With his wife, Lady Anne, he dwelt with the different tribes of the desert, studying the Arabs as a people, in their customs and habits, also traditions with beliefs. In matter of their horses, Mr. Blunt made a special study, while Lady Anne put her diaries in book form after her return, and which book should be owned by every cultured and educated lady in America. After spending a year in Arabia, traveling both sides of the Euphrates and through Mesopotamia, as no other Anglo-Saxons have been known to do, living with the different Bedouin tribes of the desert as they lived, Mr. Blunt and his wife, Lady Anne, came out with sixteen of the choicest bred mares to be found, also two stallions, the mares mostly with foal. These were placed upon their estates, "Crabbet Park," to continue inbreeding as upon the desert, pure to its blood. As this question in itself will make a long and interesting article, I will avoid it at present, quoting to the reader from one of my old letters:
"CRABBET PARK, SUSSEX, ENGLAND.
"Dear Sir: Political matters have prevented an earlier reply to your last.
"I am well satisfied with my present results, and shall not abandon what I have undertaken. The practical merits of Arabian blood are well understood by us.
"Our sale of young stock maintains itself in good prices in spite of bad times; indeed, my average within the past two years has risen from £84 to £102 on the pure-breds sold as yearlings, and we receive the most flattering and satisfactory accounts from purchasers, although it is known that I retain the best of each year's produce, and so have greatly improved my breeding stock.
"You speak of the opinions of the press as against you. The sporting press are not breeders, but are the mouthpiece of prejudices. We have had them somewhat against us, but they now view things in more friendly tone.
"For immediate use in running races (in which the sporting press are chiefly interested), the Arabian in his undeveloped state and under size will not compete with the English race horse. This fact has caused racing men to doubt his other many and more important merits; indeed, it is only those who have had personal experience of him that as yet acknowledge them.
"The strong points in the Arabian are many:
"First, his undoubted soundness in constitution, in wind, limb, and feet. It will be noticed that the Englishman must have soundness in wind, limb, and feet, showing that their thoroughbred is the thorn in that particular. The Arabian has also wonderful intelligence, great beauty, and good disposition, with an almost affectionate desire to adapt himself to your wishes.
"In breeding, I have found the pure-breds delicate during the first few weeks after birth, and have lost a good many, especially those foaled early in the year; yet it is a remarkable fact that during the eight years of my breeding them, I have had no serious illness in the stables; once over the dangerous age, they seem to have excellent constitutions, and are always sound in wind, limb, and feet.
"Second, they are nearly all good natural and fast walkers, also fast trotters; and from the soundness of their feet are especially fitted for fast road work, being able to do almost any number of miles without fatigue.
"Third, they are nearly all good natural jumpers, and I have not had a single instance of a colt that would not go across country well to hounds.
"They are very bold fencers, requiring neither whip nor spur. They carry weight well, making bold and easy jumps where other larger horses fail.
"Fourth, they have naturally good mouths, and good tempers, with free and easy paces; so that one who has accustomed himself to riding a pure-bred Arabian will hardly go back, if he can help it, to any other sort of horse.
"There is all the difference in riding the Arabian and the ordinary English hunter or half-bred that there is in riding in a well-hung gig or a cart without springs.
"Fifth. As sires for half-bred stock, the Arabian may not be better than a first-class English thoroughbred, but is certainly better than a second-class one, and first-class sires are out of the reach of all ordinary breeders; for that reason I recommend a fair trial of his quality, confident your breeders will not be disappointed.
"With good young mares who require a horse to give their offspring quality, that is to say, beauty, with courage and stoutness, and with a turn of speed for fast road work, the Arabian is better than any class of English thoroughbreds that are used for cross breeding.
"I trust then for that reason you will not allow yourself to be discouraged by the slowness of the people to appreciate all the merits of the Arabian at once.
"Our breeders are full of prejudices, and only experience can teach them the value of things outside their own circle of knowledge.
"I have no doubt whatever that truth will in the end prevail; but you must have patience. Remember that a public is always impatient, and most often unreasonably so.
"My stud I keep at a permanent strength of twelve brood mares, and as many fillies growing in reserve.
"You ask me regarding the pacing gait. I have seen it in the pure-bred Arabs on the desert; and in many parts of the East it is cultivated, notably in Asia Minor and Barbary. The walk, pace, amble, trot, and run are found in the Arabian, and either can be cultivated as a specialty.
"If you think any of my letters to you are of general value to your people, I am quite willing you should so use them.
"I am, very truly yours,
"WILFRID SCAWEN BLUNT.
"To RANDOLPH HUNTINGTON, Rochester, N.Y."
My experience with Arabian blood the past seven years justifies all that Mr. Blunt has predicted to me from time to time. So also do old letters by Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay hold out the same inducements to the breeders of Kentucky and Tennessee in their day.
From my long years of experience in all classes of horses, I am frank to say to-day that I would not be without a thoroughbred Arabian stallion on my place, and journalists who inform their readers that they "are liable to splints, ringbones, and spavins," give themselves away to all intelligent readers and breeders as exceedingly superficial in matter of horses; for ringbones and spavins are positively unknown among the Arabs. The way to get rid of such imperfections in our mongrel breed of horses is to fill them up with pure Arab blood.
Such paper men also talk about "fresh Diomed" and "fresh Messenger blood," as though there had been a drop of it in never so diluted form for any influence these many years, of course forgetting that Diomed was a very strongly inbred Arabian horse. He came to this country when 21 years old.
He was foaled 1777, and arrived in Virginia in 1798. From his old age and rough voyage in an old-fashioned ship, it required nearly a year to recuperate from the journey, and was 23 years old before he could do stud service to any extent. Then, at no time to his death was he a sure foal getter, even to a few mares. He died in 1808, thirty-one years old, long enfeebled and unfit for service.
Between 1808 and 1887 is quite a period of time, during which we have had four different wars, beginning with 1812, and how much Diomed blood does the reader suppose there is in this country? Yet I take up daily and weekly papers devoted to horse articles, extolling the value of Diomed blood as cause for excellence in some young horse. Are we a nation of idiots to be influenced by such nonsense?
I wish there was fresh Diomed blood; thus the public would know what Arab blood had done for England. So I can say of imported Messenger. What our breeders want is good, solid information in print, and not the; dreamings of some professional writer for money. For myself, I am on the downhill side of life, but so long as I can help the young by pen or example, I shall try.