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January 19, 2017     
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Arabian Horses in the United States and Their Origin

by General J.M. Dickinson

Reprinted by permission of his daughter Margaret D. Fleming

Part 3 - Early Importations to the United States


While Arabian horses, chiefly stallions, were being imported before the Revolution, they were used in developing our thoroughbred and trotting strains, whereas the breeding of Kehilan (purebred) Arabs in the United States is of recent origin. One of the earliest horses of Arab breeding, about as close to the pure Arab as was ever produced in England according to the breeding practices of the day, was Lord Lonsdale's Monkey, A.S.B., G.S.B., foaled in 1725. He was sired by Lonsdale's Bay Arabian, first dam by the Curwen bay Barb, second by the Byerly Turk, third an Arabian mare. *Monkey was on the turf in England (1732-35), and was imported in 1747 by Nathaniel Harrison of Brandon, Va. The horse died in 1754 after getting 300 foals in this country. He sired Monkey Mare and otherwise made a strong impress on early blood stock in Virginia. According to Fairfax Harrison, *Monkey has the distinction of having been the only horse in America before 1776 of whom a portrait is known.

In the Revolutionary era, a desert bred horse called Ranger, imported to Connecticut and then taken to Virginia where he became known as the Lindsay Arabian, exerted a considerable influence on the stock of these states. He was the sire of President Washington's chestnut stallion Magnolio, that was referred to in Hayworth's "George Washington, Farmer," as "a full blooded Arabian, and the best animal Washington ever owned." According to James Douglas Anderson, author of "Making the American Thoroughbred," Lindsay's Arabian sired also Grey Alfred, that stood in Tennessee for a season or two commencing in 1799, and Tippoo Saib, which in turn sired Mary Grey, dam of Wonder and Pacolet, two of the greatest race horses during the first quarter of the 19th century. Andrew Jackson bought the latter for the express purpose of beating Haynie's Maria. These horses contributed greatly to the blood of early racing stock in the United States. Judge Williams wrote: "Pacolet had the Arabian air,... his bearing was proud and lofty."

The first ten volumes of the American Stud Book report the importation into the American Colonies and the United States of 45 Arabian stallions and 21 Arabian mares of pure blood between 1760 and 1906, the year in which the Stud Book of the Arabian Horse Club of America was established. In this are recorded additional importations of 76 stallions and 131 mares of all ages and in utero through the year 1941. In 1945 the United States Remount Service imported from Germany an additional score of Arabian horses taken by the American army and including individuals bred in Germany, Poland, and Hungary.

High quality characterized many of the early arrivals. *Bagdad, a brown bay, was purchased in 1823 and brought to Nashville by John Harding for a company of Nashville men. He was the founder of Belle Meade Stock Farm, which became internationally known. It has been said that thoroughbred breeders were disappointed in him, and this was probably true to some extent, for they were looking for something whose produce would immediately excel. Yet the disappointment could not have been general, when the editor of the United States' Agriculturist wrote about ten years later: "The Bagdad, an imported Arabian, is spoken of in terms of high commendation . . . we may in truth say some of his colts are already distinguished." Of his immediate produce, he had the successful racers Red Rover, who won his two miles in 3:53; Coalition; and Confederate. His grandson, Roderick Dhu, was well known in Louisiana. Recent research made in the Library of the University of North Carolina has yielded valuable evidence of the importance of *Bagdad blood. John Harding's "Plantation Record" shows that in the year 1824 there were 89 mares, and in the year 1825, 103 mares bred to this Arabian horse. The names of owners and many identifying details are given. All these point to the fact that the horse enjoyed immense popularity. When it is considered that Middle Tennessee was sparsely settled and that there was not a large number of horses in the vicinity, it is a matter of practical certainty that the blood of *Bagdad runs in the veins of many fine saddle horses today. It is well known that "American Saddle" stock bred for a hundred years, and until recently at Travelers Rest carried Arabian blood, derived from the so-called Arabian mare, Santa Fe that was brought there in 1827. Information secured from the University of North Carolina indicates with practical certainty that Santa Fe was a daughter of *Bagdad. Other traditions of Travelers Rest Farm with respect to Arabian blood are substantiated by the fact that John Overton bred mares to *Bagdad during both the seasons that the horse stood near Nashville.

Prominent among early 19th Century importations were those of Keene Richards of Kentucky brought by him from Arabia in 1851-6. The Civil War, which was brewing when they landed, fatally crippled the experiment. Yet Keene Richards had the pleasure of living to see some of his colts win. Furthermore, recent findings have shown that the valuable blood of these horses persists in Kentucky and Tennessee stock, and probably in Texas. Transylvania, daughter of the Keene Richards Arabian Massoud, produced the noted racehorse, Limestone. Hamilton Busbey in "The Trotting and Pacing Horse in America" pointed out that Mr. Richards' *Mokhladi sired Crockett's Arabian and the dam of Sannie G., 2:27. The daughter of Crockett's Arabian produced May Queen, a trotter of celebrity, who retired with a record of 2:20. It is also of interest that the celebrated trotter Dorsey's Golddust was a grandson of another Arabian horse of the same general period named Zilcaadi.

According to Thornton Chard, Keene Richards wrote: "The Bagdad stock were in great demand in Tennessee at one time, on account of their legs standing the hard pikes better than any other stock." Anderson noted that Saklowie, one of the Keene Richards stallions imported in 1856, stood in Tennessee before his death which is supposed to have occurred in 1860. Between Bagdad and Saldowie, there had been the stallion Sheriff Pacha, imported from Syria in 1837 by Commodore Elliott of the United States Navy. We have doubts based upon good authority as to whether Sheriff Pacha was anywhere near equal in quality to the first named horses. In recent articles in "The Horse," Thornton Chard published a thorough discussion of the Keene Richard's Arabs, both in Kentucky and in Texas. He made the following quotation from "The Horse in America" by John Gilmer Speed, a Kentuckian, "that 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 country to delight the lovers of horse back exercise as well as to monopolize the ribbons in the horse shows."

 
 

 

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