but I have seen a few roans. The usual practice is to handle them at two years old, train them gently at three, and give them a complete education at four.

The American Saddle Horse Breeders’ Association keeps and publishes a register affirming 166that the following sires are the founders of the type:

Denmark (Thoroughbred), by Imp. Hedgeford.
John Dillard, by Indian Chief (Canadian).
Tom Hal (Imported from Canada).
Cabell’s Lexington, by Gist’s Black Hawk (Morgan).
Coleman’s Eureka (Thoroughbred and Morgan).
Van Meter’s Waxy (Thoroughbred).
Stump the Dealer (Thoroughbred).
Peter’s Halcorn.
Davy Crockett.
Pat Cleburne, by Benton’s Gray Diomed.

This wide inclusion is hospitable and probably just, for the blood of all these horses commingling with the old stock has made the Kentucky saddle-horses what they are, but among them all the Denmarks are pre-eminent. That they should be a reproducing type is, no doubt, due to the Oriental blood in the Thoroughbreds and the fresh infusions that came with the Jefferson Barbs, Keene Richards’s Arabs and from other more recent sources.


Owned by Thomas K. Ryan



The United States as a government has never until now conducted any horse-breeding experiments. Army officers have frequently tried to induce the War Department to start a breeding establishment so that remounts of a proper kind could be supplied to the cavalry. But the idea has never appealed to Congress, and in this particular direction nothing has been done. Dr. D. E. Salmon, the accomplished chief of the Bureau of Animal Industry of the Agricultural Department, has inserted what may be the “entering-wedge” for at the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station a few mares and stallions have been assembled, and an effort will be made to breed a type of carriage horses, a type badly needed. Of this experiment Dr. Salmon says:

“In the countries of the world where horse 168breeding has been encouraged by government assistance the foundation has been native stock, and the key to successful work has been selection according to a certain type. Furthermore, with all due respect to Godolphin Arabian, the Darley Arabian and their contemporaries, the great factor in developing the Thoroughbred horse was the method of the English breeder, and more credit is due to native English stock and to environment than has generally been acknowledged. The Thoroughbred has been the great leavening power in developing English breeds of light horses; the trotter may bear the same relation to the horse stock of America.

“The trotter is found throughout the country wherever horses are raised, and any improvement in this breed affects in time the entire horse industry. The light harness classes can be supplied from this source, and there is no more effective way to provide a supply of suitable cavalry horses for the United States army than by showing how the native horse may be improved.

“That the trotter has faults no one will deny, and that the speed idea has been responsible for 169many of these faults and has caused many a man to become bankrupt are equally certain. If a horse can trot 2.10 or better it is reasonably certain that he will make money for his owner, and it matters not how homely or unsound he may be; but if the horse has bad looks and unsoundness, and also lacks speed, he will be unprofitable on the track, and can not be sold at a profitable price on the market, while, if used in the stud, his undesirable qualities are perpetuated. On the other hand, if the horse has a moderate speed, but is sound, handsome and stylish, with a shapely head and neck, a straight, strong back, straight croup, muscular quarters and stifles, well-set legs, possesses good all-round true action and has abundant endurance, he is almost certainly a profitable investment. This is the kind of light horse which the market wants and will pay for. If of the roadster type, he sells well as a driver; if more on the heavy harness order, as a carriage horse.

“The occurrence of trotting bred horses of the finest conformation is by no means uncommon; it is so frequent, indeed, that these animals supply 170not only the demand for roadsters, but the principal part of the fine city trade in carriage horses, and are conspicuous winners at the horse shows. The demand for such horses has been so keen that dealers have resorted to the pernicious practice of buying mature stallions, many of them valuable breeders, and castrating them to be sold later as carriage horses. The famous Lord Brilliant, three times winner of the Waldorf-Astoria gig cup at Madison Square Garden, is a notable instance of this practice; Lonzie, a noted Chicago show horse, is another, and the horse purchased for the department experiments (Carmon) narrowly escaped the same fate. This practice can not be too strongly condemned. There is reason to believe that if these stallions were used as the nucleus of a breed the type would in time become fixed and their blood be saved to the country. On the other hand, if steps are not taken to mould the blood of these horses into one breed, and preserve the blood lines which produce them, an irreparable loss to the industry will result. The first step should be to select foundation stock strictly according to type; the next to study the 171lines of breeding which produce these horses. To a certain extent they are accidents of breeding, but there is little doubt that certain families show a greater tendency in this direction than others. For example, the descendants of Alexander’s Abdallah, Harrison Chief, the Morgans and the Clay family have been more or less notable in this respect. Further, certain sires are known to produce handsome and marketable horses with regularity.

“In view of these facts, the department decided to undertake the development of a breed of carriage horses on an American foundation as an interesting and important problem for solution. If successful it will show that we can develop our own breeding stock of horses in this country; it will make light horse breeding less a lottery than it is at present, and will at the same time provide breeding animals which can be used profitably on the lighter horses of the country.

“After a thorough search the department has purchased as foundation stock eighteen mares and one stallion. In addition, it can command the services of additional stallions if desired. The 172instructions of the purchasing board allowed considerable latitude, but it was required to select strictly according to type. Hereditary unsoundness was regarded as a disqualification. Pedigree was not considered, so far as registration was concerned, but the board required evidence to be submitted showing that the animals purchased were from parents and ancestors of like type, thus insuring blood lines that would breed reasonably true. Speed, while not ignored, was not made an essential. Life, spirit, and energy, with moderate speed, were considered, and, while conformation was not sacrificed to speed, speed with conformation and good action was regarded as an advantage.

“The type for mares was one standing about 15.3 hands, weighing 1100 to 1150 pounds, bay, brown or chestnut in color, with stylish head and neck, full made body, deep ribs, straight back, strong loin, straight, full croup, muscular forearms, quarters and lower thighs; good all-round was insisted upon. Any tendency to pace or mix gaits was regarded as grounds for disqualification. In some cases mares of more than 15.3 173hands were purchased and in others they were less than this. All, however, conformed closely to type. Some of the mares are in foal; the rest will be bred this spring.

“The ancestors of six mares purchased in Wyoming have been bred for five or six generations in that state, the band having been started by means of an importation of horses from the Central West which was largely Morgan stock. On this stock Thoroughbred and Standard sires have been used, and the herd has been developed more to produce a horse suitable for carriage purposes than one which had speed characteristics. Some of the six have been exhibited at the New York Horse Show, and the owner of the ranch maintains a stable near New York City, where he sends his surplus from year to year to be finished for the fine city trade.

“The search for a stallion to head the stud was the most difficult of all. An almost unlimited number of trotting horses suitable to get good carriage horses were recommended to the department, but on investigation it would be found that they were deficient in some respect and could not 174be considered. A horse was finally selected which was among the first suggested—Carmon 32907, American Trotting Horse Register, 16 hands, weighing 1200 pounds in fair condition, bay with black points and no white markings, bred by Norman J. Coleman, of St. Louis.

“The points of Carmon’s conformation which deserve special mention are his head and neck and hind quarters. His forehead is broad and full, with a straight nose and face; full, expressive eyes and well-carried ears. The neck is clean, muscular, and well arched. In the hind quarters special attention should be directed to the straight, broad croup and the muscular quarters and lower thighs. The horse has an abundance of bone and substance, but ample quality at the same time. His action is excellent.

“A study of Carmon’s pedigree shows that it is not a particularly fashionable one from the standpoint of the man who is breeding solely for speed. This is a pedigree from which one might expect a horse of excellent conformation. Robert 175McGregor, for example, was a horse with especially well-developed hind quarters and this characteristic is seen in his sons and grandsons, as shown by Cresceus and Carmon. Abdallah XV was a horse with a particularly attractive head and neck. The frequency with which the Abdallah cross appears in Carmon’s pedigree and the presence of Morgan, Mambrino Chief and Clay blood readily explains where this horse gets his handsome head and neck and his full quarters and stifles. These families have produced some of our handsomest horses. Their blood makes up nineteen-sixty-fourths of Carmon’s pedigree.

“The small percentage of pacing blood is worthy of particular notice. Further, the prominent trotting sires in it have produced more trotters than pacers, and Robert McGregor, Abdallah XV, and Ethan Allen are noteworthy for the small number of pacers sired by them or produced by their sons and daughters. This is so small that they may be regarded strictly as sires of trotters. Abdallah XV and Ethan Allen sired no pacers, and of the immediate 176get of Robert McGregor less than ten per cent are pacers.”[8]


Bureau of Animal Industry
John Gilmer Speed,      Fort Collins, Colo., June 12, 1905.
New York, N. Y.

Dear Sir:—Your favor of May 24 has been referred to me for reply. Will say that we now have 19 brood mares and a stallion in our breeding stud here and as you probably have learned, our object is to establish a type of American carriage horses eventually. We will found a stud book for this type of horses in America and we hope to so foster and develop this type of horses in America as to make them par excellence as a heavy harness horse. The mares that we have secured range in weight from 1050 to upwards of 1280 pounds. They are from 15.2 to 16.1 hands in height and are without exception high headed with superb action, of fine quality and while not noted for speed, can trot a mile in approximately three minutes and do it in a wonderfully easy and graceful manner, showing great style and finish. They are all bred from the American trotter foundation, and as far as possible of Morgan blood. We were careful to secure nothing but straight trotting bred stock, as we wish to eradicate the pacing characteristic from our horses. As you are aware, the Government and the Colorado Agricultural College are co-operating in this work. The Government is furnishing part of the funds and the College has taken charge of and is directing the work.

Trusting that this information is satisfactory, I am,

Yours very truly,
W. L. Carlyle,
Expert in charge.

I need not explain to readers of this book that I do not entirely agree with Dr. Salmon in his views of the American trotting horse. But in the main I do agree with him in the selection of his 177mares. The stallion used to be known in the horse-show rings as Lawson’s Glorious Thunder Cloud. He never struck me as anything at all out of the common and I am astonished at his selection. He was a good wheeler in a four-in-hand, but that was all. In single harness he never won in any ordinary class at any important show. He seemed to me to lack quality and to be lacking in many of the things for which Dr. Salmon gives him praise. I trust, however, he will prove a better sire than he was a show horse, for the need for carriage horses is great; then it would be a great pity for this first official experiment to turn out badly. It will be watched with peculiar interest. But I wish Dr. Salmon had selected as his stallion a horse that was in blood and conformation similar to Clay-Kismet.



For draught purposes there have been a great many foreign horses brought here, and they have served an excellent purpose. I suspect indeed that if we had a record of the Percherons, Clydesdales, and Shire horse that have been brought into America for the purpose of breeding heavy horses for trucking, that the number would exceed the Thoroughbreds that have been imported for the improvement of that special type. We had no heavy horses of our own, and as there was a constant demand for draught horses it was inevitable that breeders should go for stock where that stock had been brought to the highest perfection. To us it seemed that the French horses, the Percherons,[9] were best adapted for our use. And 179though many have been brought here, it is not likely that the generality of Americans know the pure bred Percherons. But all of us are familiar with Rosa Bonheur’s “Horse Fair.” The models of the horses in this stirring and beautiful picture were Percherons, and nearly all of them stallions. The French, and other Latins besides, have a fondness for using stallions in ordinary work, and any day in Paris a visitor may see a long string of Percheron stallions drawing a heavy load as placidly as geldings would do it. There is no reason why stallions should not be used more generally in this country. The prejudice against their use as saddle- and harness-horses no doubt arose when the business of a greater part of the country was transacted by travelers who needed to hitch their horses where other horses were also tethered. But in work where a groom or driver is always in charge of a horse the stallion may be used with much advantage to himself and satisfaction to his owner.

9.  Mr. Walters of Baltimore, began importing Percherons to America in 1866 and kept it up for twenty years. He translated the work of M. du Hays on the Percheron and illustrated it with photographs of horses and mares of his own importation. It is one of the handsomest horse books ever published.

180The basic blood of these Percherons is Arab and Barb mixed with the blood of those heavy Norman horses that were used by the heavily-armed knights in the time when the lance, sword, and crossbow took the place in war now monopolized entirely by rifles, balls and powder or other explosives. After securing the type the French have been so zealously aware of its value that they keep agents in Arabia always looking out for animals suitable to start a new and parallel supply of this basic blood. These same agents are also on the lookout for horses to be used in the breeding of army horses. Few of the Percherons that are brought over here are used in actual work, but are kept on the breeding farms in Ohio, Illinois, and other places for the production of “graded draught horses,” horses not quite so heavy as the Percheron, but heavier than any draught horses we previously had of our own breeding. The Percheron stallions are mated with heavy American mares and with “graded” mares, and the produce sent to the great cities where the animals fetch highly satisfactory prices. Great care has to be exercised in making 181the cross between a Percheron and an American that the contrast shall not be too great between the members of the union. When it is too great the consequences are disastrous, and result in a misshapen beast with unrelated characteristics of each parent. This shows that the blood of the union has not blended harmoniously. But the men who are in the business of producing “graded draught horses” appear to know that business well as the horses sold are handsome, strong, and active, and well adapted for the work for which they were created. This is a business pretty sure to decrease rather rapidly. These graded horses are not the ideal farm horse, although on a large farm where there is a deal of hauling, they serve a very useful purpose. But in plowing or in other work over soft ground they are too heavy. The city is the place for these horses. And year by year the heavy hauling will more and more be done by auto-cars. The auto-car for trucking is at present probably the most satisfactory achievement of the designers of horseless vehicles. When it is satisfactorily demonstrated that this mode of transferring freight, 182building material, and so on, is the cheapest way, then draught horses will be less and less in demand, and the French will lose one of their most profitable markets for her large, heavy, and symmetrical horses. Still that may be a many years off, and if I were Dr. Hartman or Messrs. Dunham I should not just yet sacrifice my Percherons to any save the highest bidder.

Before the era of the draught horse from France, those from England had a certain amount of popularity. That has long since passed away, and the Shires and Clydesdales in the United States are not proportionally so numerous as formerly. But they keep their popularity in Canada, where probably the farmers, being chiefly Britons, understand them better. That they should have been supplanted by the Percheron in the United States is no doubt due to the fact that the Oriental blood in the French horse makes that blood more assimilative with other strains. The French coach horse is brought over here to an extent for experimental use, and the Cleveland Bays formerly were brought quite frequently. Both, no doubt, have had temporary influences 183on the American stock in the localities where these horses were in the stud, but I know of no type that has been influenced by them to any great extent.

The Orlof trotting horse of Russia is one of the most interesting horses in Europe, and was created by Count Alexis Orlof-Tchestmensky, who began his work during the reign of Peter III, in the last half of the eighteenth century. As there has been an effort to make this type popular in America, it may be interesting to record how Count Orlof went about his work to secure a reproducing type of animals that resemble each other as much as the puppies in a litter of fox terriers. In 1775 he imported from Arabia a stallion named Smetanka, and bred this horse to a Danish mare. The produce was Polkan who sired in 1784 Barrs out of a Dutch mare. Barrs is looked upon as the founder of the Orlof type. Barrs sired Lubeznoy out of a mare that was sired by an Arab out of a Mecklenberg mare; Barrs also sired Dobroy out of a Thoroughbred English mare; also Lebed out of a mare by Felkerzamchek out of a Mecklenberg mare, Felkerzamchek being by 184Smetanka out of a Thoroughbred English mare. Now all the Orlofs must descend from Smetanka and Barrs through the three stallions named. This mixture was crossed and recrossed until it became homogeneous, and so the Russian noble had created a type.

In 1772 he had in his stud the following horses:

Arab 12 stallions and 10 mares
Persian 3 stallions and 2 mares
English 20 stallions and 32 mares
Dutch 1 stallions and 8 mares
Mecklenberg 1 stallions and 5 mares
Danish 1 stallions and 3 mares
Miscellaneous 9 stallions and 17 mares

He developed his type before his death in 1810, and his widow kept up the same method of breeding until 1845, when she sold the horses to the Russian government. These horses have been of vast service in Russia, where even in the eighteenth century the steppes were filled with wild, scrubby but hardy little horses to such an extent that even the poorest peasant could own one or two. The Orlofs have done much to improve these steppe ponies and it is upon them 185that the Russian cavalry largely depends for remounts.

The fastest of these trotters can go a 2.20 clip, but I have heard that a rate like this can be maintained only a short while. They are not so symmetrical as our Morgans or Clay-Arabians, but they have immensely more substance than the Standard Bred Trotters. I do not see how they can find any very useful place in this country. We could from our own stock quickly develop a better looking coach horse, and I believe we will do it, but never until we keep in mind that type is nine-tenths of any horse breeding battle that is ever won.

The English Hackneys at one period promised to be popular in this country. This popularity was stimulated by fashion, and the English breeders did not fail to take advantage of the fad that possessed some Americans of wealth. The Hackney comes from the Dutch horses by way of the Norfolk trotter. He is a horse of substance and easily acquires a high step with much knee action. In the show ring he is exhibited after the English fashion and makes a very lively picture. 186But his step is not light. He pounds the ground as though he wished the earth to tremble, and the Chinese feel his tread on the other side of the world. He has no very fitting place here, no more than the Orlof, either in his purity or as a cross with our own horses. We can easily do without him, and accomplish the creation of heavy harness and coach horse without the assistance of this English type. Originally in England the Hackney was a knock-a-bout horse, good under the saddle and in harness; but he has been bred up to large size and very heavy weight. Some of the American breeders of hackney ten or fifteen years ago when they went to England for stock to breed from paid such prices that the English laughed with delight, for they never dreamed of such a market at home. The fad is fastly dying out, and it is likely that in a few years there will not be opportunity even in the show rings for their exhibition. As they are deficient in courage and staying qualities, this will not be a bad result of lack of popularity.



On the first day of January, 1905, we had in the United States 2,888,710 mules with a taxable value of $251,840,378. This shows how extensive an industry mule-breeding is, and also what an important place the mule occupies in the economy of the country. The mule is an ideal farm animal. They would find it hard to get along without him on the plantations in the South. The negro is the poorest horseman in the world. As a groom he is careless and neglectful. A horse must be attended to or he will get ill and die. The mule seems, if not to thrive on neglect, at least not seriously to deteriorate. On many of the Southern plantations mules never know either currycomb or brush during all their long lives. And they live to a great age. I have never seen any statement based on carefully ascertained statistics 188at to the comparative length life of the horse and mule, but I am persuaded, from my own observation that on an average a mule lives twenty-five per cent longer. And there is pretty nearly as much work in an old mule as in a young one. They can also be put to hard work sooner than a horse. So the working life of a mule is lengthened at both ends. Moreover, they can subsist on what would be starvation for a horse.

If mules were bred at all in America in the Colonial era it was to a very limited extent. But after the Revolution they were bred a little, and George Washington was the man who encouraged this new industry. In 1786, before his election to the Presidency, Washington accepted from the King of Spain the present of a large Spanish Jack. He called the jack Royal Gift, and thus advertised his services in a Philadelphia paper:

“Royal Gift—A Jack Ass of the first race in the Kingdom of Spain will cover mares and jennies (she asses) at Mount Vernon the ensuing spring. The first for ten, the latter for fifteen pounds the season. Royal Gift is four years old, is between 14½ and 15 hands high, and will grow, 189it is said, until he is twenty or twenty-five years of age. He is very bony and stout made, of a dark colour with light belly and legs. The advantages, which are many, to be derived from the propagation of asses from this animal (the first of the kind that was ever in North America), and the usefulness of mules bred from a Jack of his size, either for the road or team, are well known to those who are acquainted with this mongrel race. For the information of those who are not, it may be enough to add, that their great strength, longevity, hardiness, and cheap support, give them a preference of horses that is scarcely to be imagined. As the Jack is young, and the General has many mares of his own to put to him, a limited number only will be received from others, and these entered in the order they are offered. Letters directed to the subscriber, by Post or otherwise, under cover to the General, will be entered on the day they are received, till the number is completed, of which the writers shall be informed to prevent trouble or expense to them.

John Fairfax, Overseer.
“February 23, 1786.”

Washington believed in mules and in the inventory of live stock in his will made in 1799, 190mention is made of two covering jacks, three young ones, ten she asses, forty-two working mules, and fifteen younger ones. It was a much later period, however, before mules were extensively bred in the United States. With the exception of Royal Gift, it is likely that the jacks brought from Europe were rather inferior. But in 1832, Henry Clay imported two pure-blood Catalan asses, a jack and a jenny. They were landed in Maryland, and there the jenny had a foal. This foal was called Warrior. This jack was fifteen hands high, and he became a great ass progenitor in Kentucky. The jennies there at that time were not well bred, but mongrels, mostly a light shade of blue, with gray, buff and grizzly hair, nearly as stiff as hog bristles, generally with a colored stripe across the shoulders and down the back, ewe-necked, flat in the rib, low carriage, and heavy headed, entirely destitute of any good quality except hardihood and ability to get a living where any other animal, save a goat, would have starved to death. With such jennies began the first effort to improve the race in Kentucky, and they flocked to Warrior in droves. He seemed 191to cross advantageously with them, just as the Cashmere goat crosses on the common hairy goat. His progeny seemed rapidly to lose the leading traits of their dams, and to inherit in a remarkable degree the color and outward characteristics of their sire. Four years later Dr. Davis imported in South Carolina another Catalan jack. He was 16 hands high and of great weight. This jack, Mammoth, was mated to the young Warrior jennies then just maturing, thus making the second cross of pure blood, and upon these two crosses rest to-day the breeding of the race of jacks known throughout the United States as the Kentucky Jack. These Kentucky jacks are still popular, and last year the British Government bought a number of them to take to India.

Mr. J. L. Jones, of Columbia, Tennessee, is a recognized authority on mule breeding, and I prefer to give my readers his counsel in a matter with which he is better acquainted than I am.

He says:

“There are two kinds or classes of the mule, viz., one the produce of the male ass or jack and the mare; and the other, the offspring of the stallion 192and female ass. The cross between the jack and the mare is properly called the mule, while the other, the produce of the stallion and female ass, is designated a hinny. The mule is the more valuable animal of the two, having more size, finish, bone, and, in fact, all the requisites which make that animal so much prized as a useful burden-bearing animal. The hinny is small in size, and is wanting in the qualities requisite to a great draught animal. This hybrid is supposed not to breed, as no instance is known to us in which a stallion mule has been prolific, although he seems to be physically perfect, and shows great fondness for the female, and serves readily. There are instances on record where the female has produced a foal, but these are rare.

“The mule partakes of the several characteristics of both its parents, having the head, ear, foot, and bone of the jack, while in height and body it follows the mare. It has the voice of neither, but is between the two, and more nearly resembles the jack. It possesses the patience, endurance, and sure-footedness of the jack, and the vigor, strength, and courage of the horse. It is 193easily kept, very hardy, and no path is too precipitous or mountain trail too difficult for one of them with its burden. The mule enjoys comparative immunity from disease, and lives to a comparatively great age. The writer knows of a mule in Middle Tennessee that, when young, was a beautiful dapple gray, but is now thirty years old, and is as white as snow. This mule is so faithful and true, and has broken so many young things to work by his side, that he bears the name of ‘Counsellor.’ The last time he was seen by the writer he was in a team attached to a reaper, drawing at a rate sufficient to cut fifteen acres of grain per day.

“Kentucky mules are showy, up-headed, fine-haired animals, their extra qualities being attributable to the strong, Thoroughbred blood in the greater part of their dams. The same may be said of Tennessee, where it is thought the climactic influences produce a little better, smoother, and finer hair, coupled with early maturity, which qualities are much prized by an expert buyer.

“The mules in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and some of the so-called Northwestern states, have 194large bone, foot, body, and substance, and possess great strength, but they are wanting in that high style, finish, and fine hair that characterize the produce of some of the states further south, and are longer in maturing. Mule-breeding in these states is one of the most important branches of industry, and is supposed to date back prior to 1787.

“There is no kind of labor to which a horse can be put for which a mule may not be made to answer, while there are many for which mules are more peculiarly adapted than horses; and among the rest, that of mining, where the mule is used, and many of them need no drivers. They can endure more hardships than the horse, can live on less, and do more work on the same feed than any other beast of burden we use in America.

“A cotton-planter in the South would feel unwilling to raise his crop with horses for motive power. The horse and the labor of the cotton belt could not harmonize, while the negro is at home with the mule.

“A mule may be worked until completely fagged, when a good feed and a night’s rest will enable it to go; but it is not so with a horse.

195“The mule being better adapted for carrying burdens, for the plough, the wagon, building of railroads, and, in fact, all classes of heavy labor, let us see how it compares with the noble animal, the horse, in cost of maintenance.

“From repeated experiments that have come under my observation in the past twenty-five years, I have found that three mules, 15 hands high, that were constantly worked, consumed about as much forage as two ordinary-sized horses worked in the same way, and while the mules were fat the horses were only in good working order. Although a mule will live and work on very low fare, he also responds as quickly as any animal to good feed and kind treatment. True, it is charged that the mule is vicious, stubborn, and slow, but an experience in handling many mules on the farm has failed to sustain the charge, save in few instances, and in these the propensities were brought about by bad handling. They are truer pullers than the horse, and move more quickly under the load. Their hearing and vision are better than the horse. The writer has used them in all the different branches of farming, 196from the plough to the carriage and buggy, and thinks they are less liable to become frightened and start suddenly; and if they do start, they usually stop before damage is done, while the horse seldom stops until completely freed. The mule is more steady while at work than the horse, and is not so liable to become exhausted, and often becomes so well instructed as to need neither driver nor lines.

“In the town in which the writer lives, a cotton merchant, who is also in the grocery trade, owned a large sorrel mule, 16 hands high, that he worked to a dray to haul goods and cotton to the depot, half a mile from his business house. This mule often went the route alone, and was never known to strike anything, and what was more remarkable, would back up at the proper place with the load, there being one place to unload groceries and another for cotton.

“They are also good for light harness, many of them being very useful buggy animals, traveling a day’s journey equal to some horses. The writer obtained one from a firm of jack breeders in his vicinity, that was bred by them, as an experiment, 197being out of a Thoroughbred mare by a royally bred jack. She is 16 hands high, as courageous as most any horse. In traveling a distance of thirty-two miles, this mule, with two men and the baggage, made it, as the saying goes, ‘under a pull,’ in four hours, and when arrived at the journey’s end seemed willing to go on.

“We do not wish to be understood as underrating the horse, for it is a noble animal, well suited for man’s wants, but for burden-bearing and drudgery is more than equaled by the patient, faithful, hardy mule.

“There are two kinds of jacks—the mule-breeding and the ass-breeding jack, the latter being used chiefly in breeding jacks for stock purposes. It is only with the mule-breeding jack that we will deal.

“A good mule-jack ought to be not less than 15 hands high, and have all of the weight, head, ear, foot, bone, and length that can be obtained, coupled with a broad chest, wide hips, and with all the style attainable with these qualities. Smaller jacks are often fine breeders, and produce some of our best mules, and when bred to 198the heavier, larger class of mares show good results, but as ‘like produces like,’ the larger jacks are preferable.

“Black, with light points, is the favorite color for a jack, but many of our gray, blue, and even white jacks have produced good mules. In fact, some of the nicest, smoothest, red-sorrel mules have been the product of these off-colored jacks; but the black jacks get the largest proportion of good-colored colts from all colored mares.

“The breed of the jack is also to be looked into. There are now so many varieties of jacks in the United States, all of which have merits, that it will be well to examine and see what jack has shown the best results. We have the Catalonian, the Andalusian, the Maltese, the Majorca, the Italian, and the Poitou—all of which are imported—and the native jack. Of all the imported, the Catalonian is the finest type of animal, being a good black, with white points, of fine style and action, and from 14½ to 15 hands high, rarely 16 hands, with a clean bone. The Andalusian is about the same type of jack as the Catalonian having, perhaps, a little more weight and bone, but are 199all off-colors. The Maltese is smaller than the Catalonian, rarely being over 14½ hands high, but is nice and smooth. The Majorca is the largest of the imported jacks, the heaviest in weight, bone, head, and ear, and frequently grows to 16 hands. These are raised in the rich island of Majorca, in the Mediterranean Sea. While they excel in weight and size, they lack in style, finish and action. The Italian is the smallest of all the imported jacks, being usually from 13 to 14 hands high, but having good foot, bone, and weight, and some of them make good breeders. The Poitou is the latest importation of the jack, and is little known in the United States. He is imported from France, and is reported to be the sire of some of the finest mules in his native land. These jacks have long hair about the neck, ears, and legs, and are, in some respects, to the jack race what the Clydesdale is to other horses. He is heavy set, has good foot and bone, fine head and ear, and of good size, being about 15 hands high.

“The native jack, as a class, is heavier in body, having a larger bone and foot than the imported, and shows in his entire make-up the result of the 200limestone soil and the grasses common in this country. He is of all colors, having descended from all the breeds of imported jacks. But the breeders of this country, seeing the fancy of their customers for the black jack with light points, have discarded all other colors in selecting their jacks, and the consequence is that a large proportion of the jacks in the stud now, for mares, are of this color.

“The native jack, being acclimated, seems to give better satisfaction to breeders of mules than any other kind. From observation and experience it is believed that our native jacks, with good imported crosses behind them, will sire the mules best suited to the wants of those who use them in this country, and will supply the market with what is desired by the dealers. The colts by this class of jacks are stronger in make-up, having better body, with more length, larger head and ear, more foot and bone, combined with style equal to the colts of the imported jacks.

“While many fine mules are sired by imported jacks, this is not to be understood as meaning that imported jacks do not get good foals, yet, 201taken as a class, we think that the mule by the native jack is superior to any other class. This conclusion is borne out by an experience and observation of some years, and by many of the best breeders and dealers in the United States.

“As the mule partakes very largely in its body and shape of its mother, it is necessary that care should be taken in selecting the dam. Many suppose that when a mare becomes diseased and unfit for breeding to the horse, then she is fit to breed to mules. This is a sad mistake, for a good, growing, sound colt must have good, sound sire and dam.

“The jack may be ever so good, yet the result will be a disappointment unless the mare is good, sound, and properly built for breeding. First, she should be sound and of good color; black, bay, brown, or chestnut is preferred. Her good color is needed to help to give the foals proper color, and this is a matter of no small importance.

“This should not be understood as ignoring the other colors, for some of the best mules ever seen were the produce of gray or light-colored mares, as many dealers and breeders will attest. The 202mare should be well bred; that is, she would give better results by having some good crosses. By all means let her have a cross of Thoroughbred, say one-quarter, supplemented with strong crosses of some of the larger breeds, and the balance of the breeding may be made up of the better class of the native stock. The mare should have good length, large, well-rounded barrel, good head, long neck, good, broad, flat bone, broad chest, wide between the hips, and good style.

“Having selected the sire and the dam, the next thing is to produce the colt. The sire, if well kept and in good condition, is ready for business, but not so with the mare. The dam is to be in season; that is, in heat. Before being bred, to prevent accidents, the mare should be hobbled or pitted. Having taken this precaution, the jack may be brought out, and both will be ready for service. Care should be taken not to over-serve the jack, as he should not be allowed to serve over two mares a day.

“The mare, after being served, may be put to light work, or put upon some quiet pasture by herself for several days until she passes out of 203season, when she may be turned out with other stock to run until the eighteenth day, when she should be taken up to be teased by a horse, to ascertain if she be in season, and if so, she should be bred again. Some breeders think the ninth, some the twelfth, and some the fifteenth day after service is the proper day to tease, but observation has taught me that the best results come from the eighteenth-day plan. After she becomes impregnated she should have good treatment; light work will not hurt her, but care should be taken not to over-exert. She should have good, nutritious grass if she runs out and is not worked, but if worked she should be well fed on good feed. The foal will be due in about 333 days. As the time approaches for foaling, the mare should be put in a quiet place, away from other stock, until the foal is dropped. She will not need any extra attention, as a rule, but should be looked after to see that everything goes right.

“After the foal comes, it will not hurt the mare or colt for the dam to do light work, provided she is well fed on good, nutritious food. Should she 204not be worked and is on good grass, and fed lightly on grain, the colt will grow finely, if the mare gives plenty of milk; if she does not the foal should be taught to eat such feed as is most suitable.

“The colt should be well cared for at all times, and particularly while following its mother, for the owner may want to sell at weaning time, which is four months old, and its inches then will fix the price. Good mules, at weaning time, usually bring from $75 to $90, and sometimes as high as $100.

“Feeders, dealers, and buyers prefer the mare mule to the horse, and they sell more readily. The females mature earlier, are plumper and rounder of body, and fatten more readily than the male.

“In weaning the colt, much is accomplished by proper treatment preparatory to this trying event in the mule’s life. It should be taught to eat while following its mother, so that when weaned it will at once know how to subsist on that which is fed to it. The best way to wean is to take several colts and place them in a close barn, with plenty of 205good, soft feed, such as bran and oats mixed, plenty of sound, sweet hay, and, in season, cutgrass, remembering at all times that nothing can make up for want of pure water in the stable. Many may be weaned together properly. After they have remained in the stable for several days they may be turned on good, rich pasture. Do not forget to feed, as this is a trying time. The change from a milk to a dry diet is severe on the colt. They may all be huddled in a barn together, as they seldom hurt each other. Good, rich clover pastures are fine for mules at this age, but if they are to be extra fine, feed them a little grain all the while.

“There is little variety in the feed until the mules are two years old, at which time they are very easily broken. If halter-broken as they grow up, all there is to do in breaking one is to put on a harness, and place the young animal beside a broken mule, and go to work. When it is thoroughly used to the harness, the mule is already broken. Light work in the spring, when the mule is two years old, will do no hurt, but, in the opinion of many breeders and dealers, make it better, provided it is carefully handled and fed.

206“How to fatten the mule is one of the most important parts of mule-raising, for when the mule is offered to a buyer, he will at once ask: ‘Is he fat?’ and fat goes far in effecting a sale. A rough, poor mule could hardly be sold, while if it is fat, the buyer will take it because it is fat.

“The mule should be placed in the barn with plenty of room, and not much light, about the 1st of November, before it is two years old, and fed about twelve ears of (Indian) corn per day, and all the nice, well-cured clover hay it will eat, and there kept until about the 1st of April. Then, in the climate of Middle Tennessee, the clover is good, and the mule may be turned out on it, and the corn increased to about twenty ears or more per day. They will eat more grain, without fear of ‘firing;’ that is, heating so as to cause scratches, as the green clover removes all danger from this source. During the time they run on the clover they eat less hay, but this should always be kept by them. About the 1st of May the clover blooms, and is large enough to cut, in the latitude of Tennessee. The mules should be placed, then, in the 207barn, with a nice smooth lot attached, and plenty of pure water. A manger should be built in the lot, four feet wide by four feet high, and long enough to accommodate the number of mules it is desired to feed. This should be covered over by a shed high enough for the mule to stand under, to prevent the clover from wilting. The clover should be cut while the dew is on, as this preserves the aroma, and they like it better. While this is going on in the lot, the troughs and racks in the barns should be supplied with all the shelled corn (maize) the mules will eat. ‘Why shell it?’ some one will ask. Because they eat more of it, and relish it. A valuable addition at all times consists of either short-cut sheaf oats, or shelled oats, and bran, if not too expensive.

“From this time the mule should be pressed with all the richest of feed, if it is desired to make it what is termed in mule parlance, ‘hog fat.’ Ground barley, shelled oats, bran, and shelled corn, should be given, not forgetting to salt regularly all the while, nor omitting the hay and green corn blades. While all those are essential, oats and bran, although at some places expensive, are 208regarded as the ne plus ultra for fattening a mule, and giving a fine suit of hair. Be sure to keep the barn well bedded, for if the hair becomes soiled from rolling it lowers the value, as the mule is much estimated for its fine coat.

“The grain makes the flesh, and the green stuff keeps the system of the mule cool, and balances the excess of carbonaceous elements in the grain fed.

“The manner of feeding, if properly carried out, with the proper foundation to start with, will make mules, two years old past, weigh from 1150 pounds to 1350 pounds by the 1st of September, at which time the market opens.

“A feeder of eighteen years’ experience claims that oats and bran will put on more fine flesh in a given time, coupled with a smoother, glossier coat of hair, than any other known feed. The experienced feeder follows this method from weaning till two years old.”

In war the mule is invaluable both as a pack animal and for army trains. He can stand the hard usage of army life much better than horses. In our great Civil War they were used very extensively. 209In his book General Grant told of a certain army chaplain who always took an active part in the battles. On one occasion the roads were blocked up with mule-drawn trains, and it was most desirable for them to get out of the way. The chaplain lent a hand to the teamsters. Now mule-drivers use language more forceful and picturesque than pure or elegant. Well, the parson “cussed and swore,” with the rest of them, and helped straighten out the tangle. That evening the General thanked the chaplain, but said: “How do you reconcile the language you used with your conscience?” “Oh,” answered the chaplain, “do mules understand any other language?”



It is far from my purpose to give any advice on the purchasing of horses to professionals or to amateurs who know the subject thoroughly. The professional knows his business so well, or is apt to think that he does, that my advice would be almost an impertinence, while the amateur who thinks he knows is incapable of learning. It is, by the way, a most astonishing thing how few men there are who are willing to confess ignorance as to horses. A little experience makes them wondrous wise. I once heard of a reader for a great publishing house who “turned down” a treatise on the horse because “the writer did not know the subject sufficiently well.” This reader, I learned on inquiry, had studied the subject thoroughly, for one summer a friend lent him a polo pony which was under his constant observation 211for nearly three months. This conceit that we have in our knowledge of horses whets our appetite for gambling on horse-races, and makes the opportunity of the bookmakers to undo us much greater and surer. It also induces us to make unwise purchases and then conclude that horses are delusions and snares while dealers are rogues of deepest dye. Only a few days before this page was written, I heard of a college professor who bought a pair of horses at a fancy price and without an examination from a veterinary, only to find after reaching his country place that one of the horses was blind. So, while I am sure that advice is needed, I am not at all certain that it is in demand.

We all recall the doggerel rule:

“One white leg, inspect him;
Two white legs, reject him;
Three white legs, sell him to your foes;
Four white legs, feed him to the crows!”

That is advice to which no attention should be paid at all, unless the markings be such that a person looking for a horse positively dislikes. And that is about the only rule I advise a person 212not to consider in buying a horse. Everything else should be looked over carefully, for pretty nearly everything about a horse has more or less importance, usually more than less.

The first thing a prospective purchaser should determine is why he wants a horse, and what he wants to do with him. Then he should decide whether he means to buy the horse on his own judgment or on that of some one else. If he means to be his own judge he should go alone; if he means to have a friend select his horse he should let the friend go alone. But he should never take his friend along with him to give advice and assist in driving a bargain. This kind of thing is annoying to a dealer, and tempts him to match his experienced and hard-worked wit with that of the seldom-used judgment of the buyer. That the dealer will win in such a contest goes without saying. I have taken for granted that the buyer will go to a dealer for any advice of any kind is wasted upon one who would buy a horse from a friend, unless he coveted his friend’s horse and wanted that particular animal from personal knowledge of him.

213Horse dealers are frequently spoken of as unconscionable rogues. And there is no doubt that many of them do lack the virtue of probity and straight speaking. But a reputable dealer in horses with an established business can be as fair as any other business man, and I have known many such. Such an horse dealer has a reputation to maintain that is as valuable to him as that of a banker is to him. If you will place confidence in him he is not apt to betray it, for he values his customer and knows that there will probably be other sales to make.

But the dealers who advertise in the newspapers that they will sell from private stables horses worth $500 or $1000 for $100 or $200 are the pirates of the trade. They give one excuse or another why such immense bargains are offered, and they make many sales. They are really “confidence-men,” and why the police authorities should permit them to continue in their thieving operations is one of the mysterious manifestations of city life that I could never understand. It was from one of these rogues that the college professor I just mentioned bought his prize pair. 214Never on any account look for or even at any of these advertised bargains in a private stable. A good horse has a market value and a dealer knows it thoroughly. When he offers to sell below that value, you may depend upon it that he is trying to cheat you by imposing upon your ignorance. Having determined what kind of a horse you want, and what kind of work you purpose doing with a horse, go to a dealer and tell him all about it just as you would to your lawyer or doctor. He will show you horses and quote prices. If the prices are higher than you care to pay tell him that also, and he will show you others. He usually begins with the higher-priced horses, unless he “sizes you up” as lean of pocket-book. But in a large establishment the price you have fixed in your own mind is likely to be arrived at very quickly. Then you must determine whether the horse shown to you is of the quality you desire. But be not deceived by the hope that you can get a very superior and well-trained horse for very much less than he is worth. This can often be done with green horses. By green horses, I do not mean unbroken horses, but horses that have not 215been educated and developed. A skilful horseman, either rider or driver, will nearly always prefer a green horse because of the pleasure in training him, and also of the chance of securing a prize at a minimum of cost. But an inexperienced horseman will probably never make anything out of a green horse, so he had best not consider such. Having found a horse that seems to meet requirements, the horse should be tried and the reputable dealer will give the buyer every opportunity for such a trial. When the trial is satisfactory, the buyer should have him examined by a veterinary, and if sound the transaction should be closed. Warranties are not of much good. They cannot be enforced except through suits at law; and a lawsuit even when won would usually cost more than the loss on an unsatisfactory horse, if the horse were sent to the auction block immediately. Then try again. To buy one bad horse is no reason whatever for discouragement. One of the Tattersalls said that to have one good horse in a lifetime is as much as a man should expect.

The splendid specimens that we see in the show rings inspire us with the desire to have one 216or several of these, and as each show is followed by a sale there is our easy opportunity. But I am persuaded that to one not himself a horse-show exhibitor nothing is more unwise than to buy a horse-show winner. These horses are most highly keyed up and trained by most skilful hands. In the hands of one less skilful they rapidly deteriorate and in the ordinary park and road work they lose a major part of that style which originally inspired the purchase. This skill in handling has made itself so manifest that even in the horse shows the managers have been obliged to exclude the dealers from many of the classes. There are professional horse-show exhibitors notwithstanding this exclusion of the dealers, and their horses are probably more unsafe to buy than those of the dealers themselves. No, the horse-show horse is for the horse-show exhibitor.

Another discouraging thing about one’s first horses is the illnesses which they contract. As frequently as not this is due to the inexperience of the new owner, or to the change of home and climate. Dealers buying horses frequently have the 217animals inoculated against cold and fever—shipper’s fever, it is called. This should always be done as the result has been found to be most excellent. “You can get no use out of a Kentucky horse for the first year,” I have heard New Yorkers say. That may have been their experience; but when treated with the proper serum before shipment they do not suffer to any extent with colds and influenza. There is one disease, however, that I do not know how to provide against—nostalgia. The generality of horses are not very affectionate, for they are not very intelligent, being trained more by fear than anything else and going on in their work through custom. But they do love their homes, and that they should suffer from home-sickness until the satisfaction with the new environment wipes out the longing is inevitable. The homing instinct of a horse is very strong and also interesting. Take a horse ten or even twenty miles in a direction never traveled before, and then turn him towards home over a new route, and he knows it instantly and shows that he knows it by a quickened gait and a renewal of spirit. So these things should be 218taken into consideration with a new horse, and due allowance made for them.

A man who has an establishment and keeps many horses has one very difficult problem. It is customary for the coachman to get commissions, whether the coachman has been consulted in the purchase or not. The dealers understand this, and add to the price of the horse what will have to be paid to the coachman. I have had dealers ask me plainly whether I kept a coachman to settle with. And once when I sold a horse to a distinguished professional man in New York, he sent a check for $50 more than the agreed price, asking that that sum be given to the coachman as he did not want the horse lamed or put out of condition. This is a stable tradition that we have borrowed from England, and is a tyranny that should be suppressed not only by law but by custom. I sold a horse recently to a gentleman at a price not at all above his value. His negro coachman called at my house for his commission. I sent him away in short order and at once wrote his master a note telling of the visit and its object, and requesting him to pay his own servants.

219If a man have leisure for travel, the breeding farm is a good place to purchase a horse. At most of these farms the horses are green, but at some they are thoroughly trained before being offered for sale. But none of these horses are accustomed to the fearsome sights and sounds of the city. So I should advise none but skilful horsemen to go to the farms to make purchases.

But the wisest course that an amateur can pursue is to take a loss quickly. Just as soon as you find that you do not want a horse, sell him. If there be a purchaser ready at hand, well and good; if not there is sure to be an auction block not far away.



Badly-constructed, badly-kept, and badly-managed stables are the contributing causes to most of the illnesses that horses suffer from. As nine stables out of ten in America are bad in all these three regards, I am confirmed in the belief that horses are very hardy animals instead of the delicate creatures that we sometimes think they are. That so many of them should be equal to hard and continuous work considering the conditions that surround them when they are at home is really quite remarkable. Even on breeding farms, where it is the business of the proprietors to rear fine animals for sale, the stables more frequently than not are wretched barns not fit even for the lodgement of mules. This is the case in Kentucky, even in the Blue Grass region. In many of the stables there I have seen tons of 221manure, that were most valuable for fertilization, left in the stables for no other reason that I could fathom than that it seemed to be no one’s business to take it away. “Why don’t you spread it on the pastures, or use it on the ploughed fields?” I asked one gentleman. “Oh, the ground does not need it,” he replied. I did not like to go any further for fear of seeming intrusive. Then again I did not believe that a man who thought tilled ground even in the limestone enriched land of the Blue Grass section would not be better for stable manure would bother particularly about the advantages of keeping stables clean.

Stables should be light not dark. There is a notion as old as the hills that a stable should be a dark and somber place. There are those who still hold stoutly to this view. Why a stable should be dark and the living room of a human being light, I cannot conceive. Light and air are the great purifying agents. Germs of various kinds multiply mightily in the dark, while many are killed by the light. The only reason that is given for a dark stable is that constant light in a horse’s eyes is likely to injure his organs of sight. I grant that 222cheerfully. Still there is no reason why there should not be light without the light shining directly into the eyes of the horses. It is as easy as possible to place the windows above the heads of the horses, and even to shield them with shutters that open upwards, shutters such as are so generally used on seaside cottages.

Ventilation is most important. This should always be provided for, however, so that in securing it there will not also be draughts either on the body or the legs of a horse. To accomplish this is not difficult even in the stables of the dry-goods-box pattern. The one supreme affection of a horse is for his home, and it is as little as an owner can do to make that home comfortable. Cleanliness is an imperative necessity. Without it the other things go for naught. There is no good reason why a stable should not be as clean as any other part of a gentleman’s establishment. And yet this is so seldom the case that a man who has visited a stable often brings with him to his house odors that are unmistakable and entirely objectionable to the sensitive olfactories of the more delicate members of his household. This cleanliness 223can only be secured by unremitting good housekeeping. The stable should not only be cleaned very thoroughly once a week, but it should be kept clean the other six days in the week. Any owner, no matter whether he be a good horseman or not, can see to this. He may not know the nice points in harnessing a horse or even the points of a horse, but his eyes and his nose can tell him whether his stable is clean. The droppings should be removed as soon as they are discovered, and they should not be piled up in the stable or against one of the walls of the stable on the outside, but removed to a distance, if in the country and treated for fertilizers; in a city stable they should be removed daily. This latter can be done without any expense to the owner, as there are manure collectors only too glad to cart it away.

Drainage is also most important, but it should always be surface drainage. Pipes beneath the floor are always getting clogged up, and hence becoming foul. Besides plumbing everywhere is expensive and bothersome. There should be as little as possible of it in a stable. Of course running 224water is most desirable if not necessary. But it should be restricted to two hydrants, one for carriage washing and one for drinking water. The surface drainage can be got rid of by having the floor of the stable a little bit elevated above the surrounding ground. Where the stable can be located so that there is declining ground on one side other than the exit, there is natural drainage which is a great advantage. The stalls also should have a very slight incline, so that they will keep dry naturally. This stall inclination, however, should be very slight, as it is desirable that a horse should have all his feet pretty nearly on the same level.

Box-stalls or not? This is a disputed matter. Some owners have only box-stalls in their stables; some none at all. In my opinion both ideas are wrong. Cutting up a stable into a series of boxes does not facilitate drainage, ventilation, light, or cleanliness. Then again it is doubtful whether a horse in a loose box-stall does not often acquire habits of independence that are sometimes uncomfortable and dangerous. In a stall a horse is tied, he is also more easily observed and 225therefore always under control. Box-stalls, however, are excellent for a horse that comes in very tired, or for one that is sick. So I should advise that in every stable there be one or two box-stalls, but that as a general thing the horses be kept in ordinary stalls. These stalls should be 9 feet long and 5 feet wide. A wider stall makes it easier for a horse to get cast. The ceiling of a stable should not be less than 12 feet.[10]

10.  A carpenter in my neighborhood once asked me to select a horse for him from a drove that was on sale in the village. I picked out a large fine fellow, and the carpenter bought him. The next day I saw him with another horse. “Why, where is the roan?” I asked. “Oh, I had to take him back, he was too big for the stable!” “Why the dickens did you not make the stable bigger?” was my comment to the carpenter.

Every stable should be kept cool in summer and warm in winter. But artificial heat should never be used, as it is in some of the sumptuous stables of the over-rich in the large cities. A horse does his work in the open, and there is no sense in pampering him. In very cold weather the stable should be kept as warm as is possible without stoves or steam-pipes, and the horse made comfortable with good blankets and plenty of straw for his bedding. In the summer when the 226thermometers are trying to climb to a hundred in the shade, then the shutters should be regulated so as to keep out the direct rays on the sunny side, and other windows and doors be left open.

Harness room and coach room depend almost entirely on the size of the establishment that is kept. Both, however, should be light—then both can be seen without difficulty by the owner when he makes inspections. These inspections, by the way, should not be made at stated times, but at any time. An owner who expects his horses to be kept in good condition and turned out with proper harness to proper traps must take an interest in his stable and be on good terms with his servants. There is no suggestion of familiarity in this, but only the good understanding and the good feeling that always exists between that master and man, when the one gives and other gets good service.

A well-groomed horse is so fine a thing that we have latterly applied the term to fine men and beautiful women. The grooming of a horse is an art, which is not practised on more than one or 227two per cent of the horses at work in the United States. The others are cleaned in a happy-go-lucky fashion, which makes them neither clean nor beautiful. This is not as it should be; a horse that is compelled to give service to a man is entitled to good attention. An ungroomed or improperly groomed horse has an offensive odor. This does not conduce to the pleasure of a person using such a horse nor to the well being of the horse himself. In grooming a horse the brush and cloth alone are needed. A currycomb—once universally used—should never be put on a horse. It serves a good purpose, however, in cleaning the brush. And that is its only service. Where an owner knows or suspects that the currycomb is used directly on the horse it is better to banish it entirely. When a horse has been put away covered with sweat and the sweat allowed to dry, it is very much easier to remove this salty deposit with a currycomb than with a brush. But a horse should never be put away without being thoroughly groomed except when he comes in so tired that the grooming would further fatigue him. This is sometimes the case. When it is so the horse 228should have quite loosely-wrapped bandages put on his legs, he should be well blanketed, given a swallow of water and turned into a box-stall knee deep in straw. Then when this horse is rested enough to be groomed, the mud on his legs will have become caked and will come off by using the hand and a wisp of straw, the polishing being finished with the brush and cloth. The dried sweat should be removed in the same way.

When a muddy horse comes into the stable it is a great temptation to play the hose on his legs, and so wash the mud off. This should never be done. The only places where water should be applied to a horse are the feet and the other hairless portions. These should be washed with a sponge. The washing of a horse’s feet before he is put away is most important. “No foot, no horse” is the old English rule. And it is as true as gospel. The feet should always be kept clean in the stable, and at night they should be packed with sponge or felt. The foot of a horse is an important part of him, and every owner should see that they are well looked after. And in accomplishing this he will not find it an easy job, for a horse has 229to have his shoes changed every three or four weeks, and if the feet be not ruined by the farrier or the fads of his groom or coachman then he is lucky. Every man that has anything to do with horses sooner or later develops notions as to horseshoeing, the blacksmith usually knowing much less than any one else but confident that he knows it all. He should know it all, as to shoe horses is his business. As a matter of fact, however, his practice, if he be permitted to have his own sweet will, is to lame horses and ruin their feet. There are a few good horse-shoers, however, and if an owner find one in his neighborhood he is lucky. I shall not attempt, however, to write a treatise on horseshoeing. There are books in abundance on the subject, and any man who wishes to become an accomplished amateur on the subject can find plenty to study and also an abundance of instruction. But there are a few principles that dominate all else. The shoe should be neither too large nor too small. A large shoe stretches the hoof too much, a small shoe pinches the hoof and makes corns. Then do not permit the blacksmith to pare the sole and frog of the 230foot or rasp or burn the hoof to make it fit the shoe he has selected. The shoe should be made to fit the hoof, and as few nails used as is consistent with security. As the hoof is growing all the time, just as a man’s finger-nails grow, the shoes need often to be changed so that they will not be too small and so contract the hoof. The ideal horse is the barefoot horse, but this is not possible when a horse is used on pavements or hard roads. Then the shoe should not be too heavy. Heavy shoes merely make a horse’s work very much harder.

The feeding and watering of a horse are most important. The horse can carry only a little food, as his stomach is small compared with his size and his need of nourishment. But he can drink a good deal of water. He should have both food and water equal to his needs. He should always be fed three times a day, and he would not be the worse if he were treated as the Germans treat themselves, with four meals a day. Moreover, a horse’s food should be varied a little. Oats and hay three times a day for three hundred and sixty-five days in the year may suffice, but it seems to me very like a cruelty when it is so easy to vary the food 231with barley, beans, pease, corn, turnips, and many other things easy to obtain and not at all expensive. A little nibble of fresh grass occasionally is also a grateful change, but not much of this should be given when a horse is doing steady work. The allowance of oats in the United States army is ten quarts a day. This with plenty of hay is a good allowance and will keep a horse in good condition, but a hearty eater can make way with twelve quarts a day and be all the better for it. The hay should not be fed from a rack over the manger, but from the ground. When carrots are fed they should be sliced; whole they might choke a horse. When corn is fed it should be given on the cob. In this way the horse improves his teeth and helps his gums, while he is obliged to feed slowly.

A horse should be watered before eating, and the last thing at night before the stable is closed. And when the horse comes in tired he should be given a mouthful of water, even before he is permitted to drink his fill. I have seen stables where there was running water in a trough in each stall. I do not recommend this, nor yet a common 232drinking-place for all the horses in a stable. A bucket filled from a hydrant and held up to the horse is the best way. A horse needs salt. The best way to give it to him is to put a crystal of rock salt in his trough and let it remain there. He will then take it when he pleases, and not too much at a time.

One man cannot properly look after an unlimited number of horses. If the stableman does no driving he can look after four together with the vehicles and harness. If he has to go out with the carriages he cannot manage more than three. Without a proper, sober, and sensible stableman, a gentleman can never have any satisfaction out of his horses. They are hard to get, but there are such. If a man be an accomplished horseman he can train his own servants, and be pretty sure of nearly always being well served. If he know nothing himself he will have to use his own intelligence and learn. In case he will not do this he had better not keep horses. Saddles should be dried in the sun when it is possible. Stirrups and bits should be cleaned at once as it is much easier to prevent rust than remove it. The same rule 233should apply to all harness and to carriages. The best results will never be obtained unless the grooms be given ample time to harness or saddle a horse. Sometimes, of course, in cases of emergency this has to be done “on the jump,” but generally speaking the groom should be given time to do his work with calm carefulness.



All of us have heard of natural riders. It must be that when any one with knowledge of the art of riding speaks in this way that he means to say that the individuals alluded to had a great natural capacity to acquire the art of riding, for riding is an art and does not come to any one except through practice, instruction, and imitation. Some persons can acquire a foreign tongue with what seems an easy facility—while others of equal mentality—have the greatest difficulty and never succeed in any eminent degree. Those to whom the acquirement of foreign tongues is easy have a gift for languages, just as some others have a gift for mathematics or for rhyming or for drawing. And so it is in Equitation. To some riding comes easily, to others it is difficult, while some others seem absolutely incapable of acquiring 235a good seat, good hands, and that knowledge of horse nature which complete the equipment of every expert in the art. I confess that I do not know much about riding schools, nor indeed that I have seen much of them. When I was a boy in Kentucky there were no riding schools there, and I am not at all sure that there have ever been. And yet so competent a judge and careful an observer as Mr. Edward L. Anderson has expressed the opinion that the Kentuckians are the best riders in America.

If this be so, and I agree with him, it must be that the Kentuckians in educating their horses also educated themselves. This seems reasonable enough, for the Kentucky saddle-horse is the best trained of any saddle animals in America, though the circus tricks of what are called the “high-school horse” are unknown. It used to be common there at the county fairs to have rings for men, and for boys under fifteen, in which they competed with one another as to skill in horsemanship. The competitors put their horses through all the paces and were required by the judges to change horses, so as to see what each 236rider could do on a strange horse. These rings were most interesting, and the largest crowds of visitors were usually attracted by these features. I never saw any “circus tricks” but once. Then a German, who had served in the Civil War, entered in the contest making his horse do the common high-school feats, including that of going to his knees and lying down. This German carried off the blue ribbon to the amazement of many, including myself. The fact proved, however, that the Kentuckians, who happened to be judges that day, were not inhospitable to foreign ideas, and recognized that the best rider was the one who had the greatest control over his horse and could get the most out of him. Now I believe that they were right, though at the time I protested against such a judgment with all my might. Since then in the army riding schools many of these arts are properly included in the course of instruction. No good knowledge is amiss in a horse, and the best rider is he who can make his horse do the most kinds of things, even though some of them seem rather absurd and useless. It goes rather against the grain for me to say this for I, like most gentlemen 237riders in America, was brought up with the English notion that to ride straight and fast and be in at the finish was both the beginning and the end of horsemanship, while I looked upon anything else as not only superfluous but rather unmanly. In this country at that time, and to a very great extent now, we looked upon all the Continental people of Europe as most unsportsmanlike and mere dandy frivolers in horsemanship. This is the case in England to-day, universally the case. There the hunting field and the polo grounds are the only places where horsemanship is put to the test. In those fields the riding of Englishmen and Irishmen is superb. No other people can compete with them. That is natural enough, however, as they do more in the way of hunting and polo than any others and pay more attention to the breeding of horses suitable to these kinds of work. But the prejudice against the Continentals in horsemanship is as insular as many other opinions that are cherished there. It is also entirely undeserved. Among the French, the Germans, the Austrians and Italians are splendid riders, men who can go anywhere an Englishman 238can, and also perform feats an Englishman never dreamed of.

I recall very well when Buffalo Bill first took his “Broncho Busters” to England that the press and the people, particularly the horsemen, insisted that these vicious wild horses, that had been spoiled in the breaking, were merely trick horses, trained to their antics and taught to buck and plunge and turn somersaults. At length came the request that some English riders be permitted to try the bronchos. The request was hospitably entertained, and one afternoon several men appeared. They insisted, however, that they be permitted to use English saddles and bridles. This request was acceded to and the experiments were tried. I never saw a more pitiful exhibition of helplessness. They tumbled off as though they were inexperienced babies, and some were more or less hurt. Indeed the experiments resulted in so many accidents that they were given up as too dangerous. The English saddle and the English seat are well adapted to the hunting field, but not at all suitable for the kind of riding cow-punchers have to do and the kind of horses that they have 239to use. This is proved by the fact that when an Englishman goes into ranch life in this country, and many of them have done it, they soon adopt the Mexican saddle and the cowboy seat. The many exhibitions given by Cody in Europe have made the people over there believe that the Rough Rider is the typical American horseman. It is unquestionably an American style that is well adapted to the work and the purpose which created it. And yet there are no schools at which a man can learn rough riding except the ranches. There I am sure there is no systematic instruction; but the beginner observes and imitates the experts, and by practice acquires the art which enables him to “bust” a broncho. Some learn quickly, some slowly, and some never at all.

This is as it is in other kinds of riding whether in the park, over the hurdles or in the hunting field. Instruction, imitation, and practice are what make a rider—the man who rides the most being apt to be the best. Even, however, when a man rides a great deal, unless he use intelligence he will never become either expert or graceful. I have known men who rode for many 240years without acquiring either grace or skill in the saddle. This was either from inaptitude or from a careless disregard of the principles of the art. I have known other men who had strong seats, which enabled them to acquit themselves well in the hunting field, but who never were graceful or seemed entirely at ease. They simply lacked the grace that usually is part and parcel of good horsemanship. It is generally supposed that at West Point Military Academy there is maintained the best riding school in the country. This is probably true. But I have seen comparatively few American army officers who looked “smart” in the saddle. Their idea is, no doubt, to be businesslike rather than finished. In this I believe they are quite wrong for “slouchiness” is out of harmony with the military seat just as it is in the park or the show ring. It finds its only appropriate place among the rough riders of the plain.

“I saw young Harry, with his beaver on,
His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly arm’d,—
Rise from the ground like feather’d Mercury,
And vaulted with such ease into his seat,
As if an angel dropp’d down from the clouds,
241To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus;
And witch the world with noble horsemanship.”

The Indian should probably be considered the real American type[11] of rider. There were no horses here when the whites came, but the Indians rather quickly caught and subjugated some of the wild horses that were descended from the castaways of the Spanish explorers. They undoubtedly taught themselves to ride in the first place, though many of them had seen mounted white men. It is impossible to think that in the many generations that they have been using horses, that they have not improved in their horsemanship. At any rate they have a style of their own, and as bareback riders they cut a great dash. But they are not good horsemen. They are cruel to their horses, and are far from getting the best results out of their mounts. The whites, as 242was proved year after year in the frontier warfare, can outride them even when the whites carry more weight and more impedimenta.

11.  I hope it will never occur to a visitor to this country to think that what is called the mounted traffic squad of the New York police represent any American type of riders. With them it is go-as-you-please and kind Heaven help us from falling off. Only a few moments before making this note I saw a group of these police going through the Fourth avenue. Some were ambling, some single-footing, some in a hand gallop and some trotting. One noble horse, fit for a general’s charger, was going two or three gaits at once and the rider keeping his seat with the help of the reins.

The best horseman usually gets his instruction and acquires most of his skill in his early youth. But there is no use in putting a boy on a horse until he has intelligence enough to learn what he is told to do and strength sufficient to keep his seat and manage his horse. The pony for very young children is merely a plaything. No child ever learned much from a pony or by means of a pony. The horse is what a man rides, and it is upon a horse that a child should be taught. A large horse would not be suitable for a boy of ten or eleven, the earliest age that a boy can learn much that is valuable of the art. But the small horse, something like a polo pony for instance, may be and should be very much of a horse—all horse, indeed. Where there is a good riding school—that is the place to send a lad for his first instruction. There are some grooms, however, who make excellent instructors, even though as a general thing grooms look like the dickens in the saddle. They know horses, however, and know how to ride 243them, even though they do not acquire the finish and excellence that is to be expected of gentlemen. But as critics of the riding of others they are often unexcelled. Have some kind of a master, unless he be an ignoramus, for a lad in the beginning, and by no means let him go at the game by the light of nature. Uninstructed he is sure to acquire habits that it will be harder for him to overcome than it would have been for him to be correct from the beginning. And he should be given a reason for everything he is told to do. That it is necessary to be reasonable in riding makes me sometimes think that it would be just as well not to put a boy on a horse until he was fifteen or sixteen. The objection to this delay is that a lad will be kept out of four or five years of fun in the very playtime of his life.

A beginner should use only a snaffle-bit with one rein. The awkwardness of a beginner and his disposition to help keep his seat with the aid of the reins is frequently a severe hardship on a horse and pretty sure to ruin a horse’s mouth. Besides both snaffle and curb are in the beginning confusing, and too much of a handful for a 244tyro in a novel position. Of course a correct seat in the saddle is impossible at first, but an effort at it should be made from the start. When the beginner is placed in the saddle he should sit up straight and let his legs hang down straight. Then the stirrups should be adjusted so that when the ball of the foot is upon the iron, the leg still being straight, the heel will be about three inches below the stirrup. Then the rider should be required to so bend his knees that his toe and heel will be on a level without moving back into the saddle so that his buttocks will be against the cantle. This bending of the knees will bring them in a position so that they can clutch the horse and secure his seat. Great emphasis should be laid upon the fact that the toes should not be turned out. The feet should be parallel with the horse. When they are so the knees come in contact with the saddle and the seat is secured. When a rider turns out his toes he must depend upon the calf of the leg to form his clutch. This not only is awkward, but it prevents the thighs from doing their part of the work.

Being thus mounted the beginner should only 245walk his horse at first. Indeed I should not recommend anything faster than a walk in the first lesson. The object of that first lesson is to familiarize a novice to a novel position, and enable him to know something of the sensation of being astride a horse. If he go faster at first he is sure to bump around and tug on the reins, the latter being about the greatest sin against horsemanship. After this he can go in a very slow trot, and still later in a hand gallop. Having acquired the capacity to keep his seat in these gaits with his feet parallel to the horse and his knees well in and without tugging on the reins to keep his balance, he has reached the point when he may be instructed to ride with both reins, snaffle, and curb. There are some riders who never use other than the snaffle, indeed it was quite a fad in the neighborhood of New York a few years ago. But I do not believe that the very best results can be obtained without the curb. The curb enables a rider to keep his horse better in hand, and a horse not in hand under the saddle is apt to do several disagreeable things—sprawl or be slouchy in his gaits, for instance, or worse than all tumble down.

246To hold the snaffle and curb reins in the left hand properly so that either one or both may be used at pleasure is most important. The reins of the curb bit should be divided by the little finger, the reins of the snaffle by the long finger, the loose ends of both pairs being carried through the hand and held by the thumb against the forefinger. The right hand should be kept on the loose ends of the reins behind the left, and when reins are needed to be shortened the right hand should pull them or either of them through the bridle hand; but when the right hand is needed in assistance of the bridle hand, the right should be placed in front of the left. The knuckles of the bridle rein should be kept up. This all seems simple enough, and it is so simple when learned that an experienced rider never gives it a thought; but new riders some times find it hard to learn, indeed some never learn it.

The beginner should not use a spur. Most people think a spur is an instrument of punishment. It should seldom be so used. It is merely a tool to assist the rider in conveying his wishes to the horse. But to an obstinate, pig-headed horse it is 247a reminder that the rider has something in reserve. The horse, by the way, is not the intellectual animal that some think, and “horse sense” ought not to be much of a compliment to a man. Seven horses out of ten will become bullies, and get the upper hand if they be suffered so to do. There is one sense, however, that even a bullying horse always preserves—he knows the touch of the master hand and stops his “monkey shines” in very short order. But there are other horses—crazy horses and fool horses. The crazy horse can be subdued by the Rarey or other similar method, but for the fool horse there is no hope. He learns nothing, remembers nothing—the glue factory for him is the only proper place.

And how late in life can a man take up horseback riding? That is hard to say. There are men and men—some at forty are to all intents and purposes sixty, while others at sixty appear not over forty. So long as a man retains a reasonable amount of suppleness and agility he is not too old to take up horseback riding and get great pleasure and benefit out of it, while if he began as a youth and has kept it up there is no reason why 248he should give it up so long as he can sit a horse and the exercise is not too exhausting. Remember what Lord Palmerston said: “The best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a horse.” And it is so; there is no exercise that so aids digestion, none which more completely takes the cobwebs out of the brain. A man who takes up horseback riding in middle life need not expect to become as accomplished say as his son who began at twelve; but if he will give his mind to it he will be apt to do very well and will surely get from it both pleasure and profit. I know a lady who did not take up horseback riding until she was a mother. I have seen her in the hunting field since she became a grandmother sailing along as gaily as a bird, and even taking a tumble with the serene amiability of a youth in small clothes. But she has found the fabled spring.

That every rider will sooner or later have a fall is inevitable. Therefore when the first one comes there should be no discouragement, even to a man of middle age. Many falls are prevented when a horse stumbles by gathering the horse, and assisting him to regain his footing. But often, 249in jumping particularly, the fall cannot be prevented. When the rider feels it coming the best way is to take the feet from the stirrups, tuck in the chin, and fall as much like a ball as possible, holding the reins, however, until the feet are surely clear of the stirrups. I was recently knocked off my horse on a steep hillside path by coming in contact with the limb of a tree. I rolled down the hillside for fifty feet, but suffered no inconvenience though I weigh 175 pounds and carry an undue amount of that weight at the middle. Had I landed on my head, the consequences would probably have been serious.

Every rider should learn how to make a horse change his lead in the gallop, that is, change the leading foot from right to left and back again. Horses naturally go with the right foot in front or the left foot in front, as the case may be, just as children are more dextrous with the right hand or the left. When the change is desired, the horse should be well in hand, and when from right to left is required the right heel should be applied when the leading foot is on the ground, and the hind legs are leaving it; immediately 250thereafter as the right fore foot is rising the left rein should make a slight play and the change in lead will be effected without a false step or disturbance in pace. Every rider should practise making figure eights, each circle being from twenty to thirty feet in diameter, and asking his horse to change the lead when going from one circle to the other. In some show rings the judges require that the riders do this, and those who accomplish it easily and gracefully help their score very considerably.

The American jockeys have developed a new method of race riding, a kind of acrobatic horsemanship, which when the English first saw it they called the “monkey-on-the-stick” style. The jockeys use very short stirrups and seem to throw the weight even forward of the withers so as to relieve the hind legs, where the propelling power is, from as much weight as possible. It seems effective and has been almost universally adopted by all save steeplechase riders, who still use a stirrup long enough for both knees and legs to embrace the horse—or as Mr. Anderson says, they still ride like men.

251A good rider is apt to be also a tolerable driver. The contrary of this, however, is not in the least the case. There are many good drivers who were never mounted in their lives. Probably also there are many more good drivers in this country than good riders. It is with us a more universal method of employing the horse. Notwithstanding this, good driving is by no means universal. Indeed I doubt whether it is common. It seems the easiest thing in the world to sit in a wagon and pull on the right rein or the left and go wheresoever one chooses. Because it seems so easy all kinds and conditions of people essay to drive no matter how little experience they may have. I have sometimes been nearly scared out of my wits in driving with a man or woman whose every act displayed ignorance of even first principles. Probably no more grievous insult could be paid to a man than to betray lack of confidence in his capacity to drive, and latterly when I have been asked to go with a man, even to the golf links two miles away, when I knew he did not know how to handle the reins or manage a horse I have blandly declined. Death comes to all of us, but there seems to be 252lack of wisdom in seeking it in such an ignoble fashion.

The men who train trotting horses in America are the most wonderful drivers the world has ever seen. They seem to get more speed out of a horse at less expense than any others. I have often thought that the lowering of trotting records in America had been assisted in a great degree by the increasing skill of American drivers. How many seconds this skill may be responsible for I have no idea—maybe one second, maybe five or ten. But their patience in developing the horse and their skill in driving is responsible for a good deal. I have often watched the trotters on the Speedway in New York, and many a time I have seen contests which I was sure would have been reversed had the drivers been changed. No doubt some men have an aptness for driving, just as others have an aptness for riding; but driving is also an art which can be acquired only by instruction, imitation, and practice together with a knowledge of and consideration for horses. There are so many things that a man must know to make him a good driver that it would take a book 253by itself in which to set down the rules. I shall not make such an essay, but content myself with a few fundamental principles.

The first that I shall mention may seem trifling but is really of much importance. It matters not so much what kind of coat a driver may wear, but he must have a hat that fits so well that it will not be blown off even in a gale. Many awkward happenings have resulted from a driver’s efforts to secure his hat at a moment when all his attention was needed by his horse or horses. He should also have proper gloves. They should be loose enough to enable him free use of his fingers, and indeed of all of his hands, but not so loose that they will slip off while he is driving. A size larger than his dress gloves would, I should say, be about the right thing. They should also be heavy enough to prevent the reins from hurting his hands. Dogskin is probably the best material.

Then he should, even in a runabout, be, at least, above his horse. This is regulated by a driver’s cushion with a slant, the back being about three inches above the front. His feet should not be sprawled out against the dashboard, 254nor yet tucked awkwardly underneath him. Indeed with a driver’s cushion either attitude would be uncomfortable if not impossible. What he should seek for is a position in which he is at ease in all his movements for a driver has to drive all the time, at every moment from the starting out until he sets foot on the ground and turns over his horse to the groom. It is carelessness in driving that causes nearly all the accidents, for it is the unexpected that is always happening.

One should always drive with the left hand, using the right to hold the whip and give assistance to the left when it is required to shorten the rein. A good mouth is just as excellent in a driving horse as in a saddle-horse. The mouth should be like velvet, and at all times responsive to the telegraphic signal from the hands of the driver. To drive with a slack rein makes a horse slouchy even when a check is used. To pull on a horse hardens his mouth and lessens the control of the driver. Nothing is more unpleasant than a pulling horse. It is as fatiguing in harness as in the saddle. And a puller is the easiest thing to accomplish. 255When it has been accomplished the driver does as much work as the horse. To smack a horse with the reins instead of using the whip may be well enough for old Dobbin on the farm, but it is a silly habit which hurts the horse, without being effective for the purpose intended, while it proves the driver to have no knowledge of the business. Jerking on the reins, or rather giving a pull and then letting them loose to make a horse quicken his gait is unworthy even of a peddler or a city huckster.

Keep your eye on your horse. That is the most important thing in driving. The driver is in command, and it is the horse’s part to obey. This may seem an unnecessary thing when jogging along on a long clear road. But we should not jog along. A brisk pace is the proper pace to drive at, and if the road be very long a rest can be taken and no time be lost, while if the journey be only seven or eight miles the brisk pace reduces the time, and the horse is sooner in the stable and at rest. Poking along at a jog will in time ruin any horse. It will spoil his style, detract from his speed, and take away his spirit. When a horse is taken along 256briskly, it is absolutely necessary to keep him always well in hand—not a pulling on the bit, but a feeling of the bit so that the horse will know every instant of the time that he is being driven by one who is master.

A driver should keep in communion with his horse. A horse has a keen sense of hearing and a good memory for a voice. The master should have his horse well acquainted with his voice. But he should not do too much talking or chirruping when other horses are about. That is a discourtesy to other drivers whose horses may be fretted and made restless when it is meant that they should stand still. The disregard of this is not only annoying but has been the cause of many accidents at crowded railway stations, where many traps are waiting for the home-comers.

As to the method of holding the reins Mr. Price Collier, a most accomplished horseman and charming writer on driving says: “The reins should be held with the near rein between the thumb and first finger, the off-rein between the third and fourth fingers. Hold your hand so that your knuckles, turned towards your horse, and 257the buttons on your waistcoat, will make two parallel lines up and down with the hand three or four inches from the body. The reins should be clasped, or held by the two lower, or fourth and fifth fingers; the second finger should point straight across and upward enough to keep the near rein over the knuckle of that finger and the thumb pointing in the same direction, but not so much upward. The reins are held not by squeezing them on their flat surfaces, but by pressure on their edges. The edges, in a word, being held between the two last fingers and the root of the thumb. This arrangement makes a flexible joint of the wrist, for the reins and for the bit to play upon. This suppleness of wrist, just enough and not too much, is what is called ‘hands.’ It means that your wrist gives just enough play to the horse’s mouth to enable him to feel your influence, without being either confused or hampered by it. As this is the key to perfection in all driving, everybody claims to possess it; only the elect few have it.”

In leaving the stable or starting out from any other place, you should go quietly. Nothing is 258more vulgar than to rush off with the idea of “cutting a dash.” It does not give the horse a fair show, and driver and horse are not yet in good adjustment. And in stopping also it is vulgar to rush to the stopping place and throw the horse on his haunches by a quick pull. Neither of these things is done by good drivers, but is the practice of either the ignorant or vulgar who wish to attract attention to themselves at places where there are likely to be spectators.

I have often heard it said that two horses were easier to drive than one. I always marked down the person who made such a remark as not being thoroughly in earnest, or not knowing the subject he was discussing. I do not know how much harder it is to drive two horses than one. That is I cannot express the difference mathematically. But there is a good deal. Any reasonably strong man can prevent one horse from getting away with him. Few can prevent a thoroughly frightened team if they once get off. The thing is not to let them get off. Not to permit this requires that he shall control two animals, for when one of a pair gets frightened he quickly communicates his 259fear to his mate. When the panic is serious then serious trouble is likely to ensue. With a runaway horse or a runaway pair the circumstances of the moment must control. If the road is clear and the driver can keep the horse straight all may go well; but horses nearly always choose to get frightened when the conditions are nearly the opposite of this. Then the circumstances of the moment must guide the driver. If he keeps his head cool and can prevent collisions, he will probably come out safely. But the best of them have been run away with. This comes sooner or later to every man who uses horses constantly. Eternal vigilance will prevent most all of the accidents that might happen; but human nature is fallible and horses are very uncertain. Carelessness in the driver, however, is responsible for ninety and nine of every hundred driving accidents that happen. The flying automobile, in recent years, has been responsible for a great many. I must say, however, that I never met but once with anything but the greatest consideration from automobilists that I have encountered when driving. The discourteous one proved to be a dentist, and 260the mission of dentists in the world is, I believe, to give people pain.

Every driver should know when his horses are properly harnessed and hitched to the vehicle. And he should never fail to look over the whole “turn out” in every detail to see that all is secure and each part in proper adjustment to every other part. The horse show authorities have formulated rules as to what is proper for one vehicle and another. The experts are veritable martinets and attach as much importance to a strap here and a buckle there as the unlucky King of Prussia, who did battle with Napoleon, attached to one row or two rows of buttons on a soldier’s coat. Intelligence, however, can find its way without much regard to these fine points. But it is never safe to trust to grooms and stablemen even though they may really know more about it than the driver himself. The driver is the master, and he should make the inspection even though it be only a formal one—he should assume a virtue though he has it not. Inspections of the work of stablemen do not go amiss unless the unlucky master should take to finding mares’ nests. Two 261or three such discoveries will hurt discipline amazingly.

There is now a good deal of four-in-hand driving in America. It is only now pleasure driving, and quite different from that of the coaching days of our grandfathers’ time. This is an art which a man may be able to pick up himself. But the safest and quickest course is to take instruction from a professional or from a friend, if so amiable a friend can be found. It is, of course, more difficult to drive four than two horses. But this can be learned by any cool-headed man who has the good fortune to be a horseman to start out with. Not having that gift he would do well to let it alone. Some of the most accomplished four-in-hand drivers about New York are women, which shows that it is not main strength that is effective, but skill and practice. Practice and intelligence combined will overcome most all of the difficulties. By practice I do not mean an hour a day for a couple of weeks, but six hours a day for two or three years; and by intelligence I mean the instructed knowledge which enables a driver to know the reason for each thing that is done.



As has been frequently remarked before in this volume, the horse is not a very intelligent animal. Nor has he any of that natural affection and fidelity that is so remarkable in the dog. This being the case—and it is so no matter what the sentimentalists who know nothing about the subject may say—the training of a young horse is a thing requiring much patient intelligence on the part of the person who undertakes the job. But this patience is rewarded if the young horse have qualities that are worthy of development. I fancy that seven horses out of ten in the United States are broken before their training begins. This means, in my opinion, that a large percentage of a horse’s value is deliberately thrown away in the very beginning of his career of usefulness. A horse broken is a horse half spoiled. The 263“Broncho Buster” is the typical horse breaker. Those who have not been on the frontier have seen the Broncho Buster’s methods in the Wild West circuses. A young horse or a wild horse is saddled and bridled. A Rough Rider mounts and stays on the back of the young thing until the animal is conquered and subdued through fear and fatigue. This brutal method of treating young horses used to be universal in America. That so much of it should still be done is not complimentary to the intelligence and kindliness of American horse owners. It is about on a par with the treatment that weak-minded persons received a century or so ago. They were beaten and maltreated and kept in order by cruelty and harshness—ruled, indeed, by the fear of those who should have treated them with the most patient kindness. When the spirit is taken out of a horse by his early handling, we can never hope to develop his small intelligence very far, or to guide his instincts in the right direction. While a horse’s intelligence is of a low order, he has a fine memory. His fear being aroused in the beginning, he remains 264afraid, and is controlled by his fear alone—his fear of being hurt. This always seemed to me a cowardly way of acting, for the horse is one of the most timid of all animals. To beat a horse is about as noble as to beat a child.

The breeders of good horses are pretty generally giving up the rough methods of breaking. Their horses are too valuable to be trifled with in this way. There are some horses that are naturally vicious. With them the gentle method will not accomplish the desired result. They have to be conquered in another way. When this is the case, I much prefer the Rarey method. Rarey so fashioned a harness that he could cast a horse the moment that a horse disobeyed. After a horse has been thrown a few times he usually comes to the conclusion that obedience is the safer plan. There is nothing cruel in the Rarey method and with bad horses it is much to be preferred to the brutal breaking style. The horse is not hurt, he is merely surprised at the result of his own waywardness.

The Arabs handle their horses from the time they are foaled, so that they are from the beginning accustomed to men, women and children 265and all the other things common to a human habitation. That is the way all young horses should be treated. To be sure this involves a good deal of work and many think that it does not pay, so they turn their colts out and let them get two or three years old before anything is done with them. This is as wise as to let a boy run wild and uninstructed until a year or so before he is bidden to go forth and earn his own living. When a colt is accustomed to persons and not afraid of being touched or led, only patience and intelligence is required to complete his education without any fight or contest whatever.

Before the colt is a year old it should be accustomed to the cavesson while running in a paddock, and when a year old it should be practised on the lunge, a rein of fifteen feet long attached to the nose-piece of the cavesson. This is a head-collar with a metal nose-band, upon the front and each side of which are rings. To the front ring the leather lunge is fastened and from the side rings straps will be buckled to a surcingle or girth at such lengths as will prevent the colt from extending the face much beyond the perpendicular. 266The colt should then be led about, stopping and starting, time and time again until it has some comprehension of the word of command. The feet should be lifted so that the colt realizes that the trainer has no intention to do him harm. After good terms have been established the colt should be practised on the lunge, the trainer standing in the center of a circle, and letting the colt walk first and then trot slowly around the circumference of the circle—first to the right, then to the left. These short lessons should be given every day. Soon a colt enjoys the exercise, evidently thinking it play. If it be a driving horse that is being trained, harness should soon be added so that the colt will not be afraid of it, and also a light bridle with a snaffle-bit or, better still, a leather bit. If it be a saddle-horse that is being trained, the lunging and bitting should continue until the colt is passed two years old before he is saddled or mounted.

Suppose we take the saddle-horse first. Two-year-old colts are often trained by light weight riders. At three their serious education is continued, and at four they are given their accomplishments. 267The colt, after being practised on the lunge, should be taught somewhat the meaning and the purpose of the bit before he is mounted. Patience and gentleness to the end that fear may be banished will enable a trainer to get a colt into such an acquiescent condition that when the rider finally gets into the saddle the colt accepts the innovation with nothing exceeding a mild surprise. The saddle should be used in the lunge exercise several times before a man mounts. Some recommend that a weight, such as a bag of meal, be tied into the saddle towards the end of the lunge exercises so that the colt will get used to weight on the back. This is not a bad idea. Before the rider mounts the first time, the stirrups should be pulled down and pressure be put upon them so that the colt may feel the weight of the saddle. When the foot of the rider is first put into the stirrup he should raise himself very gently, the left hand being in the mane of the colt. After bearing all his weight a few seconds in the stirrup he should return to the ground without taking his seat in the saddle. This he should repeat several times, the number of times depending upon how the colt 268acts. At any rate, this half-mounting should be continued until the colt is no longer disturbed by it. Then the rider may take his seat in the saddle. This should be done as quietly as possible. He should sit in the saddle a few minutes and then dismount. The mounting and dismounting should continue until the colt is accustomed to it. This will not be long if everything be done easily, slowly and gently. An awkward man has no business in trying to train a saddle-horse. A flop into the saddle would, naturally, frighten a colt and defeat the purpose in view. When the colt has become used to a rider in the saddle the rider should close his legs against the sides of the colt, draw a slight tension on the reins, and induce the colt to go forward in a walk. There should be nothing but the walk in the first few lessons. In them, however, the colt should be taught the meaning of the bit so that he could be guided in whatever direction the rider wishes. In nine times out of ten a colt that has been treated as I have described will be quiet and do what is asked of him without any excitement. If the colt does get excited then the whole work will have to be done over and 269over, with more patience and more gentleness, until the colt acquiesces. It is most important that all these first steps be taken quite slowly, otherwise the colt will get hot and excited, and then may come a fight which is the thing most to be avoided. I can see a rough rider turning up a scornful nose at these admonitions. Very well! Be scornful as much as you choose, I am not writing about the training of a broncho, but of a horse fit for a gentleman to ride.

After the mounted colt goes quietly in the walk, then he should be trotted gently, and if the rider is a light weight, cantered, too. But as a two-year-old work should be very light—play, indeed. At three years old the colt may be confirmed in his gaits, but not worked a great deal harder than at two. At four years old the colt is ready for the finishing touches and the beginning of his life work. But he is not nearly up to the hard work of which he should be capable between six and sixteen.

Trainers of colts for driving hitch them up when they are yearlings, and drive them a little to a low cart built with long shafts and running out behind. Before being hitched up, however, he 270is harnessed and driven around with a pair of long reins, being guided by the driver to one way and another, and being stopped and started at the word of command. When the colt is harnessed to the cart a strong kicking strap should be used. A few lessons a week driven in such a cart will work wonders so that when the colt is two years old there will be no difficulty in driving him in an ordinary road cart. In driving a colt the same precautions should be used as in training a colt for the saddle—it should not be frightened or treated roughly.

It is probably more important to accustom a young driving horse than a riding horse to the sights and sounds that are likely to be encountered on the road. Here, too, patience and gentle firmness are amply rewarded. Whenever I see a driver thrashing a young horse to compel him to go by an automobile or a trolley car or some other strange and fearsome thing, I have a desire to get the whip and apply it to the driver. Such treatment of a horse is not only cruel, but it is utterly foolish. The horse is frightened at what he sees. He is afraid that in some way it will hurt 271him. And why should he not be? These devil wagons are frightful enough in appearance to scare a less timid animal than a horse. There is only one course to pursue. Teach the horse that the automobile or other frightful machine will not hurt him. Do this, not with the whip, not with shouts and execrations, but by leading the horse up to the offending machine until he realizes that it is not some monster of destruction. Patience and sense will prevent almost any horse from acquiring bad and dangerous habits of shying and bolting. Curing a horse of established habits is quite another and a different thing. It is like reforming the dissolute or regenerating the depraved. The horse, however, is not blameworthy. These bad habits are always the result of foolishness on the part of some man. The sensible course is not to permit a horse to acquire bad habits. This is a thousand times easier than curing them. Patient firmness and gentle insistence will prevent bad habits in all save those that are fools. A fool horse is too worthless to bother about.



In the horse shows an exhibitor, except in the Thoroughbred classes, is not required to furnish the pedigrees of his horses. The judges, therefore, decide entirely on conformation and action. These two things are what make or unmake the excellence of the individual animal. A well-formed horse is apt to have good action. Sometimes this is not so, just as sometimes a woman may have beauty of form and feature and lack animation, vivacity, and that infinite variety and sympathy which recently we have accustomed ourselves to call temperament. Good conformation in a horse, however, is the advantage which conduces to good action. When action and conformation supplement, adjust, and confirm each the other, we have what may be called an approach to the ideal horse. I have never seen the ideal horse; 273but pretty close to it. I have owned a few that were very satisfactory, but never one that was entirely so. Still I have hope. I suspect that when one realizes his ideal in anything, life loses some of its zest. The pursuit, the seeking, the longing for the unattained—these are the things that make life so interesting, so absorbing. If I had the horse I have long had in my mind I should be glad, no doubt. But I might be sorry, too. There is one saving fact, however. We change our ideals as we get more experience and further knowledge. I have changed my opinions often about horses, since I first became interested in them. While writing the last chapter of this book I confess that I have changed some of my opinions during the two or three months that I have been engaged in the composition. I have learned some things that I did not know before; I have parted with some prejudices which I ought never to have entertained. So it was inevitable that I should modify my views. If, therefore, I should ever obtain my ideal in horse-flesh I might awaken a few weeks later to find that I really wanted something just a little different. I seek the ideal, therefore, without fear 274of achieving it and meanwhile I have lots of fun with horses that are not more than half what they ought to be.

The oldest writer on horses was Xenophon. He says: “The neck should not be thrown out from the chest like a boar’s, but like a cock’s, should rise straight up to the poll, and be slim at the bend, while the head, though bony, should have but a small jaw. The neck would then protect the rider, and the eye see what lies before the feet.”

Xenophon is the oldest writer on the subject. Mr. Price Collier is the latest and in many regards the best, because he not only knows how to write, but knows what he is writing about. Here is what he says about the proportions of a well-formed horse:

“One cannot go to buy a horse with a tape-measure, but certain proportions are well enough to keep in mind. The length of the head of a well-proportioned horse is almost equal to the distance; (1) from the top of the withers to the point of the shoulder; (2) from the lowest point of the back to the abdomen; (3) from the point of the stifle to the point of the hock; (4) from the point 275of the hock to the lower level of the hoof; (5) from the shoulder blades to the point of the haunch. Two and a half times the length of the head gives: (1) the height of the withers and the height of the croup above the ground, and (2) very nearly the length from the point of the shoulder to the extreme of the buttock.”

The tape-measure test is all very well, but if a man does not have an eye for a horse he will never be able to select a good one by mathematics. And an eye for a horse is a singular endowment. I have known men of proved intellectuality quite incapable of learning about horses. Also I have known men who, in the ordinary affairs of life were very fools but who knew good horses by a kind of instinct. The man with an eye for a horse takes the whole animal in at a glance; his minute examination, in nine cases out of ten only confirms his instant judgment. When I am buying a horse I do not need to hesitate very long. I have inspected and bought as many as twenty in a day, giving not more than fifteen or twenty minutes to each horse. Yet these purchases in the 276main have been satisfactory. No one of them, however, was my ideal.

In a general way, all horses should have certain points. Therefore general rules apply in all the types, from the Pony to the Percheron. Every horse should have (1) a bony head and small ears; (2) medium-sized eyes, neither protruding nor sunken, and without an excess of white in the pupil; (3) the forehead should be broad; (4) the face should be straight and neither concave nor convex; (5) the neck should be small and lean, its length regulated by the size of the head and the weight of the shoulders, the head being so joined to the neck that the neck seems to control the head instead of the reverse; (6) the shoulders should be oblique or sloping; (7) the back should be short; (8) the ribs should be well rounded, definitely separated and full of length; (9) the legs should be flat and lean, with knees wide from side to side and flat in front, the upper bone of the leg being long and muscular in proportion to the lower or the common bone; (10) the feet should be moderately large; (11) the pasterns should be long rather than short, but, better still, 277neither long nor short; (12) the hair should be short and fine.

I might have added another point, making thirteen in all, but for luck I stop at the dozen, feeling sure that if any of my readers gets a horse with the good points noted he will have a treasure beyond the lot of most men and maybe far beyond his deserts.

A well-formed horse ought to have good action. This does not always follow. But good conformation without good action is a kind of disappointing fraud. The best action is that which is natural to the horse. We expect this in families and in types. But training can modify the action of a horse, indeed, change it entirely as when a pacer is converted into a trotter. With pacers, however, I am not concerned as I presume that this book is written for gentlemen.

There can be no good action which is not straight. In the walk, the trot and the gallop a horse must move his feet and legs in parallel lines. The horse that does that naturally can be taught the other things that may not come to him by nature—high stepping, for instance. When 278a horse moves always without paddling or any other lateral motion, he is a very fit subject for cultivation. He can be taught to go daintily and gracefully as our grandmothers walked through the minuet de la couer. Throwing the feet far out in front or lunging, as it is called, is a very ugly trick and can be remedied in the shoeing, I am told. I believe this to be true, but I have never tried it. A horse with this inclination always seemed to me badly bred—Hambletonian, for instance—and I have not recently bothered with such. Paddling also can often be corrected by shoeing. General rules cannot be laid down as to these things. Each horse has his individuality. He must be so studied. When an owner brings general knowledge and acute intelligence to this study he can determine in a little while what is best to be done in each case. In the great majority of cases the best plan is to sell the horse that seems unpromising, but as no horse is ever entirely satisfactory some of them must be retained and educated by training, a training dominated by gentleness, courage, firmness and patience—but most of all patience.





  1. Added CONTENTS.
  2. Changed ‘sooner of later’ to ‘sooner or later’ on p. 148.
  3. Silently corrected typographical errors.
  4. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.