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Arabia, and some of the Bedouins from The Arab Horse Chapter II

Articles of History: Voices from the Past

See Also:                                   Maidan                                  CHAPTER VI – SOME LAST WORDS   From: The Arab Horse Chapter II Arabia, And Some of the Bedouins by Spencer BordenNew York, 1906 from the Khamsat VolumeFoun Number Three August 1987           At the northeastern courner of the Mediterranean Sea, just below the point where the southern coast of Asia minor joins the western coast of Syria, lies the town of Scanderoon, the ancient city of Alexandretta. This is the seaport for Aleppo, ancient Haleb, about one hundred miles to the east and a little south, for centuries a trading centre whence go caravans of merchandise to the towns far down the Euphrates, and where are brought the grains and wool that come in return. Almost due east of Scanderoon, about five hundred miles distant, is Mosul, on the River Tigris, which from this point flows south and a little easterly about four hundred miles till it joins the Euphrates near Bussorah, the two rivers thus joined flowing into the Persian Gulf. About two hundred miles below Mosul is Bagdad, also on theit gris River. The Euphrates and Tigris nearly unite at this point, but again separate to join farther down, as already noted. Still farther east, nearly parallel with the tigris is the western frontier of Persia.

The line from Scanderoon to Mosul may be taken as the northern boundary of Arabia. The western frontier of Persia, then the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, mark its eastern boundary. On the south lies the Indian Ocean. On the west are the red Sea, Palestine, and Syria. From this rapid sketch one can get an idea of the great areas of the country. Coming in at the northwestern corner from the mountains of Asia Minor, the Euphrates River crosses the upper end of Arabia at a slant from northwest to southeast, and the valley of the euphrates ha for thousands of years been a most important route of Communication between the Orient and western nations. Indeed, until the discovery of the way around the Cap of Good Hope, and later the construction of the Suez Canal, it was the only route and its cities were the great centres of commerce for the world.

When we speak of Arabia we are apt to forget what the country once stood for. Between the Tigris and Euphrates is the land of Mesopotamia. Here was believed to have been the Garden of Eden – whatever that may mean – the place whence the human race spread abroad to populate the earth. Mosul, already mentioned, is the site of Nineveh, capital of the great Assyrian Empire. Fifty miles south of Bagdad are the ruins of Babylon, where the children of Israel were in captivity, and within ten miles of Babylon are still to be seen the remains of the Tower of Babel. El Uz, below Bagdad, on the Euphrates, was the home of Job; and from Chaldea, east of the Euphrates, came Abraham, father of the Hebrew race.

Through this land Alexander the Great marched to the conquest of India, after having overthrown the Babylonian Empire. In a straight line west of Deyr on the Euphrates, and half way between that point and Damascus, is Tadmur, the ancient Palmyra, capital city of Zenobia, that Queen who was conquered by Aurelian, and carried away to Rome to grace his triumphal entry.

Later in the Christian Era Mohammed established his religion at Mecca and Medina, far down in the Arabian peninsula. The Mohammedan chaliphs afterward made Bagdad their capital, and held a court there that was glittering in riches, the home of art, science, poetry; the scene of the Arabian Nights Entertainments until Timour the Tartar with his hordes of barbarians poured down from the North and drowned the country in blood. In ancient days this country was the home of science. Some of the earliest astronomers were Arabs of Chaldea, and our present system of numerals, which makes modern mathematical calculations possible, the decimal system, was an Arabian invention of Palestine, upper Africa, and Europe, which was an Arabian overrunning.

What is most germane to our present investigation, however, is the fact that this country is the place where the horse has attained his highest perfection; where he has been bred pure by a careful system of selection and adhered to for hundreds of years, a system, not departed from in the slightest degree. It has come to be acknowledged by the most intelligent breeders that thorough breeding in horses is chiefly a calculation of the amount of Arab blood they posses, just as gold stands as a measure of value in the currency of a country the value of a coin consisting of the amount of gold it contains.

The oldest and most exclusive registry in the world – the one at the foundation of all more recent works of the kind is “Weatherby’s General Stud Book of Thoroughbred Horses,” the only recognized organ of the English Jockey Club. The makers of that Stud Book recognized in the beginning, and today make the specific statement in writing that “Native Arabs, with the Barbs, are the source from whence the race horse springs.”

The history of the Arab horse is not merely the romantic tale of imaginative writers, though poets have sung his praises, artists have painted his graceful form on canvas, and sculptors have made use of him as their model. Job describes him in words that could apply to no other horse and the horses from the frieze of the Parthenon at Athens, the Elgin marbles now in the British Museum, could have been modelled from none but Arabians.

It is fortunate, however, that before it was too late, careful travellers, scholars and horsemen, such as Major Roger Upton and the Blunts, have visited the land of the Arab horse and written in books what they learned from original sources of this interesting subject.

Upton and the Blunts both made two journeys to Arabia in the years between 1870 and 1880. In both of Upton’s journeys he had the company and assistance of H.M.Consul General at Aleppo, Mr. Skene. His wanderings were extended both in distance and in time. Hon. Henry Chaplin, former Minister of Agriculture in Great Britain, breeder and owner of the famous Derby winner Hermit, tells us that Upton went a thousand miles into the desert south of Tadmur to get the horses procured for him, and he was gone two years. Both Chaplin and the Weatherbys are sponsors for the truth of every statement made by Upton.

After Upton went Mr. Wilfred Scawen Blunt and his wife, Lady Anne Blunt, a granddaughter of Lord Byron. Their first journey was in the winter of 1877-78, three years after Upton, and they covered much of the same ground as he, meeting many of the same people, thought they went also further east than Upton. Leaving Aleppo in January, 1878, they reached the valley of the Euphrates as soon as possible, then followed the river as far as Bagdad. From Aleppo to Deyr they had the company of Mr. Skene, who went with Upton. Then he turned back to Aleppo as his consular prerogatives went no further in that direction, the Blunts proceeding to Bagdad alone. From that point, after crossing the Tigris River they went north and east to Shergat, nearly up to Mosul, traversing a quite new country for Western voyagers. At Shergat they turned west to again come to Deyr, where Mr. Skene had agreed to meet them on a fixed day. This he was unable to do. He was old, infirm, and, while waiting, his successor came from England, so he was detained. The Blunts were most anxious to go among the Anazah Bedouins, with whom Upton spent the greater part of his time, and to meet such of his friends as they might, being especially anxious to see Jedaan, their War Sheik – known as the “Rob Roy of the Desert”. After great difficulties they got away from Deyr, and in due time reached Tadmur, about half way in the direct line between Deyr and Damascus. Near this point Mr. Skene overtook them, went with them among the Anazah, helped them to buy horses and continued with them to Damascus. From that point the Blunts returned to England via Beirut, Mr. Skene went back to Aleppo. The next winter found the Blunts again at Damascus, from which point they made a journey across the southern desert to Nejd, a part of the world not reached by Upton; in fact a place that no more than half a dozen Europeans are known to have ever seen.

The results of Upton’s visit were written in two books, “Newmarket and Arabia,” a sketchy statement of early impressions, and a more serious work, “Gleanings from the Desert of Arabia,” published after his death; now, unfortunately, out of print, and copies extremely difficult to obtain.

Lady Anne Blunt, also wrote two books of absorbing interest, “The Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates,” a journal of her first journey, and the “Pilgrimage to Nejd,” the story of the second. No one can read these books without being impressed with the veracity and intelligence of the writers. Weatherbey & Sons, publishers of the “General Stud Book,” say that they consider Mr. Wilfrid S. Blunt and Lady Anne Blunt the foremost living authorities on Arab horses. On these sources of information the present writing in large measure depends, wherever they touch the matter in hand.

Some of the individuals met by Upton and the Blunts were most interesting personages. Their introduction to the reader will help him to appreciate the sources of information, and the surroundings whence came many very great mares and stallions.

The Anazah Bedouins have always been the greatest horse breeders. Each tribe of the Anazah has its individual leader or Sheik, and at the time of Upton’s visit all the tribes of Anazah were united under one very remarkable man named Suleiman ibn Mirshid, who was called the Sheik of Sheiks. He was not only a great warrior, but also a wise administrator of te the internal affairs of the tribes.

Some years before the time of Upton’s visit the Shammar tribes had been united also under a great leader named Abd-ul-Kerim. The Shammar were Bedouins who came originally from Nejd, one thousand or fifteen hundred miles lower down in the Arabian peninsula. Something more than two hundred years ago, under the guidance of a Sheik named Faris, they had come north with their flocks and camels, invading the pasture lands always occupied by the Anazeh. These latter did not hesitate to wage war on the Shammar, and drove them across the Euphrates into Mesopotamia, to a point near Mosul. Abd-ul-Kerim was the descendant of that Faris in the sixth generation, and inherited the feud that always existed between the Shammar and the Anazah, periodical raids across the river being the consequence, in both directions; the land between the Tigris and Euphrates being considered the home of the Shammar, that between the Euphrates and Damascus, and reaching from the neighborhood of Aleppo far south toward Jebel Shammar, being the pasture lands conceded to the Anazah. The vital importance of protecting these pastures and the necessity for extensive ranges will be understood as we read from Lady Anne Blunt’s first book, that she saw together in one place a hundred and fifty thousand camels, besides thousands of sheep and many horses, all the property of a single tribe of Anazeh, the Roala, whose tents covered an area of 12 square miles. These great encampments had to be moved every few days because the pasturage was eaten down to the bare ground in very short order by the thousands of animals feeding thereon.

Yet Abd-ul-Kerim, though bound by hereditary obligation to fight the Anazah whenever and wherever they met, regarded the amenities of life, and his honour became a proverb throughout the length and breadth of the desert. It happened that at one period in his life, in his boyhood, he lived among the Anazah in the tents of Jedaan’s father. So, though when they had grown to manhood these two were bound to be always at war, Abd-ul-Kerin never forgot his affection for his boyhood friend. It happened then that Abd-ul-Kerim, in the course of the civil war, caught Jedaan’s forces in such a position that they were at his mercy. The trap was to be sprung on the morrow and Abd-ul-Kerim meant to push his advantage to the utmost. Yet he wanted to spare Jedaan individually. Therefore, the night preceding the day of the climax, he sent one of his men to Jedaan’s camp with his own white mare, bearing a message to Jedaan that the morrow meant certain defeat for Anazah, and begging him to accept Abd-ul-Kerim’s mare, and to ride her in the battle, as she was swifter than any animal belonging to the Shammar forces and could take him safely away. This Jedaan did and saved himself. Upton saw Abd-ul-Kerim’s mare in his possession when he visited the Anazah in 1875, and describes her.

Shortly afterward Abd-ul-Kerim, who had been successful in defeating the Turks who sought to subdue the Shammar, was betrayed into their hands by his secretary, an Armenian. They hung him from a bridge at Mosul.

His brother Farhan, a reprobate, submitted to the Turks, accepted from them the title of Pasha, and at the time of the visit of the Blunts to Mesopotamia was in receipt from them of a salary of Lb3,000 per annun.

The more noble of the Shammar, however, joined themselves to a younger brother named Faris, who declared unending war on the Turks and all who held to Turks. He was visited by the Blunts, adopted Mr. Blunt as his brother, by solemn rites, and is described by Lady Anne Blunt as a most brave, courteous and intelligent gentleman of distinguished appearance and manners.

It is this policy of “divide and conquer” that has marked the entire intercourse of the Turks and the Bedouins. So long as Suleiman ibn Mirshid lived he kept the Anazah tribes solidly combined. Shortly after Upton’s visit, however, and a little time before that of the Blunts, he allowed himself to accept an invitation from the Turkish Governor at Deyr, to visit the town and make a treaty of commerce between his tribes and the Turks, for exchange of products. At a banquet which was served to mark the close of the agreement, poison was put in the cup of coffee which was handed Suleiman, and he fell back dead as soon as he had drunk it. Confusion followed among his tribesmen.

Then the seeds of discord were sown among the individual tribes of the Anazah. Their herds of camels, their sheep, their horses were so numerous that it required a wise hand to guide them safely, assigning pasturage to each tribe according to its requirements. The Sebaa and Gomussa tribes had always made use of the district between Homs and Hamah, above Damascus, on the western side of the desert. The next year when they came to their usual district they found their brethren, the Roala, there before them. These had been told by the wily Turk that their fellow tribesmen of the Sebaa and Gomussa were not treating them justly. They were advised to take their great flock and herds, whose numbers have been mentioned, to the good pastures before the others could reach them, and were assured that the Turks would help them hold what they seized. In an evil hour they accepted the advice; Suleiman ibn Mirshid having been murdered was not at hand to arrange the difficulty, so when the Blunts were among the Anazah they found a factional war being waged. Sotaam ibn Shallin was leader of the Roala against the combined Sebaa and Gomussa. Suleiman had been succeeded by his two cousins, Beteyan ibn Mirshid and his brother, neither of whom had a tithe of his administrative ability, and as neither was able to wage the war against the Roala, they had made Jedaan their Akil, or War Sheik, to manage that end of the tribal business.

From what has been said it is easy to understand the wretched condition of affairs among the Bedouins for the ten years between 1874 and 1884. Let us remember, also, that during that period the Russo-Turkish war was carried on, so that relief from the usual aggression of the Turks, left the Bedouins free to fight among themselves. It was during the raids and counter-raids of this time that many priceless animals changed hands, to be run hot haste by their captors into the towns bordering the desert for sale to save them from recapture. It is certain that in the decade mentioned more high-caste Arab horses came out of the desert than ever before or since.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – SPENCER BORDEN: An early American breeder of Arabians, Spencer Borden was at one time the owner of the famed Blunt mare *Rose of Sharon and the noted Ali Pasha Sherif mare *Gazala. Some well known Al Khamsa horses bred by Spencer Borden include the stallion Segario and the mares Ophir, Guemera and Gulnare.

Arabian Blood For Stamina part II

Articles of History:


Keene Richards’ Own Account of His Two Desert Expeditions and His Arabian Importations.

Edited by Thornton Chard

With illustrations and notes collected by him from The Horse Jan/Feb ’35 Part I Part II (Concluded frm preceding issue)


Then, Mr. Richards explains that in the desert no written pedigrees are kept of the lineage of their horses. —

“the blood of their best horses is known to all of the tribe traditionally; and when a stranger takes a horse from the tribe, he may get a certificate of the animal’s blood, written out by the Sheik’s scribe, and certified to by some of the old men of the tribe, who know well his pedigree and history.”

“When a colt of high blood is foaled, several men of the tribe are called in, with some degree of ceremony, to witness the fact – – – -. The best family of horses is never crossed with any inferior blood. there are many horses of inferior blood (36) in the tribes, but a stain in the stock of any family of horses is as well known as a flaw in the pedigree of any of our distinguished winners.”


    • ‘In the throng we met Shoiman, the elder of Suttum. He was riding on a bay horse, whose fame had spread far and wide amongst the tribes, and whose exploits were a constant theme of praise and wonder with the Shammar. He was of the race Obeyan Sherakh — a breed now almost extinct, and perhaps more highly prized than any of the desert. (37) He had established his fame when but two years old. Ferhan, with the principal warriors of the Khorusseh, (38) had crossed the Euphrates to plunder the Anayza; they were met by a superior force, and were completely defeated. The best mares of the tribe fell into the hands of the enemy, and the bay colt alone, although followed by the fleetest horses of the Anayza distanced his pursuers. (39) Such noble qualities united with the purest blood, render him worthy to be looked upon as the public property of the Shammar,and no sum of money would induce his owner to part with him. With a celebrated horse belonging to the Hamond a branch of the same tribe, he was set apart to propagate the race of the first horses in Mesopotamia. In size he was small, but large in bone and of excellant proportions. (40) On all sides I heard extraordinary instances of his powers of endurance and speed.’ “

“Layard relates the following of an Arab horse, he saw in Mesopotamia, which fully illustrates how the Bedouins know the speed and bottom of their horses, and how a horse possessed of these valuable qualities becomes known to those who wish to breed their high-blooded mares to a sire worthy of them.

Then, Mr. Richards says:

“No author is considered more reliable than Layard and the facts that he states are worth more than all the fancy legends of tourists. As we have probably given as much attention to the subject as any one who has gone to the East. (41) to select well-bred Arabs, these statements might be sufficient; but we will introduce from Burckhardt’s notes on the Bedouins and Wahabys, (42) one of the pedigrees which he gives of a highly- bred horse after stating that they are kept by tradition.” (48)

“When the horse Fysal was purchased in the desert, Mr. Keene asked for his written pedigree. The Bedouins replied that every one in their tribe knew well the horse and his pedigree. When he told them, however, that the horse would leave the tribe, the usual form of pedigree was written out by one of the Sheik’s scribes,and certified to by the old men who knew well the horses’s family and history.” (43)


“Those who are informed on the subject, know that it is the opinion of some of the most intelligent writers in England and in this country, that the modern Arab cross is no improvement for the turf. Could all breeders know, however, the difficulty of getting a purely bred and highly formed Arab from the desert, they would not be surprised at the failure of the modern Arab cross to compete with the best English or American blood. The failure of the modern (44) in beating the English lately in Egypt, is no test whatever as the Arab entered was by no means the best one in the possession of the Pasha. He was a ‘Kadish’ (of common stock) and no high blood was claimed for him. It is well known that Abas Pasha had Anayza mares that Charles Augustus Murray, British Consul General at Alexandria, thought could not be beaten a long distance by the best English horses. Mr. Murray was the only European who had seen these favorite mares of the Pasha.”

“Layard states that Abas Pasha’s agents had paid as high as five and six thousand dollars for well known Anayza mares. The speed of the English horse has never been tested with any of these high-bred mares. It must be remembered that the former Pasha’s challenge to run against the English, for ten thousand dollars, never was accepted.”


Then, Mr. Richards describes some instances of the enormous difficulty of obtaining pure-bred Arabians and Barbs, and quotes from Drummond Hay’s “Morocco,” the failure to obtain, even for Queen Victoria, the purest bred Barb, — such a horse was found, but no amount of gold would buy him so a second best was accepted. (45)

“A similar instance occurred to Mr. Keene, while among the Beni Zahr. (46) He was pricing a mare, when the owner told him, ‘that if he would load her with gold, the gold would still be his, and he would keep his mare’.”

The failures of Captain Nolon and Lieutenant Burton, (47) on separate quests, are described. Mr. Richards show how these officers were well versed in the habits, customs and language of the tribes; Burton being so well equipped that he was able to gain entrance to the Holy Cities of Medinah and Mecca

“which no ‘Frank’ has dared to attempt since Burckhardt.

“If such men as Hay and Burton should find it difficult to procure the best blood in the interior, is it not strange that Consuls on the coast, who cannot speak a word of Arabic, should be so fortunate in getting Arabs, as they say, of the highest caste? ” (48)


“I think I may safely say that there are not fifty pure-bred horses in the desert over 15 hands 1 inch high. Layard saw only one mare that exceeded 15 hands; and not one of the Arabs, from whose loins sprang the English horse, was over 15 hands; yet their progeny were of good size and could pack heavy weights through four-mile heats, if not in as good time, certainly with less injury to their lungs and legs, than the present winners over the flat at Newmarket. The Arab in the desert is no smaller now than he was centuries past. The bas-reliefs at Nineva, the painted walls at Thebes, and the equestrian statues of the Greeks centuries before Christ, clearly prove this.” (49)

“As to the form, no degeneracy has taken place in the high-bred Arab. The heads of the horses (from Arab models) on the frieze of the Parthenon, from the chizel of Pheidias, more than four hundred years before Christ, are superior in beauty and blood-like outline to the best Derby winner, flattered by the pencil of Harry Hall, or Herring; and yet they are true to the type of some horses that may now be found in the desert.” (50)


“As some of the tribes of Bedouins have never been conquered [written in 1857], not even by Alexander, Napoleon, or Ibrahim Pasha, and their laws of breeding have been the same for centuries, there is no reason to suppose that a degeneracy has taken place since the Darley Arabian was taken from Aleppo, something over one hundred and twenty years since; about the life time of some old Bedouin Sheiks like Hussein of Akabah. (51) We think if any degeneracy has taken place it is amongst the English horses; they have become more gross and leggy than their ancestors; they may stride a little longer, but their strides are at the expense of their long legs, which not unfrequently give way (53) and is so forced in his growth that in his two-year-old form, he is larger than any of his oriental ancestors. We question if this system enables them to carry more weight in better time than Childers and Eclipse. We are aware that the wonderful exploits of Childers and Eclipse, are not generally credited by the admirers of the present race of English thoroughbreds. It is a little strange that watches should have been so slow, and horses so fast in those days. We should imagine that if the English horse has been continually improving since the days of Childeers and Eclipse, the farther we have a remove from these two horses the better; but it is a remarkable fact, that the horses of the present day [1857], that can go back with the fewest crosses to Childers and Eclipse, are always pre-eminent, over others of longer pedigree, both in speed and bottom.(54) We are not one of those who believe that a horse ever ran a mile in a minute, yet if Childers and Eclipse were entered for the next Derby, we think they would come in first and second, and the modern leggy flyers would be where Mr. O’Kelly once placed all the horses that started against Eclipse, — ‘no where.’ ”

“If the English horse is degenerating, is it too late for us to do what England did not two centuries since? Are not our Thoroughbred daughters of Glencoe, Margrave and Sovereign, as good as those of doubtful origin (55) which were sent to the Darley and Goldolphin (56) Arabians?”

“In the pedigree of English Eclipse, there are thirteen mares of unknown blood.” (57)

“We make allusion to these facts and arguments, merely to show-forth the reasons we have for thinking that the modern (58) Arab cross will be successful if proper selections are made. We do not wish any one to try the experiment without knowing the facts.


Under a separate heading in the “Catalogue” is a “list of some of my stock” already mentioned above, except the Barb mare Zariphe [Zareefa]; and Mr. Richards continues:

“Glencoe has recently been added to my stud for the purpose of breeding to mares of my own selection, knowing his stock to be the best suited for crossing with the Arab, on account of being more heavily muscled than any other. He is in vigorous health, and his colts this spring give proof that he is still able to compete with the best stallions in this country as well as England.”

“One of the best, if not the best brood mare now [1857] in England, is by Glencoe; I mean Pocahontas, the dam of Indiana, King Tom, Stockwell, Rataplan, and the thousand guinea yearling by Nutwith. Mr. Ten Broeck’s Pryor is by Glencoe; and Lecompte and Pryoress are out of Reel, (59) One of the first of Glencoe’s get in this country. The performance of Vandal is a proof that Glencoe gets colts to win as well as fillies. Bonnie Lassie, the three-year-old filly by Glencoe, out of a Medoc mare, recenty sold by Mr. James K. Duke for $5,000 cash, would now sell for more money than any racer in the United States.” (60)

“The selection of such stock is the best proof that I will give this experiment a fair test.”

After reading the foregoing reasoned account of his study of the breeding problems; of his acquisition of pure desert-bred Arabians and of the best and most suitable Thoroughbreds, who can doubt that Mr. Richards was fully justified in his belief that his experiment would have produced, in time, as much speed, more stamina and less unsoundness in the Thoroughbred?

The Civil War is a fair and honest excuse, in this particular project, for what Mr. Richards was unable to prove. (61)


(36) Italics are mine. T.C.

(37) “Authorities now concur that the accepted five strains of the Al Khamsa [the Kuhaylan five pure strains] are Kuhaylan, Saqlawi, ‘Ubayan, Hamdani and Hadban ——. To be properly authenticated all of these names must be followed by a suffix denoting a family: as, using most common strains — Kuhaylan “Ajuz, Saqlawi, “Jidrani, “Ubayan Sharrak, Hamdani Simri, Hadban Inzihi.” W.R.Brown, “The Horse of the Desert,” p. 98. Italics are mine. T.C.

(38) Herese (Khurasa). W.R.Brown.

(39) The Bedouins’ test fro speed and bottom: a matter of life and death. T.C.

(40)Italics are mine. T.C.

(41) Mr. Richards was the first American to go to the Desert to procure horses. T.C.

(42) “Notes of the Bedouins and Wahabys.” J. L. Burckhardt, 1831.

(43) The flowery pedigree which Mr. Richards copies is omitted here. T.C.

(44) In using the term “modern” Arab, Mr. Richards undoubtedly had in mind the inferior importations subsequent to those of the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin barb. T.C.

(45) Both the English and the French had a hand in making the high-bred Barb scarce: “George III presented the Emperor of Morocco with a dray horse stallion, and this horse played the very devil with the Barb mares.” “In Algeria the French with their clumsy Normans have ruined the breed [Barbs].” Capt. W.A.Kerr V.C. to Randolph Huntington, May 25, 1894. Also, see English Sporting Magazine, March, 1813, pp. 285-6, for George III presentation. T.C.

(46) Banu-Sahr (Sakhr). W.R.Brown.

(47) Later Sir Richard Burton, translator of the Arabian Nights. T.C.

(48) In 1863 M. Guarmani, an Italian geographer, who had traversed several times the Syro-Arabian Desert and who knew well the customs and language of the tribes, was commissioned by the French Government and the King of Italy to purchase stallions. Although on this quest he made a dangerous journey form Jerusalem to Northern Nejed, occupying six months’ time, he succeeded in buying only four horses, and one of these was secured through the favoritism of a Scheik. From the “Report of a Journey from Jerualem to Northern Nejed. 1863-64.” by M. Guarmani.

(49) “——amongst the Bedouin Arabs 15 hands is the normal maximum for the pure-bred. Anything over that is a phenomenal posability. The valuable and useful horse is normally 14.3. I stress that and ————any horse exceeding 15 hands can only be found in conditions inconsistent with Bedouin life.” From a letter December 20, 1933 to T.C. from Dr. A.E.Branch, Senior member of the Egyptian Jockey Club and late President of the Classification Committee.

“—-The carefully finished bas-relief of Egypt, of Babylonia, of Chadea, show strains of horses and breeds of cattle almost as fine as those of the present day. Every important domestic animal and cultivated plant was, in fact, taken from the wild, and improved almost beyond recognition long before the dawn of history. —-” Edward M. East. “Heredity and Human Affairs.” p. 31.

(50) Mr. Richards was an eye-witness of the Desert horses. T.C.

(51) Writing of the constancy of some races Emerson said “The Arabs of today are the Arabs of Pharaoh.” “English traits,” Edition 1876, p. ??

(52) Among instances that the race track follower may have seen are two that occurred at Belmont Park the season of 1934. Chase Me broke his leg in full stride while running in the Metropolitan Handicap. Dark Secret broke his leg immediately after passing the wire a winner in the two mile Jockey Club Gold Cup, September 15. T.C.

“Camden, S.C., Feb. 22. More than 5,000 persons enjoyed a day of excellent racing. The program, however, was marred by a series of accidents in the fourth race, the Mulberry, for non-winners over brush, at about two miles. The young horses set too fast a pace and three fell and injured themselves so badly that two had to be destroyed and the fate of the third is still in doubt. ” — N.Y. Times, February 23, 1935.

(53) The best verbal characterization of this hot house plant is one by major Henry Leonard, who, referring to the difficulty of getting Thoroughbred mares in foal writes of their “exceedingly exciting and nervous life superimposed upon a very immature and underdeveloped structure, brought to size, but not maturity by forced feeding them from birth.” — The Horse, March-April, 1935, p. 8.

(54) Italics are mine. T.C.

(55) The late Randolph Huntington writing me. August 22, 1910, about his Clay-Arab family said that they were “Equal as Americo-Arabs to the best of England’s creations as Anglo-Arabs — the foundation for the English Thoroughbred, which latter was built upon Arab and Barb bloods from mares of really unknown bloods—.” T.C.

(56) “–having seen ourselves almost every type of Arab, we believe the Godolphin to have been a Barb from Morocco, judging from his form; for we have seen horses in Morocco of precisely the same type.” Foot note, page 1 of the “Catalogue.”

(57) McKay speaks of blanks in the pedigree of English Eclipse and says that each one of these blanks sould contain the name of a native English mare which he refers to as Mongrel. Stewart McKay. “Staying Power of the Race Horse.” p. 67, p. 71.

(58) Mr. Richards uses the word modern here in a different sense from that in which he refers to the modern Arabians as lacking high caste. T.C.

(59) Reel, a grey daughter of Glencoe and Gallopade, was one of the great race mares of the forties. She was beaten in only one race, her last, in which she broke down. Her produce also made turf history; one of her sons was Lecompte, who in 1854 triumphed over Lexington, and another was War Dance (for which Mr. Richards paid $5,000 as an untried two-year-old) by Lexington. Reel’s portroit, by E.Troye, which hangs in the New York Jockey Club, bears a striking resemblence to Troye’s portrait of Mr. Richard’s Arabian mare, Lulie. T.C.

(60) Bonnie Lassie, b.m.f. 1854, bred by James K. Duke of Ky.: owned by Gen. R.S.Taylor of La. Sire imp. Glencoe. 1st dam Mafdalen by Medoc. 2nd dam Keph’s dam by Sumpter. 3rd dam by Lewis’ Eclipse. 4th dam Maria by Craig’s Alfred. Bruce A.S.B. Vol. I, p. 254.

“Kate Hunter, another Glencoe filly, won a race at Savannah, Ga., after running seven heats on the 8th.” [A few days before]. “Porter’s Spririt of the times.” January 23, 1858. Mentioned by Porter to show the stamina of the glencoe get. T.C.

(61) “We had a man in this country, the late A.Keene Richards, who had the means and the courage to bell the cat, but, unfortunately, the Civil War arrested his work. It robbed him of his fortune and indirectly shortened his life, and now people point to his failure as proof of the worthlessness of the Arab cross. Had Mr. Richards been blessed with the income after the Civil War which he enjoyed before the War, the result of his breeding venture would have been far different. The man who wold demonstate to the average breeder the virtues of Arab blood must have the courage to face criticism and disappointments for a series of years. A family cannot be created in five or ten summers:* and he who works and waits in this field, therefore, should have a long purse.” “The Turf, Field and Farm.” August 18, 1882.

Quoting the “London Field” in the same issue, “The Turf, Field and Farm” says: ” ‘There is no doubt that the future generations of our race horses would be benefited by an outcross, and the Arab is the only source from which it is possible to derive it’.”

“It is preposterous to attempt to mend bad forelegs by bad hind legs — chalk and limestone will not do it. The flint of Arabia must be restored to impart firmness and density to the bone, toughness to the sinews, and strength and elasticity to the muscles.” Crofts, in “Porter’s Spirit of the Times,” February 20, 1858. ______________

*It takes twenty years to build a foundation, then such fixed type will reproduce itself; will increase in size, substance and mentality by never introducing outside blood; always breeding within the family. Randolph Huntington to T.C., March 7, 1911.



These bas-reliefs referred to by Mr. Richards were on both sides of an inclined passage in Sennacherib’s Palace. Note the deep jowl, large eyes, short ears and high crest. Of the fourteen horses included in this series of sculptures there are different types of face profiles and tail sets. The tail set of the horse in this picture suggests that of a Barb. The elaborate treatment of the mane and tail and of the hair and beard of the attendant indicate a high state of civilization. This horse is the result of many years of selective breeding; in fact, as the date of this Assyrian palace on the River Tigris is given by James Fergusson as B.C. 704, and as archaeological finds prove the horses to have been domesticated as early as B.C. 5000 (Wolfgang Amschler, “Journal of Heredity,” Vol. 26, No. 6) he had back of him innumerable generations of selectively bred ancestors.

Assuming that the man is 5 feet 8 inches high, the proportionate height of the horse is about 14 hands 2 1/2 inches.

Photographed from an engraving in Layards’ “Second Series of the Monuments of Nineveh,” in the New York Public Library.


image: “GLENCOE”

” ‘Glencoe’ was bred by Lord Jersey and foaled in 1831. His sire was ‘Sultan’; his dam ‘Trampolin’ by ‘Tramp.’ ‘Glencoe’ was much inbred to ‘Herod,’ ‘Eclipse’ and Matchem’.” He won 2.000 Guineas and was the second three-year-old that ever won the Goodwood Cup, besides he left distinguished progeny in England before he was imported in 1835 to America where he sired many high class race horses. At twenty-six years of age he joined the Richards’ stud. He died at twenty-seven and was buried, beside his daughter, “Peytona,” at Blue Grass Park.

This picture shows “Glencoe” as a young horse before he was brought to America.

From a photograph of an engraving in Tattersall’s “Pictorial Gallery of English Race Horses.” in the New York Public Library. The engraving is from the original painting by C. Hancock.



The cup bears the inscription

Members Cup Jerome Park June 8th, 1874 won by L.A. Hitchcock’s “Limestone” Ch. C. 4 yrs. old Rode by Robt. Center

Mr. Richards bred “Limestone” and imported his Arabian grandsire, “Massoud.”

Reproduced here through the courtesty of Mr. Richards’ daughter, Mrs. John Park.

Keene Richards’ Arabian Importation

Articles of History:

Keene Richards’ Arabian Importations Conclusion

By Thornton Chard

from The Horse Jan/Feb ’35 Part I   Part II            Speed says:

               ”What gave the Arab horse a kind of disrepute in America was the experiment of A. Keene Richards. Mr. Richards was a man of wealth and education and a breeder of race-horses in the Blue Grass section of Kentucky. In studying the history of the English Thoroughbred he came to the conclusion he would like to get fresh infusions of the original blood. He went to Arabia and personally selected several stallions. These he mated with his Thoroughbred mares, and when the colts were old enough he entered them in the races. They were not fast enough to win even when conceeded weight. He went again, this was about 1855, taking with him the animal painter Troye. They took their time, and came back with a superior lot. Mr. Richards tried over again the same experiment with the same result. The colts did not have the speed to beat Thoroughbreds. … If Mr. Richards had waited seveeral generations and then injected the new infusions of the Arab blood, the result probably would have been quite diferent. The Civil War came along about this time, however, and the experiment ended in what was considered a failure. But the blood taken to Kentucky at that time by Mr. Richards has been valuable in an unexpected way, for it has been preserved in the half-bred horses in the horse-breeding section, and it crops out all the time in those wonderful saddle-horses of the Denmark strain, which are sent all over the ountry to delight the lovers of horseback exercise as well as to monopolize the ribbons in the horse shows.” (35)

           Then, Huntington following his own successful Arabian breeding principles, comments that the Richards Arabian mares should

               ”have been bred to thoroughbred or trotting bred horses, and the stallions to trotting bred or Thoroughbred mares; then the produce of both Thoroughbred sides brought together; then inbreed the produce separately.” (36)

           Also, Huntington observes, regarding a direct infusion,

               ”that when a Thoroughbred mare is bred to an Arab horse, the produce is a disappointment to the race horse man: but when a pure Arab mare is bred to a Thoroughbredhorse the results are a very great success.” (37)

           No doubt the comments quoted from Speed and the methods of using the Arabian blood suggested by Huntington are sound. Besides there is du Hays’ authoritative treatise (38) on how to infuse the Eastern blood into a fixed breed, already built on it, in order to improve and not to retard temporarily, such breed. At the same time there are individual examples where a more direct infusion has produced high class race horses. One of them was Limestone, whose dam, Transylvania, was by Richards imported Arabian Massoud, 15 hands high.

           To those who admire height and weight in the Thoroughbred Limestone will definitely appeal, for he grew to be 16 1/4 hands high and to weigh 1240 pounds; but those are the least of his characteristics for he developed into one of the greatest hurdle-racers of his day, repeatedly winning, over the best horses of all ages, at one and two mile heat races. At New Orleans April 16, 1875, then five years old, in his last race, a handicap hurdle race at two miles, over eight hurdles, he lapped out Tom Leathers who carried only 117 pounds, beating the fastest time on record by 4 1/2 seconds. These data are taken from his stud-bill on which Dr. Feris has written

               ”Has any horse ever before [run] two miles in 3.47 1/2 with 150 pounds up even in a flat race? Limestone did it and jumped eight hurdles 4 feet high.” (39)

Dr. Feris’ further comment will be relished by those who believe that the Arabian transmits a good disposition.

               ”Limestone although very spirited has been driven in single harness by a Lady and is a splendid trotter.”

           Another successful example of the more direct infusion of Arabian blood was the trotting mare May Queen who had a record [1877] of 2.20.

               ”[She] has the cross of one of Mr. Richards’ Arabians which he imported with Massoud.” (40)

           Still another example; and this one written on the margin of the Limestone stud-bill in Dr. Feris’ own hand, reads:

           ”Sonnie G., one of the best young trotters in Ky. is by Almont out of a thoroughbred–Mokhladdi [Richards Arabian] mare bred in Louisiana.” (41)

           The above examples of the more direct infusion of the Arabian blood bear out Mr. Huntington’s experience

               ”that results by an Arab horse were according to blood of the mare used, though which the second remove was very decidedly affected.” (42)

           Dr. Feris had already sent to Mr. Huntington a stud-bill (illustration No. 13) of two of his horses Moor and Shepherd. On the back of this he wrote:

               ”Mocha, the dam of Moslem, (43) (Sire of Moor) was got by the great four miler Woodpecker–2nd dam the 3 mile mare Leopardess by Medoc, the best son of American Eclipse.

               See Bruce American Stud Book Art, Leopardess (44)

               Read and judge for yourself.

           In acknowledging this stud-bill Huntington comments on the value of the blood and what it shoud do, as follows:

               ”Your two stallions, Moor and Shepherd are certainly bred as well as horses can be, and should be invaluable in any portion of our country if put to the right class of mares. Moor should have got both trotters and runners of the highest type, and Shepherd, if bred to the right mares, should get the very best trotters, saddle horses and coachers.” (45)

           So, here were actual descendants of the Keene Richards importations, lost sight of for years, but still doing service in the stud to carry on the blood lines.

           However, there is a sad sequel to this last Texas remmant and it brings the story up to date. It is related by a surviving daughter of Dr. Feris in a letter to me dated January 20, 1934. In it she writes that she inherited her father’s love of the Arabian blood; that the two stallions, Shepherd and Moor were the last they had; that they were bred by her father and died in his possession; that their horses were “Oked” by S. D. Bruce. Then she continues,

               ”We lived in a community that only cared to raise a cow-pony that would respond to the dig of a spur and the swish of a raw-hide quirt. Competent help could not be procured so the herd was turned on the open range and soon nearly all were lost.”

           In another letter to me (Feb. 10, ’34) Miss Feris writes what will interest those who believe in the traditional docility of the Arabian, that

               ”the horse Moslem [stallion] was ridden by the girls of the family; [and] I almost lived in the stable with Abd-el-Kadir; his stall was large. I rode him up and down in it. Whe he tired of my company he would toss me in the manger where I would sleep until my mother would find me.”

    “My love for the Arabian horse will never by shaken,” In the same letter (Mch. 8, ’34) she writes: “My father loved the Arabian horse next to his wife and children.”

           One phase of the picturesque result of the Richards importations is shown in the following except from a letter to me (Jan. 18, ’34) from Mrs. John Pack, a daughter of Mr. Richards:

               ”Among the oldest residents of Georgetown [Ky.] the beautiful Arab horses with the picturesque figure of the dragoman Yousef in native costume at Blue Grass Park, my father’s stock farm, is still a tradition–as well as the dromedaries which he brought over with the idea of using themo his Louisiana plantation for cotton planting.”

           It is difficult to give too much credit to Feris and Richards, both practical horse breeders, for after realizing through experience the superior value of the Arabian and Barb blood as an improving factor in the breeding of the Thoroughbred, they had the courage against opposition, to go through with the difficult problem of obtaining it, both as to the expense involved and the actual physical hazards to which Richards personally subjected himself. For in the 1850’s it was no light matter to undertake two expeditions to the near East, nor was it less than hazardous to have made the desert excursions against the advise of resident missionaries and consuls.

           So much for a review of the narrative of the expeditions and the importations: and now for a few paragraphs about the value of the Eastern blood and Mr. Richards purpose in using it.

           It is not to be supposed for a moment that Mr. Richards’ main purpose was a great increase in speed for the first or second remove. Speed was already, through a hundred years of specializing, the prerogative of the Thoroughbred; but in Mr. Richards’ time the sprint was little thought of, two and four mile heat races were the order of the day so that the breeder who could produce a fast stayer won the honors; and this word is used advisedly because in most cases, in those racing days, the money was secondary.

           The breeders problem was to balance speed with stamina; and Mr. Richards was experimenting. If the Civil War had not interrupted his efforts no doubt experience would have taught him to introduce the Eastern blood less abruptly; that is, not to use the first remove or cross incompetitive races.

           There must have been even in those days, when the Thoroughbred was much closer to the source, a feeling that he was over specialized; otherwise it is hard to explain the worthy English importations and the one like the Richards, to America: all involving much time, great effort (46) and large expense.

           And as for the present-day need of the purest Arabian blood, — of which so extremely little has ever left the Desert, — to bring back soundness and endurance, witness the following:

               ”I venture to fear that what is commonly accepted as the Thoroughbred is today not as good as he was yesterday.”

               ”To return to the foundation after about a centruy’s lapse would be the re-uniting of blood which has made the British breed the foremost in the world, and its fresh transmission might, in the fullness of time, give us yet another Ormond, St. Simon, Persimmon, and a legion of others, the prototype of which are not discoverable in this year of grace.” (47)

               ”That the English horse of the present day is inferior to what he was in the days of Eclipse, no one will doubt who examines the performances of that day. The present race horses are fleet and many can carry their weights; but how few remain on the turf; and one hard race of four miles would injure the best horse in England.” (48)

               ”I have been giving a good deal of attention to the Thoroughbreds lately and I am afraid–indeed I am sure–that he is deriorating, and in considerable mesure owing to the sprint (49) racing which is so popular. We have nothing now of the “Alice Hawthorne” or “Beesway” or “Doctor Syntax” type. It has struck me several times lately that the time has come for another direct Arab cross. The difficulty is how to bring it about. Of course it is the place of the Government to do it for it is not fair that a private individual (50) should undergo the certain loss which will take place, in the early stages, for the public benefit.” (51)

               ”We have been breeding race-horses for more than one hundred years;–does any one familiar with the facts imagine that we have ‘improved the breed of horses’ in that variety in one single particular? Does he realize, on the contrary, that while they have improved in no detail, they have ‘gone back’ in many? Walk into any of our paddocks on a race day; look over the animals as they present themselves for their respective races; and consider the average, not the few good specimens. Bad constitutioned weeds, most of them, almost staggering under the hundred pounds, less or more, they are asked to carry; cravens at two years, rogues at three and wrecks at four…; [they are] so light and frail in make-up that it is almost impossible to find any thing thoroughbred, sound enough, big enough, and quiet enough to use as steeplechasers, cavalry horses, hunters or hacks …” (52)

           But why weary the reader with more quotations of the same kind, by authorities on the subject, numerous enough to fill a book? Enough has been said to show the trend and to show that Richards, contrary to the prejudiced (53) general belief, was justified in his Arabian enterprise.

           Mr. Richards undoubtedly had in mind the breeding of Thoroughbreds that would “improve the breed of horses” for in his stud-bill for Limestone for the year 1880 he inserts in italics in a conspicuous place, this:

           ”An old turfman, writing up his experiences of fifty years, in the Turf, Field and Farm, said of Limestone: ‘He has speed to win races, strength to carry a dragoon and size to draw a carriag‘.” (54)

           At all hazards the breeding of the racing Thoroughbred must be continued for the good of all the present and future light horses of the country. This arguement is used whenever an appropriation bill for breeding comes up in Congress; whenever a threat appears in any state legislature to abolish racing by making race-track betting illegal; or where legal race-track betting has been abolished – to bring it back. But it is not the over specialized scurry-race Thoroughbred, often unsound, weedy, a “roarer,” subject to periodic opthalmia and of bad disposition that will “improve the breed” of horses of the country at large, but the type that, with speed, has the stamina, soundness of wind and limb as well as the even temper of the rare purebred Arabian.

           Any account of the Keene Richards Arabian importations without mention of the talented painter Edward Troye would be distinctly incomplete, for, while the horses have undoubtedly gone to their heavenly grazing fields, the protraits of most of them have been recorded on canvas, for all time, by a too little known painter, but one whose aesthetic expressions place his paintings as high class works of art. And this can be said of very few so called sporting pictures.

           Troye (1803-74) was born near Geneva, Switzerland. His grandfather, a French nobleman, de Troy, was a politcal exile from France. His father was an eminent painter and is represented in the Louvre by the “Plague of Marseilles.” Edward, as well as his brothers and sisters, was well educated and very talented. (55)

           After residing for some time in England, Troye made his home in the United States where he painted portraits of famous race-horses, both runners and trotters, as well as farm animals–mostly in the South. Since some 240 of his paintings have been located, largely through the commendable efforts of Mr. Harry Worcester Smith,–it is astonishing that so large an output of such decided merit should have had such limited recognition.

           Of course, Troye owned much to Mr. Richards’ friendship and patronage of his talent, for he not only lived and died at Blue Grass Park, where he painted numerous pictures for Mr. Richards, but was engaged by him for one of the expeditions to Arabia, in which event we have the unique situation of a horseman enlisting an artist’s eye in selecting types of desert horses. That Mr. Richards was justified in his choice of Troye for this work as well as that of painting the portraits of his horses, is attested by the character of the Richards Arabians as we see them in the Troye paintings. (56)

Image notes and footnotes:

35) “The Horse in America.”: John Gilmer Speed, pp. 32-33.

“The Bagdad [imported to Tripoli from Aleppo; to New York, 1832, by way of England] stock were in great demand in Tennesee at one time, on account of their legs standing the hard pikes better than any other stock. Massoud, Mokhladdi; and Sacklowie, are remarkable in this particular, as their legs did not swell any, during the long sea voyages, on different vessels to America.” A bona fide quotation from an author whose name I have lost. T.C.

36) From a letter of the late Randolph Huntington to Dr. Geo. A. Feris, Dec. 6, 1887. Probably these are the details of the breeding principles that Speed had in mind when he writes: “If Mr. Richards had waited a few generations——–“




This is a very rare and interesting picture for several reasons. Besides being an authentic portrait of Mr. Richards, it shows him in authentic Arab costume of those days and at the same time is a portrait of the horse that was the sire of “Abd-el-Kadir,” shown in the previous issue.

The picture is taken from Ed. Troye’s painting signed and dated by him 1854, and now in possession of Mrs. E.G.Swarta.

Reproduced here through the courtesy of Mr. Richards’ daughter, Mrs. E. G. Swartz.




Horse breeders, attention! Did the British, the greatest breeders of livestock in the world,know th value of Arabian blood when the Thoroughbred was still called the Anglo-Arab? Here is what the Sporting Magazine (English) of March, 1832, has to say of “Muscat.” “We have the honor to present–an exact protrait of the Arab horse ‘Muscat,’ which all must allow is at once creditable to the masterly hand and correct eye of the younger Marshall [a painter], as well as to the beautiful scientific graver of Mr. Romney; but, above all, to the Hon, Col. Finch, for a display of his superior judgment in procuring such a subject; and we have no hesitation in saying, being backed up by judges from whom there is no appeal, the ‘Muscat’ is the only Arabian imported in the present generation calculated to improve, or rather renovate, the English Race-horse, being of good size, perfect symmetry, fine temper, and the purest blood; besides there is in him, bone, muscle strength and action to improve the breed of horses of every grade.”

“Muscat ran three times at Calcutta in 1829, and his performances there were quite creditable to him as a racer, having won two out of the three engagements, and he came in second for the third, carrying 11 st. 7 lbs [161 lbs.]; when eight of their best horses started. His first prize was the gold Cup, given by the Royal Club, two mile heats, 9 st. [126 lbs.] each. He also won the Little Welter stakes, carrying 10 st [140 lbs.], the Round Course (one mile and three quarters), six subscribers.”

Photograph and legend quotation (from the Sporting magazine, March, 1832) reproduced through the courtesy of Miss S. Lavinia Feris, only surviving child of Dr. Feris.


37) R. H. notes at the time of sending horses to Wisconsin. Dec. 9, 1800.

38) Charles du Hays. “The Percheron Horse.” (1868). Translated from the French by W.T.Walters. (1886)

39) Records for 2 miles on the flat: Pradella, 7 years, 116 pounds, 3.19 2-5, at Ascot, June 19, 1906. Exterminator, 5 years, 128 pounds, 3.21 4-5, Belmont, Sept. 15, 1920. World Almanac, 1933.

40) Stud-bill of Limestone; yar 1880. Mokhladdi was imported with Massoud. T.C.

41) There are many other classic examples. T.C.

42) Randolph Huntington to U.S.Grant, Jr., Sept. 27, 1888.

43) Moslem was sold to Canada. T.C.

44) Leopardess ch. m. f. 1836. Bred and owned by Chas. Buford of Ky. By Medoc, 1st dam. (Randolphi dam) by Haxall’s Moses. Produced nine foals. Bruce. A.S.B.

45) Letter to Dr. Geo. A. Feris. Nov. 25, 1887.




The grandsire of “Limestone” was Richards’ imported Arabian “Massoud,” a horse 15 hands high, yet “Limestone” grew to be 16 1/4 hands high. The 10th dam of “Limestone” was Imp. “Selima” (by the Godolphin Arabian who in 1752 at Gloucester, Va., defeated Col. Byrd’s “Tryall” and Col. Taylor’s “Jenny Cameron” at four miles for a purse of 500 pistoles. Note that the 12th, 13th and 14th dams were by Arabian and Barb Horses.

This rare old stud-bill reproduced through the courtesy of Miss S. Lavinia Feris, only surviving child of Dr. Feris.

Data about the race given by Maj. C.A.Benton.



The above is a rare old stud-bill of descendants of Richards’ Arabian importations. These part Arabian horses were still alive in the 1890’s. On the back of the original is a letter in Dr. Feris’ own handwirting which reads in part as follows; “Richmond, Texa, Nov 20-’87,—‘Mocha,’ the dam of ‘Moslem,’ (sire of ‘Moor’) was got by Imported (Arabian) ‘Mokhladdi.” Her dam was got by the great four miler ‘Woodpecker’–2nd dam the 3 mile mare ‘Leopardess’ by ‘Medoc,’ the best son of ‘American Eclipse.’ See Bruce’s American Stud Book, Art. Leopardess.’ “

Read and judge for yourself.——“

Reproduced from the letters and papers of the late Randolph Huntington.


46) It was only through the influence of President Pierce that Richards was able to take his horses out of Arabia. N.Y.Evening Mail, June 7, 1906.

47) Robert S. Sievier, in London Sporting Life. Reprinted in Rider and Driver, April 25, 1931.

48) this a bona fide quotation from an authority whose name I have lost. T.C.

49) “This was one of the most enjoyable days of the season hereabouts. The Hawthorne management had arranged a program unusual in its charactor. Is it because there is a real reaction against the eternal demnition grind of five and six-furlong sprints, and an swakening to the fact that the public really wants to see the horses race? Or what? At any rate, there were no less than four events programmed at distances over a mile, two of them being at a mile and a furlong and two of them at a mile and a quarter—something almost unheard of these days——” “Salvator” in the Thoroughbred Record, August 27, 1932.

50) That Richards undertook it as an individual without the assistance of the New Orleans Jockey Club is verified by a letter to me from Mrs. John Pack, March 9, 1934. T.C.

51) The well known English writer William Scarth Dixon in a letter Jan. 1, 1926, to Major C.A.Benton.

52) Francis M. Ware. Collier’s, June 11, 1910.



On the back of the original title page of this brochure which proves Troye to have been a scholar as he was also a talented painter, is printed the following: “To Keene Richards, Esq., whose pilgrimage to the Eastern lands afforded him a well improved opportunity of visiting the scenes, which are the subject of these strictures, and of whose generous worth the friend and artist cherish a living recollection; these speculations, as a token of gratitude, and in the hope that their crudeness will not detract from the sincerity of the tribute, are inscribed, with affectionate respect, E. Troye.”

The last part of the brochure, dated 1858, describes a painting which Troye made on one of Richards’ expeditions in search of horses and which found its final resting place in a European gallery.

Reproduced here through the courtesy of Mr. Richards’ daughters, Mrs. Edward G. Swartz and Mrs. John Pack.


53) In a letter dated march 24, 1934, to T.C. Miss Feris, who was brought up with Arabian horses, says: “I want every one to know and appreciate the royal blood of the Arabian; it may be criticised by those with ignorance, so we will ignore their opinions and cherish ours.”

In many other cases prejudice against the Arabian is well founded because of the very inferior Eastern blood used. The high-caste Arabian has seldom been seen outside of the Desert. T.C.

54) Note similar comment under illustration of “Muscat.”

55) Arts and Artists of the Capitol of the United States by Charles E. Fairman, 1929, pp. 319-320.

56) Unfortunately the photographic reproductions cannot show Troye’s beautiful colors. T.C.

Keene Richards’ Arabian Importation part I

Articles of History:

Keene Richards’ Arabian Importations

By Thornton Chard

from The Horse Nov/Dec 1934 Part I Part II “After God, the horses” Thus Cunninghame Graham, in his “Horses of the Conquest,” interprets the chroniclers of the Cortez Mexican conquest as to the victorious part played by the horses. (1) And if you will afford yourself the entertainment of reading his book you will be convinced that it was more than the physical prowess of the eastern blood that evoked the above exclamation.

Over three hundred years later there was to be another spontaneous eulogy, born of battle experience, by another soldier and again in Mexico. It runs thus: —

    During the war between the United States and Mexico I rode a horse by Medoc–1st dam by imported Amurath (Barb), 2nd dam by imported Stamboul (Arabian).

    For style, courage and endurance he took the palm from all others but was unfortunately killed by a lance thrust at battle of Buena Vista.”

Who this soldier was will appear later; but enough has been said, aside from the title of this article, to show the trend, so the story may as well begin here.

Back in the 1880’s when the late Randolph Huntington (2) sought to develop a national horse for the United States he was well aware of the vital part that the eastern horse had contributed in the foundations and creation of the national horses of fixed type of England, France, Hungary and Russia. Accordingly he interested himself intensely in the Arabian and the Barb to futher his laudable purpose. He knew that at various times, from 1750 to the arrival in 1879 of General Grant’s Leopard and Linden Tree, quite a number of eastern horses and mares had been imported to North America, so he decided to investigate those importations that were not too far in the distant past, to get information as to the result, if any, of such eastern blood on the American horses and to find out if any descendents of such importations were still alive that might be available to assist him in his objective.

It was common knowledge among horsemen, for example, that Secretary William H. Seward had had presented to him, in 1860, two Arabian horses (3); and after a search of eight years Huntington traced them through the efforts of Hon. John E. Van Etten of Kingston, N.Y., to find that there was just one descendant there, a mare bred by the late Judge Westbrook; also that a man in Ohio named Meyers had a granddaughter of one of the Seward horses; “and she proved the blood.”

Not discouraged by so meagre a result both as to information and to the fact that the Seward Arabians had been practically lost through ignorance of their blood value as a benefit to the American horse, Huntington always kept his eyes and ears open and his pen active in hopes that, at some time, more information might be obtained about the Seward and other importations.

So it was that Huntington tried for several years to get exact and useful information from Kentucky about the A. Keene Richards Arabians, which were, by far, the most important importations of eastern blood, both for quality and quantity, that had ever been made in the United States; “but they knew absolutely nothing. All efforts failed.” As Huntington wrote to a friend in 1888, “There is a great difference between knowing facts and telling stories. I gave it up.”

This failure is the more remarkable because the arrival of the Richards Arabians was an event which provoked wide discussion among racing men, in hte public press, and there were contemporary relatives of Richards still living in Richards’ own town in Kentucky.

Evidently this Arabian blood, like that of the Seward Arabians, had not been conserved or used to advantage, though, if only one excuse is offered, it is enough and is the one usually given for the loss of the Richards Arabian blood–the Civil War–for this North and South upheaval began so soon after the importation (1853-56) of the horses that there was hardly time to form a settled plan of breeding to test out, in the right way, their benefits.

Now, it often happens that the most energetic search for information, as in this case, will result in finding none; yet, without effort, the information was finally obtained, also the fact that some descendants of the Richards horses were still alive in 1888 and that their blood had done good service in Kentucky, in Canada and in far-off Texas and Mexico.

Since the unexpected manner in which this information came to light reads like an Arabian Night’s dream, it will be set down verbatim as written by Huntington to a friend in Chicago. (4)

Before beginning to quote it should be stated that Huntington had, at Rochester, N.Y., a number of colts and fillies, the result of breeding his selected Clay mares — strong in the Arabian blood–to Gen. Grant’s Arabian horse Leopard and Barb horse Linden Tree. This young stock naturally had eastern blood characteristics that made them stand out markedly from the regular run of American horses. It was the observaton of these blood traits that led to the information. But this anticipating the story so I will quote Huntington:–

    “Colonel G —-, who is my neighbor, was, all through the (Civil) war, stationed in Louisiana and (in) that district during the Butler, Banks times and later, His servants, male and female are from that country. My Arabs stood at his farm on our Lake —- (to take care) of his mares and mine, also one or two others.

    “His colored groom and special servant, said to me one day, “Massa Huntington, your Arab stallions make me feel as though I was down in my old home in Texas.” (He was born and grown there, but got away during the war.)

    “I asked him how so? and he replied that ‘Old Dr. Paris, one ob de bes men in Fort Bend (where he was raised), had de finest horses’ he ever saw in his life, ‘and dey call em Arabs’; that my horses ‘look jes like dem and act jes like dem.’

    “Well now, ‘Dr. Paris’ and ‘Fort Bend’ were pretty blind information; but I knew there was fire where there was smoke. I spoke to the Colonel about it, but he could not help me. He said that Tom had been for years telling about some wonderful Arab horses in Texas where he was raised, but that he could never get any starting point.

    “I questioned the negro (and he is a light yellow man with a good head) until I gathered from him that he was born near a place called Richmond, ‘but dat Fort Bend was de name ob de place.’

    “I turned to my postal guide, and found Richmond in Fort Bend country; then opened correspondence with the Postmaster.

    “In due time I got a .. reply in pencil, from a man signing Keene Feris, saying ‘he supposed I referred to his Father.’ I could feel a bitterness in the lines; but no man in the South suffered more from the war than I did, so I knew how to take them.

    “I now had the initials and proper name of the man I wanted, so wrote a long … letter to Dr. Geo. A. Feris. I was educated in a military school where all but six were from S.C., N.C., Va, Ga, and Ala. (Later) I was put into a Drug house in New York City.

    “It was purely a Southern house with branches in (the south) …; so that my association from boyhood up to the breaking out of the war, had been exclusively Southern; and there was no portion of that country I was not familiar with; also her institution of slavery. I let Dr. Feris know me. I let him know that all the property of that old New York House was confiscated by the Confederacy. I let him know how friends of the South had suffered here at the North and this broke the ice. … He has confidence in me and that is sufficient.

    “No man in Ky. or elsewhere at the North knows what I do about A.Keene Richards importations.”

What Huntington learned was from the Feris letters that follow: —

    “Richmond, Texas Nov 30th [18] 77 [1887] Randolph Huntington, Rochester, N.Y.

    Dear Sir

    Yours of 25th inst. just read–In answer thereto–I am the veritable old Dr. Geo. A. Feris for whom you enquire–still living, (but rather shaky as you will see in my chirography) at the advanced age of 78 years–

    You ask how I became interested in Arabian horses?…My Father born in France–my Mother a Frazer-Bruce from Scotland and I born in Lexinton-Ky. in 1810: with this pedigree and raised in an atmosphere vibrating with the neighing of the Blood horsee and the discussions of Horsemen I became saturated, (by inhalation and absorbtion) with love of the grandest gift of God to man, the thoroughbred Horse–and he has been my constant and ever faithful companion from childhood to the present time– At this moment an orphan filly of the Blood Royal–thrusts her head into my window and asks for her rice and syrup which she claims of me as a tribute to her beauty and love of myself–I must go for her plate of dessert at once–All right now, and as it was not my autobiography which you desired but the “History of the Arabian Horse in Texas,” you shall have it–During the war between the U.S. and Mexico I rode a horse by Medoc (5) 1st dam Imported Amarath [Amurath] (6) (Barb) 2nd dam by Imported Stamboul (7) (Arabian).

    For style–courage and endurance he took the palm from all others, but was unfortunately killed by a lance thrust at the battle of Buena Vista. Being an early Texas settler (50 years ago) and always a soldier engaged in repressing Indian and Mexican incursions I knew how to appreciate the value of my lost comrad and conceived the idea of supplying my country with the same noble race–

    This was the germ of the Richards importations (8)– An interview was arranged between A.K.Richards and myself at New Orleans to discuss the matter and took place [1855(9)] (10) during race week of the old Mettaire (Metairie) club.

    Present at the meeting — Richards — Buford and Viley of Ky. — Bingaman and Minor of Mississippi — Wells — Kerner and Lecompte of Louisiana. What memories of the grand olden South are evoked by barely writing these names —

    But I am writing to a Northern man and dare not trust my pen farther in my present mood.

    If I could reconstruct astronomy I would make place in a conspicuous portion of the Heavens for a constellation–call it “Equus” and christen the largest star that composed it in the name of the above mentioned gentlemen —

    I can say no more today but merely add, that if you knew you were corresponding with a broken down Southern officer and a classmate of Jefferson Davis, perhaps this letter would be burnt.

    Yours respectfully, Geo. A. Feris.”

Fortunately, the above letter and those that continue the narrative were never burnt for, of the scores of references to the Richards Arabians, by many writers, I know of none but this that is as full and authentic. Furthermore, it is written in the time when racing was a sport and not a business, by a successful breeder and a participant in the events narrated.

“(Continued” [Postmarked Richmond, Texas, Dec. 1-1887]

    The abrupt break in my letter of yesterday was caused by the visit of an aged gentlemen who before the war numbered his acres by the thousand and his slaves by the hundred. he came to rent a small house for himself and wife with a lot of ground to cultivate–“

[Some observations about the social results of the Civil War have been omitted.}

    • “(Continued) [Postmarked Richmond, Texas, Dec. 2- 1887]
  • “We will resume the Arabian Horse as more interesting and agreeable than reminiscences of rapine and carnage or forebodings of their repetion.

    At the conference of horsemen in New Orleans all present except Richards and myself vigorously opposed the fresh importion of Arabians and cited English writers to prove the failure of oriental lines since the Godolphin and Darley era.–We met this by showing that all importations of modern date (English) were mere commercial speculations and managed by unscrupulous men who knew no more about horses than I do about Federal politics–‘Hine illae lachrymae’ (11)

    Nevertheless, the expedition to interior Arabia was planned and carried out successfully–with results which I will state in my next as I am again interrupted and compelled to close.

    Respectfully Geo A Feris.”

    After my rambling Tristram Shandy introduction I at last reach the horse and will mount him and gallop away from all interuptions.

    The expedition to Arabia was composed of A. Keene Richards and Morris Keene of Ky, and the great horse-portrait painter Troye [Edward Troye] of England [also of France and America]–of their journey and adventures we will not speak now but will deal with the successful results: After an absence of 14 months they returned with the following prizes viz:

    (1st) Hamdan (Dr. Feris owned him. R.H.) Gray colt 2 years old–from Nesjd, of the pure ‘Koheyl” [Kuhaylan] race–purchased from the Sheik of the Rouibah tribe of Bedouins, in whose family the stock had been kept pure for more than 300 years (12)

    2nd Massoud Chestnut horse–fifteen hands high, purchased of the Anayza [Anazeh] tribe of Arabians. (13)

    3rd Mokhladdi Gray horse fourteen and 1/2 hands high, bought of the Zarabine tribe of Bedouins in Arabia Petra [Petraea(14)]

    4th Saklowie Bay horse–fifteen hands high–bred by the Anayza [Anazah] Bedouins.

    This horse was selected by Mr. Troye, the great painter, on account of his resemblance to the English racer of the present times. (15)

    5th Fysaul Chestnut horse fourteen and 3/4 hands high and of the ‘Koheyl [Kuhaylan] and Saclowie [Saglawi] race and bought in the Desert from the bedouin chief who bred him. (16)

    6th Lulie Grey mare of pure ‘Koheyl’ [Kuhaylan] race bred by the Anayza (Anazah) tribe of Arabians. (17)

    7th Sadah (Dr. Feris took. R.H.) Gray mare–bred by Anayza (Anazah) tribe of Bedouins. She was my favorite of the entire importtion. (18)

    7th (8th) Zurufa [Zareefa. (19)] Gray mare–a Barb from the desert of Zahara.

    This comprises the list of our importations. (20)

    On next page I will give you the produce of the pure stallions and mares if agreeable.

    Geo. A. Feris”

    “(Continued) [Postmarked Richmond, Texas, Dec. 3-1887]

    The produce of my favorite mare Sadah (Imported) was (pure Arab R.H.)

    1st (Dr. Feris) Abdel Kadir [pure Arab R.H.]

    Gray horse by Imported Arabian Mokhladdi.

    2nd [Dr. Feris R.H.] Boherr.

    Foaled at sea (on the Atlantic) and got in Arabia by a favorite stallion of the Wahube [Wahabi] tribe of Arabs and she [Sadah] had many other foals but they did not belong to me. (21)

    Abdel Kadir was my choice of all the stallions and I owned him and Hamdan, Boherr and Bazar who was by Imported Fysaul and out of the Imported Barb mare Zurufa [Zareefa], born in Kentucky and brought to Texas.

    Abd-el-Kadir–known as the ‘Feris Arabian’ is the horse who made his mark in Texas by his produce. He was ‘par excellence’ the grand gentleman of his race.

    The colts of this horse were sold at enormous prices to Mexican stockmen.

    Druse [Dreuse]–gray colt for $1600, he was out of Hagar (22). Two others, one out of ‘Betsy Hardin (23), the other out of Rehab (24) were sold together for $3600.00.

    The gray colt Sheik (25) 2 years old brought $3000.00 (26).

    I am compelled to cease writing by Rheumatism in hand and wrist.

    Will continue at some other time if desired

    Respectfull Geo. A. Feris”

Then followed a letter from Miss Sallie Feris saying that her Father had been injured by a fall but hoped to resume the correspondence. he did so in a letter dated

    “Richmond, Texas Jan 29-88
    Thanks for your last kind letter–I am still suffering from my R. Road ‘smashup,’ but am able to write with a pencil. I send you a brief notice of my relative A. Keene Richards deed compiled from his diary–It may prove interesting–If agreeable I will send you crayon drawings (27) of the Feris Arabians Hamdan and Abd-el-Kadir taken form oil paintings (destroyed by fire)

Respectfully Geo. A. Feris”

Enclosed in the above letter was the press notice which is so interesting and authentic, having been compiled from Richards diary, that it is copied here verbatim. (28)

    “Mr Alexander Keene Richards died of pneumonia yesterday at his farm, called Blue Grass Park, near Georgetown, Ky., in the fifty-fourth year of his age. He was born in Scott county, Ky., on the 14th of October 1827. Mr. Richards passed through all the scientific departments at Bethany College, Virginia, and a full term in the celebrated Alexander Campbell Bible classes. When through with his college course Mr. Richard’s grandfather gave him means to travel in foreign countries for his health, he having been an invalid almost from infancy. Instead of spending much time in the gay capitals of Europe young Richards adopted the idea of making a specialty of studying the different breeds of horses of every country. He went first to England, and no kind of horse escaped his notice, from the heavy draft animal used by the brewers of London to the Derby winner. The first Derby race that he saw was when Teddington won in 1851. (29) He timed this race, and was at once impressed with the idea that a first-class American-bred colt could win the Derby if the pace was made strong throughout and not a waiting race, as is usually the case for this great event. (30) After leaving England he went through France and examined the Norman horses. Then he journeyed over Spain, where he gave especial attention to the Andalusian horses, and examined a number of Arabian animals just then imported by Queen Isabella from near Bagdad. From Spain he crossed over into Morocco and rode through the country on some of the best Barbs. From Morocco he went nearly the whole length of Algeria on horseback, and as he traveled part of the time with a French passport he had every facility to inspect the different horse-breeding establishments then under the control of the French Government, as well as those horses owned by the native chiefs who had been long in service with the renowned Abd-el-Kader, then a prisoner in France. Mr. Richards then passed from Algeria to Tunis, where he made diligent search for any trace, in shape or quality, of the Numidian horses which Hannibal made so famous for cavalry. Mr. Richards afterward in a sailing craft went to Malta and from there by steamer to Egypt, where he made preparations to cross into Arabia Petrea by an entirely new route, and he was with the first party of Europeans that crossed directly through the Desert of Paran to the ruins of Petrou [Petra]. During this journey through the wilderness, Mr. Richards learned to break-in the dromedary to ride himself, and for amusement he frequently rode races on the regular “deloul” of the desert. The deloul is the swift dromedary used in the wars of the desert and for courier service, where great speed and endurance are required. From Petrou [Petra] Mr. Richards passed on to Hebron and thence to Jerusalem, where he made arrangements to visit all the interesting localities in Palestine and Syria, but especially those districts where good horses were to be found; for, by this time Mr. Richard’s experience with horses of Arab blood had given him an admiration for them. After spending some time in Damascus he sought an interview with the celebrated Sheik Midjuel, of the Aneysa [Anazah] tribe of Bedouins. Although the American and English missionaries and consular agents thought the attempt at the time a hazardous one, Mr. Richards induced the Sheik to take him as far east from Damascus as the ruins of Palmyra. The danger in this was that Midjuel had to pass near the Shammer [Shammar] tribe, with whom he had a feud, and had Midjuel been captured by them, his head would have been the forfeit. The journey was successful. Before leaving the East, Mr. Richards selected and purchased several stallions and a mare of the best Arab blood, (31) and shipped them by a careful groom to America, by the way of England, soon following them himself, stopping on the way and seeing what the Austrians and the Prussians called their best, including a look at the Orloffs of Russia. Mr. Richards, soon after his arrival at home, purchased some good mares to breed to his Arabians, and the famous mare Peytona (32) was one of his first fancies. he paid a high price for her, and bred her to Mossoud [Massoud]. He added many good mares to his list. Mr. Richards from this gave great attention to breeding and training, and every season–spring and autumn–had horses trained, and ran them in all parts of the West and Southern country. Mr. Richards made a second visit to Arabia, where he purchased more stallions and brood mares, but the war coming on in this country the last experiment was not much known to the public. During the war Mr. Richardards purchased the colt War Dance (33) for $5000, when a two-year-old, from Jeff. Wells, his breeder, and when the war was over the colt was taken to Kentucky to the Blue Grass Park, and since that time the horse has kept his produce before the public. Mr. Richards went early into the war, and later on was the friend who took Gen. Breckingridge out of Kentucky so fast behind his Arab team when the latter gentleman supposed he would be arrested. Mr. Richards afterward served on the staff of Breckinridge. Although Mr. Richards had been on the turf thirty-five years and was seen in the judges’ stand on every prominent race-course in America, no one can say that they ever heard him use an oath or make a bet of any description.

It is interesting to note and Americans should take pride in the fact that the two expeditions that Richards made to the desert preceded by ten years both the Upton and the Blunt journeys, both of these important to England through the high class desert horses purchased and sent there and because Lady Blunt in her “Bedouins Tribes of the Euphrates” and “Pilgrimage to Nejd” gave to the world one of the best modern accounts of the desert and its horses thereby creating a revived interest in the desert-bred horse upon which all worthy breeds are founded.

Now follows a letter, of more recent date, from another cousin of Keene Richards, commenting on the press notice clipping, the Arabian importations and verifying the well known Breckinridge incident.

    “Georgetown, Ky. 24th Mch 1900

    Mr. Randolph Huntington: Yours in reference to Arab horses &c recd–I am 83, with bad eyes, and memory–A. Keene Richards and Maurice [Morris] Keene were cousins of mine, both dead–Your memory of events as narrated, is correct–You will find a record of Mr. Richards importation of Arabs in Bruce’s Stud Book Vol. 1st pages 146-150–My impression is, the modern Arabian horse is a failure as a race horse–I know of not one animal bearing the blood of Mr. Richards’ Arab importation (34)–At his death they sold one by one and I know of none being tried for racing–

    Richards carried Breckinridge out of Ky. behind two beautiful white match Arab mares–They went out the fall of 1861–I believe I have answered all your questions as far as able–

    Mr. Richards as you suppose was a well informed and travelled gentleman, with pleasant manners, and a fine conversationist. He left a widow, and three daughters–all living–Two daughters married.

    He may have lost money in his experiment with Arabs, but undoubtedly the destruction of property in the South by reason of the war was the main cause of his financial ruin.

    Respt. &c S.Y. Keene

    (P.S.) Mr. Richards was at the battle of Shiloah, and was taken through the lines after the battle to identify the body of Geo. W. Johnson then provisional Governor of Ky.”

Considering the comment, in the above letter, on the Arabian experiment, an interesting rejoinder by Speed, a Kentuckian, helps to clear up some of the breeding principles involved and warns against a too hasty judgment on the apparent lack of success.

(Concluded in next issue)

Image notes and footnotes:


Richards came of a long line of distinguished ancestors. His mother, Eleanor Keene, was a direct descendant of Richard Keene who in 1641 came from Surry, England, to Maryland. His father, Dr. William Lewis Richards, of the Virginia Richards, was through his mother a descendant of the Marquis de Calmes, a Huguenot emigrant to Virginia.

Richards was a man of exceptional culture, and conversational charm. Possessed of large means he was widely travelled and thus able to inform himself at first hand on the subjects that interested him, especially blood horses of which he was a successful breeder and racer, owning many of the most renowned sires and dams including “Glenco” and the famous mare “Peytona.” Realizing that the Eastern blood was the fountain head of all excellence in horses he determined to go to Arabia for pure desert-bred blood to strengthen that on which the Thoroughbred was founded.

From a photograph of a colored crayon drawing made from life in Rome. Reproduced through the courtesy of Mrs. Edward G.Swartz and Mrs. John Pack, daughters of A.K.Richards.


1) Spanish horses were largely of Arabian and Barb blood. During the sixteenth century every important stud that could procure Andulusian stallions made use of them. T. C.

2) The late Randolph Huntington (1828-1916) was an internationally known breeder of horses. He saved the Clay blood from extinction; brought the Arabian blood to public attention by using the Grant stallions and by importing from England examples of the purest Arabian blood there. Descendants of his breeding stock are in almost every present-day Arabian stud in the United States. He created the American-Arab; and for more than fifty years he wrote profusely, advocating pure blood versus “time-standards,” for breeding. T.C.

3) Maanake Hedrogi; red horse 7-8 yrs. old, from Beyroot 1860, Siklany Gidran; 2 yrs. 2 mo. old, from Syria 1860. Bruce A.S.B.

4) Letter to J.W.Harvey, Feb 16, 1888.

5) Medoc, foaled 1829; by Eclipse. Died by accident at Col. Buford’s, Ky., 1839. Bruce A.S.B.

6) Amurath at one year of age was imported to New York in 1833 from Tripoli. He was brought from Nubia to Tripoli in 1832. Bruce A.S.B.

7) Stambul, Ch. h. of the Ugedi tribe was selected from Sultan Mahomoud’s stables inConstantinople and presented to U.S. Minister Rhind. The horse was sold [about 1831] for the benefit of the U.S. for $575. Bruce. A.S.B.



GEORGE A FERIS, M.D. (1810-1891)

Dr. Feris of Huguenot stock was born in Kentucky and at eighteen years of age got his degree from the Kentucky Medical College. He was a Texas pioneer and a soldier, having fought in the Mexican War as well as in the Civil War in which he was medical director of the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederate Army. A man of courage, education and refinement, a true southern gentleman, beloved of his family and as a citizen. It was he who lent his moral support to the project of going to Arabia for fresh original blood to infuse into the Thoroughbred and who after Richards’ successful importations of Arabian stock took some of these horses and mares to Fort Bend and to Richmond, Texas, where for many years he was a successful breeder.

From a photograph reproduced here through the courtesy of Dr. Feris’ only surviving child, Miss S. lavinia Feris.


8) Italics are mine. T.C.

9) As nearly as I can find out. T.C.

10) There must have been a lapse of several years between Dr. Feris’ resolve to encourage Arabian importations and Mr. Richards’ expedition which was his second. T.C.




This horse was foaled in 1844 and imported in 1853. He was the sire of a number of high class horses and of the mare “Transylvania,” the dam of “Limestone.”

“Massoud” with “Mokhladdi” and the mare “Sadah” were the result of Richards’ first expedition.

Edward Troye’s paintings of horses appeal to the horseman for he brings out the racial traits of the breed and the subject’s individuality. Note the angle of the hock which is not so wide as that of the thoroughbred but insures greater durability.

The original of this picture was painted in Arabia, and has the added interest of showing a portrait of Mr. Richards’ dragoman in authentic costume.

Note manner of tethering Desert horses, so that the head is free.

Reproduced here by permission of Mr. Walter M. Jeffords, who owns the painting, and through the courtesy of Mr. Harry Worcester Smith, who possesses the photograph.


11) Note similar comment by an English writer is legend for illustraion No. 14, which will appear in next installment.

12) Foaled in 1854 and imported by Richards in 1856. Stood the season of ’59–at stable of Dr. Feris, Richard, Texas. R.H.

The finest that could be found in the tribe. Bruce. A.S.B.

13) Foaled in 1844. Imported by Richards in 1852 R.H.

The import date indicates that Massoud was the result of Richards’ first expedition. T.C.

14) Foaled in 1844. Imported by Richards in 1853. R.H.

The import date, 1853, indicates that Mokhladi was the result of Richards’ first expedition. T.C.

15) Dr. Feris is referring to the 1850’s when the English Thoroughbred was still thought of as the Anglo-Arab, although this title was officially discontinued after about 1830. T.C.

Sacklowie was foaled in 1851. Imported by Richards in 1856. Died in 1860. R.H.

16) Foaled in 1852. Bought and imported by Richards in 1856. R.H.

An Arab stallion from Nesjd. Bruce. A.S.B.

17) This mare was imported in foal to Ahzee Pasha’s chestnut Arab Bagdad. This colt foal was lost. Later she produced gr. f. Mahah by Fysaul; ch. f. by imp. Thoroughbred Micky Free; fr. f. Hopsie by Mickey Free; gr. f. Kaffeah by Fysaul. Bruce A.S.B.

18) Imported 1853. Bruce. A.S.B.

The import date indicates that Sadah was the result of Richards’ first expedition. T.C.

19) Imported in 1856. Bruce. A.S.B.

Zareefa’s produce: b.c. Bazar by Fysaul; b.f. Benica by Fysaul; gr. c. by imp. Thoroughbred Michey Free. Bruce. A.S.B.

20) Results of Richards’ two expeditions, which Dr. Feris lumps together giving the impression that all the horses were imported after the new Orleans meeting. But Mr. Richards had already made his first expedition and importation as will appear later. T.C.

21) Produce of Sadah: gr. c. Boherr; gr. f. Zahah by Mokhladdi; gr. c. Abd-el-Kadir by Mokhladdi; ch. c. Yusef by Massoud; gr. c. by Thoroughbred Knight of St. George; gr. f. Haik by Fysaul; gr. f. by Thoroughbred Mickey Free; —-by Thoroughbred Mickey Free. Bruce A.S.B.




“Fysaul” stood 14 3/4 hands high; was foaled in 1852; and with “Sacklowie” and “Hamdan” and the mares “Lulie” and “Zareefa,” was the result of Richards’ second expedition.

Edward Troye, who painted the original picture in Arabia, shows the horse to have been of beautiful conformation and carriage.

Reproduced here by permission of Mr. Walter M. Jeffords, who owns the painting, and through the courtesy of Mr. Harry Worcester Smith, who possesses the photograph.


22) Hagar by Hamdan.

23) Hardin by Sultan (Son of Am. Eclipse).

24) Rehab by Hamdan

25) Sheik out of Rehab.

26) These horses were sold on their blood, though not for the purpose of racing. T.C.

27) Illustrations No. 9 and No 10, which will appear in next installment; photographic copies received from Miss Feris 46 years later. T.C.

28) There is nothing to indicate from what paper it was cut, but the date can be fixed as 1881, the year Mr. Richards died. T.C.

29) This date places the first expedition. T.C.




Gray Arbian stallion from ‘Neijid’ of the pure Koheyle race; foaled in Arabia, 1854; purchased in the desert from a Sheik of the Rouiba tribes of Bedouins & imported by A. Keene Richards in 1859 [56]; brought by me to Texas in 1859; died December of the same year at my place in Ft. Bend Country. I regard his death as a public calamity. He was 15 hands high, with the finest head, neck, shoulders, loin and legs I ever saw, but was too light in the quarters. I regard his premature death as a public calamity. His descendants should be crossed with the heavy muscled Glencoes.”

Exact copy as my Father had it in his register. S.L.F.” [Daughter of Dr. Feris.]

Photograph from a crayon drawing by Guy F. Monroe and copied from a painting unfortunately destroyed by fire. Both the photograph and the legend are reproduced through the courtesty of Miss S. Lavinia Feris, only surviving child of Dr. Feris.


30) The first American-bred horse to win the Derby was Lorillard’s Iroquois, in 1881. T.C.

31) Massoud, Mokhladdi and mare Sadah.

32) Peytona ch. m. f. 1839, by imp. Glencoe. In 1855 she produced ch. f. Transylvania by Richards’ Massoud. Transylvania produced the celebrated race horse Limestone by War Dance. T.C.

33) War Dance, ch. c.f. 1859 by Lexington out of Reel by Glencoe. T.C.

34) He did not know of those in Texas. T.C.



“ABDEL KADIR” (Known as the Feris Arabian)

Gray stallion bred by A. Keene Richards, Scott County, Ky., 1856; was got by his Imported Arabian ‘Mokhladdi’; dam his imported Arabian mare ‘Sadah,’ and brought to Texas by me in November, 1860. He remained my property and stood in Ft. Bend Co. until his death, which occurred in June, 1866. He was drowned in the Brazos river; was 15 hands high, perfect in form & was ‘par excellence’ the ‘gentleman’ of his race. He won the love & admiration of all who knew him. We will never see another like him.

Exact copy as my Father had it in his Register. S.L.F.” [Daughter of Dr. Feris]

Miss Feris, who was in and out of “Abdel Kadir’s” stall daily, wrote me that the drawing is a perfect likeness.

Photograph from a crayon drawing by Guy F. Monroe and copied from a painting unfortunately destroyed by fire. Both the photograph and the legend are reproduced through the courtesy of Miss S. Lavinia Feris, only surviving child of Dr. Feris.

Tributes to the Arabian Horse

by Dr. George H. Conn (Western Horseman Apr’51)

Head study of Raseyn taken in 1942

As an owner and breeder of Arabian horses for the past several years, I recall very vividly some early attempts made by us to buy certain desirable Arabian horses. Many owners of Arabian horses, particularly “the Arabian horse,” value their horses above money, and strange as it may seem have no desire to sell them. In other words, without any pretense of rudeness, some of these breeders and owners apparently never hear the question when you ask them whether one of their favorite Arabs is for sale. Their conversation is oftentimes not interrupted at all, and your question goes unheard and unanswered.

In an effort to inform the reader as to the Arabian horse owner’s attachment to his horse, we have selected several tributes which we believe will impress the reader with the fact that the Arabian horse is really different from any other breed known to man.

The first quotation for your consideration is taken from Volume II of Wallace’s Monthly, which was the leading horse paper published in the United States between 1875 and 1893. The quotation is as follows:

“In the tents of the Arabs, the mares with their foals, and their masters with their families, dwell together, and the utmost confidence exists between them. The Arabian horse, the most intelligent of the equine family, is easily controlled when kindly treated, and ever ready to show resistance when abused. The Arab fully understands the fact; hence his success in training or educating vicious horses, and teaching them many amusing tricks. In handling colts, perhaps he has no superior on the face of the globe. He shows his love for his horse by frequently caressing him, feeding and cleaning him, he talks and sings to him, is always happy in his company, a mutual feeling of respect and love is prominent in all their acts; herein lies the secret of his success, and not, as many persons suppose, brought about by some mysterious or secret art of charming.”

Photo by McClasky
Aaraf, a son of Raffles and grandson of Skowronek, was first prize Arabian stallion, saddle class, at the National Stallion show in both 1949 and 1950. He is owned by the Ben Hur farm in Indiana.

In another another article in Wallace’s Monthly in 1877 we find a quotation from Col. George E. Waring, Jr., from his article, “The Saddle Horse — Thoroughbred and Arabians,” and the quotation follows:

The following statements are collated from Daumas’ Horses of Sahara, an accepted authority, and believed to be entirely reliable. The love of the horse, he says, has passed into the blood of the Arab. The cherished animal is the companion in arms and the friend of the chief.

“Said an Arab to him:
“‘You cannot understand, you Christians, that horses are our wealth, our joy, our life and our religion. Has not the prophet said: “The goods of this world, until the day of the last judgment, shall hang at the forelocks of your horses”? You will find this in the Koran, which is the voice of God, and in the conversation of our Lord Mahomet. When God wished to create the mare he said to the wind: “I will cause to be born from thee a being which shall carry my adorers, which shall be cherished by all my slaves, and which shall be the despair of those who do not follow my laws.”‘

“Abd-el-Kader, when at the height of his power, pittilessly punished with death every believer convicted of having sold a horse to a Christian.”

From a book published in 1841 entitled The Natural History of Horses, by Lt. Col. Chas. Hamilton Smith, a book which took us many years to obtain, we take the following quotation which is further proof of the attachment of the Bedouin or the Arabian horse owner for his horse. The quotation is as follows:

“Habitually in company with mankind, all the Arabian breeds become exceedingly gentle and intelligent; a look or gesture is sufficient to make them stop, take up with their teeth the rider’s jereed or any other object he may have dropped, stand by him if he has fallen off their backs, come to his call, and fight resolutely in his defense; even if he be sleeping, they will rouse him in cases of danger. Kindness and forbearance towards animals is inculcated by the Koran and practiced by all Musselmen, to the shame of Christians, who often do not think this a part of human duty; and as a Moor well known in London sneeringly remarked to ourselves, ‘It is not in your Book!'”

The Bedouin’s principal source of wealth consists of his ownership of one or more Arabians. As a general thing, the Bedouin who owns but one mare is very fortunate and has riches well beyond most others of his kind. That you may understand the attachment of the wandering Arab or the Bedouin for his horse, we quote from a book entitled The Horse, by H.D. Richardson. This book has no date, but we presume from the nature of the material it contains that it must be more than 100 years of age. The quotation is as follows:

“To the wandering Arab the horse is of the greatest value. The poorest Bedouin has his domesticated steed, which shares with him and his wife and children the shelter of his humble tent, his caresses, and his scanty fare. Oft may the traveler in the desert behold, on entering within the folds of a tent, the interesting spectacle of a magnificent animal, usually a mare, extended upon the ground, and some half dozen dark-skinned, naked urchins scrambling across her body, or reclining in sleep, some upon her neck, some on her carcass, and others pillowed upon her heels. Nor do the children ever experience injury from their gentle playmate. She recognizes them as the family of her friend, her patron; and towards them all the natural sweetness of her disposition leans, even to overflowing. The Arabs invariable keep mares in preference to horses. They find they better endure fatigue and the privations necessarily consequent upon a journey over the desert. A number of them can also be kept together without danger of their quarrelling or injuring each other. On this account it is very difficult to induce an Arab to sell his mare.”

In the Arabian desert or the land of the Bedouins; the Arabian horse owner is a constant companion to his horses, and by this we generally mean his Arabian mare. The Arabian mare is his source of wealth and she is stabled in the tent with him and his family. This accounts for the great attachment that the Arab or Bedouin has for his mare, which is in nearly every instance much greater than he has for stallions. From the book, The Wonders of the Horse, by Jos. Taylor, published in 1828, we take the following quotation from Mr. Buffon:

“So strong is the attachment that the Arab sometimes forms for his horse, that death alone can separate them. The whole property of a native of the desert consisted of a beautiful mare, which the French consul, it is said, wished to purchase for his master, Louis XIV. The Arab, pressed by want, long hesitated, but at length he consented to part with her for a very high price, which he named. The Consul, receiving authority to close with the terms, immediately informed the owner. The Arab, who had scarcely a rag to cover him, arrived, mounted on his mare. He alighted, and looking first at the gold, and then at his faithful and much valued servant, heaved a deep sigh. “To whom is it,’ exclaimed he in an agony, ‘that I am going to yield thee up? To Europeans, who will tie thee close, who will beat thee, who will render thee miserable! Return with me, my beauty! my jewel! and rejoice the hearts of my children!’ With these words, he sprang on her back, and was out of sight almost in a moment.

“So tender is the Arab of his horse, that he will seldom beat or spur him; and in consequence of this humane treatment, the animal considers itself as one of the family, and will allow the children to play round it, and to fondle it like a dog.”

Photo by Tallant
Ferseyn, son of Raseyn and grandson of Skowronek, sired the champion mare and grand champion of the show at the all Arabian show held in Pomona. He is owned by H. H. Reese.

For a period of 50 years until his death about three years ago, John L. Hervey, who wrote under the name of Salvator, was the most widely known and the best informed writer on the light horse in America. Mr. Hervey has produced some of the greatest books on the Thoroughbred, the Standardbred and on American racing, that have ever been written up to this time. As far as I know, Mr. Hervey never had any practical experience with an Arabian horse through ownership or use, but he evidently appreciated the Arabian horse, probably largely through his association with the Standardbred and Thoroughbred horse, which are of Arabian origin. On March 27, 1942, Mr. Hervey made an address before the Town and County Equestrian association of Chicago, and we quote the last paragraph of this address as follows:

“For the dominant quality of Arab blood is its eternal, its immortal persistence. Wherever, as the horseman of today looks about him and among these horses, observes beauty, speed, grace, fire, activity, docility and fineness yet toughness of fibre, he sees that eternity, that immortality, incarnated. It has triumphed over everything mundane, thousands of years, hap and circumstances, time and tide, incredible hardships and immemorial adversities, misuse, and abuse, the exigencies of mankind’s daily life and the flame and blood of the battlefield, unconquerable, indestructible and victorious. Everything worth while in the shape of a horse in the world today partakes of it. The Greeks believed it Godlike, and verily they made no mistake.”

Surely, the above quotations from a widely scattered source extending back for several hundred years, must impress upon the reader the fact that the Arabian horse is and always has been vastly different than any other breed of horse that is now or ever has been known to man.

Travelers Rest

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.”

General Ulysses S. Grant’s Arabians

by Ben Hur (Western Horseman May/Jun ’47)

General U. S. Grant of Civil War (U.S. 1861-65) fame and twice elected president of the United States, did not live to know that an Arabian stallion presented to him by Sultan of Turkey became many years later, the earliest Arabian stallion to be registered in the stud book of The Arabian Horse Club of America. It was one of those queer quirks of fate by which this stallion was the sire of one pure Arabian son whose blood will be found in many present day Arabians in this country.

As invariably happens after every war, a hero emerges who captures popular acclaim. As a result, Grant was elected and re-elected president. His fame, in fact, was worldwide. He made a trip to Europe and the Orient. He visited Constantinople as the guest of Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of Turkey, and a great admirer of Grant, in March 1878. The Sultan personally escorted the General through his stables, noted for their many fine Arabian and Oriental horses.

Leopard No. 233, Arabian stallion also presented by the Sultan of Turkey to Gen. U. s. Grant. He was the earliest imported (1879) Arabian registered with The Arabian Horse Club of America. Of the Seglawi-Jedran family, he was 14.3 hands high.

Grant had campaigned through the entire Civil War on horseback and was a superb rider and judge of horses. He expressed great admiration for a young dapple-grey Arabian stallion and the Sultan promptly presented the General with this very fine stallion, foaled in 1873, named Leopard. The Sultan, not to be outdone as a judge of horses thereupon selected another which he, (the Sultan) admired and presented it also to the General. This stallion, also a dapple grey, a year younger, was named Linden Tree.

Historians will recall that Turkey was a major power on the Mediterranean whose authority was accepted as supreme throughout most of Asia Minor and most of the Arabian tribes in and around the Arabian desert. These tribes, ever on the move, often at war with one another and often revolting against the Turks, were a constant source of annoyance to the military authorities of Turkey. The shotgun was passing out as a weapon of warfare among civilized nations and the spear and long lance were passing out as weapons among the Arabian tribes.

There was more than admiration and generosity behind the gift of the two Arabian stallions to General Grant by the Sultan, as can be interpreted by the fact they arrived in the United States aboard the steamer Norman Monarch, at New Haven, Conn., May 31, 1879, which was chartered to bring back to Turkey rifles, cartridges and ammunition from the famous Winchester Arms Company of that city. The Sultan was killing two birds with one stone!

The two stallions were taken by boat to New York, then to Philadelphia, where they were shown at Suffolk Park, then at fairs at Dover, Del., Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Va., Cumberland, W. Va., and Doylestown Pa. They were then delivered to Gen. E. F. Beale at his place near Washington, where they were permanently stabled.

General Grant was too busy, it seems, to give any personal attention to his gift horses and it remained for the renowned horseman of his day, Randolph Huntington of Long Island, New York, to become the champion admirer and mentor for the Grant Arabians. Mr. Huntington was a breeder of harness horses of note and specialized in the Clay family, (close up in Arabian breeding) with a theory that a breed of horses should be developed in the United States adapted to the needs of the country. His observations and theory of arriving at a suitable American-made horse included the use of the blood of the Arabian largely and to accomplish this he advocated and followed the old breeders’ rule of “out-cross once and breed back by three closely related sources.”

Huntington lost no time in sending some of his choice virgin Clay mares to the stables of General Beale in the spring of 1880 to be bred to General Grant’s stallions. His breeding program proved sound over the next few years and he was about to realize his ambition to produce an American-made breed of horses patterned somewhat after the horses of Count Orloff of Russia, which had been proven so valuable that they were taken over by the Russian government and sponsored as a national breed.

Mr. Huntington had spent a lifetime and a fortune developing and proving his theory of horse breeding when his trusted secretary absconded with nearly $100,000. As a result he was compelled to hold a public auction and dispose of the major portion of his life’s work. The fact that these horses brought high prices in part vindicated his theories of breeding, but the American-made breed was dissipated to the four winds.

During this time, after the importation of the Grant Arabians, Mr. Huntington made an intense search and study of what had become of earlier importations of Arabians in this country, especially those presented to Secretary Seward of Lincoln’s cabinet, President James K. Polk, A. Keene Richards and others. He found that within 15 years or less this Arabian blood had been so dissipated that little authentic breeding evidence was available. He thereupon determined to import one or more Arabian mares and begin where A. Keene Richards had been compelled to leave off because of the Civil War. He imported from England in 1888 the Arabian mare, Naomi, whose sire Yataghan and dam, Haidee, had both been brought from the desert in 1875 to England by Major Roger D. Upton. Naomi was bred to Leopard (1889) and foaled the chestnut stallion, Anazeh, at Mr. Huntington’s place at Oyster Bay, Long Island, in 1890. This lone pure Arabian son of Leopard was the sire of eight pure Arabian foals, four of which — Naarah, Nazlina, Naaman and Narkeesa — went on to produced and are in many pedigrees today.

The Arabian Horse Club of America was founded in 1908. Other Arabians were registered earlier, but to Randolph Huntington belongs the credit and honor of sponsoring Leopard, for proving him up for registration and for having imported the earliest Arabian mare to find her way into the stud book.

So great was the admiration of Mr. Huntington for General Grant’s Arabians and so certain was he of their historical importance that he commissioned the young artist, H. S. Kittredge, to make drawings of the two stallions during 1880. He had him make pictures of various others of his Henry Clay family of horses. This was before the day of the modern camera and present day methods of reproduction on paper. The pictures made by Mr. Kittredge, while very definite in detail, lack animation and are impersonal, reminding one of the large wooden horses formerly found in every harness shop on which to display their harness and saddles.

Linden Tree No. 234, a stallion presented by Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of Turkey, to Gen. U. S. Grant. Registered as an Arabian of “unknown” family, he was declared by Randolph Huntington and Maj. C. A. Benton “to be a Barb.” He left no registered foals.

Nevertheless, Mr. Huntington was so enthusiastic about the General Grant Arabians and their pictures that he wrote a book entitled General Grant’s Arabian Horses, published in 1885, in which he expounded at length his theories of breeding and pedigrees of his American made horses. One of these rare books is in possession of the writer, inscribed “Presented by the Author, Randolph Huntington.” Under the picture of Leopard in Mr. Huntington’s handwriting is written: “Proved a Seglawi-Jedran.” Under the picture of Linden Tree is written “Proved a pure Barb.” Fortunately for the future of Arabians in the United States, Linden Tree, registered in the Arabian stud book was never bred to a pure Arabian mare in this country.

How Linden Tree could have been a Barb and yet presented by the Sultan to General Grant as a pure Arabian was related to us prior to 1930 by the late Major C. A. Benton, Civil War veteran, who devoted his life to horses related to military action. Major Benton was personally familiar with each and every Arabian in this country in the formative period of the stud book and club. A few years after the Grant importation he was sent on a military mission which took him to Constantinople, among other foreign ports. The Major related to us on several occasions how he sought out the keeper of the Sultan’s stables and questioned him about the Grant stallions. It developed that on the day before the horses were to be loaded on shipboard the stallion selected by the Sultan as a gift to General Grant had sprained a leg and was lame. Rather than report the accident to the Sultan and possibly lose his position, he selected another horse in the stable as near like him as possible. The horse was a Barb. We have, then, from two early authorities that Linden Tree was a Barb. It is significant that in all the early editions of the stud book when family names were given to all registered, the word “Unknown” is given after the word “Family” in Linden Tree’s registration.

It is a singular coincidence that at the time General Grant was in Turkey receiving the gift of the two stallions from the Sultan, the Blunts, Sir Wilfrid and Lady Ann, from England, were making their first journey among the northern Arabian tribes and acquiring their first Arabian horses. Events were transpiring to transplant the breeding of pure Arabian horses on two continents at the same time. Arabian horses had been brought from the desert to England and America for more than a hundred years by way of India, Turkey and Egypt, but almost invariably stallions, always with the thought of crossing them on native stock; in England to make and improve the Thoroughbred, in America to make the Quarter horse, American Saddle-bred and improve the Thoroughbred.

When Grant’s stallions arrived in America the Blunts were on their second journey to the desert, this time by the southern route. They were seeing Arabian horses on these journeys with the eyes of Englishmen trained to Thoroughbreds, but they were being fast won over to the idea of breeding Arabians in their purity.

England already had the Major Upton Arabians. With the Blunt importations, Arabians were now available in England for a real start. In America events for a real start were not so propitious. Randolph Huntington’s imagination and ambition were fired anew when he saw the Grant stallions, but he saw them through the eyes of one trained to Clay fast harness horses. He was so enthused he wrote a book about them and his theories of making a new breed. Lady Anne’s books of their journeys — Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates and Pilgrimage to Nejd, published 1879-80 — came to the attention of Mr. Huntington. He too, became a convert to the idea of breeding pure Arabian horses in America. He imported from England the filly, Naomi, from the original Major Upton desert-bred pair imported to England in 1875 to mate with Leopard.

Thus, English and American-bred pure Arabians had almost the same start at almost the same time. Many other importations from England since have strengthened the tie of almost common, if not identical, parentage of an ever increasing large number of Arabians on both continents.

Arabs At Chicago, 1893

by Ben Hur (Western Horseman May 1950)

Chicago’s World Fair, 1893, officially known as the World’s Columbian Exposition, was the focal point from which interest in the Arabian horse was created, which eventually culminated in the formation of the Arabian Horse Club of America, 1908. From the importation of 1893 for the exposition, a mare, *Nejdme, and a

Hadji Hassan, renowned expert on Arabian horses, with *Nejdme. Employed by the Hippodrome Co., at the demand of the Turkish government, he went to the desert and purchased the 11 pure Arabians of the World’s Fair importation.

stallion, *Obeyran, became the No. 1 and 2 Arabians of the official registry stud book. Two other mares and a stallion, several years later, were registered as having come from this importation, although the fact is generally over-looked. They were the mares *Galfia 255 and *Pride 321 and the stallion *Mannaky 294. Offspring of all these have been registered, and they in turn have had offspring until today there is scarcely a breeder who has not had one or more Arabian horses with one of these as ancestor. This tap root, foundation blood, is an important part of the Arabian horses in the United States.

The circumstances under which this importation was made and the many things that happened to it after arrival in this country have remained obscured and unknown to owners of registered Arabians 50 years later. The profound effect and influence which the importation of 1893 had upon certain individuals who obtained some of these horses, imported others and later formed the registry club, is a fascinating story. The story, with the simple trust of the Bedouins, the deception, greed and duplicity of its promoters, avarice of the quick acting Chicago loan sharks, dire want and hunger, fires, theft, abandonment and final breakdown of the entire enterprise and the sale at auction of the remaining horses, would make a movie scenario for today of triple A rating.

This account will raise a doubt in the minds of many of the the correctness of the foaling dates of *Nejdme and *Obeyran in the

*Obeyran No. 2, grey stallion, came into the possession of Homer Davenport, who took this picture and under it, in his booklet, 1908, titled him “The best horse in America at 28 years old.” Was Davenport mistaken about his age?

stud book and to which of the mares the name Pride (apparently a stable name) really belonged, since this account and the auction sale listed no such mare named Pride. As in a modern mystery story, the reader may draw on his powers of deduction, but arrive at two entirely plausible, conclusions, and in the end the purity of breeding of none, regardless of names, has been challenged, although the original desert family strain may remain in doubt.

The Arabian registry stud book lists the foaling date of *Nejdme No. 1 as 1881 (in the desert), of *Obeyran No.2 as 1879 (in the desert). The same stud book credits *Nejdme with 13 foals registered, the last foaled in 1913, Seriha No. 320, when she would have been 32 years old, if the stud book foaling date is correct, a most unusual, late date for a mare to give birth to a foal. The Turkish member of the World’s Fair commission, who is authority for this account, lists *Nejdme as having been foaled in 1887, a more plausible date, but he contradicts this date. What are the facts?

Invitations had been sent to every country on the globe to participate in the exposition, to build a building and show products from their country. The coming fair was the topic of conversation everywhere. A Syrian in the employ of the ministry of agriculture of Turkey conceived the idea and, through the influence of the first chamberlain to the Sultan, received a concession from the Turkish government to take a troupe of Bedouin horsemen to Chicago. (Syria, Lebanon, Arabia, the Holy Land, were all protectorates of Turkey.) The request was at first refused, but the Sultan was made to believe that the proposed enterprise was intended more as an exhibition of pure bred horses than as a show, and on this belief the concession was ordered granted under strict conditions:

  1. None but the purest bred, pedigreed horses should be taken;
  2. All the horses to be returned back to the desert;
  3. The riders to be the best horsemen from the several friendly Bedouin tribes;
  4. Two cavalry officers to accompany the troupe to supervise everything and see that the contract, which contained 52 such conditions as the above four, was complied with.

The granting of the concession made a great sensation in Constantinople, and in less than two days the money asked for—25,000 Turkish liras ($112,000)—to carry on the enterprise was subscribed exclusively by Syrian capitalists in Constantinople, Beirut, Paris and Egypt. Raji Effendi, promoter and holder of the contact, was offered $15,000 spot cash, a free trip to Chicago and back, all his personal expenses for six months, which he indignantly refused. He remained in the company and, in the end, penniless, the Turkish government paid his passage back home.

The company was made up of men who might have been shrewd business men in dealing with the simple and confiding Bedouins of the desert, but who had no idea of American business methods, much less Chicago methods at the time of the fair. They thought 25,000 liras ample. They chartered a Cunard steamer and with 120 men, women and boys, 45 horses, 12 camels, donkeys, fat-tailed sheep, Oriental cracked wheat, oil, butter, cheese, flour, an immense quantity of barley, half a ton of horseshoes and boxes containing 1 1/2 million $1 admission tickets, set sail for America. Among the men were all the stockholders, each having one or more servants, riders, donkey boys, camel riders, seven cooks, five horseshoers, 15 clerks and ticket sellers—everybody who begged to be taken over was put on board.

They arrived in Chicago penniless. They had hardly settled and pitched their tents at the baseball grounds before one Chicago load shark loaned them money at an exorbitant rate of interest and took a mortgage on all they had, horses, donkeys, camels, tents and wearing apparel. Another individual had himself hired as manager of the show at an enormous salary with an iron-clad contract. Still another made a contract to become attorney of the corporation at $600 a month salary. All this happened within the short space of 30 hours after their arrival.

They moved to Garfield Park: Chicago creditors were upon them like hungry vultures. A fire, certainly of incendiary origin, drove them back to 35th street. In this fire they lost seven horses, some of the camels and 15 trunks of clothing. Finally they moved to the Midway at the fair and gave their first performance on the Fourth of July, 1893. The show was widely advertised as the $3 million Hamidieh Hippodrome Co., named after the Sultan of Turkey.

To the fair came people from all parts of the world. The Bedouin show with the beautiful horses attracted wide attention. From England came Rev. F. Vidal, Arabian breeder and authority, in company with Randolph Huntington, Oyster Bay, L.I., N. Y., who had purchased and imported *Garaveen, bred by Rev. Vidal, and later *Kismet, sire of *Garaveen.

Also to the fair came J.A.P. Ramsdell, Newburgh, N.Y., who later succeeded in obtaining *Nejdme. Peter Bradley, Bostonian industrialist, Hingham, Mass., was another deeply interested visitor to the Midway Bedouin show, who from that time on began his attempts to acquire Arabian horses. Probably the most far-reaching effect of the Chicago World’s Fair importation, however, was made on a newspaper cartoonist, who stood on State Street, Chicago, and saw the Bedouins and their steeds parade by. From then on, it became a life ambition for the newspaper cartoonist, Homer Davenport, to go to the desert and bring back Arabian horses. He achieved his ambition with the financial assistance of Peter Bradley as a partner with his importation of 1906.

During the fair it was hinted by informed observers of the horses that a number of them did not show the true characteristics of the pure Arabian horse. A cloud of uncertainty and mystery gathered about the hoses with the passing days. Finally in 1897, after the remaining horses and effects had been sold at auction and the last deluded, miserable Bedouin had been sent home, a member of the Turkish World’s Fair commission was prevailed upon to make a written, public report on the entire enterprise. A copy of this report was printed in The Horsemen, Chicago, June 15 and 22, 1897, and a copy was sent to Peter Bradley.

More than 30 years later, in a visit with him, he recalled the report and gave the copy and other data to the writer. In the report, the author, A. G. Asdikian, wrote:

I came in daily contact with these men, fed them at the expense of the commission when they were hungry, helped them who were now and then driven out of the camp for fighting, a frequent occurrence. I knew every man, woman and boy by name, and there was no question that they would not answer for me as to the origin and history of the horses.

Among them was Hadji Hassan, pure Anazeh Bedouin, who all his life had been a horse dealer among the desert tribes. He was at several times employed by the Turkish government to purchase cavalry horses. From Aleppo to Egypt and Yemen he was known as the best judge of Arab horses in the country. The Hippodrome Co. hired him at the demand of the governor of Beirut in order that the horses purchased should be of purest blood. The company sent him among the Anazeh tribes, and 11 horses of the 45 brought to Chicago, were all that Hadji Hassan bought. These 11 had the customary written pedigrees, which I saw, read and took note of. I will say that these 11 horses were among the purest bred Arabs that ever went out of the desert.

When the troop landed in New York the U. S. Customs authorities levied a duty of $30 on each horse, the supposition being that the horses did not belong to any of the five pure, desert families, as stipulated and exempted in the McKinley tariff law. After their arrival in Chicago I learned of the 11 horses with pedigrees and suggested to the commissioner general to make application for refund. They could not be persuaded to forward the pedigrees to Washington without security.

Advice being to no avail, we threatened to sue them and secure the pedigrees. They promised to deliver them the next day. I went to Garfield Park to get the documents as agreed, and to my surprise could find none of the directors in the camp, but knowing the Bedouin in whose care the papers were left, I demanded them. The poor old man, with tears in his eyes, begged me not to take them from him, as the directors had told him they would turn him out of the camp if he ever parted with his trust. In order not to embarrass him, I promised not to take them from him if he would show them to me. He produced a batch of 10 pedigrees from his trunk, and I read every one of them by the assistance of one of the clerks who could speak Turkish, and wrote down as much of them as would enable me to prepare an application to be forwarded to Washington. When I had finished this work, I had this man and Hadji Hassan show me the pedigreed horses. From this time on I knew which of the horses were pure Arabs. I never again saw these documents, the claim being made that they were destroyed in the fire together with 34 other pedigrees which I did not see, as they did not exist. Against the accusation of the commission that they did not live up to their contract, these shrewd Syrians claimed that the documents were lost in the fire, an absolutely false claim, which we were powerless to contradict.

To make themselves more secure they showed us a voluminous document signed by the governor of Beirut, who certified that the men had been faithful to the conditions of their contract. Of course we knew how this certificate was procured—by bribery and trickery. The trick was this: It appears that at the start they brought from the desert to Beirut these 11 horses, some camels, donkeys, fattailed sheep and Syrian goats. They represented they were going to make a livestock exhibit at Chicago. The pedigrees of the horses were submitted to the governor to convince the authorities that the troupe would be organized in compliance with all the conditions of the concession. After securing the governor’s signature they purchased such mongrel horses as would the best answer the purposes of the proposed show. The horses were finally sold at auction at the Chicago Tattersalls, January 4, 1894. I prepared this descriptive list from a notebook which I kept for the special purpose of writing down all I learned and heard about the horses.

At the Chicago Tattersalls sale, 28 remaining horses were numbered, listed and catalogued by number. (From this list of 28 in the Asdikian report we omit all but the pure Arabian.) There were 7 pure Arabian, as follows:

No.1 Nejdme, grey mare; 14 3/4 hands, foaled 1887; breed         Kehilan-Ajuz

2. Kibaby, grey stallion; 14 3/4 hands, foaled 1885,        Seglawi-Sheyfi

7. Obeyran, iron grey; 14 1/2 hands, foaled 1889,      Seglawi-Obeyran

13. Halool, bay stallion; 15 1/4 hands, foaled 1886,       Kehilan-Ras Fedawi

24. Hassna, dark bay mare; 14 3/4 hands, foaled 1889,       Managhi-Hedrij.

26. Galfea, sorrel mare; 14 1/2 hands, foaled 1887,        Hamdani-Simri

28. Manakey, sorrel stallion; 14 3/4 hands, foaled 1888,        Managhi-Slaji

I can say that the choicest of the lot in this sale went to Boston, purchased by H. A. Souther, who was commissioned by a Boston gentleman to buy some of the horses at any price. By purchasing the stallions 7, 13; 28, this gentleman (Mr. Bradley) secured the plums of the lot, except the magnificent stallion, Kibaby, No. 2.

Among the mares the grey Nejdme took the palm. For a long time her pedigree was kept by Hassan, and after the old man left Chicago it passed into the hands of one of the clerks, who refused to return it until his wages were paid. Scores of times I saw this document and read it. She was “a pure Kehilan of the purest and belonged to the Ajuz sub-strain.” For many months it was a puzzle to me why this magnificent pure bred mare was ever sold to go out of the desert. Was she stolen? Hassan said “No,” because he got her from her owner at 900 Turkish liras ($4,200). Whenever I asked this question Hassan was as mute as a clam. “If you people know anything about horses, watch and find out,” was all he would say. I did watch day and evening for over six months but could see nothing wrong with her. She was as sound as a “new milled dollar.” About three weeks after the fair, while the men were still lingering around. I noticed that Nejdme was in heat. I called my old friend Hassan and asked if I was correct. He said, “Yes, that mare has been coming in heat for five years.” It was plain now. When three years old she had one colt but she could not be settled in foal again. At that time she was eight years old. This was the reason Nejdme was sold to be taken to this country. The first offer for her was $3,500 but the directors refused to sell. The mare had attracted so much attention that the price put on her was $10,000. The second offer made in late October was $2,700, which was also turned down. Finally I purchased the mare for a New York gentleman (Mr. Ramsdell), paying $450 down, but before I could take possession she passed into the hands of the sheriff and I was out $450, as I could neither find the men to whom I paid the money nor could I get the mare. At the auction she was purchased by the receiver, who sold her afterwards for $800 to the same gentleman for whom I had bought her previously. After being told the mare could not be settled in foal I still bought her for my friend because I believed that she could be settled if intelligent methods were used and the mare properly cared for, That she had foals since shows that I was not mistaken in my judgement.

The registry of 13 foals out of *Nejdme in the stud book here, amply supported the judgment of Mr. Asdikian, that with intelligent methods and proper care she would raise foals. His notes and the Tattersalls sales list her as foaled 1887. Yet he states she was eight years old at the time of the fair, 1893, a discrepancy of two years. It would be easy to mistake an old-fashioned 7 for 1 and vice-versa. All the evidence would indicate 1887 the correct date rather than 1881 as her foaling year. Her last foal in 1913 would be at the age of 26, rather than 32.

Dahura No. 90, important and prolific early Arabian mare, granddaughter of *Nejdme. Dahura raised her 19th foal at Ben Hur farms when 25 years old, died at 29.

It will be noted that the name Pride did not appear in the notebook kept by Mr. Asdikian nor does he report the name in the Tattersall sales. Where did the name originate and to what mare of the importation did it belong (as a stable name). All will agree this English word was not the original name of one of the desert-bred, 1893 importation. The original application for registry gives little light on the subject. Date of foaling of Pride 321 and Galfia 255 are listed in the stud book as “unknown.” The 1918 volume of the stud book records Homer Davenport as owner of both Galfia and Pride. He had died in 1912, which may account for the meager registry data on these mares which should have been recorded among the first in 1908 with Nejdme and Obeyran. Mr. Asdikian describes Galfia as a “sorrel mare, one fore and both hind feet white; Hamdani-Simri,” Pride is also recorded as a chestnut or sorrel), but a Managhi-Slaji. If she was a chestnut, then Galfia and Pride were one and the same mare. If she was a Managhi and a dark bay she could have been the No. 24 mare Hassna noted in the sales list as a Managhi-Hedrij. The conclusion would be obvious that it would be harder to mistake identity between a chestnut and bay than it would be to become confused and mistaken with desert strain names. Thus, owners of Arabians can form their own conclusions of the correctness and value of some of the early strain names in some of their present day Arabians.

The Tattersalls sale list, as reported by Mr. Asdikian, gives the foaling date of *Obeyran as 1889, while the stud book lists him as foaled 1879. By what authority was Davenport led to believe him 28 when he took the picture? Or was he really 10 years younger? Finally, would Hadji Hassan, the expert on Arabian horses, buy for this strenuous trip and exhibition a 14-year-old stallion or a four-year-old; a 12-year-old mare or a six-year-old?

Arabian Blood (The Keene Richards Importation)

by Ben Hur (Western Horseman Jul/Aug ’46)
additional pictures added

One of five Arabian stallions imported by A.Keene Richards direct from the desert between 1852 and 1857. The picture is a reproduction of a painting made in 1867, owned by H.P.Crane, St. Charles, Illinois. Left, in the picture, is Gen. Richard Taylor; center, Capt Cuthbert Slocomb; right, Mr. Richard’s groom.

The American Thoroughbred running horse today might have more bottom, more long distance staying power–and the blue-grass section of Kentucky might have been the cradle for the pureblood Arabian horse in the western hemisphere–had not the Civil War (1860-64) crippled, if not all but destroyed, the efforts of one of the leading horse breeders of his day.

A. Keene Richards, Georgetown, Ky., lifelong student of horse breeding and pedigrees and noted breeder of Thoroughbreds, was convinced that the American thoroughbred of pre-Civil War days had lost some of the stamina and staying power of the earlier English Thoroughbred obtained from the foundation sires, the Byerly Turk, imported into England in 1689, the Darley Arabian imported in 1706, and the Godolphin Arabian imported in 1730. His studies of horses and pedigrees convinced him that all of England’s greatest achievements in horse breeding were traceable to the Arabian and the Barb, and so he determined to go to the Arabian desert and personally select horses which he could bring back to the United States to intensify the original foundation blood and improve the American Thoroughbred.

“MOKHLADI” gr. s. foaled 1844 14 1/2 hands imp. by A. Keene Richards in 1853 with A. Keene Richards In Arab Costume. “The portraits are photographed by Elrod of Lexington, Ky., from sketches by that eminent artist, Edward Troye.” (Thornton Chard)

Mr. Richards made two trips to the desert, his first in 1851-53 and the second in 1855-56. He was the first citizen of the United States to go to the desert, personally select and import Arabians direct to his native country. On his second trip he was backed by the New Orleans Jockey Club and accompanied by Mr. E. Troye, the animal painter, who was to assist him in making selections. The convictions which Mr. Richards had on the Thoroughbred of his day were summed up by him at that time:

“That the English horse of the present day is inferior to what he was in the days of Eclipse, no one will doubt who examines the performances of that day. The present race of horses are fleet, and many can carry their weights, but how few remain on the turf; one hard race of four miles would injure the best horse in England.”

“Some English writers contend,” wrote Mr. Richards, “that a degeneracy is taking place, and that the best Arab blood must be resorted to. In crossing the Arabs upon our stock, we must not expect the first cross to equal such pedigrees as ‘Lexington’ and ‘Bonnie Lassie,’ but this cross will not deteriorate, and fine bone with vigorous constitution, free from hereditary defects, will be the result. I have confidence in the result as to the improvement of our fine stock for the turf, for harness and saddle.”

His own account of his trips to the desert follows:

Photo of the Arab horse “Muscat”. Race winner in India. Exp. to England

“I determined to import the best Arabs that could be found in the East and cross them with our best mares. I made myself acquainted with the modern importations by going to England, France, and Spain, and examining the best Arabs belonging to these governments, visiting Morocco, and going through the interior of Algeria. I went to Tunis, thence to Egypt, and from Egypt through Arabian Petra and the desert east of Damascus as far as Palmyra. During this tour I selected Mokhladi, Massaoud and a grey mare [Sadah], the first mentioned bred by the Tarabine tribe in Arabia Petra, and the two latter by the Anayza tribe.

“They arrived safely, and I immediately made arrangements to select some of our best mares to breed to them. The result was quite equal to my expectations, and I commenced preparing to make another trip to the East, determining to spare no trouble or expense in procuring the best blood, as well as the finest formed horses in the desert.

Massoud ch. s. foaled 1844 15 hands imp. by A. Keene Richards in 1853

“For two years I made this subject my study, consulting the best authors as to where the purest blood was to be found, and comparing their views with my own experiences. I found that most authors who have written on the subject, differ materially as to facts; and that those who have seen the Arab on his native soil know more about the idle legends of the country than about the fine points of a horse.

“Layard surely has claims to be the best authority among the English writers. Although prejudiced in favor of the English horse, he says: ‘I doubt whether any Arab of the best blood has ever been brought to England. The difficulty of obtaining them is so great, that they are scarcely ever seen beyond the limits of the desert.’

“After two years spent in close investigation as to the best means of obtaining the purest blood in the desert, I matured my plans and started again for the East, accompanied by Mr. E. Troye, the artist, my cousin M. H. Keene, and a Syrian who had been with me since my first journey to the East. This man knew more about the horses of the desert than any one I had met in the East. Soon after our arrival in Syria, he died very suddenly, and Mr. Keene had to commence the study of the Arabic language, as we could find no one to trust in interpreting, to carry out our plans among the Bedouins. He was in Damascus seven months, studying the language and informing himself as to the best way of getting to that tribe of Bedouins in Arabia which had the type of horse we were seeking.

bay s. foaled 1851 15 hands
imp. by A. Keene Richards in 1856
Photograph from a crayon drawing by Guy F. Monroe and copied from a painting unfortunately destroyed by fire.

“The first horse selected was a stallion from Beni-Zahr. This was a horse of superior form and blood, purchased from one of the Sheikhs of the tribe. Determined to have the best, this horse was afterwards exchanged for the bay horse ‘Sacklowie’ (seglawi) by giving considerable boot. This last importation consisted of the bay ‘Sacklowie,’ a chestnut ‘Faysul,’ supposed to be the best young horse in the Anayza tribe, a grey colt two years old, a mare and two dromedaries.

“In making both of these importations I determined not to offer the services of any of the stallions to the public until they had shown some evidence of their merits. The colts of two of them having borne off the prizes last fall (1856) over the best Thoroughbred stock in Kentucky, I was induced by some friends not to wait longer, but to give the breeders of Kentucky an opportunity to try the cross with some of our fine mares.”

gr.s. 1854 imp. 1856 by A. Keene Richards

About the time Mr. Richards was nicely on the way to success with his importations of Arabian stallions and mares direct from the desert, the Civil War came, with all of its devastation over his native and other southern states. Mr. Richards’ noble horse breeding work was lost, as was much of the splendid Clays and Messenger combinations, along with the Bashaws, Andrew Jacksons, Morgans, Golddusts and countless other lines and strains of the Arabian and Barb bred horses which were at that time to be found on every hand. History shows that America possessed at that time trotting bred horses which could not have been equalled on the face of the earth in point of blood and individuality as well as general utility, the equal of which we possibly have never since possessed.

Abdel Kadir (Known as the Faris Arabian)
(Mokhladdi x Sadah )
gr. s. foaled 1856
bred by A. Keene Richards

Keene Richards’ labors were in great measure lost, except such of the scattered fragments and some few specimens which remained that were half the blood of Mr. Richards’ Arabians, which are, in a great degree, responsible for the present excellent race of saddle horses which originally came from Kentucky, a shown by the Denmark saddle horse stud books, now the American Bred Saddle horse. The tail carriage, reliable dispositions, good necks and general excellence, as well as their power to transmit a fixed type, can be traced to no other source.

Spencer Borden, in his book, “The Arab Horse” (1906) gives a thrilling account of a Civil War experience which centered about A. Keene Richards.

“It is told,” wrote Borden, “that after the battle of Pittsburgh Landing (Shiloh) the Confederate General, Breckenridge, went to Georgetown, Ky., to Mr. Richards, begging conveyance to Virginia as quickly as possible, as the Federal troops were pursuing him. Richards had nothing to offer but a pair of three-year-old half-bred Arab fillies. These he hitched to a buckboard and started. The Federals pursued on Thoroughbred horses, but though they gained for awhile, their bolt was soon shot and they had to draw rein. The Arab fillies never stopped until they had Breckenridge safely within the Confederate lines.”

That the importation of Arabians to America prior to the time of Mr. Richards’ importations proved of great value in establishing some of the finest light harness and saddle horses of the early day and were successfully used to cross on the Thoroughbred is related by Mr. Richards:

“Some of the Arabs in this country have produced trotters of note. The grandsire of Pacolet, on the dam’s side, was the Lindsay Arabian. The granddam of Sidi Hamet, the sire of Bethune, was an Arab mare, got by an Arabian horse sent to President Jefferson, and out of the Arab mare that came with him. Rhoderic Dhu, a good race horse up to four miles, was out of a Bagdad mare, and many others could be cited. Recent investigations show that the renowned Flora Temple goes back with a few crosses to the Arab, while in Pennsylvania we have that superb race of trotters, the Bashaws, descended from an imported Arabian or Barb of that name imported in 1826.”

“When credit is given to Kentucky,” wrote the eminent horseman Randolph Huntington in 1885, “for superior blood in her brood mares over any other state, and that superiority is credited to her through Thoroughbred running horse blood, which in an earlier day was the only type of horses that she bred, we are inclined to look for a more direct cause. In so doing we find that for forty years their dams had been under the influence of Arabian blood, no less than five different Arabian stallions (Richards’) having been imported directly into Kentucky since 1850.”

Calif of Cairo, from the famed stud of Abbas Pasha of Egypt, imported to the United States prior to 1860.

Another importation of an Arabian of superb breeding and matchless beauty was that of the young stallion, Calif of Cairo, presented when a colt, to the United States Consul for Egypt by Abbas Pasha, a one of the best specimens of of the Arabian horse in his world famous stud. He was a beautiful silver-grey, with silky mane and tail, legs and feet of remarkable delicacy of outline. He was about 15 hands high, “kind as a dove and immensely fast.” Calif was shipped to New York, prior to 1860, shown at the Eclipse Fair, Centerville Course, Long Island, where the drawing shown with this article was made from life. Calif later was purchased by Judge Jones and moved to his stables in Philadelphia.

It will be of historical interest to Arabian breeders in the United States where the blood of Abbas Pasha Arabians is eagerly sought after and appreciated today to learn that this fine specimen of his breeding was imported at this early date. Unfortunately the blood of this and many other Arabians of priceless breeding and beauty among the early importations were scattered to the four winds and lost to present-day breeders who are zealously guarding and breeding Arabians in all their original purity in this country today.

Additional articles on A. Keene Richards:

Keene Richards’ Arabian Importations By Thornton Chard from The Horse Nov/Dec 1934

ARABIAN BLOOD FOR STAMINA Keene Richards’ Own Account of His Two Desert Expeditions and His Arabian Importations. Edited by Thornton Chard with illustrations and notes collected by him from The Horse Nov/Dec ’35