A study of horse breeding and rearing by an equine specialist is entitled "The English Race Horse" and considers that wherever the horse is known and used horse-racing is invariably practiced. No intelligent objection can possibly be raised to horse-racing, pure and simple, but certain objectionable evils have from time to time developed and are now widely attached.
Others have regarded the horse as a sacred animal, and there are books full of allusions to the equines. The horse has exercised an important influence in the civilization of the world, and has progressed with it until it is very much questioned if any great diminution of the present running and trotting records will henceforth be accomplished by means of breeding and training.
The history of horses and their development may be divided into three Periods: From their appearance in the world to Queen Elizabeth’s reign; from her reign to 1791, when the stud-book was published; and from 1791 to the present time (circa 1885).
The original ancestry of the horse is not known, but a geologist traces the horse back to a small prehistoric animal about the size of the fox. A wild horse has recently been found in Central Asia which many suppose to be the original prehistoric horse, and very possibly it is. However, if it is not, the original horse will probably never be found.
It is firmly believed that the returning crusaders brought many Arabian horses to Europe, and the records show that in 1336 Edward III imported high-priced horses into England. The chivalric character of early English history led to the breeding of powerful but ungainly horses, as knights in full armor weighed from 376 to 425 pounds, and hence needed heavy horses to support such a weight. In Queen Elizabeth’s time horses and horse breeding were neglected, but James I imported very valuable horses from Turkey and Spain, and offered prizes for the winners in horse races.
He also imported two Arabian stallions, paying 500 guineas for Markham’s Arabian, and a higher price for a stallion from Constantinople. During his reign breeding for racing purposes began, and continued during the reign of Charles I, when a remonstrance against the breeding of large and powerful horses, heretofore so popular and common, was numerously signed and presented to the king.
The twenty-five years from 1660 was the most important in the whole history of racing horses, as Persian and Arabian stallions were then imported into England, together with four Turkish mares and several Barbary mares. These mares are ancestors of all thoroughbreds since that time.
In 1689 the genealogy of winning horses began to be studied and recorded, and Arabian horses then began to be bred for the turf. Shortly before 1791, pedigrees of all thoroughbreds began to be kept, and in 1791 they were collected and published in a stud-book.
Since 1768 no fresh blood has been introduced into the genuine thoroughbred breed, and hence the pedigree of all thoroughbreds can be traced back to their original ancestors. This is enormous labor, for in the fiftieth generation the horse would have an almost fabulous number of ancestors; but it can be done, and evidence has proven that nearly all valuable stakes have been won by thoroughbreds.
Thus, since pedigrees can be traced back to the original ancestors, a man who today sells a horse in England for a thoroughbred, and one single link in the pedigree is missing, can be prosecuted. Breeding and training have now reached a very fine point, and there are but few running or trotting horses that can come within five seconds of the records in their respective classes.