EQUUS - - Conformati­on Insights -

A pop­u­la­tion of feral horses that has adapted over time to its nat­u­ral and cul­tural en­vi­ron­ment, and whose unique char­ac­ter­is­tics are also due to iso­la­tion from other pop­u­la­tions, is prop­erly called a "lan­drace." Ge­neti­cist D. Phillip Spo­nen­berg, DVM, PhD, notes that “the rel­a­tive [con­for­ma­tional and ge­netic ]uni­for­mity of lan­draces re­sults from both mod­er­ate in­breed­ing and from se­lec­tion . . . a com­bi­na­tion of nat­u­ral and hu­man fac­tors, all act­ing in an agri­cul­tural or pas­toral set­ting.” Thus, the Colo­nial Span­ish horse, which Spo­nen­berg has de­voted a life­time to track­ing and pre­serv­ing, is a lan­drace that sub­sumes all feral North Amer­i­can horses of Ibe­rian ex­trac­tion, plus all their do­mes­ti­cated rel­a­tives. Their his­tory is now be­ing doc­u­mented and pre­served by a half­dozen dif­fer­ent reg­istries and breed clubs.

The “pre-reg­istry” Mor­gan also qual­i­fies as a lan­drace, for even though it con­tained no feral herds it con­sisted of a large pop­u­la­tion of horses of sim­i­lar breed­ing and rec­og­niz­able type rang­ing from New Eng­land south thor­ough the Ohio Val­ley.

Out of this pop­u­la­tion in the last decade of the 19th cen­tury, Joseph Bat­tell chose foun­da­tional in­di­vid­u­als to es­tab­lish a Mor­gan Horse reg­istry and breed. In par­al­lel fash­ion, Moun­tain Horses are a lan­drace that includes all the feral horses of far western Vir­ginia and North Carolina and ad­ja­cent eastern Ken­tucky and Ten­nessee, plus all of their do­mes­ti­cated rel­a­tives (now lo­cated ev­ery­where in the United States). Their his­tory is like­wise be­ing doc­u­mented and pre­served by sev­eral dif­fer­ent reg­istries and breed clubs.

It is im­por­tant to un­der­stand how breeds re­late to lan­draces: Lan­draces are the “un­doc­u­mented” pop­u­la­tion from which a breed may arise by se­lec­tion---that is, be­cause some­one se­lects “foun­da­tional” in­di­vid­u­als out of a feral herd and brings them back into do­mes­ti­ca­tion. Any­one at any time can do what Joseph Bat­tell did---es­tab­lish a breed by iden­ti­fy­ing “foun­da­tion” horses and then giv­ing them names or num­bers, reg­is­ter­ing them and keep­ing care­ful track of their breed­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and de­scen­dants.

All horse breeds have in fact emerged in this way, ei­ther (in very an­cient times) from wild herds that had never pre­vi­ously been do­mes­ti­cated, or else from what­ever lan­drace was feral or “tra­di­tion­ally bred” in a

A pop­u­la­tion of feral horses that has adapted over time to its nat­u­ral and cul­tural en­vi­ron­ment, and whose unique char­ac­ter­is­tics are also due to iso­la­tion from other pop­u­la­tions, is prop­erly called a “lan­drace.”

given geo­graphic area. This is why the names of many horse breeds are place names, such as “Shire,” “Cleve­land Bay,” “Turkmene,” “Hanove­rian” and “Welsh.” Thus, horse breeds should not be thought of---as they so of­ten are---as sud­denly ap­pear­ing out of thin air as the re­sult of the fab­u­lous pre­po­tency of one or a few “founder” stal­lions. Rather, new horse breeds arise when peo­ple ob­tain blood­stock from a pop­u­la­tion adapted to the cli­mate and ter­rain of a given geo­graphic area, and then build on that by se­lect­ing for what­ever traits they ad­mire or find use­ful.

This is not all that is eth­i­cally

re­quired, how­ever, be­cause for­mal horse breeds---those that have es­tab­lished reg­istries---that do not ad­here to clear, bi­o­log­i­cally based stan­dards sooner or later fail. By “bi­o­log­i­cally based stan­dards” I mean cor­rect con­for­ma­tion struc­ture, free­dom from ge­netic dis­eases, ap­pro­pri­ate phys­i­cal adap­ta­tion to all-around work or ath­letic per­for­mance, and an em­pha­sis on good-mind­ed­ness and train­abil­ity. Eth­i­cal ac­tion in horse breed­ing does not pre­clude eco­nomic ben­e­fit to the peo­ple who cre­ate a breed and its reg­istry, but it does de­mand the kind of sus­tain­abil­ity that breed­ing merely for color, speed, long necks, dished faces or any other sin­gle char­ac­ter­is­tic can never sup­ply. Be­cause breeds are based on founder pop­u­la­tions less nu­mer­ous than the lan­drace from which they were drawn, they tend to be more in­bred than the lan­drace while the lan­drace man­i­fests more vari­abil­ity. Over the last two cen­turies, many Amer­i­can horse breeds have drifted or been driven to ex­tremes of mus­cu­lar­ity or re­fine­ment,

whereas lan­drace in­di­vid­u­als man­i­fest a less ex­treme, more gen­er­al­ized and gen­er­ally sounder body mor­phol­ogy. Foun­da­tional and chrono­log­i­cally early mem­bers of breeds tend to re­sem­ble their lan­drace an­ces­tors.

The fas­ci­nat­ing story that fol­lows takes a close look at the Moun­tain Horse lan­drace and the do­mes­ti­cated and some­times “pa­pered” horses who have come from it. At the same time, we will dis­cover the root-ori­gins of two of our great­est breeds: the Amer­i­can Quar­ter Horse and the Amer­i­can Sad­dle­bred. Though these breeds look and per­form very dif­fer­ently to­day, their ori­gins lie in the same lan­drace herds.


It is for­tu­nate that the Moun­tain Horse pop­u­la­tion is still with us, not only in the form of feral herds but also do­mes­ti­cated ones. Thanks pri­mar­ily to the ef­forts of ed­u­ca­tor Sam O. Tuttle of Estill County, Ken­tucky, who spent a life­time col­lect­ing Moun­tain Horses and who bred them for dura­bil­ity, com­fort­able gait and good-mind­ed­ness, these horses have re­mained sturdy, beau­ti­ful to look at, eas­ily train­able and fun to ride.

Mr. Tuttle was a true in­di­vid­u­al­ist whose pas­sion for Moun­tain Horses be­gan when he was a teenager. Through trade with neigh­bors and pur­chases from his un­cle Frank Tuttle, Sam col­lected a herd of between 40 and 60 horses that he main­tained up un­til the time of his death in 1988. Breed his­to­rian Bon­nie Hodge, author of Rocky Moun­tain Horses, notes that “Sam Tuttle never kept any writ­ten record of what horse was bred to what horse. When he would de­cide to breed a mare and a stal­lion, it was solely for the pur­pose of pro­duc­ing more of the traits he per­son­ally pre­ferred. He would try to pro­duce

a plea­sur­able rid­ing gait in the horses he bred be­cause he en­joyed rid­ing them. He liked smaller horses be­cause they were eas­ier to get on bare­back. Like­wise, he tried to main­tain a kind and gen­tle dis­po­si­tion in his horses be­cause he ad­mired it.”

Two reg­istries---the Moun­tain Plea­sure Horse and the Rocky Moun­tain Horse---were founded by some of Tuttle’s neigh­bors and friends who had be­gun breed­ing horses pur­chased from him. These reg­istries con­cern them­selves with horses that are most re­lated to, and most like, the source lan­drace. Other breeds that orig­i­nate in the mid-South---in­clud­ing the Amer­i­can Sad­dle­bred, the Amer­i­can Quar­ter Horse, the Ten­nessee Walk­ing Horse, the Rack­ing Horse, the Spot­ted Sad­dle Horse, the Ken­tucky Moun­tain Sad­dle Horse, and the Mis­souri Fox­trot­ter---all de­rive in part from the Moun­tain Horse lan­drace and all bear some phys­i­cal re­sem­blance to it. The pedi­grees of these horses re­peat many of the same an­ces­tors, and many horses that come from Mis­souri, south­ern Illi­nois and Ohio, Ten­nessee and Ken­tucky are “cross-reg­is­tered.”

Be­fore we go any fur­ther, I need to ex­plain how the name “Rocky Moun­tain” was be­stowed on a breed of horse that orig­i­nates not in the Rocky Moun­tain re­gion of the Far West but east of the Mis­sis­sippi in the Ap­palachian high­lands. The story of­fi­cially ac­cepted by the Rocky Moun­tain Horse As­so­ci­a­tion (RMHA) is that the breed was “founded” by a pac­ing mus­tang known as “the Rocky Moun­tain Stud Colt of 1890,” who had been brought east to Ken­tucky from the Rocky Moun­tain re­gion. I have, how­ever, re­peat­edly em­pha­sized in this series that it is naïve to be­lieve that a sin­gle, sup­pos­edly pre­po­tent “foun­da­tion

stal­lion” can sin­gle-hand­edly cre­ate a breed de novo from his loins. Rather, the ori­gin as well as the per­pet­u­a­tion of all breeds de­pends on many in­di­vid­u­als and es­pe­cially on brood­mares.

The “of­fi­cial” sto­ries of all breeds re­late to ad­ver­tis­ing pro­mo­tion be­cause the sur­vival of a breed (as op­posed to a lan­drace) de­pends upon sales. Most cus­tomers aren’t pro­fes­sional his­to­ri­ans, and a mythol­ogy that cre­ates ro­man­tic im­ages of leg­endary horses like the Pac­ing White Mus­tang (who could out­run even the fastest gal­lop­ers) can en­thrall po­ten­tial buy­ers. Why, then, not buy into a harm­less story? Be­cause fa­bles and over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tions ob­scure real breed ori­gins and thus ul­ti­mately di­min­ish the value of the horses. Hodge re­ports a sce­nario that is much more likely to be true: “There is also an­other ver­sion of the story … told by Sam Tuttle many times…. [He] claimed the dam of the orig­i­nal Rocky Moun­tain Stud Colt of 1890 had Span­ish lin­eage. He said this gaited mare was orig­i­nally ac­quired from [Bird Is­land] off the coast of Vir­ginia. Some men swam out to the is­land to cap­ture her…. She was [then] taken on a jour­ney out west to the Rocky Moun­tains and, at some point … she gave birth to the colt [which was then brought back east and be­came fa­mous as] the Rocky Moun­tain Stud Colt.” In short: the stud colt con­sid­ered the founder of the Rocky Moun­tain breed was not a mus­tang but at least 50 per­cent Banker pony of mixed Span­ish and Vir­ginia Hobby breed­ing.


It can be hard to de­cide what to call the lan­draces from which for­mal breeds are de­rived. In the pre­vi­ous in­stall­ment, I used breed his­to­rian Alexan­der Mackay-Smith’s pro­posed name Colo­nial Quar­ter Run­ning Horse (CQRH) to des­ig­nate the pop­u­la­tion from which both the Amer­i­can Quar­ter Horse and the Amer­i­can Sad­dle­bred arose. The CQRH is not a breed in the for­mal sense of as­so­ci­a­tion with a reg­istry, but it is not im­proper to call lan­draces or tra­di­tion­ally-bred forms “breeds.” It is also not im­proper to re­fer to lan­draces that later give rise to a for­mal breed by the name of the breed

In short: the stud colt con­sid­ered the founder of the Rocky Moun­tain breed was not a mus­tang but at least 50 per­cent Banker pony of mixed Span­ish and Vir­ginia Hobby breed­ing.

that came from them---so for ex­am­ple, in this series I have used “Mor­gan” for horses of that type who lived be­fore the Mor­gan reg­istry was es­tab­lished.

The CQRH can also be called the Colo­nial Rid­ing Horse (CRH), as trans­porta­tion was in fact the pri­mary func­tion of most in­di­vid­u­als, whereas rac­ing was oc­ca­sional and in­ci­den­tal (in the same way that Justin Mor­gan was oc­ca­sion­ally matched in quar­ter-path races (see “Mys­tery of the Mor­gan Horse” EQUUS 469). The Moun­tain Horse and the CRH are “sis­ter pop­u­la­tions”--parts of what is re­ally a sin­gle large pop­u­la­tion---with the CRH orig­i­nat­ing ear­lier and east of the Blue Ridge, the Moun­tain Horse orig­i­nat­ing af­ter 1775 and west of the Cum­ber­land Gap. Which ap­pel­la­tion I use for a given horse de­pends on when and where it was bred, but this can come down to split­ting hairs. The main pur­pose of nam­ing lan­draces is to rec­og­nize their ex­is­tence and thereby give proper credit to the thou­sands of mares whose name­less pres­ence haunts the pedi­grees of most Amer­i­can-bred horses.

One other point bears men­tion­ing specif­i­cally with re­gard to the name “Rocky Moun­tain Horse”: We can pro­nounce it ei­ther “Rocky-Moun­tain Horse,” link­ing the first two words, or “Rocky Moun­tain-Horse,” link­ing the last two. The lat­ter makes the name into a pun, be­cause the word “rocky” can mean “some­thing that moves to and fro,” like the legs and body of an am­bling horse. All horses who am­ble or pace are thus “rocky,” and the word is in­deed linked et­y­mo­log­i­cally to terms that read­ers of this series al­ready know: “hobby” and “rack.” In the Amer­i­can South, horses who rack are still some­times called “rocky horses” or “shaky­tails,” and “shaker” is a com­mon ep­i­thet for Ten­nessee Walk­ing Horses.


In the Amer­i­can South, horses who rack are still some­times called “rocky horses” or “shaky­tails,” and “shaker” is a com­mon ep­i­thet for Ten­nessee Walk­ing Horses.

In this ar­ti­cle, I fea­ture many horses who demon­strate link­ages between Moun­tain Horses, Quar­ter Horses and Amer­i­can Sad­dle­breds. In pedi­gree study, it is cru­cially im­por­tant to spec­ify each an­i­mal’s date of foal­ing be­cause sev­eral horses may bear the same name, or else a sin­gle horse may be known by mul­ti­ple names. I have had to re­vise some pub­lished pedi­grees be­cause the dates for the horses spec­i­fied make them more than 30 years old at the time of breed­ing, an im­pos­si­bil­ity; gen­er­ally these mis­takes arise be­cause an an­ces­tor known only as “son of” or “mare by” has been left out.

The early half of the 19th cen­tury presents a par­tic­u­larly long list of con­fus­ing names (see “Not to Be Con­fused With,” page 58).

From pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cles in this series (see “A Brief His­tory of the Thor­ough­bred,” EQUUS 448), the reader will re­call that 17th cen­tury Hob­bies in gen­eral---and the brood­mare Old Bald Peg in par­tic­u­lar---con­sti­tute the tap­root source of speed in the Thor­ough­bred and Amer­i­can Quar­ter Horse. Like­wise the Godol­phin, not an Ara­bian as gen­er­ally said but rather a Hobby-Turkmene cross, is of enor­mous im­por­tance to all the An­glo-Amer­i­can horse breeds. A list of the most im­por­tant Thor­ough­bred sires from the Colo­nial pe­riod who car­ried this blood includes *Jolly Roger (1743, imp. 1751); *Mor­ton’s Trav­eller (1746, imp. 1754) and his son Light­foot’s Part­ner (1755); *Fearnought (1755, imp. 1764); *Wil­dair (1753, imp. 1763); and Mark An­thony (1767, not im­ported).

One other Thor­ough­bred im­port, the deep red chest­nut *Lit­tle Janus (1746, imp. to Vir­ginia 1759, flour­ished in North Carolina af­ter 1765, d. 1780) is con­sid­ered the first an­ces­tor of the Amer­i­can Quar­ter Horse. His name also fre­quently ap­pears in the pedi­grees of Amer­i­can Sad­dle­breds. Also called “Im­ported Janus,” “Stiff Dick” or sim­ply “Janus,” *Lit­tle Janus was sired in Eng­land by Janus (1738) on a mare by Fox. A de­tailed look at *Lit­tle Janus’s pedi­gree and CQRH prog­eny is the sub­ject of the next in­stall­ment in this series.

*Lit­tle Janus’s most in­flu­en­tial Amer­i­can son was Meade’s Celer (1776) out of *Bran­don, she by Aris­to­tle by the Cullen “Ara­bian.” *Bran­don is out of a mare by Whit­ting­ton who traces to the Godol­phin; her tail-fe­male goes through *Jolly Roger to a mare by Croucher, who is of un­known (that is, lan­drace) lin­eage---and thus we have a def­i­nite record of the prac­tice, wide­spread in 19th cen­tury Amer­ica, of breed­ing “blooded” horses to “coun­try” mares to get beau­ti­ful, hardy and speedy horses who of­fered an easy trav­el­ling gait.


The pe­riod between the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary and Civil wars saw the es­tab­lish­ment of the Moun­tain Horse lan­drace. At first, Thor­ough­bred sires con­tin­ued to be in­flu­en­tial, es­pe­cially *Sal­tram (1780, imp. 1800); *Clock­fast (1780, imp. ca. 1784); *Mes­sen­ger (1780, imp. 1788); Sir Peter Tea­zle (1784, not im­ported); and *Cit­i­zen (1785, imp. 1803). Of these, *Mes­sen­ger and Sir Peter Tea­zle are the most fre­quent in Quar­ter Horse and Amer­i­can Sad­dle­bred pedi­grees. The ele­gant *Glen­coe (1831, imp. 1836) was one of the last imports to have wide in­flu­ence.

Grad­u­ally, Amer­i­can-bred stal­lions of part and full blood came to be more im­por­tant than im­ported Thor­ough­breds in pro­duc­ing qual­ity rid­ing horses. The

ear­li­est of im­por­tance are Mor­gans. Sher­man Mor­gan (1808), a son of Justin Mor­gan (1789), was out of a bright red “Span­ish” mare from Ja­maica and is re­spon­si­ble for car­ry­ing a strain of Ibe­rian in­flu­ence into both the Quar­ter Horse and Sad­dle­bred as well as into the Moun­tain Horse lan­drace. Sher­man Mor­gan’s half-brothers Wood­bury

Mor­gan (1816), Tom Hal (1808), and Jowett’s Copperbott­om (1809) also fre­quently ap­pear in Sad­dle­bred and Quar­ter Horse pedi­grees. Black Hawk (1833), like­wise in­flu­en­tial, was sired by Sher­man Mor­gan upon a Thor­ough­bred mare.

Fore­most among Thor­ough­breds of this pe­riod was the Amer­i­can-bred

Sir Archy (1805). By *Diomed out of *Cas­tianira, his in­flu­ence on the Quar­ter Horse is sec­ond only to that of *Lit­tle Janus. The foun­da­tional Quar­ter Horse Shiloh (1844) is by Von Tromp out of Shiloah; both descend in mul­ti­ple lines from Sir Archy. How­ever, Shiloah’s tail-fe­male is rooted in the Moun­tain Horse lan­drace.

Sir Archy is also hugely rep­re­sented in Amer­i­can Sad­dle­bred pedi­grees, pri­mar­ily be­cause his name ap­pears sev­eral times in the pedi­gree of Gaines’ Den­mark (1851), the most im­por­tant Sad­dle­bred “foun­da­tion” stal­lion. Next in im­por­tance af­ter Sir Archy is his de­scen­dant Grey Ea­gle (1835), out of Ophe­lia, who is in­bred many times to Sir Archy on both the top and bot­tom halves of the pedi­gree. Grey Ea­gle is the sire of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s horse Trav­eller (1857), so named be­cause he was easy-gaited. Trav­eller’s dam was Flora, who de­scends in mul­ti­ple lines from Justin Mor­gan but whose tail­fe­male roots in Moun­tain Horse.

The *Whip blood­line also in­flu­enced the early de­vel­op­ment of both the Quar­ter Horse and Sad­dle­bred. Black­burn’s Whip (1805) is by *Whip (1794, imp. to Vir­ginia in 1801) trac­ing in sire-line to Eclipse, out of Young Speck­le­back by Ran­dolph’s Celer by Meade’s Celer by *Lit­tle Janus. Her tail-fe­male also goes to *Lit­tle Janus. Black­burn’s Whip (also called Cook’s Whip) is the sire of Short’s Whip (1824). Foaled in Vir­ginia but later taken to Ken­tucky, this stal­lion was ad­ver­tised for speed, beauty and “dis­tin­guished sad­dle gaits”---which meant that he of­fered the rider a com­fort­able trav­el­ling am­ble.

Ca­bell’s Lex­ing­ton (1863), whose im­age re­stored from a dam­aged and blurry old photo ap­pears on page 72, is a sire-line de­scen­dant of Black Hawk, out of a mare de­scended from Cana­dian Tom Hal (1810). The distaff side of her pedi­gree includes crosses to Black­burn’s Whip but roots in the Moun­tain Horse lan­drace. Gaines Den­mark, men­tioned above, traces in sire line to Sir Peter Tea­zle. He was out of the Steven­son Mare by Cock­spur by Cock Robin by a son of

*Lit­tle Janus who might well have been the stal­lion Turpin’s Fleet­wood, sire of the fa­mous Quar­ter Horse an­ces­tor Printer. The distaff side of her pedi­gree includes Meade’s Celer and Sir Archy but roots in Moun­tain Horse mares in­clud­ing the so-called “roan rack­ing mare.”

Harry Bluff (1840) by Short’s Whip car­ried the Whip blood­line into many Quar­ter Horse pedi­grees. Harry Bluff was out of Big Nance by Ti­moleon by Sir Archy, but her tail-fe­male goes to Moun­tain Horse mares. Steel Dust (1843) by Harry Bluff was like­wise out of an un­traced but un­doubt­edly speedy Moun­tain Horse mare.

The in­flu­ence of *Lit­tle Janus on the Quar­ter Horse comes pri­mar­ily through his grand­son Printer (1795), by Turpin’s Fleet­wood out of a Moun­tain Horse mare. Printer is the ap­par­ent source of “bull­dog” con­for­ma­tion. His son Boan­erges (1822) bred many Moun­tain Horse mares, in­flu­enc­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the Quar­ter Horse mainly through his daugh­ter Mon­key (1836), the great-great grand­dam of Butt Cut (1876), who was the dam of Dan Tucker (1887), sire of foun­da­tional Quar­ter Horse Peter McCue (1895). Mon­key’s distaff pedi­gree is en­tirely Moun­tain Horse.

Like­wise, the quar­ter-racer Dan Se­cres (1847) by Joe Chalmers Jr. traces in sire-line to Eclipse but is out of Mary Cook by Printer (1795). Her tail-fe­male, too, is rooted in the Moun­tain Horse lan­drace.

On the ba­sis of the fact that there is only one “un­known” blood­line in his pedi­gree, Peav­ine (1863) might be con­sid­ered a more “pure­bred” horse than many other Amer­i­can sires of this pe­riod---but by this point, the reader is aware that there is no such thing as a “pure­bred.” By Rat­tler, Peav­ine

de­scends in sire-line from Black Hawk and is out of Pek­ina, a de­scen­dant of Sir Archy whose tail-fe­male goes to Black­burn’s Whip.

How­ever, re­mem­ber that Mor­gans were them­selves orig­i­nally a lan­drace ---the re­sult of mix­ing Cana­dian, Nar­ra­gansett Pacer, Caribbean Span­ish, Vir­ginia Hobby, and Penn­syl­va­nia Hart­draaver topped off with a lit­tle Thor­ough­bred---and that the an­ces­try of two of the mares who ap­pear in

Peav­ine’s ex­tended pedi­gree is un­doc­u­mented. The like­li­hood is that they, like so many oth­ers, came from the Moun­tain Horse lan­drace.

Com­ing next: The Colo­nial Quar­terRun­ning Horse

1650 1850 The top map shows tree heights in 1650: Darker shades in­di­cate the tallest trees. White and pale shades in­di­cate grass or low shrubs. The 1850 map de­picts the Eastern for­est af­ter 200 years of log­ging by set­tlers.

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