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 The Origins of The Racing Pigeon
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There had to be a beginning that is to the appearance of the first racing pigeon and history should provide us with the answer. There had to be a beginning that is to the appearance of the first racing pigeon and history should provide us with the answer.
Unfortunately I am not an historian and therefore I did not come properly prepared to see what history would reveal if anything. What I did discover was that there existed disagreement between those who like myself was in pursuit of the truth.

On the internet and in the written word I saw different accounts of the origins of our thoroughbred. And perhaps that is what history is all about for to borrow from another definition history 'is in the eye of the beholder'. Unfortunately human vision can for whatever reason become negatively influenced by the human ego and therefore is partial or limited in truth.

At the dawn of pigeon racing history the person of Dr Ulens of Antwerp is prominent. He is acknowledged to be the first great
Antwerp fancier and to some he was the creator of the racing pigeon. In those early days of the sport it is believed his bloodlines permeated every loft of racing homers in the land of the sport's said origins namely Belgium. Today it is accepted by
some that the Ulens were the outcome of crossing three breeds namely the Persian Carriers, Tumblers, and Smyters. Thus
creating his own strain and was considered to be the epitome of good breeding management. Others are of the opinion
however that it was Ulens loft manager a Dutch man called Beernaerts who was the real maestro who created the strain and laid the foundations of the sport.

 

Anybody who was acquainted with M Ulens, or rather his man Bernaerts, who for many years had the absolute control of the lofts, knows perfectly well that they were determined inbreeders and never introduced new blood into the loft; and that their pigeons, roupy and full of canker were fled from like the plague for fear of contagion... The Martinet also states that Ulens crossed his birds with the English carrier pigeon. In this he is confusing Ulens with Pittevil, one of the most serious breeders we ever had...' But there is another school of thought who contend that it was the author M Felix Gigot who initiated the above erroneous belief.( Felix Gigot was the originator of the famous or ill famous 'Eye Sign Theory' of the sport.) One of the latter being the famous M Georges Gits who apparently was a neighbour and club mate of Ulens and who for years strongly and flatly contradicted the story acknowledging Ulens as the creator of the racing pigeon. In a letter in the 'Le Moniteur Colombphile' on the 26th of December 1912 Gits wrote: 'In an article appearing in the Martinet of November the 13th the Editor professes to give the history of the old Antwerp strains and to prove that all the great lofts are founded on practically one or two. The survivors, myself included, from the period to which reference is made, find plenty of food for amusement in these
wonderful revelations. In the first place, the author of this 'humorous' article claims that Chevalier Ulens was undoubtedly the first to form a strain by his clever crossing - a great strain on which all the others were founded.

Anybody who was acquainted with M Ulens, or rather his man Bernaerts, who for many years had the absolute control of the lofts, knows perfectly well that they were determined inbreeders and never introduced new blood into the loft; and that their pigeons, roupy and full of canker were fled from like the plague for fear of contagion... The Martinet also states that Ulens crossed his birds with the English carrier pigeon. In this he is confusing Ulens with Pittevil, one of the most serious breeders we ever had...'

 

 

 

Georges Gits in his letter goes on to undo the foundations of the theory and refers to another fancier Van Schingen who was used by Felix Gigot to support his position in his article. In relation to the foregoing Gits cites correspondence from M. Delmotte in support of his position. The letter also contains content refuting Gigots reference to another fancier called Vekemans whom Gigot used in support of his thesis. In contrast I must state that the pigeon racing historian Jules Gallez supports the 'Ulens theory' in his writings. He cites a Mr P Voot a friend of Ulens as the source of the crossing by Ulens of the carrier, tumbler and the smyter. But even Mr Gallezs attempt of confirming by the physical characteristics of the above breeds and the modern racing pigeon is questionable. Georges Gits in his letter goes on to undo the foundations of the theory and refers to another fancier Van Schingen who was used by Felix Gigot to support his position in his article. In relation to the foregoing Gits cites correspondence from M. Delmotte in support of his position. The letter also contains content refuting Gigots reference to another fancier called Vekemans whom Gigot used in support of his thesis. In contrast I must state that the pigeon racing historian Jules Gallez supports the 'Ulens theory' in his writings. He cites a Mr P Voot a friend of Ulens as the source of the crossing by Ulens of the carrier, tumbler and the smyter. But even Mr Gallezs attempt of confirming by the physical characteristics of the above breeds and the modern racing pigeon is questionable.

I found M Gits as one of the strongest opponents of the 'Ulens theory' in fact overall I found his letter a very strong statement against the theory . A letter permeated with a sense of anger and disgust if I am not overreacting to its spirit. Perhaps this reflects Gits as an upholder of truth or as a fellow club member and neighbour was there something negatively personal about the matter? That is perhaps were we need the professional historians expertise for as a sport we need to be accurate about our origins and it provides perhaps to a student of a University the basis for a masters or doctors thesis.

Although a major component of the Aarden dynasty it would be true to state that Wim Muller has, after approximately 30 years at the top of breeding and racing, moulded his family of pigeons into a top modern strain namely the 'Muller Strain'.


Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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