TRACING ANCESTRY THROUGH SIRE LINES
Sire-line classification in horse breeds is a reflection of the general historical preference in European culture for males over females. One reason for confusion over the identity of founder mares is that many were not even given names. Often they were known---exactly as slaves or other chattel were known--by the name of their owner or breeder: “the Lowther Barb mare,” “a Sedbury mare,” “Miss D’Arcy’s pet mare.” In a similar way, fillies were frequently called after their sire: “Byerley Turk mare,” “Place’s White Turk mare,” “Old Montague mare.” Sometimes, they were “almost” given names, being identified by particular color or markings: “Old Bald Peg,” “Cream Cheeks,” “Grey Wilkes.” While there are numerous engravings and paintings of Thoroughbred founder sires, the first portraits of Thoroughbred mares do not appear until the time of Wootton and Stubbs in the mid-18th century, more than a hundred years after the time of Old Bald Peg, and even then the female animal is almost never named.
The situation is no different today; stallions are far more often photographed than mares, and breed fanciers throughout the British Commonwealth countries and in America tend to remember names in sire-lines rather than memorizing great mare lineages as the Bedouins do for their Arabians. In this article, I follow the custom of sire-line representation not because I think it’s wisest, but because we like to present lots of photos so that the reader may gain an eye for different Thoroughbred bloodlines. It is also true that in a