In like manner, the pacer, which was probably of Narragansett (Rhode Island) origin, and which seemed likely at one time to develop into a breed, has been lost as a distinct variety. Although there has never been an active demand for animals inheriting the pacing gait, yet there was a distinct place for them; and it is to be regretted that breeders did not continue along the lines which gave unmistakable evidence of the highest success. Instead of developing breeds of horses in America, we have, at great expense, been drawing upon Europe for breeding stock, which was not always potent enough to effect any improvement upon our home-bred animals.
In the Indian pony of the North, and the Indian mustang (Fig. 3) of the Southwest, and the bronco of the West, the foundation stock was ready at hand for the formation of a breed of light saddle-horses, unexcelled by any other saddle breed for traveling long distances on scanty food. Instead of utilizing this valuable material, we have imported numbers of short-legged, pudgy ponies from Europe. It is objected that the wonderful little horse of the plains has not a good disposition. The same may be said of any other variety of high-mettled horses when subjected to ill treatment. On the plains he was merely trained; had he been fully domesticated and treated as kindly as the trotter has been, and as intelligently bred, there is no doubt that this class of horses, which will soon be extinct, would have developed into a most valuable breed. From this warm-blooded horse, though many generations removed from his Spanish ancestry, a pure saddle breed might have been formed, admirably adapted to the arid plains, and filling a place so difficult to fill that, as yet, no new variety or breed has been able to fully supplant it, or to fill its place in all respects as a saddler of the plains.
Fig. 3. An improved mustang saddler.
Mr. Frank Forester, in his work on the American horse, after deploring the lack of attention to American varieties, says: "On the contrary, while the Conestoga horse, the Canadian, the Indian pony of the North, the Indian mustang of the South, the Norman horse of the northeastern British Provinces, the pacer and the general working, or farm-horse, of the middle states, have no chronicler, we go on importing and studying elaborate treatises on the English hackney, the English cart-horse, the English dray-horse, the Suffolk Punch, the Cleveland bay, the Galloway, the Shetland pony, and I know not what else; when it is notorious to every horseman in the country that not one of these varieties does exist - ever did exist - except in the case of the individual importation; or, if they do exist, would be of any value or utility in North America." Perhaps this statement is somewhat overdrawn; nevertheless, it contains much truth.
Previous to the Revolutionary War, a number of thoroughbred horses had been imported, but none of the states or colonies had regularly established racecourses except Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. The northerner paid little attention to the breeding of thoroughbreds until nearly half a century after the war. From the race-horse it was an easy step to the trotter. Out of the oriental racing blood, tracing back in some lines to the time of Charles II (1660-1685), has been developed in the United States a most valuable, it might be said wonderful horse, the American trotter or roadster. Many causes have led to his production. A single one, on account of its uniqueness, may be mentioned. To the Puritans, the running of horses was a sinful pastime, and the gait, therefore, a useless and a dangerous one, hence everything was done to discourage the breeding of a horse which was almost certain to be used largely for racing. The trotting gait was useful and not so likely to lead youths astray; so until quite recently running horses were excluded from the tracks of the State and County Agricultural Societies of the eastern and middle states, while trotting horses were freely admitted. Thus the Puritans unwittingly did much to encourage the improvement of the trotter. The South followed more closely after English customs, hence racing in most of the southern states has always been popular; while in the North the trotting gait in horses has been more prized, and little attention has been paid to the running horse until the last two decades. He is now nearly as popular in the North as in the South.
From an admixture of the hot blood of the East with the best specimens of the mixed blooded horses of the North has come, when it has been judiciously mingled, a large number of superior roadsters, - horses of courage, endurance and speed, such as no other country possesses. These horses have had a very marked effect on the style and construction of our light wagons. They have also been the means by which the American boy has become a superior horse man. On the other hand, it is true that too often the warm-blooded horses have been bred to inferior nondescript mares, which resulted in progeny of diminished size and bone and undesirable temperament, without securing compensating benefits in any direction. The anatomical proportions of these grades were often bad, the limbs too light and crooked for the service required, a temperament too high for the slow work of the industries and not fast enough to secure either prize money or pleasure. By this unwise breeding many horses totally lacking in any specialized qualities have been produced, - horses which tended to become unsound as soon as they were used either for purposes of gain or pleasure. In some sections more unsound horses may be found in a single county than can be seen in the whole of any great horse district of France or Great Britain.
The cold climate of the North made equestrianship unpleasant for half of the year. The trotter is not usually a good saddle-horse; hence roadsters have been bred in greater numbers and perfection in the northern and western parts of the United States than in any other part of the world. The comparatively fine condition of the roads in summer makes it possible for two or three persons, with one horse attached to a light vehicle, to travel as rapidly as the equestrian, and far more comfortably in bad weather. The ingenuity and skill of the American mechanic, exhibited in the various forms of road - wagons, have had a potent influence in the development of a class of rapid, pleasure - giving roadsters, such as no other country even approaches. On the plains and in the South the saddle-horse became a necessity. The high-mettled horse well suited to the saddle was not the best animal for unskilled laborers to use in the cotton and cane fields of the South, so the mule came in to fill the gap.