… to enhance public awareness of the Davenport Arabian Horse as Homer Davenport knew it.

At the Beginning (Part III)

By Charles C. Craver III
of Craver Farms,
Hillview, Illinois
used by permission of Charles Craver
The Arabian Horse News May, 1974

Lady Anne Blunt’s approval of *URFAH 40 permitted the Jockey Club registration of both *URFAH and her son *EUPHRATES, which in turn permitted the registration of JERREDE, Brown’s stallion. With the registration of *URFAH and *EUPHRATES, there was no great bar to the registration of other horses of Davenport’s 1906 importation, since their credentials for registration were not particularly different. this possibility was indirectly suggested by correspondence from Rowe of the Jockey Club to W.R. Brown, indicating that registration of the Peter Bradley horses, which were descendants of the imported animals, would be possible with supporting stud records of matings at the Hingham Stock Farm. This amounted to only checking through stud records for breedings which had occurred since the importation and was a requirement which could have been met rather easily.

Brown’s view of the matter was somewhat different, however. He replied by return mail that the entire procedure that had been gone through to register *EUPHRATES should be repeated with each of the other horses:

“The point is will Mr. Towle” (Bradley’s manager) “go to work from the very start to get all the necessary papers verified concerning his other horses. In other words, will he have the patience to get his pedigrees accepted by Weatherby’s after being passed on by Lady Anne Blunt or someone with equal knowledge and authority, the consular certificates to accompany them, certificates of importation to this country, and certificate from the Davenport family as to the breeding. The fact that you asked all of these things of me would of course make it right that you require the same of him. Those individuals that could satisfy all of these points ought to be in, if they cannot they ought not to be in your registration.” [36. W. R. Brown to W. H. Rowe, October 19, 1918.]

All this represented a prodigious amount of duplicate work which was not likely to be repeated. Technically, however, Brown was right, as Rowe acknowledged in his reply:

“I fully realize that Mr. Towle would be very unlikely to do all the many things that you went through to get the EUPHRATES matter in its present shape, and I imagine there is now, with the death of Lady Anne Blunt, small chance that he could make good on it, even if he really tried.” [37. W. H. Rowe to W. R. Brown, October 30, 1918.]

As matters worked out, no effort was made. By that time, the Arabian Horse Club had an effective registry of its own. The management at Hingham apparently felt that duplicate Jockey Club registration was not worth the trouble.

It was October 30, 1919, that W.R. Brown was finally notified by the Jockey Club that *EUPHRATES AHC 36 had finally been registered in the American Stud Book.

With or without the Jockey Club, the Arabian horse was off to a vigorous start in America.

***

By 1908, it must have been obvious that there were going to be difficulties in securing registration services from the Jockey Club for certain Arabian horses in America. In the past, a few, such as *NEJDME I and others, had apparently been registered by the Jockey Club without any particular documentation as to origin, but, for one reason and another, the situation had changed. The main group of horses involved were those imported by Davenport in the 1906 importation. There were other horses also concerned, however. Among them were the remnants of the Hamidie Society importation of 1893. It happened that the majority of the horses which the Jockey Club would not handle were either in the ownership of Davenport himself or of Peter Bradley of Hingham, Massachusetts, who had been the main financial sponsor of the expedition to Arabia and a number of other horse activities on Davenport’s part. If the Jockey Club registration problem was being compounded by personal factors, as Davenport and Bradley believed, there was no certain time when registration of these horses in the American Stud Book could be anticipated.

Because of this problem, an Arabian horse breeder’s club was organized in 1908. The primary organizers were no doubt Davenport and Bradley, who had the most to gain, but the other interested people of the Arabian horse community in America also belonged with the notable exception of Spencer Borden. According to his statement, he was not invited to participate. [38. The Rider and Driver, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 9, May, 1909, p. 4.] He had not been satisfied by the early confrontation between Davenport and Sewell, and perhaps it was felt by the organizers of the new club that he would not be a congenial influence in the new project. However, he was informed that numbers had been reserved for his horses in the first volume of the new stud book to be issued, to which he replied that his

“horses were registered thoroughbred by Weatherby in England, and by the American Jockey Club, those two thoroughbred stud books being recognized the world over, and “… (that he) … “did not care to enter them in any other place.” [39. Ibid.]

The new club and the stormy little Arab world came in for some public attention the following spring at the Durland show in New York City. The Arabian breeding class at this show was judged by J.A.P. Ramsdell, one of the foundation Arabian breeders. Class specifications called for horses that were registered or eligible for registration. The first three ribbons were awarded to entries shown by Homer Davenport and apparently from the desert importation. Fourth award was given to Spencer Borden’s stallion SEGARIO 249 (Nimr x Shabaka). The gelding ABDALLAH 52 (Bedr x Jamila) was excluded on the grounds that the class was a breeding class. Borden’s stallion IMAMZADA 210 (Imam x Kesia II) received no award.

In those days, as now, Arabian horses people were inclined to take the show ring more as an arena for battle to the death than for good-humored sport. Beyond that, there was a larger point at issue which was whether the new Arabian Horse Club could coexist with the Jockey Club as a registry for the Arabian horse.

Spencer Borden had come equipped for difficulties with the judging and with no inclination to accept competition from the Davenport horses. Upon making his entries at the show, he wrote that

“I gave the pages in the English Stud Book where they were registered, also their registration numbers in the Thoroughbred Stud Book of America, had the memorandum certified by the registrar of the Jockey Club, who went with me and personally verified my list to Mr. Durland. I also handed Mr. Durland a letter telling him I should expect others to present equal evidence of thoroughbreeding on the part of their horses. A copy of this letter Mr. Durland assured me he sent to Mr. Ramsdell” (the judge). [40. Ibid.]

When the class did not go well for the Borden entries, he presented a further letter to the show manager from the Jockey Club stating that the Davenport horses “were not registered, and had not been accepted for registration by the Jockey Club.” [41. Ibid.]

Further homework on Borden’s part came out a few days after the show. the class specifications called for horses which were “registered or eligible for registration.” [42. The Rider and Driver, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 8, May 15, 1909, p. 3.] He had proven that, while his horses were registered with the Jockey Club, the Davenports were not. The Davenports were, however, registered with the newly formed Arabian Horse Club. Borden took the position that this was not a bona fide registry. He had written to the Department of Agriculture and received the following reply:

“Regarding the application of Arabian breeders for the certification of their stud book by this Department, I will say that there is no possibility of this as long as the club has certain rules of entry which were in force at the time it made application to the Department a short time age.” [43. Ibid.]

In other words, the United States Government said that the stud book of the new Arabian Horse Club was not officially recognized. Borden’s conclusion, therefore, was that the Davenport entries had not met the class specifications, and that the awards should be redistributed to the other horses, which he felt were eligible. [44. Ibid.]

There followed a series of exchanges in The Rider and Driver columns. Ramsdell, the judge, was reported as having said that Borden’s horse SEGARIO 249 had two “outcrosses” in his pedigree. [45. Ibid., p. 4.] Borden replied that this was in contradiction to the Weatherby Stud Book records [46. Ibid.] and that in the case of one ancestor in question there was a confusion of identity of horses on Ramsdell’s part. [47. The Rider and Driver, Vol. XXXVIII, no. 16, July 10, 1909, p. 9.]

Davenport’s response to having his horses questioned was to challenge Spence Borden to a pedigree contest between Borden’s SEGARIO 249 and his own *HALEB 25, with Lady Anne Blunt to be the judge of the better pedigree. He originally proposed a stake of $5,000 as the prize, but finally cut the figure to $1,000. Davenport most likely had wind of Lady Anne Blunt’s opinion of one of the ancestors of Borden’s horse as reported in the Raswan Index. [48. Carl Raswan Index, Editorial Anthony, S.S., 1957, vol. 1, section following p. 25.] The challenge did not tempt Borden. He “said he would take no notice of it as his horses are thoroughbred and Mr. Davenport’s are not.” [49. The Rider and Driver, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 8, May 15, 1909, p. 4.] He also suggested to Davenport that “if you want genuine Arabian horses, go to Lady Blunt, whom you agree as ‘the world’s recognized authority on Arab horse breeding’ and buy.” [50. The Rider and Driver, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 9, May, 1909, p. 4.]

The results of the Durland show were not formally protested by Borden. A protest was filed, however, by Mr. N.J.Hess, owner of ABDALLAH 52. ABDALLAH had not been considered in the judging because he was a gelding being shown in a breeding class. He was a bay, a beautiful horse, and, judging from a photograph of him at the trot, capable of performance which would cause him to place well in Arabian performance competition anywhere or any time. In the same Durland show in which he was not judged in the breeding class because he was a gelding, he won the class for best trained saddle horse, being judged as “walk, trot and canter; backing; change of lead on the canter in circles and straightaway; manners when mounted and dismounted; general balance and mouth and handiness.” [51. The Rider and Driver, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 6, May 1, 1909, p. 5] (We could do with the same classes judged on this basis in our present shows.)

Mr. Hess’s basic complaint was that his horse’s capacity for performance, which was supposed to count for fifty per cent, had not been fairly considered. This was especially offensive to him since the winning Davenport horses, in his opinion, were neither registered nor eligible for registration in the Jockey Club’s American Stud Book. [52. The Rider and Driver, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 11, June 5, 1909, p. 4.]

A special committee of the horse show was held on May 27, 1909, to consider the protest. Hess was present as the person with the grievance. Davenport’s side was represented by Davenport himself, Peter Bradley, M.A. Towle, and C.A. Moore. The hearing that followed was headlined in The Rider and Driver as “That Arab Horse Tangle.” which was a rather accurate description. If the Davenport horses were not registered with the Jockey club to Mr. Hess’s satisfaction, it turned out that neither was Mr. Hess’s own horse, and that, in fact, the latter was not even registered with the Arabian Horse Club, although application for such registration had been made and was being held up until transfers of ownership could be traced.

To Davenport, the point at issue was that the lack of Jockey Club registration of his entries did not have any bearing on their authenticity as Arabian horses. In explaining this, he made a rather extensive review of the Jockey Club’s actions as he interpreted them. The matter of the non-recognition by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of the newly formed Arabian Horse Club was brought up but to no conclusion because Davenport said the problem was being straightened out. It is now clear that he was correct in that assumption, at least, but he also expressed optimism about the outcome of the issue with the Jockey Club, and that was a problem that never eased during his own lifetime, nor, perhaps, could it have.

Through the whole affair, the person who was really lost sight of was the protester, Hess. His final remarks were,

“Mr. Chairman, part of my protest consists of the question of training and manners, and as we have Mr. Ramsdell here, don’t you think we had better bring that up now.?”

To which the chairman answered that the matter could be considered at the next meeting, four and one half months later. [53. The Rider and Driver, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 12, 1909, p. 11.]

It would be interesting to know whether that meeting was ever held.

***

There were great differences between the Arabian horses of Homer Davenport’s day. The differences in their owners were not less pronounced. Some of them were marked individualists, as befitted pioneer breeders of an exotic breed of horses. In order to understand how the breed was established and has progressed in this country, it helps to understand something of these men as personalities.

Homer Davenport comes to us through the years as a man of impulse and intuition, yet with the perseverance to pursue his goals in Arabian breeding over a span of twenty years, which was to the end of his life. His chief public prominence was as a political cartoonist. This required an instant, intuitive response to the social situations of his day, and, of course, the ability to project a strong sense of humor. His feelings were robust. He was inclined to express what he felt without much deliberation. People liked him and followed his leadership. In his personal life, he was very much an individualist.

Davenport’s traits of personality had great bearing on his activities with Arabian horses. We have read so much about it that the trip to the desert seems routine to us, perhaps, but in the context of Davenport’s time, it was a great adventure. He could much more easily have imported horses from the Blunts or other English sources. To interest Theodore Roosevelt in sponsoring the trip, to arrange financial backing from Peter Bradley and other sources, to depart within only one month of having received notification that the trip was diplomatically possible — there were actions that required imagination and the ability to carry projects into action quickly.

The key to the success of the Davenport importation was that the trip to the desert and the selection of the horses were under the direction of the Bedouin Sheik, Achmet Haffez. Without the direction, Davenport would no doubt have found horses somewhere in the area of Arabia, but he would have been forced to go the horse dealer route, and it is doubtful that he would have attained animals of the authenticity which he sought. Davenport has described his contact with Achmet Haffez as a “stupid but fortunate blunder.” [54. Davenport Desert Arabian Stud, catalogue for years 1909 and 1910. Best Publishing Co., Boulder Colorado, reprint of 1967, p. 16.] In a sense, it may have been that, but it was a blunder that grew out of Davenport’s personality, one that another might not have made.

Davenport’s personality was also one key to the establishment of the Arabian horse in the United States. He was an active and effective publicist for its virtues. Generally speaking, he was not inclined to understate its merits or the merits of his own horses. This was felt by some, Lady Anne Blunt among them, to be “bad form,” and it must have been quite irritating to those who had Arabian horses from other sources. He was successful in starting a number of other breeders, including Albert Harris. [55. Harris, op. cit., p. 120.] He was instrumental in the establishment of the Arabian Horse Club. (At the height of their disagreement, Borden commented that Davenport’s horses “are to be made ‘thoroughbred,’ even if Mr. Davenport has to publish a book of his own.”) [56. The Rider and Driver. Vol. XXXVIII, No. 9, May, 1909, p. 4.]

It is difficult to fully assess Davenport’s contribution as a breeder of Arabian horses. The stud books beginning with Vol II, published in 1918, credit him with having bred twenty head, plus a joint breeding with Ramsdell. This was certainly a respectable number, especially when Arabian horses were a rarity, but he very likely played a much more active part as a breeder than that figure would indicate through participation in a joint breeding effort with Peter Bradley. Bradley had been the primary financial backer for the expedition to Arabia. With the horses in America, he apparently retained his interest in them but preferred to remain in the background as far as Arabian horse activities were concerned, letting Davenport present them to the public. Immediately following the importation, the horses were advertised in a catalogue titled The Davenport Desert Arabian Stud, 1906-1907. From this catalogue, it appears that this stud was operated as a corporation of some sort with Homer Davenport given as president, A.G. Hooley, vice-president and treasurer, and Bradley, Hooley, and Davenport as directors.

Most of the horse of the importation and their descendants apparently continued to be owned by this organization through the publication in 1909 of the Stud Book of the Arabian Horse Club of America Class A, which it will be noted predated the Volume I published in 1913. As of the 1909 stud book, no entries were recorded in the name of Peter Bradley or of his eventual horse operation, the Hingham Stock Farm.

Homer Davenport died in 1913. In that year, following his death, a new edition of the stud book, Volume I, was published. Most of the remaining desert-breds of the Davenport importation had been transferred to the ownership of the Hingham Stock Farm, indicating complete ownership by Peter Bradley. A few had been transferred to the Armstrong Bedouin Stud. This was the name under which Davenport’s last activities as an Arabian owner were conducted.

One of the interesting things about the 1913 issue of the AHC stud book is that thirty-five of the entries are indicated as having been bred by the “Davenport Desert Arabian Stud.” Subsequently, in Volume II, 1918, almost all of these breeding credits were transferred to the Hingham Stock Farm, but, considering the joint nature of the business arrangement between Bradley and Davenport following the importation, one wonders if Davenport does not deserve some credit for the breeding of these horses. It is a question that could be argued because most of these animals were born in the years 1909, 1910, and 1911. There are some indications that there was a rift of some sort between Bradley and Davenport out of which the Davenport importation from England developed in 1910, and the rift, if any, may have developed prior to the years concerned.

***

Spencer Borden was Homer Davenport’s opposite number in Arabian horse affairs. Through his letters and other writing, he comes to us as somewhat dour and salty, logical, thorough, and a loner. He wanted to do things the right way. He was not shy about entering into controversy, but he was not reluctant to get someone else to pull the chestnuts out of the fire before he stuck his own hand into the coals. He was anything but impetuous. The main thing he and Davenport had in common was a sincere love for the Arabian horse.

Although Borden had owned Arabian horses in a minor way for several years prior to that time, his primary influence on the Arabian scene began about the year of the Davenport importation. In 1905 he began a program of importation of his own from England. In 1906, his book The Arab Horse was published. Perhaps part of the controversy between the two men was that they were both beginners in a new field, and each was eager to prove that his horses were the best. Certainly, when Davenport’s importation arrived with attendant publicity, it tended to overshadow Borden’s own efforts.

The important issue for Borden, however, was that he thought Davenport’s horses were of questionable authenticity. The initial letters he had from Lady Anne Blunt gave reasonable grounds for his doubts. In this context, his objections were more than a matter of demonstrating the superiority of his own horses: he was also trying to prevent Arabian horse breeding in America from becoming a program for horses which were not really Arabians. As matters finally developed, the issue boiled down in his mind to registration with the Jockey Club.

Apparently during most of the debate between the two sides, Borden and Davenport were strangers to one another. In December, 1909, Lady Anne Blunt wrote to Borden

” … I am extremely glad that you have met Mr. Davenport and that as you say he held out the ‘palm branch,’ also that you accepted it. I cannot help thinking that good will come of this good action. He could not but be pleased with your kind and friendly words about his book (I wish he would send me a copy)…” [57. Anne Blunt to Spencer Borden, December 19, 1909.]

Years later, Borden wrote of Davenport,

“…I learned to know the latter, and he had many likable traits in his character. His expedition to Aleppo, and bringing back so many good horses, real Arabs, was a feat without an example. I did not believe it possible till I talked with him, and saw the animals. I do not think they were all equally good, but some were excellent.” [58. Spencer Borden to W.R. Brown. February 12, 1918]

Spencer Borden was an active promoter of the Arabian horse. Apropos of nothing, he would send clippings and pictures to news magazines. If someone wrote a derogatory article about Arabians, he would reply publicly and vehemently. Some of his horses were apparently trained in haute ecole by European trainers, and it must have been extremely unpleasant to him to see them beaten by Davenport’s less finished animals. He was active in trying to develop a future for the Arabian horse as a cavalry mount. He felt Brown’s efforts in promoting the same cause were ineffectual. His own method was to give horses to Generals and promising officers who were on the way up, which shows a realistic grasp of how to get things done in the U.S. Army. [59. Ibid.]

W.R. Brown was not as colorful a personality as Borden or Davenport, nor as easy to characterize. He came into the picture as an Arabian breeder after Davenport’s death. Within a short time, he had established his Maynesboro stud as the most important Arabian breeding farm in the United States. His influence on the Arabian Horse Club was equally great. He wrote that

“When I first became interested in Arabs about 8 or 10 years ago and joined the Club and attended the first meeting, there was no one there except H.K.Bush-Brown, Secretary, and Henry Fairfield Osborn. At that time Mr. Peter Bradley was President but gave it no personal interest whatever, leaving any matter which was attended to Martin A. Towle, his general manager. Spencer Borden who owned nearly an equal number of Arabs with Bradley, and practically all that were in the Jockey Club, played a lone hand and was out of sorts with all of Bradley’s horses.” [60. W. R. Brown to Howard Stout Neilson, February 25, 1920.]

Within a few years, Brown was president of the club, had brought Spencer Borden into the fold after having bought most of his horses, and had put out a fine new stud book. He was a businessman and an extremely effective personality.

As has been seen, it was through Brown’s persistence that the registration of *EUPHRATES 36 and *URFAH 40 with the Jockey Club had been accomplished. He had gone to a considerable amount of trouble over a period of not less than three years to do it. With that done, he was not interested in having the other Davenport desert imports and their descendants at Bradley’s Hingham Stock Farm so registered, rebuffing the exploratory suggestion on the part of Rowe of the Jockey Club that this could be done with them. This was probably partly a matter of business with him. If the Bradley horses had been registered by the Jockey Club in addition to their current registration with the Arabian Horse Club, the number of horses so registered would have increased very greatly, probably by about half. With the door closed on the Bradley horses, however, Brown had an effective monopoly of the Arabian horses which were registered with the Jockey Club as of the time of registration by that organization of *EUPHRATES 36 and *URFAH 40. There were several specific advantages to Jockey Club registration which were definite selling points. Horses with such registration could be imported or exported without duty to all countries of the world. [61. W. R. Brown to H.V.Tormohlen, October 12, 1917.] They were useful “to those who wish to purchase Arabs they can breed to English Thoroughbreds without loss of registration in the thoroughbred class.” [62. W. R. Brown to Spencer Borden, January 19, 1918.]

Different Arabian breeders have different goals in conducting their breeding programs. for W.R. Brown, it had become a major goal to have only horses which carried “double registration,” that is, which were registered by both the Arabian Horse Club and the Jockey club. There was certainly nothing wrong with using this as a criteria for the selection of breeding stock. It was no less sensible than it might have been to want all chestnuts or all greys, or all big horses, or all small horses, or all imported horses or all horses of domestic breeding. Fortunately, the Arabian breed provides these alternatives for those who wish to enjoy them. However, any route chosen in Arabian breeding has consequences. The consequences are not necessarily for the better or for the worse, but they do cause differences in the horses that are produced further down the road.

In Brown’s case, one of the consequences was that certain bloodlines were closed to him which he otherwise might have used. For instance, in 1916, he had the opportunity of buying *EUPHRATES 36, whose registration he had not yet cleared through the Jockey Club. He wrote to Rowe of the Jockey Club that “I might be disposed to do it provided you were successful in obtaining the registration.” [63. W. R. Brown to W. H. Rowe, October 3, 1916.] In 1922, he was offered the stallion *HAMRAH 28, the brother of EUPHRATES 36. Years later, statistical analysis of the AHC Stud Book determined that this stallion was the most influential individual of the breed through 1946. [64. Dr. Ameen Zaher, Arabian Horse Breeding and the Arabians of America. Cairo University Press. 1961, p. 80.] Answering for Brown, his farm manager declined the purchase on the basis that the horse did not have Jockey Club registration.[65. E. B. Humpheries to J.G. Winant. May 2, 1922.] Even the stallion JERREDE 84, for whose registration by the Jockey Club Brown had worked so diligently, was used rather sparingly at Maynesboro, and was sold to Wyoming before the Jockey Club registration finally cleared.

As far as expansion of the Maynesboro stud by acquisition was concerned, the limitation to Jockey Club registration largely ruled out domestic sources of breeding stock because Brown already owned most of the desirable domestic horses fitting into that category. As his practical alternative, this left horses from foreign stud books that would be eligible for Jockey Club registration. As a result, American breeding was enriched by his importations from England and other places.

Brown’s interest in the Jockey Club status of his own horses, of course, had implications outside of the direct development of his own breeding operation. Obviously, he believed in the program he had chosen to follow, and, in addition, he had horses to sell. One of the points of promotion for his horses was their “double registered” status. Answering an inquiry for him, his manager wrote:

“If you really are going to start a herd of pure Arabs, with the registration of both the Arab Horse Club and the Jockey Club which authenticates their desert origin, it looks to us as though it would pay you to make arrangements for their keep and take us up on a proposition we can make you now. Probably we will not be able to make you such an offer again in years.” [66. E. B. Humpheries to Carl Schmidt, February 12, 1923.]

The same person was not above representing the Arabian horses which were not registered with the Jockey Club as being of lesser authenticity than the Brown horses, which, of course, was not true and was contradicted by numerous documents in the Brown files.

Brown had apparently written to W.K.Kellogg concerning the desirability of “double registration” of Arabian horses because Kellogg wrote to him, saying

“Also note what you say about the Weatherby’s registration, and thank you for the information. I appreciate the importance of what you say with reference to importing horses thru France in the future, in order to have proper registration.” [67. W. K. Kellogg to W. R. Brown, August 21, 1926.]

This letter may partly explain the tendency at the Kellogg ranch to breed mares having Jockey Club registration to stallions which were similarly registered. It was not a universal breeding pattern. There were not less than eighteen exceptions through 1944, but a number of the “double registered” mares were bred to “double registered” stallions for their entire productive careers. After the departures from Kellogg’s in 1930 of ANTEZ 448 and in 1936 of HANAD 489, stallions in use at that farm were almost exclusively registered with the Jockey Club or eligible for such registration. The primary exception was RALET 759, who was not used extensively.

Footnotes

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