Born in 1926 at the United States Army Remount Depot in Front Royal, Virginia (less than an hour from the National Sporting Library & Museum), Jenny Camp was named after the cavalry’s horse shows open to enlisted soldiers, women, and children, known as “Jenny Camp” shows. Despite being the daughter of one of the Army’s finest remount stallions, Gordon Russell, Jenny Camp did not come equipped with wonderful confirmation, but she did come with a scrappy hardiness that would take her far.

Jenny Camp. “Olympic Horseflesh” by John T. Cole, Cavalry Journal May-June 1937, p. 202.

At the Cavalry School in Fort Riley, Kansas, Jenny Camp was selected as a potential Olympic team mount and began training for the three-part Olympic event called Eventing. This event developed out of military horsemanship and requires the competitors to excel in dressage, cross country riding, and show jumping – all skills needed in a good cavalry mount. Not just a test of the horse’s abilities, it is also a showcase for the skills of the rider, and close teamwork between the mount and rider is critical for success. Jenny Camp was paired with Lieutenant Earl F. “Tommy” Thompson (1900–1971).

Earl F. “Tommy” Thompson. Equestrian Sport at the Olympic Games: 1912-2008 by Max Ammann (2012) p.82. The gift of William Steinkraus.

Thompson was a graduate of West Point and a polo player. He would go on to become one of the most successful of the United States military’s Olympians. His partnership with Jenny Camp yielded three medals in two consecutive Olympic Games. The pair won the individual silver medal and the team gold medal in eventing at the 1932 Olympics, and the individual silver medal in eventing at the 1936 Olympics. In 1948 he won two more medals on other mounts, bringing his total to five. In 1952 Olympics he participated as an official for the equestrian events.

Thompson and Jenny Camp. Equestrian Excellence by Barbara Wallace Shambach (1996), p. 28.

The eventing competition in the 1936 Olympics would come with controversy. The cross country segment included a jump into water that would prove difficult and even deadly. Riders were required to negotiate a three foot post-and-rail fence into a pond approximately two feet deep, and clear a jump out on the far side. The water was deeper than it appeared and the footing on the bottom of the pond was soft and muddy, resulting in numerous falls. Only fifteen of forty-eight horses successfully handled the obstacle and three were required to be euthanized due to injury, including one of the American team’s mounts.

Footage of the dangerous water obstacle at the 1936 Olympics. Thompson and Jenny Camp can been seen at 3:01.

The controversy came when the Germans all handled the jump by taking a longer, less direct route which appeared to have good, even footing. There was speculation that they knew the condition of the footing under the water ahead of time and were able to avoid trouble. In the end nothing could be proven. In order to be eligible for a team medal, all members of a team must complete each element of the eventing trial. By the end of the cross country portion of the event, there remained only three intact teams. Despite being out of the team competition, Thompson and Jenny Camp took on the show jumping course the following day and earned their second individual silver medal.

Thompson and Jenny Camp at the 1936 Olympics. They would win the individual silver medal for eventing. Equestrian Sport at the Olympic Games: 1912-2008 by Max Ammann (2012), p. 95. The gift of William Steinkraus.

Commentary on Jenny Camp from the time can be found in two articles for the The Cavalry Journal May/June 1937 issue. In the first, “Olympic Horseflesh,” Major John T. Cole said, “Although she is a frail little thing, she showed wonderful stamina and courage… She is now at the Remount Depot at Fort Robinson, being bred in hopes that she may transmit her fine courage and stamina to a better shaped and nicer moving colt” (p. 201).

Thompson and Jenny Camp at the 1932 Olympics. They would win the individual silver medal and the team gold medal for eventing. Equestrian Sport at the Olympic Games: 1912-2008 by Max Ammann (2012), p. 82. The gift of William Steinkraus

In his article “The Conformation of Three-Day Horses” Lieutenant Colonel Harry D. Chamberlin said, “Jenny Camp, however, has proved herself the miracle horse, in that, as stated by Major Cole, she is on the small side, short-gaited, far from prepossessing from the knee down (particularly in her front pasterns which are quite upright), and undoubtedly the poorest of the three horses in general conformation. Yet she did the best work then and lived to repeat in 1936. Captain Earl F. Thompson must share generously in her glory, for such things do not happen to any horse unless superbly and intelligently ridden… In addition she possessed that greatest of all virtues, true quality. This word is frequently misused and misunderstood. When used generally about a horse, as “that horse has quality,” it means something that can be determined only by test. It is a matter of the circulatory, respiratory, nervous, and digestive system, substance of the tendons, muscles, bones, etc., and their proper functioning under tremendous strain, requiring particularly endurance and maximum effort. In quality, the gallant little mare proved a marvel, having that final and all-important virtue embraced in the term “quality”; i.e., great courage. She also has the innate and impossible-to-develop attributes of agility and quickness” (203-4).

Thompson and Jenny Camp. Olympic Equestrian by Jennifer O. Bryant (2008), p. 98. The gift of The Blood-Horse.

During World War II Earl F. Thompson served as chief of staff for the 10th Mountain Division. He earned the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. He retired from the Army in 1954 as a full Colonel. Jenny Camp retired from Olympic competition after the 1936 games and went to Fort Robinson to serve as a broodmare. One of the members of the 1932 Olympic equestrian team eventually bought her and moved her to his farm in California where she lived to the the age of thirty-two. Today her memory is preserved in the Jenny Camp Horse Trials held by the Maryland Combined Training Association every September.

Works Cited

Ammann, Max E. Equestrian Sport at the Olympic Games 1912-2008. Lusanne, Federation Equestre Internationale, 2012.

Bryant, Jennifer. Olympic Equestrian. Lexington, Kentucky, Eclipse Press, 2008.

Chamberlin, Harry D. “The Conformation of Three-Day Horses.” The Cavalry Journal, May-June 1937, pp. 203-205.

Cole, John T. “Olympic Horseflesh.” The Cavalry Journal, May-June 1937, pp.197-230.

Shambach, Barbara Wallace. Equestrian Excellence. Boonsboro, Maryland, Half Halt Press, 1996.

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

Or, the full title, “Black Beauty: His grooms and companions. The autobiography of a horse. Translated from the original equine by Anna Sewell

Just in time for Sewell’s birthday on March 30! As mentioned in prior blog posts, I am not an equestrienne in any sense of the word. My acquaintance with horses was exactly one Girl Scout excursion circa 1995 and reading about Felicity’s love for her horse, Penny, in the American Girl series. American Girl was also the root of my love for history and set me on my path to majoring in it (History, not American Girls – if only) in undergrad – books for the win!

Felicity and her brother watching Penny with her terrible owner in Meet Felicity. Image courtesy of American Girl Wiki

And now for a Classic. I have always known of Black Beauty, the way one hears about Treasure Island or Gulliver’s Travels. It’s just one of those ubiquitous books. Due to its relatively short length and its narration by the titular character, it is often considered a children’s book. But it really isn’t, per the intentions of the author. It just worked out that way as its publication coincided with legislation that began requiring children to attend school, so it literally had a whole new audience.

First, a little about the author.

Anna Sewell
Image courtesy of Literary Ladies Guides

Sewell was born in 1820 in Great Yarmouth in England to Isaac and Mary, who instilled in their two children (brother Philip came along in 1822) a sense of moral responsibility influenced by their Quaker faith. Isaac wasn’t initially the most successful of breadwinners, and the family frequently moved. As a toddler, Sewell often wanted to feed the horses. At her uncle’s farm, she learned to ride (sidesaddle, as was the custom) and carriage drive. She and Philip would spend the days riding and exploring. She was described by her mother as having a “great deal of courage and independence of character, never burdened with any kind of fear.”

As young children Anne and Philip were tutored by their mother. Perhaps the most important lesson taught was “that everything living was part of God’s family and ‘that all cruelty or injury inflicted is displeasing to Him who made His creatures to be happy.’” As they got older, the now teenage Anna and Philip attended the local schools. One day running home during a rainstorm, she fell and injured her ankles. Though the family thought it would heal in its own time, it dramatically affected her life as she thereafter had difficulty walking.

Sewell, aged 10

Sewell was encouraged to maintain riding horses as a way to treat her injuries that were a constant source of pain and frustration. It must have also provided a freedom she felt she had lost. She seemed to have a particular connection to horses, perhaps also at the mercy of others, felt a kinship. A family friend noted that when driving, “[Anna] seemed simply to hold the reins in her hand, trusting to her voice to give all needed directions to her horse. She evidently believed in a horse having a moral nature, if we may judge by her mode of remonstrance. ‘Now thee shouldn’t walk up this hill – don’t thee see how it rains?’ ‘Now thee must go a little faster – thee would be sorry for us to be late at the station.’”

Throughout her life, Sewell, along with her mother, continued their good works. Around the age of 50, Sewell became primarily bedridden due to, what her death certificate lists, as “Chronic Hepatitis” and “Phthisis Pulmonalis,” also known as tuberculosis.

Black Beauty was written, off and on, beginning in 1871, which was (perhaps not coincidentally) when she was no longer able to ride or drive, as noted by her biographer Adrienne E. Gavin. Sewell occasionally dictated to Mary, other times, Sewell wrote herself. It was a family affair with her brother and father also serving as editors and readers.

Now, to me.

I read the annotated version by Ellen B. Wells and Anne Grimshaw, which was great for a 21st-century non-rider. It provided definitions and descriptions along the way. After I finished, I just sat there absorbing it all. There is a lot to unpack.

My first thought was that I do not know why anyone thinks this is a children’s book. It certainly has its pleasant, idyllic moments, but it has even darker moments that would have, frankly, given me nightmares as a kid. Honestly, as an adult too, I have a vivid imagination, and I am the type of reader who will continue to think about a book for days after.

Its simple message of kindness to horses was perfect. Throughout are passages that describe the proper treatment and how respect and gentleness serve horse and rider better than a rough hand, “Oh! If people knew what a comfort to horses a light is, and how it keeps a good mouth and a good temper, they surely would not chuck, and drag, and pull at the rein as they often do.”

What I found so remarkable were the descriptions. They are so detailed that I could see everything clearly from the opening line, “The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water-lilies grew at the deep end.” The description of the bearing-rein from Black Beauty’s perspective made made me cringe, “Of course I wanted to pull my head forward and take the carriage up with a will, as we had been used to do; but no, I had to pull with my head up now, and that took all the spirit out of me, and the strain came on my back and legs.”

I was frequently wondering when the other shoe would drop. I sensed the idyllic lifestyle of Black Beauty’s first home wasn’t going to last; I just knew something was going to happen. The whole book is about the treatment of horses, and the Victorian era wasn’t known for its kindness to animals. It wasn’t the Royal Society for Continuing to be Nice to Animals that was established in 1824. Black Beauty’s decline in living and working conditions was heartbreaking. I knew each move was going to get progressively worse, but hoped there was a kind soul. When I thought it could not get any worse, Ginger happens. The mare who can barely catch a break, who gets only snippets of contentment.

I sat on my little couch with the book in my lap, wanting to run out and snuggle all the horses I saw. Of course, that would entail driving to Middleburg and then not scaring the horses, who, as we learned, can sense when someone has no idea what she or he is doing. Admittedly, I’d do more damage than good. Instead, I attempted to unsuccessfully cuddle with my cats.

Black Beauty has never been out of print, and myriad editions exist. The Library here has multiple copies, which was a little overwhelming when Mars Technical Librarian Erica Libhart laid them out in front of me.

Some of the editions in the NSLM Library

The book was first illustrated in 1894 by sporting artist John Beer. Considered the best of the illustrations are by Lucy Kemp-Dent in 1915.

Various artist friends of ours have tackled the subject, like Cecil Aldin, Lionel Edwards, and Paul Brown.

Black Beauty spawned various sequels and movies, the most recent was last year on Disney+. But its most important roles to influence and educate has continued. As Gavin noted, in 1924, one man’s animal cruelty sentence involved not only involved a year in jail, but he had to read Black Beauty three times.

Keep your eyes peeled for part 2 in November, the anniversary of its first publication, when I’ll be diving into the social issues presented within the book. If you have not read it, or it has been a while, this gives you time! Can there be spoilers after 144 years?

Sources: Gavin, Adrienne, Dark Horse: A Life of Anne Sewell. J.H. Haynes, 2004.

Sewell, Anne, et. al. The Annotated Black Beauty. J.A. Allen, 1989.

Lauren Kraut is the Collections Manager at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her primary focus is to maintain and preserve the works of art in the collection and on loan. Email her at

The East Prussian Warmblood of Trakehner Origin, more commonly known as the Trakehaner, is a frequent occupant of the winner’s stand. The breed especially excels in dressage, but is also seen in show jumping and eventing competitions. They are admired for their athletic ability, excellent endurance, and elegant way of going. The Trakehners of today are all descended from a small number of horses that survived a grueling flight ahead of the Russian army at the end of World War II. But for their strength and endurance, and the determination of a handful of people, the breed might easily have been lost to history.

Kleopatra4, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The East Prussian region has a long history of horse breeding. The local horse, called the Schweiken, used by farmers as a general utility horse, clearly descended from the wild Tarpan horse. It was a small, hardy horse that required little fodder, was a willing worker, and was remarkably healthy. Organized breeding programs aimed at adding to the size and weight of these sturdy horses came and went beginning in the 16th century. In 1726, driven by the need to establish a reliable supply of cavalry remounts and royal horses, Friedrich Wilhelm I decided to create a centralized stud bringing together the stock from numerous regional stud farms. He selected 8600 acres near the estate known as Trakehnen, and in 1732 the Trakehnen Central Stud was opened.

Trakehnen Stud. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Early breeding programs at Trakehnen met with mixed success but in the 1780s Friedrich Wilhelm II chose Count Karl Lindenau as stud manager for Trakehnen. Both men were knowledgeable horsemen and they enthusiastically developed a new and well planned breeding program. One of their first actions was to dramatically increase the number of stallion stations. Two hundred and sixty nine state stallions were selected and distributed to regional studs at which private owners could bring their mares for service. At the same time, strict guidelines for the mares were developed and only those meeting these high standards were permitted to be covered by the state owned stallions. This system served to drastically improve the privately owned stock. At the same time a review was conducted of the stock at the Trakehnen stud. Twenty-five of the thirty-eight stallions and 144 of the 356 mares failed to meet the standards and were removed from the breeding program. From this carefully selected foundation the development of the Trakehner horse proceeded. The herds of broodmares were distributed among five farms sorted by type, carriage vs. riding, and by color. Improvements to the breed were made through the careful infusion of Thoroughbred and Arabian blood.

Landstallmeister house at the Trakehnen central stud farm. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

After the First World War the goal of the breeding program shifted from a light cavalry horse to one with more substance. Any horse put forward by his owner as a possible sire was sent to Zwion for training and testing at the age of two and a half. After a year’s training during which the director evaluated a stallion’s health, temperament, action, and habits, a final 3 day cross country test was administered. Roughly 10 percent of the stallions selected to go through the process failed to meet the necessary standards for inclusion in the stud book as a sire. Mares were also tested before being selected for breeding. They must be registered in the East Prussian stud book, show capability in plowing, pulling heavy loads, and demonstrate paces under a rider.

The use of privately owned horses in addition to the state owned horses and the application of such strict breed standards resulted in great national pride in the Trakehner horse. These beloved animals were prized possessions for both the private individual as well as the state. Due to wars and unrest in the region the Trakehnen Stud was evacuated several times between its founding and the Second World War. But the horses always returned and the breed survived and eventually thrived again in its traditional home. Sadly that would not be the case in the evacuation precipitated by the Russian invasion of Germany during World War II.

Route from Trakehnen to safety in the West. Goodall (1973) p. 14.

In the fall of 1944 the Trakehnen stud was finally given permission to evacuate the horses. This was accomplished by old men and young boys as the men were all conscripted into the German army. Despite valiant effort and overcoming a variety of demanding trials most of these horses ended up in Russian or Polish hands or died during the journey. Very few state owned Trakehners succeeding in finding safe homes in the West. The privately owned mares, many in foal, joined their owners in a brutal overland trek of up to 900 miles through mud, snow, and biting cold. Most horses were unshod, there was little to no food available and very little shelter. Often the mares remained in harness overnight. The most treacherous segment of the journey was a five mile walk over the frozen lagoon Frisches Haff during which many people and horses were lost beneath the ice. In her book, Flight of the East Prussian Horses, Daphne Machin Goodall includes letters from people that survived the journey. All are heartbreaking maybe more so for their lack of emotion. This is an excerpt from Albert Shenk’s account:

“I left Kreis Bartenstein on 28 January in driving snow and above 20 degrees of frost with a waggon weighing over 40cwt. It was impossible even to think of finding shelter at night. For more than six weeks by day and night the horses were harnessed to the waggon without being taken out, and endured every kind of wind and weather. In January and February, when it would be impossible for two horses to go forward in the deep snow, four would be harnessed together. As we came near the Haff, it began to thaw, the ice was cracked and water stood over it. From the beach, the waggons went over with fifty yards distance between each waggon, one behind the other; many were not careful enough and drove too near each other and therefore many waggons were lost. Near Leisunen we drove on to the Haff, and thought only to drive across to the Nehrung, but we were not allowed on, and had to drive to Kahlberg, the whole distance of the Haff.

We had to spend the night on the ice, and then came to a place where for about 200 yards the horses had to be driven through at the gallop — the ice rolled behind the waggon like waves of water… When we had the worse part of the journey behind us, their foals were born. The foals were completely developed but had starved to death before birth. There were days when we had done over 50km. Usually we made 30km per day and we arrived after a journey of nine weeks.”

Goodall (1973) p. 74-76.

In the end, out of over 50,000 Trakehners, fewer than 1,000 would escape to the West. The Trakehnen central stud was never reopened, and the horses never returned to their homeland. The survivors were scattered and isolated but determined individuals endeavored to save the breed, in particular Dr. Fritz Schilke and Siegfried Freiherr von Schroetter, both officers of the East Prussian Studbook Society in Königsberg.  The Trakehner Verband was founded in 1947, and continues to govern the development of the breed today. The first West German Trakehners were born in 1948 and in 1950 the West German government joined the effort to rebuild the breed and funded a Trakehner farm. With 40 stallions and 700 mares the Verband managed to register 650 mares and 50 stallions by 1954. Those numbers increased to 1600 registered mares and just under 200 stallions by 1970.

Today the breed continues to thrive. The Trakehner Verband still runs the show in Europe and there is an American Trakehner Association in North America. The breeding program continues to be guided by performance tests for both stallions and mares. The Trakehner is often used as a refiner in the breeding programs of other breeds. I find the breed’s story inspiring. They were forced through the most drastic of performance tests and their stoic endurance served them well. The Library has several books on the breed and its history. We are not currently open due to the pandemic but I’m hopeful that this summer you’ll be able to visit and read all about the Trakehner.

Clough, P. (2009). The Flight Across the Ice: the escape of the East Prussian Horses. Haus Books.

Goodall, D. M. (1973). The Flight of the East Prussian Horses. David & Charles.

Strickland, C. (1992). The Warmblood Guidebook. Half Halt Press.

Velsen-Zerweck, E. and Schulte, E. (1990). The Trakehner. J. A. Allen

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

Recently during a presentation, I mentioned that several artists we were discussing had contributed artwork for the Federal Duck Stamp. Someone asked me what the Federal Duck Stamp was and all I really knew was that the program had been around for a long time, that the artists were originally asked to participate, and that today the annual design is chosen from among submissions from the general public. I was also aware that there is a Junior Duck Stamp but beyond that I had no information. Needless to say, immediately after the presentation I rectified that situation and I’d like to share what I discovered. It turns out the Migratory Bird Hunting Act, i.e. the Duck Stamp Act, resulted in a highly successful conservation program that continues to thrive today.

Ross’ Goose the 2006/2007 Federal Duck Stamp. Image by Sherrie Russell Meline/USFWS – 2006-07 Duck Stamp Final, Public Domain,

Federal Duck Stamps are issued annually and function as hunting licenses. Waterfowl hunters over the age of 16 are required to purchase and carry a current Duck Stamp. The stamps also serve as passes to any National Wildlife Refuge that charges admission. Ninety-eight percent of the purchase price of Duck Stamps is deposited directly into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund which is used to purchase and preserve the wetland habitats so critical to migratory birds. Funds are also used to purchase conservation easements for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Such arrangements allow important habitat to be protected for future generations, while allowing owners to retain many private property rights, and to live on and use their land. To date the program has raised more than a billion dollars and protected more than 6 million acres of habitat. More than 300 national wildlife refuges have been created or expanded using funds generated through the sale of Duck Stamps.

Map of US National Wildlife Refuges (refuges in Hawaii, Pacific Islands, and Alaska not shown). Image from the National Wildlife Refuge site.

The origin of the Migratory Bird Hunting Act lies in the culmination of several damaging trends. By the late 1920’s and early 1930’s the United State’s population of waterfowl had been decimated through a combination of unregulated market hunting, demand for plumage in the fashion industry, and habitat loss due to drought. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover signed the Migratory Bird Conservation Act in an effort to reverse the damage. The Act authorized the acquisition and preservation of wetlands as waterfowl habitat but neglected to furnish a permanent source of funding for the project. On March 16, 1934 this issue was resolved when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, popularly known as the Duck Stamp Act. The first stamp was issued for the 1934-35 season. It featured an image of mallard ducks coming in for a landing by Jay N. “Ding” Darling, the Chief of the US Biological Survey. It sold for one dollar; 635,001 were purchased.

This 1934/1935 United States Department of Agriculture Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp depicting mallards was the first one and was designed by Jay N. “Ding” Darling, chief of the U.S. Biological Survey. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

For the first fifteen years of the program stamp designs were solicited from noted wildlife artists. Beginning in 1949 the design was chosen through an art contest open to any US artist that wished to participate. Guidelines are issued each year including the permitted species to be shown, and the entries are judged by a panel of wildlife and conservation experts, and artists. It is the nation’s longest running and only Congressionally mandated wildlife art competition. Winners receive a set of stamps and bragging rights. The winner for the 2021-22 season was Richard Clifton of Milford, Delaware with his painting of a single Lesser Scaup drake.

The winning design for the 2021-22 Duck Stamp. Lesser Scaup drake by Richard Clifton. Image from Delaware State News.

In addition to the Federal Duck Stamp there is a Junior Duck Stamp. This program was developed by Dr. Joan Allemand in 1989, with a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It is an educational program designed to teach students from K-12 wetland and waterfowl conservation. The program incorporates scientific and wildlife management principles into a visual arts curriculum and participants complete a Junior Duck Stamp design as their visual “term paper.” Beginning in 1993 an open art contest featuring these visual “term papers” was held to select the image for the following year’s Junior Duck Stamp. The stamps are sold for $5 and the money raised through the sale of the stamps funds conservation education, and provides awards and scholarships for the students, teachers, and schools that participate in the program. This year’s winning Junior Duck Stamp design is by 13-year old Madison Grimm from South Dakota.

Madison Grimm’s painting of a Wood Duck won the 2020 Junior Duck Stamp art contest and was featured on the stamp. Image from the US Fish and Wildlife site.

For 86 years the Duck Stamp program has been successful. Originally backed by hunters, it now also counts birders, environmental conservationists, and stamp collectors among it’s supporters. In recognition of the stamp’s growing value as a conservation tool, its formal name was changed to the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.

If you’d like to explore the world of waterfowl the Library has extensive holdings on many species. We are currently open by appointment and would be pleased to share these items with you.

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

The inspiration for my blog post this week stems from the unfortunate fact that for the past few months, my horse Taco has been experiencing a plethora of medical issues. No matter what I do, I cannot seem to keep him sound. As soon as I solve one problem, another one pops up. It has been a depressing and expensive cycle of chiropractic work, creams, lotions, supplements, and vet visits. I know that fellow horse owners out there (especially Thoroughbred owners) can relate.

One day, while doing research for another project, I stumbled upon a book called Every Horse Owner’s Cyclopedia. Written by John Henry Walsh, Ellwood Harvey, and John Elderken and published in 1871, it claimed to be “the most complete work on the horse ever published” and had an entire section on treatments for various diseases, ailments, and vices. Considering the desperate situation I had found myself in, it piqued my interest. Maybe there were some helpful ideas in there that had been lost in the sands of time?

Every Horse Owner’s Cyclopedia, written John Henry Walsh, Ellwood Harvey, and John Elderken, published in 1871 by Porter & Coates, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels

Once I started reading, I could not pull myself away – the information was fascinating. On one hand, it demonstrated how much veterinary medicine had changed over the past century. However, I could not help but be surprised at how much continuity was revealed as well – some of the treatments that I use on my horse today were already being recommended over a century ago. Listed below are some of the most interesting and unique entries from the book. Just a heads up, some of them are not for the faint of heart!


Known in modern times as cribbing, this is an issue near and dear to my heart. Taco is a voracious cribber and it has caused many problems over the past four years. When horses crib, they latch onto an object with their front teeth, arch their neck, and draw air into their esophagus. It is a learned behavior that can be brought on by stressful environments and digestive issues. It can cause many long term issues including dental problems and colic if left untreated, and is highly addictive once horses start. The Cyclopedia says that there “has never yet been a cure discovered, except on the principle of restraint” (202). There are several recommended deterrents for cribbing that exist today including sprays, muzzles, and cribbing straps. I have found the cribbing strap to be most effective – it goes around the neck of the horse and applies pressure when they attempt to suck in air. However, according to the Cyclopedia, these impede the blood of the brain from returning back to the heart (so I might have to reevaluate my choice). Instead, the book proposes the use of an invention by Mr. Cook, Saddler of Long Acre, called a bar muzzle. Unlike the muzzles used today that go around the horse’s entire mouth, it consists of a halter with a set of two prongs placed just in front of the lips. The author espouses this method as “entirely harmless, perfectly effectual” with “the sole objection to it being the fact that it proclaims the wearer to everyone who looks into the stable as a cribber” (203). The horse can still eat and drink but is unable to latch its teeth onto anything. Perhaps this is something I need to look into?

The author espouses this method as “entirely harmless, perfectly effectual” with “the sole objection to it being the fact that it proclaims the wearer to everyone who looks into the stable as a cribber.”


Known today as indigestion, dyspepsia in horses can be caused for a variety of reasons and there are many different treatments. However, the Cyclopedia proposes that indigestion stems from the fact that horses are forced to eat the same thing every day with no variation. The author states that “Every domestic animal suffers in health if he is constantly fed on the same articles, and man himself, perhaps, more than they do. Partridges are relished by him early in September, but toujours perdrix would disgust the most inveterate lover of that article of food” (354). The entry goes on to suggest that a complete change of food should be implemented if the horses starts to suffer from indigestion and a lack of appetite. It recommends green food of some kind if it can be obtained, or if not, carrots or even steamed potatoes (355). It also suggests that a handful of malt dust be added to the food once or twice a week to alter the flavor. At the end of the entry, it adds that “the use of ‘fashionable horse feeds’ of the present day will serve the same purpose” such as Thorley’s food or Henri’s food, which is promoted in the advertisement below (355).

Keep your hunters in condition by using Henri’s horse condition powders…/manufactured by Henri’s Patent Cattle Feed Co. Public Domain Mark

Tearing the clothes off

Under the section on stable vices, this amusing entry describes a solution for horses that cannot seem to keep their blankets on in the winter. This is by no means an uncommon problem, even by today’s standards. However, the contraption that the Cyclopedia recommends is something truly unique. It consists of “a pole of ash about three quarters of an inch in diameter, with an iron eye attached to each end. One of these is fastened, by means of a short leather strap and buckle, to the right side of the roller pad while the other has a strap or chain about a foot long, which attaches it to the head collar” (204-205). According to the author, “it is a very simple and cheap apparatus, and any village blacksmith can make and apply it” (205). The next time you wake up to blankets on the stable floor covered in manure, consider showing the diagram below to your local blacksmith in order to solve your pesky blanket problem!

It consists of “a pole of ash about three quarters of an inch in diameter, with an iron eye attached to each end. One of these is fastened, by means of a short leather strap and buckle, to the right side of the roller pad while the other has a strap or chain about a foot long, which attaches it to the head collar” (204-205).


Thrush is a problem that afflicts many horses in this area, especially during the muddiest parts of the spring. Essentially, it is an infection of the frog (a part of the horse’s hoof) caused by dirty and damp conditions. The Cyclopedia characterizes it as “an offensive discharge from the frog” (401). The recommended treatment it proposes is a dose of physic, food of a less stimulating quality, and regular exercise, in addition to maintaining a cleanly environment (401). If the condition persists, it says that a bran poultice should be applied for a few days and then tar ointment should be put directly on the frog. It also recommends a solution of chloride of zinc. Today, treatments for thrush vary, but include applying iodine, diluted bleach, and trimming the dead tissue from the affected area. One thing that I would like to make note of in this entry is the line about administering “a dose of physic” to the horse. I found this part especially confusing because there seems to be no clear definition of what goes into a physic. However, upon further research, I discovered that it is most likely a being used as a term to describe the administration of medicine in general. There is an entire section of the Cyclopedia dedicated to the creation of various types of physics and their administration. The two main ways of giving a horse internal medicine during the time period were through balls or drenches. Balls are solid mixtures which were put directly into the mouth of the horse, and drenches were poured down their throat using a type of funnel.


One of the first things that I searched for in the Cyclopedia was scratches, because it is a problem that has afflicted Taco for months now. I found it under an entry labelled “grease.” Today, it is sometimes still referred to as “greasy heel,” although “scratches” and “pastern dermatitis” are more common. The Cyclopedia defines scratches as a “slight swelling of the skin of the heels and adjacent parts which soon cracks, and from the fissures there exudes an offensive discharge which looks greasy but is really watery” (395). Pretty disgusting stuff in my experience. However, I was struck by the similarities in the treatments recommended for scratches by the Cyclopedia and by my veterinarian. Both advised applying glycerin to the area and trying to keep it clean and dry. However, the Cyclopedia suggested applying chloride of zinc, while I was instructed to use zinc oxide. In addition, the Cyclopedia stated that if the growths were bad enough, they could be sliced off and cauterized. This is not exactly something that I ever want to attempt at home. In a serious case of scratches, the text suggested that other organs could be damaged “unless the unhealthy state of the blood is attended to” (396). Supposedly, the fluid secreted through the scratches is drawn from the blood and pulled from the digestive organs, thereby weakening them. In order to counteract this effect, the author recommends feeding the horse arsenic with its food. He admits that “how it (the arsenic) acts has never been made out” but assures that in small doses it will produce no injurious effect. Nonetheless, I think I am probably going to keep the arsenic out of Taco’s daily feed regimen for now.

The Cyclopedia is full of interesting information, and provides a valuable window into what equine medicine was like in the 19th century. However, it left me feeling extremely glad that as a horse owner in the 21st century, my vet is only a phone call away!

Sources Cited

Walsh, John Henry, et al. Every Horse Owner’s Cyclopedia. Porter and Coates, 1871.

Victoria Peace is the summer 2020 Curatorial Intern at the National Sporting Library and Museum. A junior at Georgetown University, she is double majoring in Art History and French. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her OTTB Taco, trail riding, and playing polo. Email her at

George Algernon Fothergill (1868-1945) was trained as a physician but apparently found this practical career less enchanting than one as an artist. He would eventually give up medicine completely and make a living as an illustrator and artist. His work appeared in Vanity Fair magazine as well as other sporting periodicals. He also designed letterheads, bookplates, Christmas cards, advertisements, and published books of architectural details. The NSLM holds his first published book, An Old Raby Hunt Club Album (1899).

Title page of An Old Raby Hunt Club Album. The gift of Mrs. Ronald L.

It is a collection of portraits and biographies describing the members of the Club. The volume is a large folio sized work (51×37 cm) and features 65 leaves of plates, mostly in color. The NSLM’s copy is number 21 of 100 editions De Luxe which include additional plates. According to the label it was originally the copy belonging to Club member C. E. Hunter who is pictured on plate XXV.

Label inside the cover of An Old Raby Hunt Club Album. The gift of Mrs. Ronald L.

After an introduction in which Fothergill describes the production of the book he addresses the confusing history of foxhunting in the area, mainly by deferring to Scarth Dixon, an author of hunt histories, who had begun on a similar project for the Raby Hunt. Fothergill limits himself to touching on the enormous territory of the Raby Hunt, how Lord Darlington kept several kennels throughout the territory, and how a number of other established hunts somehow existed in the same geographic area. His main point however, is that the Old Raby Hunt Club is not tied to the historic Raby Hunt. “In 1866 the late Mr. Christopher Cradock formed a pack, and hunted a portion of the Raby territory, which is now known as the Zetland country – Lord Zetland purchasing his hounds in 1876. The Old Raby Hunt Club, with its somewhat ambiguous title, originated in 1872, and was established for the purpose of furthering the interests of fox-hunting in Mr. Cradock’s country; and although that gentleman generously maintained the hounds at his own expense, as the Marquis of Zetland does now, yet the Hunt Club (by its five-guinea entrance fee and five-guinea annual subscription) provided a certain amount towards poultry and covert funds and earth-stopping fees… The Old Raby Hunt Club was merely founded to back up a generous-minded Master, and in the event of nobody caring to keep the hounds at his own expense, doubtless the Club would come forward, purchase a pack, and subscribe for a Master, and so keep up the connection of fox-hunting in this particular district with the Raby hunt of days gone by.”

The album provides a fascinating look at the colorful members of the Club at the turn of the century. In addition to sketches of the hounds, and some of the territory and its buildings, the book features a color sketch of each Club member, accompanied by a brief biography. It is interesting to see how each member chose to be pictured. Some are mounted and in hunt attire, others are shown in their hunt attire but are standing or seated in rooms whose decoration is significant once one reads the accompanying text. Still others are shown in non-hunting costumes, or with the trappings of sports other than foxhunting. I especially like the sketch of Charles Henry Backhouse who is shown using a telephone. His biography also mentions his squash court, which is lit by electric lights. I imagine if this man was alive today he would be your friend with the latest iPhone and a fully connected smart home. What follows is a selection of sketches and excepts from their accompanying descriptions. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and if you would like to get a closer look at this book please don’t hesitate to contact me for an appointment. I would love to share it with you.

Plate I: Marquis of Zetland — “MFH for 23 years, it has been said that he errs in the opposite direction to that of many Masters of Hounds — he is too kind, too gentlemanly, too forgiving in the field. Lord Zetland always wears glasses in the hunting-field, but was too modest to put them on for this portrait! As a fisherman, he can lay claim to have landed a record salmon, weighing 55 pounds, and 50 inches in length. This fish he killed with a fly in the Stanley Water, on the river Tay, taking only thirty minutes to land the monster, which took place on the 15th of October, 1895.”

Plate I. The Marquis of Zetland.

Plate XIX: Captain Charles Michell — “As a Captain in the King’s Royal Rifles, he has seen active service in Zululand… He also served in the Boer rebellion of 1881. He has hunted and shot big game in many parts. The rifle in our friend’s charge has no connection whatsoever with the brush on the wall! for the Michells of Forcett have always been too well esteemed as keen preservers of foxes, though shooting has been and is their chief sport. The Captain is a great fisherman, so he finds Glassel House, Aberdeen, suites his taste well in this direction. He, too, smokes just a little!”

Plate XIX. Captain Charles Michell

Plate III: Johnathan Edmund “Jed” Backhouse — “…still, there are a few little items left out which go towards caricaturing “Jed” that might be inserted here. We all know he is a banker; we all know he is a politician of no mean order, and that his father was M.P. for Darlington…; we all know he wears an Inverness coat and an eyeglass both in summer and winter; and we all know he married a daughter of a famous Cornishman; but we don’t all know that he provides a pound of sugar nearly every day for his various home and stable pets, such as his walked hound puppies, his poodles, his terriers, his whippet, his schipperke, his pocket beagle, and all his other dogs, and his four or five ponies, giving each in his turn his share out of a grocer’s blue bag.”

Plate III. Johnathan Edmund “Jed” Backhouse

Plate XXV: C. E. “Charlie” Hunter — “Always called “Charlie” by his friends… He has just taken up polo again, and played in a match for Catterick Bridge last year, thereby showing that forty-seven years are still able to compete with the “young bloods” in the quickest and severest game there is.” This is the original owner of NSLM’s copy of An Old Raby Hunt Album.

Plate XXV. C. E. “Charlie” Hunter

Plate XXXI: Charles Henry Backhouse — “He has bred a good Irish terrier, and is a judge of one too. Squash racquets in his excellent covered court, lit up with electric light, gives the gallery-man an opportunity of seeing our friend in his true element… There are those who hunt, but never aspire to be anywhere than at the tail of the hunt, are never expected to be anywhere else, and never despised for being there. Such are the words of a contributor to the Badminton Magazine; and such appropriately describe our friend… “Charlie” Backhouse goes out to enjoy himself, to get exercise, and to see his acquaintances. He is fond of shooting, and a good friend to farmers; also a keen supporter of all forms of manly exercise. A collector of sporting books and pictures… He is quite an authority on cigarettes.”

Plate XXXI. Charles Henry Backhouse

Plate XXXVII: Captain Gerald Walker — “A rugby boy, and a 15th (King’s) Hussar man, who was born in September 1841. He joined the 15th when he was eighteen, going with them to India nine years afterwards. He has been devoted to hunting, following the chase in Ireland with the Meath and Kildare, as well as in Yorkshire and Durham. All pursuits, such as cricket, football, golf, and cycling, find in him a warm supporter… No man likes his pipe better than Captain Gerald Walker. He thinks his portrait somewhat of a caricature.”

Plate XXXVII. Captain Gerald Walker

Plate XLI: Captain W. K. Trotter — William Kemp Trotter. “At Sandhurst he got into the XV, and was gazetted to the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in 1889… His regiment took out a pack of hounds, which went by the name of the Cape Town Foxhounds, to hunt the jackal… Most wild beasts all over the world have fallen to his rifle, including every kind of African buck. He is now a farmer and hunts five days a-week, and possesses a good ‘chaser in “Withern,” winner of several steeplechases… “Creelor,” that he is mounted on for this sketch is a good type of weight-carrying hunter, and came from the Dublin Show. The skeleton has no connection with hunting, but with the Mounted Police in Africa!”

Plate XLI. Captain W. K. Trotter

Plate XVI: H. Gurney Pease — “In Harold Gurney Pease we have an athletic, hard fellow, and a thorough good sportsman to boot… As a lawn tennis player, he was quite one of the best while at Cambridge, and won many prizes up there, and afterwards in open tournaments. He has now converted the “grasshopper” green coat into that of a master and huntsman of harriers, a sporting little pack of over twenty couples of dwarf foxhounds and harriers… All his life, Harold Pease has been fond of a fox-terrier and rabbit-coursing. He has shot a black bear and a leopard. He smokes hard.

Plate XVI. H. Gurney Pease

Plate XL: “Bob” Lancaster — “Bob” Lancaster, who has been a good many years in charge of the George Inn, Piercebridge, is quite a character, apart from his appearance, which is somewhat original and unique in its way. Few people can count as many buttons to their waistcoats as “Bob” can on his! He has travelled many thousands of miles in America with a team of mules, and his yarns on that country are legion. He is well known and much respected by everyone.”

Plate XL. “Bob” Lancaster

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

Although the legendary horses of flat racing are generally more well known to the population at large, there are horses within the steeplechasing community that enjoy the same level of fame as any flat racer. One such hero was a bay gelding called Saluter, who would rise from inauspicious beginnings to win the Virginia Gold Cup six years in a row.

Saluter. National Steeplechase Association, American Steeplechasing 1995, page 274, photo by Doug Lees.

Saluter was born in 1989 on Rose Estes’s farm in Virginia. He was purchased as a yearling by Richard Small who tried him at both flat races and hurdle races with disappointing results. In 1993 Small sold the horse to steeplechase jockey and trainer Jack Fisher for $2500. Soon after Henry and Ann Stern of Richmond, Virginia purchased a half interest in the horse. Fisher trained Saluter as a timber racer and the longer races suited the horse well. That fall Saluter won in upstate New York and again at Montpelier for the Virginia Hunt Cup. The following spring he would win the first of six consecutive (1994-1999) Virginia Gold Cup races at Great Meadow in The Plains, Virginia.

Saluter (left) in action. Photo from The Sahuarita Sun.

During his career he would also win the International Gold Cup and the Radnor Hunt Cup twice, and the Virginia Hunt Cup four times. In 1997 he followed up a Virginia Gold Cup win with a trip to England where he won the Marlborough Cup. Winning both races in the same year earned him the title World Timber Champion and a $100,000 bonus. By the end of his racing career Saluter would win a record 21 timber races, and rake in $429,489 in timber earnings.

Saluter and Jack Fisher. Peter Winants, Steeplechasing: A Complete History of the Sport in North America (2000), page 236.

Jack Fisher, Saluter’s regular rider as well as his trainer, has commented that the horse’s strength was his ability to accelerate from a gallop to a sprint. Longer races allowed the horse to build up his momentum and then kick in the afterburners to run down the competition late in the race. This racing style led to exciting victories where the crowd could see Saluter come from behind and win over the last few jumps. His dramatic style combined with his winning streak at the Virginia Gold Cup caused Saluter’s popularity to soar and in turn brought crowds to the racecourse. Creating new steeplechase fans may be his longest lasting legacy to the sport even if his Gold Cup record is never broken.

Saluter and Jack Fisher. Peter Winants, Steeplechasing: A Complete History of the Sport in North America (2000), page 240.

Following the 2000 season, at 12 years of age, Saluter retired to Jack Fisher’s farm in Monkton, Maryland. In 2001 he was honored with a farewell lap at the Virginia Gold Cup at Great Meadow. A crowd of 53,000 cheered him on as he galloped around the course he had dominated for over half a decade, and William Allison, the President of the Gold Cup’s Board of Directors presented him with a bushel of carrots and apples. In retirement Saluter took up foxhunting. He would return to Great Meadow and the Gold Cup once again in 2008 to view the bronze statue of himself by sculptor Alexa King. Commemorating his six win streak, the statue was installed at the racecourse in 2007. Saluter died in 2017. He was 28 years old. Earlier this year Joe Clancy created a touching tribute to Saluter that was originally aired on the National Steeplechase Association’s live stream show covering 2020 Gold Cup races. Click through for some wonderful photos of the great horse.

Bronze statue of Saluter by Alexa King at Great Meadow. Photo by Peter Fynmere.

The Library holds many books and periodicals about steeplechasing, its great racecourses, and the colorful people and horses, both past and present, that participate in the sport. To delve into any of these resources contact the Library to make an appointment. Appointments are available Tuesday through Friday. Also consider booking a visit to see the Museum’s newest exhibit, The Thrill of the ‘Chase, which showcases the history of steeplechasing and its depiction in art. Museum tickets are available on Fridays and Saturdays and must be booked ahead of time on our website.

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

As someone who, prior to 2012, had very limited knowledge of sporting art and artists, culture, etc., I had absolutely no idea who Mr. Jorrocks was. In March 2020, right before the pandemic stopped the world, we received a generous bequest from Mrs. Katrina Becker, a faithful friend of the museum for many years. Included in this gift was a portrait of a man with a cheery expression on his face. He made me laugh and I asked our George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Curator Claudia Pfeiffer, “who is THAT?!” She enlightened me that it was, in fact, the illustrious Mr. Jorrocks, a popular fictional character from 19th-century England.

Created by Robert Smith Surtees in the early 1830s, Mr. Jorrocks was featured in serials in the New Sporting Magazine and then in 1838, he was promoted to book form, beginning with Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities; or, The Hunting, Shooting, Racing, Driving, Sailing, Eating, Eccentric and Extravagant Exploits of That Renowned Sporting Citizen, Mr. John Jorrocks, of St. Botolph Lane and Great Coram Street. Quite the teaser.

The titular character, Mr. Jorrocks, is a grocer from the city, with a sharp Cockney accent, who enjoys the sporting life. Depictions of him often show a corpulent man with a red face, generally (but not always, as seen below) in his scarlet hunt coat. He appeared in several books and was illustrated by such well-known sporting artists as Cecil Aldin (English, 1870–1935) and Henry Thomas Alken (English, 1785–1851).

R.S. Surtees’ Jorrocks’s Jaunts and Jollities, with illustrations by
Henry Alken; Longmans, Green & Co.,
Edward Arnold & Co., 1924, National Sporting Library & Museum

R.S. Surtees’ Jorrocks on ‘Unting, with illustrations by Cecil Aldin, E.P. Dutton, NY, 1909,
National Sporting Library & Museum

The writing is wonderfully colorful and descriptive. Listen to this: “He has lost his wig, his hat hangs to his back, and one side of his person and face is completely japanned with black odoriferous mixture. “My vig!” exclaims he, spitting and spluttering, “but that’s the nastiest hole I ever was in—Fleet Ditch is lavender-water compared to it! Hooi yonder!” hailing a lad, “Catch my ‘oss, boouy!” Tom Hills has him; and Jorrocks, pocketing his wig, remounts, rams his spurs into the nag, and again tackles with the pack, which had come to a momentary check on the Eden Bridge road.”

Isn’t this a beautiful cover? R.S. Surtee, Mr. Jorrocks’s Thoughts on Hunting and Other Matters, William Blackwood & Sons, Ltd. Charles Scriber’s Sons, 1925, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels Collection

Surtees has been compared to Charles Dickens for his social critique (Surtees and Dickens actually used the same illustrator, Hablot Knight Browne. Browne, known as “Phiz,” illustrated Hawbuck Grange for Surtees and several Dickens’ novels including Pickwick Papers and David Copperfield). Encyclopedia Britannica describes Surtees as “a mordant satirist. The snobbery, envy, greed, and ignorance that consume many of his characters are set down without geniality. His portrayal of provincial England just leaving the coaching for the railway era exposes its boredom, ill manners, discomfort, and coarse food, and its matter-of-factness makes admirable social history. Yet the descriptions of fast runs with hounds over open country leave the most lasting impression.” I’ve only read Jaunts and Jollities, so please do correct me if I’m wrong: but it seems like an interesting viewpoint – at times we seem to laugh along with Mr. Jorrocks and others, laughing at him.

The small painting of our favorite grocer within the NSLM collection is by artist and sportsman Raoul H. Millais (English, 1901–1999). Millais undertook commissions by several familiar names, such as King George VI and Winston Churchill. Classmates with John Skeaping (English, 1901–1980) and friends with Alfred Munnings (English, 1878-1959), he, perhaps not surprisingly, disapproved of Modernist art, calling it “the Picasso lark.” Our charming piece shows Mr. Jorrocks standing in front of his horse, which is almost as big as he is, with a jolly smile and holding a pint. He is wearing his customary scarlet coat and hunt cap as the hounds mill about behind him. They take up the entire canvas. Mr. Jorrocks looks directly as us, as if he is inviting us to join him.

Raoul H. Millais, Mr. Jorrocks, 20th c., oil on canvas,
9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Katrina Hickox Becker, 2020.

Does “Millais” ring other bells? Raoul Millais is the grandson of Pre-Raphaelite John Everett Millais (English, 1829–1896). He produced the famous painting of Ophelia (1851–52) and one of my favorites, Christ in the House of his Parents (1849–50). The details in that are extraordinary, and honestly, I could discuss the symbolism for hours (maybe another time).  

Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, Ophelia, 1851-52, oil on canvas, 30 x 44 inches, Tate Britain, London
Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894
Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, Christ in the House of His Parents (The Carpenter’s Shop), oil on canvas, 1849-50, 34 x 55 inches. Tate Britain, London

In the town of Croydon, south of London, is a life-size sculpture of the famed literary foxhunter. Artist John Mills (English, b. 1933) was commissioned to create a sculpture for a Waites Construction site and, whilst discussing possibilities with the patron, the latter expressed his affinity for the fictional character. It was decided that a statue depicting a specific scene of Mr. Jorrocks would be erected: the “Surrey subscription hounds gathering for their hunt at Croydon and the chaotic ride that John Jorrocks made from Covent Garden to join the hunt.” We see a very animated Mr. Jorrocks on horseback, barely holding on, crashing through a real hedge.

Our painting will make an appearance soon. In the meantime, the Library has several of Mr. Jorrocks’ adventures in its holdings. Feel free to reach out to read them for yourself!


Encyclopedia Britannica:

Encyclopedia Britannica:

Footprints in London:

Isle of Dogs Life:

Raoul Millais obituary in the Independent:

Lauren Kraut is the Collections Manager at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her primary focus is to maintain and preserve the works of art in the collection and on loan. Email her at

Endurance riding pits the skills of a horse and rider against the clock as they travel a cross-country trail of up to 100 miles in length in a single day. Although it is likely that similar contests have been held since man and horse teamed up, modern day endurance riding has its origins in the military’s cavalry. In the early 20th century potential cavalry mounts had their endurance tested on a five day ride, covering 300 miles, while carrying at least 200 pounds. By the 1950’s this test had been adopted as a civilian sport. Over time the sport has evolved and is now governed internationally by The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) and nationally in the United States by The American Endurance Ride Converence (AERC). These governing bodies provide regulations to protect the welfare of the equine athletes that participate in this sport. The current FEI rulebook runs to 75 pages. Horses must be a minimum of five years old and are inspected for fitness prior to being permitted to participate in a ride. During the ride itself periodic vet checks are required in which the horse’s pulse must return to a specific rate within 15 minutes. Horses are checked thoroughly for injury and their intake of food and water is monitored. Horses that fail any of these exams are pulled from the ride.

One of the most well known endurance rides in the United States is the Western States Trail Ride, often referred to as the Tevis Cup, for the trophy given to the winner. The ride came about in August 1955 when Wendell Robie (1895-1984) and five of his friends set out to prove that modern horses could still cover the 100 mile trail from Tahoe City to Auburn, California in a day as the pony express mounts had done in the past. Robie and his companions were successful and the race has been held annually ever since, barring the occasional cancellation or rescheduling due to wildfires, snow, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to organizing the Ride, Robie also established the Western States Trail Foundation to preserve the 100 mile trail and the Ride.

Wendell Robie watering his horse during a Tevis Cup ride. From Western States Endurance Run.

The map below shows both the route and the dramatic changes in elevation that the horses and riders must endure during the ride. The ride begins at 6,230 feet in Squaw Valley and climbs the steep eastern face of Squaw Peak, crossing the crest of the Sierra near the Watson Monument Emigrant Pass Marker at 8,760 feet. There the trail passes briefly through the Granite Chief Wilderness and descends to the Forest Hill Divide. The trail follows the ridge of the divide for 8 miles before turning south toward French Meadows Reservoir and looping back north to Robinson Flat. After a short climb out of Robinson Flat to the flank of Duncan Peak the trail begins a long descent to a crossing of the Middle Fork of the American River, dropping more than 4,000 feet in 16 miles. Then the trail follows the Foresthill Road into Foresthill. From there the trail winds south and begins a 2,000-foot descent into the canyon of the Middle Fork of the American River again. After 5 miles along the north side of the river, the route crosses to the south side and follows the rim of the canyon. About 25 miles from Foresthill the trail turns back into the American River Canyon for a third time, climbs out again near the town of Cool, and then returns for a forth time at the confluence of the middle and north forks. A bridge crossing leads to the final climb to the town of Auburn and the ride completes at the Auburn Fairgrounds.

Map of the route from The Sacramento Bee.

The number of riders is limited to 220 and each rider must have either already completed the Western States Trail Ride in the past or have accumulated at least 300 miles of riding in sanctioned rides of 50 miles or more in length. The horses must be at least six years of age. Despite lengthy training for both horse and rider, the completion rate for the ride is generally only around 50%. Many riders are forced to withdraw due to bad luck, injury, or the failure of a vet check. Jim Steere is the oldest person to complete the ride which he did in 2005 at the age of 80. The oldest equine competitor to complete the ride is a 14-hand grey Arabian gelding named PL Mercury or “Merc” who broke his own record for the oldest finisher at the age of 27 in 2018. The minimum age for riders is 12 but Gail Gilmer completed the ride at the age of 11 in 1964. Her true age wasn’t known until after the ride.

Trophies. Haggin Cup (left), Tevis Cup (center), Josephine Stedem Scripps Foundation Cup (right). From the Tevis Cup website.

There are several awards associated with the ride. Each rider who completes course within the 24 hour limit and whose mount is judged “fit to continue” is awarded the silver Completion Award Buckle. The horse and rider that complete the ride in the shortest time are awarded the Tevis Cup. The winner of the Haggin Cup is chosen from the first ten horses to cross the finish line. The one among them judged to be in the best physical condition wins the prize. Finally, the Josephine Stedem Scripps Foundation Cup recognizes the accomplishments of all Junior riders who complete the ride.

The ride is only made possible through the efforts of over 800 volunteers that support the event annually in all manner of roles, from communications and trail maintenance, to manning vet checkpoints and riding sweep along the trail looking for riders in distress.

In closing I’d like to share a few interesting things that I ran across while researching this post. The first is a fun fact. Due to the fact that a portion of the ride will take place at night, in the dark, some riders suffer from motion sickness. The swaying of the horse without visual cues to frame the motion can result in queasiness. All of the videos I watched regarding training stressed the need to practice riding in the dark in order to acclimate to the experience. The second thing I’d like to share is a pair of photos from a book in the Library’s collection, The Tevis Cup by Verne R. Albright (1969). The book features a large number of photos of the competitors. Not one of them wears protective gear. The woman in the first photo has perfectly coiffed hair as she and her horse take on Cougar Rock. Not a helmet in sight!

Images from The Tevis Cup by Verne R. Albright, photos by Charles Barieau (1969). National Sporting Library & Museum.

While Count Frederick Von Lederbur shown below, disdains even a shirt!

Images from The Tevis Cup by Verne R. Albright, photos by Charles Barieau (1969). National Sporting Library & Museum.

The Library holds numerous volumes on endurance riding as well as the memoirs of people that have made long journeys on horseback. If you would like to explore the topic further please contact me to make an appointment. The Library is currently open by appointment only on Tuesday-Friday.

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

I am an avid reader and always have been, my parents have joked that I was born with a book in my hand. I consume books, from science fiction to historical biographies and everything in between. I have to admit though, I find no greater reading pleasure than diving into the world of children’s books. Board books, picture books, beginner reader books, and chapter books; I can not get enough of them.

What makes children’s books so great? 

Besides the obvious – that they are incredibly fun to read – I see children’s books as these tangible portals into imagination and playfulness for their readers. As an educator, I value their work as facilitators of knowledge-making and cultivators of curiosity, imagination, and self-esteem for their young readers. Often times, adults do not always catch on to the subtilties and the beauty within these books as children do. So, I make it a point to read children’s books and enjoy them from a child’s perspective and, honestly, it is so much fun. You can really get lost in the impish nature of children’s books and the remarkable illustrations that accompany the text.

C. Gifford Ambler, Ten Little FoxHounds, 1951.
C. Gifford Ambler, Ten Little FoxHounds, 1951.

Naturally, when I came to the National Sporting Library & Museum last June, one of the very first things that I looked at were the children’s books in our Main Reading Room. As a national research library that supports academic pursuits through our John H. Daniels Fellowship, I was delightfully surprised to find that the NSLM also contains a fantastic, albeit small, collection of children’s books.

People do not always recognize this part of our collection so I wanted to share with you a few highlights from our Main Reading Room and I hope that it encourages you to make an appointment to visit the Library and read them for yourself.

Caution, there are book ending spoiler alerts here!

An all-time favorite is Welcome Home! by Ludwig Bemelmans, the author of the popular Madeline series.

Ludwig Bemelmans, Welcome Home!, 1959, Gift of Ludwig Bemelmans, 1959.

Based off a poem by Beverley Bogort, the reader follows the Gallant Hunt and a clever fox through seventeen brilliant illustrations as the fox evades the Holiday Hounds using his cunning skill. The story ends with the fox safely snuggled up at home with his family as his yearly tradition has been successful.

Ludwig Bemelmans, Welcome Home!, 1959, Gift of Ludwig Bemelmans, 1959.

Not only does this picture book fit within our mission, but it also holds a more personal space in the heart of the NSLM staff. If you look carefully, you can see that the fox is reading The Chronicle of the Horse in bed with his tea and sandwiches (on a side note – check out the fox hunting scene on his tea cup!).

The NSLM has had a long standing relationship with the Chronicle of the Horse. One of our founders, Alexander Mackay-Smith, was editor of the magazine from 1952 to 1976, and they are our neighbors on campus. Glued inside the front cover is a handwritten letter from the author’s daughter, Barbara, thanking Mr. Mackay-Smith for allowing her father to use an image from The Chronicle of the Horse in his book.

Letter from Barbara Bemelmans inside, Ludwig Bemelmans, Welcome Home!, 1959, Gift of Ludwig Bemelmans, 1959.

This very copy was gifted to Mr. MacKay-Smith and, in turn, gifted to the Library that he enjoyed so much. This children’s book is not only entertaining, but is a piece of NSLM history!

Another favorite of mine is a pair of books by Walter Farley that he wrote for the Dr. Seuss Beginner Books series. I am sure many of us can remember seeing that Beginner Books logo with the familiar face of Cat in the Hat and reading these at home or school.

Walter Farley, Little Black, A Pony, 1961, Gift of Annie Weeden, 2008.

Walter Farley, Little Black Goes to the Circus!, 1963, Gift of the Estate of Patricia Meadows, 2010.

I did not read the Little Black books growing up, but have thoroughly enjoyed them as an adult (despite the horrifying clown imagery). Both books chronicle the story of Little Black, a small yet precocious pony, his young boy rider, and their activities together. What I found intriguing, beyond the stories themselves, were the differences in color throughout the books by the same illustrator, James Schucker. In the first book, Little Black, A Pony, the pages are filled with black and white imagery accented by pops of saturated color.

Walter Farley, Little Black, A Pony, 1961, Gift of Annie Weeden, 2008.

It tells the story of how Little Black downtrodden when his rider began regularly riding Big Red, a much larger and stronger horse than himself, finds confidence in himself after saving his rider from a perilous situation using his own bravery.

Walter Farley, Little Black, A Pony, 1961, Gift of Annie Weeden, 2008.
Walter Farley, Little Black, A Pony, 1961, Gift of Annie Weeden, 2008.

The second book, unlike the first has no dangerous icy water, but instead tells of how Little Black proved himself at the circus. The illustrations, while similar in design, are vastly different in color with bright and vibrant full color pages throughout the book.

Walter Farley, Little Black Goes to the Circus!, 1963, Gift of the Estate of Patricia Meadows, 2010.

Little Black attempts to recreate a trick he sees a circus horse performing, but with no such luck. The ringleader laughs at Little Black who becomes a very sad pony (poor Little Black!). His rider decides to cheer him up and encourages him to learn a different type of trick – walking the plank. Our little pony is excellent at this new trick and races to the circus to show off his skill on the highest of all planks and impresses everyone. His rider is sad because he believes his horse has run off to join the circus (as we all have dreamed of doing at one point), but is delighted to see Little Black running towards him and away from the circus. As all sweet books end, they ride off into the sunset together as a happy pair.

Walter Farley, Little Black Goes to the Circus!, 1963, Gift of the Estate of Patricia Meadows, 2010.

We have many more amazing finds in the Library, from picture books to the famous Blaze series by C.W. Anderson, and more contemporary works like our Dr. Seuss’s A Horse Museum. I could go on forever about the children’s books that we have in the Library. I hope that this little teaser will encourage you to not only view our stacks for their amazing academic research properties, but also for the playfulness of our children’s collection.

Want to see these books and more?

The Library is opening up with limited hours and appointments on July 17th, 2020. You can make an appointment to come in and read the children’s books, have a little story time as a family, or enjoy reading them yourself!

Click here to learn more about our visitor requirements for visiting the Library and Museum and how to book an appointment.  

As always, the Library is free and open to the public.