The Real History Of The Pacing Horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 07-10-2013, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
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The Real History Of The Pacing Horse

What you are about to read was written by a man who was one of, if not the most detailed horse historians ever. The purpose of his book was to correct the inaccurate information that was assumed to be fact, that was been published, and bring actual facts to the reader. The amount of detail that went in into this book must have taken the best part of a life time. It was published near the end of the 19th century. His name is being withheld for a little while to find out if any of you can work out the name of this remarkable man.

Hold on to your seats and enjoy the ride LOL ....



The mechanism of the different gaits----The Elgin Marbles----Britain becomes a Roman province----Pacers in the time of the Romans----Bronze horses of Venice----Fitz Stephen, the Monk of Canterbury----Evidence of the Great
Seals----What Blundeville says----What Gervaise Markham says----What the Duke of Newcastle says----The amble and the pace one and the same----At the close of Elizabeth's reign----The Galloways and Hobbies----Extinction of the Pacer----The original Pacer probably from the North----Polydore Virgil's evidence----Samuel Purchas' evidence----The process of wiping out the Pacer----King James set the fashion----All foreign horses called " Arabians "----The foreigners larger and handsomer----Good roads and wheeled vehicles dispensed with the Pacer----Result of promting Mr. Euren----Mr. Youatt's blunder----Other English Gentlemen not convinced there ever were any Pacers.

IN considering the antiquity and history of the pacing horse, it seems to be necessary that we should have a clear perception of the mechanism of the gait from which he takes his distinctive name and the relation which that mechanism bears to other gaits or means of progression. In the study of this mechanism we learn the combination by which we unlock the mystery that has puzzled so many breeders of the past and present generations. Some have maintained that the pace is a combination of the trot and the gallop, while a smaller number have maintained that the fast trot was a combination of the pace and the gallop. It is quite evident, as I will be able to show, that neither of these parties has ever given any careful attention and study to the mechanism of the different gaits. The most simple and least complicated method of illustrating this mechanism of movement is furnished in the human means of progression. At the walk, a man steps off with his left foot and the heel of that foot strikes the ground before the toe of the right foot leaves it. Then the right foot advances and strikes the ground before the toe of the left foot leaves it. This is the natural "heel and toe" walk, and the speed may be increased by quickening the step and extending the stride, so far as physical conformation will permit. Still greater speed becomes a succession of bounds, the propelling foot leaving the ground before the advanced foot strikes it. This is running, the highest rate of speed attainable, and in every revolution, for a space, the whole body is in the air. In the action of the horse, with four legs, we find greater complication, which I will try to make clear.

First, all horses walk, all horses pace or trot, and all horses gallop. The walk is easily analyzed, for it is slow and the movement of each limb can be followed by the eye. Each foot makes its own stroke upon the ground, and we count one, two, three, four in the revolution.

Second, at the gallop, which is a succession of leaps, each limb, as shown by the instantaneous photograph performs its own function, whether in rising from the ground, flying through the air, or in striking the ground again. There is harmony in all, but there is no unity in any two or more of them, and when they strike the ground again you hear the impacts, one, two, three, four, in a cluster. The conventional drawing of the running horse in action is impossible in nature, and a wretched caricature of the action as it is: As in the walk, so in the run, we count four impacts in the revolution.

Third, at the pace the horse advances the two feet, on the same side, at the same time, and when they reach the ground again there is but one impact; then the two feet on the other side are advanced and strike in the same way. Thus, the rhythm of the action strikes the ear as that of the movement of an animal with two feet instead of four. In this there can be no mechanical mistake, for in the revolution of the four-legged pacing horse we count one, two, and in the revolution of the two-legged man we count one, two. The conclusion, therefore, seems to be inevitable that the two legs on the same side of the pacing horse act in perfect unison in performing the functions of one leg. At the trot the horse advances the two diagonal feet at the same time, and when they reach the ground again there is but one impact; then the two other diagonal feet are advanced and strike in the same way. Thus, the rhythm of the action strikes the ear as that of the movement of an animal with two feet instead of four. In this there can be no mechanical mistake, for in the revolution of the four-legged trotting horse we count one, two, and in the revolution of the two-legged man we count one, two. The conclusion, therefore, seems to be inevitable that the two diagonal legs of the trotting horse act in perfect unison in performing the function of one leg. In the mechanism of the gait then that is midway between the walk and the gallop there is no difference in results, nor distinction in the economy of motion, except that the pacer uses the lateral legs as one, and the trotter the diagonal legs as one. In use, there is a vertical distinction, if that term should be allowed, between the gait of the pacer and the trotter. The action of the pacer is lower and more gliding which fits him for the saddle, while the action of the trotter is higher and more bounding which makes him more desirable as a harness horse. In the processes of inter-breeding to the fastest, this distinction, if it be a distinction, seems to be coming less real, or at least less observable.

While the essential oneness of the pace and the trot is indicated above from the mechanism and unity of the two gaits, there is a great mountain of evidence to be developed when we reach the consideration of breeding subjects, in which we will meet multitudes of fast trotters getting fast pacers, and fast pacers getting fast trotters; fast pacers changed over to fast trotters and fast trotters changed over to fast pacers, and the final evidence that speed at the one gait means speed at the other. Having briefly explained what a pacer is, it is now in order to take up the question of whence he came.

On the summit of the Acropolis, in Athens, stand the ruins of the Parthenon, a magnificent temple erected to the goddess Minerva. The building was commenced in the year B.C. 437, and was completed five years afterward. All the statuary was the work of the famous Phidias and his scolars, made from Pentelic marble. This noted building resisted all the ravages of time, and had, in turn, been converted into a Christian temple and a Turkish mosque. In 1676 it was still entire, but in 1687 Athens was besieged by the Venetians, and the Parthenon was hopelessly wrecked. As a ruin it became the prey of the Turks and all other devastators, and in order to save something of what remained of its precious works of art, Lord Elgin, about the year 1800, brought home to England some portions of the frieze of the temple, with other works of Phidias, in marble, sold them to the government, and they are preserved in the British Museum. This frieze is a most interesting subject to study, not only as a specimen of Greek art of the period of Pericles, but as a historic record of the type and action of the Greek horses of that day. It consists of a series of white marble slabs, something over four feet wide, upon which are sculptured, in high relief, the heroes and defenders of Athens, mounted on horses, and some of these horses are pacing, while others are trotting and cantering. This is the first undoubted record we have of the pacer, and it is now over two thousand three hundred and thirty years old.

Britain became a Roman province in the reign of Claudius, in the first part of the first century of the Christian era, and it continued under the Roman yoke until A.D. 426, when the troops were withdrawn to help Valentinian against the Huns, and never returned. When Julius Caesar first invaded Britain, in the year B.C. 55, he found the inhabitants fierce and warlike and abundantly supplied with horses and war chariots. These chariots were driven with great daring and skill, and the fact was thus demonstrated that this kind of warfare was not a new thing to the Britons, and that they were not to be easily subdued. The next year he returned again, but the second seems to have been no more successful than the first expedition. But little is known of the extent of territory of overrun or the result of these invasions beyond the fact that no settlement was made then, and none till about ninety years afterward, when under the reign of Claudius, a strong military colony was planted there and Britain became a Roman province. During these centuries of bondage we know practically nothing of the lives of the slaves and but little of their masters, except the remnants of military works for aggression and defence, and the magnificent roads they constructed whereever they moved their armies. In relation to their horses, I will make a few extracts from a work published about the beginning of this century, by Mr. John Lawrence, a man of great research and intelligence, besides of a wide acquaintance with the practical affairs of the horse, and, I may add, altogether the most reliable writer of his period. He says:

"In forming the paces, if the colt was not naturally of a proud and lofty action, like the Spanish or Persian horses, wooden rollers and weights were bound to their pastern joints, which gave them the habit of lifting up their feet. This method, also, was practiced in teaching them the ambulatura, or amble (pace), perhaps universally the common traveling pace of the Romans.

"That natural and most excellent pace, the trot, seems to have been very little prized or attended to by the ancients, and was, indeed, by the Romans held in a kind of contempt, or aversion, as is demonstrated by the terms which served to describe it. A trotting horse was called by them succussator, o: shaker, and sometimes cruciator. or tormentor, which bad terms, it may be presumed, were applied specially to those which in these days we dignify with the expressive appellation of 'bone-setters.'"

The statuary of the early ages furnishes some excellent illustrations of the gait of the horse at that period of the world's history. The four bronze horses on St. Mark's in Venice are known throughout the world, and they are in the pacing attitude. The forefoot that is advanced is possibly a little too much elevated to strike the ground the same instant the hinder foot should strike it, but the whole action indicated is undoubtedly the lateral action. The date of these horses is lost in history, but it is supposed they were cast in Rome, about the beginning of the Christian era. Their capture in Rome and transfer to Constantinople, then their capture by the Venetians and transfer to Venice, next their capture by Napoleon and transfer to Paris, and then their restoration to Venice, are all matters of history." Continued ..
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Last edited by Terrier Man; 07-10-2013 at 10:32 AM.
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post #2 of 3 Old 07-10-2013, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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Part 2

"William Stephanides, or Fitz Stephen, as he was called, a monk of Canterbury, was born in London, lived in the reigns of King Stephen, Henry ll., and Richard l., and died in in 1191. He wrote a description of London in Latin, which was afterward translated by John Strype, and printed, from which I take the following extract:

"There is without one of the gates, immediately in the suburb, a certain smooth field (Smithfield) in name and reality. There every Friday, unless it be one of the more solemn festivals, is a noted show of well-bred horses exposed for sale. The earls, barons and knights who are at the time resident in the city, as well as most of the citizens, flock thither either to look or buy. It is pleasant to see the nags with their sleek and shining coats, smoothly ambiing (pacing) along, raising and setting down, as it were, their feet on either side; in one part (of the field) are horses better adapted to the esquires; those whose pace is rougher, yet expeditious, lift up and set down, as it were, the two opposite fore and hind feet (trotting) together."

After locating and describing the pacers in one part of the field and the trotters in another, Fitz Stephen goes on to take a look at the colts, then horses of burden, "strong and stout of limb," and then their chargers in galloping action. He next gives a very spirited description of the race, when the people raise a shout and all the other horses, cattle, etc., are cleared away, that the contestants may have an unobstructed field. It is a fact worthy of note that every English writer on the race horse, for the past century or two, has quoted a part of the above paragraph from Fitz Stephen as the first known and recorded instance of racing in England, but left one of the most important parts out. Even Mr. Whyte, one of the most prominent of modern writers, in his "History of the British Turf," seems to have followed some other writer, in the omission, or possibly, as he never had seen a pacer in England, he concluded that Fitz Stephen had only imagined that he saw, in one part of the field, horses moving at the lateral gait. In the paragraph quoted above, I have italicised that part of the description which English writers on turf subjects have omitted with remarkable uniformity.

This seems to have been the period in which the pacing horse reached the highest point in official and popular appreciation, at least since the days of the Roman occupation of Britain. In speaking of this period, Mr. Lawrence says: All descriptions off saddle horses were taught to amble" (that did not amble naturally), "and the that most excellent and useful gait, the trot, was almost entirely disused." In addition to the evidence of Fitz Stephen, we have that furnishing by the Great Seals of a succession of sovereigns commencing with Richard l., and continuing to Elizabeth. These seals represent a knight in armor, mounted on a pacing horse in action, and perhaps the most conspicuous, at least the clearest, impression that has come down to us is that of King John, used at Runnymede, when he yielded to the demands of his barons and granted the Magna Charta. This act secured the liberties of the Anglo-Saxon race for all time and in all climes.

Mr. Thomas Blundeville was, probably, the first writer on the horse who undertook to publish a book in the English language on that subject. This book, entitled "The Art of Riding," was merely a translation from the Italian, with some brief observations on English horses added to it. The first edition, it is said, was published in London, 1558, the year that Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne. The only edition which I have been able to find in the British Museum is that of 1580, in old English black letter. In quoting from the old authors of that period I will seek to avoid confusion by using the modern orthography. In speaking of the horses of his day he says:

"Some men would have a breed of great trotting horses meet for the war and to serve in the field. Some others again would have a breed of ambling horses of a mean stature for to journey and travel by the way. Some, again, would have a race of swift runners to run for wagers or to gallop the buck, or to serve for such like exercise for pleasure. But the plain countryman would have a breed only for draft or burthen.

"The Irish Hobbie is a pretty fine horse, having a good head and a body indifferently well proportioned, saving that many of them be slender and pinbuttocked. They are tender-mouthed, nimble, pleasant and apt to be taught, and for the most part they be amblers and thus very meet for the saddle and to travel by the way. Yea, and the Irishman both with darts and light spear, do use to skirmish with them in the field, and many of them do prove to that use very well, by means they be so light and swift.

"Let those mares that shall be put to the stallion be of a high stature, strongly made, large and fair, and having a trotting pace as the mares of Flanders and some of our own mares be. For it is not meet, for divers reasons, that horses of [service stallions] should amble. But if any man seeks to have a race of ambling horses, to travel by the way, then I would wish his stallion to be a fair jennet of Spain, or at least a ******* jennet, or else a fair Irish ambling Hobbie; and the mare to be also a ******* jennet, bred here within this realm, having an ambling pace, or else some other of our ambling mares, so that the mare be well proportioned. And if any man desires to have swift runners let him choose a horse of Barbary or a Turk to be his stallion, and let the mare, which shall be put unto him, be like of stature and making unto him, so nigh as may be, for most commonly, such sire and dam such colt."

It is evident Mr. Blundeville was not much of a friend of the pacer, but as an honest writer he considers things as he finds them. Unfortunately he throws no light upon just what he means by the term "Spanish Jennet," and a definition of that term, as used in the sixteenth century, would throw much light on passages from following writers in later periods. Everybody knows he was a small Spanish saddle horse, but nobody knows just what gait he took. To use Blundevilles own language, "The pace of the jennet of Spain is neither trot nor amble, but a comely kind of going like the Turke,"

Mr. Gervaise Markham published several revised and enlarged editions of his work on the horse, the last of which I have been able to examine being printed in London, 1607, the same year the colony was planted at Jamestown, Virginia. In this edition he devotes nine short chapters or paragraphs to the pacer. In quoting from him I will again use the modern methods of spelling. He says:

"First to speak of ambling in general. It is that smooth and easy pace which the labor and industry of an ingenious brain hath found out to relieve the aged, sick, impotent and diseased persons, to make women undertake journeying and so by their community to grace society: to make great men try the ease of travel, more willing to thrust themselves into the offices of the commonwealth, and to do the poor both relief and service. It makes them when necessity, or as the proverb is, "when the devil drives," not to be vexed with the two torments, a troubled mind and a tormented body. To conclude, ambling was found out for the general ease of the whole world, as long as there is either pleasure, commerce or trade amongst the people. Now for the manner of the motion and the difference betwixt it and trotting. It cannot be described more plainly than I have set down in my former treatise; which is that it is the taking up of both legs together upon one side and so carrying them smoothly along to set them down upon the ground even together, and in that motion he must lift and wind up his fore foot somewhat high from the ground, as it were, sweep it close to the earth. Now, by taking up both his legs together on one side, I mean he must take up his right fore foot and his right hinder foot. For, as in the contrary pace, when a horse trots he takes up his feet crosswise, as the left hinder foot and the right fore foot, etc."

Mr. Markham, in his edition of 1607 then goes on in six or eight chapters acknowledging that many foals pace naturally, and to show how the foal may be trained to pace. His methods are very cruel, in many cases, and very crude throughout; but it clearly demonstrates the fact that in the sixteenth century the pace was a very general gait among English horses. In these chapters we find the toe weight first introduced as well as the trammels or hopples. The most striking fact brought out in these chapters is the discovery that more than three hundred years ago Englishmen were using the same devices to convert trotters into pacers that we are now using to convert pacers into trotters. He takes notice that Mr. Blundeville had advised those who wished to breed amblers to select a Spanish jennet or an Irish Hobbie, and objects to the former on the grounds that their paces are weak and uncertain. From this I conclude that the gait of the jennet, whatever it might have been, was not a habit of action fixed in the breed, and that its transmission was doubtful.

Mr. Markham then goes on further to explain the mechanism of the trot and the pace and incidentally introduces the rack or single-foot action, which, I think, is the first time I have found it in any English writer. He says:

"The nearer a horse taketh his limbs from the ground, the opener and evener and the shorter he treadeth, the better will be his pace, and the contrary declares much imperfection. If you buy a horse for pleasure the amble is the best, in which you observe that he moves both his legs on one side together" neat with complete deliberation, for if he treads too short he is apt to stumble, if too large to cut and if shuffling or rowling he does it slovenly, and besides rids no ground. If your home be designed for hunting, a racking pace is most expedient, which little differs from the amble, only is more active and nimble, whereby the horse observes due motion, but you must not force him too eagerly. lest being in confusion he lose all knowledge of what you design him to, and so handle his legs confusedly. The gallop is requisite for race horses,... If he gallop round and raise his fore legs he is then said to gallop strongly, but not capable of much speed, and is fitter for the war than racing."

This is only part of it and if you like what you read so far then you need to read the next chapter too. LOL

Irish Eddie
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Last edited by Terrier Man; 07-10-2013 at 10:46 AM.
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post #3 of 3 Old 07-10-2013, 05:50 PM
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Was the author Wallace? I personally like to ride the pace. All of our horses that don't make it to the racetrack are broke to saddle. Just another way to help ensure they have a long and useful life.
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