Dogmas and Realities in Horse Breeding, Daily Racing Form, 1923-03-13


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Dogmas and Realities in Horse Breeding BY SALVATOR To try voluntarily to discover the fetter ¬ ing dogmas of some creed is a trick worthy of human perverseness which after invent ¬ ing an absurdity endeavors to find for it a pedigree of distinguished ancestors ancestorsThese These words recently written by one of the greatest living masters of English prose Joseph Conrad a man who is not only a great writer but a great thinker and a profound analyst of human nature were not written by him apropos the problem or process of breeding the thoroughbred race horse but they are so startlingly applicable thereto that a casual reader who happened to be a horseman might well suppose them to be For never were words written more directly applicable to or descriptive of pres ¬ ent conditions in horse breeding breedingThe The breeding of the race horse that is the conscious as distinguished from the uncon sfjious the systematic and selective as dis ¬ tinguished from the hitormiss and un ¬ methodical began several centuries ago as a spontaneous outgrowth of a sport whlcn at that time was confined to a compara ¬ tively small group of men principally of high degree The origins of the breed were vague and unrecorded for the most part Elements of many different kinds were as ¬ sembled and combined As the most suc ¬ cessful breeder of thoroughbreds in Amer ¬ ica once wrote me in a personal letter It takes all kinds of blood to produce a race horse even workhorse blood bloodBut But as time passed and decades grew into generations and generations into centuries conditions as was inevitable gradually changed What has once been the semi private sport of a handful of the noblesse evolved into a great popular pastime Its reputation and its popularity spread into all parts of the civilized world And the thor ¬ oughbred as the one and indispensable im ¬ plement for playing the game evolved from a toy or plaything using those words in a good and not a scornful sense into a great national asset and monopoly That Is to say from an implement of sport into an article of commerce commerceCONQUERORS CONQUERORS CREATE FAMILIES FAMILIESConquerors Conquerors human and equine customarily create families Many of them have short pedigrees But if their families become firmly established and prove enduring the history books in due time seldom fail to provide them with in the words of Conrad a pedigree of distinguished ancestors The Greeks traced the pedigrees of their kings and heroes direct to the gods themselves So did the Egyptians including of course our recently disinterred friend TutAnkhAmen This was a survival of old tribal practices of prehistoric eras practices which still ob ¬ tain today among savages The Romans later took over the Greek and Egyptian cults and intensified them by making their emperor gods during their own lifetimes lifetimesSuperstition Superstition as civilization progresses gives place to religion and religion to agnos ¬ ticism It is no longer the custom to trace the pedigrees of kings to the gods of an ¬ tiquity neither are living kings nor dead ones either for that mettcr elevated to godhood and publicly worshiped as divine according to process of law These customs passed with the passing of superstition as a governing force having become abhorent to religion which succeeded it and merged into a monotheism so jealous of its one god that it would brook no rivals for him himBut But in deference to the religious sense having forsworn godhood for humanity the world found it a solace to substitute there ¬ for the next best thing a mass of fable and imaginations about the ancestors the pedigrees of its great or near great men Which agreeable practice it passed on over to the tracing of the genealogies of its race horses when in time they became of inter ¬ national fame and many of them much more important and valuable than whole herds of humans humansIn In this way grew tip thoroughbred pedi ¬ gree mythology Originally we may believe it was if fabricated devoid of commer ¬ cial motivation But that condition rapidly merged into one of which commercialism was almost wholly the mothe In the words of Conrad fettering dogmas of some creed were invented a trick worthy of human perverseness not so much as of human rapacity After inventing an absurdity i e the pure exotic theory of thorough ¬ bred origins it furbished it forth with a pedigree of distinguished ancestors and de ¬ creed that aside from these there could and shculd be no others othersIn In other words a closed shop with a creed of fettering dogmas an invented absurdity for which was readily fabricated a pedigree of distinguished ancestors Ono of the principal of these ancestors was a little cart horse picked up in a city street of unknown origin and extraordinary con ¬ formation Which however did not prevent him from dutly becoming an Arabian and asserted to be a gift of one monarch tc an ¬ other otherAnother Another was a horse once ridden to battle battleby by a captain whose valor was not therein thereinso so conspicuous as was the cleanness of his hismounts mounts heels to which he owed getting off offwith with a whole skin This horse whose origin originand and blood were and are as totally unknown unknowni as that of the Arabian first mentioned in due time became a Turk scion of equine royalty royaltyA A third was a horse picked up for a song near an Oriental city by a merchant trad ing there This city was far distant from Arabia and according to old traditions the horse a stolen one was obtained by trad ¬ ing a fowlingpiece for him He was cer ¬ tainly an Oriental horse probably a Syrian or Turkish one He passes in thoroughbred breeding mythology as an Arabian of the best blood bloodAs As the creed with the fettering dogmas grew it became apparent that the pedigree of distinguished ancestors the invented absurdity could not consist entirely of sires There must be some dams not only some but plenty and of pure exotic brand Then a masterstroke of invention came into play The Arabians and Turks alcove described originated nobody knew when or whore and found their devious ways to Britain one by one at intervals separated by decades When it became necessary to fit out their descend ¬ ants maternally with pedigrees of dis ¬ tinguished ancestors some bold genius con ¬ ceived the magnificent idea of bringing them in not one at a time at widely separated intervals like the males of the species but by the shipload So appeared in history the farfamed Jloyal Glares imported direct from some vhere nobody knows in the Orient by a alamented lamented ilcrry Majesty by proxy and many a year after his death So far as con ¬ temporary records show the said Jlerry Majesty had but one Oriental mare which was sold publicly after his death when his stud was disposed of But that is not al ¬ lowed to conflict with the fact that he im ¬ ported according to witnesses born long subsequent to the great event thirty to forty marcs in one shipment shipmentAfter After such a coupdutheatre the rest of course was easy easyThe The promulgation of a fettering dogma is the first imported step But it will fetter nothing unless it is like a law strictly en ¬ forced The natural evolution of the dog ¬ ma therefore was from something that was merely a creed into something that was and is actually and powerfully a law It took some time to reach that goal but it was attained at length when commercialism took the matter in hand For commercialism can make dogmas jump through hoops or take hurdles at which either superstition or religion would balk Its great triumph of course is subduing both superstition and re ¬ ligion to its own uses When all three of these forces work together they form a combination usually invincible invincibleThe The original pure exotic thoroughbred dogma which latterly has assumed the pur sang aspect is a cunning mixture of tho three of them The two ancient factors fur ¬ nished the groundwork They appeared in advance and paved the way for the advent of the third which in due time asserted its supremacy and became the overlord overlordIn In the racing world as elsewhere reali ¬ ties often count for little Very few of theso things stand rocklike in the flux and aro not mere sports of the current But one of them continues to assert itself In innumer ¬ able instances thousands in the aggregate when it has come to an actual horse race the pure exotic the pur sang thorough ¬ bred has fallen by the wayside while the horse bred outside the fettering dogma has galloped on to victory This persists in happening everywhere in Europe the birth ¬ place of the dogma in the two Americas and the Antipodes whither it was long sinco transplanted All the cunning of horse breeding commercialism reinforced by tho cant of its fettering dogmas is unable to prevent this None of the tricks it has tried thus far has succeeded in this aclu vemcnt And the outlook for the future is that none it may yet evolve will be any mora successful

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