Excerpted from The Horse & His Master

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Excerpted from THE HORSE & HIS MASTER

by Vere D. Hunt, Esq.., London, 1859The Khamsat Vol 8, Num 1, Feb. 1991  

…the good points which on the other hand are to be looked for, are those considered desirable in all horses that are subject to shocks, i.e. ‘concussion of the gallop.’ Calf knees are generally bad in the race-horse, and are very apt to be transmitted, whilst the opposite form is also perpetuated, but is not nearly so disadvantageous. Such are the general considerations bearing on the soundness limb. That of the ‘wind’ is no less important. ‘Broken-winded’ mares seldom breed, and they are therefore out of the question, if for no other reason; but no one would risk the recurrence of this disease, even if he could get such a mare stinted. ‘Roaring’ is a much vexed question, which is by no means theoretically settled among our chief veterinary authorities, nor practically by our breeders; every year however it becomes more and more frequent and important a marked evidence of degeneracy in our horses, and the risk of reproduction is too great to run by breeding from a ‘roarer.'”

Lastly, the temper is of the utmost importance, by which must be understood not that gentleness at grass, which may lead the breeder’s family to pet the mare, but such a temper as will serve for the purposes of her rider, and will answer to the stimulus of the voice, whip, or spur. A craven or rogue is not to be thought of as the “mother of a family.”

Blood is so much a matter of taste, that I say nothing of its choice, nor will I quote the able opinions of others in reference to it in brood mares; but if the breeders of general horses agree with the indisputable theory that teaches purity of blood in a parent has a preponderating influence in transmitting the qualities of the parent to progency, and that the male exercises a greater influence than the female in a similar capacity, then I say nothing short of an ignorant bigotry can condemn the introduction of Arab sires.

I extract the following letter from the “Field,” January 8th, 1859:


    “Sir, Those of your correspondents who despise Arabs cannot know much about the animal they condemn. One says the Arab is ‘devoid of excellence for the turf, being neither swift nor enduring.‘ Another complains of ‘having to shoot two Arabs for broken wind, the brutes in question having been bred, the one in France and the other in Germany!” Another writer pictures the misery of a luckless wight doomed to ride an ‘Arab ten miles to cover, hunt him all day, and conclude with a trot home twenty-five miles,’ — a weary pilgrimage, in which the pretty Arab would break his own knees and his master’s heart;’ whilst’ the English hunter in a like predicment would trot and walk along with his head in the air and gay to the stable door.’ In such a plight, rather than encounter such a heartrending amount of knee-smashing, I would suggest a deviation from her Majesty’s highway, and finish off with the larking process of arrival at the stable door and see next morning which horse showed the cleanest manger and the coolest legs, the English hunter or the Arab jade!

    “It would take up too much time to answer the anti-Arabites in detail but perhaps you will accept my humble effort to disabuse the minds of the uninitiated as to what is meant by the term Arab, where the genuine article is to be found, and how to be procured.

    “Ali Bey, describes six different breeds of Arabians. The first, named the ‘Dgelfe,’ is found in Arabia Felix. They are rare at Damascus, but pretty common in the neighbourhood of Anaze. They are remarkable for speed and fire, yet mild as lambs; they support hunger and thirst for a long time; are of lofty stature, narrow in the chest, but deep in the girth, and long ears. A colt of this breed, at two years old, will cost in its own country 2000 turkish piastres.

    “The second breed, called ‘Seclaoni,‘ comes from the eastern part of the desert, resembles the ‘Anaze‘ in appearance, but is not quite so highly valued.

    “Next comes the ‘Mefki,’ handsome, though not so swift as the two former breeds, and more resembling the Andalusian in figure. they are very common about Damascus.

    “Then the ‘Savi‘ resembles the Mefki; and the fifth breed, called Fridi, is very common, but it is necessary to try them well, for they are often vicious, and do not possess the excellent qualities of the other breeds.

    “Sixth comes the ‘Nejdi,’ from the neighbourhood of Bussorah, and if they do not surpass, they at least equal the ‘Dgelfe, or Anaze, and Seclaoni.‘ Horses of this breed are little known at Damascus, and connoisseurs assert that they are incomparable; thus their value is arbitrary, and always exceeds 2000 piastres.

      “It is from the Anaze and the Nejdi, that the turf in India is chiefly supplied; and I doubt if ‘______’ has ever seen a specimen of either of those breeds, although his Turkish experience may have met with some of the inferior sorts, which of course are not of a stamp to find favor in a breeder’s eye.

    “If it be true that some English stallions have gone into Arabia, I cannot conceive a greater misfortune to befall the desert. Judging from the fruits of English crossing in the goverment studs in India, I should expect nothing but mischief to follow any similar attempts in Arabia.

    “I have elsewhere asserted my belief that ‘Arabs’ are, in proportion, naturally the largest limbed blood horses in creation; and looking at the ‘tobacco-pipe’ sort of legs now cultivated in England, I wonder what desert blood would gain by English contamination!

    “I have seen Arabs of such stature as to raise suspicions of their purity. I once possessed a colt myself that stood fifteen hands and an inch at three years old. He had the sterotyped assortment of eastern breeding; could stick his nose in a tumbler, and looked the gentleman all over; remarkably muscular, and as stately in his bearing as an autocrat; but his clean, flat, wiry legs, measuring eight inches round the shank below the knee, had nothing English in their composition. This was a pure Anaze Arab. His career of usefulness as a hunter or racer was cut short by his casting himself in his stall and dislocating his hip; but the Government gave me 150 Lb. for him on his three legs for stud purposes.”

The End