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The 300 Mile Endurance Ride of 1919

Mr. W. R.  Brown of Berlin, New Hampshire, and Mr. Albert Harris of Chicago, Illinois, were the prime organizers of the 300 Mile Endurance Ride, October 14-18, 1919.  Mr. Brown was President of the Arabian Horse club of America and the owner of Maynesboro Stud, one of the most prominent Arabian farms in the country at the time.  Mr. Harris, a well-known Chicago sportsman and banker, was also a member of the Arabian Horse Club of America and a breeder of Arabians.

Mr. Brown and Mrs. Harris were both very keen on stimulating the breeding of cavalry mounts in the United States and felt the Arabian breed had many desirable characteristics for a military horse.   The value of Arabian blood in cavalry breeding programs was most evident in the European cavalries, especially the French, and Americans brought back favorable comments back when they returned from fighting during World War I.  The ride was well publicized beforehand in the hopes of attracting quality representatives from all breeds.  Interest was further stimulated by $1,750 prize money donated by Mr. Brown and Mrs. Harris and a large silver challenge trophy.  The ride received official endorsement from the Chief of the Bureau of Animal Industry in the Department of Agriculture and the Chairman of the Remount Board.

The ride was approximately 300 miles, ridden in five days, between Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, and Camp Devens, Massachusetts.  Each day the ride had to be completed between ten and fifteen hours.  Judging was based as follows:  condition:  50%, speed 25% and feed consumption 25%.  The horses were judged throughout the five days, and a final judging took place the sixth day to determine the best condition and ability to continue.  The condition of each horse was determined by the following factors:

  1. Appearance of horse as to brightness of eye, condition of coat, appetite etc.

  2. Weight of horse - comparison of that at at start to that at finish.

  3. Energy at walk, trot, canter and gallop.

  4. Freedom from lameness, soreness, stiffness, injury, etc.

Perhaps the most important factor of this endurance ride was its aim:  to determine specific data on desirable characteristics of a cavalry mount.  Previous endurance rides frequently had as their intent to ride the horse "until he dropped."  The judges carefully decided to pull any horse as soon as it became evident that further competition would do physical harm to the horse.  Fourteen horses started and eight completed the ride;  two of the finishers were, however, eliminated for lameness before the final judging on the day following the completion of the 300 miles.  Careful data was recorded on weights, feed consumption, temperature and respiration.  Of the first four place winners, two were purebred Arabians and two were half-bred Arabians.

Another desirable characteristic of the ride was the high degree of sportsmanship exhibited by the riders.  They had to care solely for their mounts, receiving only outside help from a veterinarian or farrier if necessary.  newspaper reports tell of the great fatigue of the riders at the end of each day;  yet they were still able to give good attention to their mount and be considerate of their companions.

Mr. Harris rode Mr. Brown's mare Ramla in the ride, although prior to the start he had only had a brief introduction to the mare.  Ramla was judged the winner, having the second highest feed and time score and the highest condition score.  She was bred by the Crabbet Stud, foaled 1909, imported by Mr. Brown in 1918.  Breeding: Astraled (Messaoud x Queen of Sheba) x Ridaa (Merzuk x Rose of Sharon).  The Boston  Transcrip of October 20, 1919, in its reporting of the ride described Mr. Harris as follows:

"Another - a sportsman of the highest type - renounced the comforts great wealth permitted, and early and late was with his mount.  His wife, following by motor car, brought sandwiches and tea to dimly lighted stalls.  Was ever ribbon of blue more deservedly won?"

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