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Skowronek with Lady Wentworth

Skowronek — Magic Progenitor

by Aaron Dudley
(Western Horseman Apr 1951)

It’s difficult to write about a famous horse, because so much has been said already. There is so much romanticism, mythology and legend spun around him that attempts at factual reporting are often misinterpreted as understatements.

Our conception of those who molded history (be they figures of equine significance or standouts in man’s progress through the ages) depends largely upon which history we read or what so-called authority we chose to accept.

So it is to some degree with the famed and fabled animal Skowronek, Arabian stallion credited with contributing more to the greatness of the modern Arab than any other individual of his breed. But, fortunately, Skowronek came onto the scene shortly after the turn of the century and for that reason his career is not so heavily veiled in mythology as many other immortals of the horse world.

Fortunate, too, is the fact that two of his sons are still alive today, a tribute to the great stamina and virility of his bloodline and proof of the magic-like quality with which he passed his much-sought characteristics to his progeny.

These two great sons of one of the greatest Arabians are Raseyn AHC 597 and Raffles AHC 952, and both are now grazing in green paddocks of the John V. Payne ranch in the hills south of Chino, California. Both are well past 20 years of age and sires of an astounding number of champions and are classic examples of Arabian perfection. Through these two sons and a few of his daughters the greatness of Skowronek has been preserved for breeders of today.

History, as recounted by some widely known chroniclers, spins the romantic story of the beautiful white stallion Skowronek being splattered with mud and smuggled out of Poland hitched to a lumbering cart during the Russian Revolution. We read, too, of the great horse’s dam being tortured by the Russians and hanged, with her aristocratic owners.

However, H. V. Musgrave Clark, of Sussex, England, who is one of the oldest Arab breeders in the British Empire, and a former owner of Skowronek, recently discredited this story.

Skowronek was in the Clark stud shortly after coming from Poland. “He was purchased in Poland by my friend, the late Walter Winans,” says Clark. “Winans sold him to me after he had used him as a model for various bronzes. Skowronek was actually in this country when the Russian Revolution was in full swing.”

Lady Wentworth of Crabbet Park stud subsequently acquired Skowronek and kept him until his death.

History shows that Skowronek was foaled in 1909. He was a grey Kehilan Ajuz imported into Poland from Egypt[1] [2] [3] by the Antoniny Stud of Count Joseph Potocki, which was founded before 1700. His sire was Ibrahim by Heijer out of Lafitte. The dam was Yaskoulka, a Kehilet Ajuz by Rymnik out of Epopea by Dervish out of Lyra.

Clark’s selection of Skowronek is understandable; for the wiry, intelligent and classically featured little horse had the quality of siring heavily-quartered, compact animals such as were much in demand at the turn of the century. However, they still retained other characteristic Arabian qualities.

Skowronek was to the Arabian what Pete McCue was to the Quarter Horse. And maybe their sons had something in common. At least, Skowronek’s owner knew something of the greatness of the Western cow horse; for as a New Mexico cattle rancher many years before, he had seen these “short horses” in action.

We aren’t trying to prove that Skowronek was a Western Quarter Horse; but it surely was not entirely coincidental that the former New Mexico cattleman Clark picked out a stud in England that subsequently was the grandsire of Arabians that are winning the money in open Stock Horse competition today.

Arabian breeder Clark is proud of the fact that 45 years ago he was a cattle rancher in the Pecos valley, just a short distance from Roswell.

“The West was a great place when I was there and I often wish I had never left it.” he says.

The J. V. Paynes are glad Clark liked the West and the Western type horse; for he was probably indirectly responsible for them being able to breed their type of Arabians, the Stock Horse type with an Arabian head and refinement.

An insatiable desire to develop such bloodlines led Mrs Payne a year ago (Oct. 1949) to buy the ailing old stallion Raffles, with no assurance that a broken leg had properly knitted or that he was in breeding condition.

Despite his extreme age and highly questionable virility, Raffles immediately interested Mrs. Payne when she heard he was to go on the block in a dispersal sale. She flew from California to the Roger A. Selby stud at Portsmouth, Ohio, to see him, bought him at competitive bidding and chartered an express car to bring him home. Today she feels repaid a thousandfold, for Raffles is breeding sound and feeling fine.

Raffles, although very small in stature, sires colts much larger than himself and with tremendous quarters. His get are famed in the show ring from Canada to South America. Raffles’ dam, Rifala, was a daughter of Skowronek. Rifala was bred back to her own sire, Skowronek, to get Raffles. Thus, Raffles is intensely inbred, being 75 per cent Skowronek, and an excellent example of the hybrid law at work when bred to unrelated mares. Likewise, he serves as a classic means of intensifying Skowronek bloodlines when used on mares carrying dominant Skowronek breeding.

Raffles, who is only 13-3 hands, was foaled in 1926 at Lady Wentworth’s Crabbet Park stud and imported to America by Roger Selby in 1932. Although the smallest Arabian registered in this country, he is a classic example of the old phrase, “a big little horse,” weighing 1010 when in his prime. Because of his diminutive size and the fact his owner was somewhat more interested in American saddlebreds at the time, he was not used in the stud extensively, except to sire show ponies from Welsh mares, and these were all winners.

It wasn’t until May 1938, when his first stud colt was foaled, that anyone started to pay him much attention. This colt was the famed Indraff AHC 1578, a champion from the start and now senior stallion at the Al-Marah Arabian farm of Mrs. Peter Miller, of Bethesda, Maryland.

Another of Raffles’ finest sons is Rasraff, a blocky 1050 pound chestnut stud out of Rasmina, a granddaughter of Skowronek. He has won several Stock Horse competitions and is expected to follow in the footsteps of his Payne ranch stablemate, Shereyn, the fast little stud that took top money in the light Stock Horse open competition at San Francisco’s Cow Palace in 1946. Shereyn, incidentally, surprised a lot of the Quarter Horse people and took no small amount of money away from them by winning the Cow Palace show.

Another Skowronek grandson that has the cowboys going back for a second look is Al-Marah farm’s gelding son of Raffles, Arraff.

In a sensational performance, he took top money in the National Stallion show open Stock Horse class at Waterloo, Iowa, in 1949, cleaned up at a number of local shows through the Midwest, then went on to the big American Royal at Kansas City and came off with third place, showing against the best Quarter Horses in the country.

Owner Mrs. Peter Miller is out to prove her Arabians can really get the cutting horse job done in a big way and has purchased a young Quarter Horse from the King ranch to haze for Arraff.

Raffles and his famous sire are just naturally putting that extra something into their progeny, especially as regards Stock Horse type Arabians. And the Arabian breeders are quick to grasp it. Mrs. Miller takes great pleasure in pointing to The Western Horseman article which enthusiastically said: “Arraff showed definite superiority in the Stock Horse contest, but we were particularly impressed with him in the cutting contest… he may be one of those naturals… this grey gelding’s efforts were certainly a credit to the breed.”

And Mrs. Miller assures us we haven’t heard the last of Arraff and her other “working Arabians.” She’s very strong on Skowronek bloodlines and agrees with the authority, James P. Dean, that “few studs put it on ’em like Raffles.” Dean, for 15 years with the Selby stud, is probably the nation’s top authority on Skowronek, whom he terms “the greatest contributing factor to Arabians in America.”

Another Arabian authority, H. H. Reese, manager for many years of the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse ranch, similarly praises Skowronek. Reese, on a world tour for Kellogg, visited Lady Wentworth’s Crabbet Park stud in 1928 and saw Skowronek.

“He was just about perfect,” says Reese, who is specializing in Skowronek out-crossing at his West Covina ranch in California. “He was very impressive, with gorgeous head and neck, high natural tail carriage, wonderful legs and straight action. He was, of course, very old when I saw him, but still a very superior animal. And he has bred along truer than any other line.”

Skowronek died a few years after Reese’s visit.

Lady Wentworth described Skowronek as an ideal specimen of the type which Abbas Pasha, Viceroy of Egypt, spent a fortune developing. “No more perfect specimen has ever been imported to England,” she wrote in one of her early works. “Lady Anne Blunt (her mother) spent the last 20 years of her life in a vain search for a horse of Skowronek’s type,” she said.

Lady Wentworth later termed Skowronek “the sole surviving line” of the original Polish blood. Whether she ever actually turned down the reported $250,000 offer for him has never been substantiated, but the figure is often quoted.

Arabian enthusiasts, too, point to the famed European endurance rides as proof of the kind of animals Skowronek’s breeder developed. A Prussian officer, Lt. W. von Gaffein, mounted on a Count Potocki Arabian, took the gold medal for finishing with his horse in best condition in a race from Vienna to Berlin. The distance was 425 miles. The riders started Monday morning and finished Thursday noon, that is, 71 of the 117 starters finished. Forty-two of the other horses died along the way.

That gold medal winner was the kind of blood Skowronek carried.

Only three of Skowronek’s sons ever came to the United States: Raswan, Raffles and Raseyn. Raswan, long-since dead, sired no foals here. Another son is believed to be in South America [Raktha was sold by Lady Wentworth to Mr. A. J. Botha of South Africa in 1951].

James Dean has a very keen personal interest in Skowronek’s son, Raffles, for he and Mrs. Dean never left the little horse’s side for 16 long weeks when the game old stud lay in a sling with a broken hind leg in January 1949. They nursed him through colic, cramps and skin eruptions as he stood helpless. They watched him waste away from top condition to emaciation, and waited fearfully when the cast was finally removed. So it’s understandable that they visit the Payne’s at every opportunity, correspond regularly regarding Raffles’ condition, and are happy that he staged a comeback and has such a good home.

“He has the greatest stamina and recuperative powers of any horse I’ve ever seen,” said Dean the other day as he visited at the Payne ranch. “And look at the beautiful, wide head, the deep jaw and that gay way about him, his long forearm and broad back. No wonder he has ability to sire horses with tremendous quarters.”

Dean is frankly unabashed at claiming Raffles is one of modern horsedom’s greatest personalities.

“And look at his daughters,” he adds. “Cassandra, bred by W. C. Shuey, of Ashville, N.C., and owned by R. B. Field, of Leavenworth, Wash., has won every class she was ever shown in, and that includes the Grand National mares class at Cheyenne, the Crabbet award and the Jane Llewellyn Ott perpetual trophy. She’s virtually unbeatable. Skowronek blood again.”

While Raffles’ stablemate at the Payne ranch, Raseyn, is not active in the stud, he is a distinguished personage on the property and his bloodlines are being carried on there.

Imported by W. K. Kellogg in 1929 at the age of three, he is one of the most photographed horses in America, having posed with hundreds of movie stars and world figures during his prime at the famous Kellogg Arabian Horse ranch at Pomona, California. A stablemate of Jadaan, famed as the horse that Rudolph Valentino rode, he was one of the glamour boys of the Kellogg ranch. Both horses were used extensively in motion picture work, through the efforts of Arabian authority Spide Rathbun of the Kellogg Foundation.

Raseyn, by Skowronek out of the mare Rayya, was purchased from the Lady Wentworth stud, and was owned variously by the Kellogg Foundation, the University of California, the United States Army, and Department of Agriculture.

He was about to be destroyed at the age of 26 when Mrs. Payne obtained him. She nursed him back to health with a special diet, and today he is in exceptional good flesh and may return to breeding condition.

The Paynes had previously bought a son and two daughters of Raseyn in their efforts to obtain more direct Skowronek bloodlines. These included Rasmina, the dam of Rasraff and a granddaughter of Skowronek. She is now dead. However, Rasrah, a 20-year-old daughter of Raseyn and grand-daughter of Skowronek, is still alive. The former mount of actress Olivia de Havilland, she has foaled the Paynes’ three mares: one by a son of Raseyn, one by a son of Raffles and one by Raffles.

So it’s easy to see that the Paynes are not just making conversation when they speak so enthusiastically of their program of intensifying Skowronek bloodlines. They are doing it.

  1. [1]“(Skowronek) was foaled in 1909 at Antoniny Stud, owned by Count Joseph Potocki.” p. 45 “According to Lady Wentworth [see page 307 in the 1962 edition of Lady Wentworth’s The Authentic Arabian Horse, originally published in 1945] his ancestry went back to Abbas Pasha I’s Arabs, through his sire Ibrahim. [See Lady Wentworth’s illustrated Pedigree of Dafinetta, p. 63] Here she relied on the notes of her mother, which she made on a visit to Antoniny. In Poland no such assertion had ever been made, but simply that Ibrahim had been bought at Odessa in 1907. Dr Gustav Rau, the great German authority, reported his own visit to Antoniny in Sankt Georg and described the two stallions there exhaustively. They were Ibrahim and Massaud. He noted under the photograph of Ibrahim: ‘Seglawi stallion, imported Arab, born near Damascus’, and under Massaud, ‘Bred by Ali Pasha Sherif, Cairo'”. Erika Schile The Arab Horse in Europe 1967 First American edition, p. 45.
  2. [2]Skowronek’s Pedigree and the Antoniny Stud” by Count Joseph Potocki, son of Skowronek’s breeder, published in the Feb. ’58 issue of the Arabian Horse News.
  3. [3]Lady Anne Blunt: Journals and Correspondence, 1878-1917, Edited by Rosemary Archer and James Fleming, published in 1986.

*Mirage 790: Lady Wentworth’s Loss Was Roger Selby’s Gain

by Michael Bowling © 1989; used by permission

from The CMK Record VIII/3 1989

*MIRAGE at Crabbet in 1923 or ’24. Photo courtesy Rosemary Archer.

From the 1924 Crabbet Stud Catalogue:

“Mirage. Lady Wentworth has also at Crabbet a very fine white stallion imported by King Faisal of Irak from the Denednasha tribe, to whom he paid £500 for the horse through General Haddad Pasha, who identified the horse and his history in 1922. He is a Kehilan Ajuz of the Denednasha nejd strain, but will not be incorporated in the Crabbet Stud until King Faisal’s signature has been obtained.”

From The Crabbet Arabian Stud: its history and influence by Archer, Pearson and Covey: p. 108

“Mirage. A Seglawi Jedran Dalia. White stallion bred by the Anazeh tribe. Exact date of birth unknown….The Crabbet records indicate it was about 1916. Brought by King Faisal of Irak to France and presented to the Italian Ambassador Signor de Martino and brought by him to England. Bought at Tattersalls 1923. Sire: a Seglawi Jedran. Dam: a Seglawieh Dalia. Sold to the USA 1930.”

p. 182 “[Roger Selby’s] main purchase in 1930 was Mirage, an imported grey stallion of the Seglawi Jedran Dalia strain. Lady Wentworth described him as ‘a very showy good horse. Excellent legs, splendid quarters and fine front. Very good in saddle but too bouncing for English taste as he gets English riders off.’ But this was not the reason Mirage was sold. Weatherbys had by now closed their Stud Book to new imports and although Lady Wentworth tried to persuade them to accept Mirage, she was unsuccessful and therefore had no option but to sell him.”

p. 220 “Another stallion I [Cecil Covey] remember was Mirage, a very quiet horse to handle but as soon as you mounted him he became a different animal, full of fire and verve. When we were visited by King Fuad of Egypt, I was detailed to meet his convoy of cars at the gate of Crabbet Park and to escort them down the drive mounted on Mirage. We must have put on a spectacular display as Mirage hated combustion engines and gave me a most awkward ride. When ridden he carried his head and tail high and had a very short gait which took a while to get used to. But once mastered he was exhilarating.”

From Al Khamsa Arabians: p. 76

“Mirage. 1919 grey stallion, sire a Kuhaylan-Ajuz of the Anazah, dam a Saklawiyah-Jidraniyah of the Dal’al family, bred by the Saba, imported in 1921 to Iraq for King Faisal.” “*Mirage’s date of birth is given as 1909 in Vol IV of the Arabian Horse Registry stud books, but this is corrected in Vol V. … The Arabic document in *Mirage’s case is from the Royal Stables at Bagdad, sealed by El Mahasshami, Director. It confirms his strain, the strain of his sire, and his breeder.”

*MIRAGE could scarcely have been more highly esteemed in his day, and he played a central role in Selby breeding, perhaps the most influential single program in the breed’s post-World War II development in North America. *MIRAGE and his sons achieved the very highest regard as sires of mares for the all-conquering *Raffles horses. When styles changed and the Selby stock came to appear more often in the female lines of outcross pedigrees, *MIRAGE was increasingly diluted, although his name still appears with surprising frequency as an ancestor, whether of CMK Arabians or those of mixed sources. In recent years the *MIRAGE influence has entered a new phase and become increasingly prominent in tail male; his must now be the most internationally successful of all the pre-1960 North American sire lines–and one of very few of that vintage not only to hold its own against more recent imports but rapidly to increase its standing. Few sire lines in the breed can ever have equalled the explosive expansion experienced by that of *MIRAGE since 1980.

The beautifully produced 1936 Catalogue of the Selby Stud described *MIRAGE as a pure white 14:2-hand, 1000 pound “Seglawi Jedran of Dalia, the most prized of the Seglawi strains,” foaled in 1909, and indicated he was “three gaited, sound, most gentle and lovable.” According to this source *MIRAGE was champion at the 1926 Richmond Royal Show in England, and also champion at the 1934 National Arabian Show at Nashville, Tennessee. The Selby management clearly believed the 1909 foaling date to be correct, for much was made of the vigor of *MIRAGE, that “he shows none of the characteristics of advanced age” and that his 1934 championship “at the age of 25, [was] a most unique honor for a horse of such remarkable age.” Similar comments on *MIRAGE’s vigor for his age were made by Margaret Lindsley Warden in The Horse, Sept-Oct 1934, and reprinted in The Journal of the Arab Horse Society for 1935. Warden also called *MIRAGE “wonderful” and said he was

“now rated by many experts as the most perfect specimen of the ancient êlite or classic type in America…He stands a scant 14:2, a sturdy model with the characteristic refinements of the best of his breed. His head is a glory and his great eyes express high but gentle spirit and gracious personality.”

General Dickenson of Traveler’s Rest, contributing a review of US Arab horse activities to the 1936 number of the same British annual, wrote that

“Selby Stud has continued to breed very intensely from the imported foundation stock, using MIRAGE as a sire the past season, not only because of his fine type, but because he is past twenty-five years of age and at best they cannot hope to have him many more years.”

The Selby catalogue records that *MIRAGE was chosen from his desert breeder as “a young colt” for King Faisal of Iraq by a General Haddad, and that Chefik Bey Haddad, son of the General, visited the Stud to spend

“many hours in the corral with the Stallion, and Mirage seemed to recognize him, even though some time had elapsed since he had last seen him. The Bey stated that he had frequently visited the horse while in England, after he passed out of King Faisal’s possession.”

This seemingly direct connection with *MIRAGE’s early years make it somewhat difficult to understand how an error of ten years in the horse’s foaling date could have persisted. On the other hand, one could picture that while comment might be made to Chefik Bey Haddad that *MIRAGE “looks well for his age,” the question of precisely what that age was might not come up in so many words.

*MIRAGE was not registered in England; the General Stud Book was closed to new imports and Lady Wentworth at that period refused to recognize the authority of the Arab Horse Society. The Iraqi certificate of *MIRAGE’s origin, reproduced in the Selby catalogue, is dated 1927. It is interesting to note that at the time he won his 1926 Richmond Royal championship *MIRAGE apparently was not only unregistered but quite undocumented.

Either Chefik Bey Haddad or Carl Raswan might have provided that “most prized” designation for the unfamiliar Seglawi substrain of Dalia. It is well to remember that particular strains and substrains passed in and out of fashion according to the exploits of individual war mares, and that a “most prized” substrain in one tribe or region might be of no special note, or nonexistent, in another. Lady Wentworth, in that monumental tome Thoroughbred Racing Stock and its Ancestors, provides another reference to Seglawi Dalia. She records that

“Lady Anne Blunt made careful enquiries over a number of years [as to the origins of the Darley Arabian and that] Sheykh Mijuel … said mares had gone from Central Arabia at one time, and others later, and stallions from his own tribe. He had heard talk of a Managhieh mare and some colts of that strain, a grey and a bay, purchased by an Englishman at Aleppo. One colt, which was left apparently some time after purchase with the tribe, went by the name of the Managhi Daali (Darley’s Managhi)…before leaving the tribe the colt sired a well-known filly which was known as the ‘Daalieh’ or ‘Daralieh.’ Possibly the modern strain Dalia, still existing, may have some connection with this. There is a strain of Seglawi Dalia with the the Anazeh which may be descended from the Seglawieh mare with ‘Darley’ attached, according to custom.”

Since we are not told that the “Daalieh” was not a Seglawieh, it seems at least plausible that she herself may have founded the Dalia substrain of Seglawi Jedran; it is therefore within the realm of speculation that the Darley Arabian, renowned as a Thoroughbred foundation sire, might still have Arabian descent through *MIRAGE. Had Lady Wentworth been able to register the horse in GSB or chosen to use him at Crabbet as a single-registered sire she might herself have made more of this possibility, but at the time of this writing *MIRAGE was already in Ohio.

There is no record of British foals by *MIRAGE though it seems strange that he should have been seven years at Crabbet, presumably with the idea of providing a potential outcross to the existing lines of the Stud, without so much as being tried on a pony mare. [Note added in 2005: it is now clear that the breedings credited in GSB to “Miraze” actually reflect the use of *Mirage]. In the early years of the Selby Stud crossbred matings appear for some reason to have been done more often with the Arab mares than with the sires; at any rate despite those recorded efforts to make full use of *MIRAGE while he still was available, he got just 26 registered Arab foals from 1932 through 1940. He leaves descent through all but four of them, a remarkably high success rate for any sire, again indicating the regard in which he was held by breeders of his day. Three of the four nonstarters died young; according to Arlene Magid’s *MIRAGE feature in The Crabbet Influence (Nov-Dec ’89), one of them drowned and two were struck by lightning. The only *MIRAGE gelding was his 1935 son BATU and ever since learning that the original of that name was an heir of the rampageous Mongol leader Genghis Khan I’ve wondered what the young BATU’s disposition might have been like.

The 1932 *MIRAGE crop consisted of one grey filly PERAGA, out of the “old American” mare SLIPPER (Yima x Sabot) and bred by Selby. PERAGA produced in Tennessee, California and Missouri and has descent through six of her ten foals; her daughters TABITHA, KATINKA and MARAGA all founded substantial branches of the BASILISK family. PERAGA’s sister of 1933, PERA, produced 6 foals and has descent through 4 of them.

The other 1933 *MIRAGE foal of record proved the most important of them all, for he was the dynamic little dark chestnut IMAGE out of *RIFALA (Skowronek x Rissla), destined to succeed his sire at the head of the Selby Stud. IMAGE had his first foals in 1939 while he was still competing for mares with *MIRAGE; he might have stopped with those and still have left an important legacy, for they grew to be the elegant and dynastic chestnut matrons IMAGIDA, dam of RAFFI and IMARAFF and foundress of a superior mare line; and DEVA, the most influential mare at Never Die Farm in Maryland. In fact IMAGE was credited with 70 more foals over 20 seasons and 54 of them left descent. The word “credited” is used advisedly, because there were four grey foals registered to the chestnut IMAGE from non-grey mares. One of these, the 1940 colt NISIM, is not counted among the 72 for his sire of record was changed to *Raffles, but the other three remain recorded impossibly as grey products of matings without a grey parent. (One is certainly grey in her photos; both the others sired grey foals from chestnut mares.)

ARABI KABIR 2379 (Image x *Kareyma) photo courtesy Linda Paich

PENNE, KHYMAE, IMNA, TALEH, NABIMA, MAATIGA, NIMA, SEBBA, IMCHA, SANGE, PAMELA, EL HACENE, ALIMA, and IMABIMA are perhaps the most noted of the younger IMAGE daughters in pedigrees; the IMAGE influence through mares has been incalculable. As show horses and sires PHANTOM, SARAB AL SAHRA, SELMAGE, DEVACHON, ARABI KABIR, RAFLAGE, MIRAZ, DESMOIN, IMAGIN, SHARRAK, EL MOTELA, IMAGINATION, RAMINAGE, GEYIMAGE, GAGE and ZELIMAGE were among the IMAGE stallions to achieve note. *RIFALA’s inbred son PHANTOM was a sire of distinctive style whose elegant curve of neck still can be recognized in his descendants but there is no question that the most prominent branch of the direct *MIRAGE male line today springs from ARABI KABIR. That showy chestnut son of the China doll *KAREYMA (Naseem x Julnar by *Abu Zeyd) got 52 foals, stationed first in California but gaining renown in the Northwest when promoted to head sire of the Silva program. ARABI KABIR’s sons ERRABI and RABAAR sired the national champion stallion and mare BAY-ABI and RAHBANA, and his daughters including notably INEZ, ZABIRA, IRAYIS, ABARAYIS, WANDA and LADIRAH were champion producers or founded important families. BAY-ABI became the leading sire of the *MIRAGE line; the record of BAY-EL-BEY has latterly far surpassed that of the other BAY-ABI sons and he himself has been replaced in turn by his sons, most prominently BEY SHAH, BARBARY, and HUCKLEBERRY BAY (triple *MIRAGE and double *KAREYMA).

1934 brought *MIRAGE two lesser but worthy sons and a prominent daughter in the persons of NAMIR, INDRAGE and RAGALA, all out of imported Crabbet mares. Dr. Septimus Thompson took to Ontario the Selby imports *JERAMA and *NAMILLA, both of the rare MAKBULA family in which the Selby Stud had achieved a near-monopoly by importing the KIBLA descendants *NAMILLA (*Nureddin II x Nejmia), *KAREYMA, *KIYAMA (Rafeef x Julnar) and the latter mare’s filly *JERAMA by JERUAN. *NAMILLA went to Canada with her grey son NAMIR at side; NAMIR got 18 foals and bred on through half of them. The only Canadian descent from NAMIR was via his son NARAMA, from *JERAMA, sire of five foals. Later in Nebraska NAMIR did better for himself, getting the familiar matrons MIRZALNA, KOMIR (that beautiful chestnut *SULEJMAN stallion KOMSUL heads up her line), MIREEBAH and CYNKIR and the lightly-used sires NAJA and NARAH among his 15 foals from 1950-54.

INDRAGE 1088 (*Mirage x Indaia) photo courtesy Craver Farms

The RASEEM/NISREEN mare *INDAIA’s handsome bay son INDRAGE was to get 55 foals, mostly during his tenure as head sire for C.A.West in Pennsylvania. INDRAGE was another noted sire of mares, with the likes of WASEIDA, WAZVAND, WAFADI, KOREEN, WANDRA, REISINDE, MIRABA, RASEEMA, and KATAWBA (his last foaled when he was 21, though he lived to be 34) on his list. One INDRAGE son does not much stand out from another in terms of influence but WARAJE, the improbably named EL PASHA OF HIGHVIEW and KENTHELMARG’S SHEIK, RAHAGE, IFRIT ABYAD, and the reserve East Coast Champion MIRLINDRAFF are among those seen in pedigrees. INDRAGE get, including many of those above plus such as INDKERAGE and SKOWROMIR, made notable riding horses.

The first of the great *MIRAGE mares was IMAGE’s grey 1934 sister RAGALA, dam of 16 foals with descent through 11 of them. Hers was predominantly a mare-line influence; three of her sons were used for breeding but only one of those sources persisted. The 10 RAGALA daughters produced up to 18 foals apiece, averaging 11.4 even though one of them managed only three. *RIFALA’s only daughter amply furnished her branch of the RISSLA family. RAGALA was much the most important foundation mare for the famed Bear Claw Ranch program of Mrs. Jeannette Cox Morill in Wyoming; those RAGALA daughters, without extending the lines further, included such noted matrons as RAZIKA, MISTY MOON, BOIS DU ROSE, ARIANA, ADASTRA, NEFERTITI, BINT RAGALA, LAKSHMI and LALLA KADIJA.

SLIPPER’s gelding son BATU was the best *MIRAGE could do in 1935 but the ’36 crop brought five foals, again all from Crabbet mares; besides RAGIN, the ill-fated brother to INDRAGE, there were ROMIRA, RIFAGE, AGWE and RAGEYMA. The *ROSE OF FRANCE (*Raswan x Jalila) daughter ROMIRA produced four fillies, all “straight Selby” by pedigree though none were bred there, and all represented in pedigrees today. The *Raffles daughter RAFFIRA with 8 foals was the most prolific; her sister MIRAFF produced only one but that was the classy show horse NARZAD who also got a few foals, with successful individuals among them.

RIFAGE 1286 (*Mirage x *Rifala) photo courtesy Nyla Eshelman

The third of the *MIRAGE/*RIFALA siblings, the grey RIFAGE, went to Colorado as a youngster and lived into his 30s as the head sire of the Van Vleet program. RIFAGE left 102 registered foals including a wealth of daughters headed by the national champion mare ROMINNA and a particularly lovely early top ten winner SHIHADA. The most prominent RIFAGE son in pedigrees must be the Gainey sire GAYSAR who got the mare sire GALIMAR and the versatile show horses SKORAGE, double-*MIRAGE full brothers out of RAGEYMA. AGWE, the *MIRAGE son from the scopey arched-necked bay *HILWE (Najib x Hafra), sired just seven registered foals in his South Carolina career through age 16; five of the seven were from the Brown Egyptian import *RODA, and four of those still represent AGWE in pedigrees. The handsome eldest brother APOLLO got 36 foals and the imposing junior partner JASPRE sired 64, while their sister WEDA numbered such good mares as AZEDA by AZRAFF and RAFFWE by RAFFEY among her eight offspring. The success of these family members is only prologue to the story of RODETTA who was exported to Cuba but not before she had produced the Field and Al-Marah foundation mares CASSANDRA and ROSE MARIE, two of the most renowned and impressive of the *Raffles daughters.

The first *MIRAGE chestnut and the second of his great daughters was foaled by *KAREYMA: RAGEYMA, dam of 11 foals with descent through 10. She began with the grey colt GEYM; as the only *Raffles son out of a *MIRAGE daughter to reach maturity, GEYM was inevitably a head sire at the Selby Stud and then in the successor program of Friendship Farms in Illinois. GEYM lived into his 30s and sired 138 foals. At Selby’s as the IMAGE daughters came to maturity they went to the court of GEYM, and while IMAGE lived his grandaughers from this generation were crossed back to him. At Friendship GEYM encountered a somewhat wider set of mares and his daughters made the acquaintance of *NIZZAM. GEYM’s sister GAJALA was a key foundress in the Gainey program; their half-brothers GALIMAR and SKORAGE have been mentioned, and those two had a prolific full sister in GAGEYMA. FA-EL-GEMAR by *FADL, GARAK by AZRAK, GALLANT by PHANTOM, GAYFERRA by FERZON and VIA by GARAFF rounded out the RAGEYMA breeding roster.

RIFALA’S LAMI 8391 (Geym x Maatiga by Image) photo from the Cummings collection

RASAGE, RAGIA, GEYAMA and (in Canada) MIRILLA were the 1937 *MIRAGE offspring, once again all from Selby Crabbet mares. The chestnut RASAGE from *RASMINA (Shareer x Jalila) was another sold first to California but even more than ARABI KABIR found his niche in the Northwest, where he left such daughters as NIRAGE, AMORET, FILLAREE, RONDI, RASYL, RASAGE’S QUEEN OF SHEBA and RASAGE’S GARDEN OF EDEN. RASAGE was back in California to leave a last crop in 1961. His son DALLAL ABU RASAGE had a colorful career; shipped to Hawaii en utero he made an all-around performance horse, and DALLAL too returned to California to sire a few foals as an older stallion. RAGIA, the grey sister to INDRAGE, was one of the mares Roger Selby donated to the US Remount; she produced two fillies by KATAR and both have bred on, with her granddaughter AL-MARAH BINT AIGRETTE perhaps the most successful for the line. GEYAMA, a three-quarters sister to RAGEYMA out of *KIYAMA (Rafeef x Julnar), produced eight foals, most of them for Comar Arabians in Iowa. She bred on through her daughters AMULET, MIRAGETTE, MIRAGEY, all by IBN MIRAGE, and AL-MARAH GENNA by INDRAFF. AMULET and MIRAGEY produced by AL-MARAH IBN INDRAFF the blood-sisters ROSE OF MIRAGE and VEISHEA, dams by AZRAFF of the blood-brother show horses and sires COMAR BAY BEAU and CAMIRAFF.

Dr. Thompson’s (and *NAMILLA’s) second *MIRAGE foal, the filly MIRILLA, was to produce eight foals in Canada and Washington. One of her sons by the Maynesboro stallion GHASIK had two breeding daughters while her three daughters by ROYAL FEZ and one by ABU BAHA gave her 20 grandchildren. The least prolific of the ROYAL FEZ sisters, bred to ABU BAHA in her turn, produced FEZABBI to whose family belongs the glamourous show horse and sire SHABAOUD.

*KAREYMA and *KIYAMA produced again to *MIRAGE in 1938. *KAREYMA’s filly was one of those struck by lightning, but the *KIYAMA colt YAMAGE went to Florida where he sired five foals through 1949 and bred on through three of them. *MIRAGE had his biggest crop of seven foals in 1939, five of them from outside mares. W.C.Shuey sent the double *BERK granddaughter CURFA (Ribal x Nardina) and RIHANI (*Saoud x *Muha) from North Carolina to produce the grey colt ADONIS and bay filly JOHARAH. ADONIS was sold to Montana where he got 24 foals including such producing mares as NEJD BANOU, UR ARABAH, ABA-EL-RIEL, UM EL SURAB, BINT SABA, NEJD KAMIL, UR OKAI, NEJD KUSOF, NEJD BENAYA and NAMIRADA, and RAKKA who sired the important mare KHAMMA of Hillcrest Stud. ADONIS mares were producers for the early Kale and Lasma programs.

A very young JOHARAH (*Mirage x Rihani)

JOHARAH produced 11 foals, all but two of them for the Shueys at Sunny Acres, and is in pedigrees through six. JOHARAH’s first three were all by *Raffles; the colt SHUEYMAN died young and his sister MY GYPSY ROSE left no descent though she had three registered foals. This nick still is accounted one of the most successful in history, for the eldest sister was the elegant if oddly-named chestnut MY BONNIE NYLON, already mentioned under the IBN HANAD heading in the HANAD story (Record VII/4) and one of the key mares in the success of the Sunny Acres program. JOHARAH never produced another MY BONNIE NYLON (few mares manage one in that class) but she had good breeding offspring by GEYM, TUT ANKH AMEN and IBN HANAD at Sunny Acres, and also has descent through her last foal MALIK EL HAWA from her days in the less equable clime of Massachusetts.

The sires of CURFA and RIHANI each had an Ohio-owned daughter producing by *MIRAGE in 1939. ADONIS’s three-quarters sister was the grey KAE out of KETURAH (Ribal x Aatika), bred by L.N.Brutus; KAE produced first for R.J.Geimer of California and Texas and then became an early Al-Marah matron, giving six INDRAFF foals beginning with the great cutting mare AL-MARAH ZAIBAQ, dam of 11 foals including OVERLOOK FARWA by Abu Farwa. The next sister FAE died foaling in 1960, leaving six registered foals, but these included IBN JULEP, FAESAN and LA FAESANA. AL-MARAH KETIR also produced 11 foals including the lovely if hiccup-like about the name HHIK. SHIRIK was a noted show horse who rather surprisingly got only 30 foals but numbers good producing mares among them; AL-MARAH KAIDAR was less lucky as he sired two foals but neither of them bred. The youngest sister TRAKILA produced 10 foals. KAE ended her career in South Carolina and left two breeding double-*MIRAGE offspring by AGWE’s son APOLLO.

RASMIR 3071 (*Mirage x Rasasah) in old age photo courtesy Linda Paich

RASMIR was a grey three-quarters brother to JOHARAH, out of L.P.Bailey’s RASASAH (*Saoud x Aatika) who was to cross so successfully with *Raffles. RASMIR was not registered until he was five years old; he became a working stock horse in Texas, owned at the end of his life by the Kuhlmans of Rancho Llano Grande. RASMIR sired three colts; his first son, the bay KARAGE, made a great using gelding after he sired two fillies from the beautiful ANTEZ granddaughter TEZEYNA. One of the KARAGE daughters produced 15 foals and carried on the RASMIR influence. Her name was KAREYN and she numbered among her produce some of the top show horses of the ’70s including MINDY KAR by IZKAR and a string of notables by KIMFA. The KAREYN family includes halter show horses, top performers and breeding animals but unquestionably is headed by the sheerly beautiful KIMFA daughter KIMEYN, a great show mare of her day and now an international pedigree influence. The fifth outside mare to produce by *MIRAGE in 1939 was C.J.Brukner’s Davenport plus Domow chestnut CHARMAIN (Abu-Selim x Aatika) who produced the grey filly KYMIR, dam of one foal. This was the bay double *MIRAGE grandson MERJAN by IMAGE, sire of 14 Arab foals but probably more noted as a sire of partbreds. (Another AATIKA daughter played a major role in developing the *MIRAGE legacy: AL-MAATIKA by *AL-MASHOOR produced the important IMAGE mares MAATIGA and ALIMA.)

Two Selby Crabbet mares produced grey *MIRAGE colts in 1939. IDOL out of *SELMNAB got 40 foals through 1965, of which the striking chestnut action champion LIDOL must be the most noted. IDOL’s sons FAYZ and SHAHZADOL also are encountered in pedigrees. IBN MIRAGE, full brother to RAGEYMA, replaced RAGIN at Comar Arabians in Iowa and got 54 foals, playing a central role in linebreeding *MIRAGE and the JULNAR influence and then providing mares to cross with AZRAFF. IBN MIRAGE and his double *KAREYMA son MIRFEY are still recognizable sources of the KAREYMA stamp in modern Arabians, and an earlier son HIMALAYA is a widespread influence.

*MIRAGE died in 1939, leaving *KAREYMA in foal once again for 1940. She produced the grey filly KARAGA who with her older sister KAREYGA was struck by lightning and killed in 1941. Given the success of their full siblings RAGEYMA and IBN MIRAGE, that lightning bolt might have halved this story.

Descent table *MIRAGE 790: registered offspring
name reg# color sex year foaled (dam) breeder state (number of foals/number with offspring) [“//” – no offspring]
Peraga 910 gr f 32 (Slipper 442) Selby OH (10/6)
Pera 1107 gr f 33 (Slipper) same (6/4)
Image 1008 ch c 33 (*Rifala 815) same (72/54)
Namir 1056 gr c 34 (*Namilla 855) same (18/9)
Indrage 1088 b c 34 (*Indaia 813) same (55)
Ragala 1091 gr f 34 (*Rifala) same (16/11)
Batu 1116 b/gr g 35 (Slipper) same //
Ragin 1284 gr c 36 (*Indaia) same //
Romira 1285 gr f 36 (*Rose of France 857) same (4/4)
Rifage 1286 gr c 36 (*Rifala) same (102)
Agwe 1287 ch/gr c 36 (*Hilwe 810) same (7/4)
Rageyma 1289 ch f 36 (*Kareyma 811) same (11/10)
Rasage 1374 ch c 37 (*Rasmina 856) same (40/26)
Ragia 1375 gr f 37 (*Indaia) same (2/2)
Geyama 1376 ch f 37 (*Kiyama 809) same (8/4)
Mirilla 1437 gr f 37 (*Namilla) Thompson Ontario (8/5)
Kareyga 1579 gr f 38 (*Kareyma) Selby OH //
Yamage 1581 gr c 38 (*Kiyama) same (5/3)
Adonis 1619 ch/gr c 39 (Curfa 1019) Shuey NC (24)
Joharah 1620 b/gr f 39 (Rihani 1015) Shuey NC (11/6)
Kae 1748 gr/rn f 39 (Keturah 945) Brutus OH (10/7)
Idol 1762 gr c 39 (*Selmnab 812) Selby OH (40)
Ibn Mirage 1763 gr c 39 (*Kareyma) same (54)
Kymir 2455 gr f 39 (Charmain 860) Brukner OH (1/1)
Rasmir 3071 gr c 39 (Rasasah 1141) Bailey OH (3/1)
Karaga 1943 gr/w f 40 (*Kareyma) Selby OH //

Towards an Appreciation of CMK Identity

by Michael Bowling © Copyright 1997

CMK stands for “Crabbet-Maynesboro-Kellogg” and recognizes three programs which transmitted much of the central stock of what became North America’s historical Arab-breeding tradition. “CMK” is a registered US trademark; rather than discouraging others from using it, we urge them to do so, as long as such use is in keeping with the CMK definition. The CMK Record newsletter grew out of the general interest in these horses in 1981, without attempting to define specific pedigree limits for CMK but emphasizing North America’s historical using Arabian tradition. Rick Synowski, announcing the first CMK Heritage Catalogue in 1982, sent out a call for listing stallions which could trace

“in at least 75% of their pedigree to foundation stock of Crabbet Stud [including its Egyptian branch, the Sheykh Obeyd Stud], the Hamidie Society, Spencer Borden, Randolph Huntington, Homer Davenport, W.R. Brown and Kellogg.”

The definition was first modified during the preparation of that Catalogue to recognize the importance of the Selby and Hearst programs. The current definition, acknowledging a threat of genetic bottleneck in the trend to breed Arabians almost exclusively for narrowly focused show-ring applications, added a further qualification. A CMK Arabian must still carry a minimum 75% by pedigree of CMK founder ancestry as above. It must also trace in tail male to a CMK sire line, as summarized in the third CMK Heritage Catalogue of 1992, and in tail female to a family established in North America by 1950. A previously unstated assumption is now made explicit: CMK breeders will tend over time to increase the average founder percentage in their programs above the minimum 75%.

Note that the CMK movement exists to bring together the supporters of traditional Arabian breeding. Specialized aspects within the tradition, such as straight Crabbet, GSB, or Jockey Club, or programs based on preserving the influence of individual breeders or sires such as Never Die Farm or Gulastra, all fit under the CMK umbrella. Note too that we are committed, if the overall CMK pedigree definition should change in the future, that it can only go in a more inclusive direction.

The CMK Heritage is a working preservationist movement emphasizing the beautiful using and companion horses that earned the breed its reputation for versatility, adaptability and soundness. The vision which informs our activities traces originally to the travel writings and the imported horses of the Blunts and Homer Davenport–CMK Arabians are distinctive for their Blunt and Davenport character. Very strong elements descend from the two over-arching cooperator breeder circles of the 1950s and 1960s, founded by H.H. Reese (Old California breeding) and James P. Dean (the Midwest circle). At the same time we value, and seek to preserve, other CMK ancestral elements, including old sire lines from Maynesboro and other sources which were not well represented among the Reese and Dean programs, and consequently have become rare. One healthy undertone to the CMK approach is a respect for the regional flavor of traditional breeding; we emphasize working through local action groups to preserve genetic diversity, and oppose national and international trends toward genetic homogenization.

The Crabbet Arabian Stud was founded in1878 by Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt after their desert journeys. Foundation horses from the Bedouin tribes were blended with those descending from the legendary collection of Abbas Pasha I through that of Ali Pasha Sherif–the Egyptian “Pasha” breeding may be seen as an early influential cooperator circle. Although the Crabbet Stud no longer exists as a physical entity the Crabbet heritage prospers in the hands of dedicated breeders throughout the world. The influence exerted by the Blunts and their daughter Lady Wentworth through their writings is a further international unifying theme. Crabbet breeding was continued by Lady Wentworth, who added the Polish outcross Skowronek; and after her death from 1957 to 1971 by C.G. Covey. North America possesses a rich and diversified sampling of both the Blunt and Wentworth aspects of Crabbet breeding. Thanks are due to the early importers Spencer Borden, W. R. Brown, W. K. Kellogg (represented particularly strongly through the horses of the Old California Reese circle) and Roger Selby (especially through the Dean circle), and to farsighted breeders who have added important later Crabbet elements to North America’s gene pool. Virtually every Crabbet foundation animal still represented today in world pedigrees can be found in the background of North American Arabians. Maynesboro, the New Hampshire establishment of W. R. Brown, and the Pomona, California ranch of W. K. Kellogg, played key roles in transmitting the Crabbet heritage. At the same time, Brown and Kellogg like Lady Wentworth used Arabians from other sources compatible with the Blunt foundation. Their goal: combining Arabian quality and breed character with sound structure and performance ability.

The importance of Crabbet breeding must not leave one thinking “CMK” is somehow “the same as Crabbet” or, worse, a diluted form of Crabbet. Too many people outside the CMK ranks have the idea that “it’s all Crabbet” if they don’t know what else to call a pedigree element. In that mental fog the straight Crabbets, their subsets and their GSB and Crabbet-old English associates, lose their distinctiveness and are in genuine danger of losing their existence. A point that grows out of CMK’s recognition of the fine distinctions, is the appreciation of the specialty programs both in their own right and for combining with other CMK elements.

A major contribution to the uniqueness of North America’s Arab-breeding tradition was made by the 1906 desert importation of Homer Davenport–nearly all the Davenport influence in modern pedigrees comes via horses that passed through the Kellogg Ranch. Other direct Eastern sources have enhanced this development and contributed key individuals to the Reese and Dean circles. Likewise the 1947 Hearst horses from Syria and Lebanon blended beautifully with Kellogg and Maynesboro stock already at San Simeon, and their influence is valued in ever-widening circles.

The legacies of Donoghue and Lewisfield (Friendship and Al-Marah and Gainey; McCoy and Shalimar and Sunny Acres, Lodwick and Skyline those breeding programs which grew out of the Reese and Dean circles) are treasured within the CMK movement, even though CMK was defined after the fact. They transmitted the heritage and appreciated the vision of the Blunts and Davenport. They differed in accidentals, according to the horses they started out with and which mare lines happened to be more prolific or to suit a particular sire. They also came to differ more basically in terms of individual vision.

Some breeders have the “eye” for combining horses and some don’t, but even if two people are equally good at that, each will develop a personal preference–or they did in the days when we had breeding programs (cf Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, “we had faces then“). The nature of biology is variation–there never was a time (nor will be) when all horses of any set were/are identical and beyond criticism (and note that those ideas are not the same anyway). We all prefer the better individuals of any line to the worse, but common sense should tell us we can never reduce an aspect of the Arabian breed to one individual, and still maintain that distinctive kind of horse. Preservation means recognizing that you either have a particular genetic entity, or you don’t. It means breeding good individuals within a coherent biological reality.

Most importantly, the CMK Heritage aims to produce and to promote beautiful, companionable horses with real performance ability. This was the vision the Blunts and Davenport brought home from the desert; this was Brown’s reason for having the Maynesboro horses take part in the Army endurance competitions, retiring the Mounted Service Cup; this was what W.K. Kellogg had in mind when he presented his ranch and horses to the U. S. Remount. This is the central idea of the Crabbet/Maynesboro/Kellogg tradition; pedigrees are meaningful only to the extent that the modern horses reflect their ancestors. The horses represented at the Northwest CMK Symposium in 1994, at the 1996 Springfield, IL Preservation Breeding Symposium, and at other such exhibitions, clearly illustrate that the CMK concept is a practical success.

For an updated version of the CMK definition see: The Arabians of the CMK Heritage.

The Arabians of the CMK Heritage

4H quadrille team at Davis, California.


The CMK pedigree definition has become increasingly streamlined over the years; we now require 75% CMK founder ancestry, with a CMK sire line and a dam line established in North America by 1950. Our approach differs from that of some preservation or conservation breeding groups in the Arabian community, because we do not have a closed pedigree requirement. Not working with such narrowly defined pedigrees enables us to put more emphasis on practical concerns, although we do serve as a rallying point for some of the specialty closed pedigree groups that fall within our larger concept.

“CMK” itself commemorates three founder programs–Crabbet of Lady Wentworth in England, Maynesboro of W. R. Brown in New Hampshire, and the W. K. Kellogg program at Pomona in Southern California–whose historical and genetic contributions have proven our strongest links to the breeding and philosophical tradition of the desert travelers: Lady Wentworth’s parents Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt, and the American newspaperman Homer Davenport.

The most influential single contribution to the overall CMK breeding base has been made by the stock of England’s famed Crabbet Stud, founded by the Blunts in 1878. Crabbet breeding contributes to CMK through more recent lines as well as the earliest English imports which give CMK by far the most extensive sampling of the original Blunt founders of any breeding tradition in the world. CMK ancestry also includes unique lines based on horses imported direct to North America from the Middle East. Desert horses of the Davenport (1906) and Chicago World’s Fair (1893) importations are the most widely influential, and a later source was provided by the Hearst horses of 1947.

We also embrace a relatively small number of other Arabian ancestors which come in because of their use at Maynesboro or by Kellogg, or their later whole-hearted incorporation into the Midwest or Old California cooperator breeding circles of the 1940s and ’50s. An entire chapter could be written on the influence and interactions of the two breeder circles, and their spirit of community and cooperation is among the things we aim to keep current, right along with the genetic contributions of their horses.

The CMK concept developed to maintain the traditional using and companion horses that made the breed’s original reputation in this country, and these lines still are prized as examples of the Arabian as a “beautiful generalist” riding horse. Individual CMK Arabians continue to excel both in the show ring and in virtually every field of performance open to the breed; individual breeders working within the CMK Heritage may specialize in any performance area. Latterly CMK Arabians are increasingly valued in the endurance and sport horse disciplines. Recognizing our performance emphasis is not to say that CMK breeders are immune to the aspect of the breed which Lady Wentworth called its “genius for beauty;” rather, we prefer not to give up any of the traits historically recognized in the Arabian.

The CMK Heritage does not operate through a national organization, but rather our central committee attempts to facilitate communication between local CMK action groups. Activities on the local level include unrated shows and noncompetitive symposia or showcase events, with a historical and community emphasis.

CMK is a registered US trademark; we encourage its use to refer to CMK qualifying Arabians and to the CMK ancestral elements in combined-source pedigrees.

The Donoghue Arabians

Copyright 1997 by R.J. Cadranell.

Originally published in Arabian Visions Jul/Aug 1997, used by permission

The Donoghue Arabian Farm has been a mainstay of Arabian horse breeding in and out of Texas. Though not the first Arabian horse nursery in Texas, it was a relatively early establishment. And while Gerald and Louise Donoghue’s herd was probably not the largest ever assembled in Texas, it was plenty big enough to supply mounts and breeding stock to a wide variety of customers. As Louise Donoghue wrote in the introduction to the 1993 Donoghue Arabian Directory,

“Jerry’s ambition was to raise and sell horses which could be treated as family pets but could also win ribbons in the show ring. He urged that these horses be trained in different types of riding to exhibit their versatility and athletic ability. His Generations of Champions are widely noted for their friendly dispositions and classic Arabian looks. Nothing delighted him more than to receive a letter from the owner of one of his horses telling him how wonderful they were….”

The detailed story of the early years is best told in Gerald Donoghue’s own book, My Friend, The Arabian Horse. Following is a short synopsis of the story, often drawing on his own words, but kept brief to save room for photos and the reminiscences of friends.

We begin when Gerald Donoghue was working as a reporter and assistant editor for the Houston Chronicle. In 1943 the city editor sent him to do a story on the Arabian horses of R. J. Geimer. Donoghue had never seen Arabians before, but came away impressed by the disposition of Geimer’s stallion *Latif (Antez x *Lassa). After Mr. Geimer saw the story, he offered that Donoghue could breed his Palomino mare to *Latif. At about this time the Donoghues left Houston and moved to a ranch in Goliad, and there in 1944 their first Half-Arabian was born, a filly named Taffy. As she grew and came under saddle, Donoghue admired her so much he decided to get more Arabian blood.

The first purebred was purchased in 1949, a two-year-old grandson of *Latif named Watez. He came out of the J.E. Mowinckle herd, stabled at Alamo Downs in San Antonio. In 1950 Donoghue brought a filly named Yaquta (*Czubuthan x *Lassa). In 1951 Yaquta was bred to Watez. Also that year three females were purchased from the Lodwick farm in Ohio. These included Rafisca (by Rafisco) and her dam, the pregnant Freiha. Jerry and Louise Donoghue now had a small herd. In looking back he commented,

“I liked the group and I was fascinated by their pedigrees. Still, something was missing….I still had not found the type of Arabian I was looking for.”

In 1952 Jerry Donoghue discovered some of the Mowinckle mares were for sale in San Angelo. He found them in poor condition, but even so one bay mare and her bay colt had a “look that set [them] above” the others: “My search had ended.”

The mare was Ronara (Roayas x Narlet) with her son Ibn Hanrah. Ronara was back in foal to Hanrah (Hanad x Rahzawi), and would produce Rohanna in two months. Donoghue bought the whole package, later writing,

“Most of the Arabians I have owned since that time have been descendants of this one great mare.”

From her photos and Donoghue’s descriptions, Ronara seems to have been a mare of great quality. She, probably more than any other horse, appears to have set the type that distinguishes a Donoghue horse.

As for Rohanna,

“she was a complete beauty. No one ever passed Rohanna without taking a second look.”

Her foals included Carol Chapman’s dynamic chestnut stallion Pulque (by Skorage), multi-champion and Legion of Merit winner. Rohanna was also dam of Tondelayo (by Al-Marah Erka). Tondelayo was another successful show horse for the Donoghues, with a Legion of Merit and top tens in park, western and English pleasure.

Much space in My Friend is devoted to stories of criss-crossing the country on the way to show in the 1950’s, often with children Bill, Clare, and Timothy alone. Ibn Hanrah, Ronara, Rohanna, and the other horses represented the Donoghue Arabian Farm well in those early shows. My Friend offers as much chronicle of those days as it does wry commentary on how Arabian shows had changed by the time of the book’s publication in the 1980’s.

The Donoghues finally met Mr. Mowinckle, who told them about Walter (“Chappy”) and Carol Chapman. They caught up with the Chapmans later at a show. The Chapmans agreed to take some Donoghue horses for training. Jerry Donoghue later wrote,

“For the past thirty years, Chappy has trained generations of our horses and three generations of our family.”

Donoghue felt a larger mare band would be necessary to make a profit on the farm; his next addition came in 1953 from the Babson Farm in Illinois. She was Fay Ufa (Fay-el-Dine x *Maaroufa), bred from Mr. Babson’s 1932 Egyptian importation.

In 1954 Jerry Donoghue made his first visit to Al-Marah Arabians, then located in Washington, D.C. He met the farm’s owner, Bazy Tankersley, and her foundation sire, Indraff (*Raffles x *Indaia). Indraff was

“a beautiful gray stallion, almost pure white, who immediately noticed us and came charging up the hill, his neck arched and his tail almost curled over his back. It was a beautiful sight.”

It occurred to Donoghue that Ronara could be bred to Indraff, but he did not want to send her that far from home. Instead, it seemed more practical to bring Indraff daughters to Texas and breed them to Ibn Hanrah.

“Ronara’s Crabbet ancestry would be right in line with the Crabbet-Skowronek breeding of Indraff and Ibn Hanrah would bring the Davenport cross into the combination which should pep things up.” He continued, “Horses with a strong percentage of Davenport blood seem to have an extra spark that some other Arabian horses lack.”

Ronara had a Davenport line through Sherlet; through his sire, Ibn Hanrah was a grandson of the Davenport stallion Hanad, thus Ibn Hanrah had 31.25% Davenport blood.

In 1956 Jerry Donoghue traveled to the first Al-Marah production sale looking for something from the Skowronek line. Studying the catalog, he kept coming back to Egypt, by Ibn Hanad (Hanad x Gamil) and out of Star of Egypt (*Raffles x *Roda). Egypt came with a stud colt by the Indraff son Al-Marah El Hezzez, named Al-Marah Erka. When Donoghue saw Egypt, he admired her head, quality, and quiet disposition. Later, he was the successful bidder.

Egypt had been bred by Margaret Shuey of Sunny Acres in North Carolina. Donoghue wrote,

“Egypt [did] so well that, every time I had a chance, I had bought a Shuey-bred mare when it had the combination of Ibn Hanad, *Raffles and *Roda.”

In 1960 came Sunny Acres Serranita,

“not only an all-around show mare, but was chosen as one of the top ten halter champions at the Canadian Nationals. Her career as a brood mare was even more distinguished.”

Serranita was by Ibn Hanad and out of Joye (*Raffles x *Roda).

Another Star of Egypt daughter to come to Goliad was Sunny Acres Easter Star, in 1964. She was by Shalimar Teke, a son of Flaia. Flaia was a full sister to Indraff, and considered by several connoisseurs to be among the best of the many successful *Raffles x *Indaia foals. Shalimar Teke was a grandson of Ibn Hanad. Easter Star’s most notable son was probably Beau Ibn Hanrah, successful in park, western, English, halter and most classic. Pamela Long remembers him as “magnificent. To this day one of the most beautiful horses I’ve ever seen.” Another 1964 acquisition was Sunny Acres Geneviewe, a granddaughter of Ibn Hanad, *Aeniza, *Raffles, and *Roda.

Indraff daughters had also arrived in Goliad. Tasliya (x Temag, by Fay-el-Dine) came in 1959. She became Louise Donoghue’s personal riding horse, and won Reserve National Champion Mare in 1958. Her career also included the Legion of Merit and the King Saud Cup. In 1960 came Al-Marah Indraffa (x Roumana, by *Sulejman). there as also Indianna (Indraff x Ananda), bred by Louis G. Foye.

Another Indraff daughter to come to Goliad was Al-Marah Gazelle, out of the old R.B.Field broodmare Gisela (Akil x Shemseh), bringing in more Crabbet and Davenport blood. Al-Marah Gazelle was acquired in 1965, and became dam of Don Amistad (by Ibn Hanrah), a Legion of Merit winner. Pamela Long remembers,

“Al-Marah Gazelle, a chestnut mare, had an aversion to wearing a halter. So, Jerry respected her wishes and led her with a rope around her neck.”

Fersheba (Ferseyn x Rasheba, by Rasraff) also ranks among the important Donoghue foundation mares. Fersheba brought in a different line to *Raffles, and through her sire reinforced the more distant crosses to *Raseyn and *Ferda in Ronara’s pedigree. Fersheba was bred in California, and later owned at Al-Marah. Perhaps Fersheba’s biggest contribution was her son Don Fersheba (by Ibn Hanrah). He excelled in English, western, halter, and most classic classes, earned his Legion of Merit, and became a Donoghue sire.

Donoghue described the four Shuey mares, four Indraff daughters, five Ronara daughters, and Fersheba as the background of his breeding program, although other mares were occasionally brought in from outside through the 60s and 70s. The four younger sisters of Rohanna were her full sister La Bahia, Bint Ronara (by Al-Marah Erka), Rose of Ronara (by Al-Marah Erka), and Ronava. The latter was Al-Marah Cassanova’s first foal. Jerry Donoghue judged her

“a sensation. [She] became one of the sights to see on our farm. Her head was outstanding.”

Jerry Donoghue had decided an outcross sire was needed. At a horse management course at Al-Marah he noticed a

“colt was being used for amateurs to trot up and down. The colt seemed happy in his work and, the more I looked at him, the more I liked him.”

This was Al-Marah Cassanova (Rapture x Cassandra), then two. He had three close crosses to *Raffles and a female line to *Roda. A deal was struck, which included returning Erka to Al-Marah, and Cassanova was on his way to Texas. He left a good number of sons and daughters, and also won his Legion of Merit and a national top ten halter before he died young at age 12.

La Bahia was another national top ten and Legion of Merit winner. Bred to La Bahia, Al-Marah Cassanova sired Cass Ole, the star of the motion picture The Black Stallion. This pleased Jerry Donoghue:

“Because I’ve often wondered if I’ve ever done anything constructive in my life, 40 years of it spent with Arabian horses, it gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to know that, at least, I bred a horse that has brought entertainment and beauty to millions of people.”

Ibn Hanrah died from a twisted intestine in 1965, a huge loss. His wins in English and western pleasure, park, and halter (including 1959 U.S.Reserve National Champion Stallion and Canadian National Champion Stallion) and helped establish the reputation of the Donoghue horses. Since his first foals in 1955 he had proven an equally important sire. His sons Don Fersheba and Beau Ibn Hanrah succeeded him.

In 1980 the Donoghues decided it was time to cut down the size of the herd, and many horses were sold. Jerry Donoghue gave this summary of his breeding program in 1984:

“The old farm was sold in 1980 and we live in a remodeled stone house on the ranch. I limit myself to six brood mares, all being bred to Beau Ibn Hanrah, with an occasional outcross.”

By 1991 the Donoghues had bred over 250 foals and were standing Don Beau Max (Beau Ibn Hanrah x Donna Indraffa) and Don Boolad (Don Fersheba x Donna Ferona). In an interview with Sandy Rolland, Gerald Donoghue said he wanted to be remembered for his horses, and breeding a natural, ungimmicked Arabian. He died on August 5, 1992.

In reading My Friend, several aspects of Jerry Donoghue’s character emerge. His constant concern for the well-being of his charges runs all through the story. When he pulled a trailer, he drove so slowly that his son joked there was time to read the historical markers they passed. No one who made horses head-shy was allowed to handle the herd. Pamela Long recalls,

“As I walked around the farm with Jerry, I noticed he touched every horse—usually with the back of his hand. He told me he was freeze branded before he freeze branded any of the horses, ‘to make sure it didn’t hurt.’ He was extremely proud of them, loved them with a passion, and worried about them incessantly.”

Jerry and Louise seem to have complemented each other in evaluating their horses. He wrote,

“Louise and I look at horses differently. I want to know what they can produce; she wants to know how it feels to ride them.”

Speaking of the breed as a whole, he said,

“The basic appeal of the Arabian horse has been as a family horse and show horse combined.”

We end with Jerry Donoghue’s words about the right Arabian horse for him:

“to interest me, a horse had to look like an Arabian, regardless of his pedigree. He had to have a good head and good tail carriage with overall good balance. I always look at the head and into his eyes. To me, the personality of the horse is more important than his size or color. Size is away down on my list of desirable characteristics of the Arabian….
“When an Arabian horse has a good head, it is hard for me to take my eyes away from the head to look at anything else. I assume the horse has four legs.
“I do not belittle the importance of a horse having good, straight, sound legs. However, if all I wanted in a horse was straight legs and powerful muscles I would not go to the expense of raising purebred Arabian horses, straight legs and big muscles can be found in many cross-bred grade horses.”

Testimonials

Dr. James P. Entrekin, Grey Eagle Arabian Farm, Algoa/Alvin TX: Fayhan (x Fay Ufa), from the first foal crop of Ibn Hanrah, was the first Donoghue horse I met. Most of my horses stem from Fayhan and his offspring. My personal mare Faylene is pure Donoghue and perhaps a perfect example of the delightful Donoghue disposition and personality. She is best when ridden without bridle or bit. She goes through a repertoire that includes kneeling, lying down, rolling over, sitting up, shaking hands, side pass, two track, et al., all at liberty. Donoghue Arabians perhaps best personify those three criteria that one must never compromise and they are 1. Disposition, 2. Disposition, and 3. Disposition. Donoghue Arabians are living examples of back to the basics desert bred type, conformation, disposition, and predictability.

Pamela J. Long, Mai-Zel Dragonwicke Arabians, Dragoon AZ: My college graduation present from my parents was a trip to Goliad to the Donoghue production sale in April 1969. I bought the grey yearling Don Zel (Don Fersheba x Al-Marah Gazelle). I realized after I won the bid that I didn’t have any money or transportation. Mr. Donoghue allowed me to make payments for a year. Fifteen of the 16 horses I now own carry Donoghue breeding. All 15 are Don Zel’s descendants. The Donoghue horses have fine typey heads — not extreme, but immediately recognizable — large, intelligent, inquiring, and frienddly eyes, and always smiles. They are short coupled, with good — not extreme — toplines. With very rare exceptions, Donoghue legs are as perfect as they come. They move freely, with balance and poise, always proud. Their strength and balance is incredible. Don Zel could rear and raise and lower himself again and again, never touching the ground. They turn on a dime — co-ordinated and athletic. Donoghue horses are people horses, gentle and kind, very intelligent, learn quickly. I ride them everywhere, over mountains, through streams, down hills. They are sure footed and never hesitate.

Shar Smith, Conroe TX: Butch and I purchased Donna Egypt (Don Fersheba x Bint Egypt, by Al-Marah Cassanova) from Jamil Ferreira of Richmond, Texas, in June of 1993. We had no idea who Jerry and Louise Donoghue were, and knew nothing of the great Donoghue tradition. Donna Egypt was 18, and we knew only that she was beautiful and a dream to ride. On a whim, I took her to a fine local trainer, Jim Maddox. He stoked our imaginations with stories of Walter and Carol Chapman, and how Gerald and Louise represented the best. He referred me to Gerald’s book, which I tried to locate, without success. The following March, Butch and I made the trip to Goliad. We were fascinated by Louise. she totally charmed us. She autographed a copy of Gerald’s book for me, which I proudly took home. We have four offspring of Donna Egypt. Each one is brilliant of intelligence, brilliant of beauty and motion. Perhaps the most notable characteristic is their intense desire to interact with people.

Martha Craig, Fredericksburg Tx: I have many marvelous memories of Louise and Jerry — their excitement and delight in each horse, the way he could give a complete history of every one of the horses for generations — what a joy just to be around those two! My Don Beauzel (Beau Ibn Hanrah x Donna Gazelle, by Don Fersheba) is 16. I have enjoyed him since he was just under three. My Beau was shown as a three year old — did well in western pleasure — then I began using him on our ranch in Colorado. He loved moving cattle and the long rides. We moved to Fredericksburg in 1989 and trail ride in the hills now with friends and he is super for that. He is calm, willing, loves people. His head is gorgeous, wide between the eyes, large soft eyes, nice dish, small ears.

Lynn Weber, Friendswood TX: I didn’t know Jerry Donoghue and I have never met Louise, but I can tell you they have given us a true gift in his line of Arabians. I own four horses, which includes my favorite, a 13 year old black gelding, Don Grito (Don Beau Pronto x Bint Donna Sheba). He is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. He learns tricks eagerly, but his most admirable trait is his kindness. He’s gentle with everything and everyone.

Sally L. Quick, Spring Creek Arabian Farm, Lufkin TX: In the early 1970’s I moved from southern California to south Texas. My first goal was to visit the Donoghues as I had seen their ads for years. Our first visit was a trip to paradise. Over the years we visited the farm many times, and in 1976 moved to Goliad. I was happy to be close to so many great horses. I would simply call Mr. D. and tell him I’d like to walk through the pastures; he would always agree. My children loved to visit and Mrs. D. would have cookies for them. The Donoghue horses possessed a look that was easily recognizable: the beautiful heads with large eyes and bodies with substance are much admired. All Donoghue horses have great personalities and can be real clowns. Through the generosity and special consideration of Mr. D., I bought my first purebred colt from the farm in 1976. Don Ibn Gazelle (Cass Grito x Al-Marah Gazelle) was delivered to us as a weanling, and our dream of owning an Arabian horse became a reality. He won many halter ribbons and was Reserve Grand Champion Stallion at the State Fair Show. Mr. and Mrs Donoghue were the most gracious hosts ever. Each year they had a spring open barn and barbecue. It was the social event for all Arabian people in the area. Recently I was in the market for a younger horse. Of course I was looking for Donoghue breeding. I purchased a Half-Arabian by a Quarter Horse out of Donna Talhanna. He is typical Donoghue, with a great personality, easy going nature, and sound good conformation. The joy these horses have brought to my life is a gift. Mr. and Mrs. Donoghue were gracious and kind to all who knew them.

Dana Kirk, Kenda Arabian Ranch, Cleburne TX: Of our own horses, Don Halawi and Donna Halawi (both Don Fergen x Bint Halawi) have the biggest part of my heart. Donna is elegant and feminine with the largest eyes and one of the most beautiful, refined heads I have ever seen. Her willingness to please and her love of people are her first qualities. Don is best known for his love affair with our daughter, Loren. At the CMK showcase in Glen Rose, Texas, Loren rode Don bareback with nothing but a satin ribbon for a bridle. They were both loving every minute of it. Don was so good at so many disciplines. Whatever Loren asked of him he lovingly gave his all. Donna Halawi, age 24 and crippled now by laminitis, never hesitates to jump into a trailer onto sore front feet. I’m getting teary-eyed over this. I know she won’t be with us much longer and I can’t bear to say good-bye.

Jack & Val Nevilles, Ja-Val Arabians, Pittsburg TX: I purchased a part-Arab gelding, Sabra, in 1977 from Lynn Edge in Tivoli, Texas. His sire was Don Almas, and his dam was a Half-Arabian mare by Fayhan. Sabra was my dream horse. He was shown some in the late 70s and never out of the ribbons either as a performance or a halter horse. Having a Donoghue horse was in a way a dream come true. I first saw Donoghue horses in the show ring at the Nationals in 1962. I had read about them and was impressed by their beauty and conformation. My husband and I had the pleasure of visiting the Donoghues on two or three occasions. What a lovely couple they were — never too busy to talk about their horses, or share some iced tea. The thing I remember most was the substance and willing attitude of each horse.

Carolyn Crowley, East Greenwich NY: My mare was purchased as a youngster by a Navy woman and brought up the coast to Newport, Rhode Island. I met her there, and showed her for her owner until I was able to purchase her for my own. Her name was Donnaliya (Don Fersheba x Tasliya). After living with and loving Donnaliya for 18 years, I can certainly identify with Louise’s affection from Tasilya. In my eyes and in my heart Donnaliya was the most beautiful mare of my life. It was her huge heart — game for anything with the kindness of a saint. Correct conformation — she was a knockout in a halter class, blue after blue after blue. Classic head. Her eye, a form of communication. She was shown halter, hunt seat, and western pleasure. We did trail riding, pace events, and later in life she was broken to harness. Babies toddled beneath her as I groomed and tacked her up. She was careful and safe with my 11 year old son when he started showing her. She tirelessly gave “pony rides” to school children on field trips to the farm. My “Liya-love” is now deceased, buried in a nook of the woods adjacent to the ring. I’ll always love her so.

Linda M. Gremore, D&L Arabians, Boyd TX: The memories I have of Donoghue Arabian horses go back about 45 years. When I was eight years old I began writing to the “Ibn Hanrah Fan Club.” I dreamed of breeding my mare to Ibn Hanrah. Later, I lived in Austin, Texas, and was able to see Cass Ole at a horse show in San Antonio when he was two. My dream of owning a Donoghue Arabian horses did not materialize until 1978. My husband, Virgil, and I purchased two mares (not Donoghue) and after much discussion decided to take one to breed to Beau Ibn Hanrah. Before we even stopped the trailer, my husband spotted a beautiful grey stallion whose hair shimmered in the sun like fish scales. Before I knew what had happened to Virgil, he was in the lot with Don Fersheba. We brought the other mare back to breed to Don Fersheba. Beau Ibn Hanrah had the presence to stand out in a crowd of horses no mater how beautiful the others. Virgil and I made several trips to Goliad and were always given the grand tour. Mr. Donoghue had a stall area with each stall opening onto a grassy courtyard. He would bring each mare and foal out and recite their pedigrees. He had a tremendous program we are trying to continue. Mr. and Mrs. Donoghue were always gracious. In 1980 Mr. Donoghue told us he was cutting down his herd and had several stallion in which we might be interested. I did not believe we could afford a stallion, but my husband insisted we take the trailer. We chose Don Beau Pronto (Beau Ibn Hanrah x Cassa Arriba). We prayed Mr. Donoghue would have the right figures the next morning so we would be able to purchase Pronto. He did! He also let us take Sunny Acres Genevieve home. Everyone always stopped to look at her. Pronto has won numerous blue ribbons in halter and many championships in western pleasure both pro and amateur. In 1984 Pronto was Region 9 Reserve Western Pleasure Stallion. We will always be grateful to Walter Chapman and Brad Bunio for Pronto’s training and showing. Virgil and I have taken dressage lessons on two of our Don Fersheba daughters. To the best of our knowledge, we have the largest herd of pure Donoghue horses.

Ana Carolina Gomez-Simmons, Temple TX: Gran Cicque Kalim is beautiful, graceful, intelligent, loyal, loving. He is my dream come true and it would take me more than all the words in the world to describe him. I love him with all my heart and soul.

Reconstructing Domow

A persisting question in the breed’s North American history, since coat color inheritance first came to be widely understood, revolves around the identity and parentage of the mare Domow. Biology and history working together provide a start toward the puzzle’s solution. By Michael Bowling and Robert J. Cadranell II, Copyright © 2001. Initially published in CMK Heritage Catalogue IV. Used with permission.

Domow is officially a 1913 (no month or day given) bay daughter of the two chestnuts, *Abu Zeyd and *Wadduda. That parentage is not compatible with established principles of coat color inheritance, if the colors of all three horses are correctly attributed. Domow produced the bay Tabab by a chestnut, and he sired bay foals out of chestnut mares. Enough of *Abu Zeyd’s hide is preserved at the American Museum of Natural History to eliminate any doubt that he was chestnut (Charles and Jeanne Craver, personal communication). No evidence from photos or contemporary descriptions, or from the balance of her breeding record, provides grounds to question that *Wadduda was chestnut; in fact some contemporary references make her “sorrel” which suggests, if anything, a light shade of chestnut. One reasonable explanation for Domow’s registration would be a switch of *Wadduda’s 1913 foal with another in the same ownership. The Arabian Horse Registry of America (AHRA) record shows Domow bred by Hingham Stock Farm (Peter B. Bradley). Although she was registered by Bradley, based on other information Domow clearly came out of the small personal Homer Davenport program, in Holmdel N.J. The original options there for exchange with Domow were Fahreddin, registered as the 1913 foal of the bay *Abeyah, and Sabot, the 1913 foal of the bay Sira, of the Basilisk family. Both were fillies registered as chestnuts, from matings capable of producing a bay foal (their sires were chestnuts, *Abu Zeyd and *Euphrates respectively). The foal switch question has now been addressed thanks to developments in DNA technology.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), in contrast to the nuclear chromosomes, is transmitted strictly through the egg cytoplasm and does not undergo meiotic recombination. Characteristic mtDNA sequences (haplotypes) of dam lines change only by rare mutations, and are stable over many generations. Questions of maternity can be addressed, within historical stud book time frames, by comparison of mtDNA sequences, if direct female-line descendants are available of the questioned individuals and of other representatives of the relevant dam lines, and so long as questions can be defined in an either-or sense. mtDNA haplotypes were derived (see Bowling, A.T., Del Valle, A. and Bowling, M., 1998. Verification of horse maternal lineage based on derived mitochondrial DNA sequence. Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics 115: 351-356) from tail-female descendants of Domow through her daughters Dowhana and Zenee; of *Wadduda through two daughters, Moliah and Aared; of *Abeyah through two daughters (Saba and Samit) of the only persisting source of this female line, her imported daughter *Haffia; and of Sabot through the line of her daughter Azreka. A matching Basilisk haplotype was derived through the independent branch from *Butheyna.

The Domow haplotype matched that of the *Wadduda family and was distinctly different from those of *Abeyah and Basilisk, which does not support a foal switch involving Fahreddin or Sabot. After these results were obtained, further research at the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation (AHOF) among the archived records of *Abu Zeyd’s and Fahreddin’s subsequent owner gave substantial support for Fahreddin’s having been foaled in 1912, rather than 1913, which would have ruled out from the start any easy scheme for exchanging the two. [Note added in 2007: the 1912 foaling date for Fahreddin proved to be an error.]

The Domow question has been complicated because *Abu Zeyd is credited in AHRA records with another bay foal out of a chestnut dam, the 1920 filly Radi. Correspondence in the same archives records a second owner’s request for assistance in having Radi’s registered color changed from chestnut to bay, which leaves room for the possibility of accidental or deliberate substitution. This example at least is not supported by documentation sufficient to question *Abu Zeyd’s genetic contribution in the absence of parentage verification, and in face of the genetic stability of the coat color alleles involved. Radi has no recorded offspring, so her color and parentage (or identity) are chiefly of academic interest, unlike those of the prolific and influential Domow. Radi’s case does underscore that the stud book record alone might not provide the whole story when addressing historical questions.

A further possible complication involves two of Domow’s granddaughters: Kirah (1925, by a chestnut Domow son and out of a bay mare) and Aatika (1926, by Domow’s bay son Tabab from a chestnut dam). In their original registration (the 1927 Arabian Stud Book) their color is abbreviated “s,” although “sorrel” is not listed as a color option in that book. In the 1937 volume both mares’ color has been changed to “b” but by 1944 it has become “ch;” both are given as “chestnut” in the current AHRA pedigree database.

Eye witness accounts confirm the bay color of both Aatika (Helene Asmis Clifford, personal communication) and Kirah, described in Reese and Edwards’ The Kellogg Arabians: their background and influence as “a dark rich bay.” Aatika produced the bay Lulu by the chestnut Asil, and Lulu produced the bay Lurif by Rifage, a grey who did not transmit black pigment (he got only a handful of bay foals, out of over 100 registered offspring, and none from chestnut dams). Kirah never produced a registered foal to a chestnut sire so no test mating results are available for her. Further inspection shows that Kirah’s and Aatika’s breeder also allowed to stand the prior registration of the well-known liver chestnut stallion Hanad as “b” and that he used “seal” as a color term, in correspondence available at the Trust. The chestnut error in the two mares’ registered color may reflect picking up the original “s” entry and mistaking it for “sorrel” during the preparation of the 1944 Stud Book, and could also be related to the correction of Hanad’s color in that volume.

All this coat color backing and forthing could be taken to support the ideas sometimes presented, that *Wadduda was a light bay, or alternatively that Domow was an off-shade chestnut. One can only say Domow and *Wadduda both were well-known mares in their lifetimes and nothing suggests either color assignment ever was questioned; the breeding record supports the bay color in all cases but Kirah’s (not tested). In the absence of color photography the images available of Domow, Tabab, Kirah and Aatika show them as bay, while *Wadduda does not look bay in her photos.

*Abu Zeyd, *Wadduda and Domow are extensively represented in modern Arabian pedigrees, through multiple offspring of each. In terms of gene frequency, anomalous color designations would be of regular occurrence had the Domow coat color incompatibility possessed a genetic basis separate from incorrect parentage. At this point the simpler explanation would have Aatika’s and Kirah’s breeder (who had no connection with the original registration of Domow) unfamiliar with standard horse coat color terms, or perhaps inexpert at recognizing ultimate coat color from foal coats. Some bay foals can have quite light-colored manes and extremities, and Mrs Clifford remembers that Aatika also sun-faded extensively in the summer.

If Domow was not switched with another filly and if her color and her dam’s were correctly recorded, it becomes necessary to seek the black pigment gene through a sire available to cover *Wadduda in 1912. Paternity, as opposed to maternity, can be addressed only on historical grounds: unlike the special case of mtDNA with dam lines, no biological tests of paternity can be applied at such a distance of time and generations and in the absence of physical samples from putative parents and offspring. In this particular case the relevant breeding records have not been located. A possibility must be acknowledged, that *Wadduda may have been covered accidentally, during the transitional period after Davenport’s death in 1912 and by a frankly unknown sire. Resolving that question suffers under the notorious difficulty of proving a negative, but it is not the only reasonable reconstruction.

The published record supports the interpretation that *Wadduda’s 1912 covering was actually part of a last phase of normal activities. *Wadduda foaled the filly Amran on 19 April, 1912; Homer Davenport fell ill on the evening of the 19th and died on 2 May. Only in the last few days of his illness was Davenport’s condition recognized to be life-threatening. While it is possible to picture that orders to breed *Wadduda might have been conveyed from the sickbed, it is less likely that an order to shut down the horse activities would have come under those circumstances; during the first week or more it would not have been thought necessary, and during the final few days, the horses might well have been the last thing on the minds of those in attendance. The agents in charge of Davenport’s horses in New Jersey would reasonably have carried on according to previously received instructions, which must have included at least general plans for mating the mares in 1912. The other foals registered from 1912 breedings to stallions owned by Davenport have known foaling dates, which were early in the 1913 season: Sabot and Omar in January, and Abeleyd in February. (The “1 January” 1913 foaling date of Domow in the AHRA database is a place holder, not a recorded birth date.)

*Wadduda was clearly an easy breeder and produced a registered foal every year from 1907 through 1913: she produced for Peter Bradley’s Hingham Stock Farm again in 1915 and ’16 (and died in time for her death to be noted by 1918). She had foaled a week later in 1908 than in 1907, 24 vs 17 July—but in 1908 through 1912 she foaled earlier each succeeding year, respectively on 24 July, 10 July, 10 June, 13 May and 19 April. Progeny records for others of the early Bradley and Davenport mares also support a policy of foal heat breeding (more likely than a high incidence of short gestations among that population). If it was normal practice to cover *Wadduda on her foal heat, and if such a policy had been followed in 1912, she would have been the last mare covered during Davenport’s life and according to his instructions.

*Wadduda’s 1912 covering sire was not, ex hypothesi, either of the chestnuts *Abu Zeyd or *Euphrates. The bay *Gomusa appears to have been among the horses in Davenport’s possession in New Jersey (his last recorded foal was in 1912). Davenport also had imported from England, in 1910 along with *Abu Zeyd, two Crabbet colts: *Berid, a 1908 grey with a chestnut sire, but whose dam could have provided black pigment—she produced all greys or bays out of her 12 foals—and *Jahil, a 1909 bay. Davenport bred two bay 1910 colts, Daghar and Jerrede; the last-named was sold from “the old Davenport place” in 1914 so likely was in residence through this whole period. Daghar was owned in Chicago by May 1915 but no date for his original sale has turned up.

*Jahil was transferred to H.J. Brown in January of 1912; Brown is his published owner in 1913 and used him in the spring of 1912, so he at least can safely be eliminated from consideration. This leaves all or some of *Gomusa, *Berid, Daghar and Jerrede in the running to provide a sire for Domow, and speculation has centered on an accidental or mis-recorded mating involving one of those four. There remains another possibility first raised based upon a fleeting reference to *Astraled in connection with Davenport, in Lady Anne Blunt’s published Journals and Correspondence.

F. Lothrop Ames of Easton, Mass. was a member of an established railroad and industrial family who was caught up in the early flurry of interest in Arabian horse breeding. He bought the yearling filly Rosa Rugosa from Spencer Borden in 1908 at a “four figure” price, and in 1909 went to Crabbet for the proven sire *Astraled along with two mares, *Shibine and *Narda [II]. Ames owned his Arabians for only a short time, and all his registrations were with the Jockey Club, so AHRA records do not touch on his activities. His grandson does not even remember any family tradition that Ames imported or owned Arabian horses, and nor does the son of Ames’ long-term horse trainer, who came on board just a few years later (Frederick Ames Cushing and John Hogan Jr, personal communication), although *Astraled and *Narda II would found two of the great sire and dam lines of the breed. *Narda’s son *Crabbet was gelded but he still is renowned as winner of the 1921 U.S. Mounted Service Cup (also known as the Army endurance test).

In May of 1912 Lady Anne commented, to Spencer Borden who had just written to inform her of Davenport’s death, that “he wrote to me about Astraled, full with enthusiasm. Do please secure Astraled. I always wished you to take him.” It is difficult not to read a great deal into this brief passage. Why would *Astraled be available for Borden to “secure,” immediately after Davenport’s death, if the horse had just been reported in some situation about which Davenport could be “full with enthusiasm”? Davenport’s enthusiasm must have been related to his own plans for the horse, for *Astraled to have become available as a direct consequence of Davenport’s death. Again in August of that year, Lady Anne pointed out that “if you took Astraled” Borden could breed a near relative to Riyala, who was not available for sale, from a related mare *Risalda he already owned.

Neither Davenport’s letter which mentioned *Astraled, nor Borden’s to Lady Anne notifying her of Davenport’s death, can presently be located. The following passage from the 1945 first edition of The Authentic Arabian Horse makes it clear that Lady Anne’s daughter Lady Wentworth was working from at least the Borden side of the exchange, if not Davenport’s letter as well:

“Mr. Ames bought the famous Crabbet stallion Astraled, and when Ames ‘fell down and quit’ as Borden put it, Davenport bought all the horses he had purchased from the Blunts except ‘Crabbet.’ Ames had offered Borden the seven head with his Rejeb mare [*Narda II], Rosa Rugosa [the filly Ames had bought from Borden some four years previously] and Shibine for 2,000 dollars; but they were in such bad condition that he did not purchase, intending to get them even cheaper in the spring. Meanwhile his old enemy Davenport secured them…”

Note even the coincidence of the verb “secure” which Lady Anne had used in her letter. The references to “poor condition” (exaggerating that would have been quite in Borden’s style, just as it was like Lady Wentworth to gloss over Borden’s 1909 report to Lady Anne that he and Davenport had resolved their prior disagreement) and waiting to buy the horses “in the spring” puts this exchange somewhere in mid-winter, which fits well with Homer Davenport’s published letter of February 1912 looking forward to better financial days because he had returned to W.R. Hearst’s employ. A February or March, 1912, date fits, too, with the likely timing of *Shibine’s breeding to *Euphrates (she foaled Abeleyd on 27 February, 1913). If Davenport believed all the horses he bought from Ames were “from the Blunts,” and if his successors transmitted that impression to the next owner, this could also explain the old puzzle of how Rosa Rugosa came to be registered as bred by Crabbet Stud and imported by Borden (her actual breeder).

No published stud book shows *Astraled in any other ownership between his importer Ames (American [Jockey Club] Stud Book, 1910) and the Rev. Thomas Sherman (Arabian Stud Book, 1918), who owned *Astraled in Washington State and would later donate him to the U.S. Remount. Spencer Borden did breed that *Astraled/*Risalda foal, a 1915 colt, and he also showed *Astraled at least once. Apparently Borden sold *Astraled to the Rev. Sherman; *Astraled’s registration, on file at the Trust, is noted “no certificate issued” which implies he had already left for the Northwest and was being put on the books to provide a registered sire for his two U.S. foals. Other registrations in the same numerical sequence were such posthumous ones as those of General Grant’s *Leopard and *Linden Tree.

The other substantial connection of *Astraled indirectly to Davenport is an original manuscript stud record preserved at AHOF, begun by H.J. Brown for his own short-lived Arabian program. The stallion section includes a page for *Astraled, with the undated notation “Sold to Borden.” Why should Brown have had occasion to devote a page to *Astraled and still less to mention the horse’s sale in his private records, unless he had been the owner and thus the seller? It is a matter of record that H.J. Brown bought Davenport’s stallion *Abu Zeyd, and the Ames imported mares, one of which produced a 1913 foal by Davenport’s *Euphrates. Taking all these facts together, the simplest reading has the Ames Arabians, including *Astraled, pass from Ames to Davenport to Brown. *Crabbet was registered later than the mares, which is consistent with his having been temporarily separated from them (if Davenport bought everything “except ‘Crabbet'”).

Domow herself was not registered until she was five, by which time not only her exact foaling date, but Davenport’s connection with the Ames Arabians (certainly *Shibine, if not more of them) seems to have been forgotten. Domow’s markings of a blaze and three stockings could have been taken as evidence that her sire must have been the flashily marked *Abu Zeyd, even had *Astraled (whose only marking was a faint snip) been named, the more so given the apparent lack of a paper trail connecting Davenport with the Ames Arabians. The fact that the bay-chestnut coat color difference is simply inherited while markings are highly unpredictable may well have been unknown to the Hingham management; the science of genetics still was in its infancy, even though Hurst’s 1906 study of Thoroughbred coat colors was the first illustration of a Mendelian character operating in a mammal. Even today one encounters otherwise sophisticated horse breeders who are unclear on the details of coat color transmission genetics.

Domow was highly regarded as an individual and produced 11 registered foals in five ownerships. Her immediate descendants included significant horses in several important foundation breeding programs, including those of W.K. Kellogg and Roger Selby, and she figures in the pedigrees of preservation-bred Arabians and of such influential sires as Bey Shah and Khemosabi. Among 100 animals in a random sample of AHRA registrations (mostly 1993 foals), Domow appears in 69, or roughly 70% of the pedigrees.

Again, given the difficulty of proving a negative, one cannot expect to show that it was impossible for any stallion to have jumped the fence during what must have been an unsettled period, after Davenport’s death. *Wadduda’s previous production record is consistent with a deliberate foal heat breeding, which in turn supports the idea that the mating took place while Homer Davenport was alive. If *Astraled really was in Davenport’s possession along with *Abu Zeyd—and the odds do favor that reading—the confusion of these two imported senior stallions, both Mesaoud sons and both sold to H.J. Brown, is easier to picture than any other simple scenario involving a mistake in reporting the sire involved in a deliberate breeding. Much of our reconstruction remains strictly unproven, but we see a strong case for Homer Davenport’s having owned *Astraled, in time to make that horse a serious candidate to have sired Domow.

Note added in 2007: Since this writing research in New Jersey court records has confirmed that *Astraled definitely was in Homer Davenport’s possession at the time of his death.

To expand on the previous note, in 2008: The court records not only confirm Lady Wentworth’s report that the Ames horses, except for *Crabbet, were in Davenport’s possession in 1912; they put most of the J.A.P. Ramsdell horses in his hands as well; and document that *Abu Zeyd and *Astraled were accounted the head sires of Davenport’s Holmdel Stud. In light of this further research *Astraled remains the most likely alternative covering sire for *Wadduda in 1912, if the breeding was not an accident.

Further, W.R. Brown correspondence at AHOF indicates that Fahreddin most likely was foaled in New Jersey, and that she was apparently never in Peter Bradley’s possession. If Domow were also foaled in New Jersey and went to Bradley at her dam’s side, it would explain why Bradley had no foaling date for her.

I would have written sooner, but… Further in the Case of the Blunt-Davenport Correspondence

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Blunt-Davenport Correspondence

by R.J. Cadranell

Arabian Visions, July/August 1993

used by permission of R.J. Cadranell

In the August, 1991 edition of the “Baker Street” column, Debra and Jerald Dirks presented three letters from the correspondence between Homer Davenport and Lady Anne Blunt, both pioneer Arabian horse breeders. Together with her husband Wilfrid Blunt, Lady Anne had founded England’s Crabbet Arabian Stud in 1878. Crabbet’s earliest foundation stock, including the key mare Dajania, was acquired in and around Aleppo in what is today Syria. In 1906 Davenport, an American political cartoonist, had made his own Arabian horse buying expedition to that region and returned to the U.S. with 27 head. Davenport and Lady Anne made enormous contributions through the horses they imported and bred, but also through their influence on the way people in England and America think about Arabian horses. Their correspondence provides an intimate look at the dialogue between these two foundation breeders.

To Homer Davenport Sheykh Obeyd Garden

21 December 1907           Ain Shaems, Egypt

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your letter of Nov. 25 which followed me to Egypt, and for the previous one and the photographs. I would have written sooner to say this but could not find time before I left England.[1]

I am glad that Bushra and her Mahruss colt are in your hands and you were fortunate to get them.[2] And you see how right are the Arabs to attach a peculiar importance to particular strains. In the center and south of Arabia they have remained much more exclusive in that respect than in the North. Moreover they apply the term “Shemalieh” (Northerner) to the horses of the northern tribes as indicative of the suspicion with which they regard all such, excepting only those bred by certain known families amongst whom Ibn Sbeyni, Ibn ed Derri and others you will have heard of.

It is a pleasure to have good news of Markisa.[3] I trust she will do credit to her ancestry. She is, you know, like Bushra, a Seglawieh Jedranieh of  Ibn ed Derr’s strain.

I do not, at present, see my way to selling any of my few mares of the Hamdani Simri strain. I am afraid that these precious strains are becoming so very rare owing to the destruction of mares through the use of fire-arms in the war now raging in Nejd,[4] that very great caution will be more than ever necessary in parting with representatives of them. Apart from this new reason for caution, I want to guard against a recurrence of mistakes formerly made more than once at the Stud in not securing a sufficient number of representatives before parting with a mare or horse. Shahwan, whom you mention, is a case in point.[5] He was a Dahman Shahwan of the strain in the Abbas Pasha[6] collection, and is quite inadequately represented, as accidents happened unfortunately to almost all of his stock. N.B.—they were too few when the horse was gone.

Bushra’s dam, Bozra, was by imported Pharoah, a Seglawi Jedran of Ibn ed Derri’s strain and her sire imported Azrek being of the same strain, she is altogether of that blood. Mahruss was a descendant of Abbas Pasha collection—the strain, Dahman Nejib, existing with the Beni Hajar and Ajman tribes southeast of Nejd. Abbas Pasha got that and Dahman Shahwan and Kehilan Jellibi through Ibn Saoud, the powerful prince of Riad of those days. As an instance of the prices the Viceroy would pay, I may mention that I had it on high authority that he gave lbs 7000 for the original Kehileh Jellabieh brought to him!

I am delighted to hear of the excellent support your stud is having in the large order for half-Arab cavalry remounts. That is something like support—and your government is wise to give it.

I shall always be interested whenever you care to report further progress.

Believe me to be yours faithfully,

Anne N. Blunt

Thanks to the generosity of the Arabian Horse Trust in making its files available to members of the Arabian Horse Historians Association during the AHHA annual meeting.

  1. [1]Lady Anne wintered in Egypt at her home near Cairo, Sheykh Obeyd Garden. According to her published Journals and Correspondence in 1907 she left England on November 19 and arrived at Sheykh Obeyd by November 26.
  2. [2]*Bushra (Azrek X Bozra) was a bay mare bred at Crabbet and foaled in 1889. She was sold at the 1900 Crabbet sale and imported that year to the United States, carrying a colt by the Crabbet sire Mahruss. This colt was foaled in 1901 and eventually registered as *Ibn Mahruss. Davenport acquired *Bushra and *Ibn Mahruss several years after they arrived in America.
  3. [3]*Markisa (Narkise X Maisuna) was a 1905 bay filly bred at Crabbet. Davenport had purchased her from Crabbet and she had arrived in the United States in February of 1907.
  4. [4]Nejd is a region in the north central part of the Arabian peninsula.
  5. [5]*Shahwan was a grey stallion foaled in Egypt in 187. The Blunts had purchased him in January of 1892, used him at stud in Egypt briefly, and imported him to England that spring. The Blunts used him for breeding at Crabbet in 1892, 93, and 94, then sold him in September of 1895 to Mr. J.A.P. Ramsdell for export to America. By the time of this letter, apparently *Shahwan’s only representatives at the Crabbet Stud were Shibine (out of his daughter Shohba) and Ibn Yashmak. Ibn Yashmak’s dam, Yashmak (by *Shahwan), was still owned at Sheykh Obeyd in 1907.
  6. [6]Abbas Pasha was Viceroy of Egypt from 1848 to 1854. His collection of Arabian horses provided foundation stock for the stud of Ali Pasha Sherif, from whom Lady Anne began acquiring horses in 1889.

The Case of the Blunt-Davenport Correspondence Part II: A Shoddy Affair

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Blunt-Davenport Correspondence

Copyright 1991 by Charles Craver

published in the Sept 1991 Arabian Visions

Used by permission of Charles Craver

In the August issue, the “Baker Street” series contained an article by Debra and Jerald Dirks presenting an exchange of three letters dating from 1906 and 1907 between Lady Anne Blunt of England and Homer Davenport of the U.S. Commentary on these letters was reserved to the present writer for this issue of Arabian Visions.

In these letters, as in others, communications between Lady Anne Blunt and Homer Davenport were cordial and provided a reasoning exchange of thought. Lady Anne starts in an apologetic mode because the fact is that in prior correspondence with Spencer Borden, and before she knew anything on the subject other than gossip and hearsay, she had made some comments about the Davenport importation. These comments were not in themselves so bad, but they were used selectively by Borden to create a red hot controversy in the American Arabian horse community.

In a letter which we do not have, Davenport obviously had contacted her on the subject directly, and her reply to him begins this series of correspondence.

The differences between Lady Anne Blunt and Homer Davenport were really misunderstandings, and rather easily resolved. Beyond that there were considerable shared observations about the Arabian horse and experiences in Arabian travel. Lady Anne observed that Davenport’s travel experience confirmed her observation of the difficulty of travel in Arabia, and she commented on Davenport’s good fortune in having the sponsorship of the Turkish government, personal pluck, and a favorable season for desert travel, in that the Anazah were relatively accessible to contact by travelers in the heat of the summer. Lady Anne and Davenport discuss the role of a prominent sheikh, “Hashem Bey,” in Arabian desert politics. It is observed by Lady Anne that Davenport’s use of the word “chubby” corresponds to what she gives as the Arabic word “shabba,” meaning suitable to breed from.

Lady Anne points out that Davenport’s report that only 600 of the 6000 horses he was told of in the desert were in the “chubby” or “shabba” category confirms her observation of the need for caution in making purchased of horses in the desert. Lady Anne indicates her suspicion of Arabs as big as fifteen hands, and indicates that this height is an exception in the desert and in her own stud. Davenport confirms her observation, saying that among the Arabs, the best horses are from 14:2 to 14:3 hands high.

A number of other letters have been preserved from Lady Anne concerning Homer Davenport. Her tone is invariably polite and positive. The final item of action from her on the subject occurred when she translated and authenticated the pedigree of Davenport’s mare *Urfah 40, so that this mare and her son, *Euphrates 36, would be acceptable to the Jockey Club for registration in its stud book.

The letter in this series from Homer Davenport to Lady Anne Blunt is typical of his attitude towards her. In this letter and in other commentary of record, he obviously felt great respect for her as a person and as a breeder of Arabian horses. He quietly addresses several points upon which he feels there are misunderstandings, and makes a comment which can be used as explanation for much of the success of his trip to Arabia:

“I don’t believe that I was misled, or had misrepresentations made to me by any of the men around me, as owing to the Irade from the Sultan, and the three strong personal letters which I carried from President Roosevelt, they accorded me every honor…”

If these two people could have kept their exchanges of thought to each other they would have gotten along fine, and Arabian history of the era would have been more simple. Both of them from time to time said things to other people which would have been better unsaid. Lady Anne was jealous of her reputation as an unique expert on the Arabian horse, and she appeared to have had an underlying conviction later shared by her daughter, Judith, that no horses but her horses were real Arabians. Homer Davenport had foibles, too. He was an old-fashioned newspaperman who painted his thoughts with a broad brush, and there was decidedly a bit of P.T. Barnum in his soul. He was inclined to speak of his own horses in superlatives. Most of what he said was factual, but there was a measure of what we consider to be hype. All this came out in a series of interviews published in the New York Times about his importation of horses. Anne Noel Blunt’s lady-like teeth were obviously set on edge.

Several other pioneer American breeders of the time took the occasion to stake out their individual territory in the Arabian horse scene. They each had their own horses to promote: The Randolph Huntington group, who wanted to breed larger, Mu’niqi-type horses, felt that theirs were the only worthwhile kind of Arabians, and they had a further ax to grind with Davenport, probably based on personal conflict between him and Randolph Huntington. Davenport had adversely caricatured Huntington’s relative and benefactor, Collis P. Huntington, in public newspaper cartoons, and had published an article which was unfavorable towards the Huntington horses.

Another breeder, Spencer Borden, was a major customer of Lady Anne and Wilfrid Blunt, from whose Crabbet stud he had imported most of his horses. Borden was an “establishment” sort of person who appears to have felt that he had bought his Arabians from the best Arabian stud in the world, and he did not take kindly to the notion that some newspaperman could go to Arabia and come back with real Arabian horses that were competitive with what he had bought in England. Typically, Borden remained in the background of controversy, but he was a strong and persistent influence against the establishment of the Davenport bloodlines in America.

With this explosive combination of personalities, American Arabian breeding became complicated. There were newspaper exchanges, challenges for competition, horse-show disputes, bitter letters. The Jockey Club and even the USDA and Congress became involved.

Final resolution began with the establishment of the Arabian Horse Club of America, but the influence of the controversy between those early breeders has continued over time, although, of course, weakened, which is appropriate for something of no substance to begin with.

Some of the arguments from those early days still turn up now and then, usually as snide remarks from one side or another. Thus Raswan published an article called “Blunt vs. Davenport Arabians.” Lady Wentworth (Judith Blunt Lytton) makes disparaging remarks about the Davenport horses. Even now, one of Lady Anne Blunt’s current biographers cannot write about the Davenport importation without negative asides that are contrary to her own written remarks to Davenport and others. Some breeding programs are even influenced on the basis of the arguments that started in 1906 and followed the continuity from Spencer Borden through W.R. Brown, Judith Lytton, H.H. Reese, and Reese’s ideological heirs.

Too bad. Homer Davenport and Lady Anne Blunt got along fine, and they seemed to be in good agreement about horses. Without “friends” to stir up trouble between them and between them and and others, they each had a contribution to make a beautiful breed of horse. This occurred despite all the unnecessary help. Many feel that both the Blunt and Davenport Arabian bloodlines reach their peak expressions of Arabian beauty when combined with each other, and the fact is that much of the best of the Blunt heritage is found primarily in combination with the bloodlines that Homer Davenport brought from Arabia in 1906.

That Nura Style

by Rick Synowski © 1995

from The CMK Record Spring 1995 XI/2: page 15

used by permission of Rick Synowski

That air of distinction which characterizes the ‘Crabbet type’ cannot easily be explained. Lady Anne Blunt called it ‘that indefinable thing style’, and Wilfrid Blunt spoke of the ‘almost electric thrill’ he experienced when he saw a really first-class horse.“(1)

GHAZIEH (Ibn Nura x Bint Horra) (Note: an Ali Pasha Sherif mare, not the Abbas Pasha desert import who founded the family to which belonged Helwa and Yemameh.) Not a brilliant photo, still this exemplifies the remarkable style of this breeding (NBGS)

The influence of the Ali Pasha Sherif line of NURA(2) has been obscured, not only by the passage of time, but by the fact that her name appears only in the middle of pedigrees. Mares which did not leave enduring dam lines, at least from a historical perspective, are less easily celebrated. A horse’s genetic influence is not necessarily less, because its name does not appear in the direct sire or dam line. NURA was an important mare to the Blunts, though it is not clear whether they ever saw her; there was something in her descendants which caught their eye. Ali Pasha Sherif too recognized the special quality of these horses as attested by the “one hoof of the Bint Nura” quote at the head of the lead article. NURA’s early descendants were notable for their style, bearing and finish — traits which have bred down in the two lines carried on from this mare at Crabbet.

IBN NURA was an aged stallion when purchased by the Blunts. He was described as a “magnificent horse…and style perfection.” Although in his 20s, he was much used at Sheykh Obeyd, until his son FEYSUL replaced him as head sire. Of FEYSUL’s sons IBN YASHMAK notably displayed the regal elegance of the line, though as a sire he would be outdone by FEYSUL’s British son RASIM, sire of RASEEM, RAZINA, *RIFLA, *FARASIN, NASHISHA and FASILA — all of importance for breeding on the NURA attributes.

BINT BINT NURA ES SHAKRA [BINT NURA GSB] was the sole NURA daughter purchased by the Blunts. Existing photos of the mare show beauty and great bearing. BINT NURA bred two important sons: MAHRUSS GSB by MAHRUSS, bred by Ali Pasha Sherif; and DAOUD by MESAOUD, bred by the Blunts.

DAOUD’s value was a point of controversy between the Blunts; his contribution was to be through his daughters. Of these NASRA would be come a grande dame of Crabbet, perhaps rivaled only by RISSLA. NASRA exuded finish and elegance, in photos reminiscent of her granddam BINT NURA. Unquestionably NASRA passed on the NURA style to her later Crabbet stamp. By this time Crabbet horses carried multiple crosses to NURA; such as INDIAN GOLD and FARIS were double BINT NURA, the first combining DAOUD with RIJM and the second a double grandson of the latter.

MAHRUSS left only one breeding son at Crabbet, RIJM; he also sired the American en utero import *IBN MAHRUSS. Lady Anne Blunt in her Journals regretted the lack of opportunity given MAHRUSS. The same source records how Wilfrid Blunt “remarked over and over again of RIJM,’that is a real show horse’.” Years later Lady Wentworth described the RIJM son *NASIK as “a magnificent horse…having style and quality in a superlative degree.” H.H.Reese, after *NASIK’s importation, called him a “made-to-order show horse.” *NASIK was used sparingly in England, perhaps overshadowed by his full brother *Nureddin II. *NASIK did sire the notable RAFEEF, whom Lady Wentworth credited with “magnificent style. Neck arched, tail in the air. Everyone wanted this horse.”

The NURA style breeds on notably from *Nureddin II through his son FARIS, remembered as “very showy” by Cecil Covey. FARIS sired RISSALIX and this showy quality was evident in the great RISSALIX sons MIKENO, BLUE DOMINO and *COUNT DORSAZ. The latter was described by a British sporting journalist as “that prince of dandies.”

We have come most to identify the founder influences in Crabbet pedigrees with MESAOUD, RODANIA, NEFISA; to a lesser extent QUEEN OF SHEBA and later, Skowronek. Yet horses like Abu Farwa, *SERAFIX, INDIAN MAGIC and Aurab would not have been what they were had NURA not been a presence in the middle of their pedigrees. This reminds us to seek out the less immediately obvious.

References

(1) Archer, Pearson & Covey. The Crabbet Arabian Stud, its history and influence. p. 225.

(2) “Nura” is used to refer to the Ali Pasha Sherif mare BINT NURA, daughter of the original Abbas Pasha NURA. The Ali Pasha Sherif BINT NURA is the dam of IBN NURA and of BINT BINT [Es Shakra], registered as BINT NURA GSB.

See also: The Banat Nura of Ali Pasha Sherif

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Arabian Horses

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Arabian Horses

Used by permission of Rick Synowski

Copyright by Rick Synowski 1994

from ARABIAN VISIONS July/August ’94

Reprinted from The CMK Record

used by permission of Rick Synowski

The community of Arabian horse owners — “the Industry” as we have come to call ourselves collectively — has yet to face the far-reaching consequences in any genuine way of our treatment of the Arabian horse.

In the recent article “Observations” by David Murdoch, (Arabian Visions, January-Febuary 1994), the author makes the statement that

“Abuse messes up the mind. That is the reason that wonderful young horse you sent off to be trained — the one you foaled out in your arms and watched grow up — comes back to you like a maniac.”

Murdoch’s statement strikes a chord. As an Arabian horse breeder and as a professional in the mental health field who has treated many human victims of abuse, I have been disturbed in particular by the long-term, even permanent psychological damage suffered by horses which have been traumatized in the course of training, competing, and by general mismanagement.

My 20 years experience in the mental health field includes treatment of children and adults who suffer from Post-traumatic Stress disorder, the debilitating disruption of the emotions, mental functions, and behavior which is a delayed or residual reaction to some prior catastrophic event. My observation of behavior in horses which had undergone extreme trauma, whether of human or natural cause, and the observation of other horse owners relating their experiences, indicates that horses have responses to traumatic experiences parallel to responses of people.

The disorder was earlier identified as shell shock in returning combat veterans of the two World Wars and the Korean conflict. The term Post-traumatic Stress began to be widely used as it was applied to returning Vietnam veterans who were found to have serious problems readjusting to civilian life and who suffered emotional disturbances, mental problems, and problems with their behavior which continued for an indefinite period after their return. The disorder was also identified in both children and adults who had suffered prior physical and sexual abuse. These people were often misdiagnosed and sometimes locked up in back mental wards because they were thought to have major mental illnesses, their symptoms being so severe at times.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM), published and revised periodically by the American Psychiatric Association, is the diagnostic bible for the mental health field. The DSM IV, the latest edition, gives the most complete and definitive description of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to date. The following is an excerpt:

The essential feature of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one’s physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death, injury or threat to the physical integrity of another person. The person’s response to the event must involve intense fear, helplessness or horror. The characteristic symptoms resulting from the exposure to the extreme trauma include persistent reexperiencing of the traumatic event, persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and numbing of general responsiveness, and persistent symptoms of increased arousal. The full symptom picture must be present for more than one month and the disturbance must cause clinically significant distress or impairment to important areas of functioning. Intense psychological distress or physiological reactivity often occurs when the person is exposed to triggering events that resemble or symbolize an aspect of the traumatic event. In rare instances the person experiences dissociative states that last from a few seconds to several hours, or even days, during which the components of the event are relived, and the person behaves as though experiencing the event at that moment (page 424.)

The lastly described reliving of the traumatic event or “flashback” is often reported by patients to be more painful or otherwise distressing than the actual event had been for them.

A personal horse-related incident which comes to mind as illustrative of a simple example of PTSD involves a situation brought about by a rider’s misjudgment. My horse, as you will see, did not experience the trauma himself but merely witnessed the event.

During the 1970s when I was living in Marin County north of San Francisco, I spent many quiet relaxing hours riding my stallion on the miles of wooded, mountain trails and back roads. One particular Sunday afternoon we had passed two young women trail riding their horses. They left the main road to take a narrow side trail which circled around the other side of a nearby lake. It had not been long when I heard shouting from that general direction and turning found one of the riders galloping toward me. The other horse and rider had apparently slipped from a particularly treacherous part of the trail high above the lake. Luckily the rider had been able to jump free but the poor mare had slid further down the embankment and was caught under a downed log about fifty feet above the lake. We turned back to find the mare thrashing wildly to free herself. Just as we were about to reach her she struggled free only to go crashing end over end down into the deep water below. Once in the water the mare struggled for what seemed an eternity. At times she would appear to tire and then sink out of sight. Horrified, we stood helplessly on the bank: the two riders, myself, and my stallion. Eventually she was able to make her way close enough to the bank to touch bottom. At that point we were able to wade into the water and slip a rope over her head and pull her to the shore. She was able to get up on her own legs and staggered out of the water, the heavy, waterlogged stock saddle still on her back. Amazingly she had escaped serious physical injury. My stallion stood trembling, his attention riveted to the mare during the entire ordeal. When she emerged from the lake I had allowed him to sniff her, as a mare will do with a foal which has become upset or separated. On the ride home however, he seemed spooked and fretted all the way. After that day he would take to shying when I attempted to ride him near the edge of a lake, even on trails which were familiar to him and which had not posed a previous problem. His behavior did not generalize to fording streams or crossing bridges over streams, which he did with little fuss.

A horse’s response to real or perceived danger is either “fight or flight.” This is an instinctive survival response, as it is in people. Like people, horses will, when not physically able to fight or escape, attempt to leave the situation psychologically, and will dissociate. Horses dissociate in response to immediate trauma (this is sometimes associated with and symptom of shock), but I have seen them dissociate in response to a triggering stimulus associated with prior trauma. A horse in a dissociative state will seem to take leave of his senses. He may seem to be in another world and unaware of his immediate surroundings. If highly aroused he may be dangerous, to others or to himself. I had acquired another stallion who I had found in a starved, emaciated state. I was told he had been beaten. He was a gentle soul but when he became distressed he would weave with a vengeance and at times appear to go into a trance-like state, eyes glazed over. This behavior diminished in time but never disappeared.

Horses by nature are highly social, gregarious animals. The species evolved to live within a social group as its primary means of survival. Separation from the group often meant death from predators or from lack of experience in coping with other threats in its environment. The Bedouins bred horses these past thousands of years which were purposefully developed to generalize their social needs and responses to people. This resulted in the characteristic horse to human bond for which the Arabian would become a legend. Separation from horse or human companions can be stressful and traumatic. Separation and forced readjustment to unfamiliar, alien surroundings occurs as a matter of course to most horses, especially those shuffled from one owner to the next.

Such was the story of the great *Serafix, imported from the Crabbet Stud in England to California by John Rogers. The young *Serafix became so homesick after his arrival that he refused to eat. It was thought he would die, the situation was so serious. Finally, Rogers himself moved into *Serafix’s stall to provide round the clock companionship to bring the horse out of his nearly fatal slump. Happily most horses do not experience adjustment problems as severe, but it is not uncommon that horses are never able to completely adjust. Many develop abnormal behaviors such as stable vices or other irksome or even dangerous habits — coping mechanisms used to adapt to the fallout of traumas we owners seldom even notice, which includes isolation from familiar companions and adjustments to unfamiliar surroundings.

Human caused trauma seems far more debilitating to people than is trauma from natural events such as floods, fires and earthquakes (DSM IV, p. 424). Arabian horses, with their strong natural affinity for people, are especially vulnerable to the devastation of human-perpetrated abuses. Deliberately inflicted trauma, usually meted out as corporal punishment, is the most frequent cause of PTSD in horses — especially horses trained for competitive events. In Arabians, it is most commonly associated with halter training and showing, but it occurs on some level in all kinds of competition. We certainly are not talking about reasonable discipline or correction here — with alarming frequency we go over that line of discipline to outright abuse, and perhaps some of us do not even know when we have crossed that line. Where trauma does not involve punishment, it occurs in horses which are in physical pain and continue to be worked. Sometimes the horse does not even protest. Too often they are anesthetized and continue to reinjure themselves or worsen present injuries. Such practices result in suffering extending beyond the reach of painkillers and which often develops in chronic ailment. Working lame horses is cruel and inhumane, but far more insidious and even more common is the forced work of horses with musculoskeletal pain arising from trauma to the spine. These injuries result from the forced collection of young horses for prolonged periods and are aggravated by use of mechanical devices such as martingales, tie-downs, and draw reins. These appliances may actually be misused to correct horses which are already hurting from spinal problems, shown by resisting collection and going above the bit. We add more pain to an already hurting horse without a clue as to what we are doing. Little wonder these horses develop bad attitudes and other evasive or even violent behaviors which continue long after the pain itself may have subsided.

Whip abuse is the most often decried of the abuses to which the Arabian is almost universally subjected, owing to the high arousal state in which the Arabian is forced to be shown. People who believe the decline of whip abuse seen at the shows reflects that abuse is on the decline are gravely deceived and have little understanding of the use of the whip as a trigger to call up past abuse. One does not even have to use a whip as a trigger — the response may be elicited by a hand signal or gesture of the upright arm, or a verbal cue like the “shush” or clicking one hears in the ring. Just like the salivation of Pavlov’s dogs when the bell rang, halter horses are conditioned to become highly aroused and to exhibit the fight or flight behaviors given the threat of harm — or the memory of harm.

These responses include the tightening of muscles and exaggerated posturing and movement common to many other species when confronted with danger. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is not merely an effect of halter training; it has become the method itself, employed deliberately to elicit the response we demand in the show ring. Since the abuse need not occur at the time the response is triggered, it need not be repeated in the ring or even at the show. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that holding horses in paddocks at shows to be observed and inspected by stewards is little more than a charade.

The effects of conditioning by pain or fear of pain result in a variety of responses which may become long-term or permanent and usually generalize to other people, including their bewildered owners. I have heard more than one sad story from an injured owner who was attacked by their own horse they got back from the trainer — the horse they raised and thought they knew. One never knows what will trigger an aggressive reaction in what seem like otherwise gentle, sensible horses. And, one learns never to put one’s own guard down with them. These behaviors may subside in time but one cannot predict whether they will ever go away entirely.

Depression is another effect of abuse. These horses seem to suffer mental breakdowns. They become listless and withdrawn and non-responsive to their surroundings. We see this so often in show horses that I doubt we pay much attention to this kind of response. Once returned to hearth and home and to familiar companions these symptoms seem to subside in about six months to a year.

Of course, horses suffer a variety of physical ailments due to the effects of PTSD, just like humans do. Immune systems become depressed. These horses are much more prone to colic and other digestive upsets. This is not news to the insurance industry which has limited liability, raised premiums, or even refused to insure horses where abuse of one kind or another has become commonplace.

A bizarre and little understood response to abuse is the perverse kind of loyalty, and in extreme cases, affection the victim occasionally develops toward the perpetrator. This had been first observed in some victims who had been interned and tortured as POWs. I can remember my own bewilderment and frustration years ago working with a woman who had been repeatedly beaten by her husband, but who remained loyal to him, even to the point of raising his bail when he was jailed for sending her to the local emergency room with injuries.

Charles Craver brought to my attention his observations of horses which, having suffered abuse, seemed to develop the same kind of bond to their abuser. Craver’s observation brings to mind my visit to an Arabian breeding establishment some years ago and watching the trainer bring out one of the much publicized stallions. The horse was agitated and repeatedly lunged at the trainer, mouth open and ears flat back. It was obvious the stallion regarded the trainer with hatred and the trainer displayed no little skill to dodge the attacks while presenting the horse to guests. Imagine my shock when I learned years later of the special rapport these two were touted to have.

When a handler gives a horse a loving pat and the horse appears to respond, it is no guarantee that the handler hasn’t abused that horse to within an inch of its life back at the barn to earn that pat. I witnessed such an incident in the show ring one year. When it was announced that a particularly lovely young mare was chosen as the champion, her handler jubilantly threw his arms around her neck as though she were the love of his life. The mare was dazed, seemingly disoriented, and confused as she stood trembling to receive her accolades.

In his article, Murdoch cites owners as coresponsible with trainers for abuse, as we have the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of our own horses. Owners may plead ignorance and may well indeed be unaware of the abuses their horses suffer when under the care of someone else, or which they themselves inflict unwittingly. But the causes of ignorance are less the lack of accurate information than the lack of genuine concern which comes from the heart and conscience rather than that to which one pays lip service only. It really comes down to not putting the horses first.

GLOSSARY OF TERMINOLOGY

Dissociative States: Any mental state in which an individual seems to lose contact with his immediate surroundings. Day-dreaming is a common and normally harmless dissociative state most of us experience at one time or another. In more severe instances, an individual may suffer amnesia (blackouts), confusion, disorientation or even psychosis.

Generalized Response: Any response which is learned in one context or situation and is repeated in a similar context or in response to a similar stimulus.

Increased Arousal State: Psychologically any state of intensified emotion (anger, fear, anxiety, excitement) and awareness (hypervigilance). Physiologically, increased arousal states are characterized by rapid heart beat and respirations, increased adrenaline release, and other indicators of increased metabolism.

Trigger: An event, circumstance, or object which resembles, or is symbolic of a previous traumatic event and which causes the victim to respond as if he were reliving the event.