Oscar Wilde.

Lady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest online

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a period antedating the real development of the trotter and the
keeping of records of performances, and hence we must not
judge of his merits as a trotting sire by comparing the list of his
performers with lists of later generations. Green Mountain
Maid was one of the best of her day and made a record of 2:28?
in 1853, and the same year the famous pacing gelding Hero
made a record of 2:20-j. Probably tlie best trotter from his loins
was Sontag, with a wagon record in 1855 of 2:31. This mare
was originally a pacer, and whether his dam was by imported
Messenger or not we must conclude that the tendency to the
lateral action was strong in his progeny. Lady Shannon,
Trouble, Vermont, Modesty, and True John were all famous per-
formers in their day. The last named was kept in the stud a
fcAV years and was known as the Hanchett Horse. He fell into
the hands of Sim D. Hoagland, of this vicinity, became ugly and



messenger's descendants. 2G5

was made a gelding. As a weight puller he had no equal in his
day. His daughters became the dams of many noted joroducers
and performers, and through the doubling of his blood and its
predominating influence we have the famous General Knox and
liis tribe. But few of his sons were kept as stallions; among
tliem the best known is Hambletoniaii, 814, known as the Parris
Horse and the sire of the stout campaigner, Joker, 2:22^. Ver-
mont Hambletonian (known as the Noble or Harrington Horse)
was one of his best and best-bred sons. He died in 1865, leaving
a valuable progeny.

Hambletonian (Jltdson's) was a brown horse and resembled
liis sire very much in both size and form. He was foaled 1821 , got
by Bishop's Hambletonian, son of Messenger; dam by Wells'
Magnum Bonum. This Magnum Bonum family abounded in
that region, and it was a very good one, whatever the blood may
have been. This horse was bred by Judge Underbill, of Dorset,
Vermont, and sold, 1329, to Dr. Nathan Judson, of Pawlet, Ver-
mont. He was kept in that region till he died about 1841. His
progeny Avere very numerous and valuable.

Hambletoxian (Andbus') was a brown horse nearly sixteen
hands high. He was a well formed and evenly balanced horse,
all over, with an objectionable lack of bone just below the fore-
knee. His head and ear were strongly after the Messenger
model. I have never been able to determine just who bred him,
and consequently his blood on the side of the dam is not fully
established. He was foaled about 1840, got by Judson 's Hamble-
tonian, and out of a mare which Mr. B. B. Sherman says was by
old Magnum Bonum. He seems to have known this mare well
and speaks of her as a very superior animal. This would indi-
cate inbreeding to the Magnum Bonums, and as they were a light-
limbed family we may account for this horse's defects in that re-
spect. He was owned a number of years by Mr. Andrus, of
Pawlet, and passed into the hands of G. A. Austin, of Orwell,
Vermont. In 1853-4 Mr. Austin sent him to Hlinois, along
with Drury's Ethan Allen, Black Hawk Prophet, Morgan Tiger
and some other stallions, in charge of Mr. Wetherbee, for sale.
In 1854 they were removed to Muscatine, Iowa, and several of
them sold there, among them the Andrus Horse. He was then stiff
in his limbs, showing the effects of previous neglect and abuse. He
died at Muscatine in 1857. His progeny there were defective in
bone. I am told several of his daughters in Vermont have left



266 THE HOKSE OF AMEEICA.

good stock there and thus perpetuated his name in the second
and third generations. But his chief title to fame has been
secured to him by his renowned daughter Princess, the dam of
the great Happy Medium. In 1851 Mr. L. B. Adams, who then
owned her, bred the Isaiah Wilcox mare, by Burdick's Engineer,
son of Engineer by Messenger, to Andrus' Hambletonian, and,
in a nutshell, the union of this great-grandson of Messenger
with this great-granddaughter of Messenger produced Princess.
This pedigree of Princess is incontrovertibly established and will be
given in fuller detail in the history of her son, Happy Medium.



CHAPTER XXI.

HAMBLETONIAN AND HIS FAMILY.

'The greatest progenitor in Horse History — Mr. Kellogg's description, and com-
ments tbereon — An analysis of Hambletonian, structurally considered —
His carriage and action — As a three-year-old trotter — Details of his stud
service — Statistics of the Hambletonian family — History and ancestry of
his dam, the Charles Kent Mare — Her grandson. Green's Bashaw and his
dam.

Hambletonian", 10. — It has been a matter of constant regret
that in the compilation of the first volume of the Register I at-
tached the name "Rysdyk's" to this horse, and this misstep has
served as a kind of apparent justification for very many men to
seize upon the name "Hambletonian," with their own name as a
prefix. This has led to great confusion and annoyance to all
that body of men who have anything to do with records and cor-
rect pedigrees. Fortunately, however, the evil has become so
apparent that many writers are beginning to use the numbers,
and we now very frequently hear men speak of "Hambletonian,
10," as the true designation of this horse.

As no horse of any blood or period in this or any other country
has excited an interest so universal, or represented such a vast
sum of money in his offspring and descendants, I must try to
give an account of him and his family — ancestors and descend-
ants — as full and accurate as the materials at hand will enable
me. He was a beautiful bay color, bred by Jonas Seely, of Sugar
Loaf, Orange County, New York, foaled 1849, got by Abdallah;
dam the Kent Mare, by imported Bellfo under; grandam One
Eye, by Hambletonian, son of Messenger; great-grandam Silver-
tail, by imported Messenger; great-great-grandam Black Jin,
breeding unknown. He was sold with his dam, when a suckling,
to Mr. William M. Rysdyk, of Chester, in the same county, and
he remained his till he died in March, 1876. He has been de-
scribed by a great many writers, but the most minute and accu-
rate description I have ever seen is from the pen of "Hark Com-
.stock" (Peter C. Kellogg), which I will here present, and after it



208 THE HORSE OF AMERICA.

note any point upon "which my own judgment differs from his.
It should be remembered that this description was made when
the horse was breaking down with the weight of years:

Hambletonian, now twenty-six years old, js a rich deep mahogany bay, with
blacic legs, the black extending very high up on the arms and stifles. His
mane was originally black, and in his younger days very ornamental; rather
light, like that of the blood-horse, and of medium length, never reaching below
the lower line of the neck, but uniform throughout. His foretop was always
light. At the present time not a vestige of either remains, they having
gradually disappeared until crest and crown are bald. His tail is long and
full. When we first knew him it was very full, but is also thinning with his
advancing years. The hair of both was black as a raven's wing, and entirely
devoid of wave or curl. His marks are a very small star and two white ankles
behind, but the coronets being dotted with black spots, the hoofs are mainly
dark. Muzzle dark. Head large and bony, with profile inclining to the Roman
order; jowl deep; jaws not as wide apart as in some of his descendants, yet not
deficient. Eye very large and prominent, and countenance generally animated
and expressive of good temper. We found him to measure lOJ^ inches across
the face. Ear large, well set, and lively. Neck rather short and a little heavy
at the throatlatch, but thin and clean at the crest. His shoulders are very
oblique, deep andstrong; withers low and broad; sway very short, and coupling
smooth. The great fillets of muscle running back along the spine give extraor-
dinary width and strength to the loin, which threatens to lose the closely-set
hip in the wealth of its embrace. But it is back of here that we find lodged
the immense and powerful machinery that, imparted to his sons and daughters,
has ever placed them in the foremost ranks of trotters. His hip is long and
croup high, with great length from hip-point to hock. Thighs and stifles
swelling with the sinewy muscle, which extends well down into his large,
clean, bony hocks, hung near the ground. Below these tbe leg is broad, flat,
and clean, with the tendtms well detached froui the bone, and drops at a con-
siderable angle with the upper part of the limb, giving the well-bent ratlier
than the straight hock. Pasterns long, but strong and elastic, and let into
hoofs that are perfection. In front his limbs in strength and muscular develop-
ment comport with the rear formation. His chest is broad and prominent; his
forelegs stand wide apart (perliaps in part the result of much covering), and he
is deep through the heart; yet notwithstanding this, and the fact of his round-
ness of barrel, there is no appearence of heaviness or hampered action.

Taken at a glance, the impressive features of the horse are his immense sub-
stance, without a particle of coarseness or grossness. No horse we can recall
has so great a volume of bone, with the same apparent firmness of texture and
true blood-like quality. Though short-liacked, he is very long underneatb.
Indeed, he is a horse of greater than apparent length. We found his measure-
ment from breast to breeching, in a straight line, greater by four inches than
his height at the withers — a very unusual excess. We also found him two
inches higher over the rump than at the withers, and the whole rear, or
propelling portion of the machinery, would upon measurement seem to have
been molded for an animal two sizes larger than the one to which it is at-



HAMBLETONIAN AND HIS FAMILY. 269

tacbed; yet so beautifully is its connection effected with the whole that there
is no disproportion apparent, either in the symmetry or the action of the horse.
As an evidence of the immense reach which this admirable rear construction
enables him to obtain, it is often noticed by visitors that iu his favorite attitude,
as he stands in his box, his off hind foot is thrown forward so far under him as
to nearly touch the one in iront of it — an attitude which few horses of his pro-
portionate lenj^th could take without an apparent strain, yet which he assumes
at perfect repose. When led out upon the ground his walk strikes one as
being different from that of any other horse. It cannot be described further
than to say that it shows a true and admirable adjustment of parts, and a per-
fect pliability and elasticity of mechanism that shows out through every
movement. Many have noticed and endeavored to account in different ways
for the peculiarity, some crediting it to the pliable pastern, others to surplus
of knee and hock action, et •. • but the fact is, there seems to be a suppleness of
the whole conformation that delights to express itself in every movement and
action of the horse. " In his box," said a Kentucky horseman, who recently
looked him over, " I thought him t(jo massive to be active, but the moment he
stepped out I saw that he was all action."

There is so much in the foregoing description that is intelli-
gent and just that I hardly feel like reviewing a single phrase.
In judging of the conformation of a horse and determiniug
whether it is good or bad, at different points, we must have in
our mind some ideal standard, by which we mentally compare
one thing with another. The popular conception ot the perfect
horse is the picture of the "Arabian," painted by artists who
never saw an Arabian horse. The next approach to perfection is
the Englisli race horse, but others may insist that the Clydesdale
comes nearer perfection and that he should be the ideal with
which the standard of comparison should be made. It is unfor-
tunate that Mr. Kellogg should have described Hambletonian as
possessing "immense substance, without a particle of coarseness,
or grossness." He had a remarkably coarse head in its size and
outline, but this is greatly softened by saying "with a profile
inclining to the Eoman order." The ideal muzzle of the Eng-
lish race horse is so fine that, figuratively speaking, he can drink
out of a tin cup, but Hambletonian could not get his muzzle into
^ vessel of much smaller dimensions than a half -bushel measure.
"Ear large, well set and lively." This is true as to the size of
the ears, but not correct, in my judgment, as to the setting on.
As they habitually lopped backward when in repose, giving a
sour and ill-tempered expression, I coi"'ld not concede that they
were "well set." The hocks were good and clean, but the
abrupt angle at that point was certainly a coarse feature. The



370 THE HORSE OF AMERICA.

round meaty withers and the round meaty buttocks were both
"coarse and gross" when looked at from the point of good breed-
ing. His two great, meaty ends, connected with a long and per-
fect barrel, two or three sizes too small for the ends, showed such
a marked disproportion that I often wondered at it. Not one of
these criticisms is made in the sense of a criticism of Mr. Kel-
logg's description, but merely as the expression of a different
view on some points, and on those points not mentioned I most
heartily agree with him. He has omitted to give the height of
the horse for the reason that he had shrunken from his normal
height just one inch. When at his best he measured fifteen
hands one inch and a quarter. This shrinkage, in addition to
the ordinary results of great age, is thus explained by Mr. Guy
Miller, who knew him better than any other man except his;
owner. "His splendid fore hoofs had been ruined by an opera-
tion whereby the arch was lost and the horse during the remain-
der of his days stood on his frogs." He was two inches higher
on the hips than on the withers.

When the horse was led out his movements were so friction-
less and faultless that he impressed me as the most wonderful
horse that I had ever seen. He seemed as supple as a cat with
the power of an elephant. As he walked he kept pushing those
crooked hind legs away under him in a manner that gave him a.
motion peculiarly his own, and suggested the immense possibili-
ties of his stride when opened out on a trot. Plain and indeed
homely as he was he was a most interesting and instructive study
whether in his box or taking his daily walks. The question has;
been asked a thousand times whether the speed of Hambletonian
had been developed and how fast he could go. This question
I considered very important, in a philosophical and breeding'
sense, and in starting in to investigate it I found two statements,
one that the time made at the Union Course was honest and true,
and the other that it was a "put up Job" to make Mr. Rysdyk
feel good, and that the time in fact was much slower than that
announced. Each side had its advocates, and it did not take
long to discover that the enemies of Mr. Rysdyk were all on one
side and the more bitter their enmity the more blatant they were
in denying the truth of the time given out for the performance.
This party was headed by one "J. M.," long distinguished, and
will be long remembered in Orange County, for the virulence of



HAMBLETONIAN AND HIS FAMILY. 271

his dislike to Mr. Eysdyk, and as the most unreliable of all unre^
liable horsemen.

In the autumn of 1852 Mr. Rysdyk and Mr. Seely 0. Roe, the
owner of Roe's Abdallah Chief, then four years old, concluded to
exhibit their sons of Abdallah at the fair of the American Insti-
tute, in New York, and after the fair to take their colts, three
and four years old respectively, for a light training for a few
weeks. The programme was carried out, and after reaching the
course they started the two colts together, and much to Mr.
Roe's surprise Hambletonian beat his colt in 3:03. In a short
time Mr. Roe gave his colt another trial in 2:55-^. A few days
later Mr. Rysdyk drove his colt in 2:48. Believing then he had
the making of the best trotter in the world and being thoroughly
homesick, he packed up his traps and started for Orange County,
and this was the first and the last training that Hambletonian
ever had. When we consider the age of the colt and how few
of that age had then ever reached that mark, the little then
known by amateurs of the arts of training and driving, and the
very limited preparation, we must conclude that this was a re-
markably good performance.

Was it honestly made? Mr. Roe has been dead a good many
years, but the next day after he returned from Long Island with
Mr. Rysdyk he called at the house of his brother-in-law, David R.
Eeagles, a very responsible man, and in the course of the conver-
sation he asked Mr. Feagles if he had heard the news? "No,"
said Mr. Feagles, "what is it?" "Rysdyk's colt trotted the
Union Course in 2:48. I held my watch and I know it is true."
Mr. Roe was always steadfast and immovable in this declaration
while he lived. Mr. W. H. Wood, the breeder of Abdallah Chief,
says he told him the time was 2:48, and he had several times
heard it disputed in Mr. Roe's presence and he had always settled
the dispute by giving the same fact. Mr. David R. Seely said
he could not remember the time made, but he had heard the
matter disputed, and Mr. Roe settled it by saying it was true, that
he saw it and held the watch on him when he did it. These men
were as reliable as any in Orange County and their statement of
Mr. Roe's assertions cannot be doubted. Considering the cir-
cumstances, it will occur to any mind that Mr. Roe was the very
best witness to the truth of this performance that could be pro-
duced. He was not only disinterested, but in building up the
reputation of a rival stallion he was testifying to his own hurt.



272 THE HORSE OF AMERICA.

There are other evidences of Htimbletoniau's development and
sj)eed^ but nothing so definite as the foregoing. He was driven
in double team sometimes with the great trotter Sir Walter. Mr.
Kinner, at one time owner of Sir Walter and other good ones, a
horseman of experience and knowledge of trotting afEairs, assured
me that Sir Walter had shown a trial at Centerville track to
wagon in 2:32, and this was before he was- driven double, occa-
sionally, with Hambletonian; and that Hambletonian could out-
foot Sir AV alter for the first half-mile, but as the young horse
was green and unseasoned, he could not keep up the clip to the
finish. He did not hesitate to express the belief that the team
could have trotted the mile in considerably less than 2:40. There
is one fact in connection with the trial at Union Course that I
have omitted in its proper place. Mr. Rysdyk was a remarkably
careful man and always aimed to be inside of the truth rather
than beyond it. He advertised his horse as having made the
trial in 2:48^, as it is probable some of the watches gave that as
the time, instead of 2:48 flat.

Like all the Abdallah family, Hambletonian matured early, and
at three years was as well advanced as many colts a year older.
His stud services commenced early. When two years old he was
allowed to cover four mares without fee and he got three colts,
one of which was afterward known as the famous Alexander's
Abdallah. AVhen three years old he was offered for public
patronage at twenty-five dollars to insure, and he covered seven-
teen mares and got thirteen colts. The next season, at the same
price, he covered one hundred and one mares and got seventy-
eight colts. The next season (1854), being then five years old,,
the price was advanced to thirty-five dollars, and he covered
eighty-eight mares, getting sixty-three foals. The price re-
mained at thirty-five dollars till 1863, when it Avas advanced to
seventy-five dollars. At which price he covered one hundred
and fifty mares. The next season the price was advanced to one
hundred dollars, and he covered two hundred and seventeen
mares, getting one hundred and forty-eight foals. In 1865 the
price was advanced to three hundred dollars and one hundred
and ninety-three mares were covered. In 1866 the price was put
at five hundred dollars and one hundred and five mares were
covered. At this price his services remained ever afterward —
one hundred dollars down and the remainder when the mare
j)roved in foal. In 1867 he covered seventy-seven mares and got



HAMBLETONIAN AND HIS FAMILY. 273

only forty-one foals. This large percentage of failure indicated
beyond question that his procreative powers had been overtaxed
and that there was a general letting down of his vital energies.
In 1808 he was not allowed to cover any mares. In 18G9 he
iigain manifested his usual vigor and he covered twenty-one
mares, getting fourteen foals. In 1870 he covered twenty-two
mares and got thirteen foals. From this time forward his pro-
creative powers dwindled, and in 1875, I think, he got but two
foals, and died the following March.

It has been estimated that he got about one thousand three
hundred foals, and for several years it was one of the amusing
features of horse literature to see how many writers were able to
demonstrate that as a progenitor of speed he was a failure. This
item of one thousand three hundred foals was taken as the basis
of computation, and then with the small number of forty trotters
out of the one thousand three hundred, the percentage of trotters
was very small. The next step was to find some unknown horse,
generally a pacer, that had only two or three foals to his credit
and one of them had made a record of 2:30, thus showing a much
larger percentage than Hambletonian, and by that much he was a
greater sire than Hambletonian. All this foolishness has now
subsided in the face of the fact that the great mass of the trot-
ters of to-day have more or less of his blood in their veins, and in
a very short time that blood will abound in greater or less
strength in every American trotter. The tables which here
follows will make this fact evident to all who will study them.

[Prefatory to these tables and to the other statistics concerning the present
rank of the trotting families given in the pages following, an explanatory
paragraph is in order so that they may not be misunderstood. (1) They are
based on the tables given in the Year Book for 1896, and I regret to say that
these tables are so emasculated, incomplete, unsatisfactory and in many cases
contradictory one of the other that it is literally impossible to compile from
them statistics that may be accepted as absolutely correct and letter perfect.
However, as this work is not intended as one for statistical reference, the tables
being approximately correct serve my purpose, which is merely to show rel-
atively and with substantial accuracy the standing of the sires and families
embraced to the close of 1896. (2) By the term " standard performers " is meant
horses that have acquired trotting records of 2:30 or better, or pacing records of
2:25 or better. The Year Book no longer gives a 2:30 pacing list, and it should
be noted that pacers with records between 2:30 and 2:25 are not credited in
these tables. (3) The tables are designed to show (a) the number of standard
performers got by each sire named. (6) The number of his sons that are sires of
standard performers, (c) The number of his daughters that are dams of



274:



THE HOESE OF AMEEICA.



standard performers, (d) The number of standard performers produced by
these sons and daughters, and finally, in the last column, the total number o '
standard performers produced in the two generations — i. e., by the sire himself ,^
and by his sons and daughters. The dates of foaling and death are important
in considering the opportunities of the families embraced.]

The first table following gives some idea of the supremacy of
the Hambletonian family over all others. When we seek a rival
to Hambletonian as a trotting progenitor we must do so among
his sons; and by turning to the second table it will be noted that
many of these outrank the founders of any and all the other
great trotting families.

FOUNDERS OP THE GREAT TROTTING FAMILIES.



Name.


1

as

V


OS


CO

a

o

at

3


a
c
to
bti

'S

d

o
Oh

148
47
23
22

6
15

6


CO
t-i

3

3

'5

u
Ph

80
77
17
18
18
4
7


Standard perform-
ers produced by
sons and daugh-
ters.


Total No. Standard
performers in
two generations.


Hambletonian


1849
1858
1844
1849
1858
1849
1853


1876
1880
1862
1876
1865
1864
1874


40

60

6

6

8
4
8


1665

211

119

118

72

70

53


1705


Blue Bull


271


Mambrino Chief


125



Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 29 of 61)