After the war of 1812 our forefathers imported many Arabian stallions to recuperate the blood of their remnants in horses. From 1830 such prominent men as Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay said all they could by private letter and public speech to encourage the importation of and breeding freely to the Arabian horse, and specially did the State of Kentucky follow the advice of Henry Clay, so that from 1830 up to 1857 Kentucky had more Arabian stallions in her little district than the combined States of the Union. Kentucky has had a prestige in her mares since the war, and it comes in the larger amount of Arabian blood influence she has had in them, than could be found elsewhere. Kentucky is shut in, as it were, and retaining her mares largely impregnated with Arabian blood, all that was necessary for them to do was to get trotting-bred stallions from New York State, then eclipse all other States in the produce. While I cheerfully award to Kentucky all credit due to it, I am not willing that Lieut. Robertson should make his base for government breeding establishment sectional, nor would I submit to England through Kentucky. I am too American for that.
For cavalry purposes, the Prussian horse is the best in the world, and is also Arabian in its closest foundation.
To get at this blood question more definitely, let us inquire into these different recognized self-producing national types of horses abroad.
First is the English thoroughbred race horse, which is simply an improved Arab. The functions of this English national horse are but twofold - to run races and to beget himself, after which he ceases to be of value. He is not a producer of any other type of value; to breed him out of his family is mongrelism and degeneracy, so we don't want him, even though we could humiliate our American pride through our loved State of Kentucky.
Count Orloff of Russia was a great horseman, exceedingly fond of horseback riding independent of the chase. He tried in 1800 to breed a satisfactory horse from the English thoroughbred race horse, but went from bad to worse until he resorted to the ever-pliant blood of the Arabian. He sent to Egypt and secured a thoroughbred Arabian stallion, paying $8,000 for him (in our money). This horse he bred to Danish mares, largely of Arabian blood, and created a very stout, short-backed horse, standing from 15½ to 15¾ and 16 hands high, of great trotting speed, also able to run to weight, and with good disposition, which the English thoroughbred did not have. This type he continued to close-breed, going back to the Arabian for renewed stoutness. At his death, his estates passed to his daughter, who continued her father's breedings until the Russian government purchased the entire collection, about 1846, since when the Russian government Orloff trotting and saddle horse has become famous the world over as a first-class saddle, cavalry, stage coach, and trotting horse combined. They are broken at three years of age, and scarce any that cannot beat 2:30 at trotting speed, and from that down to 2:15 in their crude way of hitching and driving.
This is something for American breeders to think very interestedly upon.
France wanted heavy draught horses, also proud coach horses; so rather than go to any competing nation for their created types, her enterprising subjects took the same Arabian blood, and from it created the beautiful Percheron, also French coach horses, so greatly valued and admired the world over, and which the gifted and immortal Rosa Bonheur has so happily reproduced upon canvas. Can America show any kind of a horse to tempt her brush?
With regard to a foundation for a government or national horse, I am certain so gifted and able United States officer as Mr. S.C. Robertson did not know that it was unnecessary to go to England for the blood of their national horse, even though we smuggled it through Kentucky or any other of our States. Again, it would be impossible to produce any type of a horse from the English thoroughbred, except a dunghill, and Mr. Robertson would not have his government breed national dunghills!
I love England as our mother country, but am an American, born and dyed in the wool to our independence, from the "Declaration."
Now let us see what England says of her thoroughbred: "He is no longer to be relied upon for fulfilling his twofold functions as a racer and reproducer of himself. He is degenerating in stoutness and speed. As a sire he has acquired faults of constitution and temper which, while leaving him the best we have, is not the best we should aspire to have. His stoutness and speed are distinctly Arabian qualities, to which we must resort for fresh and pure blood." We have shown that the Englishman says "his thoroughbred is full of radical and growing defects in wind, tendons, feet, and temper, and that his twofold functions are to run races and reproduce himself, which are the end of his purpose." Does our government want breeding farms upon which to nurse these admitted "defects," including the "confirmed roarer," for cavalry horses? I quote again: "Those who have had most to do with him are ready to admit that he no longer possesses the soundness, stoutness, speed, courage, and beauty he inherited from his Arabian parentage.
As a sire for half-bred stock, he may do for those who will use him, but we must resort to the Arabian if we would revitalize and sustain our thoroughbred race horse."
In the face of these statements, in print abroad, would Lieut. Robertson make the base for our proposed national horse that of the English thoroughbred, scattering the weeds from such imperfect breedings among the farmers of our land?
I am writing as an old horseman and breeder, and not as a newspaper man or young enthusiast, although the enthusiasm of youth is still in me, for which I am thankful.
This question of horse breeding I have been deeply interested in for forty years past. Let me quote to the reader from one of many letters I have received from Sir Wilfrid Seawen Blunt during the past seven years. His practical knowledge of the English thoroughbred race horse and his blood cause, the Arabian, is the equal if not superior to any other one man of this present age.