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A Dissertation on Horses   By:

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This eBook was produced by Holly Ingraham

Summary: Osmer shows us, by what he argues against, the primitive state of horse breeding in England where a superstitious belief in bloodline with no attention to conformation rules. This is difficult for the modern reader to even visualize, after the late 19th century development of conformation norms for all breeds of animal. Notable for a description of horse raising and use among the nomad Arabs, evidence of the survival of the ancient Nisaean breed in Turkey, and stories of the Godolphin Arabian.

Transcriber's Note: I have retained most of the original spellings, as it may be valuable to see how such things have changed over the centuries. These odd spellings are marked with a double asterisk () not referencing any sort of note. The use of capitalization or all caps is as in the original.

A DISSERTATION on HORSES: wherein it is demonstrated, by Matters of Fact, as well as from the Principles of Philosophy, that INNATE QUALITIES do not exist, and that the excellence of this Animal is altogether mechanical and not in the Blood.


London: Printed for T. Waller, 1756

A Dissertation on Horses

Whoever supposes that Mess. Heber and Pond, or even Mr. John Cheney, were the first who published accounts of Horse racing, will find himself much mistaken, for there lived others above a hundred years before them, who not only published accounts of Horse racing, but acquainted us with the history of the wrestling, backsword playing, boxing, and even foot racing, that happened in their days; and from them we learn also who were the victors, and how the racers came in.

Amongst these, lived a man whose name was Homer, a blind or obscure man (for they are synonimous terms) who occasionally published his book of sports, and to him we are obliged also for the pedigree of many Horses that were esteemed the best in his time. This man was said to be poor, in little esteem, and to travel about the country to sell his books; but though his circumstances were very low, his understanding, it seems, was not, for he always took care to pay his court to the great personages wherever he came, and to flatter them in the blood of their Horses. But though he was little esteemed in his life time, yet his book of pedigrees and genealogy of Horses was thought so useful, that he was greatly honoured for it after his death. And what is more strange, though the place of his nativity was unknown, and no country would receive him as a member of their community when living, yet when dead, many nations contended for the honour of it; but whatever arguments each country may produce for the support of its claim, nothing is more evident than that he was an Englishman; and there is great reason to believe he was born somewhere in the North, though I do not take upon me to say it absolutely was so. His partiality however, to that part of the kingdom, is manifest enough, for he pretended to say, that a good racer could be bred in no place but the North; whereas, late experience has proved that to be a very idle notion. But as the northern gentlemen were the first breeders of racing Horses, so it is very probably they were also the first subscribers to his book, and then we shall find his partiality might arise, either from his gratitude to these gentlemen, or from its being the place of his nativity, or perhaps from both.

There was in the North in his time, a very famous Stallion called Boreas: Whether the present breeders have any of that blood left, I do not certainly know; but Homer, to flatter the owner, who was a subscriber to his book, and always gave him two half guineas instead of one, fabled that this same Boreas begot his colts as fleet as the wind. This to be sure will be looked upon as nothing more than a matter of polite partiality to his benefactor: But it is much to be feared, this partiality has not been confined to persons alone; for there is reason to believe, that in many cases, he has varied the true pedigree of his Horses, and (not unlike our modern breeders) has left out one cross that has been thought not good, and substituted another in its room held more fashionable... Continue reading book >>

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