Fortunate Outcross: *Azja IV
Copyright 1992 by R.J.CADRANELL
(champion research and statistics by Arlene Magid)
from Arabian Visions October 1992
Used by permission of RJCadranell
Though her most famous son, living legend Azraff, as well as through her other foals, *Azja IV has bred on phenomenally well. *Azja IV has national winners tracing to her through all her progeny. She has countless thousands of descendants. Who was this uniquely bred mare, an outcross to virtually all of the Arabian horses in America at the time of her importation?
Arabian stud book registration number 1543 for *Azja IV provide a starting point, *Azja IV was a bay mare bred in Poland at the Bezmiechowa Stud of J. Czerkawski. Foaled in 1935, she was imported to the United States at the age of three by Henry B. Babson of Illinois. Also in this importation were *Kostrzewa, *Kasztelanka (granddam of Fadjur), *Rybitwa, and the stallion *Sulejman. The in-utero imports *Zewa and *Warsaw were born in 1939, the year Hitler’s invasion of Poland altered history and Polish Arabian horse breeding forever.
Although *Azja IV was bred in Poland, her parents were not. Her sire Landsknecht was the product of more than a century of Arabian breeding at Germany’s Weil Stud, founded in 1817 by King Wilhelm I (d. 1864) of Wurttemberg. Imported to Poland in 1928, Landsknecht had a successful race career, and was used for purebred breeding in Poland from 1933 to 1945.
Landsknecht’s dam, Soldateska, was from the Murana I mare line, one of the oldest in the breed. Soldateska is said to have been ridden as a cavalry horse in World War I, after which she became a Weil broodmare, and later a cornerstone of Marbach breeding when the Weil stock was transferred to Marbach in 1932. Soldateska died in 1935. Her sire Souakim was an in-utero import to Europe, his dam Smyrna having been purchased in foal in Damascus. Soldateska’s dam Sylphide I was a daughter of Amurath 1881, probably the most influential sire bred at 19th century Weil. After standing at Weil he went to the Austro-Hungarian state stud of Radautz (now in Romania) in 1895 and sired 315 foals, both purebred and partbred Arabian. His get are found in Arabian, Shagya, and various European Warmblood pedigrees the world over. Through foundation stock obtained from Radautz, Amurath blood has been part of Polish state Arabian breeding since the end of World War I. Sylphide I’s grandsire Djerid had been imported to Germany from Egypt in 1876 as a gift during the time of King Karl, son of King Wilhelm I. The rest of Sylphide I’s pedigree represents the lines of original Arabians imported to Weil from 1817 to 1861 during the time of King Wilhelm I, with the addition of Mehemed Ali, bred at Babolna in Hungary and added during the time of King Karl. Soldateska is the female line ancestor of Plum Grove Farm foundation mare *Sanacht, granddam of 1978 U.S. National Champion Stallion Amurath Bandolero.
Landsknecht’s sire Koheilan IV was bred at Babolna and stood at stud there as a senior stallion. After World War I, Weil and Babolna found themselves lacking stallions they could use on their mare bands without inbreeding too closely, so an exchange was arranged in 1924 or 25. Princess Pauline zu Wied of Weil sent a stallion named Sven Hedin to Babolna, where he was renamed Kemir (Arabic for “hope”) and bred to daughters and granddaughters of Koheilan IV. In return Babolna sent the old stallion Koheilan IV to Weil, where he covered mares closely related to Sven Hedin, including Sven Hedin’s younger full sister Soldateska.
Koheilan IV was the result of nearly a century’s Arabian breeding at Babolna. His grandsires Koheilan Adjuze and O’Bajan had both been imported to Hungary from the desert in 1885. Through Koheilan IV’s son Koheilan VIII (Koheilan I in PASB), this sire line is prominent in both Russian breeding carried on at Tersk and Polish breeding.
*Azja IV’s dam Asra was bred at Prince Odescalshi’s stud Inocenzdvor in Yugoslavia near Ilok. Prince Odescalchi was from Poland’s Branick family, and inherited the family interest in Arabian horse breeding. The stallion 436 Gazal-1, used at Inocenzdvor, had been bred at the government stud in Bosnia. Both of his parents were desert bred horses imported from Syria. Adshwa was probably also bred at Inocenzdvor. Her sire Siglavy Bagdady-11 was bred at Babolna and stood at Inocenzdvor. Siglavy Bagdady and 219 Aida had been imported from the desert in 1902.
More than one foundation horses for Inocenzdvor came from Baron Pfeiffer’s stud of Visnjevci, also in Yugoslavia. Baron Pfeiffer went twice to Weil for his foundation stock. Among his Weil-bred horses was a son of Amurath 1881 known as Amurath 1892 or Amurath “Dukaten.”
Britta Fahlgren’s The Arabian Horse Families of Poland presents a pedigree for *Azja IV’s sixth dam Dyra going back another seven generations. It is stated that Dyra was bred by Baron von Nizshwitz at Konigsfeld in Saxony from parents bred at Weil.
Asra was imported to Poland in 1930. She produced five foals in Poland, and was lost during World War II. Her only line of descent is through *Azja IV.
Arriving in America in 1938, *Azja IV was covered during the 1939 season and produced her first foal at the Babson Farm in 1940. This was a grey filly named Bint Azja, by Babson’s Egyptian import *Fadl. Following this *Azja IV is said to have become a problem breeder, going some years without another registered foal. The Babson Farm finally sold her as a riding mare to Walter W. Ross of Kansas City, Missouri, along with her daughter Bint Azja. Walter Ross was a friend of Daniel C. Gainey, in whose breeding program the blood of *Azja IV would one day play a significant role.
*Azja IV became a favorite riding mare for Ross’s son Jack. At some point in her life *Azja IV sustained a serious knee injury. Whether from race training in Poland or being jumped in the U.S. is not known.
In 1947 Walter Ross took *Azja IV to the Selby Stud in Ohio for breeding. He wanted to breed her to the famous Selby import *Raffles, bred at the Crabbet Stud in England. Ross found out *Raffles’s book was full. Instead *Azja IV went to his half brother Image, with a breeding to *Raffles to follow the year after. On June 1, 1948, *Azja IV had a bay colt named Miraz, born at Selby’s. After foaling Miraz, *Azja IV was bred to *Raffles.
Toward the end of May in 1949, Marj Boyt of Iowa called her friends Joe and Garth Buchanan to discuss an Arabian mare for sale, stabled with some horse dealers named Butler and Bond near Lincoln, Nebraska. Her name was *Azja IV. The Boyts were concerned she was priced too high for a 14-year-old mare with traumatized front legs, despite being in foal to *Raffles, and asked Garth’s advice about buying her. “If you don’t, I will,” Garth replied, having seen and admired *Azja IV at Selby’s.
Garth and Joe together with Marj went to Nebraska to get *Azja IV over the Memorial Day weekend. *Azja IV was past her foaling date, and Joe remembers being told the mare could foal at any time. “like maybe right now.” Garth and Marj made him stop “what seemed like every ten miles” to check on her. The trip was completed without incident, and Azraff was not born until June 4. As soon as Azraff was born the Boyts called Garth, who went down to see him that day. She admired him from the beginning. Azraff’s first registered foals were born in 1953 and 1954, and bred by the Boyts. His first registered foals with Garth Buchanan listed as breeder were born in 1955. Several years later when the Boyts retired and moved, Garth got her choice of their horses, and was able to acquire Azraff.
*Azja IV produced three more foals for Mr. and Mrs. Boyt, the last of which was born in 1954. *Azja IV was put down about two years later because of arthritis in her front legs.
Production record of *Azja IV: 3/3/1940 gr. f. Bint Azja 1897, by *Fadl (Ibn Rabdan x Hahroussa) 6/1/1948 b.c. Miraz 4949, by Image (*Mirage x *Rifala) 6/4/1949 gr. c. Azraff 5596, by *Raffles (Skowronek x *Rifala) 6/10/1952 b. c. Razja 8075, by Ramage (Image x Rafina) 6/13/1953 gr. f. Arachne 8620, by Desmoin (Image x Rafina) 6/29/1954 gr. C. Bagdad 9573, by Desmoin
To look at her, “*Azja IV was obviously a well bred mare.” Garth Buchanan says. She remembers *Azja IV as having a level croup and a lovely neck and withers. Her head was different in type and not “fancy,” being a little longer and with a straighter profile, but she had huge eyes and fine skin and coat. The lower part of her face was almost bare of hair in the summer. Garth Buchanan mentions that Dan Gainey knew and admired *Azja IV too. According to Garth, Dan Gainey said she was a quality mare and an excellent ride.
As a breeding influence through Azraff, *Azja IV has provided good length and fine shape of neck, good shoulder and withers, and a short back. Azraff is one of the key components of the Azraff-Ferzon cross. When asked about how the cross came about, Garth Buchanan replies that she first thought of using Ferzon blood in her program when she saw a picture of Ferzon as a foal. She wrote to Ferzon’s breeder, Frank McCoy, but at that time the horse was not for sale. It was later, when Ferzon was under the ownership of Dan Gainey in Minnesota, that the lines were crossed. Dan Gainey and Garth Buchanan, whose farms were only about 150 miles apart, were able to establish a good relationship. The blood that was exchanged was to the benefit of both and many breeders who have followed. Jimmie Dean, longtime manager of the Selby Stud and friend and mentor to both Dan Gainey and Garth Buchanan, also deserves credit for the continued development of the Azraff-Ferzon breeding stock.
Azraff became the top-siring *Raffles son, with 87 champions and 23 national winners including U.S.National Champion Stallion Galizon and Canadian National Champion Stallion and Reserve National Champion Western Pleasure Comar Bay Beau. Azraff has 41 get which have produced national winners. These Azraff grandget include U.S. National Champpion Mare Jon San Judizon and U.S. National Champion Stallion Gai Parada.
Of *Azja IV’s other foals, Bint Azja’s son Jasul (by *Sulejman) sired 1980 Canadian Top Ten Formal Driving Horse Jaskom. Miraz, himself a halter champion, is the grandsire of Doraza, one of the breed’s all-time leading broodmares with nine champions. Razja, through his daughter Azja, is the grandsire of U.S.Top Ten Native Costume Twin Brook Azlad.
Bagdad is a sire of champions, and his daughters have produced national winners in halter and park. He is the maternal grandsire of Taffona, dam of U.S.Reserve National Champion Futurity Stallion and U.S.Resere National Champion English Pleasure Huckleberry Bey. Arachne is the dam of four champions. Two of her daughters, Galicassatt and Gai Gay Ferzona, have produced national winners.
Other articles with information on *Azja IV include:
“Azraff,” by Dixie Ryan, Arabian Horse World, November 1977, p. 228.
“Azraff, the Pedigree and Record of a Self-Made Man,” by Sarah A. Wax, and “Comar Arabians, the Garth Buchanan Story.” by Anne Brown, both in September 1983 Arabian Horse World.
“Walter W. Ross, A Man of Devotion,” by Sandy Rolland, Arabian Visions, April 1992, p. 40.