Regency men began as children to love horses above themselves. It was drummed into them by their noble fathers, and their grooms. Although the general public either walked, or rode on the Public Stage, or on the Mail coach, the nobility kept a string of horses for their use, some even going so far as to breed them. These horses were not the lower ‘class’ horses used by tradesmen for their business; they were thoroughbreds–blood horses. The term used by them for their horses, was ‘their cattle.’
It was Queen Anne, during her reign in 1702-1714, who introduced the sport of hunting to women by her enthusiasm. Most nobles hunted, and Hunt clubs gradually grew. She kept the Royal Foxhounds at Ascot. She was the one who encouraged the use of horses for hunting, racing–and breeding.
This came about in the 1700’s, when certain nobles, or Army men who travelled to Europe and Asia came across exceptional examples of horseflesh. These horses were brought to England and bred with their own mares. There are three known horses, which were used in this manner, and were the foundation stock for all of the Regency ‘cattle.’ They are “The Byerly Turk,” “The Darley Arabian,” and “The Godolphin Arabian.”
I will quote from “The Origins of the Blooded Horse,” an article, which you can find on
http://www.imh.org. Look for the History of the Horse, and from there you will find this article, now named “The Thoroughbred Foundation Stallions.” The site has much information of interest.
The first foundation stallion was:
“The Byerley Turk
At the siege of Buda in Hungary, Captain Robert Byerley captured a horse from the Turks which would carry his name into history. The horse became known as the Byerley Turk and was the first of the three foundation stallions to come to Britain. Reputedly ridden by Byerley at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690, this horse distinguished himself as a sire although he was not bred to many mares. In spite of his name, he was probably an Arab. The Byerley Turk founded a line of Thoroughbreds, the most distinguished of which was Herod, who was foaled in 1758, and proved to be a very successful sire himself.”
The second foundation horse was:
“The Darley Arabian
The second of the three foundation stallions to be imported to England was the Darley Arabian. He was foaled in 1700 and bought by Thomas Darley in Aleppo (Syria) in 1704. The horse was shipped to Yorkshire, England where he was bred to numerous mares. The most successful matings were with Betty Leeds, which resulted in two very important colts: Flying Childers and Bartlet’s Childers. Through the Childers line, the Darley Arabian was the great-great-grandsire of Eclipse who gained the description “Eclipse first, the rest nowhere.” The Darley Arabian is the most important of the three foundation stallions in terms on his influence of the Thoroughbred breed.”
The third foundation stallion was:
“The Godolphin Arabian
The last of the foundation stallions to come to England was a horse possibly foaled in Yemen. After being shipped to Syria and then to Tunis, he was given to the King of France as a gift by the Emperor of Morocco. In 1730 he was imported to England by Edward Coke. After Coke’s death in 1733, his racehorses and broodmares were bequeathed to Lord Godolphin, and his stallions to Mr. Roger Williams. Later acquired by Lord Godolphin, the Arabian entered stud near Newmarket. Lord Godolphin bred the horse to several distinguished mares. Mated to Roxana, he sired Lath, the greatest racehorse in England after Flying Childers: and another mating of these two produced Cade, the sire of the great Matchem who carried on the line of the Godolphin Arabian. In 1850 it was remarked that “the blood of the Godolphin Arabian is in every stable in England.””
These horses were important for the racing world, but all nobles added their ‘get’ to their stables. Just so the young noble was taught to ride a horse from possibly three years of age. He learned not only to ride, but to care for his horse as well. This was especially important because horses were necessary for transportation. The Macadamized roads did not come into being until nearing the Victorian period. Dirt roads were the roads of the day for transportation. This also applied to the wars, and many horses went into battle with their owners.
As was mentioned, the prize horse of the day, was an Arabian, or a horse with Arab origins. I posted an article on one of my blogs named, “Some Beauties of the Animal World.” I will quote a portion:
“In the course of writing my novel, I needed to “speak” about horses, among which was The Arab Horse. While surfing the net I came across a number of articles on The Arab Horse. I admire the breed because they are so beautiful, a triumph of breeding by the Arabian Bedouins of Europe and Asia so many thousands of years ago. Today they are bred all around the world.
You can recognize The Arab Horse readily. Their beauty lies in their wedge-shaped head, giving it a dished look. They have small, wide flaring nostrils, with lovely large eyes, small ears, and beautifully arched necks. Their stamina and intelligence are legendary. You may find many articles about them, some at: ezinearticles.com/ for example, under the name, The Arabian Horse-Beauty and Versatility….”
I have included an example of an Arab horse here.
Copyright. A. Moorhouse