ARA­BIAN IN­FLU­ENCE

EQUUS - - Conformati­on Insights -

We know of no Ara­bian horses in Amer­ica un­til af­ter the Revo­lu­tion­ary War. Even Thor­ough­breds were rel­a­tively rare, es­pe­cially in the North. None­the­less, we can de­tect some Ara­bian in­flu­ence on the course of horse breed­ing in early 19th century Amer­ica.

The John Faed paint­ing of Ge­orge Washington re­ceiv­ing the salute at Trenton. His hand­some home­bred charger, named Blue­skin, is a son of “Ara­bian” Ranger, an English Barb who orig­i­nally stood in New Eng­land and was later moved south to Vir­ginia. What­ever else Blue­skin’s dam was, she was big and broad, be­cause Washington here bestrides an an­i­mal of real sub­stance. My guess is that Blue­skin’s dam was Cana­dian or partCana­dian. The artist is at pains here, how­ever, to em­pha­size Blue­skin’s Ori­en­tal an­ces­try— note the leop­ard-skin shabraque and tas­seled brow­band.

En­grav­ing af­ter a photo of Calif of Cairo ap­pear­ing in an 1859 is­sue of Harper’s Weekly mag­a­zine. Mod­ern breed­ers of “show” Ara­bi­ans need to study this im­age so that they can learn what an Ara­bian horse is sup­posed to look like. The Calif was an ut­terly beau­ti­ful an­i­mal, per­fect in ev­ery point and with a lovely tem­per­a­ment, but a diplo­matic gift gone to waste. Since there were al­most no pure­bred mares in this coun­try at such an early date and no reg­istries or record-keep­ing of any type for part­breds, Calif of Cairo left no pure­bred de­scen­dants that we know of.

En­grav­ing af­ter a paint­ing made by Edward Troye of the stallion *Mokhladi 1844 be­ing led by his im­porter, Ken­tucky na­tive A. Keene Richards in Ara­bian costume. Richards was the first Amer­i­can to im­port more than one pure­bred Ara­bian and the first to de­vise a sys­tem­atic breed­ing pro­gram. Un­for­tu­nately, his pro­gram was de­stroyed by the Civil War.

A retrospect­ive made about 1858 by lithog­ra­pher John Hansen, show­ing An­drew Jack­son as he might have looked with his troops in 1814. His charger shows typ­i­cally Ara­bian con­for­ma­tion, and note the ex­otic fur pom­mel cover and tas­seled head­stall. Note also that the horse is not gray but a min­i­mally spot­ted paint, re­veal­ing that while his sire might have been Ara­bian or part-Ara­bian, his dam may have been partChocta­w.

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