John Lawrence.

The history and delineation of the horse, in all his varieties : comprehending the appropriate uses, management, and progressive improvement of each; with a particular investigation of the character of the race-horse, and the business of the turf ; illustrated by anecdotes and biographical notices o online

. (page 7 of 27)
Online LibraryJohn LawrenceThe history and delineation of the horse, in all his varieties : comprehending the appropriate uses, management, and progressive improvement of each; with a particular investigation of the character of the race-horse, and the business of the turf ; illustrated by anecdotes and biographical notices o → online text (page 7 of 27)
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that they could not endure the currycomb, but to ha^e long and loose
necks, legs and carcases, Aveak appetites, to be unequal to fatigue, and
soon distressed. It is remarkable, that the writer who says all this of
the native Turkish Horses, immediately continues, that they are never-
theless capable of much labour and furnished with unfailing Avind.
And I believe this too, for we have not received a single axiom from
antiquity, more worthy to be depended upon, than, tliat nothing is, hut
wliich also is not. Uncertainty is certainty.

In Turkey and the bordering countries, the same manege and treat-
ment of the Horse prevails. The dung dried in the sun to a fine soft
powder, is used as litter, being renewed by continual drying. This
amongst us makes an excellent stratum for covered rides. In the East
it acts as a kind of powder to the hair of the Horses, giving their fine
coats a beautiful gloss. The Horse furniture of the Turks, is highly



ornamented, but the workmanship is clumsy ; the saddles are heavy
and unwieldy, and made fast by a circingle. They seldom ride with
whip, spur or switch, but guide their. Horses with a rod about a yard
lon<T and of the size of a large cane; this is held by the middle, and
with it the rider strikes either side of the neck, to direct the Horse right
or left. IVallachia, is said to furnish the Turks with some of their most
useful Horses,

According to an old Dutch writer, fuerunt out em in Egypt o semper
prcEstcmthsimi equi — Egypt has always produced the most excellent
Horses. The native Egyptian Horse is larger than the Arabian, but
whether merely in consequence of the more nutritious keep of Egypt,
or of specific variety, I am unable to give an opinion, nor do I know,
that they are distinguished here, from the other Horses which we im
port from the Levant. We have yet occasionally had Egyptian stallions
so called. Arabians, in course, from the proximity of the countries,
have always been introduced and bred in Egypt, the best of Avhich are
said to go to the Turkish market. Between Egypt and Abyssinia,
there is a large breed of Horses, which was seen by the late Mr. Bruce ;
the Abyssinian breed is said to be generally black in colour, and in
quality. Coursers; it having been formerly a dispute, whether the
J^onoiu" of originating the breed, belonged to that country or to

The Syrian Horses are much commended by Dr. Russell, for beauty,
docility, and goodness; like the Egyptians, they are larger than the
Arab, and many of them have been imported into this country.

The modern Persians have not perhaps, maintained their ancient
superiority; that of the x\rabians has been long generally allowed,
and even in Persia : however, on proof, this superiority may not con-
sist in the services of war, hunting or journeying, but merely in that
of the stud; with respect to the former, the Persian Horses maybe
better adapted, as of greater size, somewhat less delicacy, and having
stronger feet. We find in the old accounts, the Persians thus describ-
ed: two varieties, the one of the common size of the Arabs, and most
])robably of that race ; the others of the size of English saddle-horses.
Small-headed, fine and long forehands, narrow-chested, ears well turned

L 2 and


and well placed, small and delicate legs, well tbimcd hinder quarters
and good firm hoofs. Their character a dashing courage, activity,
speed, excellence of temper, stoutness, surefootedness; hardy in con-
stitution and easily maintained. Their chief defect is said to he, that
they carry their noses so high as to be apt to strike the rider's face,
unless ridden with a martingale; in truth a most weighty defect

The Persians then are probably the star-gazers o{' our old veterinary
writers, by them, according to an usual error, called Arabians, for this
defect is occasioned by malconformation of the head and neck, from
which the true-bred Arabians are free. The head is attached abruptly
to the neck, and although finer towards the muzzle, is thick at the
junction, whence the muzzle is protruded, it is to he pig-headed. But
liow are we to reconcile this defect in the Persian Horses, with the
ancient, and indeed modern, account of their natural well-reining and
curvetting ? If they are really marked by such defect, I have seen
several Persian Horses, under the name of Arabians, particularly
among those brought over on the late return of our army from Egypt.
One of these I have examined within these few days, his head and
feet, proving to my conviction, that he was not a true-bred Arabian.

Were I inclined to deal in conjecture, I should surmise that the
original breed of Persia was a compound of those of Tartary and
Arabia, between which, the former country may be said to be placed.

Persia is one of the greatest breeding countries in the world, and
prodigious numbers of Horses are annually raised on the plains of
Fersepolis, Media, Ardtbil and Derbeiit : those bred in Kurdistan, are
in the highest estimation both for size and figure. India, I apprehend,
lo be the chief mart for Persian Horses. On the borders of that coun-
try, and of Arabia, were to be found, according io Marcus Paulas and
other old writers, studs of white mares, some of them extremely nume-
rous, even to the amount of thousands in a stud.

There is in Persia, considerable variation from the Turkish style of
management, and much in favour of the former. The Persians, it is.
said, ride and even manage with a snaffle bridle, and know nothing of
spurs. Their Horses are never gelt, are ridden with their full tails;
arc kept in clothes as with us, and groomed in the nicest style. Their



curry-comb has but four teeth and no handle, the accompanying brush
to which, is simply a piece of felt.

The Persians in general, are reported to be very adroit in the art of
shoeing the Horse, having little difficulty in adjusting to the foot,
almost any shoe that conies to hand, which facility it seems, results
chiefly from the usual strength and soundness of their Horses feet, that
nails can scarcely be driven amiss. They shoe with light, flat, even
shoes, on which the Horse is liable to slip. Pity but they were acquaint-
ed with La Fosse's metluxl, calculated so well for strong feet. They
feed and turn to grass like the Arabians, mixing salt with the barley on
Avhich they feed their Horses, with the intent of correcting the rank-
noss of their dung, and rendering it less offensive as litter.

This people, like their ancestors, excel in feats of horsemanship,
indeed, the report of their activity on horseback, may sound somewhat
miraculous to many readers. The fact is nevertheless well established.
The Persians are accustomed to play at 7nall on horseback, and so
situated, strike the ball with a skill and certainty altogether surprizing.
They also place upon the top of a tree, or high pole, a ball or apple, as
a mark, setting off at full speed, when they have passed the mark,
they turn themselves round toward their Horse's croupe, and in that
attitude, drawing their bows, seldom fail to hit the mark with their
arrows. Like the Turks and Arabs, the Persians also perform a variety
of these feats; such as striking their darts into a turban, or tossing them
up into the air, riding alter and catching them as they fall, whilst their
Horses are running at their utmost speed. Leaping from one Horse to
another, creeping under the belly and around to the saddle again, turn-
ing several times round the neck, standing, upright upon the saddle,
with their faces towards the tail, the Horses all the while running at
full speed.

In the year of our Lord 15P0, Vioggi de Gasparo Balhi, between Bal-
sora and Bagdad, saw, but whether sleeping or waking, has neglected
to inform his readers, a singular breed of green Horses with yellow
eyes. The traveller might probably see, in a bad light, or with bad
eyes, or under some deceptive circumstances, yellow or cream-coloured
Horses with yellow eyes. Such are the Hanoverian Horses of his



Majesty, which may not improbably be of Persian origin. I have
myself sometimes supposed, I could perceive a greenish cast in the
burnish upon the coats of these Horses.

The Horses of Circassia, Mingrelia, and of all the circumjacent
countries, are numerous and of Tartarian origin, but of superior form
and size, from the cross of well bred foreign stallions. The Circassian
Horses used to be celebrated for their vigour and the hardiness of their
constitution, and are, at this day, in the highest request for the Turkish

Tartar}'^ is one of the great original breeding countries of the Horse,
and as has been stated, disputes the precedence with Arabia. In the
vast deserts of both great and little Tartar}', the Horse ever has, and
still is to be found in his natural or wild state. I must take the description
of the true Tartar Horse, on trust, since I have seen only the half-bred
of that race. They ai-e represented by travellers as of a good mode-
rate size, either for military or common purposes, and as natural pad-
ders or pacers : strong, with the tendons prominent and tough; airy,
resolute and dashing, with the blood head, lean and symmetrical, but
two small : the forehand long, upright and stiff; very high upon the
leg, the fore legs often appearing the highest ; the substance of the
hoofs good, but the heels often wiry or narroAV ; endowed with pro-
digious speed and unconquerable fortitude.

My authors farther, and with probability, teach, that the Tartar
Horses are bred and trained in the same simple and humane methods
as the Arabian ; adding a due portion of that monstrous common-
place foolery of their Horses travelling two or three clays without rest-
ing, and with no more or better nourishment than a handful or two of
grass every eight hours! — habits to which it seems they are early trained
and inured by short commons and long journies. This species of pre-
paration, I humbly conceive, would neither very well suit our racers,
nor post hacks. These silly exaggerations are, however, doubtless
grounded on the real great exertions of the Horse of the desert, of his
frequent unfortunate necessity of long fasting, or of being content
with little food; difficulties under which, from nature and habit, he is
as superior to the well fed and more domesticated Horse, as the latter



must always be to him in solid and permanent powers. The Tartars
possessed of such vast herds and of such unlimited domains, are enabled
to spare their Horses, at least from all serious labour, until six and even
seven years old, whence their strength'has full time to consolidate and
to attain its utmost perfection.

Pallafox, in his history of the conquest of China by the Tartars,
relates, that they have a custom of fastening the reins of their bridles
to their girdles, and governing and guiding their Horses by the
motion of their bodies, in which method they are able to make them
perform all the various evolutions. Thus they have the full use of both
hands for the management of their weapons against an enemy, in
Vvhich they ha\'c ever l)een distinguished for skill and effect. Some of
their horsemen wull hold the bridle and bow in the same hand, and
guide their Horse Avith great address, whilst they draw the bow, rising
up in their short stirrups to collect themselves and to enforce the effort.
Like their Scythian and Parthian progenitors, they will also discharge
their arms at the enemy from the croupe of their Horses, whilst re-
treating at full speed. The Tartar Horse is doubtless of an ancient
and original race, but whether, like the Arab and Barb, he is to be
deemed a genuine Courser, I am unable to determine, but suppose it
probable, that in our various importations of stallions from the East, we
must have had some of the Tartar race. Little Tartary is said to pro-
duce chiefly galloways, or a small variety of the native race.






THE South American Horses, both upon the continent and the islands,
are ahiiost universally of the Spanish breed, being descended from the
breeding stock carried over to those countries, bj'the first Spanish and
Portugueze colonists. Increasing beyond the demand of their masters,
these animals soon ran wild, and in countries of such vast extent and
fertility, and under a climate so congenial to their nature, they multi-
plied to such a degree, as to replenish all the desert parts with their
herds. Ceasing to be private property, the wild Horses have long
since ceased to bear any value beyond the price of their hides. As to
the qualities too of the South x'Vmerican Horse, the opinions of
travellers are various, but I know of none on \\ hich Ave can depend.
Some assert that he has degenerated, and ran into all sorts of auk-
ward shapes, the head being particularly large. We are not, how-
ever to suppose, that the original stock could be all perfect; some
were doubtless good, as are some of the present produce ; and cer-
tainly a skilful breeder would be able to raise good road Horses, and
Hunters, in any part of South America.

Even so long ago as Sir Walter Raleigh's time, the south American
Indians killed the wild Horses of the woods, merely for their skins,
as well as the oxen ; the skins of the former are described by the
kniiiht, as beautifully marked and spotted with various uncommon

* Within our own memory. Commodore Byron highly commends
such of these Horses as came Avithin his observation, during his tra-
\ els in the country ; and Don JJlloa goes so far as to assert, but he had
probably never been at Newmarket, that the boasted swiftness of the




European Horse is clulness itself, compared Avith the speed of iiei-
South American. However, the Don proceeds to give us actual proof
of a considerable share of goodness in. his favourites, and quite satis-
factory, provided always, that the miles were fairly measured, his time-
piece correct, and himself accurate. He says, the best variety of these
Horses is called AquUillas, that they not only excel in the amble, the
universal pace in those countries, but can also gallop away from all
others. He possessed one of this breed, which often carried him from
Calloo to Lima, two measured leagues and a half, over a very rough
and stony road, in twenty-nine minutes, and which brought him back
again, Avithin a minute or two of the same time, without taking off the
bridle. Certainly a hackney, even in England, which will gaily trot
or canter away with a man, at that rate, will be in high estimation.
These Chilian Horses, are described by Ulloa as not liandsome, but
of high courage, gentle, docile and easy goers. The women of Chili,
are fiimousfor their skill in equitation.

Dessons, a French writer, in his late voyage to the West Indies, cal-
culates the number of Horses and mules dispersed over the plains and
vallies in the Caraccas, at one hundred and eighty thousand of the
formei', and ninety thousand of the latter. Faulkner in his travels in
Palagoiiia, the most southern and desert part of America, describes
the wild Horses as traversing those vast plains, in innumerable multi-
tudes, insomuch that during a fortnight, they continually surrounded
him and four Indians his companions, sometimes passing them in thick
troops, for several hours together, at full speed, that it was with the
utmost difficulty they preserved themselves from being ran over and
trampled to pieces. Those Avho have only witnessed the random and
careless scampering of cart Horses, or colts let loose, w ill easily con-
ceive the danger to which a traveller must be exposed amongst wild
Horses, in an open countr5^ I remember to have heard, a year or two
since, Mr. Wynd ham relate an instance of one of his brother, the Earl
of Egremont's grooms, being thrown down and hurt by a parcel of
racing colts suddenly rushing out of the stables.

M 8E(;-







THE British Horses, in their former and present state, upon their
native soil, and in the colonies, Avill finish our general survey, in which
it is hoped no known race, or variety of any degree of consequence,
has been omitted.

English Horses are of much higher antiquity than English history;
since, when Julius Caesar invaded this island, he found himself opposed
bv a numerous cavalry, so to denominate the war chariots of the Britons,
which were drawn by active and well-trained Horses. As the shortest
cut below, unattended beside with risk, an advantage which every
dealer in conjecture cannot boast, I shall predicate, that the Horse is
ijidigenous in the British isles. To those who dislike such a proposi-
tion, I bequeath the trouble of overturning it, warning them at their
outset, to find a country better adapted to the production and support
of the animal in question.

In the same spirit of conjecture, 1 shall supi)0se, that as our island
consists of mountain, ordinary level, and marsh or sea coast, it origi-
nally possessed Horses, as we know the case has since been, adapted to
each situation; namely ponies, middling-sized Horses and those of
greater weight. In course, they were all of the round-formed, h\u(i\
rough-haired, northern species. There can exist no doubt, however,



of communications between this country and the opposite continent,
from the most remote antiquity, with which may be joined the strongest
probability of the importation of the continental Horse. The Scy-
thians or Goths, having migrated to that part of the European con-
tinent, where they took the name of Belgcc, doubtless brought with them
the Horse of their native regions; the commercial connection also,
which subsisted between the ancient Britons and the Tyrians, might be
a mean of the introduction hither of the Horses of that country.
Thus the southern Horse niay have been brought into this country,
far earlier than has been generally supposed, and with respect to the
species of the northern parts of Europe, doubtless, it was introduced
by the Danes and other northern nations, in their various expeditions.
The chariots with scythes affixed to the wheels, and driven rapidly, and
bridles ornamented with ivory, found in Britain on the first arrival of
the Romans, prove to demonstration, a considerable maturity of skill in
the Britons, and the |JOssession of an active and appropriate breed of
Horses. The war chariot, with armed Avheels, is an eastern invention,
which the Britons most probably derived from Tyre, as well as the
breeding stock for the improvement of their Horses. The assertion of
the venerable Bede, that the Britons did not ride on horseback, until
the year 631, unless we are to understand it as limited to the clergy,
seems totally inconsistent with the relations of the Roman writers.
Riding on horseback could surely not be unknown in a country where
Horses were in such plenty, and which had long been connected with
other countries, where such convenience was known and practised.
Camden says, on the authority of Dio Niaeus, that the Horses of the
northern part of the island, were small, but very swift.

It is not improbable, that after the loss of independence, the breed
of Horses might, from neglect, be suffered to degenerate, and history
seems silent on this subject, until the reign of the Anglo-Saxon monarch
Athelstan, who was much attached to the Horse, and gave all the
encouragement Avithin his knowledge and powers, to its propagation
and improvement. Athelstan procured Horses from various pails of
the continent, and received presents of white Horses from Saxony,
probably of the Turkish or Eastern breed, which, it is plain, he judged

m2 of


of great value, from making them s})cci(ic bequests in his will. The
English breed had, indeed, at that period, acquired high estimation in
foreign countries, and from the selfish and erroneous policy common to
unenlightened times and countries, the Anglo-Saxon king prohibited by
law, the exportation of Horses, unless of such as were intended for
presents. In this request of English Horses, even in those countries
whence great part of the breeding stock had been derived, we have a
verv early proof of the ameliorating quality of our soil, and its con-
geniality with the nature of the Horse.

At the Norman conquest the breed of this country received a far-
ther admixture from the continent. The conqueror and his great caj}-
tains, not only brought over many Horses of their own country, but
most probably a variety of foreign breeding stock. One of these chief-
tains, Boger de Bele.sme, created afterwards Earl of Shrewsbury, in-
troduced upon his estate of Powisland, perhaps the first Spanish stallions
which had been known in England. This circumstance is noticed by
Giraldus Combrensis, and celebrated by the poet Drayton, but any conse-
quent improvement of the Shroi)shire or Welsh Horse, does not appear
to have been general or permanent; or if such was an immediate result,
the advantage was afterwards suffered to be lost by neglect, as was the
case in the gradual extinction of the Galloways in Scotland, a breed
said also to have been derived from Spanish stallions.

1 have not discovered any account of Horses brought home from the
East, in the tune of the crusades, although there seems an improba-
bility that it should not have so happened, unless indeed, the fashion
of the times for large Horses, should have rendered those of the South,
of small comparative estimation. But constant occasional importations
from the European continent, doubtless took place in every reign, and
we find in the annals of that prince, by Trokelow, that Edward H, had a
great passion for Horses, and imported them from Champagne in France
and also from Lombardy ; mares particularly, from the latter country.
By the prohibition to export them, formerly mentioned, it must be sup_
posed the quantity then barely equalled the home demand, and this
appears to have been the case, in a still greater degree, under the warlike
sovereigns, for we find that Edward IH, mounted a considerable part of



hi^ cavaln^ destined for war against Scotland, with Horses from the
continent ; and there is an account of a debt of twenty-five thousand
florins from this prince to the Count of Hainault, tor Horses which the
latter had provided. The ckxtarii, or managed Horses, for parade at
the tournament, then in high vogue, were generally procured from

From the Norman conquest, and throughout the reign of the Plan-
tagenets, the current of fashion ran constantly in favour of the great,
or managed Horse, and the amusements both of the court and people,
in which the Horse was a prime instrument, were universally of a mar-
tial nature; this may indeed be called the era of the great Horse ; nor is
it clear that such a practice as horse-racing at all prevailed, unless per-
haps, in the casual rencontres between individual horsemen at their
public meetings.

There is an old Latin tract extant, which describes Smoothjidd, planus
campus^' re ^- nomine (now Smithheld),as it was in the reign of Henry II,
a amooth field both in condition and natne. This field had been then
probably long used, both for the show and exercise of Horses, and had
become the chief theatre in the kingdom for the exhibition of fashion-
able horsemanship, as well as for the sale of all sorts of Horses. Ac-
cording to the above writer, Smoothfield was situated without one of
the gates of the city, and every Friday, the present market day for
Horses, exclusive of festivals on other days, there was a fine shew of
Horses for sale, of every variety in use, moving up and down in the
gayest condition. There were to be seen pacers or amblers and trotting
Horses, quickened by their jockeys to the best of their performance;
managed Horses dressed in the highest style of the times; draught
Horses of every description, and even young unbroke stock with mares>
in foal. Smithfield was at that period the general mart, and we must

Online LibraryJohn LawrenceThe history and delineation of the horse, in all his varieties : comprehending the appropriate uses, management, and progressive improvement of each; with a particular investigation of the character of the race-horse, and the business of the turf ; illustrated by anecdotes and biographical notices o → online text (page 7 of 27)