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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

MESSENGER-Famous Imported Thoroughbred

Messenger was a grey thoroughbred stallion. Messenger has crosses to all three of the Thoroughbred foundation sires, particularly Godolfin Arabian. Messanger's sire was a trotter but Messenger was never used in a trotting race. However, his great grandson, Hambletonian became the father of American Trotters and Pacers so I guess he kept that talent and passed it on. For more information on Hambletonian, read my post on December 15, 2010.

Messenger was bred in England. There, he started in 16 flat races and won ten of them. Messenger's races, usually less than two and half miles, were mainly "match" races in which the side bets far exceeded the purse.

In May 1788 Sir Thomas Benger imported Messenger to Pennsylvania. In 1793, Messenger was sold to Henry Astor. According to an article in Wikipedia, "Messenger was once advertised in a Philadelphia newspaper as: Available for service: Inquiries to be made to a certain Alexander Clay at the sign of the Black Horse in Market Street." I love little bits of history like that. It makes a famous horse like Messenger seem so real!

Messenger became a very successful stud and produced great race horses. Messenger was bred throughout Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersy. The mares he was bred with were not of the highest quality, but even so he proved himself a superior stallion, siring a great many successful thoroughbred racehorses. One example is Messenger's daughter, Miller's Damsel, also known as "Queen of the American Turf." His genes can also be found in the American Saddlebred and Tennessee Walking horses. Messenger died on January 8, 1808 at the age of 28. He is buried on Long Island.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Why do I like horses? I think I must be mad.
My mother wasn't horsey - And neither was my dad.
But the madness hit me early - and it hit me like a curse.
And I've never gotten better. In fact I've gotten worse.
I hardly read a paper - but I know who's sold their horse.
And I wouldn't watch the news - Unless Mr. Ed was on, of course.
One eye's always on the heavens - but my washing waves in vain
As I rush to get the horses in - in case it's gonna rain.
I spend up every cent I've got - on horsey stuff for sure
I buy saddles, bridles, fancy boots - and then I buy some more.
I can't sew on a button - I don't even try
But I can back a truck and trailer - in the twinkling of an eye.
It's jeans and boots that I live in night and day
And that smell of sweaty horses just doesn't wash away.
I ache from long forgotten falls. My knees have got no skin.
My toes have gone a funny shape - from being stomped on again and again.
But late at night, when all is still - and I've gone to give them hay,
I touch their velvet softness and my worries float away.
They give a gentle nicker and they nuzzle through my hair
And I know it's where my heart is - more here than anywhere.
~ Author Unknown

This poem was sent in by a reader named Jodi and it touched my heart. While I live in Breeches instead of jeans, this poem otherwise fits me like a glove (a riding glove, of course!) My non-horsey parent couldn't understand my obsession but they allowed me to pursue it all the same and I thank them for that! And you should see my toes!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

LAURETTA, Queen of Horses

On March 2nd, 2011, I wrote a post about Jim Key...the smartest horse ever! I made a brief mention about his mother, the Arabian Mare, Lauretta. Her story is quite fascinating. The legend has it that a fast-talking, slick and handsome Englishman wormed his way into a friendship with an Arab sheik in the 1870's. The sheik was charmed by this young foreigner named Jack Randall and threw a lavish feast for him in his tent city in the desert. During the last of many feasts, Sheik Ahemid bragged about his fabulous, priceless horses that he called the Kingly Four. He said that they were the four remaining descendants of horses who belonged to the Pharaohs. He owned three stallions, named Philis, Ectes and Ranus, and one mare named Lauretta. The beautiful grey mare was his prized possession.

Jack Randall said he worked for a great sheik in far-off England whose name was P.T. Barnum. He promised that his boss would pay her weight in gold plus one thousand horses to acquire Lauretta. This was tremendously insulting to the Sheik and, in a fit of rage, ended the feast and sent the audacious Englishman back to his tent.

That night, under the light of the desert stars, Jack Randall creeped past the sleeping guards and into the tent of the Kingly Four. He bridled Lauretta, leaped on her back and galloped her across the wind-swept desert sands. Grief and anger filled Persia. P.T. Barnum paid a reported $50,000 for the kidnapped horse and her history added to her popularity as P.T. Barnum took her around Europe with his circus.

Once the notoriety died down, Lauretta was sold to a smaller circus and then to yet another. Cruel treatment resulted in poor health and appearance and her loss of value as a circus performer. Somewhere along the line, she ended up in a small circus in America where she was found by Doc Key, the well known horse trainer. Through much time, love, patience, kindness and his own home remedies, Dr. Key was able to bring her back to her original beauty though not strength.

As you might expect, Lauretta became very attached to Doc Key and he couldn't bare to leave home without her. She soon began performing her circus tricks just to show off...not out of fear of the whip or pin-pricks.

She was later bred to a Hambletonian and produced the famous horse: Jim Key that you can read about on the Mar. 2 post. You can read about Hambletonian, the grandfather of the American Trotters and Paces on the December 15, 2010 post.

I got this information from excerpts from the book: "Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of the World's Smartest Horse" by Mim Eichler Rivas.

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