Friday, December 23, 2005

Once again, not about romance novels, but about horses.

Lovely boy.



But what does this cartoon have to do with him?




Well, without the cartoon, that horse's ancestors wouldn't have come to America. The whys and wherefores are detailed, but the short version is that a political cartoonist named Homer Davenport drew a sketch of Uncle Sam with his hand on Teddy Roosevelt's shoulder saying, "He's the one for me."

Teddy credited that cartoon as helping him in the presidential election. Davenport went to the new president and said that he would like to go to the desert to import Arabians. The president wrote a letter of introduction for Mr. Davenport. The original idea was to bring in breeding stock so as to improve the American cavalry, but some of the "Davenport" Arabians were bred to each other. (Davenport made an interesting mistake in protocol and ended up being given a prized war mare by a grateful tribal leader. This was highly unusual--Arabs would part with the superfluous stallions, but the mares were useful animals and not so easily given up.)Here's a very detailed article if you're interested in this story.

One of the horses which came over was Muson. Here he is with Buffalo Bill--I have this feed calendar lithograph hanging in my guest bathroom. (The image comes from the Buffalo Bill Museum.)





And here is his great-great-grandson, bred in all lines to Davenport Arabians:




Another of the Davenport stallions ended up at Mr. Kellogg's horse ranch in Southern CA. (Yes, that Kellogg, the cereal baron.) Being close to Hollywood, a lot of these horses ended up in early movies. The most famous being Jadaan, who was Rudolph Valentino's horse in The Son of the Sheik. Here's a picture of Jadaan with Rudolph Valentino. (Heh Heh. Only a horse person would credit the photo with the horse's name first!)



When Rudy suddenly died before the film was released, the public became insane for anything associated with Rudy. Jadaan was dressed in his movie costume and brought out riderless (sniff!) for the Sunday morning horse shows at the Kellogg ranch. He was trailered to Valentino's shrine for publicity photos. He led the Rose Bowl parade. When he died his skeleton was mounted, and (apparently) is still used as a teaching tool for the UC Davis vet school.

Another of Mr. Kellogg's horses (not a "Davenport", not that it matters) was also used as the model for Prince Charming's horse in Disney's Snow White. His name was King John.

Kellogg had an almost metallic chestnut Davenport stallion, Antez, who was among Mr. Kellogg's favorites. (Another famous "golden horse" who is related, although barely, to Antez is Bamboo Harvester, whom you may know as Mr. Ed. One of Clayton Moore's Silver's was related to Antez too. Antez was so prevalent in CA pedigrees at one point, that it wouldn't be surprising at all to find him show up in a lot of trained horses' backgrounds.)

There are a number of old American lines of Arabian horses--Davenports and part-Davenports start showing up in many pedigrees once you start looking for them. They were and are very useful animals, built for work and war. They are intelligent and long lived. And their stories are interesting to me, as they involve presidents, politics, movie stars, and American culture.

3 comments:

CW said...

You can post about horses any day. :D

Those war mares...wow.

Suisan said...

Yeah--they had endurance which was unbelievable. The Bedouin pampered them, kept them in their tents in bad weather, and almost completely ignored the stallions (some were exported to England with deformed front legs due to being hobbled most of their lives.)

Tricky Bedu, though. They managed to convince the Egyptians that the stallions were very exotic and valuable and sent them to Egypt as tribute. Then the Egyptians passed that along to the West, and then you get the cult of the Arabian Stallion. When in fact the Bedu consider the family line to come from the mare and actually use the mares.

On the other hand--I get along with stallions a whole lot better on average than I do mares. Some of them are just too tough to take orders. As a general rule, most Arabian stallions are all bluster.

CindyS said...

Would it be wrong to say that Arabian stallions sound just like the perfect Alpha male? All bluster for the female?

I'm enjoying the horse posts also and am intrigued by how people can actually follow their bloodlines. Funny how some of us can't trace our ancestors but ask about of certified puppy and we'll match him to the arc ;)

CindyS