From Needham Market to Oyster Bay Part II

by Thornton Chard

from The Horse Jul-Aug 1942

Vidal’s hope, that the Muniqi strain should be preserved, was not realized beyond a comparatively few years. This was not the fault of Huntington, for he was soon faced with old age and a set of conditions that made it impossible to carry out his desired plans. However, descendants of the original foundation can be found in nearly every Arab breeding stud in the United States and the blood is represented in some of the individuals donated for the remount’s breeding project. Naomi, referred to as the Queen, in all the publicity given her, was a truly great individual as a representative of the Desert blood, as a sure producing brood-mare and as a performer in the hunting field. While not as handsome as her grandson Nimr, she had a well-balanced body covered with a rich chestnut coat with mane and tail of the same color, and the unusual distinction for a pure-bred of measuring fifteen hands two inches at the withers. She died at the ripe old age of twenty-two, after producing twelve foals.

As to her powers in the hunting field The Field, of London, giving a description of a very severe run in Suffolk, in which Naomi took a prominent part, had this to say:

    “The mare in question, it is true, is perhaps the biggest Arab at present known–. She has been at the stud for the last three years, and was only taken up from grass about six weeks ago; expects another foal in April, and had done a long day’s hunting with the Harriers the day before the run with the fox hounds. I speak from personal knowledge, as I have had her till I sent her to her owner six weeks ago…”

Then, quoting Casual, the account continues:

    “I was surprised, too, at the performance of a chestnut mare with a long tail. She was a lengthy raking looking animal, but so tucked up and poor that had I seen her in a salesyard I should have said she was worth nothing; but she seemed able to race away from everything, in the heaviest ground, and fenced as well as any. She was not carrying a boy, either, for I should think her rider must have ridden thirteen or fourteen stone. I have heard it said … that Arabs cannot cross a country; but after seeing that mare go through a severe test, I can only say that I hope I am never to have a worse mount.” (15)

Naomi’s daughter Nazli, by Maidan, was, like her mother, a consistent brood-mare, for, with the exception of the three years following her first foal, she produced a foal each year without fail; a total of ten foals up to 1904. (16) She was Maidan’s first and only pure-bred offspring for he, then an old horse, was injured and put away shortly after he got Nazli. (16a)

July 20, 1891, Nazli produced, by Kismet, the liver-colored colt Nimr, one of the two pure-bred colts ever got by Kismet and his first get.

Nimr grew to be one of the handsomest horses ever bred in any country. It was because he was considered by all judges to be one of the most perfectly conformed horses ever produced that his skeleton was accepted and set up as a model in the evolution -of-the-horse exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.

Nimr was used principally in the stud where he got a number of high class horses. He had no track or hunting field record; what use was made of him under the saddle brought out the following comment by Huntington:

    “From my close study and observation, I am convinced that the Arab horse is ….. in different families with .. different instincts. Some of them are all trot, some all pace, and all can run; and Nimr is of that class. He is the quickest horse I ever have seen in my life to get away at the run.” (17)

Referring to Nazli and Nimr, Vidal wrote:

    “… it is the universal opinion of good judges that her [Naomi’s] daughter and son born in this country [England] (all of them pure-breds) are the best specimens of Arabs bred in England as yet [1892].” (18)

Then, in extolling the Arabian horse in general and his ability to perform Miss Dillon wrote:

    “Maidan trotted in a dog cart 6 1/2 miles in 26 minutes; Eldorado in a light trap trotted 14 miles in 55 minutes, including over 5 minutes’ stoppages…; and El Emir, at sixteen years old, trotted 30 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes, over very rough roads and up and down tremendous hills.” (19)  

    “they can carry a 14 stone man straight in a fast two hours’ run… My little horse Eldorado [14.3] cleared all the jumps at the Islington show in 1884, and he carried a heavy man straight in Suffolk last winter. An other Arab [El Emir 14-2 1/2] cleared 22 1/2 feet in his stride with a man on his back larking over a hurdle and whenever I have ridden him to hounds he has always been commended for his wonderful fencing.” (20)

The above reference to Arabs as trotting roadsters may come as a surprise to many because Arabs have always been thought of as gallopers and the progenitors of runners. In fact, it has been argued erroneously that since the Arab was a galloper his kind must be eliminated as the possible progenitor, of certain breeds of conjectured origin, that trot or pace.

Huntington, in his letters, spoke of Naomi’s fine, square trotting gait, remarking that if he could have trained her when she was young he could have made a mark with her. The experienced British horseman, Captain W.A.Kerr, V.C., who spent many years in the East, wrote that he had seen many an Arab strike a fast spanking trot when allowed his freedom. (21)

As to the jumping ability of the Arabian in America, while this has never been tested to any extent in the hunting field, it has been brought out at shows in Tennessee, Ohio and other places, in recent years, with satisfactory results. And, his ability to win one hundred mile trail rides and three hundred mile endurance tests is too well known to require repetition here. Furthermore, as a war horse the pure-bred has centuries of history back of him, a point so well brought out in Mr. Harris’ recent book,and as a sire for half-Arab army mounts reference need only be made to the government studs of Continental Europe.

This inadequate account of some of America’s foundation horses, of Arabian blood, began with a reference to the Remount’s Arab-breeding project. It may not be known to horsemen generally that such a project was possible, so far as the foundation stock was concerned, more than thirty years ago when Huntington urged the Department of Agriculture to acquire his plant of pure-bred Arabs and Americo-Arabs as a source of supply for improving the horsestock of the country. But, as Speed, writing in 1905, remarked in his book, The Horse in America: “To most horsemen in America the name of Arabian is anathema. They will have none of him.” (22)

That prejudice, at an earlier date, was not confined to the United States may be gathered from an English breeder’s letter of 1886 as follows:

    “I do not think that envy or jealousy has anything to do with dislike of the Arab. I think that you can see all through the Livestock Journal the great dislike to foreign blood and the … feeling that everything English is so perfect it cannot be bettered. Also there is the craze for big horses.” (23)

Huntington’s Americo-Arabs, a combination of Arab and Arab-Barb-Clay blood would have given the United States a national horse, capable of getting saddle and harness horses, while the pure-bred Arabs would have been the “yeast,” the precious source, from which all fixed types have been created.

Luckily, prejudice has now given way to reason, but, it has taken all these years of private enterprise alone; and now, by the initiative of Mr. Harris, and with the acceptance of donated horses by the Remount, the pure-Arab breeding project has been made a fact.

***

FootNotes:

(15) Excerpts frm an article by the Hon. Etheldred Dillon in the London Livestock Journel quoting from a letter in The Field of Nov. 19, 1887.

(16) Nazli was bred one or two of the three years following her first foal but produced nothing. This is in contrast to the results obtained by Huntington’s personal and skillful brood-mare management.

(16a) Huntington to James A. Lawrence, Jan. 22, 1904.

(17) Huntington to Dr. Hall, of Toronto, June 8, 1896.

(18) Vidal to Huntington May 17, 1892.

(19) The London Field, March 8, 1890.

(20) London Livestock Journal.

(21) The Golddusts, Clays, Stars, Wilkes, Patchens and other trotting families, as well as the Russian Orloffs, all trace to Arabian or Barb blood.

(22) John Gilmer Speed. The “Horse in America.” New York. 1905, p. 14.

(23) Hon. Etheldred Dillon, Oct. 10, 1886, to Randolph Huntington. In this letter, Miss Dillon, the owner of Maidan, describes him and Naomi, calling Huntington’s attention, for the first time, to this mare.

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Photo of “NIMR”

(G.S.B. Vol. XVII)

Foaled Fune 20, 1891, by “Kismet” [G.S.B. Vol. XVI., p. 657] out of “Nazli.” Height 14.1 3/4 [as a 2 year old] without shoes. Measures under knee 7 1/2 in. Dark chestnut; small white star on forehead; near hind fetlock white. The finest possible shoulders, loins and quarters; large clean flat joints (hocks and knees); legs clean and flat; tendons steel like and powerful. Neck beautifully arched and head perfectly put on. Head and neck like his mother’s which are quite perfect. He stands perfectly true on all four feat; is very true in action and has great liberty. Has no blemish of any sort. Carries his tail straight out behind, — but will, probably, as he gains age, carry it more over his back, — as is usual with young Arabs. This is certainly the best Arab colt of his age that has been bred in England and I doubt much if a finer could be bought in the desert at any price. He is quiet in the stable (a beautiful temper) and to lead; bits well but has not been mounted except for a few minutes by a boy in his box.” (1)

(1) Vidal to Huntington March 31, 1893.

Reproduced from a photograph by courtesy of Mr. Alfred Borden, who is shown on “Nimr.”

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Photo of SKELETON OF “NIMR”

“Nimr’s” body was given to the American Museum of Natural History in 1904 by the late Randolph Huntington, adn the skeleton was prepared and mounted “with consummate skill,” by Mr. S.H.Chubb, for the Museaum collection showing the evolution of the horse.

In one of the Museum Bulletins (1) the late Henry Fairfield Osborn pointed out some of the distinctive characteristics of the Arabian skeleton as follows:

1. Skull short, but broad between the eye sockets.

2. Eye sockets high and prominent, giving the eye a wide range of vision.

3. Facial profile, or forehead, concave.

4. Jaw slender in front; deep and wide set above the throat.

5. Round ribbed chest, well ‘ribbed up,’ and short back with only 5 ribless, or lumber vertebrae.

6. Horizontally placed pelvis (a speed character) [for the runner] and very high tail region; few tail vertebrae.

7. A complete shaft of the ulna, or small bone of the forearm.

8. Long adn slender cannon bones, and long sloping pasterns.

8. Long and slender cannon bones, and long sloping pasterns.

“Nimr’s” height at the withers was 14 1/2 hands (58 in.). His skeleton shows 5 lumbar, 16 tail, 4 sacrum, 17 ribbed, 7 cervical vertebrae. A total of 49 vertebrae including tail. Horses other than Arabs, usually have 6 lumbar and 18 tail vertebrae.

(1) Points of the Skeleton of the Arab Horse. By Henry Fairfield Osborn. Author’s Edition, extracted from Bulletin of the A.M.N.H., Vol. XXIII, Article XIII, pp. 259-263. New York, March 30, 1907.

Reproduced from a photograph by courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

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Photo of WEATHERBY’S ENGLISH STUD BOOK CERTIFICATE

This interesting G.S.B. Certificate for “Nimr” is the highest guarantee for authentic pedigree. Such registration and that in the french Stud Book permit registration of Arabian horses and mares in the New York Jockey Club Stud Book.

The writer has similar certificates for “Nazli” and “Garaveen.” “Naomi” though eligible was not registered. This explained in a letter of her original owner, Albert G. Sandman, who wrote: “Unfortunately, I omitted to have this mare and her sister entered. I fear it could not be done now.”

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photo of “GARAVEEN” (G.S.B. Vol. XVII)

By “Kismet” out of “Kusdil;” foaled April 6, 1892. Blood bay without marks. Height 13.1 [at one year old]. Measures under knee 7 in. a powerful, handsome colt perfectly formed in all respects, except that he points his off forefoot very slightly outwards (this will be corrected by proper shoeing). Head not so handsome as “Nimr’s” (1)

Mr. Huntington, soon after “Garaveen’s” importation, sold him to either R.F.or T.H. Downing, who traded the horse to J.A.P. Ramsdell, who in turn traded him to Spence Borden. As this last trade was never concluded the horse was returned to Ramsdell, who then sold him to Homer Davenport.

(1) Vidal to Huntington, March 31, 1893.

Reproduced from a photograph fround among the letters and papers of the late Randolph Huntington.

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photo of “NAAMAN”

Son of “Nazli,” her third foal and her second in america, grandson of desert-bred “Maidan,” and double grandson of “Naomi.” Foaled April 5, 1896; bred by the late Randolph Huntington, and sold as a yearling for $2,500. When two and a half years of age he measured 15 1/2 hands at the withers.

Reproduced from a photograph found among the letters and papers of the late Randolph Huntington.

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photo of “NANDA” (20 years old)

Daughter of “Garaveen” whose sire was the famous desert-bred “Kismet.” “Nanda” (1905) was out of the desert-bred “Nedjma.” The foal, about two weeks old, is “Kemah” by “Nuri Pasha.” “Nanda was bred and owned by Albert W. Harris. In 1924 she produced, by “Nejdran, Jr.,” a colt, “Al Azhar,” that has won first in the Hundred Mile Trail Ride in Des Moines the last two years (1940 adn 1941) in the light-weight division. He was the oldest and smallest horse entered.

Reproduced from a photograph (1925) by courtesy of Mr. Harris.

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photo of “OPHIR”

Granddaughter of “Nimr” and “Garaveen” and double great granddaughter of desert-bred “Kismet.” Her sire was “Segario” and her dam “Onrust.” “Ophir” (1917) is shown two months before she produced “Kaaba” (1925) by “Nuri Pasha.” “Kaaba” holds the world’s Arab record (1928) of 1:50 on a half-track, equivalent to 1:46 on a mile track. “Kaaba” was three years old when he made this record and when he ran a half mile in 53 seconds.

“Ophir” was bred and owned by Albert W. Harris.

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