by Robert J. Cadranell with Michael Bowling
Originally published in Arabian Visions, January-February 1997
Revised January 2005
Horses in South America were part of the deadlock between the Arabian Horse Registry of America (AHRA) and the World Arabian Horse Association (WAHO). This article answers some frequently asked questions about the South American horses.
The AHRA mentioned thousands of horses in South America with bloodlines it would not recognize as purebred Arabian. Which South American foundation horses are in question?
The foundation horses are O’Bajan V-6, Hamdani Semri I-9, O’Bajan-7, and Kurdo III. The first three were bred at the Babolna state stud in Hungary. Kurdo III was the son of a horse from Babolna. These four horses were imported to South America in the years just prior to World War I.
Babolna breeding is in the pedigrees of many Arabians in the U.S., including *Bask, Bey Shah, and Khemosabi. What makes these Babolna bloodlines in South America different?
In 1789, the Austro-Hungarian government established at Babolna a branch of its military horse breeding. In 1816, two desert bred Arabians arrived at Babolna: the stallion Siglavy Gidran and the mare 74 Tifle. Among the horses fostered at Babolna since then is a herd of purebred Arabians, which are designated in Hungarian Arab teliver horses (the German language equivalent is Arab vollblut, literally “Arab fullblood”).
Babolna’s Arabian purebreds were always outnumbered by its Arabian partbreds, known in Hungarian as Arab fajta horses. The Germans call them Araber rasse. In earlier years, Americans used the term “Grade Arab” to describe these horses. The words Grade Arab are used, for example, in a 1946 U.S. Army Remount catalogue to describe *275 Shagya XXV and *52 Gazal II, among others.
The nomenclature used at Babolna was also in place at other Austro-Hungarian state studs, like Radautz and Mezoehegyes. The handwritten pedigrees reproduced in Hans Brabanetz’s book about Radautz illustrate usage in German. Among partbreds, the male line determines the rasse of the foal. Partbreds descending in tail male line from a purebred Arabian stallion are “arab. Rasse.” Partbreds from the male line of the Norman import Nonius are “norm. Rasse,” just as partbreds by a Kladruber stallion are “Kladr. Rasse.”
Today, a number of distinct breeds have crystallized from the Hungarian partbred stocks. Among these are the Shagya and the Gidran, each named after an imported desert bred Arabian stallion who founded a prominent sire line. Both breeds aim to combine the intelligence, endurance, and hardiness of the Arabian with more bone, size, substance, and a larger frame. The Austro-Hungarian pedigrees carefully note the breed and origin of the early foundation stock. Behind Shagya X (1855), for example, are Arabian, Spanish, and Nonius ancestors. The pedigree of Gidran XXVIII (1857) includes Arabian, Lippizzaner, Nonius, Spanish, and English Thoroughbred ancestry.
Laszlo Monostory, former commanding officer of the Hungarian state stud Alsozsuk, mentions another category of horses recognized in Hungary, which he calls in English “Anglo-Arab purebreds.” These combine Arabian and Thoroughbred blood only. According to Monostory, in the records of the Hungarian state studs such horses were recorded in purple ink, while purebred Arabians were recorded in green ink, English Thoroughbreds in red ink, and partbreds in black ink. In his book on Babolna, Dr. Hecker mentions that a slightly different color coding system was used during the 19th century.
How does the Babolna naming system work?
Foundation horses imported to Hungary were given their own names. For example, the black stallion O’Bajan, bred by the Sebaa tribe, was imported from the desert in 1885.
Babolna foals are given the name of their sire followed by a foal number indicating order of birth during a given year. Thus O’Bajan foals born during 1906 were named O’Bajan-1, O’Bajan-2, O’Bajan-3, O’Bajan-4, etc.
When mares enter the broodmare band, they are given broodmare numbers in front of their name, and the foal numbers are usually dropped. The many broodmare daughters of O’Bajan included 22 O’Bajan and 124 O’Bajan. If a mare dies or is sold from Babolna, her broodmare number is reassigned to a young mare entering the broodmare band.
When stallions are promoted to chief sires at Babolna, the foal number is replaced by a Roman numeral indicating order of coming into service. Several sons of O’Bajan stood at Babolna: O’Bajan I started in 1895, O’Bajan II in 1897, O’Bajan III in 1902, O’Bajan IV in 1903, and then O’Bajan V. The next sire of this line, O’Bajan VI, was a son of O’Bajan V. Recently Babolna has used O’Bajan XXIV, foaled in 1997.
Just as with the original O’Bajan, foals of these later horses are named after their sire, e.g. O’Bajan V-1, O’Bajan V-2, etc. Babolna stallions can also be assigned to state-owned stallion depots and given a number in front of the name. The 1954 colt O’Bajan X-5 became 4604 O’Bajan X-5.
Sometimes exceptions were made. The breeding sons of Mahmoud Mirza included Jussuf, Mehemed Ali, and Kara Mirza. The desert bred O’Bajan had a breeding son named Dzsingiskhan. Also, if a sire line disappeared from Babolna for several generations and was later reintroduced from another Hungarian government farm, the new horse might be unnumbered, e.g. Gidran or Samhan. Note also that Shagya X at Mezoehegyes, Shagya X at Babolna, and Shagya X at Radautz were three different horses. To further complicate things, if a stallion was moved from one farm to another, he was usually renumbered. Thus Shagya XVII at Mezoehegyes was known as Shagya VIII after transfer to Babolna.
Who was 30 Maria?
According to the 1972 Babolna stud book, the first edition of volume I of the Polish Arabian Stud Book, and Dr. Walter Hecker’s history of Babolna, the Austro-Hungarian broodmare 30 Maria was an English Thoroughbred foaled in 1842. Maria’s registration as a Thoroughbred and her foals born in England appear in Weatherby’s General Stud Book, which states, “Sold to the Austrian Government in 1852, before foaling” (see volume VII, page 230). The pedigree for 30 Maria appears here.
She was left in England to foal and then brought to the Austrian stud of Piber later in 1852. The Austro-Hungarian government established the stud farm of Kisber in 1853 for breeding Thoroughbreds and Thoroughbred crosses, and Maria was sold to Kisber in 1854. On May 3, 1861, she was bred to the imported desert bred stallion Aghil Aga, producing a bay filly on April 7, 1862. The filly was designated 3 Aghil Aga when she entered the broodmare band at Babolna, and the 30 Maria line descends through her.
The broodmare daughters of 3 Aghil Aga included 6 Mahmoud Mirza (1870), 35 Mahmoud Mirza (1871), and 90 Mehemed Ali (1878), but it was through 6 Mahmoud Mirza that Babolna developed a long line of horses with Arabian blood plus 30 Maria. A more recent example of such breeding is 30 Maria‘s tail-female descendant 125 Ghalion, born in 1975. After 12 generations of crossing to Arabian stallions, 125 Ghalion has just 0.024% of 30 Maria‘s blood.
The 30 Maria line appears in WAHO pedigrees through Babolna bloodlines that went to South America and Babolna lines that went to Romania. One of 30 Maria‘s first descendants to stand at Babolna as a chief sire was O’Bajan I. A son of his was sold to Germany where he sired Kurdo III.
Who owned Kurdo III?
Arabian breeding in South America began with the horses of Sr. Hernan Ayerza. He imported his earliest foundation stock to Argentina in 1894 and was for decades one of the world’s largest private breeders of Arabian horses. When he died in 1940, he owned 221 head. Hernan Ayerza’s foundation stock came from several sources, including France, Crabbet Stud in England, and his own importations of desert bred animals. Hernan Ayerza also had a stallion named Kurdo III. According to volume VII of the Stud Book Argentino (SBA), Kurdo III was imported in 1910 and was in service at Hernan Ayerza’s stud beginning 1912. He became a heavily used sire for Hernan Ayerza.
Kurdo III was bred at the Koenigsfeld stud in Saxony, Germany, but he was sold to Argentina through the Circus Hagenbeck. European circuses have a long tradition of acquiring Arabian stallions to train as performers. The Tierpark Hagenbeck in Hamburg, Germany, is still a popular tourist attraction. Kurdo III‘s dam, Gamorra, traced to horses bred at Weil in Germany, horses bred by Poland’s Sanguszko family, and in tail-female to horses from Babolna. See Kurdo III‘s pedigree for details.
Why is he called Kurdo III? Who were the other two horses named Kurdo?
According to SBA, Kurdo II was a 1909 colt by Racid and out of Kariban. The original Kurdo was an 1899 colt by Richam and out of Kariban. Both of these colts were bred by Hernan Ayerza.
No. Hernan Ayerza had a brother named Alfonso Ayerza who also bred Arabians, although on a smaller scale. Alfonso Ayerza started his program with the stallion Hamdani Semri I-9 and mare O’Bajan V-6, both stated in SBA to have been imported in 1909. His pedigree appears here and hers is here, but it would be necessary to extend them for many more generations to calculate the exact amount of non-Arabian blood. Hamdani Semri I-9 and O’Bajan V-6 had a 1911 daughter named Mottaka. Alfonso Ayerza bred Mottaka to the Crabbet stallion Rukham to produce a colt named Nebal. In 1978, Colin Pearson described Nebal’s male line as the primary sire line of Argentine breeding.
According to the SBA, more imports soon joined Alfonso Ayerza’s program. Two more Babolna mares, Hadban I-4 and O’Bajan-7, were imported in 1911. Djellah was imported from France in 1912. In August of 1913, Alfonso Ayerza purchased the stallion Rukham and the mare Nadima from Lady Anne Blunt of the Crabbet Stud in England. Alfonso Ayerza also incorporated, starting 1911, a desert bred horse named Seglaani al Abdi.
Alfonso Ayerza’s herd developed separately from Hernan’s, at least through 1923. During this time the only use Alfonso made of his brother’s horses was to breed two mares to Racid, but both mares were returned barren in SBA.
Of the Babolna mares imported in 1911, Hadban I-4‘s pedigree was Arab teliver. O’Bajan-7‘s pedigree, however, traced in tail-female to 30 Maria. In summarizing the influence of Rukham, Colin Pearson mentions the 1924 colt Setuhan (Rukham x O’Bajan-7).
Although the two Ayerza brothers developed their programs separately, their bloodstock was the major foundation for the following generations of South American breeders.
I’ve heard that there could already be Kurdo III blood in Arabian horses in the United States. How is that possible?
In 1926, Hernan Ayerza sold ten mares to the Duque de Veragua as foundation stock for his newly established stud in Spain. Ayerza also gave the Duque a colt, Kumit, but Kumit and a colt imported in utero were both gelded and do not seem to have been used for breeding. The ten mares are listed below:
Holail II 1922 (Haurram II x Alima, by Ajman)
Radjef 1922 (Risfan x Kamil, by Kurdo III)
Roala III 1922 (Risfan x Aziyade, by Ajman)
Hayadjan 1923 (Haurram II x Kadidjah, by Kurdo III)
Heknat 1923 (Haurram II x Adda, by Ajman)
Razayel II 1923 (Risfan x Riyala, by Racid)
Kate 1924 (Kurdo III x Habaya, by Haurram II)
Khotbat 1924 (Kurdo III x Halama, by Haleb)
Rabih 1924 (Rustnar x Kefta II, by Kurdo III)
Rafa 1924 (Risfan x Kaaba, by Kurdo III)
As of Spanish Stud Book (SSB) volume XXII, six out of the Duque’s 29 broodmares had Kurdo III blood. The Duque bred Arabians for only about ten years. He and his stud manager were killed in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. With the Duque and his stud manager gone, many of the Duque’s younger mares and fillies could not be identified positively. Nonetheless they were retained in the SSB as “Veragua horses” without further pedigree. It cannot be known if any of these Veragua horses descend from Kurdo III. Veragua blood is found in some Spanish Arabians imported to and registered in the United States.
In 1978, Michael Bowling discussed the fate of the Duque de Veragua and his stud with the Duque’s niece. See his article “Spain” in Arabian Horse World, October 1978, in particular pp. 155-7, in which he recounts the family version of the story as told to him in Spain.
Kurdo III does have traceable descendants in Portugal through Aksoum (Razada x Radjef), bred by the Duque and sold to Portugal in 1933.
In 1891, Babolna traded chief stallion Zarif I for Ibn Achmet of the Antoniny Stud in Poland. Zarif I is the great-grandsire of both O’Bajan V-6 and Hamdani Semri I-9. According to Britta Fahlgren’s The Arabian Horse Families of Poland, this Babolna stallion was the sire at Antoniny of Tybet, whose grandson Ornis was exported to Spain in 1912. From there the Ornis blood has found its way to the United States. An alternate reading exists for the pedigree of Ornis, since his export document from the Antoniny Stud describes Tybet as imported, not bred in Poland. However, reported translations of material from the earliest Arabian stud book of Russian Poland do not support this version.
Another Babolna stallion with Gidran breeding, Jussuf (1885), also stood in Poland. At the Slawuta Stud, he sired the mares Otawa and Porta. These mares are in the pedigree of 40 Lenkoran II, a stallion bred at Sarajevo. 40 Lenkoran II is the grandsire of a mare imported to the U.S. in 1946 and later registered in the U.S. Arabian stud book, where she has descendants.
Sources and Selected Bibliography
Rosemary Archer, Colin Pearson, Cecil Covey: The Crabbet Arabian Stud, Its History & Influence (Alexander Heriot, 1978).
Hans Brabanetz: Das k.k. Staatsgestuet Radautz und Seine Pferde (ISG Verlag, 1987).
Monique Dossenbach, Hans Dossenbach, Hans Joachim Koehler: Great Stud-Farms of the World (William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1978).
Britta Fahlgren: The Arabian Horse Families of Poland (Alexander Heriot, 1991)
Walter Hecker: Babolna und seine Araber (ISG Verlag, 1994)
Wojciech Kwiatkowski: The Complete Pedigrees of Arabian Horses from Babolna (Kawalkada, 1994)
Joanna Maxwell: Spanish Arabian Horse Families 1898-1978 (Alexander Heriot, 1983)
Otto Mayr: Allgemeines oesterreichisches und ungarisches Gestuetbuch (1867).
Erika Schiele: The Arab Horse in Europe (Borden Publishing, 1970)
C.G. Wrangel: Ungarns Pferdezucht in Wort und Bild (Schickhardt & Ebner, 1893-95).
Wojciech Kwiatkowski for pedigree and other historical data
Veronica Lencinas for pedigree data
Tamas Rombauer and Andrea Toth of Babolna for checking the Babolna archives in response to specific questions
Carol M. Schulz for pedigree data
Gudrun Waiditschka for pedigree and other historical data
Marta Cossio, “The Arabian Horse in Argentina,” Arabian Horse World, December 1979, p. 451.
Jill Erisman, “South America,” Arabian Visions, March-April 1995, p. 45.
Laszlo Monostory, “The Hungarian Naming System,” Arabian Horse World, May 1966, p. 50.
Carol Schulz, “Spain,” Arabian Visions, March-April 1995, p. 45.
as mentioned, plus the German Shagya Stud Book and Arabian Horse DataSource