Adventures in Peru, Chapter 10

Two Dependable Horses

Tales of the Turf, Part 4

On one occasion I travelled from Chile to Lima with a mare and a stallion for A. B. Leguia. I had to deliver them at his beautiful estate, ten miles beyond a place called Pisco, where Leguia’s breeding establishment—a model, up-to-date affair—was situated, vast breadths of the adjoining land being devoted to the raising of sugar and cotton. Springtide, the lord of the harem, was a remarkably fine horse, as was only to be expected when one considers that he numbered among his distinguished progenitors game old See Saw. Springtide was bred by Mr. A. C. Barclay out of his mare Noyau, and was disposed of to a rich Frenchman, named Dreyfus, for £5000 as a three-year-old and subsequently presented by him to Admiral Lynch, who was often in the public eye during the Chilian and Peruvian war. Finally the horse became Leguia’s property.

Well, after I had accomplished my mission, I found I had a fortnight to wait before I could get a steamer from Pisco to Chile; so I put in a week with Mr. Leguia’s father, a dear old gentleman who was never happier than when riding round his son’s estate, to keep an eye on the various workmen, wagons, and trucks. Leguia’s brother Robert was manager of the estate. He was fond of cock-fighting, and told me that the great cock-fight of the year would be held at Ica, forty-four miles the other side of Pisco, across the desert. Within sixteen miles or so of Ica there is a famous lake, called Huacachina, which I had often desired to see, so I determined to miss the next boat, and board one due at Pisco a week later. Thus I purposed to kill two birds with one stone. This programme I adhered to. On the occasion of my visit to Huacachina, I took with me my two hacks, Tony and Golondrina.

Just a word about these horses. The latter, a well-known steeplechase mare by St. Blaise II. out of a Cleveland coaching mare, H. had bred at Madame Cousino’s Macul estate in Chile. During the Chilian and Peruvian war, St. Blaise II.’s predecessor at the stud was turned loose with a number of thoroughbred mares, in the great Aconcagua valley, in order that he should not fall into the hands of the Peruvians, if they won. In this same valley was a batch of Cleveland mares, belonging to the same estate, under the guardianship of a very fine Cleveland stallion. Three Cleveland mares strayed away, and got mixed up with the thoroughbred queens. Two were in foal, but one was not. The progeny of this mare became Golondrina’s mother. Don Emilio Brunel, Madame Cousino’s master of horse and head coachman, gave me these particulars. Subsequently, several Cleveland mares were put to St. Blaise II., in order to get high-class cavalry remounts. Every year it was the custom of the Cousino people to sell by auction a number of blood horses sired by St. Blaise II., together with several Cleveland bays and high-class hackneys. At one of these sales my friend Schmidt, the head of a big wholesale and retail firm, bought Golondrina for 130 gs., the mare being then four years old. Schmidt kept her two years, during which period she gave him every satisfaction. But ill-luck overtook him, and his firm went smash. So he came to me and said, “Prodgers, will you do me a great favour?” I said I would if I could. “Well, it’s like this. When the judge orders delivery of our assets, I shall be very short of ‘ready.’ Now there’s Golondrina, my trotting hackney, named after the Minister of the Interior’s famous trotting stallion Spofford, a dog-cart I gave £60 for in England, and a good set of harness. You can have the lot for £200.” It is perhaps needless to say I closed with him without one moment’s hesitation. Golondrina thus became my property. She was a very big jumper, was very safe, and could stay for ever at her own pace. Tony was by Nobility, and cost, as a yearling, the equivalent of £500. He developed a savage temper, and nearly killed a man; so his owner was glad to sell him to me for £50, on the understanding that if I ever got him steady enough to trust in a race, I would let his old master know when I thought he had a winning chance. In my hands Tony became as obedient and as docile as a child. He won for me twice on the flat, and seven times over hurdles, before I retired him as my hack.

With these two dependable horses then and Francisco Caro, one of my stable-lads, acting as second horseman, I embarked for Pisco. We arrived there at noon, and next day continued our journey to Ica.