Gen. W. H. Jackson speaks on overbreeding

“The high, if not fancy, figures which are being paid for stallions, both imported and domestic, representing the purest strains or of pronounced success upon the turf is creating a tendency among some purchasers to overserve them. It is seldom that such a course, even though it results in rapid financial returns, does not ultimately result disastrously. When Gen. W. H. Jackson, of Belle Meade, went East to purchase Iroquois he said to a representative of the Spirit of the Times:

‘Twenty-five mares are enough for any horse, at least such I have found by experience. When I first used Enquirer he was very popular. McWhirter and Falsetto were fresh in the public mind, you know, and being too greedy we bred him to nearly fifty mares each season. You might have noticed (I know the public generally did) that for a few years his colts and fillies did nothing on the turf, and when I found it was affecting the horse – he began letting down in his pasterns – I stopped it, bred him to only a few mares and see how well the Enquirers are doing now. Inspector B has run him away in the ‘winning sires.’ It was the same with Priam, the greatest English race horse that ever crossed the Atlantic. Mr. Merritt let him cover 150 mares the first season in America at $100 each, and thus he got the money back he paid for him. What was the result? Simply that Priam was a failure, while before he left England his success was tremendous. After he came to Tennessee Gen. Harding saw what was the matter, but it was too late.’

‘Don’t it strike you Mortemer has been similarly overbred?’ we asked.

‘I have no doubt of it at all. I am told he covered nearly fifty mares each season at Rancocas until this. The result is his get have failed lately, and every one is down upon them. It’s all a mistake. Mortemer is a great horse. His getting such great ones in France and one like Wanda here, proves that. Such excessive covering will ruin any horse’s reputation. Consider a horse having to serve fifty mares in a season! That means covering nearly 200 times in a season, particularly if the mares be old ones and keep on taking the horse.’”
(The Daily American (Nashville, TN), 02/29/1888)

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