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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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