Amer­ica's ma­jor horse breeds emerge

The Morgan, Quar­ter Horse, Stan­dard­bred and Sad­dle­bred descend from foun­da­tion blood­stock im­ported and de­vel­oped be­tween the Revo­lu­tion­ary War and the Civil War.

EQUUS - - Equus - By Deb Ben­nett, PhD

Amer­i­cans be­gan breed­ing horses suited to the con­di­tions of this coun­try al­most as soon as they ar­rived on these shores. In Rhode Is­land from im­ported English Hobby mixed with a dash of Span­ish blood im­ported from the Caribbean, they cre­ated the Nar­ra­gansett Pacer, a com­pact, tractable yet lively breed well suited for com­fort­able travel through track­less wilder­ness. In Penn­syl­va­nia and New York, they bred Hart­draavers---re­lated to the mod­ern Friesian---first for light farm work and, then as suit­able roads were built, to pull wag­ons and car­riages.

Dur­ing the same era, from im­ported Nor­man and Bre­ton stock Cana­di­ans cre­ated a hand­some 1,000-pound ride-drive breed good for farm work as well as for har­ness rac­ing at the pace and trot. Thou­sands of these “lit­tle iron horses”---known to­day as Old Cana­di­ans---crossed the 49th par­al­lel to con­trib­ute to breed­ing in the United States. Last of all but most im­por­tant, Amer­i­can colonists cre­ated the root­stock of the Morgan by topcross­ing Nar­ra­gansett Pacer and Cana­dian mares with im­ported Thor­ough­breds.

Al­though the bulk of Amer­i­can colonists were hard-work­ing farm­ers or mer­chants, some ar­rived here as the chil­dren of wealth, and a few oth­ers, through luck and hard work, rose from the com­mon eco­nomic level to be­come lo­cal barons. With few ex­cep­tions, these men were in­ter­ested in horse rac­ing. Pace-rac­ing un­der sad­dle, prac­ticed in Rhode Is­land and Mary­land, was the en­thu­si­asm of some. As to gal­lop­ers, be­fore 1800 in wooded New Eng­land, quar­ter-mile sprint­ing was the only pos­si­ble form. This was also true in the South ex­cept on the coastal plain, where “flat-track cour­ses” for stay­ers could be con­structed.

While quar­ter-mile sprint races were en­joyed by peo­ple of all eco­nomic lev­els, flat-track rac­ing was for the wealthy only. Race­courses built for it did not look like the Churchill Downs of to­day but more re­sem­bled the sort of place you might go to ob­serve event­ing,

steeplecha­s­ing or point-to-point rac­ing. In short, “clas­sic dis­tance rac­ing” of 1.5 miles or less had not yet been thought of, and the only rac­ing that a man who had the means to buy a blooded horse could be in­ter­ested in was heat rac­ing on the model of the King’s Plate con­tests, which for 50 years had stood at the top of the rac­ing cal­en­dar in Eng­land. Heat rac­ing in Amer­ica was gen­er­ally car­ried out over a turf course mea­sur­ing four miles, and the win­ner of a day’s meet was the horse that came first in two out of three heats.


Heat rac­ing put some em­pha­sis on speed, but equally it de­manded a level of tough­ness, sound­ness, game­ness and stamina which we rarely see in any breed of horse to­day. The early day Thor­ough­bred was se­lected for these qual­i­ties and also for weight­bear­ing, as the in­ten­tion of its 17th century creator, King Charles II, and his suc­ces­sors was not only to have a bit of a flut­ter at the track but much more se­ri­ously to stim­u­late the breed­ing on a na­tional scale of horses who could with­stand the con­di­tions of war­fare.

Be­cause the Thor­ough­bred orig­i­nated through mix­ing Hobby, Turkmene, Barb and Ara­bian strains, it’s not sur­pris­ing that in the be­gin­ning, it was rather vari­able. The Hobby con­trib­uted mus­cu­lar­ity, sprint speed and am­bling gaits. The Turkmene con­trib­uted height, sub­stan­tial bone and stamina. The Barb con­trib­uted game­ness and the abil­ity to hold speed over a dis­tance. The Ara­bian con­trib­uted beauty of form, in­telli-

gence, tractabil­ity, sound­ness and en­durance ca­pa­bil­ity.

Some­times the ge­netic po­ten­tial of the above mix­ture re­sulted in a horse that could suc­ceed at heat rac­ing; more of­ten, how­ever, it did not. Many early Thor­ough­breds were in­deed stay­ers but lacked the speed to make them flat-track win­ners. Some came out too heavy; some came out too small. The 18th century Duke of Bed­ford, for ex­am­ple, is said to have pro­duced about 400 Thor­ough­breds per year for 20 years upon his es­tate, 90 per­cent of which he gave away. What did the English do with this flot­sam and jet­sam of the breed­ing shed? Very prac­ti­cally, they found other jobs for these horses: Some were called hun­ters, good over fences and for hark­ing across coun­try; some were called cobs or pads, good for rid­ing or light haulage.

It must be em­pha­sized that many early Thor­ough­breds in­her­ited the “easy” gaits of their Hobby an­ces­tors. This is dif­fi­cult for mod­ern read­ers to grasp, be­cause to­day’s Thor­ough­breds do not am­ble. To be an am­b­ler­gal­loper by no means dis­qual­i­fied a Thor­ough­bred from suc­ceed­ing at heat rac­ing; in fact, most of the cham­pi­ons of the 18th century were am­bler-gal­lop­ers. How­ever, if an am­bler-gal­loper was too small or too slow to suc­ceed at the track, he of­ten be­came a mount for a gen­teel lady or a wealthy mer­chant, used for plea­sure or for travel.

Re­mem­ber that post­ing to the trot--the tech­nique that makes long-dis­tance travel on a trot­ting “hack” tol­er­a­ble ---was in­vented (by em­ploy­ees of the Bri­tish Postal Ser­vice, hence its name) in about 1740 but was not widely prac­ticed un­til the first quar­ter of the 19th century. Why? Be­cause by far the most de­sired and most valu­able rid­ing horses up un­til that time were am­blers, upon

which one can go down the road at a lively 7 to 9 mph clip---twice as fast as a trot­ting horse walks, and nearly as fast as he trots---while re­main­ing com­fort­ably seated.


In even the most ex­clu­sive breed­ing sta­bles, in the past and to­day, there is a cer­tain amount of off-the-cuff breed­ing, in which the es­tab­lish­ment’s Thor­ough­bred stallion cov­ers not an elite mare with parent­age equal or su­pe­rior to his own, but a sturdy coun­try­bred mare owned by the pro­pri­etor’s neigh­bor or ten­ant. In Eng­land dur­ing the 18th century such mares tended to be a blend of Hobby, Hart­draaver, Nor­man and ei­ther pony or draft. The landed and en­ti­tled Bri­tish who owned Thor­ough­bred stal­lions saw the prac­tice of “breed­ing up” as a ben­e­fit they could of­fer their neigh­bors---one which im­proved their opin­ion of him and their tol­er­ance for him. En­cour­age­ment for the prac­tice also came from a long suc­ces­sion of English kings and queens, who saw ad­van­tage in fill­ing the coun­try­side with larger, faster, sounder horses suit­able for con­scrip­tion in time of war.

The sort of horse suit­able as an of­fi­cer’s charger can also of­ten serve as a hunter, and there are hun­dreds of bu­colic 18th century paint­ings that fea­ture part-bred geld­ings. Some of the more beau­ti­ful colts of this kind es­caped the knife and be­came sires them­selves. These be­came the an­ces­tors of the Nor­folk Road­ster, the Cleve­land Bay and the Hack­ney. As the 19th century dawned and roads were im­proved, these tall, sub­stan­tial horses be­came im­mensely valu­able through high de­mand from wealthy

peo­ple who wanted hand­some high­step­pers to pull the sleek car­riages that had be­come the fash­ion.


While the Morgan had al­ready come into ex­is­tence, the first half of the 19th century saw the be­gin­nings of three other ma­jor Amer­i­can breeds: the Quar­ter Horse, the Amer­i­can Stan­dard­bred (har­ness horses) and the Amer­i­can Sad­dle­bred (sad­dle horses). In ex­act par­al­lel to the sit­u­a­tion in 18th century Eng­land, farm­ers and commoners bred from the pool of avail­able horses, us­ing Ori­en­tal blood when they could get it. Most Colo­nial mares were Hob­bies or Nar­ra­gansetts, though some were Cana­dian, Hart­draaver or Morgan. Sires were Thor­ough­breds, bet­ter qual­ity half­bloods, or rarely and lo­cally, Ara­bi­ans.

The most im­por­tant fac­tor dis­tin­guish­ing 19th from 18th century Colo­nial breed­ing was the ad­di­tion of in­creas­ing amounts of Thor­ough­bred to the mix. Most of the Thor­ough­breds who came to Amer­ica dur­ing the 18th century were shipped to Vir­ginia or the Caroli­nas, and they re­mained scarce in New Eng­land un­til the 19th century. The first Thor­ough­bred to ar­rive on these shores was Bulle Rock (1709, imp. 1731), a son of the Dar­ley “Ara­bian” out of a mare by the By­erly Turk. The other im­por­tant early im­por­ta­tion was Mon­key (1725), by the Lons­dale Bay Turk out of a mare sired by Cur­wen’s Bay Barb, she out of a mare by the By­erly Turk.

As the century pro­gressed, more Thor­ough­breds came in, some be­ing of the very finest breed­ing: Mor­ton’s Trav­eller (who ap­pears in Justin Morgan’s pedi­gree; see The Reg­is­tered Morgan,” EQUUS 471), Janus II (tap­root sire of the Amer­i­can Quar­ter Horse), Othello (sire of the in­flu­en­tial Se­lim), Fear­naught, Sil­ver Eye, Mark An­thony and Jolly Roger, who all con­trib­uted to the foun­da­tion of all the char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally Amer­i­can breeds.

Mix­ing coun­try-bred mares with blooded sires cre­ated a large pop­u­la­tion of use­ful horses. By the mid­dle of the 19th century, they had be­gun to sep­a­rate into types dif­fer­ing some­what in con­for­ma­tion---not a sur­prise when we look back on it, since the Amer­i­can Sad­dle­bred and Quar­ter Horse es­pe­cially are now quite dif­fer­ent in ap­pear­ance. A greater sur­prise to some may be that while the Stan­dard­bred was the first of the three to find a per­for­mance niche, the nascent Quar­ter Horse and Sad­dle­bred sep­a­rated more slowly be­cause both were val­ued for easy, am­bling gaits.

As so of­ten in this se­ries on the his­tory of breeds, we need to pause to clar­ify the mean­ing of terms. First, keep in mind that there were no reg­istries for part-Thor­ough­bred horses un­til the very end of the 19th century. Thus, when we ex­am­ine horses from be­fore that time, it is con­fus­ing at best to re­fer to them as “Quar­ter Horses” or “Amer­i­can Sad­dle­breds.” We can look back on it from our time and say, “Yes, that young Janus sure did con­trib­ute to the foun­da­tion of the Quar­ter Horse,” or “Isn’t it amaz­ing how that five-gaited Thor­ough­bred Gaines’ Den­mark passed on his qual­i­ties to his off­spring”---but

of course, if you had been in the barn with Janus or Gaines’ Den­mark, there would have been no way to know what their de­scen­dants more than two cen­turies later would be like. All you could have hon­estly said was that their colt­foals seemed to be able to do the jobs de­manded of them, and that their fil­ly­foals made good brood­mares.

The name “Amer­i­can Quar­ter Horse” is the usual des­ig­na­tion to­day for horses reg­is­tered with the Amer­i­can Quar­ter Horse As­so­ci­a­tion, which was not founded un­til 1940. Like­wise, “Amer­i­can Sad­dle­bred” is the name for an­i­mals reg­is­tered with the Amer­i­can Sad­dle Horse As­so­ci­a­tion, founded in 1891. But be­fore the Civil War, Amer­i­cans who stood in the barn with Janus, who was a reg­is­tered Thor­ough­bred, called him a “quar­ter-run­ning horse” be­cause he came from stock, and sired stock, who won in the rus­tic quar­ter-mile sprint­ing that was so pop­u­lar in the day. Peo­ple stand­ing in the barn with Gaines’ Den­mark, who like­wise was a reg­is­tered Thor­ough­bred, no­ticed that he got many good “sad­dle horses” or “saddlers.” From the terms “quar­ter­run­ning horse” and “sad­dler” come the “of­fi­cial” names that we now use, af­ter reg­istries and pedi­gree-keep­ing were for­mally or­ga­nized.

Some his­to­ri­ans have quib­bled over whether the Nar­ra­gansett Pacer, the Morgan or the Quar­ter Horse was the “first” Amer­i­can breed, but it all de­pends upon how the terms are used. In this au­thor’s opin­ion, ar­gu­ment is rather silly be­cause all of the char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally Amer­i­can horse breeds drew from the same pool, and all be­gan to take on their mod­ern forms and propen­si­ties in the pe­riod be­tween the Revo­lu­tion­ary War and the Civil War.


The New York Trot­ting Club, con­ven­ing in 1825, es­tab­lished the first rules for light har­ness rac­ing. These were promptly adopted by clubs in Philadel­phia, Trenton and Prov­i­dence. In 1870 Amasa Sprague, Jr.---who will ap­pear again in our up­com­ing re­view of the life and for­tunes of Ethan Allen---was elected pres­i­dent of the newly cre­ated Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Pro­mo­tion of the In­ter­ests of the Amer­i­can Trot­ting Turf, soon sim­pli­fied to the Na­tional Trot­ting As­so­ci­a­tion. Its ob­jec­tive: “uni­for­mity in the gov­ern­ment of trot­ting, the el­e­va­tion of the stand­ing of the Amer­i­can Trot­ting Turf, and the preven­tion, de­tec­tion, and pun­ish­ment of frauds thereon.”

Dres­sage afi­ciona­dos of to­day are used to think­ing of the 20th century warm­blood ver­bands of Ger­many as the in­ven­tors of “per­for­mance test­ing” as a ra­tio­nal means of de­ter­min­ing which mares and stal­lions should breed on. Un­for­tu­nately, they’re a cou­ple of cen­turies off: Per­for­mance test­ing was in­vented by Charles II of Eng­land in about 1675; its im­ple­men­ta­tion cre­ated the Thor­ough­bred as we know it (see “Foun­da­tion Sires and Dams,” EQUUS 449). The next or­ga­nized at­tempt at per­for­mance test­ing was made in Amer­ica in 1879 with the foun­da­tion of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Trot­ting Horse Breed­ers. They took King Charles’ rules a step fur­ther by man­dat­ing that while a horse of any breed­ing might en­ter a race, to earn reg­is­tra­tion the an­i­mal must trot or pace one mile in har­ness in a time of 2:30 or less---horses that met this stan­dard were “Stan­dard­breds,” and their prog­eny were also ac­cepted as such. Per­for­mance test­ing re­quir­ing a pre­cise time stan­dard was made

pos­si­ble in part be­cause of the im­proved Swiss Tag Heuer stop­watch, first man­u­fac­tured in 1869, which could mea­sure elapsed time down to a fifth of a se­cond.

Horses able to meet the trot­ting stan­dard pre­sented a mix­ture of Morgan, Cana­dian, Thor­ough­bred, Nor­man and Hack­ney an­ces­try. Be­fore 1855, most har­ness horses who were con­sid­ered fast car­ried mul­ti­ple crosses to ei­ther Sherman Morgan or his son Black Hawk, with the distaff side of the pedi­gree be­ing partly or largely Thor­ough­bred. Af­ter this date, the suc­cess­ful pedi­gree was in­verted as the Thor­ough­bred Rys­dyk’s Ham­ble­to­nian grad­u­ally be­came the dom­i­nant sire line. By the time the Stan­dard­bred reg­istry was es­tab­lished at the end of the 19th century, Morgan strains were car­ried on in this breed only through cer­tain mare fam­i­lies. The decade prior to the start of the Civil War was a pe­riod of tran­si­tion dur­ing which there was heated con­tention be­tween the old Morgan-breds and the new­fan­gled Ham­ble­to­nian-breds. Thereby hangs yet an­other tale---the riv­et­ing bi­og­ra­phy of that most fa­mous son of Black Hawk, Ethan Allen 50, which we will cover in de­tail in an up­com­ing in­stall­ment.

Be­cause the back­ground of fast har­ness horses in­cluded both Nor­man and Hack­ney (strictly trot­ters) and Cana­di­ans (of­ten pac­ers), as well as the old-fash­ioned am­bler-gal­loper Mor­gans and Thor­ough­breds, the breed has al­ways pro­duced at least as many pac­ers as trot­ters. A pref­er­ence for trot­ter vs. pacer be­came, as the 19th century pro­gressed to­ward the great war at mid-century, an em­blem of cul­tural dif­fer­ences be­tween North and South. There were many more miles of smooth road in the North, and there the trot­ter came to pre­dom­i­nate. The South­erner con­tin­ued to pre­fer a horse that could both drive and ride---and do the lat­ter com­fort­ably---so that am­blers, which would pace nat­u­rally with­out need for hob­bling, con­tin­ued to be pre­ferred south of the Ma­son-Dixon Line.


There were no Ara­bian horses in New Eng­land dur­ing the 18th century. A fa­mous con­tem­po­rary paint­ing by John Faed de­picts Ge­orge Washington ges­tur­ing with sword while mounted on the sil­ver-gray Blue­skin, said to be a son of a horse called Lind­say’s Ara­bian (a.k.a. “Ranger” or “Ara­bian Ranger”). Like most horses in his day pos­sess­ing some Ori­en­tal an­ces­try, this stallion was called an “Arab” to jus­tify higher stud fees. Amer­i­can colonists were so un­fa­mil­iar with blooded horses in any case that they usu­ally did not dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween Thor­ough­breds, Barbs and Ara­bi­ans. Painters like Faed took care to rep­re­sent such an­i­mals wear­ing a leop­ard-skin shabraque or tas­seled head­gear in or­der to make cer­tain the viewer would re­al­ize that the horse was an “Arab.” Var­i­ous in­cred­i­ble or un­ver­i­fi­able sto­ries at­tach to “Ara­bian” Ranger, but one which can be be­lieved is that he was a Barb im­ported from Eng­land to Con­necti­cut in 1766 by Ge­orge Wyllys, who sold him in 1775 to one Col. Lind­say of Vir­ginia. Ge­orge Washington knew and ad­mired the horse and pa­tron­ized him with his best mares.

The fa­mous im­ported Leop­ard and Lin­den Tree were diplo­matic gifts to ex-Pres­i­dent Grant, given to him by the Sul­tan of Turkey when he vis­ited that coun­try as part of a world tour in 1878---af­ter the Civil War. The real start of Amer­i­can Ara­bian horse breed­ing be­gins even later, at the 1893 World

Columbian Ex­po­si­tion in Chicago. Be­fore the Civil War, there were only a tiny num­ber of pure­bred Ara­bian horses in Amer­ica. One of note was Calif of Cairo foaled about 1856, im­ported to Long Is­land, New York, about 1858 and some­times called “The Long Is­land Ara­bian.” As a colt he had been pre­sented to Judge Richard B. Jones, con­sul gen­eral of the U.S. for Egypt, by Ab­bas Pasha of Egypt. This horse, a beau­ti­ful an­i­mal of the high­est qual­ity, was said to be “kind as a dove yet very fast.” On these shores he cer­tainly got colts--one of record was Orion, re­ported in an 1858 is­sue of Harper’s Weekly as be­ing out of a Morgan mare. It is prob­a­ble that Calif of Cairo got oth­ers; the fa­mous trot­ter Flora Tem­ple (foaled circa 1845) is some­times said to be a grand­daugh­ter or great-grand­daugh­ter. But be­cause pure­bred Ara­bian mares were not avail­able to him, Calif of Cairo’s ul­ti­mate con­tri­bu­tion was merely to breed up the pop­u­la­tion of mares who hap­pened to live near him.

An even ear­lier im­por­ta­tion was that of *Grand Bashaw, brought to New York in 1819 by a wealthy lawyer. The ex­por­ta­tion cer­tifi­cate, signed by John Carstensen, the Dan­ish con­sul gen­eral at Tripoli, and coun­ter­signed by the U.S. con­sul, cer­ti­fies that “J.C. Morgan Esq. … of the United States of Amer­ica pur­chased from me an iron gray Ara­bian horse, ris­ing 4 years old. This horse, be­got­ten by the late Bey’s fa­vorite horse Khas­nadger, cel­e­brated in this place for his beauty and other ex­cel­lent qual­i­ties, from a fine mare of this coun­try, is of the very best blood to be ob­tained here.” Khas­nadger is the sire-line an­ces­tor of the Bashaw line of Amer­i­can Stan­dard­breds, through the horses Young Bashaw, An­drew Jack­son and Henry Clay, the lat­ter be­ing him­self the pro­gen­i­tor of the Clay blood­lines

Sir Archy (1805) by im­ported Diomed out of im­ported Cas­tianira by Rock­ing­ham by Highflyer. Called “the Godol­phin of Amer­ica,” Sir Archy is the linch­pin in the great heat-rac­ing dy­nasty ex­tend­ing from Diomed to Lex­ing­ton (1850), but he sired hun­dreds of other good per­form­ers as well, both pure­bred and part-bred. Bred in Vir­ginia by John Tay­loe III in part­ner­ship with Capt. Archibald Ran­dolph, Sir Archy was named in honor of Ran­dolph. Tay­loe also im­ported Cas­tianira, who when first im­ported was in sorry shape, thin and with ears cropped and go­ing blind. Af­ter his fifth year, Sir Archy beat all com­ers at the track—in­deed he was never ex­tended. Breed historian Charles E. Tre­vathan noted that “he got more distin­guished rac­ers than any horse in Amer­ica, per­haps in the world, from all sorts of mares, with all kinds of pedi­grees, and some with no pedi­grees at all. It might be said with truth that he filled a hemi­sphere with his get.” Note Sir Archy’s strongly un­du­lat­ing fa­cial pro­file, of a type some­times un­flat­ter­ingly called a “moose nose.” So per­va­sive was Sir Archy’s in­flu­ence, and so much did his get take af­ter him, that con­tem­po­rary Euro­pean ob­servers were sur­prised to see any Amer­i­can­bred horse who lacked that type of head, which they termed “the Amer­i­can head.” Mu­ley (1810) by Orville, trac­ing in sire line through Ben­ing­brough to Eclipse; out of Eleanor by Whiskey by Sal­tram by Eclipse. Both Diomed (Herod) and Matchem ap­pear in the tail-fe­male, which ul­ti­mately goes to Old Bald Peg. In Mu­ley we have a Thor­ough­bred born a long time ago who bears strik­ing re­sem­blance to the warm­blood horses that have been so pop­u­lar over the last 30 years. Fully 16 and a half hands high, Mu­ley was said to have larger bone and greater mus­cu­lar power than any Thor­ough­bred in Eng­land. I be­lieve that Amer­i­can breed­ers looked for stout­ness dur­ing this pe­riod and that this ac­counts in part for the pop­u­lar­ity of ref­er­ence sires like Mu­ley, Samp­son, Bell­founder, Diomed, Mam­brino and Mes­sen­ger. Mu­ley’s Amer­i­can in­flu­ence comes through his son Le­viathan (1823), sire of Giant­ess (1832), dam of the very pop­u­lar stallion Union (1847). Mu­ley’s name is most fre­quent in the pedi­grees of Amer­i­can Stan­dard­breds.

of Stan­dard­breds and Amer­i­can Sad­dle­breds, but Grand Bashaw left no pure­bred de­scen­dants.

The same Bri­tish min­is­ter to Tripoli sold an­other Ara­bian horse af­ter re­turn­ing to London in 1820. This horse, *Bagh­dad, went through an Amer­i­can im­port com­pany to stand in Ten­nessee. There he sired a part-bred mare who ap­pears in the pedi­gree of the stallion Roderic Dhu, whose daugh­ter Me­dora was cov­ered by *Mokhladi. Roderic Dhu had some lo­cal in­flu­ence in Ken­tucky and Ten­nessee but the blood­line died out dur­ing the Civil War.

The first Amer­i­can im­porter who in­tended to use Ara­bian horses in a large, planned breed­ing pro­gram was A. Keene Richards, who had sta­bles in Ge­orge­town, Ken­tucky. Orig­i­nally in­ter­ested in Thor­ough­breds, Richards be­came un­sat­is­fied with them. Con­vinced that they had lost the stamina and stay­ing power of the Dar­ley, By­erly and Godol­phin---whom he er­ro­neously be­lieved to be pure­bred

Ara­bi­ans---Richards de­ter­mined to travel to the Near East to se­lect new “stayer” blood with which to re­fresh Amer­i­can blood­lines. He made two trips, the first in 1851 to 1853 and the se­cond in 1855 and 1856, bring­ing back five good stal­lions: *Mas­soud (1844) and *Mokhladi (1844), both im­ported in 1853, and *Sack­lowie (1851), *Fey­sul (1852) and *Ham­dan (1854) im­ported in 1856. He also per­formed the near-im­pos­si­ble by im­port­ing mares---*Lulie (circa 1845) and *Sadah (circa 1850)---get­ting them in all prob­a­bil­ity be­cause their breed­ers thought them in­fer­tile.

Richards’ aim, it must be em­pha­sized, was not to cre­ate pure­breds, even though in 1856 *Sadah pro­duced a colt, Ab­del Kadir (a.k.a. the Faris Ara­bian) to the cover of *Mokhladi. Richards was prob­a­bly able to pro­duce a few other pure­breds of which we now have no record, but his main aim was to cross Ara­bian sires on Thor­ough­bred mares for the pur­pose of “im­prov­ing” the Thor­ough­bred. Sim­i­lar to Lady Went­worth who fol­lowed him in the ef­fort some 60 years later (see “Ara­bian Horses Come to Amer­ica," EQUUS 442), Richards was deeply “into” a largely myth­i­cal Euro­pean ver­sion of Near East­ern Mus­lim cul­ture, and like Lady Went­worth he en­joyed dress­ing up in Arab costume---it is Richards who ap­pears in Troye’s paint­ing of *Mokhladi (see “Ara­bian In­flu­ence,” page 46).

Had cir­cum­stances not cut his ef­forts short, Richards might ul­ti­mately have dis­cov­ered his mis­take: Ara­bian blood does not make Thor­ough­breds faster, and it would be dif­fi­cult to find horses tougher or with greater en­durance ca­pa­bil­ity than the DiomedLex­ing­ton line of Thor­ough­bred stay­ers who dom­i­nated flat-track rac­ing and breed­ing in 19th century Amer­ica. Richards’ breed­ing pro­gram, how­ever, never re­ally got off the ground be­cause his horses were con­scripted, given away or killed dur­ing the Civil War, the greatest calamity of the 19th century.

Next: A Pho­to­graphic His­tory of the Horses of the Civil War


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