Some Last Words, Chapter VI of The Arab Horse by Spencer Borden(1906)

Articles of History:

Excerpted from: THE ARAB HORSE, CHAPTER VI – SOME LAST WORDS by Spencer Borden, New York, 1906 from The Khamsat Volume Seven Number Four Oct/Dec 1990


            No person who reads the books from which much of the information conveyed in these pages has been obtained can fail to be impressed with the idea that the blood of Keheilet Ajuz is a preponderating influence in the best Arab horses. The animals possessed of this blood are not a separate breed among Arabs–all pure Arabs are of one breed. but, as we know of the old Morgans in America, there were separate families, for example, Woodburys, Giffords, Bulrushes, and all were Morgans, so in Arab horses there is a choice; and of them all the descendants of Keheilet Ajuz are the first. Upton says in “Gleanings From the Desert” (p. 320):

                “It appears to me that although there are numerous offshoots from the Keheilet Ajuz, each with a specific name, there is still a main line or strain of descent carried on of Keheilet Ajuz is sufficient to mark any such horse or mare.”

            He also explodes the tradition that mares are not to be had of the Arabs, and makes evident the fact that if a man knows what he wants, and has the money to pay the price; he can get it, or could at the time of his visits (p.p. 365-6).

                “Before leaving this portions of-the subject, it is convenient to allude to an assertion which has been made, and so oft repeated that it has been accepted as an established fact–that it is impossible to obtain an Arabian mare; that the Arabs will not part with a mare; that they will sell horses, but nothing will tempt them to part with a mare. The least informed on the subject of Arabians will tell you this as glibly and with as much assurance as if he had been brought up in the desert. One certainly announced that there was a law forbidding the export of an Arabian mare; Now, I can assure my readers that it is not by any means impossible to obtain a genuine Arab mare. We visited the most exclusive of all Badaween tribes and never heard of such a law. If any law did exist, it would be against selling, not exporting; but we never heard of such a thing in the desert. I can assure my readers that among the genuine Badaween of the Arabian desert we found no prejudice against parting with or selling a mare. Difficulty there certainly is to induce such people as the Anazah to sell either horses or mares, for they do not traffic in horses; but if there be any difference, you might get a good mare with less trouble than a good horse.

                “I have the best of possible authority for refuting the statement that mares are not to be got, for mares were not infrequently offered to us, and among the Anazah (not the wandering people of Erack) we obtained both mares and horses, and the former without more difficulty than the latter.”

            The idea has also been given currency that Manakhi Hedruj was a strain so rare as to be seldom seen in these days, was no longer to be had even for large sums of money, and that they are always chestnuts, of a sizes o much above the other Arab families that these others are merely “pony Arabs.” Upton says of them (Gleanings p. 321):

                “The Manakhi appeared to us a favorite strain, for both horses and mares of this family are to be found in most tribes of the Badaween; and we thought, with the exception of Keheilet Ajuz, there were more horses and mares among the Anazah, certainly among the Sabaah, of the Manakhi family than any other.”

            The Blunts, four years after Upton, had no difficulty in securing several animals of the Manakhi family, which they brought with them to the Crabbet Arabian Stud. Of their colour and size Upton remarks (Gleanings p. 321):

                “There was a nice clean-made, lengthy, useful, and racing-like dark grey three year old filly of the Manakhi Hedruj family which belonged to Shaykh Jedaan ibn Mahaid. There were four mares of Suleiman ibn Mirshid picketed in front of his tent, the best of which he considered to be the bluish-grey (Azzrak) mare, four or five years old. She was also of the Manakhi Hedruj family, and stood fourteen hands, three inches high.”

            Finally, the question seems pertinent — Why, if Arab horses are so valuable, their value so well known, and they can be procured, have they not become more widely distributed?

            Various answers, all good, may be given to this question. In the first place the average horseman has come to believe their qualities and reputation to be figments of the imagination, like the Arabian nights tales, and having similar origin. He has never seen one of these wonderful horses, and none of his friends have seen one. Therefore, the horse as he is represented does not exist. Again, even if he becomes convinced there is such a horse he does not know where to look for him, does not feel certain he can secure the genuine article if he parts with his good money to obtain one, and if he does find what he becomes convinced is what he wants the price is sure to be a stiff one. The fact is the whole business involves the question of supply and demand, which is the key to all economic calculations.

            From this time forward it will pay less and less to breed anything but the best horses, and those which will yield the safest return will be such as will be best adapted for use under the saddle, either for pleasure or as cavalry mounts. In either of those forms of utility no horse that ever lived can compare with one of Arab blood, and the supply of animals of that kind is extremely limited. The people possessing them, whether the Bedouins or those who have bought from them, have never had an over supply.

            A reason for this is perhaps to be found in one statement of conditions for which Mr. Wilfrid Blunt is authority namely: that the pure Arab is not a prolific breeding animal. He thinks one cause for this may be his intense inbreeding. Inbreeding is the only way to secure fixity of type in any form of animal life; but the penalty carried with it is limitation of the reproductive tendency. Mr. Blunt informed one inquirer that if fifteen mares out of twenty-five produced offspring each year at Crabbet Park, he felt satisfied.

            The tendency of this condition of affairs is to make the supply of pure Arabs always short, and the price high. A careful study of the lists presented to the readers of this book, however, will show that certain mares have been consistent and uniform producers of numerous and valuable offspring.