Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Dr. Charles Hagyard, December 21, 1978

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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GALLAHER: --time I get over here, I have trouble.

[Pause in recording.]

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Turning, now it is--

GALLAHER: Now, it's turning.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Now, see if it's going to play back. Let me see the directions on this thing, Mary Jane.


[Pause in recording.]

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Did you get anything on it?

GALLAHER: Um-hm. Use ----------(??) their recorder.

[Pause in recording.]

GALLAHER: Hmm. Now -----------(??).

[Pause in recording.]

GALLAHER: Is he, does he get 'em, get the idea himself first or does he work with you all?

HAGYARD: Well, I think--


GALLAHER: Now tell me about the follicle. We're examining rectally.

HAGYARD: Obviously when a follicle is present on each ovary, the chances it will claim conception aren't too good and the mare should not be bred during that estrous period unless ----------(??) follicle drops off.

GALLAHER: ----------(??).

HAGYARD: Yes. This way we've been able to cut down on the number of twin pregnancies tremendously.

GALLAHER: And you still have a strong, healthy foal? One?

HAGYARD: Right. Right. Nine times out of ten, however, it's necessary to wait until the next heat period and hopefully there will be only one follicle.


GALLAHER: Do you remove that first follicle? Pinch it off or--


GALLAHER: Or just wait till it--

HAGYARD: It, it disappears of its own accord. It ruptures and then the mare goes out of heat, and we wait until the next estrous cycle. Hopefully, in the new heat there will only be one follicle that time.

GALLAHER: Of course, that's been one of the most amazing things is the, is this whole examination of the mare that there's so much to them now where there didn't used to be anything but ----------(??) examine her, the ----------(??) see if it was in or it was out and that was it, and it certainly made a difference in the percentage on--it has to make a huge difference in the percentage of mares getting in foal.

HAGYARD: Not only getting in foal but the, it's cut down on the number 00:03:00of infected mares. I can remember when it was customary to breed every mare on the ninth day after foaling no matter what her condition was.

GALLAHER: What, what her situation or was she infected either?

HAGYARD: Right. That is the reason that we had so many more infected foals and infected mares in those days than we do now.

GALLAHER: Uh, do you think, um, on the whole, that, uh, they, uh, breeding should be held off not until the ninth day or do you think that--

HAGYARD: Not, not all together. I really think that at least 75 percent of the mares should not be bred on the ninth day of their first heat period, but if they, by rectal examination their uterus has contracted well and returned to normal and the cervix has, uh, assumed its normal 00:04:00position in the vagina and there's no accumulation of exudate and no sign of a confirmation and she has a good follicle, I see no reason not to breed her on the ninth day.

GALLAHER: That's a lot of ifs.


GALLAHER: A lot of ifs. Tell me about some of the people you've known in the horse business. Um, you knew the Wideners?


GALLAHER: Have you any memories, particular anecdotes of the Wideners or of James Ben Ali Haggin is another one I'm always curious about.

HAGYARD: I never knew James Ben Ali Haggin. My uncle, John Robert Hagyard, was a veterinarian for Elmendorf Farms from about 1903 or four 00:05:00until Mr. Haggin, until after Mr. Haggin's death in--

GALLAHER: Nineteen nineteen.

HAGYARD: No. It was around 1916, I think.

GALLAHER: Was it that? I've forgotten, I haven't done too many stories on that.

HAGYARD: Um, but, uh, after Mr. Haggin's death Elmendorf Farm was broken up into several, uh, different farms. Mister--(clears throat)-- Joseph E. Widener bought one of the biggest tracts which he retained the name of Elmendorf for it. Mr. Jordan got in there and bought, uh, uh, a large tract adjoining, and it was carved up. Mr. ----------(??). 00:06:00Harry Payne Whitney bought a large tract of land on the east side of Paris Pike, and his brother Payne Whitney bought, bought just north of that along the banks of North Elkhorn Creek. And Mr. Payne Whitney also invested in, purchased the bottom that belonged to John D. Hughes to even out his tract of land.


GALLAHER: Did any, did you--which of those people did you know personally, do you remember any anecdotes about them in their horses' situation?

HAGYARD: I knew Mr. Joe Widener real well.

GALLAHER: What was he like?

HAGYARD: A very fine gentleman, rather stern and austere at times.

GALLAHER: (Hagyard whispers) Oh, he-you can. (Hagyard whispers) Oh. (Hagyard whispers) He was very interested in the whole landscape situation here. Beautification of the countryside was what it was.


HAGYARD: Yeah. Mr. Joe Widener loved art and did everything he could to beautify his own property and the landscaping of the entire place, and he built some stables that, uh, resembled stables in France; --- -------(??) a Normandy barn and also the ----------(??) barn which was u-shaped. And he also kept mares at Madame ----------(??) in France, and I never shall forget that in 1932 Dr. Bennett was asked to go to 00:09:00Europe by Doc Crawford who, at that time, was president of the British Bloodstock Agency to examine some mares in England and in France that the British Bloodstock Agency had control at that time. Pregnancy examinations had never been done in Europe ----------(??).

GALLAHER: I'm not so surprised.

HAGYARD: Uh, but anyway, Dr. Bennett prevailed upon me to go along and give him some moral support, and before leaving Mr. Widener asked me in France to go down to Madame ----------(??) and examine his 00:10:00mares for pregnancy which I did. We were staying at a small town in Normandy named Lisieux, and Dr. Bennett and I got a cab one morning and dropped, it dropped him off at Pierre Wertheimer's and I went on to Madame ----------(??) arriving there around 9:30 or ten in the morning. Monsieur ----------(??) met me and, very cordially, and he knew why I was there, and he went out to the yard. He led out the first mare, 00:11:00and he said, "Doctor, do you think she's in foal?" And I said, "Yeah. She looks like she could be." This was in July. And, uh, he led out a second one and asked me the same question. I realized by then that he did not, did not want me to manually examine his mares--

GALLAHER: Um-hm. Um-hm. You just gonna look at them.

HAGYARD: So I said, "Monsieur ----------(??), it doesn't make any difference to me if you don't want these mares examined by a ----- -----(??) just like in Paris. I'll just tell Mr. Widener that you didn't want them examined and let it go at that." Well, he said, "No." He said, "No. You go ahead." I said, "Well, I'll need some running water." Afterward ----------(??). ----------(??). He told me on the 00:12:00first three mares what their breeding would be and I told him one mare was in foal. When I got to the fourth one I said, "Monsieur --------- -(??), instead of you telling me the breeding, let me examine this mare and see if I can tell you."

GALLAHER: Play a little game.



HAGYARD: Well, I examined the mare and she was in foal, and I said, "This mare is in foal and has been bred approximately eighty days." He looked at his book, and he said, "Eighty-three days." He said, "That's wonderful."

GALLAHER: Did you make a time ----------(??)? I doubt it.

HAGYARD: We finished examining Mr. Widener's mares right into the, oh, about lunch--and by the way, Laddie Darby (??) was there visiting 00:13:00his mother at that time and during lunch, he asked me if I had time or would I mind examining all of his mares for pregnancy which took me completely by surprise but I did, and, uh, I know that that--

GALLAHER: --that's a marvelous story--

HAGYARD: --converted him.

GALLAHER: Yes. But he's the only one of the French who have ever been converted. (both laugh) That's probably mean, Charlie ----------(??). I've been back to the house at times, they haven't been converted at all. Edward. Everybody else is drunk when I get over there, they're still doing the same things. (laughs)

HAGYARD: So when I got finished, I went to see Mr. Widener who was 00:14:00staying at the Ritz Hotel, and he'd been by the ----------(??) and he was fairly pleased when we presented the pregnancies that he had. (whispers)

GALLAHER: Oh, very much so. We need anecdotes about what people did and how they did them and why they did them. Um, let's see what else. You didn't know James Ben Ali Haggin. What about the Whitneys? Which ones? (Hagyard whispers) What about Jock? Is there anything that you remember about Jock because I don't, I never knew him so I didn't ---------- (??)--

HAGYARD: I just-- (whispers)


[Pause in recording.]

HAGYARD: One instance that remains permanently fixed in my memory happened, uh, oh, three or four years after I had gotten out of college, and Sam Smallwood who at that time was manager at David Look's Castleton Farm, uh, called one afternoon and said that the best mare--I don't remember the name of her--was sick and would I 00:16:00come out and see her. So I went out, and her eyes were swollen almost shut, profuse lacrimation. I took her temperature, 103, and a couple tests, something like that. Her pulse was accelerated a little. So I treated, diagnosed pink eye and left the treatment and also told them to bathe her eyes with warm boracic acid and water three times a day and told them to compress her eye. I hadn't been back in the office for an hour until Sam called, and he was laughing. He said, "Dr. 00:17:00Charlie," he said, "I found out what brought that pink eye in there." "What was that, Sam?" He says, "As soon as I put that warm water to her, she'd gotten, she'd gotten too close to a skunk."

GALLAHER: You're kidding. Is that what--it wasn't pink eye? It was an allergy or just, she just got sprayed.

HAGYARD: She'd gotten too close to a skunk and it sprayed her. (laughs) That will give them the pink eye, too.

GALLAHER: Oh, yes, it will. (laughs)

HAGYARD: Make them look like my eyes sometimes; they're red from both sides.

GALLAHER: (laughs) Oh.

[End of interview.]