Oscar Wilde.

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genitors of all the wild horses of North America.

The remarkable pre-eminence to which Messenger attained as
the founder of a great race of trotters, in his own right and by



GENERAL VIEW OF THE FIELD. 19>

his own power, and more especially as he was the only English-
imported running horse that ever showed any tendency whatever
in that direction, the study of Messenger's lineage becomes a
question of very great interest and value to all students of trot-
ting history. His sire, Mambrino, was a great race horse, and
was distinguished above all others of his generation, or indeed of
any other generation, before or since, as the progenitor of a tribe
of coach horses of great excellence and value. In addition
to this, the evidence seems to be conclusive that he had a natural
and undeveloped trotting step that far surpassed that of all other
running horses of his day. His sire. Engineer, was notoriously
short on the side of his dam, and his grandsire, Sampson, was a
half-breed of great size and bone, and ran some winning races, in
the best of company, for that day.

The history of Messenger himself is still clouded in mystery,
and the blood he inherited from his dam remains hopelessly un-
known. The identity of his importer and owner has never been
established, which of itself throws a suspicion upon the pedigree
that is said to have come with him. He ran several races at
Newmarket, England, and proved himself a second or third-rate
race horse. The racing records there show that he was by
Mambrino, and that is all that is known about his inheritance.
He left a few tolerably good race horses, for their time, but he
filled the country with the best road and driving horses that the
horsemen of this country had ever known. A chapter each to
Messenger's ancestors and to himself will be found in their proper
places in this volume. The twenty years of Messenger's life and
service in this country fell in a period of indifference to all kinds
of racing except running. The English race horse was then the
popular idol, and it is not known that any of his sons or daugh-
ters were ever trained to trot. Neither can it now be certainly
determined that any of them were disposed to pace, but if we
may judge of the habits of action of his immediate progeny by
what we know of succeeding generations, we can hardly doubt
that there were pacers among them. As the custom then was,
and as it so remained for at least half a century later, all pacers
were hidden away from public sight, as they were supposed to
furnish evidence of ignoble breeding.

The chapter on "The Sons of Messenger" will be long, but it
will be of exceeding interest. They constitute the connecting
link that brings together the peculiar trotting instincts of tlie



20 THE HORSE OF AMERICA.

sire and develops them in their own progeny. Several of them
were not only trained to run, bat did run successfully. It is not
known that any of his sons was ever trained to trot, but it is
known from contemporaneous evidence that several of them were
fast natural trotters, notably Bishop's Hambletonian, Bush Mes-
senger, Winthrop Messenger, Mambrino, etc., all of which will
be considered in their proper place. When we reach the seco'nd
remove from Messenger we begin to enter into the full fruition
of all the promises, and in considering such animals as Abdallah,
Almack, Mambrino Paymaster, Harris' Hambletonian, etc., we
begin to feel that we are well witliin the trotting latitudes, for
this remove began to found families and tribes that attracted the
attention of all intelligent breeders.

In the next remove from Messenger we strike the most famous
of all trotting progenitors in Kysdyk's Hambletonian. At one
time there was an active and determined diflference of opinion
among breeders as to which of three horses, Hambletonian, Ethan
Allen, or Mambrino Chief, Avould in the end prove to be the most
successful sire. This controversy may not be remembered by the
younger of the present generation of horsemen, but it was bitter
and uncompromising, and it presents a lesson so important that it
may be here referred to. The adherents of Ethan Allen argued
that as he was handsomer, that his gait was the very perfection of
trotting action, and that he was incomparably faster than either
of the other two, he must of necessity prove the most success-
ful in begetting trotters. The adherents of Mambrino Chief
used the same argument, with the exception of beauty and style,
and dwelt strongly on the fact that he was a faster horse than
Hambletonian, and would consequently get faster offspring.
Both these arguments were good, so far as they went, but they
lacked completeness and hence were not sound. Neither Ethan
Allen nor Mambrino Chief had a dam, and so far as we know the
inheritance of both was restricted to the male side of the house.
Development of speed is a valuable and real qualification in any
sire, but all experience goes to show that it is only a help to an
inheritance. Hambletonian was not much developed, but it is
conceded on all hands that he could show a 2:40 gait at any time
and that his action was very perfect. He was got by a grandson
of Messenger, whose dam, Amazonia, was one of the fastest mares
of her generation, whatever her blood may have been. Abdallah
got more and faster trotters than any other grandson of Messenger,



GENERAL VIEAV OF THE FIELD. 21

and his daughters were very famous as the producers of trotters.
Ilambletonian's dam, iAie Kent Mare, was by imported Bell-
founder, a horse that got no trotters practically, but this mare
was the fastest four-year-old of her time, and that because she was
out of a very fast mare. One Eye, that was a double granddaugh-
ter of Messenger. That is. One Eye was by Hambletonian, the
son of Messenger, and out of Silvertail, a daughter of Messenger.
This double Messenger mare was unknown to the trotting turf,
but she was well known throughout Orange County as a remark-
ably fast trotter. Hence Hambletonian not only possessed more
Messenger blood than any horse of his generation, but that blood
came to him through developed trotters, and he had a right to
surpass all competitors, especially the two that were, at one time,
the most prominent.

Several of the sons of Hambletonian, as shown by the tabular
statistics which will be introduced, became greater than their
sire, not only in getting trotters from their own loins, but in
transmitting the trotting instinct to their descendants. The
groAvth and spread of this family is far and away beyond any prece-
dent that can be cited in any age or country, and is simply mar-
velous. It is said that fully ninety per cent, of the fast trotters
now on the turf have more»or less of the blood of Hambletonian
in their veins, and I think it is a safe conclusion to say that
no intelligent breeder in all the country is trying to produce
trotters without it. All the other tribes are dropping out of
sight, and at the present ratio of rise and fall it will be but a few
years till every trotter on the turf will be credited in some
degree to the one really great progenitor, Hambletonian. The
other tribes will not be blotted out nor will their merits be lost,
but absorbed into the mightier tribe.

Such families as the Bashaws, the Clays, the Black Hawks, the
Mambrino Chiefs, the Pilots, the American Stars, the Blue Bulls,
etc., will be fully considered through several chapters, according
to their strength and merit. As these families have not been
able to hold their own in the rush to the front, and as they seem
to be falling further to the rear in the number and quality of
their performers each succeeding year, we may as well begin to
designate tliem as "the minor families." Their inheritance was
feeble and unsatisfactory, and more or less sporadic, and we never
had any right to expect a brilliant and permanent success from
such beginnings.



2:3 THE HORSE OF AMERICA.

As the investigation of disputed, spurious and fraudulent pedi-
grees Avas a prime necessity in order to reach safe and honest
grounds upon which to build up a breed of trotters, much of my
time through all my editorial life was devoted to this kind of
investigation. From the first page of the first volume of the
"Register" I was deeply impressed with the importance of having
all pedigrees absolutely correct, and this impression grew into a
vital conviction that without this a breed of trotters never could
be established. I soon found that I had accepted from some
breeders of the very highest respectability a goodly number of
pedigrees that were thoroughly rotten in their extensions. This
taught me that I must study the moral fiber of breeders critically,
as well as their pedigrees, and that from the highest to the
lowest. Some men are honest from principle and because it is
right to be honest, while others are honest because "honesty is
the best policy." Some men are dishonest because of ignorance,
others because they were born cheats, but the most dangerous of
all rogues is the man who will utter a false pedigree and then
prove it by trained witnesses who, for half a dollar, can remember
whatever is necessary and forget whatever might be against their
employer's interest. By this kind of evidence a man can prove
anything. Not very long ago a man proved that a certain mare
came out of a certain other mare, and when that was shown to be
impossible he turned round and proved (?) that she was out of
another mare, and there was just as much truth in the one as the
other, and not a single word of truth in either. So long as there
are men in the world there will be rogues among them, but the
intelligence of the public in breeding matters has so greatly ad-
vanced that many an honest man would begin to doubt his own
sanity if he were even to think of breeding in lines that he was
once ready to fight for as the only right and successful way to
breed. The brainless advocacy of "more running blood in the
trotter," Avas substantially the basis of the Avhole brood of dis-
honest pedigrees, against which it became my duty to wage war;
but to-day no intelligent man in all the land can be found to ad-
vocate any such balderdash unless it be in the foolish support of
thoughtless opinions previously expressed.

The subject of "How the Trotting Horse is Bred," is a most
interesting one because it is entirely new in animal economy and
is distinctively American. The initial thought that opened the
door to the practical and scientific consideration of the subject



GENERAL VIEW OF THE FIELD. 23

was the happy conception," in the spring of 1872, of the little
phrase, "Trotting Instinct." Following this with the definition
of the word ''instinct" as being "the sum of inherited habits,"
the term expressed in two words and the definition of it in five
words, put the whole subject in a form that was easily compre-
hensible and flashed upon the mind as thoroughly practical.
This little phrase, with its definition, when once comprehended;
is a very complete epitome of all that has been taught and all
that has been learned of the art of breeding the trotter. It not
only embraces, but requires, the trotting inheritance as the only
starting point, which must be strengthened and the instinct in-
tensified by the development of the speed of succeeding genera-
tions. It stood some years at the parting of the ways between
intelligence and ignorance, between enlightened judgment and
stupid prejudice, between honesty and dishonesty, but now it is
accepted, in practice, as the universal law from one end of the
land to the other. Thus, we have not only added millions to the
wealth of the country, but without any outside assistance or in-
struction we have produced a horse that by way of pre-eminence,
throughout the world, is justly entitled to be designated, "The
Horse of America."



CHAPTER 11.

ORIGINAL HABITAT OF THE HORSE.

No indications that tlie horse was originally wild — The steppes of High Asia
and Arabia not tenable as his original home — Color not sufficient evidence —
Impossibility of horses existing in Arabia in a wild state — No horses in
Arabia until 356 a.d. — Large forces of Armenian, Median, and Cappadocian
cavalry employed more than one thousand seven hundred years B.C. — A
breed of white race horses — Special adaptability of the Armenian country
to the horse — Armenia a horse-exporting country before the Prophet
Ezekiel — Devotion of the Armenian people to agricultural and pastoral
pursuits through a period of four thousand years — All the evidences point
to ancient Armenia as the center from which the horse was distributed.

Ix undertaking to consider and determine what particular por-
tion of the earth was the original habitat of the horse, we must
not forget that we are in a field that antedates all history, both
sacred and profane. When we have gone back to the very first
dawnings of historical records we are still far short of the period
in which initial light can be reached. In profane history, with
more or less safety, we can get back to a point about seventeen
hundred years before the Christian era; and in sacred history
about two hundred years less. At both of these dates the horses
referred to were not in a feral state, but were the companions
and servants of man.

There have been two separate theories advanced which demand
some attention, because of the eminence and learning of the men
who have advanced them. The first is that the original habitat
of the horse was on the steppes of High Asia, east and north of
the Caspian and the Black Sea. The only argument I have ever
seen advanced in support of this theory is based upon the great
number of wild horses that are found in that part of the world,
and that so many of them are of a dun color. From the fre-
quency of the recurrence of the dun color another theory has
sprung up to the effect that the original color of the horse was



ORIGINAL HABITAT OF THE HORSE. 25

dun, and hence it is argued tliat when the dun color appears in
our own day it must be taken as evidence that the original color
of the horse was dun. This reasoning is very far from being
conclusive, for there are dun horses and dun tribes in all breeds,
just as there are greys, and the color is just as liable to be trans-
mitted as any other color. In the last century there were many
dun horses in England, and at least one of that color was adver-
tised very widely as "the Dun Arabian," probably a foreign
horse, but it is hardly possible that he was an Arabian. It was then
the custom of the country to call all foreign horses "Arabians,"
no difference from what part of the world they came. It has
been stated on what seemed to be good authority that a dun
horse once won the Derby, but Avh ether the color may result from
line breeding or from atavistic tendencies, the argument advanced
does not seem to have any weight in it for the purpose intended.

Another argument in favor of the wild and unknown regions
east and north of the Casi)ian as the habitat of the horse has
been urged with much more power and effect. It has been ac-
cepted and reiterated by so many learned men, one after another,
that I doubted the wisdom of attempting to overthrow it, until I
found the spot in which it was fatally weak. This view of the
question seems to rest upon the fact that the successive hosts of
Barbarians that overran Europe in the early centuries of the
Christiali era brought their horses, as well as their flocks and
herds, with them, and it is assumed that these horses were the
first brought into Europe. This involves a total misconception
of dates; not of a few years merely, but of many centuries. All
of Europe, including Britain, and all of Northern Africa, were
abundantly supplied with horses, probably a thousand years
before the first destructive wave of Barbarians touched Europe.
Linguistic and ethnological facts clearly prove that those people
came from Asia, and possibly from a part of Asia where there
were horses running wild, but that does not prove that they came
from the original habitat of the horse. With no dates, either
definite or approximate, to support this theory, and with no
specific portion of the earth fixed upon as the general locality
from which they came, it resolves itself into a mere speculation
with nothing to support it, except the fact that different writers
have been copying it from one another, without throwing any
additional light upon it, for a number of generations.

The most remarkable and at the same time the most untenable



36 THE HOESE OF AMERICA.

of all the claims that have been urged about the horse is that he
was indigenous in Arabia. We can tolerate any number of foolish
claims set up to show that the Arabian horse is superior to all
others, for such assertions can be tested and disproved, as they
have been a thousand times, but the claim that Arabia was the
original habitat of the horse is so utterly preposterous, and yet so
widely advocated by writers and others who know nothing'about
it, that we must consider it with some brief deliberation. When
the maimed and crippled horses of De Soto were turned loose and
abandoned on the plains of Texas, they had all around them the
means of an abundant and healthy subsistence, and they multi-
plied and grew into an innumerable host that made the earth
tremble when they moved in great masses. Under the same
favorable conditions of water and pasture, the same results fol-
lowed on the pampas of South America. Upon the early settle-
ment of Virginia, as well probably as in some of the other
colonies, and within two hundred years, many of the horses of
the colonists strayed away, became wild and remained so, prop-
agating and increasing for generations, and until the growing
numbers of their former masters captured or exterminated them.
The varied herbage of the forest and its grassy swales, and
streams of pure water everywhere, made Virginia a paradise for
the horse in his feral state.

Buffon, the French naturalist of a hundred and fifty years ago,
notices the theory of the wild horses of Arabia, but he is careful
not to commit himself nor indorse it in any form. In Vol. I., p.
237, he says: "According to Mannol, the Arabian horses are de-
scended from the wild horses in the deserts of Arabia, of which,
in ancient times, large studs were formed," etc. In going fur-
ther, to find where Mannol got his information, it ajjpears that
somebody, with an unpronounceable name that I have forgotten,
told him so. Major Upton, a very intelligent but very credulous
modern writer on what he saw and learned in the desert, says he
never heard of this story of wild horses in Arabia, and pro-
nounces it a "fallacy." When we consider that Arabia never was
conquered and the reason why, although Kome, at the very culmi-
nation of her power, followed by Assyria and Egypt, all failed of
their purpose without meeting an enemy in battle, we must ac-
cept the fact that nature had interposed a barrier that military
poAver could not surmount. The barrenness and aridity of the
desert has always protected the Arabs against the most power-



ORIGINAL HABITAT OF THE HORSE. 27

ful armies of the mightiest nations. Now, to maintain that wild
horses could not only live, but flourish and increase, in a country
where there was not enough edible herbage on a thousand acres
to keep a grasshopper alive, and not a running stream of water
within five hundred miles, requires a measure of mental sterility
that can be found nowhere but among a few of the writers on
the Arabian horse. Of all the curiosities in which the literature of
the Arabian horse abounds and in the multitudinous efforts to give
him the primacy among horses, there seems to be nothing quite
so absurd as this story about his being indigenous to the desert.
Animals in a wild state are never found except in countries and
districts where the conditions surrounding provide them with
food and Avater. How long would a band of strong, healthy
horses live if turned loose to seek their own subsistence in the
desert of Arabia? Of all the countries on the face of the globe
there is no one where the horse is so completely dependent upon
the care and support of his master as Arabia.

Fortunately, we are not left for data to unwritten traditions
two thousand years old, nor to the fervid imaginations of a race
of cutthroats and thieves of the very lowest order of civilization,
but we can turn, with full confidence, to authentic contempora-
neous history, from which we can settle this question, at once
and for all time. Strabo, the great Greek geographer and philos-
opher, flourished in the reign of Augustus, at the very beginning
of the Christian era. He describes Arabia just as we know it
to-day, for all countries have changed in their boundaries and
government except Arabia. He describes the people as chiefly
nomadic, and as breeders of camels. The most remarkable thing
in this description is the fact, found in his great work. Vol. Ill,, p.
190, that they had no horses at that time. The exact language
used in this statement will be found in the next chapter of this
work. The question now arises. If there were no horses in Arabia
at the beginning of the Christian era, when and how did they
become possessed of them? Fortunately, again, written history
supplies the answer to this question. In my next chapter will be
found, quoted at some length, the circumstances bearing on this
question. In brief, the facts are as follows: Philostorgius, a dis-
tinguished Greek theologian, wrote an ecclesiastical history in the
fifth century which is no longer extant. Photius, at one time
Patriarch of Constantinople, in the ninth century wrote an
epitome of the work by Philostorgius and to this epitome we are:



lis THE IIOKSE OF AMERICA.

indebted for the facts Ave here relate. Constantius, at the time of
which Philostorgius wrote, was on the throne of the Eastern
empire, and was exceedingly zealous in spreading and strengthen-
ing the Christian religion. He learned that the prince of Arabia
Felix (that part of Arabia which we will designate by its modern
name Yemen) was strongly disposed to come out with his people
and embrace Christianity. Constantius thereupon determined
to encourage both prince and people in the movement they were
contemplating, and he sent them a grand embassy with many
valuable presents, the most noted of which were two hundred
*'well-bred Cappadocian horses." The embassy was completely
successful, and Theopholis, who had been made a bishop and
placed at the head of it, remained there several years. This was
in the year 356 of the Christian era, and is the first intimation we
have in all history of horses in Arabia. These are the facts, so
far as any facts are known, upon the consideration of which I am
not able to assent to the claim that either High Asia or Arabia
was the original habitat of the horse.

I have been surprised at the number of coincidences that seem
to point to ancient Armenia as the first habitation of the horse.
This country at one time was a very powerful kingdom, extending
from the mountains of Caucasus on the north to Media or Assyria
on the south, and from the Caspian Sea on the east to the
Euphrates on the west, and at one time even to the Mediter-
ranean. It was intersected by several ranges of mountains and
not only gave rise to the Euphrates and the Tigris, but to a num-
ber of smaller rivers. It was well watered everywhere, and pro-
duced in great abundance all varieties of herbage, cereals, and
fruits. It was originally called Ararat by the Hebrews, probably
after a range of mountains about central to the territory em-
braced, and because Noah's Ark rested somewhere "on the
mountains of Ararat." It is also called Togarmah in Scripture,
after Torgom, son of Gomer, who was the son of Japheth, the
son of Noah. Japheth seems to have been the oldest son of
Noah, and he chose this fruitful region as the future home of his
descendants. The Eev. Michael Chamich, a native Armenian,
Avent back into the old Armenian records, translated the language
as originally used, and wrote a history of the country from its
first settlement; and this history has been Englished by Johannes
Adval, another native Armenian, and published in Calcutta in
1837. This work seems to be worthy of credence, and it clearly



ORIGINAL HABITAT OF THE HORSE. 29"

establishes the lineal descent of the governing family back to
. Japheth, the son of Noah. The order of succession as the head
of the tribe continues through several generations unbroken, from



Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 4 of 61)