Jan. 1878: A visit with Harry Bassett and others at Col. David McDaniel’s Stony Brook Farm

ILLUSTRATION - Harry Bassett (HW Vol. XV No. 764 1871.08.19)

Illustration of Harry Bassett as published in Harper’s Weekly (Vol. XV, No. 764), 08/19/1871.

“A party of well-known sportsmen recently visited the stud farm of Col. McDaniel, near Princeton, N. J., and one of them has written the following interesting account of the horses there:

A short walk brought us to the quarters of the great horse, Harry Bassett, but on the way we stopped to see a beautiful brown colt with remarkable quarters, a short, strong back, smooth, flinty legs with large, flat bones, well-set shoulders, a racing neck, with great throttle, and blood-like head.

“What is this, Colonel!” inquired Mr. Swigert, who was evidently attracted by the fine appearance of the colt.

“David calls him Senite. He is by Leamington, out of Rattan, and is an own brother to Cuba. I bought him at Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, and have, since my sale, exchanged one-half of him to Dr. Arthur Conover for one-half of Lady Salyers.”

The groom next showed us a red chestnut colt of fine size by Bassett , dam Orange Girl, which had been named Edward Howe. He exhibited an excellent back and quarters, and good smooth legs, with a rather homely neck and head, more useful than ornamental. He had a determined look about the head, and was as strong as Hercules. Following this fellow was a chestnut colt by Bassett, recently sold to Dr. Dickey, of New York. He is very much like his sire, stepped like a cat, and was as proud as a Prince, carried a beautiful neck, and was as perfectly finished as a jewel.

“This is Bowstring, by Bassett, out of Cordelia, by King Lear,” said David, as the groom led out a very handsome colt, trim and neat of form, with long smooth muscles well knit one into the other, and his feet well under him, indicating that he was quick on his legs and that speed was his forte. He was a mild-tempered, good-natured fellow, was willing to be caressed, and pleased with attention. His want of style and quick manner would fail to command the attention of an indifferent judge of horseflesh, but to him the connoisseur would draw near and pass him by reluctantly.

“What is this?” inquired Mr. Galway, as a bright chestnut with three white feet under the pasterns, was brought up with a step as elastic as ‘sweet 16,’ and a mien and air, a style and carriage, that spoke plainly to the beholder, ‘I am the Prince of Stonybrook.’

The Brother to the Fawn, by Bassett, out of Spotted Fawn,” was the reply. He was a colt of extra quality, powerful through the flank and loins, with massive quarters, deep shoulders, broad and well set; limbs perfect, except in front, below the pasterns, where he was thought by some of the gentlemen present to have more space than is in keeping with strength; but we have seen some wonderful horses with this alleged defect, and memory now calls up so good a racer as Ballonkeel [sic]. Peytona, Socks, and Charmer are said to have made the imprint of their knuckles on a heavy track at every leap. The lofty bearing of this fellow, his spirited mettle, his powerful form, and blood-like appearance, very strongly argue in favor of his future success on the turf.

The Fawn has been ‘roughing it,’ and is not the pretty filly of last spring. St. James, who has been sent by Mr. Bissle, his recent purchaser, to his old home, has grown and spread very much, and looked to be greatly improved since his respite from the labors of the campaign.

Harry Bassett, the lord of the harem, we found in a roomy stall. As the door was opened, and the gentlemen stepped forward, eager for a sight of the hero of so many battles fought and won, Col. McDaniel carefully held the front, and issued his orders to his lordship, who received them with a most complaisant air, and obeyed them with a promptness and accuracy, showing that he comprehended their purport. When told to take a position in the stall, he moved promptly to the spot indicated, and when ordered returned with alacrity to a different one.

But Harry, like most of the Bostonians, has a way and a will of his own, and is very choice about his commanders, and confines them to a limited few, for Col. McDaniel and his groom are the only people at Stonybrook that care to come in contact with this noble animal, or that he permits to do so.

We did not fail to observe how differently the two manage him. Col. McDaniel talks to him, tells him what he desires him to do, and now and then makes a violent gesture with his walking-stick, and this weapon Harry has a poor liking for. We noticed that, however mildly and gently it was raised, he invariably manifested his displeasure at its sight by a naughty shake of the head, as much as to say ‘Stop! Enough of that.’

On the contrary, the groom rarely speaks to him, but walks promptly up, invariably approaching him in front, and Harry bows submissively, and submits himself perfectly to his will. When brought out he showed the strength of a giant. With a Godolphin neck, which is beautifully arched, a magnificent ear, eyes unsurpassed, full, clear, and prominent, that flashed electric sparks when excited, he treads the earth like the monarch that he is.

He stood a few moments as quietly as a lamb, and then quickly reared high in the air, turned half around upon his hind haunches, playing in the air with his fore feet, when he discovered that he was checked by the rein in the hands of the groom. Quick as thought he threw one foot over it, and came down upon it with his whole weight, forcing the groom to relinquish his hold upon it. The man did not lose his presence of mind. He seemed to be perfectly at home, for Harry’s forefoot scarcely touched the earth before he caught the rein half way to the check, and both horse and groom seemed to be delighted with the performance.”
(Chicago Daily Tribune, 01/27/1878)


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