EQUUS - - Insights Conformati­on -

A ref­er­ence by John Winthrop to the 1635 ar­rival in the Mas­sachusetts Bay Colony of a Dutch ves­sel with “27 Flan­ders mares and 3 stal­lions” is ex­tremely im­por­tant as ev­i­dence that New Eng­land’s nu­mer­ous Dutch set­tlers wanted to buy horses such as they had been used to us­ing in the home coun­try.

The word “Flan­ders” as used by Winthrop and other 17th cen­tury writ­ers es­sen­tially meant “Bel­gium and Hol­land,” and the “Flan­ders” horses may be con­sid­ered iden­ti­cal to the Friesian horse. In the 17th cen­tury, these were punchy, strong, placid an­i­mals suited more to draft than to rid­ing, stand­ing about 14 hands high and weigh­ing 900 to 1,000 pounds. Typ­i­cally they were black or red ch­est­nut in color, with a cer­tain amount of “feather” on the legs. Dur­ing the 16th cen­tury, thanks to im­prove­ments prompted by Em­peror Charles V, they had re­ceived an in­fu­sion of the best An­dalu­sian blood. This gave them an up­ward car­riage, a cresty neck and thick, char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally wavy mane and tail. Dutch farm­ers in the New World bred these horses ex­ten­sively but did not cross them with the Nar­ra­gansett Pac­ers, which were val­ued for rid­ing rather than the heav­ier work of plow­ing, haul­ing and log­ging.

Af­ter the con­clu­sion of the French and In­dian War in 1763, Dutch set­tle­ments south of Que­bec came un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol of the English (see “New Eng­land Maps,”at right). Un­like Thomas Haz­ard and the plan­ta­tion stock-rais­ers of the Nar­ra­gansett neigh­bor­hood, the Dutch fo­cused on dairy farm­ing and the ex­port of but­ter and cheese. Dur­ing the pe­riod be­tween This map of New Eng­land high­lights Ver­mont and Rhode Is­land and shows how eas­ily Bene­dict Arnold and other cat­tle drovers from Ver­mont or Mas­sachusetts could reach Mon­treal. None of the passes in the Green Moun­tains of Ver­mont are very high or dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially dur­ing the sum­mer months. Most trails fol­lowed nat­u­ral streams. Dif­fi­cul­ties were en­coun­tered only where boggy ground had to be crossed, such as at the top of Lake Cham­plain north be­tween St. Al­bans and Mon­treal.


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