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Title: The Story of Captain - The Horse With the Human Brain
Author: James, George Wharton
Language: English
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[Illustration: With Cordial greeting,
 George Wharton James]

                          THE STORY OF CAPTAIN
                     THE HORSE WITH THE HUMAN BRAIN

[Illustration: Captain W. A. Sigsbee on his Educated Horse, Captain; and
Jasper, his Groom]

                              THE STORY OF
                     THE HORSE WITH THE HUMAN BRAIN
                       _By_ GEORGE WHARTON JAMES
 Author of The Story of Scraggles; California, Romantic and Beautiful;
     Living the Radiant Life; Quit Your Worrying; Indian Basketry;
        In and Out of the Old Missions of California, etc., etc.


                         THE RADIANT LIFE PRESS
                          Pasadena, California

                     BOOKS BY GEORGE WHARTON JAMES


Further particulars of these books may be had by addressing the Radiant
                              Life Press,
            1098 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, California


                         BY ONE WHO AIMS TO BE

                   _The Friend of All Living Things_.

                            Copyright, 1917
                        _By_ EDITH E. FARNSWORTH


           INTRODUCTION                                       7
           Chapter I. CAPTAIN’S OWN STORY                    15
           Chapter II. HOW I BOUGHT AND TRAINED CAPTAIN      30
           Chapter III. A SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION           42
                        (By Dr. G. V. Hamilton)
           Chapter IV. CAPTAIN’S PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING      47


           CAPTAIN ON THE STAGE                               8
           MADAME ELLIS GIVING HER PERFORMANCE                9
           ELLEN BEACH YAW SINGING TO CAPTAIN                40
           CAPTAIN AWAKENING HIS GROOM                       41
           CAPTAIN AND HIS FRIENDS AT SAN DIEGO              49

          The Story of Captain: The Horse with the Human Brain


Early in the year 1915 I was called to lecture on California and the
West in the beautiful Sunset Theater of the Southern Pacific Building at
the San Francisco Exposition. In taking a survey of the _Zone_ I was
soon attracted to a gigantic horse in process of manufacture out of wood
and plaster, and a placard before it indicated that a trained horse
would soon be shown here. Being fond of animals, naturally, and having
seen and read considerably of trained horses, I was ready for the first
opening of this show, and there was introduced to CAPTAIN, the educated
horse, or, as he has been termed, “the horse with the human brain.” My
opinions as to the quality of Captain’s intelligence I have recorded
later, but his first performance was a delight to me. His appearance was
pleasing. He looked well cared for, contented, happy and willing to go
through his exhibition. There was none of the holding back, the
whipping, the sharp orders, the ugly looks one so generally sees on the
faces of “trained animals” when they are being put through their tricks.
Most of these poor creatures show so manifestly that they are trapped,
are made to do what they do not like, and that they resent it, that I
seldom can tolerate the sight of their anger and humiliation—for that
is clearly what nearly every animal reveals to me at these exhibitions.
Here, on the other hand, was an animal that enjoyed his work. He treated
it as fun; just as my own Arab colt treats a free run and then being led
into his corral and being petted. After a little pleasantry his master
asked him to count the number of ladies on the front row. Captain’s eyes
at once began at one end, followed the row, down to the other end, and,
by pawing, he told the number. Several similar questions were asked, as,
for instance, how many gentlemen in the second row; how many women along
the aisle; how many girls, or boys, in the second or third rows, etc.,
and in every case Captain gave the answer correctly.

Then a standard was brought forward containing numbers, to which were
attached leather lugs or holders. These were held in the standard, or
rack, and placed without any relative order, and scores of later
observations, have convinced me that there is no order in which they can
be placed that makes any difference to Captain. Here he showed his
familiarity with numbers, bringing from the rack any one called for.
Then tests in arithmetic were applied, such as the addition of numbers
as 9 plus 6 plus 7. Captain at once picked out the figure 2 and then
after dropping it, picked it up and showed it again. Subtraction was
equally well performed, and multiplication up to 12 times 12, and the
answers given were invariably correct.

In giving the answers he pawed with one of his front feet, but at the
request of his master would give a portion of the answer with one foot,
and the remainder with another, even alternating in his use of his hind

A number of simple commands were now given, and questions asked to which
the horse responded with a shake of the head for No, or a nod for Yes.
He would take a seat when requested, scratch his head with right or left
hindfoot, show either right or left foot when required, or stamp with
right or left foot when required, or stamp with right or left hindfoot
as asked. When told to pump water he would swing his head up and down
continuously, and he would swing his head to right and left as
commanded. When asked to laugh he opened his mouth and showed his teeth,
and he wiggled his ears with equal readiness. When told to put out his
tongue it came out immediately, and when commanded to make a hobby-horse
of himself he planted his hindfeet firmly and then proceeded to stretch
himself by planting his forefeet as far ahead as he could.

He was then required to make a corkscrew of himself, and placing all
four feet together, moved around in corkscrew motion. At the command:
“Reverse!” he immediately went in the opposite direction.

[Illustration: Captain on the stage with his trainer and owner,
 Captain W. A. Sigsbee. Cash register and colored cloth rack to the
 left; number rack and chimes to the right.]

[Illustration: Madame Ellis in one of her wonderful mind reading
 performances at the San Diego Exposition, where she exhibited
 daily with Captain.]

Then came an exhibition of Captain’s recognition of colors. A rack
containing ten or fifteen colored cloths was placed before the audience.
The horse was asked to go and pick out, say, the third lady in the
second row, look at the color of her hat (or shawl, dress, gloves or
other article of apparel), and then take up the cloth from the rack
which corresponded to the color of the article worn. In this he seldom
made mistakes.

Now a blindfold exhibition was given. As his master explained, this
fully precluded the possibility of any collusion—at least as far as
Captain’s _seeing_ any signal was concerned. The blindfold was a leather
mask, held in place by the ears and a supporting and fastening strap,
the leather completely covering the eyes.

All the various commands of “Pump,” “Wiggle your ears,” “Laugh,” “Put
out your tongue,” “Corkscrew,” “Say Yes!” “No!” were given and
immediately and correctly responded to. Then Captain was asked to bite
his right knee, lift up his left foot, scratch his head with his rear
left, or right foot, etc.

Numbers were now called for, addition, subtraction and multiplication
required, and the answers beaten out, or pawed, with whatever foot was

Then his memory was tested. A red cloth was tied to his right foreknee,
and a white one on his left hind leg. As the tying was done his master
carefully cautioned him not to forget. Now for a few minutes, he was
kept occupied with numbers, and then was asked for the white cloth,
afterwards for the red one. In both cases he gave whichever was called
for. But it should be noted that in neither case did Mr. Sigsbee give
him the command. Someone in the audience was asked to call for whichever
colored cloth he desired, and on several occasions I made the request
myself. The blindfold was now removed.

The exhibition with the Cash Register then followed, Captain being asked
to get a paper dollar, then change it for small silver, when he brought
out half a dollar and two quarters. There were many variations of the
use of money to all of which requests he responded with accuracy.

Then he was called to the chimes and the audience was informed that
Captain could play “Nearer, My God to Thee,” or “The Suwanee River,” and
it could make its choice. The former tune was called for and Captain
played it correctly, as far as the notes were concerned, though the time
was not, indeed could not have been, followed, as the clapper was moved
by an upward thrust of the horse’s nose upon a lever.

These, in the main, were his achievements. They delighted, yet, at the
same time, puzzled me. How did he accomplish them? By the kindness of
his owner, Mr. W. A. Sigsbee, I was permitted to visit Captain in his
stall as often as I chose. As I got to know him better my interest
increased, until I decided that I should like to write his story. After
talking the matter over with Mr. Sigsbee, he was quite willing, but,
somehow, my year in San Francisco was so crowded that the great
Exposition closed without this pleasing task being accomplished.

The following year we met again, however, at the Panama-California
International Exposition, in San Diego, and there I seized the time
necessary to write the following story.

While I cannot say with Homer Davenport that I have been so profoundly
interested in horses that at three years and nine months old I drew
illustrations of Arab horses, I can say with truth that I have always
been interested in any animal that showed any approach to what is
generally regarded as human intelligence. I was born and brought up as a
good Methodist. God, to me, was the Creator of all things, and however
my belief in other matters of religion may have been modified or
altered, in that particular I believe as I have ever believed. If, then,
God is the Creator of all things, animate and inanimate, every creature
high or low, is a manifestation of His thought, His care, His love, _and
all are born—created—of the same Spirit, and therefore, are akin_. To
me this is a truth more powerful than mere logic can ever make it. There
is a Spirit within me—of the Creator, undoubtedly—that bears witness
to this truth. Hence I know no difference between the spirit in the
horse and that in the man, except in the degree of its outward
manifestation. However, my good friend, John Burroughs, writes:

    We know that the animals do not think in any proper sense as we
    do, or have concepts and ideas, because they have no language.
    Thinking in any proper sense is impossible without language; the
    language is the concept. Our ideas are as inseparable from the
    words as form is from substance. We may have impressions,
    perceptions, emotions, without language, but not ideas. The
    child perceives things, discriminates things, knows its mother
    from a stranger, is angry, or glad, or afraid, long before it
    has any language or any proper concepts. Animals know only
    things through their senses, and this “Knowledge is restricted
    to things present in time and space.” Reflection, or a return
    upon themselves in thought,—of this they are not capable. Their
    only language consists of various cries and calls, expressions
    of pain, alarm, joy, love, anger. They communicate with each
    other and come to share each other’s mental or emotional states,
    through these cries and calls. A dog barks in various tones
    also, each of which expresses a different feeling in the
    dog. . . . The lowing and bellowing of horned cattle are
    expressions of several different things. The crow has many caws,
    that no doubt convey various meanings. The cries of alarm and
    distress of the birds are understood by all the wild creatures
    that hear them; a feeling of alarm is conveyed to them—an
    emotion, not an idea. We evolve ideas from our emotions, and
    emotions are often begotten by our ideas. A fine spring morning
    or a prospect from a mountain top makes one glad, and this
    gladness may take an intellectual form. But without language
    this gladness could not take form in ideal concepts. . . . We
    have only to think of the animals as habitually in a condition
    analogous to or identical with the unthinking and involuntary
    character of much of our lives. They are creatures of routine.
    They are wholly immersed in the unconscious, involuntary nature
    out of which we rise, and above which our higher lives go on.[1]

This logic seems complete and unassailable. Yet, nevertheless, there is
within me something that is not satisfied. I grant Burroughs the
argument, and then fall back upon my own inner consciousness with
reasoning somewhat after this line: We do not now know the language of
the animals; we do not know whether they have one or not. Their lives
_seem_ imprisoned within the dark pent-house of brute-life where no
gleam of our kind of intellectual light reaches them. But may it not be
that they feel this imprisonment and are striving to escape from it. The
Indians have many legends that speak of a time when gods, men, animals
and all nature had a common tongue. May this not be true, or if not true
of the past, a vision of the natural outgrowth of the future? If God be
the Creator He must comprehend all His creation. As we approximate
nearer to Him—and Browning asserts we are all gods, though in the
germ—may we not begin to understand more fully the languageless

Our acceptance of the Hebraic Law as set forth in the Old Testament has
made us look upon the animals as created solely for our benefit, ours to
use just as we choose. Unfortunately this power to _use_ has given to
those with small modicum of kindness in their disposition the feeling
that they are also within their manly rights to _misuse_ the animals.
Considering the greatness of the Universe and the finiteness of man as
compared with the whole, does not this idea seem preposterous?

The Buddhist and Hindu religions teach that all life is _One_—that on
its journey from unconsciousness to self-consciousness it passes through
all the kingdoms of nature,—mineral, vegetable, molluscar, reptilian,
bird, animal, human, up to superhuman. They say about this _life_ that
“it _sleeps_ in the mineral, _dreams_ in the flowers, _awakens_ in the
animal, and _becomes active_ in the human.” Hence the Hindu treats the
animals as his _younger brothers_, and the slaughter and abuse of them
tolerated and practiced in the West is practically unknown in the East,
except where the so-called Western civilization has intruded. This view,
too, would transcend the arguments and logic of Burroughs.

Then, too, may it not be our privilege to _help_ the animals escape from
their dark prison cell into the light of mental exercise? I see no
reason why animals should not evolve, ascend in the scale, and develop
language, reason, concepts, ideas, as well as man. It is certainly going
to do no harm to believe it possible, to hope for it, and to _work for
it_. Love is a great revelator in many ways, and the love of man,
intelligently exercised in relationship to animals, may be of wonderful
help in opening the door of their brute prison-houses.

Hence, I hail every effort, whether of child with its pet, shepherd with
his dog, woman with her parrot, or educated scholar with his horses, to
_find the way_ that shall help the animal know his kinship with the
human. Too long have we assumed that there was no crossing the gulf
between the animal and the human. Man’s _assumptions_ have shut
knowledge away from him. Instead of “assuming” that the horse had no
intelligence why did he not go to work scientifically to find out what
he did have? Just as Sir John Lubbock experimented with all kinds of
creatures as to their powers of taste, smell, touch, etc., only in a
larger and higher way, man might have tested the intelligence of horses,
and then sought to improve it.

There is too much assumption in human beings about most things,—animal
instinct and human reason not excluded. What I wish to protest against,
with emphasis and vigor, is the assumption that we know all there is to
know about intelligence—that we know the limits Nature herself has
placed upon its development, and that all efforts to foster further
development are useless. I affirm that we do _not_ know; that we have
never, as yet, even tried to know; and that until men with loving,
devoted, sympathetic singleness of heart and purpose seek to develop
_all there is_ in the mentality of all the lower animals,—dogs, cats,
deer, as well as horses,—shall we begin to have a _real_ foundation for
our assumptions upon the subject.

I am still simple enough to believe implicitly in the Spiritual
Controller of the Universe we call God. I am still enamoured of the
belief that as Browning says in “Saul”

        God made all the creatures and gave them our love and our fear,
        To give sign, we and they are His children, one family here.

Romanes claims for the horse an intelligence less than that of the
larger carnivora, the elephant, or even the ass. Yet he asserts that the
emotional life of the horse is remarkable, and that working through the
emotions wonderful results of training have been secured. He says it is
an affectionate animal, pleased at being petted, jealous of companions
receiving favor, greatly enjoying play with others of its kind, and
thoroughly entering into the sport of the hunting-field. Horses also
exhibit pride in a marked degree, as also do mules, being unmistakably
pleased with gay trappings.

Now is it inconceivable that these animals might some day, somehow, find
a door open whereby they could enter into the realm of speech. To _feel_
is certainly a large step towards _expression_, and to my mind, the
possession of the one power suggests the _close proximity_ of the other.

I read with great interest the arguments—as different from the mere
assumptions—of those who assert that the instinct of animals, and the
reason of human beings, are two separate and distinct things; there is a
deep gulf between them which can never be passed by the lower order. I
do not believe this. Rather do I hold with Romanes that:

    No distinct line can be drawn between instinct and reason.
    Whether we look to the growing child or to the ascending scale
    of animal life, we find that instinct shades into reason by
    imperceptible degrees.

Instinct certainly involves some kind of mental operations, and by this
feature it is clearly distinguished and differentiated from reflex
action. One bold difference between instinct and reason, I contend, is
that the actions of instinct are uniform, though performed by different
individuals of the same species, while reason—however limited in its
operations—leads to the performance of individualistic actions, limited
to single personalities. Instinct implies “mental action directed
towards the accomplishment of adaptive movement, antecedent to
individual experience, without necessary knowledge of the relation
between the means employed and the ends attained, but similarly
performed under the same appropriate circumstances by all the
individuals of the same species.”[2]

In all these particulars instinct differs from reason, in that it,
“besides involving a mental constituent, and besides being concerned in
adaptive action, is always _subsequent_ to individual experience, never
acts but upon a definite and often laboriously acquired knowledge of the
relation between means and ends, and is very far from being always
similarly performed under the same appropriate circumstances by all the
individuals of the same species.”[3]

Where there is an intentional adaptation of means to ends there is clear
indication of reason. This adaptation I claim Captain possesses, as
distinctively, though of course on a much lower plane than I myself
possess it. For instance: When Captain, _of his own volition_, after
finding his groom asleep after being awakened, went to him again and
pulled the covers from his bed, that may have been accident the first
time. It led to the groom’s awakening, arising and feeding the horse.
Now was it not conscious adaptation of means to that end when, the next
morning, on the groom, failing to arise and feed him, Captain
deliberately went and pulled the bed clothes from him, and has done it
ever since?

Romanes, in his _Animal Intelligence_, clearly suggests the processes by
which we may study or investigate the operations of animal intelligence.
Says he:

    If we contemplate our own mind, we have an immediate cognizance
    of a certain flow of thoughts or feelings, which are the most
    ultimate things, and indeed the only things, of which we are
    cognizant. . . . But in our objective analysis of other or
    foreign minds we have no such immediate cognizance; all our
    knowledge of their operations is derived, as it were, through
    the medium of ambassadors—these ambassadors being the
    activities of the organism. . . . Starting from what I know
    subjectively of the operation of my own individual mind, and the
    activities which in my own organism they prompt, I proceed by
    analogy to infer from the observable activities of other
    organisms what are the mental operations that underlie them.[4]

Upon any hypothesis of the development of human or animal intelligence
it is evident that mentality is of a wonderfully varied quality. There
is a distinct, though by no means clearly defined, sliding scale of
intelligence. It is universal knowledge that a dog shows more
intelligence than a frog, and a horse than a turtle; and human
intelligences are as widely separated as the Igorrote and a Hottentot
and a Gladstone or a Tagore. Where the horse’s place is, in the sliding
scale of general intelligence, I do not know; nor can I tell exactly
where Captain should be located in the varying scale of the intelligence
of horses in general. But this I do know. He has intelligence, and it is
much superior to that commonly shown by the majority of horses. And I
firmly believe with Captain Sigsbee that training and discipline have
their effect in bringing up the intelligence of the higher order of
horses to the intelligence of the lower class, or child, level of

I am decidedly opposed to the assumption that the intelligence of horses
is a fixed and immovable mental quantity; that no amount of kindly,
sympathetic, and understanding training by thoughtful men, will add to,
or develop what they already possess. I believe, beyond the power of any
logical formula to shake my belief, that any constant contact of the
soul of man with whatever there is in horses that corresponds to the
soul must produce a resulting awakening, quickening, deepening of that
soul—something in both man and animal.

It is in this light, therefore, that what I write of Captain’s “human
intelligence” must be understood. He is developing. He has awakened, so
far. He has begun the upward journey. The more he is “educated” the
nearer the true resemblance to human intelligence will he display.

If, in any way, these pages help forward the day of closer sympathy
between man and his lesser or younger brothers and sisters, I shall be
amply repaid for the labor of writing them.

                                                 GEORGE WHARTON JAMES.

    The Exposition, San Diego, Christmas, 1916.


[1] “Do Animals Think,” Harper’s Monthly, Vol. 110, p. 358.

[2] Romanes, pp. 5, 16.

[3] Romanes, p. 16.

[4] Animal Intelligence, by J. G. Romanes, p. 1. D. Appleton & Co.,

                          CAPTAIN’S OWN STORY

I was born on June 8, 1905, on the farm of Judge J. H. Cartwright, in
Oregon, Ill. My mother’s name was _Robey_, and my father’s, _Sidney_.
While I was a little colt the Judge called me _Sid Bell_. He used to
come to the barn and look me over and recount what he called my “points”
to his friends, and when I was in the pasture running to and fro,
kicking up my heels, and thoroughly enjoying myself, he would stand
looking on, apparently thinking very hard. One day the groom tied me to
my mother’s side, and the Judge drove her out over the road, and he
seemed very pleased at the way I trotted along. Day after day he did
this, for a long time, making me go faster and faster until I heard him,
and other people, say that I was going to be a very fast pacer. My lungs
expanded with the exercise; my muscles grew strong and firm; my eyes
were bright and clear; I had a hearty appetite and enjoyed every
mouthful I ate, and every day when they turned me loose in the pasture,
I raced up and down just as proud and happy and full of life and
exuberant spirits as ever possessed a young horse in all the wide world.

One day the Judge took me out on what was called a “track.” It was a
smooth oval place, not very wide, arranged solely for the purpose of
driving horses. They fastened a light little cart behind me, hardly big
enough for my groom to sit in, and then he made me go around that track
as hard as I could go. Of course he let me go easy at first, until
I—what he called—“warmed up,” and then he would say, “Now, Sid Bell.
Go to it!” and would give that peculiar clicking sound that men make
when they want a horse to hurry up, and I paced ahead as fast as I knew

The Judge used to come and watch proceedings nearly every day, and give
suggestions to my groom. Some days he would be very proud and boastful
about me, and other times, not quite so well satisfied. But one day,
when I was feeling particularly good, and had gone around the track at a
lively clip, I heard him say “He’ll do! He made it that time in 2:16,”
which I afterwards learned meant that I had paced a mile in two minutes
and sixteen seconds, and that was accounted pretty fast for a
two-year-old colt.

When I was nearly three years old the Judge sold me to Mr. W. A. Sigsbee
of Chicago. My mother had told me, one day when Mr. Sigsbee came to the
track to watch me pace, that he was a great animal trainer, known all
over the country as Captain Sigsbee. I heard the Captain say “He’s a
beauty. His action is fine,” and when I was brought up to where he and
the Judge were standing he repeated these and many other comments, all
of a nature to make a young horse like me think a good deal of himself,
so that I looked at him and let him know by my eyes that I liked him to
speak in that way about me. Then he began to talk about my “intelligent
look” and all at once he exclaimed, quite emphatically: “Judge, I’ve got
to have that colt. I want to train him and make him the best known horse
in the world.” The Judge didn’t seem to like this idea very much, at
first. He said he had trained me for the track, and he didn’t intend to
part with me, but Captain Sigsbee urged so strongly that it would be far
better for me, to keep me away from the track, and let me be especially
trained and then sent out through the country as an educated horse, that
finally he consented to sell me.

My mother was very sorry to have me go away from her, and I was sorry to
go, but she seemed to find a great deal of comfort in the fact that I
should no longer be on the track; I should have a much less strenuous
life than racing, and that the education my new owner wished to give me
would also be much to my advantage in other ways.

So Captain Sigsbee took me to Chicago. And my! what a noisy, bustling
city it was. How different from the quiet country where I was born and
so far had spent my life. And the smells! Why, I smelled more horrible
smells in one day there, I think, than I had smelled in all my life
before. The same with the noises. People think horses don’t care about
smells and noises. Don’t they? I was jumping and nervous all the time
with the new and awful noises that seemed to rush at me from every
direction. Street cars, roaring, rushing and their bell clanging;
automobiles honking right in my ears; wagons rumbling over the stones;
men shouting; women and girls talking with high-pitched voices; babies
squalling; policemen whistling at the street crossings; newsboys
shouting their papers; beggars grinding away on their pitiful little
organs; and a thousand other noises, many of which I had never before
heard. As we were crossing one of the streets or avenues a new noise
came rushing at me, as fast as an automobile travels, but it was over my
head. I looked up, but could see nothing but trestle-work above me, and
the noise was loud enough to be felt. Nearer it came, until with a rush
and a roar, it seemed to fall on me, and I reared and struggled and even
screamed in my terror. Then in a moment the fierce noise of it was gone,
and it gradually grew less and less. But in another street I had the
same experience. Captain spoke quietingly and soothingly to me and told
me I needn’t be scared as it was “only the elevated railway,” but I
didn’t know then what he meant. Of course, I learned all about it later,
and then I was no longer scared.

At the training-barn I had a fine large box-stall, the floor covered
with clean, sweet-smelling hay, where I could lie down and rest whenever
I felt like it. My new owner was very kind to me. He came to see me
several times a day, and brought his friends, and told them how proud he
was of me. He always brought me an apple, a carrot, a lump of sugar or
something I liked, and I soon watched for his coming. I learned to love
him. But I did not like being left alone in that strange place, and with
so many disagreeable smells and noises around me. When he went away I
tried to beg him not to go. I would “nose up” to him and even try to
hold him, but he only called me “a cunning rascal,” and broke away. Then
I would whinny and paw and paw so that I was sure if he had any real
horse-sense he would surely know what I meant, and that I was telling
him so clearly that even a mule or a donkey would understand _that I did
not want him to leave me alone_. But poor creature, he was only a man,
and didn’t have _horse-sense_, so I was left. When he came again I
showed him by my gladness and the reality of my welcome how glad I was
he had come.

One day while he was away some rude and noisy men got into a quarrel
outside the stable, and they fought, and swore, and made an awful noise.
One of them fired a gun or a revolver at the other, and the hubbub was
terrible. I was dreadfully alarmed, and when the Captain came, a little
while after, I was lathered all over with the sweat that had poured out
of me because I was so afraid.

“My, my!” he exclaimed, as soon as he saw me, “this will never do. The
poor little fellow’s scared almost to death. I’ll never leave him alone

How glad I was to hear that. I kissed him, just as I had learned to kiss
my mother, and tried to show him my gratitude. He kept his word, and
that very night he brought a groom to me, whom he called Chili. He told
Chili he was never to leave me, day or night. He was to be my companion
and caretaker. He must not try to teach me, or anything of that kind,
but just simply see that I had plenty of hay and water and my oats
regularly, and an abundance of litter to sleep on, that I was kept
perfectly clean, my stable also clean and sweet, and be with me all the
time. That was a great comfort to me. Few people can know how much, for
I really believe, now that I am older, that horses are far more fearful
and timid even than women and colts than babies. We are an awfully scary
lot. It’s too bad, but it is so!

By this time Captain Sigsbee had decided that I was going to suit his
purpose perfectly, so he gave me his own name, that everybody might know
I was his horse. He was known all over the country as Captain Sigsbee,
and if I bore his name, hundreds of thousands of people would know, as
soon as they heard it, who had trained me.

But he never called me “Captain” while he was visiting me in the stable;
nor did he ever allow Chili to call me “Captain.” I was always “Boy!”
except when he was teaching me. You see there was a reason for that.
When he said “Captain,” I soon learned that we were at school and I must
attend strictly to business; at other times I used to do as I liked, but
when we began “work,” I found out I had to take everything seriously, do
just as I was told, and stick to my lessons, trying hard to learn what I
was being taught. If I didn’t I failed to get the carrots, apples, sugar
or candy that I expected.

Chili used to sleep in the stall next to mine, and I was generally left
free, and as there were no doors or bars I could go and see if he was
there at any time, if I felt nervous or afraid. One morning he didn’t
get up to feed me at the usual time—6 a. m.—and I waited until I was
pretty hungry. Then I decided to go and see what was the matter. He was
still sound asleep, so I leaned my head over him and rubbed his face
with my nose. That woke him up, right away, and he jumped up and fed me.
He laughed and patted me and called me a cute fellow, and said I was a
smart horse, so, when he failed to get up and feed me the next time, I
didn’t wait but went right up to his cot and did it again. I did this
several times, and always got my feed right away, but one morning, after
I woke Chili he must have dropped off to sleep again. When he didn’t
come with my oats I went around to see what the matter was and there he
was sound asleep again, with the covers pulled up over his head. I felt
a little bit angry with him for neglecting me like that, so I just took
hold of the bed-clothes, gave them a yank, and pulled them right down
nearly to the foot of the cot.

My! my! how he jumped! He was out of that cot in a flash,—but he
laughed and said there was no beating me, he’d have to give up. I hardly
knew just what he meant at the time, but I had learned a good lesson,
for ever since then I don’t waste any time in waking my groom, and if he
doesn’t bring me my feed on time I go and pull off the bed-clothes from
him, and I get my oats without further delay, even though sometimes,
after giving me my breakfast he goes back again to bed and takes another
snooze. Chili and I soon became good friends, but that did not take away
my affection for my master. I was always glad to see him. He used to
come and talk to me—man talk, of course—but I soon learned to know a
great deal of what he said, and I always paid attention—well, perhaps,
to be strictly truthful I would better say nearly always—for he never
failed, when I did so, to give me some tidbit or other that I much
enjoyed. Of all these I liked sugar the best, but he says too much sugar
isn’t good for me, so I never get quite as much as I would like.

During all this time I was being educated. I was taught to count with my
feet, to pick out numbers and colors, and to know the difference between
men, women, boys and girls. I learned to add numbers together, to say
Yes and No, to kiss my master, sit on a chair, even on his lap, without
hurting him, make change on a cash register, play tunes on the chimes,
and lots of other things.

My master was always good and kind to me while teaching me. He never got
impatient, and he would stop every once in a while and let me rest, and
he always gave me something nice to eat when I did well. So I used to
look out of the window of my stable and see other horses dragging heavy
loads, sometimes being driven fast by delivery-boys, in hot weather,
until they were dripping with perspiration, or in winter-time, out in
the snow or where the streets were so slippery that they fell down. I
often heard their drivers shouting roughly at them and using foul
language, and I have seen them whip their poor animals cruelly, and then
I knew how much better off I was than they, and it made me feel very
thankful and grateful to my good master.

He always talked nicely while he was training me; told me that if I was
good and learned my lessons, people would come to see me, and they would
love me, and he and my mistress and Chili would be very proud of me. He
told me about some of the boys and girls who went to school, but who
refused to learn their lessons, and the misery and wretchedness that
often came to them as the result. So I grew more and more anxious to
learn, for although I was only a horse, I wanted people to love me and
think well of me, and say nice things about me.

For _five whole years_ my master kept me at school. Every day he came to
my stable, or took me out into the yard, to give me my lessons. I guess
I was a slow learner, and it took a great deal of patience to make me
remember, for I was only a horse—not a boy or a girl, with human
intelligence. We had to go over the same lessons scores, hundreds of
times, until I knew them by heart. But my master was kind all the time,
seldom spoke angrily to me, and never whipped me, though he kept a small
switch in his hand with which he gave me a gentle reminder, once in a
while, when I was inclined to be a little more frolicsome than usual.

One day he came to me and said: “Now, Captain, you and I are going to
travel and see the world. Do you know what I have been educating you
for? I am going to let people all over this country see you, and what
you can do, so that they will no longer be able truthfully to say that a
horse has no intelligence. Chili will go along with us. When we are on
the trains he will remain in your stall and travel with you, and when we
stop anywhere to ‘show’ he will spend his nights with you as he has done
all the time.”

Just think what news this was for a horse! How I pricked up my ears! How
I looked forward for the day to come when we should start!

At last the eventful day arrived. Quite a number of people came to see
us go. Chili led me from my stable to what he called a box-car at the
railway station. It had padded ends and sides so that, when the train
bumped while the cars were being switched, or at the starting or
stopping of the train, I could not get hurt. I am free to confess I
didn’t like the idea of going into the car at first and both my master
and Chili had to persuade me before I went in.

When the train started I didn’t like it at all, and I was uneasy for a
few days whenever we were on the train, but Chili was always there, and
he kept telling me there was nothing to be afraid of, so as I had
learned to trust him, I soon stopped worrying, and _I have never worried
since_. Some people tell me that in that regard I learned to be wiser
than a great many humans, who ought to know that worrying does no good
and yet they still go on doing it. How I pity such people that they
don’t have a little bit of simple _horse-sense_.

By and by I learned, as we traveled, to look out of the window and see
what there was outside. What a lot of wonderful things I saw. Of course
we kept stopping, sometimes for a week, then for only a day or two, and
we gave exhibitions all the time, the people coming in large numbers to
see me. They all wondered how my good master had succeeded in training
and educating me so well. Then sometimes they came up and petted me, and
the girls and women, and even the boys and men, kissed me on the nose,
and said such nice and flattering things to me. I enjoyed it ever so
much, for I like people to like me. And of course, my master never
forgot to give me a carrot, or an apple, or a cookie, when I did well,
so that he said I grew “fatter and saucier every day.”

My very first public appearance and performance was in the lobby of the
Sherman House, in Chicago, in August, 1913, at the Engineers’
Convention. I went from there to the Great Northern Hippodrome, where I
stayed for a whole week. Then we started and took the complete circuit
of the Miles Theaters, starting from Chicago and going to New York one
way, and returning to Chicago another way. I enjoyed it very much, and
made lots of friends on that first trip.

When we got back to Chicago it was late in the fall of 1914, and my
master told me we were not going to work any more publicly for several
months, as he wanted to get me ready for the Panama-Pacific
International Exposition at San Francisco, that was to open on the 20th
of February, 1915. That great big long name made me nervous at first—I
wondered what it meant. But by listening to my master and Chili talking
I soon learned that it was a great and wonderful “show,” in honor of the
completing of the Panama Canal that united the Atlantic and the Pacific
Oceans, and they called it “International” because all the nations of
the earth were invited to take part in it.

Later I learned that there were to be magnificent buildings, bigger than
any I had ever seen, even in Chicago and New York, Palaces of Music, and
Education, and Fine Arts, and Mining, and Domestic Industries, and
Foreign Industries, of Liberal Arts, and Electricity, and Engineering,
and Food Products, and that, besides, all the countries that took part,
would have their own buildings. Then there were to be magnificent courts
and fountains and arches and columns and domes and statues and
bas-reliefs and pools and flower-gardens and trees, and at night-time
searchlights and fireworks, and steam-works and illuminations more
beautiful than anything of the kind men had ever seen before. So, even
though I was only a horse, I was anxious to go and see it all.

Then Chili told me there was to be one whole long street devoted to
pleasures and amusements, that they were to call the ZONE, and we were
to appear there. There was to be a wonderful exhibit showing the
appearance and working of the Panama Canal, villages of strange people
from all over the world, Cowboy shows, Mining Camps, a representation of
the seven days of Creation, and the Battle of Gettysburg, Capt. Scott’s
Trip to the South Pole, the fight of the Dreadnoughts and Submarines, an
Incubator for babies—human babies, mind, the tiniest little humans you
ever saw,—the Grand Canyon, the Pueblo Indian village, the Yellowstone
National Park, the Streets of Cairo, Toyland, the Japanese town, and
lots of others that I do not now recall. We were to have our show right
on the Zone, and be one of these many marvelous and wonderful
attractions. The more I heard about these things the more anxious I was
to go, and yet I wondered a good deal as to whether I should be as
attractive to the crowd among so many other interesting things as I had
been where there were not so many. But my master and Chili seemed
satisfied, so I stuck to my motto and “Quit Worrying.”

Day after day we rehearsed my performance and went over my lessons,
until my master said I was “sure perfect.” That made me feel good. Then
one day I heard master tell Chili to go and see that his orders were
carried out about the car, and I learned then that the car was ordered
that was to take me to San Francisco, and that the workmen were busy at
work upon it, padding it and making it comfortable for me as well as
Chili. When everything was ready and lots of hay and grain put in the
car, Chili took me aboard, and that night we started. Over the plains of
Illinois and Iowa, into Nebraska and Wyoming, through Utah and Nevada we
rode. What a lot of different country I saw from any I had ever seen
before. When we reached the mountains I thought they were wonderful, and
how I enjoyed the ride, as we raced down from Summit to Cheyenne. At
Reno we began the climb over the Sierras and Chili said we were in
California. I had heard it was a land of sunshine and flowers and birds
and fruit, but we were in a region of rocks and mountains, precipices
and canyons, snow and ice, and while there were plenty of beautiful
trees I couldn’t see a single flower. When Chili brought, from one of
the streams, several times a day, a bucket of water for me to drink, it
was colder than any well-water I had ever been given in my life. My! how
it made my teeth ache. But it was so sweet and tasted so good, as if the
winds of God had blown over it for months, bringing freshness and
sweetness and filling it full of their deliciousness.

As soon as we reached the summit we began to go down, down, down, to
lower levels, and long before we left the snow I could smell the sweet
growing timothy and clover and alfalfa, and even the blossoms on the
fruit-trees, and when we reached Auburn and Newcastle and lots of other
towns up there, we were in the real California I had always pictured.
Larks and thrushes, linnets and mocking-birds, song-sparrows and
warblers were there by the thousands, singing such songs as I had never
heard, and flowers! There were flowers of a thousand kinds, all new to
me, pushing their way up through the green grass; and as for the
fruit-trees, although it was early in February, there were thousands of
them already in bloom and as sweet and fragrant and beautiful as a
Garden of Eden.

It was the fourteenth of February, 1915, when we reached San Francisco.
There Chili took me to a comfortable livery barn, where I remained until
March 17. This was owing to the fact that the theater my master was
having built for our performances, was not completed until that time. At
the rear of it was a fine barn and stable for my use, where Chili could
also sleep.

Though we began a month late we soon made up for lost time. The people
came by the hundreds and then by the thousands. They petted me, and
laughed at my tricks, especially when I felt good and came running onto
the platform, kicking up my heels and having a general good time. The
women called me a “dear,” and a “darling,” and the men said I was
“remarkable,” “a marvel,” and “a wonder,” and the boys said I was “a
corker,” and “a jim-dandy.” Anyhow those who saw me pick out the
good-looking ladies, and the fine-looking men, sort out colors, add,
subtract, multiply, give change on the cash register, pump, corkscrew,
hobby-horse, sit on my master’s lap, play the chimes and do my various
exhibitions of thought, memory and reason, went away and spread my fame.
My master, of course, felt very happy over it, for each day the receipts
grew larger. But, as more people came, I had to give performances more
often, and I soon began to think I was overworked. My master didn’t
think so, but he didn’t realize how tired I got. I tried to tell him, as
well as I knew how, but he didn’t seem to pay any attention, and I was
beginning to feel that he loved money better than he loved me. But all
this time he was watching me very closely, and one day, when I was quite
tired, he did not let me give so many performances. Then, too, there was
another thing that was bothering me. While I loved Chili very dearly, as
he was always good to me, somehow he was not so careful and attentive to
my needs in San Francisco as he had been hitherto. I began to watch him
and found he came in late, very often, and I soon saw that he was
getting into bad company. As soon as my master found this out, he let
him go, and secured for me a new groom. He is a “cullud genman,”—a real
negro gentleman, from the South, who thoroughly understands fine horses,
and whose name is Jasper, and we soon became very much attached to each

Just about this time a beautiful little woman came right up to my stall
and said, as she gave me some sugar: “You beautiful creature. I’ve been
watching your performance. You are wonderful. I’m afraid they’re working
you too hard. You should have some one to help you. I’m going to ask
Captain Sigsbee if he won’t let me come and relieve you.”

I pricked up my ears at this and watched and listened very intently when
she went to my master. I then learned that her name was Madame Ellis,
and she said she was a mind-reader and telepathist. She explained that
she had watched me give the blindfold part of my entertainment with the
greatest interest, and was well satisfied that I understood every word
that was said to me. Then came the words that almost made me dance for
joy, for she said: “Captain Sigsbee, I give a blindfold entertainment
that would go wonderfully well with your Captain’s exhibition, and at
the same time give him plenty of opportunity to rest and take a good
breathing spell between performances.”

My good master seemed as pleased as I was, for he immediately made the
arrangement with Mr. Ellis, and the very next day Madame Ellis appeared
on my platform. No one will ever know how much I was interested at this
first performance of hers. I watched her every move, for when they
wanted me to go to my stable and rest while she performed, I clearly
showed them I did not want or intend to go. I stood and saw the whole
performance, and I can only say that if Madame Ellis is as pleased with
what I do, as I am with what she does, then she is a very pleased woman.

We became the best and dearest of friends and have so remained ever
since, for when a horse gives his friendship he is not like some human
beings I have seen, fickle and faithless, but is constant and faithful.
We have never had the sign of a quarrel, and there is not the slightest
jealousy between us. She is as proud of my triumphs and success as I am
of hers. And they tell me that as far as earning money is concerned
Madame Ellis and I earned more than any other show on the Zone, not even
excepting the wonderful Panama Canal and the picture of Stella.

There were a great many very noted people came to see us while we were
in San Francisco. Mr. C. C. Moore, president of the Exposition, and Mrs.
Moore, together with Mayor and Mrs. Rolfe, and thousands of others from
all over the world, as well as those who lived in San Francisco became
my good friends. After I had gone away President Moore wrote the
following letter to my master, which I am proud to have people read:


                       San Francisco, California
                       OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

                                                     Oct. 6, 1916.


        Dear Sir: It is a pleasure to me to inform you how much I
    enjoyed the performance of your horse “Captain” at the
    Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which I saw a number of
    times. The performance of this highly intelligent animal was a
    great attraction to visitors to the Exposition.

                                             Very truly yours,
                                      CHAS. C. MOORE, _President_.

When the Exposition closed in San Francisco, my master and Jasper took
me down to Venice, in Southern California, where we stayed until March
18, 1916, when we moved to the Panama-California International
Exposition at San Diego. Of course, there was nothing like the large
number of people here that there were in San Francisco, but we made many
good friends and had some large audiences. Among those I esteem most
highly were President and Mrs. G. Aubrey Davidson and their children;
Mr. H. J. Penfold, the secretary, and all the officials. They all used
to come and pet me whenever opportunity arose, and many of the leading
men and women of the city seemed glad to call themselves my friend. But
I am free to confess that I have a few very special friends, and one of
these is the great singer, Ellen Beach Yaw. While singing in the San
Francisco Exposition she used to come to see me often, and became much
attached to me, as I to her, and both there and in San Diego she would
sing to me. Some people think I don’t understand music, in spite of my
playing accurately different tunes on the chimes, but my master and
Jasper both know that when I am nervous and tired, on the other hand,
frolicsome and frisky, I am always glad to stand with perfect quietude
and restfulness when my dear Miss Yaw comes to sing to me. As soon as
she holds up her hand and looks at me I know she is going to pour out a
sweet song that will delight me, so I listen with all my attention. And
she never has to wait for my appreciation. I go right up to her and kiss
her my thanks for her song as soon as she has done singing.

Another thing I enjoy amazingly. Quite as well as I like music, I like
to go out and stand in the sun. I think one of my far-away ancestors
must have lived in, and loved, a desert country where the sun shone all
the time, for I am never so happy as when Jasper allows me to go out and
stand where the beams of the sun come straight down upon my back. It
feels so good, and it soothes me so that I like to enjoy it and go to
sleep enjoying it. And if they would allow me to, I would go out and
roll in the sunshine, and then lie down, as a cat does before the fire,
reveling in the warmth and going to sleep under its influence.

Sometimes people wonder how I make my wants known, seeing that I can’t
speak. With my master and Jasper I seldom have any trouble, for by
pawing or whinneying I arrest their attention, and then there are many
things I need that they quickly ask about. If they think I want water,
they ask: “Water?” If I want it, I nod; if not, I shake my head. And so
with going out, untying me, giving me more air—for I like plenty of
fresh air—or anything else I may desire.

There are some people who think I don’t like to give performances. I’m
sure I don’t know why, except that I do get tired a little once in a
while, and sometimes my master wants me to be quiet and good when I feel
frisky and frolicsome and want to kick up my heels. I always feel better
the busier I am, and I remember one day in San Francisco, when we gave
nineteen performances, I was so full of fun and spirits when we got
through that Jasper had to be pretty stern with me before I would
quieten down.

Another thing that amuses me. People often ask if I ever eat anything
besides oats and hay, and things of that kind. It amuses me because I
like everything, just as most healthy boys and girls do. I eat bread and
butter—and I like it with jam on or sugar or honey—and hard boiled
eggs, and nuts, and every kind of fruit, raw, cooked or preserved.
Candies I just dote on, and vegetables come as a welcome change. I can
eat them raw or cooked, hot or cold, and I don’t object to lettuce put
in sandwiches.

Sandwiches? Of course I eat them: ham, beef, chicken or tongue, with
mustard or without. And nothing I like better, at times, than a ham bone
to gnaw on. Sometimes Prince—Jasper’s pet dog—brings one in and shares
it with me, and I enjoy it amazingly.

But one of my special delicacies is cake. My dear mistress, Mrs.
Sigsbee, long ago found that out, and whenever she wants to make me feel
extra good she makes a cake for me. My! My! She is a fine cake-maker.
One day she had made a large cake for a party. I think it was Master’s
birthday, and they had invited a lot of friends. That day Master loosed
me from the stable and sent me up to the house to see Mistress.
Sometimes he does this, and trusts me to go directly there. I did so
this time, and when I got into the yard I went right to the kitchen
window, which was open, and through which a delicious odor came. Right
there on the table was the cake. It was this that smelled so good. I put
my nose close to it and it made my mouth water. There was no one there
to tell me not to do it, so I just bit right into the middle of it, took
a large mouthful, and it—what do the boys say—“went to the right
spot.” The trouble was that first mouthful whetted my appetite for more,
and I had made a pretty big hole in that cake before Mistress came in
and found what I had done. She drove me away, but began to laugh so
heartily that when Master came running, in answer to her call, she could
scarcely speak. She could just point to the cake and to me. There I was,
with cake crumbs and jam or jelly all over my nose and in my whiskers,
and Mistress at last managed to gasp out, between laughs, “Captain’s
celebrating your birthday. He likes cake, too!”

At first Master was inclined to be mad, but Mistress laughed him out of
it, and said why shouldn’t I like birthday cake as well as he. She’d
make another, and even if she couldn’t, she would buy one. Then she put
the rest of the cake away, and every day for another week I had a chance
again to celebrate Master’s birthday.

Do I ever get ugly-tempered?

I think I can truthfully answer that I do not show temper very often. I
must confess, however, that now and again I am not as well-dispositioned
as I generally am. Sometimes I feel a little out of sorts, and then I
act up just as a naughty boy or girl does. I want my Master to hurry up
my performance and let me get away, and I bungle and stumble and do the
very thing I ought not to do. When I feel like this and have to pick out
the colors, I grab the cloth viciously, and sometimes deliberately take
the wrong one, or slam the drawer of the cash-register, and when it
comes to playing the chimes it is too funny the way I find myself
acting. When I reach the last few notes I hit them one after another as
fast as I can, and then run around the stage to show Master I am
impatient to get away. I suppose boys and girls get that way in school
sometimes. Anyhow that is what Master and some of the people who come to
see me say, and I can well believe it, for there is not so much
difference between my actions and those of boys and girls, if people
could only understand them aright.

One day Jasper brought a pigeon into the stable. I heard him say a lady
had given it to him. We soon became the best of friends. The pigeon
would coo to me and come onto my feeding rack, and I would nuzzle up to
her and whinney. She flies about me and lights on my head and struts up
and down my neck and back, and I just enjoy it. We often go to sleep
together, I with my head close up against the pigeon, she snuggling
close to my soft nose. I feel so much better now that I have so nice a
companion. I am not so nervous when I hear strange footsteps, or just
before we are going to have a show.

Sometimes I am so full of fun and frolic that my Master lets me play
awhile. Then I just enjoy running about the stage, kicking up my heels,
showing my teeth at people, and making believe I am very savage, hitting
a note on the chimes, and dashing across to the cash register, opening
the drawer and ringing the bell, and then picking up a colored cloth in
my teeth and shaking it as if I were angry. But as soon as I have had
enough of this I quieted down, and we go ahead with a “show” as steadily
as can be. You see, my Master understands me, and doesn’t all the time
feel that he has to hold me in to make me “behave”—as people call it.
I’d like to know why I shouldn’t have high spirits and be happy and
jolly, if any horse on earth should. I’m well cared for day and night; I
have all I want to eat of the very best that money can buy; I am housed
in the most comfortable stable that can be hired, with plenty of good,
clean bedding, and a rug to keep me warm at night; I have my companions,
the pigeon, and Prince, the fox terrier, and Jasper is on hand all the
time, so why shouldn’t I be full of frolic. That comes from being happy
and healthy, and any one with sense can see that I am both, for my eyes
are clear, my breath is sweet, my skin is clean and I am full of life
and spirits.

My Master is good to me and I love him very dearly, but I am free to
confess I have a special affection for Madame Ellis’s little girl. She
is about ten years old, and we are real chums. Her name is Margaret. She
comes nearly every day to see me, and she pets me, and I pet her. She
brings me sugar and apples, and then after I have eaten them she sits on
my back, and after a while we play circus. She takes her shoes off—so
that she won’t hurt me—and stands on me, walks from my shoulders to my
tail, standing either looking frontwards or backwards, and I walk around
carefully so as not to make her fall. And when we get through she hugs
and kisses me, and I like it amazingly and kiss her back, and would hug
her if I knew just how to do it.

And now I have told my story. Now that the San Diego Exposition is over
my master, I expect, will take me all over the country, so that more
people may see me and become interested in my education. He feels that
the performances I give will interest children and those who have to
handle horses and thus lead them to treat all horses with more respect
and kindness. When human beings feel that horses have intelligence,—no
matter how small in quantity, or good in quality it may be,—they will
act differently towards them. It will lead them to be more tolerant,
patient and kind.

We hope to work with all the Humane Associations and Societies for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, for my master knows, as I also well
know, that when children and teamsters see me and watch what I can do,
their hearts become more gentle towards all animals, and thus the day is
hastened when kindness and love shall reign supreme upon the earth.

                     _By His Owner_, W. A. SIGSBEE

    (_EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION._ To render the story of Captain
    complete it was essential that the reader should know something
    of his trainer, his educator, the man to whose enthusiasm and
    ability we owe the pleasure the horse has afforded us.
    Consequently I have questioned Capt. Sigsbee, again and again,
    as to his methods and the story which here follows contains his
    answers to these many questionings which I have put into
    consecutive and readable form, but, as nearly as is possible, in
    his own words.)

I was brought up in the horse business. My father and uncles were
horsemen before I was born. They lived in Dane County, Wisconsin, twelve
miles from Madison, and there I first saw the light. One of my uncles
had trotting horses, and almost as soon as I could do anything I used to
go and help him. When I was fourteen years old I was regularly employed
by him during my vacations, to help on the farm, in the stables, and to
accompany him to the trotting track. I soon learned to ride, as a
jockey, and up to the time I was eighteen years old that was my
occupation. Then I began to work for myself. I bought, educated or
trained, and then sold horses and dogs. I was much interested in them,
and always seemed to have fair success in their management.

As I grew older I used to go with my own horses to the County and State
Fairs, the latter being held at Madison. When I was twenty-four years
old I married, settled down on a farm, and as horse-trading seemed to be
the business I was especially adapted for, naturally I followed it.
Whenever my neighbors wanted a horse that was extra well trained they
would come to me, and if I showed them one that could do a few tricks,
they liked it none the less, and were not unwilling to pay a little
extra for the pains I had taken.

The year after I was married I moved to Humboldt, Iowa, where I bought
another farm and for four more years continued my work as farmer and
horse-trader. Then I bought the Park Hotel, in the town of Humboldt,
which I ran for eleven years, never, however, for one moment losing my
interest in horses. In fact, it was one of the most profitable parts of
my business. Many farmers, show-men, circus-men and others came to the
town and stopped at my hotel, so I was never away from the atmosphere of
the horse ring. Many a time, when they were in a tight place, the show
or circus men would come and ask me to help them out, for my reputation
as a trainer had spread, and it was pretty generally understood that I
was an exceptional hand for teaching horses and dogs rather unusual and
interesting tricks.

In time the great circus-masters, like Barnum and Bailey, Al Ringland
and others, came to me and asked me to train horses for them, so that my
horse business grew, and with it my reputation. Naturally I was always
on the look out for colts that promised well, or horses that seemed
extra intelligent, and my eyes were keen for mares that showed a
superior order of intelligence that were soon to have colts.

About this time my eyes were attracted to a beautiful mare, evidently
with foal. No sooner did I see her than I wanted her. I found on inquiry
that she had been bred to a spotted Arabian, as fine and beautiful a
creature as she herself was. Satisfied that she was what I wanted, I
purchased her. Already I had begun to speculate as to what I should do
with her colt. If it was a prettily shaped animal, was as intelligent as
the father and mother, I decided it should receive the best education I
was capable of giving. As the days of the mare’s time passed I grew more
and more anxious. My hopes were raised high, and I was correspondingly
expectant and at the same time afraid. What if the colt should prove
stupid? I awaited the birth of that colt as eagerly as a royal family
awaits the birth of the child of a king, hence you can understand my
delight and satisfaction, when the little lady came, that I found her
faultless in appearance, neat, trim, dainty and beautiful, with
intelligent eyes and face and every indication of being a most superior

From the hour of her birth I watched her far more closely than many a
child is watched. I was in and out of the stable a score of times a day.
While she appeared intelligent, I wanted to know with certainty as soon
as I could. I was not long in discovering, and this was how it was done.
My barn had double doors—one on each side. As it was warm weather I had
both doors open to allow a current of air through the building. When the
colt was four or five days old, I wished to hitch up the mare and drive
her, but did not think it wise to let so small and young a colt go
along. So I closed the doors and left her inside. She became much
excited at being separated from her mother; ran around wildly, whinnied,
and generally fretted. But I felt she would have to learn to lose her
mother, so I drove away and left her to fight it out as best she could.

The next day I went into the barn and groomed down the mare, the colt
apparently paying no attention, but the moment I took the harness from
its peg and began to put it upon the mother the little miss ran out of
doors. I thought I had scared her in some way and paid no particular
attention, but when I was ready to drive away and tried to get her back
into the barn she positively refused to go or be driven. She was as
resolved to stay out as I was to have her go in, and it was only when I
secured additional help that I was able to get her inside.

The same thing occurred on the following day, and then I began to
suspect that the colt knew as well as I did what was going on, and was
resolved not to be left behind. So I called to my wife to come and watch
with me, while we experimented. So long as I merely fussed around with
the mare, cleaning her, etc., it was all right, but the moment I touched
the harness and made it appear I was going to hitch up, out shot the
colt from the barn in a moment. We tried this out a dozen times and
always with the same result. This occurred when she was nine days old,
and with conviction I turned to my wife and exclaimed: “She’ll do, the
little Trixy; she’s got brains, and I’ll begin to train her right away.”
Thus she got her name, and I started upon her education.

In my past experience I had taught many horses to respond to questions
with a Yes or No, to paw out numbers, to kiss me, to sit down, lie down,
roll over, and other similar simple tricks. I would ask if they would
like a drink, a feed of oats, a lump of sugar, etc., and teach them how
to answer with a nod of the head, and with a shake when I asked: “Shall
I whip you?” or “I guess you don’t want any feed today,” but with Trixey
I determined to go further than this and see if she really could be
trained, or, better still, _educated_ in any degree.

Thus began Trixey’s education, which continued persistently for eighteen
months. Every day I kept at it, and it might be interesting here to
state that while I was educating Trixey, she was educating me. I learned
a great deal about horses and horse nature in those eighteen months. In
due time I had trained her so that she could pick out numbers on call,
colors, could add, subtract, multiply and divide; could count with her
feet, sit in a chair, on my lap, and answer questions.

I then decided to take her out on the road and give exhibitions with
her. But first of all I decided to give a test exhibition at our County
Fair, at Humboldt, my own town. Of course I was well known, and my
horse-training proclivities were the subject of conversation all
throughout the country, but few knew how much I had accomplished with
Trixey. Hence that first appearance was a great surprise to my
neighbors. Needless to say, it was also a wonderful success. Every one
was delighted with the exhibition and marveled at the intelligence the
beautiful little creature displayed.

I now started to go throughout the country with confidence. I knew what
Trixey could do and what the effect of the exhibition would be upon an
audience. In those days an educated horse was unknown. There were a few
trained circus horses, but a horse like mine excited great wonder and
interest. My method was to go to County and other Fairs, explain what
Trixey could do, and I would undertake to exhibit her before the grand
stand between races. The Fair Associations would engage me, and thus I
would earn a good financial return.

Soon after we began to travel I changed the colt’s name to _Princess
Trixey_, and this was the name by which she was ever afterwards known.
About this time I came in contact with William Harrison Barnes, of Sioux
City. He had been a newspaper reporter, but was naturally a showman, and
shortly before I met him he had drifted into the show business. He was
exhibiting such horses as “The Pacing Wonder,” “Johnny, the Guideless
Wonder,” and when he saw the Princess there was nothing for it but that
he should become my partner and go along with us. For four years we
traveled together, Barnes making the business arrangements for our
appearance at Carnivals, State Fairs, Amusement Parks, and under the
auspices of various organizations. Then I sold Princess Trixey to him,
continuing to travel with him for four years, after which I returned to
Humboldt, bought another farm and for two or three years did a little
desultory training of horses, as before.

Let me here, in parenthesis, tell of Princess Trixey’s unfortunate end.
Barnes showed her all over the country to the great delight of all who
ever saw her, until about ten years ago, when she was killed in a
railway wreck at Baltimore.

Soon after my return to Humboldt I was urged by Dode Fisk, of Wonewoc,
Wis., to plan and organize for him a show of trained horses, dogs,
monkeys, etc., with a one-ringed circus. I did so, doing all the
training of the animals myself. When we were ready to travel we had a
sixteen-wagon show and I was appointed the arenic director. For four
years I occupied this position, helping build up the show all the time,
and at the end of three years we ceased traveling in wagons and became
an eleven-car railway show. It was my regular duty to keep the animals
in good condition, see that they were healthy and kept up to their work,
and to train any new stock we might buy.

Four years of this life tired my wife, and she expressed the desire to
get away from a large show. She wanted a rest at home, she said, and
then, if I desired to travel she suggested I buy a young horse or a
colt, train or educate it, and we would travel with that, without all
the hard work, flurry and daily excitement attendant upon a large show.

In the main I agreed with my wife and, anyhow, I felt that she ought to
be considered as much as myself, so I began looking out for such a horse
as I had in mind. I wanted another Trixey or, better, but scarcely hoped
to find one very soon, or very easily. I was nearer to the end of my
search, however, than I supposed, for almost immediately I heard of just
such a colt as I was looking for at Oregon, Ill. Right away I went to
see him, and there, to my unspeakable delight, I found Captain. His
owner was Judge Cartwright, a great lover of and breeder of good horses.
Captain was of standard bred trotting stock, and was half brother to the
famous Sydney Dillon. His sire was the well-known horse Syed and his dam
was the almost equally well known Robey. At first sight he pleased me
immensely, and I sought to gain all the information possible about him.
I learned that as a colt he was very friendly and playful, showing keen
intelligence. He also possessed great speed, sometimes pacing in the
pasture as fast as his mother could run. This had led his owner, as soon
as he was two years old, to train him for ninety days for the
development of speed, so that he was able to step his mile in 2:16. He
undoubtedly would have made a fast pacing horse with further training.
But fate had another destiny in store for him. I resolved to buy him.
Naturally Judge Cartwright hated to part with so promising an animal,
but I candidly laid my heart’s desire before him. I showed him the
influence it would have upon the rising generation if I could
demonstrate that animals can reason, that they are capable of thought.
Then I expatiated upon the easier life Captain himself would live than
if he were to become a regular race-horse, and I appealed to the feeling
of pride he—the judge—would possess were I successful—as I knew I
should be—at having introduced so world-famous a horse as Captain would
become, that he had bred and reared. And, finally, to clinch the matter,
I produced a certified check for a thousand dollars, which I placed in
his hand.

Thus the purchase was made, with the express understanding that Judge
Cartwright should always be given the credit for the raising of Captain.

Perhaps here I ought to state that the colt’s name up to this time had
been Sid Bell. As I felt my whole future life’s work and fame were going
to center on this beautiful, young and intelligent creature, I renamed
him, calling him by the name by which I was known to all my professional
associates, Captain Sigsbee.

It was not long before we became intimately acquainted. He was a
handsome fellow, a dappled chestnut, fifteen and one-half hands high,
with broad forehead, large, intelligent eyes, well-shaped ears, deep,
sensitive nostrils, mobile mouth, strong nose, a most pleasing face, and
perfectly formed in every way.

I was satisfied from the first that in Captain I had a great subject for
education. Already I began to plan what I would teach him. I was assured
I could go far beyond anything I had hitherto done, even with the clever
Trixey. One day in conversation with a group of horsemen, among whom was
A1 Ringland, the great circus master, I stated some of my expectations.
Ringland laughed at me, especially when I declared my intention of so
educating a horse that he could do things blindfolded. He freely
declared that he had no faith in horse education. He believed that
horses could be trained only under the whip and spur. Said he: “I know
you’ve done some wonderful things with Trixey, but animals are animals,
and I don’t believe that you can _educate_ them. Let me give you some
advice. Don’t waste your time. Many a man has gone crazy by allowing a
fool idea like this of yours to take possession of him.”

I defended my ideas, however, and argued that my years of study of the
horse had revealed things of horse-nature and character few even dreamed
of. I was sure they could think and reason. Everybody knew that they had
memory, and I was satisfied that I could educate this, or any other
intelligent horse, to use his reason, no matter how small it was—in
other words to think.

Ringland listened with interest, but made no pretense to hide his
doubts, and again said I was going crazy when I affirmed my positive
conviction that I could, and would, train Captain to take and obey
orders _blindfolded_. He was certain it never could be done.

How well I have succeeded the hundreds of thousands who have seen
Captain can best tell. It may also be interesting to recount Mr.
Ringland’s expressions when he saw Captain sometime after I began to
give exhibitions with him. He said: “I confess myself beaten, Sigsbee, I
take off my hat to you. What you have accomplished will be a revelation
to the world, as it has been to me. In spite of my years of association
with horses I never dreamed they had such powers in them. You have
opened my eyes, and as others begin to see they will treat their animals
with greater consideration, they will think more favorably of them, and
no longer treat them as if they were mere brute instruments of their
will or pleasure, without feeling or intelligence.”

Mr. Ringland well stated what it has been one of my constant endeavors
to bring about. I have always loved horses. I wanted to see them better
treated, and it is with great satisfaction that I am learning every day
that my exhibitions with Princess Trixey and now with Captain are
bearing this kind of fruit.

When my purchase of the colt was completed, I took him to my training
barn in Chicago and there began his education. The first thing to do was
to get well acquainted and gain his affection. This was done by giving
him plenty to eat, the best of care, speaking gently and kindly to him,
petting him, and giving him dainties now and again, such as carrots,
apples and sugar. My friends and acquaintances often laughed at me, and
said I should never accomplish what I was after, but I persevered. They
knew I was wasting time, money and energy for nothing, but “I know” that
what “they knew” wasn’t so.

It did not take Captain long to learn that I was kind to him; that I was
his true and wise friend; and was to be relied upon. These are three
things, the importance of which I cannot over-estimate. Many people try
to be kind to animals, but they are not wise in their treatment, and
they are not to be relied upon. I knew that Captain trusted me for the
little extra dainties he enjoyed. I never disappointed him. I never lied
to him—that is promised him anything I did not intend to perform, and
thus he soon learned I was to be trusted.

When left alone he became very uneasy. Like children he wanted
companionship of some kind, so I hired a groom, Chili by name, whose
duty was to remain with Captain, day and night. He was never to attempt
to teach the horse anything, as that would lead to confusion, but was to
care for him and be his companion at all times. Chili remained with him
for several years and they became very fond of each other. I should
never have parted with him, but when we came to San Francisco, he got
careless and I had to let him go. Then I was fortunate enough to secure
an equally good man in his present groom, Jasper. Jasper is a
natural-born horseman. He has ridden, broken, and owned some very famous
horses, and has been on the track for years, hence he thoroughly
understands horse-nature, and he and Captain get along famously.

As I have before explained Captain likes company. He strongly resents
being left alone. Every night-time before he goes to sleep he listens
for the footsteps of his groom and if he is not there he signifies his
disapproval by pawing, whinneying, etc., and generally keeps it up until
Jasper returns and talks to him. Then, content and restful, he goes to

Once, when he was being brought south by rail, Jasper had to leave him
in the Los Angeles freight yards—still in his car—to see that their
tickets were properly endorsed, and he was gone for a half an hour or
more. When he returned poor Captain was in a complete lather of
perspiration. The unusual noises of the railroad yard in a large city,
as he was shut up in a car so that he could not see, had fretted him
into a frenzy. As soon as the groom returned he signified his
satisfaction with whinneyings and nose-rubbings and in a very short time
was cool again.

Every night before he lies down and goes to sleep, he peeks out to see
if Jasper is there. If not, he awaits his return, and then stretches out
with his head towards the place where Jasper sleeps.

Soon after we arrived in San Diego a lady presented Jasper with a
pigeon. The bird was taken to the stable, and Captain became much
interested in her. As the pigeon perched on the partition he reached up
and nuzzled it in the most affectionate manner. Not only did the pigeon
not resent it, but she seemed actually to enjoy it, showing no fear or
desire to get away. Now they are almost inseparable friends, and Captain
spends hours with his head upon the partition, snuggling close up to the
bird. Prior to its coming, Captain often showed considerable nervousness
when he heard strange footsteps approaching his stable, or just before a
performance, but the presence of the pigeon has changed this. Its mere
presence is a soothing influence, and when the show is over he goes back
to the stable and greets his bird friend with evident pleasure and

One of my experiences with Captain demonstrated his superior
intelligence over most horses. My training barn was two stories high,
and a wide pair of stairs led from the ground to the second floor. When
my grandson was born Captain took a great liking for him. He loved to
“kiss” him and nuzzle him while he was in the cradle, or baby-buggy, or
even in his nurse’s arms. As the child grew older we used to place him
on Captain’s back and Captain would march back and forth, as proudly as
a king, apparently conscious of the trust we placed in him.

One day while I was working with Captain the child was in the barn, and
he kept going up and down the stairs. I noticed that Captain’s attention
was more often fixed upon the child than upon me and he seemed much
interested. Someone called me away for a few moments, and when I
returned there was no Captain to be seen. Then I heard a peculiar noise
from above, and looking up, what should I see but Captain following the
child up the stairs. I am free to confess I got scared, for I couldn’t
see how I could get him down. But I went up, controlled my fears, and
then quietly talked to Captain and told him he’d come up the stairs and
now he’d have to go down them. And I backed him down, a step at a time,
as easily and as safely as could be. And, strange to say, ever after
that, whenever he wanted to go upstairs I let him, and he came down
alone. I never had to back him down again. He comes down that way of his
own volition.

People often ask me how I train an animal. Personally I would not use
the word “train,” in speaking of such a horse as Captain, not because it
is the wrong word, but because it conveys a wrong idea. I would say
“educate,” for I firmly believe that horses and dogs and elephants and
other animals possess the power of reason, though, of course, in a
limited degree. And I believe that by patient and kindly treatment we
can “draw out,”—educate—the intelligence possessed.

I have no set rules or fixed system by which I work. There are a few
principles that control me. First of all I study the animal’s nature and
disposition. No two animals are alike, any more than any two children
are alike. Some animals are very nervous, are easily excited, while
others are placid and docile and nothing seems to disturb them. But
whatever the natural disposition nothing can be done without gaining the
animal’s complete confidence. This I do by uniformly kind treatment. I
always speak gently, mildly, never angrily or impatiently. Then I pet
the animal at every opportunity, though with some, one must approach
them at first, cautiously. As soon as possible get an animal accustomed
to the feel of your hands, and to know that they always come gently, and
with soothing effect. Find out what they particularly like to eat, and
every once in a while, give this to them as a relish, a luxury, a reward
for something well done. As I have explained elsewhere horses like
carrots, apples and sugar. Too much of any of these, however, is not
good, as their natural food is grass, hay, cereals, and the like. Yet it
should never be overlooked that a horse, like a man, can more easily be
reached through his stomach than any other way.

Though you must be kind you must also be firm. Many people confound and
confuse kindness with mushiness. No animal must be allowed to have his
own way, when that way conflicts with his master’s will. (Yet a caution,
here, is necessary. One who is training either a horse or a child should
remember his natural proclivities and tendencies. There should be no
attempt to “break the will.” It is to be trained, disciplined, brought
under control. Hence, never set your will against the will of your
animal unless it is in a matter where you know you are right.) For
instance, if a horse wants to cut up and frolic when you wish him to
attend to business, there are two ways of doing. One is to leave him
alone for awhile and then firmly bring him to attention, even though he
still desires to continue his fun. Another is to crush the spirit of fun
and frolic and not allow him to play at all. This latter method is
unnatural, unreasonable, and cruel, and therefore not to be thought of
for one moment by any rational or kind man. The former is both kind and
_disciplinary_. The horse is allowed to follow his natural instincts,
but is also taught to control them at his master’s word. This is
training and education. A third method is to allow the horse to frolic
to his heart’s content and then get him to do what you desire. Here
there is no discipline whatever. This is the way of “mushiness,” and it
is often followed by parents and others in handling their children. It
is about as bad as the cruel method of suppressing the natural
instincts, for an uncontrolled will or appetite soon becomes the
child’s, animal’s, or man’s master, and nothing is more disastrous than
such a bondage.

Hence be firm in control. It is not necessary to whip to punish. A
horse, as well as a child, will learn self-control through appetite, or
the giving of something that is a pleasure. Where you have trouble in
gaining control, or where the animal is lazy, hold back on the tidbit,
or the free run, or something of the kind the horse enjoys. He will soon
learn to associate the loss with his disobedience. Equally so be prompt
and certain in rewarding his good conduct. It is a good thing in dealing
with a stubborn or refractory animal (or child) to let him get “good and
hungry.” It does not take him long to learn to associate obedience with
food, or disobedience with hunger.

Then it is most important that you never lie to an animal. Be strictly
truthful. When you promise anything—or by forming a habit imply a
promise—do not fail to keep that promise. If your animal expects an
apple, a carrot, a piece of sugar or a frolic at the close of his hour’s
training, _do not disappoint him_. A horse, a child, instinctively hates
a liar. One soon loses confidence, and where there is no confidence
there can be no pleasure in working together, and as soon as pleasure
goes, the work becomes a burden, a labor, a penalty, and a curse, to be
dreaded, shunned, avoided. So win your animal’s confidence and then be
sure to keep it.

When it comes to actual teaching always be very patient, never excited,
always talk gently and keep your voice pitched low, and remember that
all animals are curious, possess more or less of the imitative faculty,
and have good memories. To remember these things is of great importance.
Never lose sight of them. Talk to your animal as you would to a child.
Whether you think or believe he understands you, or not, act and talk as
if he did. Then _show_ him what you want him to do. Do it before him,
again and again. Thus you will excite his imitative faculties and at the
same time, train his memory.

Occasionally you may be able to give him extra aid. For instance, you
want to teach your horse to shake his head to express the idea No! When
you say No! tickle the horse’s ear, and he will shake his head. Then you
also shake your head, and say with emphasis, No! Repeat this several
times, and you will find that when you say No! the horse will shake his
head without your having to tickle his ear. As soon as he responds to
your question with a shake of the head be sure to pet and reward him
with a lump of sugar, at the same time talking encouragingly to him.

Then repeat the process, again and again, until it is well fixed in his

[Illustration: Ellen Beach Yaw, “Lark Ellen” of California, Singing to
Captain at the San Diego Exposition.]

[Illustration: Captain awakening his groom by pulling off his bed
 clothes. This is a regular trick of Captain’s, when
 Jasper fails to get up and give him his breakfast at the proper time.]

Every day go over this same thing; for, if you neglect what he learns
today for a week or two, it is very possible he will forget and you will
have to begin afresh. Review perpetually, until you know that _he

In assisting him to nod his head when you want him to signify Yes! when
you use the word tap him under the chin. This leads him to throw his
head up and down. Soon he will nod at the mere saying of Yes! and later,
he will respond with a nod when you ask him a question to which he
should reply with the affirmative.

Remember always, in all you do, that you are dealing with an animal
whose brain power is far less than that of an ordinary child, and be
_patient, kind and persevering_. Never allow yourself to believe the
animal does not possess intelligence. _Believe_ he has it, _hope_ he has
it, _trust God_ that he has it and work in that belief, hope, trust, and
you will accomplish wonders. Faith, hope and love are the abiding and
moving powers of life. With them there is no limit to what can be done,
for they belong to the infinite.

                       A SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION

It is natural that, to those who are skeptical as to a horse’s brain
capacity, there should be some doubt as to the reality of Captain’s
performances. Suggestions of trickery, of Captain’s being controlled by
visual or aural cues that are unobserved and generally unobservable by
the public, arise in the mind. The skeptic denies, positively and
unquestionably, any assertion of the animal’s intelligence. He laughs
and scoffs at the idea that the horse really thinks, adds, subtracts,
multiplies or counts; that he knows colors; that he has any idea
whatever of tone values, or, indeed, can tell one note from another. He
believes in suggestions, or cues, or even that, unconsciously, Mr.
Sigsbee hypnotizes the horse and thus personally directs all his
actions, and he does not seem to see that these involve the explanation
of mysteries as deep as the one of animal intelligence.

The first thing, however, is to be assured that the horse actually does
the things it is asserted he does, and that, as far as the trained and
scientific observer can detect, there is no conscious deception. In the
case of Captain this has been done by Dr. G. V. Hamilton, a
veterinarian, whom the _Santa Barbara_ (Calif.) _Press_ asserts is
“nationally recognized as an expert in these avenues of investigation.”
After witnessing a public performance he conducted a series of private
tests and from the _Press_ of February 27, 1916, I quote the following
account from Dr. Hamilton’s pen:

    Several days elapsed between the visit at which I took the notes
    recorded above and my private interview with Captain and Mr.
    Sigsbee. This enabled me to plan various tests which might
    enable me to check up on the following possibilities:

    In performances of this kind it is at least possible for a
    confederate to conceal himself behind the curtains, under the
    stage or elsewhere, and to direct the activities of the animal.

    A short whip or stick might easily carry a long, thin, black
    wire, which would be invisible from the front of the stage.

    My experience with laboratory animals leads me to believe that
    it would be possible for a shrewd animal trainer to direct a
    dog’s or a horse’s activities by means of eye, facial muscle and
    bodily movements which are of a too slight excursus to be
    apparent to ordinary human observation. It is not to be
    forgotten, in this connection, that some dogs are notoriously
    dependent on their masters for directive cues, and that this may
    be characteristic of horses of a certain type.

    It is conceivable that repetition of a given routine over a
    period of years might enable a horse to stereotype a highly
    complex set of habits.

    On the morning of my appointment with Mr. Sigsbee I found the
    horse in his stall, unattended. A colored groom, who seems to be
    the only person, other than Mr. Sigsbee, to have any
    responsibility for Captain, shortly appeared. He discussed the
    horse with me without manifesting either suspiciousness or
    constraint. A little later Mr. Sigsbee came to the stall and
    asked me to decide how and where to make the tests. He seemed to
    be wholly unaware of the possibility that my tests might
    seriously impair the “show” value of his animal. I decided to
    work with the horse on the stage, and to have Mr. Sigsbee with
    me. Captain is a nervous, highly excitable animal, and I had
    previously seen him make a poor showing when not in good
    condition, hence my desire to have the familiar presence of the

    A careful examination of the stage revealed no evidence of
    provision for the concealment of a confederate, so I had Captain
    led upon the stage and began my tests, which were given in the
    following order:

    1. I asked him, “How do you walk when you go to see your girl?”
    Captain gave an appropriate response, although his master was
    not within the horse’s field of vision, and did not carry his
    whip. Mr. Sigsbee who seems to have a great affection for his
    horse, now interpolated, “What do you give me for sugar?”
    Captain “kissed” him.

    2. At my request Mr. Sigsbee asked Captain to play “Nearer My
    God to Thee.” I stood between horse and master while the former
    played the chimes with but one mistake. He received no direction
    for this after the initial command. Mr. Sigsbee then told me
    that Captain knew how to run the scale, so I asked for that. The
    horse made one mistake, due to his failure to strike the trip
    hammer opposite one of the metal tubes with sufficient force.
    When he had passed from the low to the high end of the chimes
    his master commanded him to “come right back,” and this was
    promptly obeyed. Still no visual cues. As a matter of fact, the
    horse seemed to pay almost no attention to Mr. Sigsbee with its
    eyes, as it were, but kept its ears in almost constant movement.

    3. The leather blindfold was now applied. There is not the
    slightest doubt in my mind as to the entire adequacy of
    Captain’s blindfold for purposes of excluding visual stimuli. At
    my request Mr. Sigsbee stood facing me and called for 2, 9, 3,
    1, and 7 separately and in the order given. The horse stood
    where I had previously decided to have him stand, and I made
    sure that no directive stimuli were reaching him either from the
    stage or from the rear and sides.

    He stamped twice for “2,” nine for “9,” etc., until this test
    was completed. The only mistake occurred when, in response to
    the command to “give us three” he stamped three times and struck
    his toe on returning his foot to the standing position. His
    master accused him of this mistake and Captain gave us three
    clean-cut taps.

    4. I gave the command, “Give me your right foot,” “Give me your
    left foot,” “Put your head down and bite your right knee,” and
    “Scratch your head.” He responded appropriately, although it was
    necessary for me to repeat these commands to satisfy the inquiry
    contained in Captain’s wiggling ears. Mr. Sigsbee stood by my
    side, a wholly negligible factor for the moment. I am thoroughly
    satisfied that Captain’s activities were solely directed by my

    5. Captain, still blindfolded, was given the following problems
    by his master, from whom I had concealed my program. It seemed
    to be difficult for the horse to follow my unfamiliar voice, and
    since Mr. Sigsbee was invisible to the horse and wholly under my
    control I decided to employ him as interlocutor:

    “Divide ten equally between your two feet, the first half with
    your right foot, the second half with your left foot.”

    Captain stamped five times with his right foot, then pawed
    tentatively, apparently in doubt as to the correctness of his
    answer, and awaiting a cue. He received no cue, and soon
    withdrew his right foot to the standing position and tapped five
    times with the left foot. His master accused him of inaccuracy,
    telling him that he “got one too many” with his right foot.
    Captain corrected his mistake by giving us a clean-cut and
    accurate response.

    “Divide twelve equally between your two feet, the first half
    with the right foot, the second half with your left foot.”

    This command elicited a perfect response.

    “How much is three times three?”

    A perfect response was again obtained. Captain gave nine taps
    with his right forefoot.

    “How much is two times two?” I gave this command.

    Captain tapped four times, stopped, and began to paw in a
    doubtful manner. His master scolded him for this, and he tried
    it again, but again at the end of four taps, hesitated and
    pawed. Mr. Sigbsee told him he knew better than that, and
    commanded him to try again. I gave the problem clearly, and
    obtained a correct and clean-cut response.

    6. Mr. Sigsbee was instructed to give the following commands:




    “Say ‘Yes’.”

    “Wiggle your ears.”

    “Scratch your head.”

    “Stick out your tongue.”

    “Stretch out like a hobby horse.”

    I showed this list of written commands to Mr. Sigsbee, but
    instead of following my instructions he urged me to give them
    myself. It is still a source of surprise to me that this horse,
    while blindfolded and with no directive cues from his master
    (Mr. Sigsbee stood beside me and neither moved nor spoke),
    responded appropriately to these commands. It was necessary for
    me to repeat only one command—the last one.

    7. At my direction Mr. Sigsbee tied the white strip of cloth to
    the blindfolded horse’s left hind leg, and the red cloth to his
    right foreleg. At the end of this performance he cautioned
    Captain again and again not to forget that the “white rag is on
    your hind leg—here (patting the left hind leg), and the red rag
    is on your foreleg.” After much patting of both legs and many
    warnings against forgetting, Mr. Sigsbee withdrew and allowed me
    to decide upon the command. I called for the red strip, and
    Captain obeyed without displaying the least hesitation. It will
    be remembered that on a previous occasion he found the red strip
    on his hind leg.

    8. The blindfold was now removed, and was not reapplied. Correct
    responses were obtained to the commands, “Bring me a silver
    dollar” and “Bring me a quarter.” Mr. Sigsbee stood where it was
    impossible for him to direct Captain’s choice by pointing with
    eyes, facial muscles or body.

    9. I arranged the numerals in the number rack in the following
    order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0. Mr. Sigsbee stood behind
    the horse and gave the following command:

    “How many people are there in the front row?”

    Mrs. Hamilton was the only “audience” for the performance, and
    sat in the front row from the moment when Captain was brought
    upon the stage. The horse responded to the command by advancing
    to the railing over the footlights, extending his head and neck
    far forward and examining the front row of seats. He followed
    this by backing vigorously and pulling number “1” from the rack.
    In a flash of inspiration I asked, “How many people are there in
    the second row?” Captain walked forward again, looked into the
    second row and shook his head. I am glad that I have Mrs.
    Hamilton and my note book to remind me that this occurred when I
    was wide awake and in a very critical frame of mind. Mr. Sigsbee
    was standing to my left and the horse was to my right and
    several feet in front of us when this occurred. I expressed my
    unwillingness to believe my own senses, and Mr. Sigsbee quite
    seriously expressed the opinion that the horse had been
    influenced by the master’s mind to shake his head.

    10. I eliminated Mr. Sigsbee by placing him where I could keep
    my eye on him, but where he was outside the horse’s field of
    vision. Then I commanded Captain to bring me number “6” from the
    rack. He obeyed and followed this by bringing me “4,” “9,” and

    11. I exchanged “1” and “4” and commanded Captain to tell me how
    many people were in the front row. He brought me number “1.”

    12. Mr. Sigsbee, at my direction, gave Captain the number,
    “30,724.” The numbers in the rack were in the unfamiliar order,
    “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0.” By obstructing Captain’s view of
    his master I was able to eliminate the possibility of directing
    gaze-cues from master to horse. Long experience with my
    quadruple choice method has enabled me to control the movements
    of my ocular muscles, and to depend a good deal on peripheral
    vision, so that I am sure that I did not involuntarily direct
    the horse during this test.

    Captain promptly pulled “3” from the rack, pulled “8” part way
    out and let go before he had fully withdrawn it, then withdrew
    “0,” “7,” “2,” and “4” in rapid succession.

    13. I put “4,” “1,” and “8” on the floor, sent Mr. Sigsbee to
    the rear of the stage and gave the following commands:

    “Two times nine.”

    “Seven times twelve.”

    “Nine times nine.”

    The horse took up “1” and “8” in the response to the first
    command, and dropped them. I arranged the three numbers in the
    same order in which they lay on the floor before the first
    command was given (“4” was at the left end, “1” in the middle
    and “8” at the right end.) The second command was given, and
    answered correctly, without hesitation. I now reversed the
    positions of “4” and “8” and gave the third command, which was
    also answered correctly.

    14. After I had rearranged the colored strips on the color rack
    so that black and white were near the middle (it will be
    remembered that they were end strips during the public
    performance), directed Mr. Sigsbee to command Captain to match
    Mrs. Hamilton’s garments.

    Captain went as far forward on the stage as he could go, craned
    his neck forward, and closely scrutinized Mrs. Hamilton. At the
    command, “Match the color of the lady’s hat” (Mr. Sigsbee gave
    these commands), Captain went to the color rack, which was close
    to and near the middle of the right wing, and took the black
    strip in his teeth. (Correct.) His master stood behind him,
    facing Mrs. Hamilton, who sat in the first row as “audience.”
    Following this the horse matched the white waist, tan gloves and
    black pocketbook.

    I now engaged Mr. Sigsbee in a conversation as to how he had
    trained his horse to match colors, when Mrs. Hamilton called to
    Captain, “Can you match this?” Captain nodded his head and came
    up to the rack and took the yellow strip in his teeth. Neither
    Mr. Sigsbee nor I saw the pencil, and even when Mrs. Hamilton
    told us that it was a pencil I could not tell its colors from
    where Mr. Sigsbee and I stood, since the audience room was dimly
    lighted. On our way to the exposition that morning Mrs. Hamilton
    and I jested about my pencil-stealing proclivities, and I had
    reminded her that I had returned her red-white-and-blue pencil.
    This accounts for the certainty with which I declared that
    Captain had taken the wrong color until Mrs. Hamilton showed me
    that her pencil was really a yellow one.

    Captain had grown friendly toward me, and as he stood facing me,
    apparently inviting attention, I said, “Match my necktie” and
    pointed to my red tie. He promptly pulled the red strip from the
    rack. Mr. Sigsbee was definitely behind Captain when this

    Although my examination of Captain was too brief to justify me
    in presenting this as more than a preliminary report, there are
    a few tentative conclusions which I have drawn from it, and
    which I wish to present for the consideration of persons who may
    be interested in the training feats of men like von Osten,
    Krall, and Sigsbee.

    1. The inquiring liveliness of Captain’s ears and the freedom
    with which Mr. Sigsbee employs verbal directions when the horse
    is tired and inattentive suggests the possibility that this
    animal may receive auditory cues that are given involuntarily by
    his master. It is not only conceivable but even likely that
    Captain is sensitive to changes in his master’s respiratory
    sounds. A spasmodic inspiration, a faint sigh or a sudden
    quickening of respiration might easily serve as cues for
    Captain. One need only translate Rendlich’s and Pfungst’s
    explanation of Hans’ behavior from visual into auditory terms to
    arrive at a fairly satisfying guess as to how it is possible for
    Captain to perform his wonderful feats.

    2. My observations, although incomplete and inconclusive in many
    respects, have convinced me that Captain can give correct
    answers in entire independence of directive visual stimuli.
    There was no trickery about his blindfold: Captain wore a
    leather mask which so well excluded the light that he had to be
    led from place to place on the stage. Even when he was not
    blindfolded, and seemed to be keen to understand and to obey
    them correctly, he attended only with his ears.

    3. I am convinced that Mr. Sigsbee is sincere in his belief that
    Captain is capable of abstract thought, and that he resorts to
    no trickery in his public performances. It is also gratifying to
    know that he is of the hard-headed type to whom a scientifically
    established explanation would be acceptable, even though it
    might run counter to his own presuppositions. If it proves to be
    the case that his horse is accessible to stimuli to which human
    ears are obtuse, and that master as well as public has been
    literally “taken in” by horse-cleverness the humorous aspect of
    the situation will appeal to him. From a purely commercial
    standpoint he need have no fear as to the “show” value of a
    horse which can beat a crafty old trainer at his own game by
    training the master to give such exquisitely delicate cues that
    the master himself is not aware of giving them. It is not
    surprising that Mr. Sigsbee had to fall back upon telepathic


Prayer assumes two forms, the one of petition that blessings may be
bestowed upon the petitioner, the other of thanksgiving for the
blessings so bestowed. Several years ago a “Horse’s Prayer” was
published in the newspapers. It was a prayer of petition.
But—presupposing the possession by the horse of intelligence and power
to formulate prayer—Captain has never had to ask for most of the things
set forth in this prayer. His kind master has freely accorded them to
him, so Captain’s prayer is one of thankfulness. But every owner of a
horse can convert this prayer into one of petition by applying it to his
own horse and seeing whether he is treating his animal as Captain is
being treated:

    =My Dear Master, I thank thee for all thy goodness to me all the
    days of my life. Thou hast given me good, clean, nutritious
    food, plenty of water, perfect shelter, clean dry bedding, and a
    stall wide enough for me to lie down in with comfort. Every day
    my hair and skin have been brushed and cleaned, my nostrils
    washed out, and my mane and tail kept free from burrs, tangles
    and dirt.=

    =You and the men you have employed to attend me have always been
    kind to me. You have talked gently to, and not shouted at, me.
    You have soothed me many times by the kind and assuring tones of
    your voice. When I have been nervous and afraid, instead of
    shouting at me, or whipping me, your gentle words have quieted
    and encouraged me. You have petted and caressed me and made me
    feel the joy of serving you because I love you. While you have
    been firm with me and made me do my work, you have never
    demanded more than I was able to give. You have never jerked my
    reins, and thus made my mouth sore, or cruelly whipped me as I
    have seen drivers do when their horses were pulling heavy loads
    up hill. You have always endeavored to explain what you have
    wanted me to do, and have not whipped, kicked, beaten, or cursed
    me when I did not understand. You have been kind in teaching me,
    gentle in bearing with my ignorance and mistakes, and patient
    when I have been slow to learn. When I did not obey you
    instantly, you have looked over my harness, my bridle, or my
    hoofs to see that nothing was amiss.=

    =You have never checked up my head so that my neck was stiff and
    unable to move with freedom, and you have never cursed me with
    blinders that rubbed my eyelashes, were too close to my eyes,
    and that prevented me from looking behind me, as the great
    Creator intended I should do.=

    =You have never overloaded, or overworked me; never hitched me
    where water could drop on me, or where I had to stand too long
    in the wet, and if it was cold weather you have always covered
    me with a blanket. My feet have always been well shod; you have
    always examined my teeth to see that they were kept in good
    condition, and never allowed “fox tails” to pierce my gums and
    make my mouth sore. You have never been so wicked and cruel as
    to cut away my tail so that I could not defend myself from flies
    and mosquitoes, and at night or day time, you have never tied my
    head up so tightly that it was in an unnatural position and
    prevented me from moving it easily, or lying down to sleep.=

    =You have always seen that I had plenty of clean and cool water
    to drink, day and night, and you have watched me with care so
    that I should not get sick. While I love the warm sun you have
    not tied me where, when it was very hot, I could get no shelter.
    In winter time you have never allowed a frosty bit to be put in
    my mouth.=

    =And though I am still young and healthy and apparently not
    likely to become feeble and useless for many years to come, the
    kindness you have already shown me assures me that when I do
    lose my strength and ability you will not turn me out into some
    poor pasture where I may starve or freeze, or sell me to some
    human brute who will whip and torture me to get the last
    fragment of work out of me, while he slowly starves me to death
    with poor and insufficient food. If it is impossible to put me
    where I shall have proper food and shelter I know you will
    mercifully, kindly, and swiftly take my life, and thus, even in
    the hour of death, I shall thank you with my whole heart.=

    =And, though I am a horse, I am sure you have remembered that
    God is my Father and Creator as well as yours, or I should not
    be here, and that His Son said that His Heavenly Father cared
    even for the sparrows, two of which were sold for a farthing,
    and that He himself ever sanctified a stable by the fact that He
    was born in one and cradled in the manger at Bethlehem. So, In
    His Name, I give you thanks for all your kindness to me,
    recalling to your memory His words that “inasmuch as ye have
    done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it
    unto Me.”=


[Illustration: Captain and a group of his admiring friends
 at the Panama-California International Exposition, San Diego.
 Captain W. A. Sigsbee (his owner and trainer) and President
 G. A. Davidson of the Exposition at his head.]

[Illustration: Captain and George Wharton James with the pigeons
 at the San Diego Exposition, 1916.]

                           TRANSCRIBER NOTES

Misspelled words and printer errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in punctuation have been maintained.

Some illustrations moved to facilitate page layout.

A cover was created for this eBook.

[The end of _The Story of Captain: The Horse with the Human Brain_, by
George Wharton James.]

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