THE ORI­GINS OF THE NAR­RA­GANSETT PACER

EQUUS - - Insights Conformati­on -

In 1677, Cap­tain John Hull wrote to one of his part­ners in Rhode Is­land, propos­ing to build a stone wall across Point Ju­dith Neck at the south­west cor­ner of Nar­ra­gansett Bay. Ac­cord­ing to records kept by the fam­ily of Thomas Haz­ard, who dur­ing the 18th cen­tury bred large num­bers of Nar­ra­gansett Pac­ers for ex­port, Hull had ac­quired some Hob­bies pos­sessed of ex­tra­or­di­nary stamina and pac­ing speed. They de­scended from a chance-bred horse named “Old Snip” found in the freerun­ning herd on Gov­er­nor Robin­son’s land on Point Ju­dith some­time af­ter 1716. They in turn were de­scended from those im­ported to Salem in 1629.

Cap­tain Hull in­tended to con­fine his herd on the lush pas­ture of Point Ju­dith Neck “so that no mon­grel breed might come among them” and “to raise a breed of large and fair horses and mares” for ship­ment to the West Indies. His plan was suc­cess­ful and marks the tran­si­tion from colonists merely per­pet­u­at­ing a valu­able Euro­pean strain

An old name for the Friesian is “Hart­draaver” or “Hard draaver,” which means “hard trot­ter” and in­di­cates that the horse did not am­ble or pace. This stal­lion stands 15 hands high, which would have been con­sid­ered a lit­tle on the big side by the Dutch farm­ers of the Hud­son Val­ley, who im­ported Friesians dur­ing the 17th cen­tury. The Friesian con­tri­bu­tion to Amer­i­can horse breed­ing is sub­tle but im­por­tant, as we will see in up­com­ing in­stall­ments on the Mor­gan and Amer­i­can Sad­dle­bred.

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