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Gone Abroad

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  Shipping to the Antipodes

    Antipodes: British Stallions sent to Australia

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  Gone Abroad

Gone Abroad
Horse in ship's hold Loading horses
Bottom Left: Horses in hold of ship 1870s
Bottom Right: Loading military horses 1790s
Until the advent of air transport in the mid-twentieth century, horses sent from England -- whether for military or commercial use -- had to travel by ship, facing the same, or worse, constraints and perils encountered by the crews. In the early development of the running horse, later the thoroughbred, the voyages were from far-flung ports like Aleppo, and from famous European studs in Spain and Italy to England, bringing in horses of the desert, of potentates, of Hapsburg royalty. But by the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the carefully crafted products of racehorse breeders were shipping out from England, traveling thousands of miles in dank holds to new homes in America, where, emulating the "mother country," rich plantation owners and northern merchants were developing horse racing with their own particular native twist. By the third decade of the nineteenth century, horses were regularly making the 12,000 plus mile trip over the oceans to Australia and New Zealand, where the colonists were establishing their own brand of horse racing. By the mid-nineteenth century, England was exporting thoroughbred stallions and mares to countries all over the globe, a business that greatly expanded with the introduction of steamers and a consequent shortening of the months-long voyages, and with developing economies that could support the sport and the wild betting that accompanied it, in all countries.

This section features two essays that focus on the shipment of horses from England and consider, briefly, the early impact of horses from England on native thoroughbred breeding. The Voyage of the Flora reproduces the log of a ship sailing from Whitby, England, to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1767, and considers the state of horse breeding in that colony at the time. Shipping to the Antipodes treats aspects of shipping horses on months-long voyages to Australia and New Zealand, briefly addresses the perils that could beset the ships, and considers the influence of English-bred stallions on horse racing in Australia.

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