Though for nearly a century the best horsemen of England and America have held the thoroughbred horse to be no longer susceptible of improvement by a further infusion of Oriental blood, it must be borne in mind that there is very little of his blood that is not of the Arabian, Barb or Turk. In the year 1730 it is known that the following named foreign horses of note were in the stud in England: The Alcock Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian, the Bloody Buttocks Arabian, Hall's Arabian, the Bloody Shouldered Arabian, Johnson's Turk, the Belgrade Turk, Litton's Arabian, the Bethel Arabian, Matthew's Persian, Lord Burlington's Barb, Nottingham's Arabian, Crofts' Egyptian horse, Newton's Arabian, the Cypress Arabian, Pigott's Turk, the Duke of Devonshire's Arabian, Strickland's Arabian, Greyhound, a Barb, Wynn's Arabian, Hampton Court Grey Barb and Dodsworth, a Barb.
When the Puritan sect arose in England, they were violently opposed to horse-racing as a sinful pleasure, and those coming to New England carried with them that belief. In all the other early English settlements a contrary view prevailed. Race-courses were soon established at Long Island, Richmond, Charleston and other points, and the rich planters imported English thoroughbreds and raced them. The passion for racing among the landed gentry of Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina was as strong as in the mother country. Many of our early statesmen kept racehorses; notable among them were General Washington, General Jackson, Henry Clay, Thomas Jefferson and John Randolph. With Jackson, racing was a passion and he actually loved a race-horse. Until broken by age, his commanding figure was conspicuous at all the great southern courses. Among the earliest thoroughbred stallions brought to America was Brilliant, imported into Virginia in 1706. He was foaled in 1691, and was by Phenomenon, dam by Paco-let, grand-dam by Matchem, great-grand-dam by Oroonoka, and great-great-grand-dam by Traveller, etc. Previous to the Revolution, a great many importations had been made and many native breeding establishments existed. As a fixed institution, until about the year 1800, racing was almost entirely confined to the states of Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. Nearly all of the horses imported into those states were descendants of the Godolphin Arabian, the Byerly Turk, Spanker, Greyhound, the White Turk, Dodsworth, and Layton's Violet Barb mare. Herbert notes the fact that early American thoroughbreds ran through fewer generations to reach their Oriental parentage on both sides than the generality of English horses of the same date, and more fully showed the Arab and Barb or Turk char-teristics in height, figure and qualities. In 1829 was begun the first publication of a work for recording the pedigrees and performances of the race-horse in America. Since that time stud-books have been maintained in which the pedigrees of all American thoroughbreds may be found. Throughout the last century English thoroughbreds have been imported and crossed with our own stock till at this time the blood in both countries is the same, and the turf contests between English and American horses, here and in England, show that in racing qualities they are equal. At this time English horses are being constantly imported and American thoroughbreds are raced on all the courses in Europe. It is sometimes asserted that the race-horse has deteriorated, but this opinion is not held by intelligent breeders and turfmen. Though races at distances above two miles are not now in fashion, it is but a few years since the fastest four-mile record was made, also the fastest for one and two miles. A recent writer thus contrasts early racing with that of the present day. "In old times horses ran seldom - often not more than five or six races in a year - often less. The races were over longer distances, but they were specially prepared for them, and, as handicaps were few, the best horse had a pretty easy time. Besides, the number of horses was small. The returns of 1880 showed six hundred and forty foals. In 1900 as many as three thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven were reported to the Jockey Club. A good horse of today runs from fifteen to thirty races in a season, meeting a large number of competitors, and is asked to concede weight, and is kept in training fully nine months in the year. If time is any criterion, there is no comparison between the horses of today and those of former years."
Fig. 8. Thoroughbred.
While the most general use of the thoroughbred horse now is for racing, it is true that he is capable of a much extended utility. As a cavalry-horse a stout thoroughbred cannot be excelled. In pursuit or retreat his speed and endurance make him superior to all others. In Kentucky and Tennessee, where the thoroughbred is more common, he is often found doing excellent service as a driver and as a saddle-horse, and sometimes even in the cart or at the plow. Racehorses that have been broken down on the tracks around New York City are sold and put to all manner of uses. In a fine carriage team at Woodburn Farm a few years ago was a thoroughbred gelding whose mate was a standard trotter. Colonel Brodhead declared the former to be far the best carriage-horse of the two. The favorite driving horse of the wife of Governor Stanford was a thoroughbred son of Don Victor.
It can be truthfully said that the blood-horse has almost reached the highest state of possible improvement, and is the most perfect of the horse kind. For beauty, intelligence, courage, speed and endurance nothing approaches him. The tribute of Job justly is his:
"Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?
Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible.
He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men.
He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword.
The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield.
He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage; neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.
He saith among the trumpets, ha, ha! and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains and the shouting."