by Dr. George H. Conn (Western Horseman Jul ’51)
Travelers Rest farm was established in 1792 near Nashville, Tennessee. It was established by John Overton, who came to that community about 1789 and who was a law partner of Andrew Jackson and served on the supreme court of Tennessee after that state was admitted to the Union. The original Travelers Rest farm remained in the family of John Overton and his descendants until 1938, and during this time it became famous for the high quality of its Thoroughbred, Morgan, trotting and saddle horses.
Due to the fact that the original Travelers Rest farm was located but a short distance from Nashville, which has grown to be a city of more than 250,000 people, it became necessary in 1938 to abandon the original Travelers Rest which was then moved to Franklin, Tennessee.
The late Travelers Rest farm was owned and maintained by Gen. J. M. Dickinson, who added Arabian horses to his breeding operations in 1930. When it became necessary to abandon the original Travelers Rest, Dickinson disposed of his other horses and kept only the Arabs for future breeding and maintenance of the Travelers Rest Stud on Del Rio Pike, near Franklin, Tennessee.
Horse lovers of all kinds will be very vitally interested in the following quotation of John Trotwood Moore which is printed on the inside front cover of the Travelers Rest Arabian horse catalogs. The quotation which was first used in advertising the famous American Saddle stallion, McDonald Chief, of the old Travelers Rest, is as follows:
“Out from the past, the dim, bloody, shifting past, came this noble animal, the horse, side by side with man, fighting with him the battles of progress, bearing with him the burdens of the centuries. Down the long, hard road, through flint or mire, through swamp or sand, wherever there has been a footprint, there also will be seen a hoofprint. They have been one and inseparable, the aim and the object, the means and the end. And if the time shall ever come, as some boastingly declare, when the one shall breed away from the other, the puny relic of a once perfect manhood will not live long enough to trace the record of it on the tablet of time.”
The author of this article had the privilege of meeting Gen. Dickinson and discussing with him briefly some phases of Arabian horse breeding, and my impression is that Gen. Dickinson had the most sound and practical ideas about the commercial production of Arabian horses of any breeder in the United States up to this time. Dickinson’s ideas in general were that you should breed good Arabian horses and sell them honestly and fairly to the most satisfactory buyers you could find. In other words, he followed very closely the policy of many of the earlier breeders of Arabian horses throughout the world. That the reader may fully understand Gen. Dickinson’s policies, we quote from the 1941 revised edition of a catalog of Travelers Rest, as follows:
“We have acquired and bred Arabian horses of the purest blood and most satisfactory individual excellence. Some of these horses have met and defeated many of the best known Arabians in the United States, including imported horses with championship records, in shows and in other competitive events that have been widely advertised in this country and abroad, open to all purebred Arabian horses, and in which horses have competed from all sections of the United States and even from overseas. Various Travelers Rest Arabian horses have made creditable showings against horses of other breeds in the latters’ specialties, and have won honors abroad.
“Of course we wish to sell the produce of our stud, for we are breeding Arabs for the market rather than for the purpose of making a collection. However, there are certain things we are unwilling to do in order to sell more horses. For one thing, we refuse to poison anyone’s mind against other breeds. We will tell you what the Arab has done and what we believe the Arab can do; but it is not our affair to persuade you that some other horse is undesirable.
“We consider it a bad policy to endeavor to sell a horse to a man who does not want it, or whose requirements it cannot fill. Only a bad product requires bad sales methods. We consider the Arab colt to be a good product that will sell itself to the customer who recognizes quality when he sees it.
“Then we are unwilling to argue that our horses are better than all other Arabs. Such claims are made for various studs. Obviously, they cannot be true of all.
“Arab horses from Travelers Rest have been successful in various kinds of competition at home and abroad. They seem to be giving satisfaction in 40 of our states and territories, and a dozen foreign countries. A substantial proportion of our sales is made to customers who have bought from us in the past, and to their friends and acquaintances.
“We believe success depends upon pleasing every customer as much as possible, and we bend every reasonable effort to sell the product of our stud where most apt to give satisfaction. We believe we now have and are breeding better Arabs than in the past, and offer our produce at prices commensurate with costs and maintenance. It is our earnest hope that every Travelers Rest Arabian horse will prove to be satisfactory and worth more than is paid for it.”
In discussing the breeding of Arabian horses with Gen. Dickinson in 1945, he told the author that it was the policy of Travelers Rest to price all Arabian colts of a sex at a standard price. At that time my recollection is that all horse colts were priced at $400 at weaning time, and an additional $50 was added to the price every six months until sold. Fillies were priced at $600 at weaning time and $50 was added to the price every six months until sold. Gen. Dickinson made it quite plain in discussing these prices that he did not at any time make an attempt to get a higher price than quoted for these colts even though some may have shown greater quality than others. At this time he was ambitious to have 50 broodmares producing purebred Arabian colts in his stud.
Travelers Rest Arabian stud was maintained at Franklin, Tenn, until 1946, at which time it was moved to Santa Barbara, Calif., where it was maintained for two years. Much of the breeding stock of this famous stud was returned to Tennessee in 1948, and in 1949 this stud was dispersed, going to a purchaser in Cuba.
The original Arabs purchased for Travelers Rest were secured from Maynesboro stud of Wm. R. Brown. Mr. Dickinson purchased almost the complete importation that Mr. Brown made from the desert, including Nasr, the white Arabian stallion, and the famous Hamida mares together with Aziza. Other breeding stock added to Travelers Rest in the early years consisted of Bazleyd, the national champion Arabian stallion known as the “peerless show horse,” and Gulastra and Kolastra, his son, all of which were bred by Wm. R. Brown’s Maynesboro stud. In addition to the above stallions, Mr. Dickenson secured two very famous grey Arabian mares, Guemura and Gulnare, both bred at Col. Spencer Borden’s Interlachen farm and which were purchased from Mr. Borden by Wm. R. Brown, who in turn sold them to Dickinson. One of the most widely known stallions owned in the early years by Travelers Rest was Antez, which became a very famous running Arabian and which was exported to Poland when he was 15 years old, where he raced very successfully for five years, being returned to the United States just before World War II.
In 1937 Gen. Dickinson made an importation of Arabian horses from Poland and Egypt. This importation consisted of seven grey mares from Poland and a gray mare, Maamouna, which was secured from the Royal Agricultural Society of Cairo, Egypt. Among this importation from Poland the following mares have been very successful in the stud: Przepiorka, Lassa, Liliana and Nora.
Travelers Rest imported in early 1939 a grey stallion, Czubuthan, No. 1499, from Poland. Czubuthan’s first foal arrived on april 3, 1940, and he went on to become the sire of the largest number of purebred Arabian horses from 1940 to 1948, and he was also tied with Raffles for the sire of the third largest number of Arabian foals registered in the Arabian stud book. (1)
Several other well-known horses found their way to the Travelers Rest Arabian stud farm from time to time. Among the better known Arabs used in this breeding stud we refer to such Arabs as the bay mare Aire, bred in Argentina, and Kasztelanka, the bay mare bred in Poland and imported by Henry B. Babson, as well as the mare Kostrzewa, also bred in Poland and imported by Babson. The well known grey mare Roda, now owned by Margaret Shuey, of North Carolina, and imported by Wm. R. Brown, was also in the stud at one time, as was the mare Rose of France, which was bred at Crabbet Stud, in England, and imported by Roger A. Selby. Zarife, the famous Egyptian stallion which was imported by Wm. R. Brown, found his way to the Travelers Rest Stud and from there he was purchased by Van Vleet’s Lazy V V Ranch where he died in late 1950.
In the 19 years of their breeding operations, Travelers Rest produced many well known horses. It is apparent that they made no special effort to accumulate unusual honors for their horses, but were willing at all times to let them earn what honors they could in a general way in competition wherever and however they found it. Among some of the better known horses produced at this breeding establishment we refer to Bataan, who was used at the old Kellogg ranch while known as the Pomona Quartermaster Depot; Chepe-Noyon, a well known breeding stallion; Genghis Khan, a well known jumping horse; Jedran, a gaited Arabian horse winning in American Saddle horse classes; Nafud, another prize winner in Saddlebred competition, as well as many others which were successful in various show classifications.
Travelers Rest made consistent, steady growth for many years, and shortly before it was transferred to Santa Barbara, Calif., it was probably the second largest Arabian breeding farm in the United States, being exceeded only by the Kellogg Ranch, which was then under the direction of the Pomona Quartermaster Depot. At the height of their breeding operations, Travelers Rest produced in the neighborhood of 30 purebred foals a year. While the writer does not have the exact figures, it is his judgment that this stud at one time contained nearly 80 head of purebred registered Arabian horses.
From the 1947 catalog of Travelers Rest horses we find that during the lifetime of this famous stud, up to the close of 1946, they had bred and sold 274 purebred Arabian horses. These horses were sold to 40 or more of the states in the United States of America and were also sold and exported to 13 foreign countries. At least 37 of these Arabian horses and colts were exported to these 13 foreign countries, principally to South American countries. We find that seven head were exported to Mexico, nine head to the Republic of Columbia, six to Hawaii, three to Cuba, three to England, and two to Guatemala, and one each to seven other foreign countries. It must seem to the reader from the information given here that Travelers Rest Arabian Stud was, for the nearly 20 years that it was in existence, a very important factor in the development and popularizing of the Arabian breed in America. We take pleasure in quoting a short statement from this last catalog of 1947 which is entitled, “To the Arabian Horse.” We do not know by whom the quotation was originally made, but it is very typical and interesting. The quotation is:
“From his veins came the blood of the Thoroughbred, from his style the beauty of the saddler, his endurance gave bottom to the trotter. Big little fellow with the heart of a lion, second to some of his children but third to none, may he live on through the ages as the symbol of all that we love in the horse.”