In 1776, Thomas Paine published “Common Sense”, a beautiful denunciation of the principles of hereditary privilege, and the St Leger, the first “Classic”, was run for the first time, creating a multi billion pound, glamourous, global industry, based on hereditary privilege.
In 1776, the English aristocracy, in the process of losing their American colonies, could see hereditary monarchies and aristocracies facing perilous times across the continent. Did the British Upper Classes get together to create the ultimate fifth column, a real Trojan Horse, combining classical erudition, snobbery, and an apparent love of animals, to destroy these horribly vulgar ideas of equality? Did they pre empt Clausewitz , and decide that rather than war being politics by other means, war could be waged using the politics of other species?
For any aspiring Hollywood producers out there, I can rewrite this as the ultimate conspiracy. A world renowned and respected book, The General Stud Book, that everyone believes is the Family Bible of the Thoroughbred, was actually written in an attempt to stop the British Upper Classes running ringers in weight for age handicaps.
Two British Generals with the same uncommon name, both the children of Sir John St. Leger and Ms Pennefather, but Wikipaedia pretends they aren’t brothers. Have the upper classes even nobbled Wikipaedia? In 1776 one is fighting the revolutionaries in North America and the other is starting the eponymous race with The Marquess of Rockingham, the British Prime Minister, and owner of the winner of the first St Leger. This horse, for reasons that I am sure are entirely honourable, appears to run as Sampson in some races and as Allabaculia in the first St Leger.
With political, social, military and horseracing connections like these, the St Leger “brothers” make such obvious baddies and we only need an American hero to make this a viable project.
But what role can the American hero play. It looks like the British fifth column has won. Americans, and everyone else, have bought into this massive scam. Breeding is all. The Thoroughbred/Pedigree Industry is huge and growing, yet it is based on hereditary privilege, incest, snobbery, misogyny, eugenics and most depressingly, racism.
This is not overt racism, the problem lies deeper, in the whole tribal culture of “Horse People” brilliantly analysed by Rebecca Cassidy in her book of that name. Rebecca Cassidy is an Anthropologist of note, a group whose natural habitat I had always assumed was the upper reaches of the Amazon discovering new tribes for gap year students to rescue from extinction.
In “Horse People” she documents a remarkable study of the arcane rituals, weird beliefs and extraordinary social organisation of two tribes of horse people living in isolated towns in Cambridgeshire and Virginia. You may have heard of Newmarket and Lexington, but you will never look at them again without wondering how they missed the 20th century. Darwin’s theories of genetics, female emancipation, the discrediting of Galton’s eugenics, modern attitudes to racial equality, the law on incest and modern attitudes to animal welfare have escaped notice in a society obsessed with “breeding”. If Thomas Paine had been a religious man, his personal devil’s breeding would have been “Lexington, out of Newmarket.”
Hereditary privilege, incest, snobbery, misogyny, eugenics and most depressingly, racism. These are serious charges and regrettably easy to prove. The evidence is all around us, mostly published by the pedigree/thoroughbred industry and their acolytes.
Hereditary privilege is the basis of all breed shows and stud books. Unless you were born to the right parents, mere quality is irrelevant. Try entering a horse for the St. Leger on the grounds it is very fast. Sorry; the Thoroughbred is the fastest horse in the world and therefore no other animal is allowed to race against it. Don’t ask me to explain the logic, I’m just presenting evidence.
Incest Pedigree breeders of horses, llamas, dogs and any other upper class pet, maintain to this day, that for the best breeding results, “The sire of the sire, should be the grandsire of the dam!” Let me put that into English for you. I should mate my brother’s daughter, or if I had a sister, my sister’s daughter. I must admit the Thoroughbred world didn’t accept this theory. They preferred to cut out the middleman and advocated breeding father to daughter. Since incest is illegal and contravenes the moral codes of Christianity and Islam, why is it desirable to force your pets to do something you would find morally repugnant and which would get you a term inside.
Snobbery. “the native ponies are far better converters of food than their aristocratic cousins.” How frightfully common they must be, but that’s natives for you, can survive on rubbish. This example of casual, and totally pointless, and irrelevant, and inaccurate, snobbery, is found in The British Horse Society Complete Manual of Stable Management, published in 1998. But I will come back to it, because the snobbery hides the inherent racism.
Misogyny. Rebecca Cassidy quotes Federico Tesio, Italian Senator, Businessman and Horse breeder, Author of “Breeding the Racehorse” reprinted UK 1978.the mare is like a sack which gives back what has been put into it…… The female is by nature weaker. The purpose of her existence is the state of pregnancy. As soon as she becomes pregnant the nervous -almost neurotic – symptoms of virginity disappear.” These Aristoteleian theories on the inferiority of females, still infect racing today, and indeed the whole pedigree industry.
Eugenics. Francis Galton’s discredited theories on improving the race, and on races generally, make depressing reading “If a twentieth part of the cost and pains were spent in measures for the improvement of the human race that is spent on the improvement of the breed of horses and cattle, what a galaxy of genius might we not create! We might introduce prophets and high priests of civilization into the world, as surely as we can propagate idiots by mating cretins. Men and women of the present day are, to those we might hope to bring into existence, what the pariah dogs of the streets of an Eastern town are to our own highly-bred varieties.”
And here is Galton on the other human beings who share our planet. “Here, then, is a well-marked type of character, that formerly prevailed over a large part of the globe, with which other equally marked types of character in other regions are strongly contrasted. Take, for instance, the typical West African Negro. He is more unlike the Red man in his mind than in his body. Their characters are almost opposite, one to the other. The Red man has great patience, great reticence, great dignity, and no passion; the Negro has strong impulsive passions, and neither patience, reticence, nor dignity. He is warm-hearted, loving towards his master’s children, and idolised by the children in return. He is eminently gregarious, for he is always jabbering, quarrelling, tom-tom-ing, or dancing. He is remarkably domestic, and he is endowed with such constitutional vigour, and is so prolific, that his race is irrepressible.”
Yet Galton’s theory of Prepotency continues to this day in “respectable” breeding circles. Galton believed that certain individuals were so superior, like a certain Francis Galton, that they could impose their genetic characteristics down the line over riding any female influence and any common or foreign influence. This “prepotency” explains why one horse, of dubious ancestry, size and weight, sired an entire breed, the Morgan.
Figure is thought to have stood about 14 hh (1.42 m), and to have weighed about 950 lb (430 kg). He was known for his prepotency, passing on his distinctive looks, conformation, temperament, and athleticism. We know he passed on his distinctive looks, we just aren’t too sure what he looked like. All his descendants are Morgans, but his parents, siblings and close relatives outside the direct line aren’t. I am sure there is a rational explanation and Francis Galton will produce it.
We end up with racism, and I suspect we always will. The English upper classes happily run the PLU system to exclude those they don’t want. It is the commonest, and in some ways most harmless, snobbery. We all want to mix with People Like Us, and choosing to mix with people because of shared interests is inevitable.
Apartheid is the ugly side of PLU, and the pedigree/thoroughbred industry is built on overt apartheid based on breeding and appearance. Any employer using the selection processes for show animals to pick their staff would be in jail for ever on a combination of racial sexual and disability discrimination suits.
The word Mulatto, deriving from the portuguese/spanish for small mule, shows the extent to which animal breeding attitudes have been applied to mixed race people. Half blood, half breed, mongrel, mulatto are these animal breeding terms or racist terms. Like most terms they describe a continuum, but the inherently racist principles of breeders, going for pure blood as better cannot avoid creating a mindset and philosophy that will denigrate mixed race and other race animals or people.
Henry Wynmalen, published by Country Life in 1950, said “The equal potency of both parents applies only in so far as they are equally well bred, for if one or other of the parents is better bred than the other, the better bred one will be markedly pre-potent. Which is due of course to the accumulated influence of a flawless ancestry.”
But that is back in the 50’s we are in the 21st century now.
2008 American Jockey Club rules.
“A foal is eligible for registration provided it is shown to the satisfaction of the Stewards of The Jockey Club that the foal’s pedigree authentically traces in all its lines to horses recorded in The American Stud Book or a Foreign Stud Book approved by The Jockey Club and the International Stud Book Committee and if it satisfies all other requirements set forth in these rules.”
Eat your heart out Tom Paine, you’ve lost, you’re out of date and just plain wrong. So eat these words.
but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth enquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and an imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and though himself might deserve some” decent degree of honors of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.