A Catalogue of GSB Arabians Registered in the United States
compiled and with an introduction and additional notes by Robert J. Cadranell
Review by Michael Bowling
One of the genuine scholars operating in the Arabian horse field has researched
all the GSB-eligible Arabians registered in AHR, from AHR #’s 4 through 519442.
This represents an unequalled source of information on one of the most prevalent
and influential sets of horses in any stud book. The modern GSB-eligible horses
in AHR are not very numerous (probably well under 500 living animals, few of
which are in replacement breeding programs) but their ancestors, as close in
many cases as their parents or grandparents, are widespread in modern pedigrees.
The GSB Catalogue includes imports and their descendants, WITH ALL THEIR ANCESTORS
back to the GSB founders (in other words, including the foreign pedigrees,
not just the AHR part of the pedigree, from the imports down), with the original
GSB registrations of the founders as they were imported to England. Breeders
and importers are given. Name changes are reflected.
Those who are not familiar with the GSB concept should understand that this
covers nearly all the foundation stock of the world-wide Crabbet tradition,
along with other influential early British Arabian programs. There are two
founders represented only in Australia, but nearly all the Crabbet and GSB
lines which exist, are well represented in AHR pedigrees, and therefore are
in this Catalogue. (This includes lines not represented in England unless through
horses sent back from this side.)
Lines are brought down to current registrations only in those horses which
still are GSB eligible, but the Catalogue includes ALL such which have EVER
been registered here (and I cannot over-emphasize how many of them still are
at the backs of influential pedigrees of combined-source breeding).
This Catalogue has much greater scope than the similarly-titled British publication;
that one is essential for knowing what is now breeding in UK in GSB-eligible
form, but not so helpful for Crabbet background research.
THINK of it! It’s all here:
All the straight Crabbets, and all their ancestors! (well, except for *Mirage
and Dafina–as of my study last summer there has not been a new *Mirage straight
Crabbet since 1980 anyway)
All the GSBs, and all their ancestors!
Therefore, all the Doyle horses and all their ancestors!
A substantial segment of the Jockey Club horses! (a starting point, if anyone
wanted to research that other very interesting old “double registered” group;
non-GSB Jockey Clubs include such prized horses of the recent past as Islam,
Lutaf and Aurab)
And think of this: all the Crabbet ancestry in modern Arabians comes originally
through GSB-registered horses. Therefore this new book enables one to trace
practically ALL the Crabbet ancestry! of almost ANY Arabian horse.
The production is not deluxe but it is substantial and quite usable. The information
is summarized in concise, handy format and there are several ways to look for
each horse (numerical order, alphabetical order and ancestors in alpha order).
You won’t have to wonder now “is this a straight Crabbet?”–you will
a) see how few of those there really are; and b) have the information to trace
the pedigrees yourself, to find the non-Crabbet ancestors behind those GSB
horses which qualify as Crabbet-old English.
Life is always complicated when you get into the closed groups; I have already
noted that a few straight Crabbets are not GSB-eligible. May as well make it
clear, too, that not all GSB horses are straight Crabbet. Not all Crabbet-old
English horses are GSB eligible–but the pedigree overlap is considerable,
you’d still find a lot of the background here to extend a pedigree on such
animals. None of this is meant to imply a hierarchical or “better than” or “nobler” ranking.
These divisions are simply ways of organizing a tremendous lot of information,
into defined bites that can be analyzed a little more efficiently.
You will find many, though I have not checked and so cannot guarantee all,
of the ancestors of the Crabbet and GSB horses that are behind Polish, Egyptian,
Tersk (Russian) and Spanish pedigrees; not the individual horses sold to those
countries, unless they left GSB offspring in England which came to be represented
here; but many if not all of their parents. At very least, in such a situation,
it will narrow down what you still have to look for.
I realize I keep qualifying this with things like “many if not all” but
that is an attempt to maintain a careful outlook, and not claim more than I’m
Really, you could spend half a lifetime going through books and old adverts
and never find all the information that’s in the GSB Catalogue, and at least
half of what you found that way would be misspelled or flat incorrect anyway.
(Believe me, I tried; the other alternative is to spend a small fortune on
There is a lot more to A Catalogue of GSB Arabians than the title might suggest
to anyone not personally familiar with Crabbet and GSB pedigrees. This is a
book you have been waiting for, even if you haven’t realized it.
The author, in Australia at 73 years old on his beloved stallion Rafyk (1890) by Azrek x Rose of Sharon.
Ed. note: While this book is very old and hard to find, it is much enjoyed by those who have the opportunity to own it. It primarily focuses on the value of Arabian blood within the equine species. It was published in 1905 (before the founding of the Royal Agricultural Society and before the Davenport importation) and sounds a call of alarm to the Western and European world regarding the importance of preserving the qualities of the Arab horse – the war-horse qualities, the athletic ability, the intelligence, the disposition, and the hardiness, and so forth. I have always enjoyed this book and thought it best to share this chapter with you as it gives numerous accounts from many varied sources regarding what was most valued about these war horses of the desert. Mr. Boucaut was prime minister of South Austrialia and owned and imported some of the first Arabians to come to Australia (1891) among which was the 100% Blunt stallion Rafyk (1890) by Azrek x Rose of Sharon. He was a great admirer of the Arab and shares some useful information here with us. The scope of this chapter is rather broad in that is also includes mention of other middle eastern Arab derivatives such as Barb and Turkoman, but most often he distinguishes. The important point of his chapter is to illustrate what a magnificent horse was created by the Arab culture and to remind us in Al Khamsa what oriental qualities we are obliged to preserve.
SUNDRY ENCOMIUMS ON THE ARAB TAKEN AT RANDOM, AND INSTANCES OF THE LOVE OF THE ARAB BY GREAT SOLDIERS
BISHOP HEBER, in his “Narrative of a Journey through the Upper Provinces of India,” says:
‘My horse is a nice quiet, good-tempered little Arab, who is so fearless that he goes without starting close up to an elephant, and so gentle and so docile that he eats bread out of my hand, and has almost as much attachment and as coaxing ways as a dog.’ My guests frequently notice the strange coaxing ways of my stallions, and my unbroken mares love to be petted, coming up around you for that purpose in the paddock. although unbroken, and only handled when being weaned, they eat thistles out of the hands of the children of one of my men.’
Captain Shakespeare, in his “Wild Sport in India,” says that the Arab is the very best horse under the saddle that can be had in India for all general purposes.
Mr. H. Chichester Hart, in ‘Scripture Natural History,’ writes of the Syrian horses of to-day, that, no matter what the nature of the country, nothing comes amiss to them, and there is probably in the world no more sure-footed beast of burden to be found; that they are docile and spirited and willing to the last extremity. Certainly these are Eastern horses, truly Arabs, though not the very best of Arabs, not being of the pure desert breed. They are often spoken of as Syrian Arabs.
Mr. Sydney Galvayne, in his article ‘War-Horses, Present and Future,’ says of Arab ponies that there was not a very large number of these valuable ponies sent from India to Africa, but what were sent made a great name for themselves and fully maintained their reputation for endurance and strength.
The Rev. E.J.Davis, in his ‘Life in Asiatic Turkey,’ writes that even hard work and starvation cannot tame his spirited little horse, which, in spite of being in bad condition owning to hard work and insufficient food, has never once stumbled, never been sick, and has borne the longest and most difficult marches with the utmost fire and spirit.
Mr. A.G. Hulme-Bearman, in his ‘Twenty Years in the Near East,’ refers again and again to the excellence of the Syrian pony upon which he crossed Lebanon, 8,000 feet, through snow up to the girths, then Anti-Lebanon, 6,000 feet, and after a few days’ rest the pony took him back just as readily. A writer on the retreat from Moscow speaks of the Cossack pony (Eastern) as living on what it could get by scraping the snow with its feet, in pursuit ‘indomitable, not to be fatigued, relentless.’
Mr. Adye writes that it was, of course, the Arab descent of the little animal so much in vogue in India which accounts for its excellence; and truly wonderful were the capabilities of the little hunters (some of them only 13.2) on which the redoubtable sportsman Major Shakespeare speared hog, bear, and even leopards, over broken and rocky ground intersected by nullahs and other obstacles, which render pigsticking in certain parts of India the most difficult and exciting of all forms of hunting from the horseman’s point of view. This corroborates what General Tweedie says, as above mentioned, in referring to which I have mentioned other instances of this wonderful capacity of turning and twisting, which alone could render such sport safe and possible. Mr. Ker, in his book ‘On the road to Khiva,’ says that the Khirgiz, with Eastern horses, sit motionless on their saddles, aligned ‘as if on parade.’ Suddenly the foremost darts off at full gallop, and then, wheeling in mid-career, comes like a thunderbolt, all in one mad whirl of flight and pursuit.
‘Bruni,’ in the Astralasian (September 6, 1902), testifies that the (Indian records abound in proofs of the marvellous services rendered by the small horse, and notably by the Arab, and that on every hand the evidence was strongly in favour of the Arab and Arab cross for army purposes, and that of the value of the Arab cross we have had ample proof in Australia, because for endurance they had no equal.
Dean C. Worcester, of Michigan, U.S.A., writes of the Philippine ponies as having originated from the Andalusian horse or Barb, and, being well formed, sure-footed, and remarkable tough, making excellent saddle-horses.
Mr. George Flemming writes of the wonderful endurance of the Tartar pony; he gives one instance of the Russian courier, who used to ride from Pekin to Kiakta — 500 miles — in twelve days, rest two days, and return in fifteen, and quotes a book by the Emperor Kienloong, published in Paris in 1770, translated by a Jesuit Father, alluding to those for racing as having a swiftness beyond comprarison. These Tartar horses have been crossed again and again with Arabs.
Mr. Adye says that General Walker, Military Attache to Berlin some years ago, when probably English cavalry were better mounted than now, was much exercised to account for the superior endurance of the Prussian troop-horses over the English. He was given as the chief reason the nearer affinity to pure Arab blood. He says that, when favouring the Arab, he was asked, Why go to the Arab when the English thoroughbred was a perfected Arab? To which he replied that the Arab was much hardier, that the thoroughbred was a more useful animal a hundred years ago than he is now, and he expressed his regret that the Arab was not properly appreciated in England; and then he prophetically added:
‘Some day, perhaps in some future campaign, in which he happens to be brought into direct comparison with our present trooper, and is found to be going on for months after the latter is hopelessly done up or dead, we may have our eyes opened to his extraordinary merits.’
This was written before the Boer War. Alas that he should have been so accurate! To say that the English thoroughbred is a perfected Arab is nonsense, the jargon of the bookmakers; he is an Arab deteriorated — deteriorated by his being bred for sprinting, and spoiled by base blood.
In the Leisure Hour (May, 1902), W.J.Gordon, in ‘The Horse-Supply of the World‘ writes that in the Napoleonic wars the Russian horse (an Eastern horse), lived while the French horse died; that the only others that stood it were the little Arabs from the islands of the Levant. And he says that in the Austrian army much of the quality of their horses was due to careful breeding, especially in those from Hungary, which had a strong infusion of the Arab. And he shows the excellence of the Arab as a sire by the fact that the small Burmese tat, sturdy and sound, is, since the introduction of Arab stallions, developing into that useful but larger breed, the Indo-Burmese. And he adds that the riding-horses of Persia and Syria (allied races to the Arab, if not pure Arab, for the Arabs conquered all those countries) are better in quality than even the rough customers like Burnaby’s wonderful Arab, which he bought for 5 Lbs.
Chamber’s Journal (September, 1901, p. 609) says that the Connemara ponies are geatly indebted to the infusion of Arab blood, as also are the Orloff trotters and the Achil pony.
Mr. Wilfred Blunt stated to his purchasers at his sale at Crabbet Park, in July, 1901, that the British Government had at last entered its name on the list of his customers, that the Scotch Breeding Commission had taken three of his best stallions to improve the ponies of the western Highlands, and that the Government of India had decided on reorganizing its military studs, and true Arab stallions were to be used.
The Register (August 14, 1901) states that at this sale the Dutch Jockey Club of Java bought some Arab stallions.
Mr. C.B.Fisher states that he believes that the Arab and Timor are the only two pure breeds there are. Where comes in the purity of the boasted thoroughbred if this belief of one of the most experienced and respected breeders of horses in Australia is well founded?
The Australasian (July 6, 1901) states that the breed of ponies which originally existed in Basutoland are supposed by the settlers to have been brought thither by Arabs from the northern regions of Africa, which is corroborated by a writer in the South Australian Register of June 10, 1901 on the Boer ponies, who says that, ‘as most of them are descendants of Arab stock, they are unrivalled for hard usage‘; and ‘Bruni’ writes (September 6, 1903) that ‘Boer ponies are said to be half-bred Arabs.’
These newspapers might have been more positive as to the Arab blood in these celebrated ponies, for Professor Wallace of Edinburgh, in his book on ‘The Farming Industries of South Africa,’ published 1896, after his official visit on the invitation of the Cape Government to report upon and advises as to those industries, show that these wonderful South African horses are for the most part of Arab blood. He states that the first horses at the Cape were imported, soon after 1650, by the Dutch East India Company, and consisted of Arabs and Gulf Arabs. Note that he distinguishes between Arabs of the pure breed, like Mr. Wilfrid Blunt’s, and the inferior breeds of the Gulf, such as are occasionally palmed off on India. Then he continues that, when inbreeding led to deterioration, the same company introduced Persian Arabs about 1688, that these became crossed with other stock, including Spanish horses (which, as I have shown, have a good sprinkling of Barb blood), and that recently the breed has been improved by crossing with Arab stallions.
On October 11, 1902, ‘Bruni’ writes:
‘Since I wrote on the Arab as a sire, I have received several letters from horsemen in widely different parts of Australia, bearing testimony to the value of the Arab as a sire calculated to improve the value of the Arab as a sire calculated to improve the stamina of our horse stock. The most interesting of these letters is one received from Mr. R.R.Hogarth, a resident of the north-west coast of Tasmania. He gives the following instance of the poweres of endurance of the high-class Arab:
“In December, 1900, my brother, weighing about 10 stone 7 pounds, rode a pony standing 12.2 hands from this place to Evandale Junction in one day. The distance is ninety-two miles. He left here at 4 a.m., and arrived at Evandale Junction at 8 p.m. He stayed an hour at Latrobe for breakfast, and another hour at Dunorlan for dinner, leaving the main-road a maile to call on Mr. W. Wyatt.”
To show that the pony was not injured by his long journey Mr. Hogarth rode him into Launceston and back — a distance of twenty-two miles — the next day. The road Mr. Hogarth describes as macadamized, and exceptionally hilly in parts. The pony was taken out of a grass paddock the day before he did the journey, having been running there for some time. The pony was by Dagobeirt, imported from New South Wales from a three-quarter-Arab mare by Maharajah, an Arab horse well known in the Evan dale district. The feat performed by this pony far exceeds the European military race of seventy miles, in which no less than thirteen of the competitors were killed. Of the pony himself Mr. Hogarth says:
“His walk and canter were perfect, while as to his trot — well, it was indescribable.”
An article in the South Australian Register, September 9, 1898, after quoting various favorable opinions, observes that in Febuary, 1862, at Calcutta, the Arab Hermit, though defeated, gave Voltigeur’s daughter such a stretching that the following day the mare had to be kept home, and the Arab proved the winner. Their hardiness was such that many an Arab has continued year after year to add to his laurels in spite of a thickened suspensory ligament.
Mr. De Vere Hunt cites with approval an authority which asserts that none but a people long possessed of numerous and well-trained chargers could have planted the victorious banners of Islam on the Pyrenees as well as on the banks of the Ganges. He might have added — ‘and carried them to China.’ He then sets out a letter from Lord Gifford, who was for twenty years a master of foxhounds, wherein the writer says that his little Arab was worth fifty of the gray, he rode him cub-hunting with Mr. Greaves, and he was active as a cat, and could put a leg anywhere. The horse was apparently not? an Arab.
In the South Australian Advertiser. it was lately stated that the Arabian horse has been used in developing the military horses of all the European countries, and that the thoroughbred had deteriorated to a mere shadow, while the Arab had remained the same and was increasing in popularity in Grat Britain.
‘Cecil,’ whom I have mentioned above, while supporting Mr. Day in supposing that the Arab could not improve the racehorse — as a racehorse — admits that: ‘For riding-horses, however, it is another affair.’ For the army and the general public that is the whole question.
Major Arthur Griffiths, in an article in the Fortnightly, September, 1898, writes that another great merit in the Egyptian cavalry is their horse-flesh, sturdy little Syrian Arabs which have done an immense amount of hard work, and, although small for their loads, are so strong and full of spirit that they have never been sick or sorry all the year.
At the Battle of Omdurman the Egyptian cavalry, mostly Arabs and Arab crosses, were out all day on September 1 from daybreak on August 31, and not in till 3 p.m., and on September 2 they were heavily engaged wih the Dervishes for several hours. They then advanced on Omdurman, and were sent in pursuit of the Khalifa; and the writer adds that it is really wonderful wht the Arab pony will do.
The passage from Mr. G.W. Steevens’ book above quoted as to the cavalry march to Omdurman shows the weight-carrying power of the Arab horse; for the ‘little Syrian’ is three-parts Arab — often, indeed, called Arab. This little horse with a light rider carried 18 stone on his back; with a heavy rider he carried 20 stone. I also cited the passage because it shows to demonstrat the utter inferiority of the English horse, ‘which had to be left behind at Cairo.’ Mr. Stevens was only describing what he saw. He does not appear to have had any idea of lauding the Arab. It does not appear that he knew how nearly Arab the little Syrian is, nor does it appear that he had any idea of disparaging the English horse. He was describing a picturesque scene, and the reference to the English horse seems to have been quite an aside. ‘Their own big, hungry chargers had to be left behind at Cairo!’
Dinah Sharp, in the New York Times, November 14, 1891, shows that the Arab has not deteriorated. She relates that Omar (who afterwards belonged to the late Empress of Austria, the finest horsewoman in Europe), travelled three days and nights over the hot and barren plains of the Arabian desert, with but 2 quarts of barley for food, and an occasional tuft of Sahara clover.
Miss Ella Sykes, in her recent work ‘Through Persia on a Side-saddle,’ writes that the horses they usually had were wiry little Arabs, about 14 hands high, plucky, enduring, and very easy to manage by their riders.
The Vienna correspondent of the Mail, recently wrote that the Hungarian horse had special qualities of endurance, which he attributed to his dash of the Arab blood, and that it was a great matter to have a certain strain of Arab blood in the troop-horse; for the Arab horse and the horse with the Arab blood will feed on indifferent forage which the English horse will not look at, and would retain condition when the latter was reduced to a bag of bones. The Hungarian horse had extremely hard bone, like the Arab, and consequently was seldom troubled with spavin, which was but too common among our own horses, whose bones are softer.
The Windsor Magazine, January, 1903, has it that the horses which are common to Hungary and Roumania are famous for their extraordinary strength, pluck, and sure-footedness. They both have a strong Arab dash.
In the ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica‘ art. ‘Arabia,’ it is said that trained European racers would easily distance a thoroughbred Arab on any ordinary course, but for perfection of form, symmetry of limbs, cleanness of muscle, beauty of appearance, for endurance of fatigue, for docility, and for speed maintained for distances so long as to appear incredible, the Nedjie horse acknowledges no equal.
Mr. Harold Leeney, M.R.C.V.S., in the Live Stock Journal Almanack for 1898, writing a scientific article on the castration of horses, showing its desirablity, says that if exception — i.e., noncastration — could be made to any particular breed, he would say that the Arab was the one with fewest objections as an entire. No other reference is made to the Arab in the article, and this incidental reference of course testifies in an unusual manner to his docility. It is said that if they have never been at the stud they are perfectly quiet; and I believe that they are not usually gelded in Egypt. I often show off the docility of the breed to my guests by mounting — I ought to say, at seventy-three, by climbing on to — my old sire, now twelve years old, in the paddock, without either saddle or bridle, and I have done this though close to him on the other side of the fence was another stallion. I have riden him in great crowds and tents and shows and sports at Glenelg on Commemoration Day, and when he has got excited I have only had to speak to him to calm him down. This after several years at the stud.
Mr. W.G.Palgrave says that it is well known that in Arabia horses are much less frequently vicious or refractory than in Europe. Why, that is in the breed! Then he adds that this was the reason why geldings there were so rare. Miss Sara Linard, in her recent book on the horse, 1902, quotes a horse – parade described in the Daily Graphic of October, 1896, where four young ladies rode four Arab stallions, which, she says, before going to the stud are entirely safe, and which she also says is the case with Arabs only, ‘who know how to behave themselves as gentlemen.’ Many young ladies, visitors at my farm, from six or seven up, love to give my stallions sugar. But they are pure-bred. They are ‘gentlemen.‘
I have read that the docility and the cleverness of the breed are such that, in Arabia, they lead the animal to bite and keep in the path those which stray. Now, it so happened that, when the grass began to spring, the horses, working bullocks, and cows, at Kingsford, where I used to be stockkeeping in the forties, used to wander — there were no paddocks — and it was my duty to go out in the morning and bring them home, sometimes a distance of three or four or more miles. There was always a tendency in cattle and horses under these circumstances to edge off from a man on foot, and so surely as any of the other horses, or any of the cows or bullocks, did this, my old stock-horse, half Arab, as I have said, was as prompt as a cattle-dog to rush out and bring them back by a nip. I often used to wonder how he acquired the habit. This was, of course, when he ‘wasn’t on‘ himself for a gallop. Occasionally some of those uncanny creatures which entered the Gadarene swine possessed him, and at such times he was the ringleader. that was when the ‘old Adam‘ came out; but he would not ordinarily allow any of the others to lead or to depart from the right path.
In Dr. Liddon’s ‘Tour in Egypt and Palestine in 1886,’ a description is given of a Bedouin Sheikh, a worthy descendant of Sir Walter Scott’s Saladin. When he struck his spear into the ground, his horse stood and watched him like a dog. When he returned after his rounds, his horse lay down and gave a low whinny, then the Sheikh lay down by his side, making a pillow of the horse, and they both slept, apparently, for half an hour. The Sheikh again went his rounds, and the horse, finding his master had no further intentions of going to bed, got up and stood by the spear all night. My groom often lies down between the legs of my stallions, which then walk round him inquiringly and caressingly, apparently pleased at his confidence.
Mr. R. Fitzroy Cote, a considerable author, in his ‘Peruvians at Home,’ says that at the Lima bullfights all the horses permitted to enter the arena must be of pure Arab blood, and owing to their sagacity and the agility of their riders they seldom fail to escape the bull’s horns. Mr. Cote was not writing up the Arab horse, and only mentions him incidentlally; but doubtless the Peruvians had discovered his wonderful powers of twisting and turning, which have been illustrated in his boar-hunting in India.
The great traveller J.S.Buckingham, who at one time commanded a ship which made a long stay at each of the great marts of trade in the Persian Gulf, in giving an account of the trade there to India, and explaining the easy mode in which horses might thence be shipped, says that it was the usual thing for Arab horses to sleep standing, and to do so for years in succession, without ever lying down except when sick.
‘Bruni’ points out, on the authority of Mr. W.G. Hughes of Texas, that the foundation stock of the celebrated Mexican mustangs was the Moorish horses (Barbs) turned loose by Cortes. Desiring to breed from these mustangs, Mr. Hughes travelled over a large part of the United States, and finally found the horse he wanted in Nimrod, by a pure Arab sire, Nimr.
As showing the growing favour of the Arab, the racing gentlemen notwithstanding, the Ladies’ Field, October 28, 1902, has an advertisement that ‘a perfectly-shaped child’s pony 11.3 hands, rising five, like a miniature Arab, jumps high,’ was for sale. A racing man would probably laugh at this, but even supposing the man or woman who inserted this advertisement had been impressed by some drawing-room or fashionable novel, none the less does it show that the present general trend of opinion towards the Arab which ‘Bruni’ testifies to. It shows a belief that Arab blood is a recommendation, that there is a growing recognition of the excellence of the breed, a belief that it is the best that can be obtained in horse-flesh, and breeders who want to sell will be wise if they note it. If it be only a straw, it is the sort of straw which shows the way the wind is blowing. It demonstrates, in fact, that belief in the Arab is ‘sinking in.’ Can anyone wonder at it when he reads the facts collected in this little book?
‘Faneargh,’ in the Sidney Mail, writes that the old stockhorse of the overlanders of the early forties and fifties were largely bred from Arabs, that these old horses were of wonderful stamina, and their staying powers were marvellous.
The Register, September 7, 1901, reminds the public that the Arab horse stands cold as well as heat, and will eat anything that is given to him; that on half-rations or less his brave heart carries him through almost all imaginable difficulties; that it is difficult to overweight him, and he has always been more appreciated by foreigners than by Englishman — of course because of sprinting.
Professor Watson writes that the African horses were smaller and shorter in the body than those bred in Australia, and, as most of them were descendants of the Arab stock, they are unrivalled for hard usage.
At Waterloo the Emperor Napoleon was mounted on Marengo, a beautiful little Arab, only 14.2 hands, and when wounded Napoleon mounted his white Arab mare Marie; and in another sketch of Napoleon it is stated that Marengo was brought by Napoleon from Egypt in 199 (sic), and riden by him at Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, Wagram, in the Russian Campaign, and at Waterloo, and that his skeleton was still in the Royal United Service Institution.
The German Emperor at the army manoeuvres in 1902 led the cavalry ‘mounted on his Arab charger.‘ He may be a poet, but he is no dreamy simpleton. He is probably the hardest-headed man in Europe.
Lord Roberts at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was mounted on ‘his celebrated Arab.’ Lord Roberts is not a drawing-room General, but, as stated by Lieutenant-Colonel Maude in Macmillan, May 1, 1902, ‘a perfect horseman– one of the best in India — a man of the widest experience as to what hores can do in the field.’ Colonel Maude states that General Roberts rode his Arab all through the Candahar forced march — ‘a type of the highest class of Arab.’ By special permission of Queen Victoria, this horse, Voronel, wears an Afghan medal with four clasps, and the Cabul-Candahar star.
Abdur Rahman, late Amir of Afghanistan, writes in his autobiography (one of the most remarkable books of the day, 1900):
‘At the end of our march both men and hroses were well-nigh exhausted. I myself cooked some meat and distributed it among the men, who were almost fainting; the horses meantime lay down, unable to rise again. Only one horse, my own Arab, remained standing.’
Abdur Rahman was fighting for his life, and, like the Bedouin, had to rely on his horse for his preservation. The odds on the Cup and the Stud book were nothing to him. A racing sprinter would have been destruction to him. He wanted fact, not fancy; solid work, not delicate prettiness; and it can be hardly suggested that the German Emperor did not know a good horse. Why did they ride Arabs when the pick of the whole world was at their service?
Originally published in the September 1991 Arabian Visions
Homer Davenport and Lady Anne Blunt were two major pioneering figures in early Arabian breeding in the Western world, both having taken the time and made the effort to secure horses directly from the Arabian desert. Lady Anne’s contributions to Arabian breeding were of major importance in both England (Crabbet Arabian Stud) and in Egypt (Sheykh Obeyd Garden), while Homer Davenport’s 1906 importation of 27 horses and mares from the desert of Arabia has left a giant imprint on subsequent Arabian breeding in North America.
Unfortunately, the early relationship between these two pioneering giants was uneasy, primarily because of the interference of Colonel Spencer Borden. Borden, an early American breeder of some renown, had based his breeding efforts largely on horses secured from the Blunts. Unknown to Lady Anne, Borden and Davenport’s relationship as two of the then preeminent breeders of Arabian horses in North America was somewhat bitter and antagonistic. She was not well-armed with caution when Borden communicated with Lady Anne by mail regarding the Davenport importation. Borden misrepresented the Davenport horses and the importation journey to Lady Anne, and had subsequently published out of context and in a distorted manner Lady Anne’s private comments and questions about Borden’s version of the Davenport importation. This put an early chill on subsequent Blunt and Davenport relationship. However, the early chill did thaw, as attested by three previously unpublished letters: two from Blunt to Davenport; and one from Davenport to Blunt. All three letters are published here in total for the first time.
(Editor’s note: the letters uncovered by our sleuths were not handwritten originals but rather typewritten transcripts made by U.S. Government personnel. Where their readings of the originals seem improbable, alternate readings are suggested in square brackets.)
Blunt to Davenport
Sheykh Obeyd Garden
December 28, 1906
Crabbet Arabian Stud
Three Bridges Sussex
“I must begin by thanking you for your interesting letter, which unavoidable business has prevented my answering sooner, and for the newspaper extracts, forwarded to me by W. Arthur Corfe Caffin, present Manager of the Crabbet Arabian Stud at Crabbet Park.
“In replying I will deal first with the assumption in one of the newspapers of a desire on the part of “the Blunts” to have a monopoly of importing the Arabian horse. This is sufficiently disproved by their book of travels, in which, as you remark, advice is given as to how to procure him. Further, as “the Blunts” have not ceased ever since to preach the cause of the Arabian horse, — alas how often to deaf ears in a land where such doctrine has been held to be unpatriotic, — surely it is abundantly evident that by them any bona fide efforts to follow in their track must be keenly appreciated. More than one such effort has been caused by their book, but on the part of Russian and other readers of it; none hitherto that I know of had been made by persons to be counted kith and kin from across the Atlantic. And that was after nearly thirty years such an expedition as yours has been carried out is particularly gratifying. You have my best wishes for the success of your importations.
“This may be the moment to remark how much I should deplore the continuance of that sort of antagonistic rivalry amongst advocates of the Arabian horse which has been started in the American press. It can but injure the true interests of the breed and its breeders with the general public. Emulation by all means, but not hostility.
“Therefore with regard to the un-authorized publication of passages from letters of mine it is peculiarly repellent to me that words of mine should have been quoted (some correctly and some incorrectly.) though doubtless unintentionally, in order to contribute to a controversy between persons desirous to breed Arabian horses. On hearing of this I wrote at once to remonstrate with my correspondent, and I am expecting the expression of his regret, which I am certain will be all the greater when he has received a letter I am now sending him setting forth that I have heard direct from you, and the views I am now expressing to you on the subject. As his name had not been given I leave it to him to come forward as he may think fit, and I have no doubt that on learning the facts about your expedition, he will be with me in congratulating you on it.
“As to my remarks in themselves, they were perfectly justified in respect of the absurd report about the new importations on which they were founded, the only one which had reached me, — no one could have read that report without amusement, and in the case of one having knowledge of Arabians, annoyance. The tone of it not only put the whole thing in a ridiculous light, but foreshadowed disappointment in the form of importations that could do no good to the reputation of the breed. But while freely criticising in private, I should have depreciated the publication of adverse views of mine on anyone else’s well meant efforts, however disappointing these might be, for in my position — regarding myself as one of the pioneers of Arab breeding in the West — I should count that as an ungenerous act.
“Speaking generally, I may remark that your own observations fully bear out all that I have ever said about the difficulty of getting at pure bred Arabian horses even on the borders of their native land, and about the risk of the desert. Most certainly such terms as “dangerous”, and even “inaccessible” to travelers, are applicable at the present moment to the Peninsula of Arabia — Bedouin dealers cannot penetrate it but have to go round by Bagdad and the Euphrates, — and from your account the former work [sic: probably “former word” was written, referring to “dangerous”] appears to be not inapplicable to its northern borders and to the neighborhood of Aleppo (emphatically the “coast Town”, but of the desert, not the sea), for it is clear that your having been able to visit those borders and to see there certain Anazeh tribes was through a fortunate combination of circumstances of which you had the energy and pluck to avail yourself, first the nearness of the tribes owing to the summer season, and secondly the efficient protection of a prominent tribesman duly authorized by the Turkish Government to act as an intermediary between it and those tribes which enabled you to go in safely, unhandicapped by an escort.
“Here I must observe, as to the claim of any single individual to be “Sheykh of Sheykhs” over all the Anazeh tribes, that the thing is in itself an impossibility. Imagine that vast wars of scattered tribes, several of them at chronic war with one another, some periodically in arms against the “Dowla”, others absolutely independent, never going near Ottoman territory; imagine these all accepting one chief? Moreover the mention of a camel tax restricts the reference to those Anazeh tribes within reach of Turkish authorities; such a tax is unheard of among the independent tribes. The “Dowla” may bestow what titles it likes on anyone it chooses, but it cannot confer on that person any authority outside its own districts. What it can and does do is from time to time to appoint as its agent a member of one of those tribes whose interests bring them within its grip, giving him the rank of “Bek”, — this as I have stated is no recommendation with any Bedouin (I am misquoted as saying “women”) but it establishes his official status as negotiator for the summer treaty. The present holder of such an official position in the Aleppo district is your friend Hashim Bek, his name correctly written is El Hakim Ibn Mehed (“Hashim” is a mispronounciation), he is a very well known personage, — only last night an Arab lately arrived from Aleppo was talking about him. I take it that by an interpreter’s exaggeration he has been made to claim the lordship over all the Anazeh tribes, instead of over a section of them, a quite sufficiently important position. In the Bagdad district a similar rank is held by Fahad Ibn Haddal, Sheykh of the Ibn Haddal Anazeh — these by the way are at hereditary warfare against the Sebaa group whom you visited. Fahad comes of very distinguished lineage and commands universal respect, but his authority extends only to those Anazeh and other tribes who come within the Bagdad district. Those tribes who need to be within Government boundaries have long been in the habit of making a treaty each year for that season with the Waly, at Aleppo, Damascus, or Bagdad as the case may be, thus securing for themselves free passage to and fro for the time being.
“Not to lengthen my letter unduly, I subjoin notes on the various minor points calling for remark.
“I write to my as yet unnamed correspondent to the same effect as to you. I should like to say to each what I say to the other, but in each case I beg that my letters may be treated as private communications, not that I mind their contents being repeated to friends, — and if need were I would stand in public by all I say in private, but I dislike publicity, expecially controversial, where needless, and here I could see no need whatever for my name to be brought forward in print.
“In conclusion, if the result of the unauthorized publication which has caused me so much annoyance should be not only a friendly correspondence with you, but through that correspondence the promotion of friendly instead of antagonistic rivalry amongst those on both sides of the Atlantic, who desire to preserve the Arabian breed in its purity, I shall cease to regret it. With renewed good wishes, I am
“Yours faithfully, A.W.Blunt[sic]
[Lady Anne often signed herself A.I.N.Blunt. When placed closely together, the “I.N.” could be mistaken for a “W” which apparently happened in this case.]
1. In the report that first reached me about the new importations, an average height was indicated of 15 hands, which would have been suspicious of a cross, as though tallness occurs now and then in the desert where the breed is kept pure, it is as an exception, as at this stud. When we came across it amongst Bedouins otherwise than as exceptional it was evidently the result of crossing; this was expecially the case in one of the Anazeh tribes where at first I was quite taken in by the beauty of the mares as well as their size; the cross does not necessarily show at once except in the increased height.
2. The word “chubby” puzzled me till I discovered that it was an attempt to render the Arabic verb “shabba”, signifying “is” or “would be used at the stud”, which of course does not imply a separate breed but only that in the individual referred to there is no admixture. It is a word often heard among the tribes that frequent the northern borders of the Arabian desert, who own so many horses of doubtful blood. The small percentage you quote of less than 600 of acknowledged pure blood to a presumed total of 6000, more than confirms anything said by me as to the need of caution in making purchases.
3. The Kehilan Heyfi strain is indeed an excellent one, but not superior to others you have.
4. Mr. (not “Sir Wilfred”) Blunt was aware of the death of Faris the Shammar Sheykh, as also of the death of another desert brother of his belonging to one of the Sebaa tribes.
5. As to Angora goats, what passed between Mr. Blunt and Mr. and Mrs. Sewell I do not exactly know, but I do know that amongst our acquaintance the circumstances that an exchange of goats for horses has been suggested, — I think by your representative — became a source of great amusement, for here no monetary value could make any sort of goat appear to be an appropriate equivalent for Arabian or other horses.
6. I do not know whence came the legend that “the Blunts cut communication with Mr. Davenport.” Any cutting of communication originated with you, who, after sending letters and cablegrams became suddenly silent, we now know why.
7. There has always existed a prohibition to export horses from Turkish territory, but of late I believe it has been made more stringent, and the permission given to you must have been due to great judgment and skill on the part of the American Ambassador. I doubt if at the present time any other diplomat would have had a like success.
“I have not yet seen the book you mention by Colonel Borden. He is a first rate judge of a horse, so it will be a great pity if, as you forecast, his work should turn out [not?] to be a good advertisement for all of us.
Davenport to Blunt
Morris Plains, N.J.,U.S.A.
20th February, 1907
Lady Anne Blunt,
Crabbet Arabian Stud
Three Bridges Sussex, Eng.
Your Ladyship: –
“Your very esteemed letter from Cairo came and threw an entirely new light again upon matters, only going to show that a misunderstanding on both sides had made us seem ridiculous in each other’s eyes.
“When Colonel quoted you against me, I could not believe that it was true, of course your letter explains matters, as you must have thought, from his explanation of my importation, that I was a very green fellow to have gone to the Desert and reported bringing out a new breed of Arab horses called “Chubby.” It was explained to me thoroughly by the Anezeh, that it simply meant, as you say: This, or that, which the Anezeh would breed from.
“Before going further I wish to apologize for buying one of your Seglawieh Jedranieh fillies through an agent, as I wanted some of your Seglawis Jedran blood very badly, to see how it compared, and taking it, that if the quotations Colonel Borden had made. “That you had cut me socially,” were true, I was afraid that possible you would not wish to sell me a horse. I have just seen the filly, [*Markisa] she arrived today on the steamer, a filly with bald face and four white feet [illegible] and a very beautiful little filly considering the cheap price.
“I was very, very sorry, that I was compelled to enter into this detestable warfare that has been raging between the Arab horse breeders of America, and when Mr. Sewell came to my house and wanted to arrange a fake exhibition, I told him that it would eventually kill the Arab horse if it was not stopped. Three years ago, when he had published an Article in all the daily papers at great length, that he had the only pure Arab blood in the Civilized World. I, at that time, told his people that was detrimental to the Arab horse. He, in that article, said that the Blunts were breeding a few, but they were ponies, none of the big horses; he also published that the Blunts sent mares annually to the Russian Gov’t. to breed to his stallions — this, of course, I knew was untrue, and again appealed to them.
“My interest in the Arab horse — as you will see by my book, which I will send you immediately it is published — dates from as early a time as any enthusiast; and your conclusion that my success was due to a combination of circumstances, is exactly right. Had I not asked a question in Aleppo of a Bedouin with big white chalky teeth, remembering what you had written about such a man, saying it was the first Anazeh man you ever saw, had I not remembered that, and asked the question, I would have been ignorant of meeting the Anazeh; but the next day would have started on to Deyr, and likely have made a failure, which did turn out a success.
“I would have been very happy to have had you see my Maneghi Sbeyel stallion, a brown horse from the Gomussa; also a bay two year old colt bred by the Gomussa of the Sebaa Anazeh. Like yourself, I found the tall Arab horses only as exceptions. I am strongly in accord with the belief of the Bedouins, that the 14 hands two or three inch horses are the best types. In my 27 horses and mares, I think I brought five that stand 15 hands high, or nearly so. Found the Hamdani Simris the scarcest in the Desert, and I could not have got a single mare, had it not been that Akmut Haffez owned one, a four year old, which he had recently got from the Shammar.
“I am enclosing you a copy of a letter I have just received from Ammen Zaytoun, a Broosh [Druse?], a very charming young man from the American Consulate at Beyrout, sent with us by order of the President.
“I do not think that you have exactly understood me yet, about Hasim Bek. I don’t mean that he was the one Ruling Sheykh of all the Desert tribes, being that he is the present Sheykh of the Anazeh, possibly of the biggest branch of the Fedaan, as we met many other Sheykhs of the smaller tribes; but I believe that the Government of Aleppo, in an interview, the details of which I am publishing in my book, giving me this Sheykh’s history, is correct. He is paid Twenty pounds a month by the Sultan to accept the title of Bey; and as the Governor, also Akmut Haffez, and Ameen, the interpreter, and everybody else, explained it to me, that being the Sheykh of supreme power in war, he was called by the other tribes, Sheykh of Sheykhs, as in matters of great importance all other Sheykhs — not hostile — obey his commands. He told me that he had been reigning as Sheykh of the Anazeh since he was twelve years old, and he is possibly now, 30 or 35.
“Of recent years the Turkish Government have persuaded the Anazeh — through Akmut Haffez — in Aleppo, to pay a Camel Tax, but such tax is taken on the Anazeh’s own count, and is collected annually through Akmut Haffez. The Governor of Aleppo told me, which I am also publishing, in my interview with him, that this tax amounts to about 10,000 annually (2,500 pounds from the Anazeh, 10,000 pounds from all tribes). I don’t believe that I was misled, or has [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 honour, and you can judge better of how I must have suffered in the Valley of the Euphrates from the heat in August, than most anyone I can think of.
“If my sales of horses are what they now seem to promise, this coming Spring I may be able to handle a number of your fillies and young stallions, as from the few Arab horses I have sold I have received much higher prices than you ask.
“I wish, before closing, to ask your permission to use your letter in my book, with the dignity it commands, as it is so friendly and eliminates any suspicion of further entanglement, and although you rightly objected in your letter to its being used in any further controversy, still using it in my book is altogether a different matter. I am publishing several photo’s of your horses and mares, many of which were taken by my cousin on his visit to your farm, and should deem it also a great favor to have your photograph, with Mr. Blunt’s, to publish also. The President has given me permission to use the letter he had written securing the Irade, together with his photo, and I have the photo’s of horses imported in 1845 by the late A. Keene Richards.
“May I kindly hear from you without delay relative to using your letter, as my book will very shortly be placed in the Publisher’s hands.
“Colonel Borden has not been to see me, he has written to a friend to write to another friend to suggest a meeting; that you have strongly recommended it. The Colonel is what we would call in regards to a Cayhuse — “Skittish.” However it is only a question of time when we all will be in One Arab Family.
“I am sending you my Catalogue under separate cover.
“Believe me. Your Ladyship’s servent
Blunt to Davenport
Sheykh Obeyd Garden
May 8, 1907
Crabbet Arabian Stud
Three Bridges Sussex
“I am shocked not to have thanked you sooner for a second interesting letter, dated Feb. 20, but some business which has kept me in Egypt has also hindered writing. Thank you also for the Stud Lists which I am much flattered to find modelled on the original Crabbet Arabian one. I think them extremely well got up in every way, paper, print, introduction and expecially illustrations which add an extra charm. In that respect I hope to follow your lead as I have long wished to illustrate my own Stud List, only I have been waiting till I could myself take photographs, and I have just begun. Of your portraits of horses I prefer “Haleb.”
“From your accounts and from other information I quite understand the immense change in the relations of the Ottoman Government with all the tribes it can get at, which has been brought about by H.I.M. the Sultan’s extraordinary sagacity, a benefit doubtless to the Empire. But I cannot help regretting it as it is evidently a principal cause, if not the sole cause of the greatly diminished percentage of purebred horses. This could not be otherwise, as deterioration is the inevitable result on nomads of contact with the governing posers of civilisation, and I have no doubt that 10 years hence there will be still fewer horses that [illegible]. So the good work of breeding pure Arabians elsewhere than in Northern Arabia becomes the more important.
“I am glad you bought Markisa and that you got her cheap as I do not think that the exceptional circumstances which allowed low prices are likely to recur. I shall not know till I get home exactly what there will [be] for sale there; here I have nothing I can part with except two mares at 200 gs each. They are of very particularly valuable and rare strains from the Abbas Pasha collection, but I shall sell them when their foals of this year are weaned as they are well represented. Both are believed to be in foal to the stallion “Jamil”, whose picture I sent you with a few other stud photographs including those of the two mares. There [These?] are my first photographic efforts; I hope to be better later on. I would with pleasure add my own portrait on a mare but the only existing one was taken by a visitor and I have not a copy. You ought however to be even more interested by the portrait of my Stud Manager at this place, as he is of the far-famed horse breeding tribe of Muteyr — to the S.E. of Nejd — the drawn sword does not show on the blue sky. I ought to have managed a dark background.
“There are several subjects referred to in [illegible] letter which might be talked over if I ever have the pleasure of meeting you, but writing takes too much time. Some day you may be coming to England, and then you must pay me a visit.
“I expect to be there by the end of the month; my address will be care of Mr. Arthur Caffin as I shall be first moving about
“Yours faithfully, Annebel Blunt
“P.S. — Perhaps you will tell me the proper mode of address in case the ordinary British formula of “Esquire” is not welcome, or perhaps not even admitted, in America?
Commentary on these three letters will appear next month’s column by Charles and Jeanne Craver.
The Thoroughbred is the oldest of the improved breeds of horses known to the world today and was first to be registered in a stud book of its own. There seems to be absolutely no recorded history of any particular line of descent of horses that antedates the Thoroughbred which has been maintained through the past two centuries. The most aristocratic of the Arabians have been kept pure, but individual lineage as exemplified by the modern pedigree system has not been preserved, nor is it deemed necessary by the Arab tribes. Nor could we place the Arabian in a class with others as an “improved breed.” Bedouin tribes maintained strains and families among their horses, and the strains trains and families followed the names of the female side rather than the male. The tribes did not change, alter or improve the ancient, classic type, and it was this blood which has been used as a foundation for all other light horses, including the Thoroughbred.
Thoroughbred is the name applied to the breed of running horses used for racing on the turf or track. In England races are run over straight courses, usually on turf, while in America tracks are nearly all elliptical in shape, the surfaces being cleared of all turf and stones and made as smooth as possible, to enable horses to put forth their best efforts. Thoroughbred relates only to the breed of running horses which have descended in direct line from a particular group admitted to registration as Thoroughbreds when it became assured that a fixed type had been created. Thoroughbred means bred thoroughly to the parent, or original stock.
In 1791 Mr. Weatherby in England published the first edition of his stud book, which has since become the official register of the pedigrees of all Thoroughbred horses in the British Empire. In the preface to the fourth edition, he gave a list of the Arabians, Barbs and Turks which had contributed to and helped found the British race horse.
Wooten’s famous painting of the Darley Arabian.
He commenced by stating that King James I bought, on December 20, 1616, an Arabian of Mr. Markham, a merchant, for five hundred guineas, and added that he was probably the first of his breed to be seen in England. That this Arabian was the first seen is in the highest degree improbable, considering how many Oriental horses were brought to Europe by the Crusaders.
King Charles II sent abroad an official to procure a number of foreign horses and mares for breeding. The mares brought over by him, as also many of their produce, have since been called the “royal mares.” To this foundation of royal mares were bred three imported horses of Oriental descent: the Byerly Turk, the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Barb or Arabian. The Byerly Turk was Captain Byerly’s charger in Ireland in 1689, in King William’s wars. That he was called a “Turk” arises from the fact he was obtained in Turkey. For several centuries Turkey held mandate over Arabians, exacted taxes from the Bedouin tribes and often, in lieu of money, obtained Arabian horses. The outside world, in commercial intercourse with Turkey, learned to highly prize and obtained many of these Turkish Arabians which they called “Turks.”
The Byerly Turk did not cover many of the so-called royal mares but his descendants were noted for their superior form and speed, and the English Thoroughbred, through Weatherby’s stud book, traces back to him in an unbroken male line of descent.
The Darley Arabian, imported in 1706, was brought over by a brother of Mr. Darley, who was an agent in merchandise abroad. The Darley Arabian proved a noteworthy sire, the most important, in fact, of the three Oriental sires who founded the Thoroughbred.
Weatherby gives in the second part of his first stud book pedigrees of more than two hundred horses and mares of note between 1711 and 1759. These are all closely allied to Oriental blood, the first English stallion appearing to be Basto by the Byerly Turk, who died in 1723.
About 1730, in the reign of George II, the following imported stallions were in England: the Alcock Arabian, the Bloody-shouldered Arabian, the Belgrade Turk, Bethell’s Arabian, Burlington’s Barb, Croft’s Egyptian horse, the Black Barb, Cyprus Arabian, Devonshire Arabian, Johnson’s Turk, Godolphin Arabian, Litton’s Chestnut Arabian, Matthew’s Persian, Pigott’s Turk, Londale Bay Arabian, and half a dozen others.
Godolphin Arabian, or Scham with ex-slave Agba in the saddle.
After about 1750 no Oriental blood, Arab, Barb or Turk, seems to have been used with success, although stakes for imported Arabians were run at Newmarket. All the most famous race horses trace their pedigrees between 1730 and 1750, through English sires, to the Darley and Godolphin Arabians. Said Mr. Weatherby in his first stud book: “Our best horses for nearly a century past have been either deeply imbued with their blood or entirely derived from it.”
According to Lawrence, an early writer,
“the Godolphin Arabian was a brown bay, somewhat mottled on the buttocks and crest, but with no white excepting the off heel behind, about 15 hands high, with good bone and substance. Artists say the crest of the horse is quite out of nature. however, from all accounts and the various representations I have seen of the horse, his crest was exceeding large and elevated, his neck elegantly curved, and his muzzle very fine. He had considerable length, his capacious shoulders and head the true sloping position, and every part materially contribute to action.”
William Osmer, in writing about the Godolphin Arabian three years after his death in 1753, said:
“Whoever has seen him must remember that his shoulders were deeper and lay further into his back than any horse yet seen; behind his shoulders there was but small space, before the muscles of his loin rose excessively high, broad and expanded, which were inserted into his quarters with greater strength and power than any horse ever yet seen of his dimensions. It is not to be wondered at that the excellence of this horse’s shape was not in early times manifest to some men, considering the plainness of his head and ears, the position of his fore legs, and his stunted growth, occasioned by want of food in the country where he was bred.”
The Godolphin was not used as a sire until 1731, when his first produce was Lath, out of Roxana, who was considered the best horse since Flying Childers. After Lath, until his death at 29 years of age, he was the sire of a series of prodigies.
The hand that fate had in making the modern Thoroughbred horse is illustrated by the Godolphin Arabian, so named after Earl Godolphin, who used and discovered his value quite by accident and was the last of his numerous owners.
The Bey of Tunis gave the King of France five horses from his stable. One of the five was said to be better than the others, one of the best of his best. With each horse went a negro slave who had attended to that particular stallion. The King of France was so unimpressed with these light, rather stunted Oriental horses that he quite promptly ordered their sale. The best of the best, the brown bay, fell into evil hands, becoming an abused cart horse about the streets of Paris. The slaves were given their freedom. Agba, the slave who had taken care of the brown bay, found his charge and was so moved by abuse and neglect of the horse that he offered to work three years without pay if the owner would permit him to care for the horse in the meantime. His offer was spurned, and the slave was deeply hurt. A wealthy English Quaker, in Paris one day, saw the owner beating the cart horse with a heavy club in an attempt to get him to pull a much too heavy load. Stopping the man, the Quaker inquired the name of the horse and found it to be Scham. Impressed with his appearance, he thought possibly the horse had been stolen. However, upon finding that the man was the rightful owner, he offered to buy Scham, and did. Agba, not far away, appeared and told his story, offered his services as groom and was accepted. Scham and the negro groom were sent to England.
In England, with good feed and the care of Agba, Scham soon recovered his original form and beauty. But he was “too much horse” for the Quaker’s family. Thy were accustomed to colder-blooded horses. They could not understand the vitality, the nervous energy which always was a part of Scham.
Scham was sold to a livery keeper and Agba dismissed. Scham was too lively for the ordinary livery hire, so he stood idle. Lord Godolphin, a neighbor of the Quaker, had learned of Scham’s history and was much impressed with the devotion of the ex-slave, Agba, to Scham. He purchased Scham and employed Agba again as groom. In the stable of Lord Godolphin, Hobgoblin was the chief stallion and Roxana the finest mare.
Roxana, dam of Lath and grand-dam of Eclipse.
Agba used every persuasion to get Lord Godolphin to mate Roxana with Scham, but without success. She was scheduled to be mated with the famous Hobgoblin. To appease Agba, Godolphin offered him an untried filly as a mate for Scham. But Roxana only, in the eyes of Agba, was worthy of Scham. She was the daughter of Flying Childers, “swiftest, beyond doubt, of all quadrupeds” at that time. Flying Childers, as well as the famous Eclipse, were both sired by the Darley Arabian. Roxana, predominately Arabian in blood and appearance, Agba knew, would not even be acceptable as a proper mate for Scham, among the fanatical Bedouins who knew of only one law of breeding, that of “the purest of the pure to the pure in blood.” but she was the best in the land.
Agba became almost insane in his thwarted determination. Like a stalking animal, he became quiet, talked little, like a man who bides his time. He had made up his mind. One day when the great stallion, Hobgoblin, was in the small exercise paddock leading off from the stable, Agba suddenly released Scham. Other grooms were horror struck and powerless to act. But they were sure Hobgoblin would soon finish Scham. To the contrary, the smaller, lithe, quicker Scham was too much for the larger stallion, and kept wearing him down. The fight was fierce, as only two stallions can make it, but after awhile Hobgoblin turned and fled; he had had enough. Scham neighed and snorted and was proudly led back to his stall as conqueror by Agba. Other grooms thought Agba would be summarily punished and discharged at once, when Lord Godolphin heard what had happened. But after hearing the story, he deferred action and pondered. As a breeder of horses, the realization suddenly came to him that the will power, the unyielding determination to “get there” was even a greater requisite than speed in a race horse. Scham had something priceless which the bigger, mightier Hobgoblin did not have. Scham was elevated to head stallion of the stable and bred to Roxana.
Three years later a beautiful colt named Lathe, son of Scham and Roxana, was entered and raced against the best youngsters in all of England, including several sons and daughters of the great Hobgoblin. He easily outdistanced them all, coming in several lengths ahead. English horsemen now eagerly sought the services of Scham and bred to him again and again with their mares of Darley and Byerly ancestry, until in a few generations his was the dominant blood in English race horses. Thus through a stallion fight, premeditately planned by the ex-slave, Agba (driven almost to madness in his attempt to have the worth of Scham as a sire recognized), was the course of history of the English Thoroughbred changed. Today, the pedigree in the male line of practically every well authenticated Thoroughbred throughout the world traces directly to Lath, the Godolphin Arabian or the Darley Arabian, and often to all three.
[Ed. Note: Today Ibrahim is accepted as a Desert-Bred stallion. See footnote (1) below]
Aarah No. 1184, chestnut Arabian mare owned by Ben Hur Farms, and her filly foal, Aarafa No. 2870, by Champion Raffles. She and all in her pedigree, including the fourth generation, have the blood of the tap-root stallion, Zobeyni — a striking example of line-breeding.
What kind of a stallion would you select to mate to your mares to improve the quality of the foal? Would your first consideration be that the stallion and mares be unrelated? Or would you select the best stallion available, with the best breeding (pedigree) regardless of his relationship to the mares?
Do you study the pedigrees of prospective sires? Do you know their breeding, and do you have the pedigree of your mares? Marked improvement in your foals can be made regardless of the kind of mares you have. You may have Pintos, Palominos, Quarter Horses, Morgans, Albinos, Arabians or American Saddle horses or just plain Stock Horses. By selecting the right kind of stallion you can make improvements each generation. The better the breeding of your mares, the more nearly pure in blood, the greater improvement in the foals.
Line-breeding and in-breeding are the old and time-proven methods by which breed improvement has been made in the past. This is true in cattle, horses, sheep, poultry, dogs. All our present day breeds are the result of close line-breeding and often, intense in-breeding. There is no mystery where our finest horse, cattle, sheep and dogs came from. A study of their pedigrees will reveal the facts. Owners of pedigreed animals are well aware of the importance of line-breeding and in-breeding. However, you, too, with grade mares may, by a definite breeding program and the proper selection of a stallion, employ the same methods of improvement in the foals.
Let us study the breeding of Arabians. They are pure in blood and their pedigrees extend back many generations. Pedigrees of Thoroughbreds, Morgans, American Saddle horses, as well as Arabians, all reveal the same fact, i.e., that there have been certain outstanding males every so often that have dominated and influenced all succeeding generations. The male exerts a far greater influence in breed improvement than the female, due solely to the numerical supremacy of off-spring. A mare may have twenty foals in a lifetime, but a stallion may get fifty or one hundred foals a year for ten to twenty years.
Zobeyni, famous Arabian stallion more than 100 years ago, furnishes an interesting study. Pedigrees of Arabians back five or six generations seldom show his name. But his blood is the greatest influence today among Arabians in England, the United States, Egypt, Australia, South America or whenever there are pure Arabians. It is more difficult to find Arabians without his blood, than with it. Zobeyni was a grey Seglawi Jedran stallion of the strain of Ibn Sbeyni of the Mehed tribe of the Fedaan Anazeh Bedouins, bred in Arabia and imported to Egypt early in the 19th century where he became enormously important in the world-famous stud of Abbas Pacha I. He is the founder of the male line that has been most successful throughout the world the past century. His great grandson, Mesaoud, and great, great grandson, Skowronek(1), are each in turn contributing as much or more than their illustrious ancestors to the success of Arabians in the 20th century.
Skowronek, bred in Poland, was later used as leading stallion at Lady Wentworth’s Crabbet Stud in England, from where his blood has gone to all parts of the world where Arabians are bred.
Mesaoud, grandson of the tap-root stallion, Zobeyni. Bred in Egypt, he was taken to England, then to Russia.
Arab tribes in the desert followed the custom of giving the strain and family name of the mare to the foal, rather than the name of the sire. The custom, followed in this country for a number of years, led to confusion and misunderstanding. The foal, given the strain name of its dam, might be, and in nearly every instance was, from a number of other strains and with many more related bloodlines on the male side than the female. As a result of this confusion, The Arabian Horse Club of America several years ago discontinued the practice of giving strain names to Arabians registered with them.
A study of the pedigrees with this article illustrates the fallacy of blindly following and giving breeding value to the strain name of the dam. Champion Raffles, for example, has been referred to as Kehilan for four generations back. Had the custom been followed of giving the strain name of the sire to the foal it will be readily seen that Raffles would be a Seglawi Jedran, from his illustrious male line — Skowronek, Ibrahim, Heijer, Mahruss, Wazir and Zobeyni.
Champion Raffles, owned by Roger Selby, Portsmouth, Ohio, bred by Lady Wentworth in England. As son and grandson of Skowronek, he is an example of successful in-breeding and line-breeding from the Zobeyni line.
Aaraf, foaled in 1943, sired by *Raffles, out of Aarah. Note resemblance to Mesaoud, who appears nine times in pedigree.
To the student of pedigrees and breeding it will be apparent that there is vastly more involved than a custom in this instance. These pedigrees aptly illustrate the vastly greater importance and influence of the male line in most pedigrees. Raffles goes back to Zobeyni not once but twelve times, out of thirty-two ancestors in the sixth generation. Rose of Sharon, the great grand-dam of Raffles in the sixth generation, whose strain or family name of Kehilan has been arbitrarily given by those who still follow this custom, appears in his pedigree but once. We leave it to the reader to decide whether the male Zobeyni (Seglawi) line or the female Rose of Sharon (Kehilan) blood and influence is the stronger.
The questionable value placed on strain and family names of the dam is shown in the pedigree of Raffles in that there are seven different strain names out of thirty-two names in the sixth generation and nine names of unknown strain names.
Abu Zeyd, son of Mesaoud, was foaled in England, imported to United States in 1904 by Homer Davenport.
The pedigree of the Arabian mare, Aarah, pictured with this article, shows that she is bred along the same lines as Raffles, in fact, they are very much in line. Aarah, like Raffles, would be Kehilan from her dam’s side, but take time to count — 18 of her 32 ancestors in the sixth generation are sons and daughters of grandsons and daughters of the famous Zobeyni, a Seglawi. Mesaoud, illustrious great grandson of Zobeyni, and also a Seglawi through his dam, appears eight times in the pedigree of Aarah. Is there reason then for similarity of appearance of Aarah and Mesaoud?
Aaraf and Aarafa, out of Aarah and by Raffles, follow to a marked degree the type and markings of Mesaoud. The pedigree of Raffles shows Mesaoud twice which added to that of Aarah makes Mesaoud appear ten times in the pedigrees of Aaraf and Aarafa and numerical superiority is the answer. We must not assume that success in breeding is a mathematical problem of addition and multiplication. Breeders have universally found it safe to follow the rule of eliminating from the pedigree the undesirable and animals of doubtful value and to multiply as often as possible the highly desirable animals. The blood of Zobeyni, for example, appears in 12 out of 16 ancestors of Aarah in the fifth generation and Zobeyni is a common ancestor in eight out of eight ancestors of Aarah in the fifth generation and Zobeyni is a common ancestor in eight out of eight ancestors in the fourth generation, yet without direct, closeup in-breeding.
What is in-breeding? The commonly accepted definition is that of mating dam to son, as in the case of Rifala, daughter of Skowronek, back to Skowronek, or sire bred to daughter, the two most commonly practiced. There may be several other close variations of in-breeding, brother and sister, half-brother and sister, dam to grandson, sire to granddaughter.
In-breeding has been found to be most successful where there has been a previous successful outcross. Ibrahim, sire of Skowronek, it will be noted, is an example of the closest kind of line-breeding in that in the fourth generation Wazir, sired by Zobeyni, appears three times and his full sister Horra, once, mated to a grandson of Zobeyni. Eleven of 14 of Ibrahim’s ancestors in the first four generations are close up in the blood of Zobeyni. Ibrahim, taken to Poland from Egypt, and out-crossed on the Polish Arabian mare, Yaskoulka, not directly related, produced Skowronek, whose blood is found in Arabians around the world today. The blood of Skowronek was intensified in his get, Raffles, when he was bred to his daughter, Rifala, thus giving Raffles three-fourths of the blood of Skowronek, combined with the blood of Mesaoud of the same line of breeding.
The predominate blood of a female line is harder to find among pedigrees of horses of live stock, not because there are not highly desirable females but in the case of horses, because of the limit placed on reproduction in the mare as compared to the stallion.
*Raffles No 952
Grey Arabian Stallion —
Wazir * s
BF Saouda w
Aziz * d
Horra * s
M Kebira k
Mahruss * w
B Jamila s
Makbula * k
Mesaoud * s
Sobha * h
Aziz * d
Merzuk * k
R Sharon k
* Asterisk after the name denotes those with the ancient, tap-root, desert-bred stallion, Zobeyni, as an ancestor, founder of the male line that has been most successful in England and the U.S. the past century.
The small lettes after the names in the sixth generation denote the family strain names, k — Kehilan; s — Seglawi; a — Abeyan; b — Sh. Sba; d–D. Shahwan; h — Hamdani; w — W. Hursan.
The capital letters before certain names are, R — Rose; M — Makbula; O — Obejan; B — Bint; F — Faras. ……
AARAH No. 1184 Chestnut Arabian Mare —
Mesaoud * s
Sobha * h
I Mahruss * s
R Sharon k
Mesaoud * s
Ridaa * k
Mesaoud * s
B Helwa * s
Aziz * d
Helwa * s
Ibn Nura * d
El Argaa k
Shahwan * d
I Mahruss * s
R Sharon k
Mesaoud * s
Ridaa * k
Aziz * d
R Jericho k
I Mahruss * s
R Sharon k
Rejeb * k
Narda II *
Narghileh * k
* Asterisk after the name denotes those with the ancient, tap-root, desert-bred stallion, Zobeyni, as an ancestor, founder of the male line that has been most successful in England and the U.S. the past century.
The small letters after the names in the sixth generation denote the family strain names: k — Kehilan; s — Seglawi; d — D Shahwan; h — Hamdani; a — Abeyan; n — D Nejib; h — H Enzeki.
Capital letters before names denote R – Rose; I — Ibn; B — Bint.
The Arabian mare Rodania, celebrated mare of the desert, captured by the Gomussa tribe, sold to the Blunts, and taken to their Crabbet stud, England, in 1881, is the most striking example of the female influence. Note her daughters in these pedigrees and the number of times they appear — Rose of Sharon, Rose of Jericho, and her granddaughters Rose Diamond and Ridaa, and grandsons, Rijm, Rodan and Rejeb. The pedigrees of Raffles and Aarah in connection with this articles illustrate the concentration of blood of a male and female line of successful line-breeding and the more controversial in-breeding. You may apply the practical application of these results in breeding to your own horses, no matter what breed or type.
(1) Today Ibrahim is accepted as a desert-bred stallion. For more information see:
Lady Wentworth’s THE AUTHENTIC ARABIAN HORSE
Schile, Erika THE ARAB HORSE IN EUROPE
Potocki, Count Joseph (son of Skowronek’s breeder) “Skowronek’s Pedigree and the Antoniny Stud” The Arabian Horse News, Feb. ’58.
Blunt, Lady Anne JOURNALS AND CORRESPONDENCE 1878-1917
Guttmann, Ursula: THE LINEAGE OF THE POLISH ARABIAN HORSES
Dickenson, J.M. A CATALOG OF TRAVELERS REST ARABIAN HORSES
Is size in the horse influenced by in-breeding? Have you had the impression that dire results would follow if horses (and other livestock) closely akin were mated? Have you believed that the offspring from closely related matings would be deformed, small, weak as well as vicious, or deficient in brain capacity? It seems that the most commonly accepted fallacy among horsemen is that the practice of consanguinity or in-breeding in horses will immediately affect size and that small inferior “runts” will result, if they are not actually so grotesquely deformed that the foal dies shortly after birth.
This misconception of the laws of nature, this widely if not universally accepted fallacy among livestock breeders and farmers in America, has persisted since colonial days, and it has resulted in practically all our breeds being imported from Europe. America has blazed the way for all the world in the sciences, in chemical, electrical and mechanical research and developments, but has strangely worshipped at the feet of breeders of livestock abroad and is to this day overawed by the magic word “imported.” Americans have persisting in importing livestock from foreign countries until imports were stopped during World War II. And strange as it may seem, extensive plans are already well under way to begin importing again just as soon as permission can be obtained by breeders of cattle, dogs, sheep and horses.
This is notably true of breeders of Jersey cattle, where certain groups are feverishly awaiting the “green light” or “go” signal to rush to the small island of Jersey (among the channel islands held by Germany during the war) where the most intensive in-breeding has been the rule, and from where they will start importing Jersey cattle again to America. Why this need for new imports from abroad, year after year? There can be but one answer and that is that American breeders have not followed the same rules in breeding and that deterioration has followed the American plan of breeding, which in the main has been a constant search for “new blood” and out-crossing, rather than following the time honored plan by which all breeds have been developed and maintained – that of line-breeding and in-breeding.
Regarding in-breeding or consanguinity. James A. Lawrence, founder and first president of The Arabian Horse Club of America and the Great Dane Club of America, wrote in 1908:
“I believe the natural laws controlling this phase of animal breeding are less understood than any other one feature that enters into the creation and regeneration of animal life. We are accustomed to seeing instances of degeneracy on account of consanguinity in the human race in America, and the conclusion, without further thought, is that in-breeding is forever prohibited by nature in all of her mammal kingdom.
“But on further reflection we are compelled to remember that the great Anazeh tribes of Bedouins of the Arabian desert have remained pure in one blood for ages. According to their own traditions and history they are the same in blood today as their progenitor, Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar. These very exclusive people maintain their own blood purity with the same care and precision with which they breed their horses, and certainly there is no question about them being an intensely in-bred race, in fact, the purest of all the human races. There is no sign of degeneracy among them in the physical sense, and they are pronounced by those in a position to know as the most highly moral race of people, in many respects, in the world.”
As proof of the value of consanguinity in the breeding of horses Mr. Lawrence wrote further:
“We know the Arabian horse is pure in one blood as we know the English Thoroughbred is not. We also know the Arabian blood is as pliable or plastic today as it was five hundred years ago, and we also know that the English Thoroughbred is not as pliable or plastic as he was one hundred years ago, to say nothing of other qualities he has lost in a degenerating tendency, which proves the value of pure and unmolested blood through consanguinity. The Arabian horse proves his purity in many ways, and in no particular is his excellenced and good breeding more evident than in his courage and perfection of disposition which the runner has lost, and courage is ever an unmistakable mark of purity of blood.”
It is a significant fact, as we have pointed out in earlier articles in this series, that the most successful breeders in America, of horses, cattle, sheep and dogs have been those who have ignored the American fear of in-breeding and have followed the custom of breeders abroad where breeds were made by the one and universal rule of in-breeding and line-breeding. It is nature’s way but as Mr. Lawrence prointed out,
“Man would bastard and lose it all by out-crossing, mongrelization. Nature breeds only purebreds in her infinite precision. Her animals are pure in the beginning and pure in the end. Through consanguinity nature maintains a vigor, uniformity, beauty and perfection forever.”
At no time in the history of this country has there been such an intense and wide-spread interest in light or hot-blooded horses as there is at the present time. From coast to coast much is being said and written, many attempts are being made to improve, solidify and make into one common mass certain types or colors of horses. This is notably true of those who are attempting to reproduce that which is representative and best in horses of Quarter Horse type, Palomino colored horses, the Pinto, or spotted or morocco, the Appaloosa, Walking Horse and the Albino. Serious attempts are being made in widely scattered sections of the country to capture and mould into the ideal of their dreams of the horse these breeders hope to produce in purity in the future. These ambitions and embryo breedmakers can take a page from the history of breedmaking in the past if they will discard their fears of degeneracy in size, type, vigor and mental capacity as well as disposition when consanguinity or in-breeding is practiced.
One common type or color cannot come from widely scattered sources. Purity must, as it always has, come from one source and from that one source or base the breeding program can be broadened within the family so that line-breeding can be followed and a line of horses result with one common ancestry that are uniform in type and reproductive breeding characteristics. Then and then only is the effort worthy of the name of a breed.
The Arabian horse again, because of its purity of breeding, furnishes us the example and pattern of what we may expect from in-breeding. The blood of the Arabian horse is the fountain from which flows all the various types and colors of light saddle type horses although all of them have more or less of the cold-blood or draft horse blood in them. To develop and improve, to capture and solidify certain types, colors or characteristics there can be no better rule to follow than that of using and moulding in as much of the Arabian blood as possible. There need be no fear of losing size if size is what is wanted. The Arabian does not lose size when in-bred, nor is vigor or vitality lost. When out-crossed the Arabian type and characteristics overshadow and predominate to a marked extent but size almost universally increases whether the cross be on a pony or larger type.
Nimr No. 252, red chestnut Arabian stallion, 15-1 hands high. Imported from England by Randolph Huntington in 1891, Nimr was bred to his grand-dam, Naomi (15-2 hands) to produce Khaled (15-3 1/2). Picture by George Ford Morris.
Naomi No. 230, red chestnut Arabian mare, 15-2 hands, foaled in 1877, bred by Rev. F. Vidal in England, was produced by a full brother-and-sister mating, by the desert-bred sire, Yataghan (15 hands) and the desert-bred dam Haidee (14-3 hands). Naomi, bred to her grandson Nimr, produced Khaled.
Khaled No. 5, red chestnut Arabian stallion, foaled in 1895, bred by Randolph Huntington. Standing 15-3 1/2 hands, Khaled is an outstanding example of intense in-breeding. The picture was made for James A. Lawrence, first president of the Arabian Horse Club, by the well known artist and photographer of horses, George Ford Morris. Copyrighted in 1908, this picture and the one of Nimr is used by permission of Mr. Lawrence.
The Arabian horse, bred and raised for hundreds of years in desert country and on frugal if not actually scanty feed conditions responds immediately to good feed and care and the danger in this country is that the Arabian may grow a little bigger each generation and gradually lose its refined classic type and beauty. You need but look about you in your own family or the family of your friends to realize what better food, care and conditions have done for the human race in one or two generations in this country. It is not uncommon to see sons and daughters towering a head taller than their parents and it is commonly known that feet are universally larger in a single life-span.
Breeders of Shetland ponies and Bantam chickens find it a major breeding problem to keep the size down to the miniature type desired. The size increases with each generation, rather than diminishing, with modern feed and care and it is only by having the young come in the fall and subjecting them to scanty diet that size is held down. Growth is the one universal law of nature and increase in size under favorable sheltered conditions under the care of man seems to be a dominant factor in animals. The English Thoroughbred increased an average of one inch each 25 years, for the first 150 years from the original three Arabian sires which averaged little if any above 14 hands. The original Justin Morgan, founder of the Morgan Horse was about 14 hands. Cavalry experts have often proven that the weight carrying horse reaches his greatest efficiency when about 15 hands high. Yet new owners of Arabians are often immediately concerned about an increase in size and elated when a marked increase is shown, not knowing what the history of the breed and the weight carrying horse has amply demonstrated. Today, all too many who have only recently become interested in saddle horses set as their first goal an increase in size in breeding for Palomino color, Quarter Horse type or to improve the Pinto, Appaloosa, Walking Horse or Albino. Improvement and uniformity of type and characteristics can only come through in-breeding and line-breeding and the practice of consanguinity in horses does not decrease size.
A striking example of how size increased under the most intense in-breeding is furnished by the early Arabian stallion Khaled No. 5, bred by Randolph Huntington, world famous horse breeder of his day. Khaled was 15-3 1/2 hands high, his dam Naomi was 15-2, his sire Nimr 15 hands. Naomi’s sire and dam were the desert bred full brother and sister Yataghan and Haidee. [Yataghan and Haidee were later shown not to be brother and sister after all.] Yataghan was 15 hands, Haidee 14-3, yet the daughter raised in England increased in size to 15-2. Naomi, the result of a brother and sister mating, bred back to her grandson Nimr produced Khaled. Study the pedigree and try to recall if you have ever seen a more intense example of in-breeding. The blood of Khaled was the foundation for many early day Arabians in this country, none of which has suffered for lack of size.
Of diseases there are few among the Bedouin horses. I have never heard of an instance of roaring, and only once of broken wind. An accident known as “twisted gut,” is, however, rather common, and some other diseases of an inflammatory nature which prove suddenly fatal. Horses, mares, colts, and all alike are starved during great part of the year, no corn being ever given, and only camel’s milk when other food fails. they are often without water for several days together, and in the most piercing nights of winter they stand uncovered, and with no more shelter than can be got on the lee side of the tents. Their coats become long and shaggy, and they are left uncombed and unbrushed till the new coat comes in spring. At these times they are ragged-looking scarecrows, half-starved, and as rough as ponies. In the summer, however, their coats are as fine as satin, and they show all the appearance of breeding one has a right to expect of their blood.
The Bedouin never uses a bit or bridle of any sort, but instead, a halter with a fine chain passing round the nose. With this he controls his mare easily and effectually. He rides on a pad of cotton, fastened on the mare’s back by a surcingle, and uses no stirrups. This pad is the most uncomfortable and insecure seat imaginable, but fortunately the animals are nearly always gentle and without vice. I have never seen either violent plunging, rearing, or indeed any serious attempt made to throw the rider. Whether the Bedouin would be able to sit a bare-backed unbroken four-year old colt, as the gauchos of South America do, is exceedingly doubtful.
The Bedouin has none of the arts of the horse-dealer. He knows little of showing off a horse, or even of making him stand to advantage, but, however anxious he may be to sell him, brings him just as he is, dirty and ragged, tired, and perhaps broken-kneed. He has a supreme contempt himself for everything except blood in his beast, and he expects everybody else to have the same. He knows nothing of the simple art of telling a horse’s age by the teeth, and still less of any dealer’s trick in the way of false marking. this comes from the fact that in the tribe, each colt’s age is a matter of public notoriety. We avoided, as much as possible, having direct commercial dealings with our friends in the desert, but, from all we heard and the little we saw of such transactions, it is evidently very difficult to strike a satisfactory bargain. As soon as one price is fixed, another is substituted; and, unless the intending purchaser rides resolutely away, there is no chance of the bargain being really concluded. Once done, however, and the money counted and re-counted by half a dozen disinterested friends, the horse or mare may be led away. I do not think the Bedouins have in general much personal love for their mares, only a great deal of pride in them, and a full sense of their value.
As I have already said, they will not tell a falsehood in respect of the breeding of their animals, a habit partly due to the honour in which all things connected with horseflesh are held, partly, too, not doubt, to the public notoriety of the breed or breeds in each family, which would at once expose the falsehood; and public opinion is severe on this head.
Having premised thus much of the general characteristics of the thoroughbred Arabian, I will now explain what I have been able to discover of his pedigree.
PEDIGREE OF THE ARABIAN HORSE.
Tradition states that the first horse-tamer was Ismail-ibn-Ibrahim, or Ishmael, who, after he was turned out of his father’s tents, captured a mare from among a herd which he found running wild, “mittl wahash” (like the wild ass). The Emir Abd-el-Kader, in confirming this story, told me that the children of Ishmael had a mare from this principal stock which grew up crooked, for she had been foaled on a journey and, being unable to travel, had been sewn into a khourj(ital), or goat’s-hair sack, and placed upon a camel. From her descended a special strain of blood, known as the Benat-el-Ahwaj, or “daughters of the crooked,” and this was the first distinction made by the Bedouins among their horses.
The Benat-el-Ahwaj, or Ahwaj, as it is more commonly called, may therefore be considered the oldest breed known. I have never heard of it in the Arabian deserts, but the Emir assures me that it exists under that name in the Sahara; and that the breeds now recognised in Arabia are but ramifications of this original stock.
It is difficult to give more than a guess as to the antiquity of the names now in use. The five breeds known as the Khamsa are not possessed by the tribes of Northern Africa; and it is therefore probable, that at the time of the first Arabian conquests (in the 7th and 8th centuries of our era), they had not yet become distinguished from the general stock. The Emir, however, does not doubt of their extreme antiquity, and I think it is certain that the Kehilans must have been contemporary with Mahomet; for a breed called Koklani exists in Persia, and we may fairly suppose it to have been brought there by the early Arabian invaders. It has not, however, been kept pure in Persia.
The Kehilans, then, we may presume, were an early sub-breed of the Ahwaj, receiving their name from the black marks certain Arabian horses have round their eyes; marks which give them the appearance of being painted with kohl, after the fashion of the Arab women. Or, indeed, “Kehilan” may be merely a new name for the Ahwaj, used first as an epithet, but afterwards superseding the older name in Arabia. This supposition is favoured by Niebuhr, who evidently treats the Kochlani, as he calls them, as the generic name of the pure Bedouin race, as contrasted with the Kadishes or town horses of the peninsula.
“The Kochlani,” he says, “are reserved for riding solely. They are said to derive their origin from King Solomon’s studs. However this may be, they are fit to bear the greatest fatigues * * *. The Kochlani are neither large nor handsome” —
(It must be remembered that Niebuhr was a Dane, and took his ideas of beauty in all probability from the great Flanders’ horses ridden by our ancestors. The Eastern breed in his day, more than a hundred years ago, was hardly yet quite established even in England), —
“but amazingly swift; it is not for their figure, but for their velocity and other good qualities that the Arabians esteem them. These Kochlani are chiefly bred by the Bedouins settled between Basra Merdin and Syria, in which countries the nobility never choose to ride horses of any other race. The whole race is divided into several families, each of which has its proper name; that of Dsjulfa seems to be the most numerous. Some of these families have a higher reputation than others, on account of their more ancient and uncontaminated nobility. Although it is known by experience, that the Kochlani are often inferior to the Kadischi, yet the mares at least, of the former, are always preferred, in the hopes of a fine progeny.
“The Arabians have indeed no tables of genealogy to prove the descent of their Kochlani; yet they are sure of the legitimacy of the progeny; for a mare of this race is never covered unless in the presence of witnesses, who must be Arabians. This people do not indeed always stickle at perjury; but in a case of such serious importance, they are careful to deal conscientiously. There is no instance of false testimony given in respect to the descent of a horse. Every Arabian is persuaded that himself and his whole family would be ruined, if he should prevaricate in giving his oath in an affair of such consequence.
“The Arabians make no scruple of selling their Kochlani stallions like other horses; but they are unwilling to part with their mares for money. When not in a condition to support them, they dispose of them to others, on the terms of having a share in the foals, or of being at liberty to recover them after a certain time.
“These Kochlani are much like the old Arabian nobility, the dignity of whose birth is held in no estimation unless in their own country. These horses are little valued by the Turks. Their country being more fertile, better watered, and less level, swift horses are less necessary to them than to the Arabians. They prefer large horses, who have a stately appearance when sumptuously harnessed.
“It should seem that there are also Kochlani in Hedjas and in the country of Dsjof; but I doubt if they be in estimation in the domains of the Imam, where the horses of men of rank appeared to me too handsome to be Kochlani. The English, however, sometimes purchase these horses at the price of 800 or 1000 crowns each. An English merchant was offered at Bengal twice the purchase-money for one of these horses; but he sent him to England, where he hoped that he would draw four times the original price.”
I have given this extract almost in extenso, as it is interesting in spite of some blunders, which are easily explained by the fact that Niebuhr never visited the great horse-breeding tribes. It shows, at any rate, that the names of the breeds were at that time as clearly established as now, and that these are in no wise a mere modern invention, as some assert, got up by horse-dealers for the benefit of Englishmen in India. The notion of such an imposture is not to be entertained by anyone who has conversed, even for half an hour, on horseflesh with a Bedouin. The fanatics about breeding are not the English but the Bedouins themselves; and it is inconceivable these can have been converted by any conspiracy of horse-dealers. An equally absurd idea, also current in India, is that the Anazeh breed has within the last sixty or seventy years received an infusion of English blood. Some talk of English thoroughbred horses, left by the French under Napoleon in Egypt, others of horses introduced into Syria forty years ago, but nobody who knows anything of the Anazeh can for an instant conceive that the existence of any number of English thoroughbreds at Damascus or Cairo, would have the slightest influence on their own breeding stock. By the Anazeh the finest horse that ever ran at Newmarket would be accounted a mere kadish, and would not even be looked at for stud purposes.*
*Some thoroughbreds brought by Mr. Skene to Aleppo eighteen or twenty years ago were laughed at by the Arabs even of the towns, and no one dreamed of sending his mares to them. Prejudice was too strong. We took great pains, while travelling with the Anezeh, to ascertain what they knew of our English thoroughbred stock, but with the exception of Mr. Skene’s they had never heard of any, and laughed heartily at the idea of any mixture with them or other kadishes having been permitted.
But to resume. The Kehilans, whenever first so called, have been without doubt a recognised breed in Arabia for many centuries, and were in all probability the parent stock which produced the other four great strains of blood, which with the Kehilan make up the Khamsa. These also have existed as distinct breeds in Arabia from “time immemorial,” but whether that means one hundred or five hundred, or a thousand years, it is quite impossible to say. The common belief of their descent from the five mares of Solomon is of course a fable, (2) and is not much talked of in the desert itself.
(2) Abd-el-Kader told me that these five mares were Benat-el-Ahway, purchased by Solomon of the Ishamelites, and that one of them, the most celebrated, was given by him to the Sheykh of the Uzd, in which tribe her descendants are still found. she was called Azd-el-Musefir (food for the traveller) on account of her being fast enough to run down the gazelle.
The names of the Khamsa, or five great strains of blood (originally Ahwaj, and possible all Kehilan,) are as follows: —
1. KEHILAN, fem. Kehileh (or Kehilet before a vowel).
This strain is most numerous, and, taken generally, the most exteemed. It contains a greater proportion, I think, of bays than any other strain. The Kehilans are the fastest, though not perhaps the hardiest horses, and bear a closer resemblance than the rest to English thoroughbreds, to whom indeed they are more nearly related. The Darley Arabian, perhaps the only thoroughbred Anazeh horse in our stud book, was a Kehilan. The Kehilan is not by any means the most beautiful of the strains. Its subdivisions are very numerous, and will be given, in the list at the end of this chapter. The favourite substrains are the Kehilan Ajuz, the Kehilan Nowag, the Kehilan Abu Argub, Abu Jenub, and Ras-el-Fedawi.
2. SEGLAWI, fem. Seglawieh
One strain of this blood, the Seglawi Jedran, is considered the best of all in the desert; and the Seglawis generally are held in high repute. They are, however, comparatively rare, and exist only in a few families of the Anazeh. Among the Shammar there are Seglawis, but no Seglawi Jedrans, the last mares of this breed having been bought up at fabulous prices by Abbas Pasha. The four strains, Jedran, Obeyran, Arjebi and el-Abd are identical in origin, being descended from four Seglawi mares, sisters–but only the first has been kept absolutely pure. Even the Seglawi Jedran is to be found pure in the families of Ibn Nederi and Ibn Sbeni only. The Seglawi Obeyran has been crossed with the Kehilans and other strains, and the El Abd though purer than the Obeyran is yet not absolutely so even in the family of Ibn Shaalan, where it is at its best. The Seglawi Jedran of Ibn Nederi is powerful and fast, but not particularly handsome. Ibn Sbeni’s strain is more perfect in appearance, and of equal purity.
3. ABEYAN, fem. Abeyeh.
The Abeyan is generally the handsomest breed, but is small and has less resemblance to the English thoroughbred than either of the preceding. The Abeyan Sherrak is the substrain most appreciated, and an Abeyan Sherrak we saw at Aleppo, bred by the Gomussa, could not have been surpassed in good looks. He was not however of a racing type. Again an Abeyeh Sherrak mare belonging to Beteyen ibn Mershid was the most perfect mare we saw. But her sire was a Kehilan Ajuz. The pure Abeyan Sherrak strain is only found in the family of Abu Jereys of the Meseka, and in a single family of the Jelaas.
4. HAMDANI, fem. Hamdanieh,
is not a common breed either among the Anazeh or Shammar. Most of the animals of this breed I have seen have been grey, but a very handsome brown horse was shown us by the Gomussa. This was a Hamdani Simri, which is the only substrain recognised as hadud. The very beautiful white mare, Sherifa, which we had with us on the latter part of our journey, was a Hamdanieh Simri. She was bred in Nejd, and had been in the possession of Ibn Saoud. Her head is the most perfect of any I have seen. She stands fourteen hands two inches, and is pure white in colour, with the kohl patches round the eyes and nose very strongly and blackly marked. Her ears are long like a hind’s, and her eyes as full and soft. She was admired all over the desert. In shape, head apart, she is more like an English hunter than a racehorse.
5. HADBAN, fem. Hadbbeh,
also uncommon among the Anazeh, the best having formerly been possessed by the Roala. Hadban Enzekhi is the best substrain, and to it belonged a remarkable mare owned by Mohammed Jirro at Deyr. She stood about fourteen hands two and a-half inches, was a bay with black points, carried her tail very high, and was full of fire. She looked like a racehorse, though not an English one. The two other substains, Mshetib and El Furrd, are not so much esteemed as the Enzekhi.
Besides these five great breeds, which are called the Khamsa, there are sixteen other breeds, all more or less esteemed, and most of them with one or more strains of blood, accounted equal to the Khamsa. These are: —
1. MANEGHI, fem. Maneghieh (the long necked).
Said by some (but without sufficient authority) to be an off-shoot of the Kehilan Ajuz. The characteristics of this breed are marked. They are plain and without distinction, have coarse heads, long ewe necks, powerful shoulders, much length and strong but coarse hind quarters. They have also much bone, and are held in high repute for the qualities of endurance and staying power. Niebuhr’s description of the Kochlanis seems to have been written expressly for them. Of the two substains the most esteemed is the Maneghi Hedruj, of which the family of Ibn Sbeyel of the Gomusa possesses the finest mares. These are generally known as Maneghi Ibn Sbeyel, but there is no distinct strain of that name. The other substrain, Maneghi es slaji (greyhound), is described as being “the original” Maneghi breed.
2. SAADAN, fem. Saadeh.
The substrain, Saadan Togan, is in high repute. The handsomest and strongest mare we have is of this breed. She is a chestnut fourteen hands two inches, of perfect beauty and immense power, but she cannot gallop with the Kehilans. She bears a strong resemblance to one of the portraits of Eclipse, that published in the “Book of the Horse.” She was bred by the Towf Anazeh, who never come north of the Hamad. She was known far and wide among the Anezeh tribes as “the Saadeh.”
3. DAKHMAN, fem. Dakhmeh.
The substrain Em Amr. We saw a very beautiful Dakhmeh filly at the Gomussa. All the horses of this breed we saw or heard of were dark bay or brown.
4. SHUEYMAN, fem. Shueymeh.
Of this the only substrain is the Shueyman Sbab. Faris, Sheykh of the Northern Shammar, has a mare of this breed. She is coarse, but of immense strength and courage, and when moving becomes handsome. She is a dark bay of fourteen hands three inches, or thereabouts.
5. JILFAN, fem Jilfeh
Substrain Jilfan Stam el Bulad (sinews of steel). A –, son of Mijuel of the Misrab, rode a fine bay three-year old colt, a Jilfan Stam el Bulad.
6. TOESSAN, fem. Toesseh.
Substrain Toessan Algami. The only horse we saw of this breed was a bay, handsome but very small.
7. SAMHAN, fem. Samheh.
Substrain Samhan el Gomeaa. The tallest and strongest colt we saw among the Gommussa was of this breed. He has already been described in the journal.
8. WADNAN, fem.Wadneh.
Substrain Wadnan Hursan.
9. RISHAN, fem. Risheh.
Substrain Rishan Sherabi.
10. KEBEYSHAN, fem Kebeysheh.
Substrain Kebeyshan el Omeyr.
11. MELEKHAN, fem. Melekha.
12. JEREYBAN, fem. Jereybeh.
13. JEYTANI, fem. Jeytanieh.
14. FEREJAN, fem. Ferejeh.
15. TREYFI, fem. Treyfieh.
16. RABDAN, fem. Rabdeh.
It will be observed that in the foregoing list, all the breeds, except the last six, have at least one substrain, whose name is added to that of the breed, and these substrains only are used in choosing sires. A Kehilan without an affix to his name is not hadud, that is, not “worthy;” and of the disqualified class mares only are used for breeding — their produce, however, inherit their disabilites, and the Arabs do not consider that a stain in the blood can be extinguished by lapse of time. On the other hand, a Rishan, with the affix of Sherabi, or a Samhan, with that of El Gomeaa, are perfectly qualified, although a Kehilan Ajuz or a Seglawi Jedran would be preferred. Of the minor breeds none are kept absolutely pure, except the Maneghi Hedruj of Ibn Sbeyel. In all cases, the breed of the colt is that of his dam, not of his sire.
There is no such distinction in the desert as that made in India, of high caste and low caste, first class and second class. An animal, about whose breeding there is any doubt, is disqualified altogether, and is not bred from.
I add a table, showing the whole of the strains and substains, premising that one and all of them are reputed to have descended from the same original stock.
“A neighing quadruped, used in war, and draught and carriage.”
Arab horse-breeding — Obscurity respecting it — There is no Nejdean breed
— Picture of the Anazeh horse–He is a bold jumper — Is a fast horse for
his size — His nerve excellent, and his temper — Causes of deterioration
— How the Bedouins judge a horse — Their system of breeding and training
— Their horsemanship indifferent — Their prejudices — Pedigree of the thoroughbred
the obscurity in which the whole subject of Arab horse-breeding is hidden in
England, I trust that I shall be excused for venturing to give a slight sketch
of this interesting subject. It was one that engaged our attention more than
any other on our late journey, and which we took especial pains to understand
in principle as well as in detail.
It is singular that former travellers should not have attempted this. Niebuhr
and Burckhardt, exhaustive as they generally are, are silent here, or tell
us little that is correct, while later travellers, either from lack of interest
or lack of knowledge, ignores the subject altogether. Mr. Palgrave, in his
contempt of all things Bedouin, disposes of the Anazeh horses in a few sentences,
which reveal his little acquaintance with his subject, and repeats a fantastic
account of the Royal Stables at Riad and the tale of a distinct Nejdean breed
existing there, a tale which so far as I could learn no Bedouin north of Jebel
Shammar believes a word of: Mr. Palgrave must have been deceived on this point
by the townsmen of Riad, for the northern Bedouins know Ibn Saoud perfectly
by name and know of his mares. But they all assert that the Riad stud is quite
a modern collection, got together by Feysul and acquired principally from themselves.
Abdallah-ibn-Feysul-inb-Saoud still sends to the Anazeh for additions to it
from time to time; and I know of one instance in which he sent four mares from
Riad as far as Aleppo to a celebrated horse standing there.
General Daumans’s book on the horses of the Sahara does not do more than touch
on those of Arabia; and, with the exception of an Italian work which I have
heard of, but which is out of print, I know of nothing on the subject better
than Captian Upton’s pamphlet called “Newmarket and Arabia.” This,
with some really interesting facts and generally correct notions, is but a
sketch taken from information gained at second hand. The pamphlet, as far as
it relates to Arabia, consists mainly of a discussion as to what sort of horse
it was Noah took with him into the ark, and where the horse went after he was
let out of it. *
*Since writing the above I have been shown an article in Fraser’s
Magazine of September, 1876, in which Captain Upton corrects his original impressions
about Arabian horse-breeding, in consequence of a visit paid by him to the
Sebaa, Moali and other tribes in the neighbourhood of Aleppo. The account thus
corrected is exceedingly good, though it still contains not a few mistakes.
Not to go back so far as that, I think we may be content with accepting the
usual belief that Arabia was one of the countries where the horse was originally
found in his wild state, and where he was first caught and tamed. By Arabia,
however, I would not imply the peninsula, which, according to every account
we have of it, is not at all a country suited to the horse in his natural condition.
there is no water above the ground in Nejd, nor any pasture fit for horses
except during the winter months; and the mares kept by the Bedouins there are
fed, during part of the year at least, on dates and camel’s milk. Every authority
agrees on this point. The Nejd horses are of pure blood, because of the isolation
of the peninsula, and the want of proper food has stunted the breed. Nejd bred
horses are neither so tall nor so fast as those of the Hamad, although the
blood is the same. Dr. Colvill, who went to Riad in 1854, assures me that he
saw but one single mare during the whole of his journey there and back, and
that that was a small insignificant animal. He has seen, however, ponies of
thirteen hands in el Hasa which he describes as “little lions,” of
great power and beauty; the “tattoes” of the Indian market.
It is not then in the peninsula of Arabia, where water is only to be had from
wells, that the original stock can have been found, but rather in Mesopotamia
and the great pastoral districts bordering the Euphrates, where water is abundant
and pasture perennial. I was constantly struck, when crossing the plains of
Mesopotamia, with its resemblance to Entrerios, and the other great horse-producing
regions of the river Plate. Here the wild horse must have been originally captured,
(just as in the present day the wahash or wild ass is captured,) and taken
thence by man to people the peninsula.
Later on, invasions from the north seem to have brought other breeds of horses
to these very plains, members perhaps of other original stocks, those of the
Russian steppes or of Central Asia. These we find represented on the Chaldean
bas-releifs, and still existing in the shape of stout ponies all along the
northern edge of the desert — animals disowned by the Bedouins as being horses
at all, yet serviceable for pack work, and useful in their way. This Chaldean
type, from whatever source it springs, stands in direct contrast with that
of the true Arabian. It is large-headed, heavy-necked, straight- shouldered,
and high on the leg — a lumbering clumsy beast, fit rather for draught, if
it were large enough, than for riding; and in this way the ancient Chaldeans
seem to have chiefly employed it. The desert, however, has always preserved
its own breed intact; and wherever the Bedouin is found, whether in Nejd or
in the Hamad or Mesopotamia, the same animal, with the same traditions and
the same prejudices concerning him, is to be found. It is of this animal only
that I propose to speak.
The pure bred Bedouin horse stands from fourteen to fifteen hands in height,
the difference depending mainly on the country in which he is bred, and the
amount of good food he is given as a colt. In shape he is like our English
thoroughbred, his bastard cousin, but with certain differences. The principal
of these is, as might be expected, in the head, for where there is a mixture
of blood the head almost always follows the least beautiful type of the ancestors.
Thus, every horse with a cross of Spanish blood will retain the heavy head
of that breed, though he have but one-sixteenth part of it to fifteen of a
better strain. The head of the Arabian is larger in proportion than that of
the English thoroughbred, the chief difference lying in the depth of jowl.
This is very marked, as is also the width between the cheek-bones where the
English horse is often defective to the cost of his windpipe. The ears are
fine and beautifully shaped, but not very small. The eye is large and mild,
the forehead prominent as in horses of the Touchstone blood with us, and the
muzzle fine, sometimes almost pinched. Compared with the Arabian, the English
thoroughbred is Roman nosed. The head, too, and this is perhaps the most distinguishing
feature, is set on at a different angle. When I returned to England the thoroughbreds
seemed to me to hold their heads as if tied in with a bearing rein, and to
have no throat whatever, the cause perhaps of that tendency to roaring so common
The neck of the Arabian horse is light, and I have never seen among them anything
approaching to the crest given by his pictures, to the Godolphin Arabian. The
shoulder is good, as good as in our own horses and the wither is often as high,
although from the greater height of the hind-quarter this is not so apparent.
The forearm in the best specimens is of great strength, the muscle standing
out with extraordinary prominence. The back is shorter than it is in our thoroughbreds,
and the barrel rounder. The Arabian is well ribbed up. He stands higher at
the croup than at the wither. The tail is set on higher, but not, as I have
heard some people say, on a level with the croup. Indeed, the jumping bone,
to use an Irish phrase, is often very prominent. The tail is carried high,
both walking and galloping; and this point is much looked to, as a sign of
breeding. I have seen mares gallop with their tails as straight as a colt’s,
and fit, as the Arabs say, to hang your cloak on.
The hind-quarter in the Arabian is much narrower than in our horses, another
point of breeding, which indicates speed rather than strength. The line of
the hind-quarter is finer, the action freer, and the upper limb longer in proportion
than in the English racehorse. The hocks are larger, better let down, and not
so straight. The cannon bone is shorter. The legs are strong, but with less
bone in proportion than back sinew. This last is perhaps the finest point of
the Arabian, in whom a “breakdown” seldom or never occurs. the bones
of the pastern joints are fine, sometimes too fine for strength, and the pastern
itself is long even to weakness. Its length is a point much regarded by the
Arabs as a sign of speed. The hoofs are round and large, and very hard, though,
from the barbarous method of shoeing and paring of the foot practiced by the
desert blacksmiths, a stranger might doubt this. The toe is often cut ludicrously
short, out of economy, to save frequent shoeing.
The only defect of the Arabian as a racehorse, compared with our own, is his
small size. Inch for inch there can be no question which is the faster horses.
It is commonly said in England that the Arabian has but one pace, the gallop;
and in a certain sense this is true. Trotting is discouraged by the Bedouin
colt-breakers, who, riding on an almost impossible pad, and without stirrups,
find that pace inconvenient. But with a little patience, the deficiency can
easily be remedied, and good shoulder action given. No pure bred Arabian however
is a high stepper. His style of galloping is long and low, the counterpart
of our English thoroughbred’s. He is a careless but by no means a bad or dangerous
walker. It is considered a great point of breeding that a horse should look
about him to right and left as he walks; and this, combined with the great
lengths of his pasterns, makes him liable to trip on even ground, if there
are slight inequalities in his road. I have never however seen him even in
danger of falling. The horse is too sure of his footing to be careful, except
on rough ground, and then he never makes a false step. The broken knees one
comes across are almost always the result of galloping colts before they are
strong enough over rocky gbround, and, though a fearful disfigurement in our
eyes, are thought nothing of by the Bedouins. The reputation, so often given
to the Arabian, of being a slow walker, is the reverse of true. Though less
fast than the Barb, he walks well beyond the average pace of our own horses.
His gallop, as I have said, is long and low, and faster in proportion to
his height than that of any other breed. If one could conceive an Arabian
seventeen hands high, he could not fail to leave the best horse in England
behind him. As it is, he is too small to keep stride with our race-horses.
The Arabian is a bold jumper, indeed the boldest in the world. Though in their
own country they had had absolutely no knowledge of fences, not one of the
mares we brought home with us has made any difficulty about going at the fences
we tried them at. One of them, the evening of her arrival in England, on being
let loose in the park, cleared the fence which is five feet six inches high.
We pulled down the lower rails after this, and walked her back under the top
one, a thick oak rail which was several inches higher than her wither. Another,
though only fourteen hands two inches, clears seven yards in her stride over
a hurdle. The mare I rode on the journey, carried me over the raised watercourses
by the Euphrates in the cleverest way in the world, off and on without the
least hanging or hesitation, and always with a foot ready to bring down in
case of need. As hunters, however, in England, they would all be too small
for any but children to ride, and their want of comparative height at the wither
would be a serious defect.
Of their galloping powers, as compared with those of English thoroughbreds,
I cannot speak from experience. I do not, however, suppose that over three
miles, the longest English race, and Arabian would have much chance against
any but quite inferior animals. Over five miles it might be different, but
over twenty I am convinced that none but very exceptional English horses, would
be able to go with them.The Arabians seem capable of going on for surprising
distances, under heavy weights, without tiring; and they have the advantage
of being able to stand almost any amount of training without going “stale.” The
thoroughbred Anazeh horse will train as fine as any English racehorse. Be this
as it may, there is no doubt that the pure bred Arabian possesses extraordinary
powers of endurance. On a journey he may be ridden day after day, and fed only
upon grass. Yet he does not lose heart or condition, and is always ready to
gallop at the end of the longest march, a thing we have never ventured to propose
to our horses on any previous journey.
In disposition the Arabians are gentle and affectionate, familiar indeed almost
to the extent of being troublesome. They have no fear of man whatsoever, and
will allow anyone to come up to them when grazing, and take them by the head.
If they happen to be lying down, they will not move though you come close to
them. They are not to be intimidated by any lifting up of hands or sticks,
for they do not understand that you can hurt them. It often amused us in the
desert to see the mares come up to their masters and use them for a rubbing-post.
this extreme gentleness and courage, though partly the effect of education,
is also inherited, for a colt born and brought up in the stable is just as
tame. It never thinks, as English colts do, of running round behind its dam
for protection, but comes at once to anyone who enters the box.
I have never seen an Arabian vicious, shy, or showing signs of fear. They
do not wince at firearms, though they are not at all accustomed to them; and
in England no railway train or sudden noise gives them the least alarm. In
this they are very diffferent from Barbs, Turks, and all other foreign horses
I have had to do with.
There is among English people a general idea that grey, especially flea-bitten
grey, is the commonest Arabian colour. But this is not so among the Anazeh.
Bay is still more common, and white horses, though fashionable in the desert,
are rare. Our white Hamdaniyeh mare, Sherifa, which came from Nejd, was immensely
admired among the Gomussa for the sake of her colour almost as much as for
her head, which is indeed of extraordinary beauty. The drawing at the beginning
of this chapter is her very faithful portrait. Perhaps out of a hundred mares
among the Anazeh one would see thirty-five bay, thirty grey, fifteen chestnut,
and the rest brown or black. Roans, piebalds, duns, and yellows, are not found
among the pure bred Arabians, though the last two occasionally are among Barbs.
The bays often have black points and generally a white foot, or two or three
white feet, and a snip or blaze down the face. The chestnuts vary from the
brightest to the dullest shades, and I once saw a mottled brown. The tallest
and perhaps handsomest horse we saw was a Samhan-el-Gomeaa, a three-year-old
bay with black points, standing about fifteen hands one inch. He was a little
clumsy, however, in his action, though that may have been the fault of his
breaking. He had bone enough to satisfy all the requirements, even those of
a Yorkshire man, but showed no sign of lacking quality. With very few exceptions,
all the handsomest mares we saw were bay, which is without doubt by far the
best colour in Arabia as it is in England. The chestnuts, as with us, are hot
tempered, even violent. Black is a rare colour, and I never saw in the desert
a black mare which I fancied. In choosing Arabians I should take none but bays,
and if possible bays with black points.
It must not be supposed that there are many first-class mares among the Bedouins.
During all our travels we saw but one which answered to the ideal we had formed,
an Abeyeh Sherrak of the Gomussa. Nor were there many which approached her.
Among the Shammar we saw only two first-class mares, among the Fedaan perhaps
half a dozen, and among the Roala, once the leading tribe in horse-breeding,
none. The Gomussa alone, of all the Anazeh, have any large number of really
fine mares. We had an excellent oppportunity of judging, for we were with the
Gomussa when fighting was going on, and when every man among them was mounted
on his mare. I do not consider that we saw more than twenty “fok el aali,” or,
to translate it literally, “tip-top” mares, nor more than fifty which
we should have cared to possess. I doubt if there are two hundred really first-class
mares in the whole of Northern Arabia. By this I of course do not mean first-class
in quality and appearance as well as blood.
I cannot help suspecting that a certain amount of deterioration has taken
place within the last fifty, perhaps the last twenty years. There is no doubt
that in the early years of the present century, the Roala were possesssed of
immense numbers of mares, and had the reputation of having the monopoly of
some of the best strains of blood. It was to their sheykh, Ibn Shallan, whom
he called the “Prince of the Desert,” that Abbas Pasha sent his son
to be educated, and from them that he bought most of the mares, of which he
made such a wonderful collection. Yet from one cause and another the Roala,
though still rich and powerful, have now no mares to speak of. They have within
the last few years abandoned the old Bedouin warfare with the lance, and taken
to firearms. Horses are no longer indispensable to them, and have been recklessly
sold. The Shammar of Mesopotamia have suffered for the last two generations
by the semi-Turkism of their Sheykhs, Sfuk and Ferhan, and have been divided
by internal dissensions to such an extent, that their enemies, the Anazeh,
have greatly reduced them. Abbas Pasha also bought up many fine mares from
among them at extravagant prices; and they now have not a single specimen among
them of the Seglawi Jedran breed, for which they were formerly famous. The
Montefik in the south, once also celebrated for their horses, have allowed
the purity of their breed to be tampered with , for the sake of increased size,
so necessary for the Indian market which they supplied. It was found that a
cross-bred animal of mixed Persian and Arabian blood, would pass muster among
the English in India as pure Arabian, and would command a better price from
his extra height. The Persian or Turcoman horse stands fifteen hands two inches,
or even, I am told, sixteen hands; and these the Montifik have used to cross
their mares with. The produce is known in India as the Gulf Arab, but his inferior
quality is now recognised. Lastly, among the Sebaa themselves, who have maintained
the ancient breeds in all their integrity, various accidents have concurred
in diminishing the number of their mares. Several seasons of drought and famine,
within the last fifteen years, have reduced the prosperity of the tribes, and
forced them to part with some of their best breeding stock. Many a valuable
mare was thus sold, because her owner had no choice but to do so or to let
her starve, while others, left “on halves” with inhabitants of the
small towns, never returned to the desert. Mijuel, of the Misrab, told me of
a mare of his, which he had been obliged to leave in this way with a townsman,
and which, from having been left standing a whole year in a filthy stable,
had become foundered in all four feet and could not be removed. Finally the
continual wars, which for years past have devastated the tribes, have caused
an immense consumption of horses. When a mare is taken in war she is usually
galloped into the nearest town, and sold hurriedly by her captor, for what
she will fetch, for fear of her being reclaimed when peace is made. While we
were at Aleppo, mares were thus every day brought for us to look at, terribly
knocked about, and often with fresh spear-wounds gaping on flank or shoulder.
Besides all these reasons, the Bedouin system of breeding, as at present practised
among the Anazeh and Shammar, must have had a degenerating effect upon
their blood stock, which is only now beginning to show its results. That this
system has in most of its features been the same from time immemorial in Arabia,
is no doubt true, but there is one point on which it is more likely the practice
has been modified by recent circumstances. In former times when the tribes
were rich and prosperous, it cannot be doubted, but they kept a larger proportion
of horses as compared with mares than is now seen. At present time there can
hardly be more than one full-grown horse kept for stud purposes to every two
hundred mares. Indeed, the proportion is probably far smaller, and this fact
alone is sufficient to account for much of the barrenness and much of the inferiority
of the produce, complained of in the desert. In England such a proportion would
not be tolerated. Then, if there be any truth in the doctrine that in-and-in
breeding is wrong, this too may be looked upon as an increasing evil in the
desert. The Shammar have long been separated from the rest of Arabia, and,
though occasionally recruiting their breeding stock by capture from the Anazeh,
they have been for a couple of hundred years practically cut off from all communication
with other horse-breeders. They have despised the horses of their Kurdish and
Persian neighbours too thoroughly to allow any infusion of blood from them,
and thus have been forced to breed in-and-in during all these generations.
The Anazeh, too, though not so absolutely severed from Central Arabia, have,
since the reduction of Jebel Shammar by the Wahabis, been precluded from free
communication with the peninsula, and have become more and more isolated; and
the evil has been exaggerated by the extraordinary fanaticism shown by both
Anazeh and Shammar in favour of certain special strains of blood which monopolise
their attention. At the present moment all the blood stock of the Anazeh tribes
must be related in the closest degrees of consanguinity. That this fanaticism
operates most injuriously there can hardly be a doubt. The horses bred from
are not chosen for their size or their shape, or for any quality of speed or
stoutness, only for their blood. We saw a horse with a considerable reputation
as a sire, among the Aghedaat, for no other reason than that he was a Maneghi
Hedruj of Ibn Sbeyel’s strain. The animal himself was a mere pony, without
a single good point to recommend him, but his blood was unexceptionable, and
he was looked upon with awe by the tribe.
These two points then, the insufficiency of stud horses and in-and-in breeding,
may be looked upon as exceptional, yet adequate causes of degeneracy among
the rank and file of the Bedouin horses north of Jebel Shammar.
It is difficult to understand how it happens that the pure Arabian race should
have in fact retained as much of its good quality as it has. In all ages and
in all parts of Arabia, to say nothing of the points I have already mentioned,
an unpractical system of breeding has prevailed, due in part to prejudice,
and in part to peculiarities of climate and soil. To begin with, there has
been the extraordinary prejudice of blood I have spoken of, and which, though
doubtless an excellent one as between pure Arabians and “kadishes,” is
hardly valid as between the different strains of pure blood. An inferior specimen
of a favourite strain is probably preferred all over Arabia to a fine specimen
of a lower strain, or rather of a less fashionable one. Thus the Bedouin’s
judgment of the individual horse itself, when he does judge it, is rather a
guess at this pedigree than a consideration of his qualities. In examining
a horse, the bedouin looks first at his head. There, if anywhere, the signs
of his parentage will be visible. Then, maybe, he looks at his colour to see
if he have any special marks for recognition, and last of all at his shape.
Of the speed of the animal, though much is talked of it, it is seldom that
anything accurate is known. The Bedouins have no set races by which they can
judge of this, and the relative merits of their mares can hardly be guessed
at in the fantasias where they figure. Even in war it is rather a question
of endurance, than of speed, which is the better animal; and, where a real
flight and a real pursuit takes place, the course is so seldom a straight one,
that it is as often that the best trained or the best ridden mare gets the
advantage, as the one which really has the speed. A mare, celebrated for speed
in the desert, is as often as not merely a very well-broken charger. The Bedouins
have, moreover, no idea, even if they had the intention, of riding their horses
so as to give them full advantage of their stride. They must be very hard pressed
indeed, if they keep on at a steady gallop for more than a mile or two together.
Their parties and expeditions, even where haste is necessary, are constantly
interrupted by halts and dismountings; and a steady pace all day long is a
thing not to be thought of. They go, however, immense distances in this way,
cantering and stopping and cantering again, and are out sometimes for a whole
month together, during which time their mares are very insufficiently fed,
and often kept for days at a time without water. They are also exposed to every
hardship in the way of climate, heat, and cold, and pitilesss wind. The mares
then, depend rather on stoutness and long endurance of privations, than on
speed, for finding favour with their masters.
The education they receive, no doubt, prepares them for this, but at the same
time it interferes with their growth, and prevents them from developing the
full posers of strength and speed they might otherwise acquire. The colt, as
soon as it is born, and this may be at any time of the year (for the Bedouins
have no prejudice in favour of early foaling), is fastened, by a cord tied
either round the neck or round the hind leg above the hock, to a tent-rope,
and kept thus close to the tent all day, its dam going out the while to pasture.
The little creature by this early treatment becomes extraordinarily tame, suffering
itself to be handled at once and played with by the children. It is fed, as
soon as it can be made to drink, on camel’s milk, which the bedouins pretend
will give it the endurance of that beast; and, at any rate by the end of the
month, it is weaned altogether from the mare. The real reason of this can hardly
be the good of the foal, but the necessity of making use of the mare for riding.
The Bedouins allow at most a month before and a month after foaling for rest.
The colt then has not the advantage we think so essential to proper growth,
of running with its mother during its first season. It continues, however,
quite tame, and, as soon as it is a year old, is mounted a little by the children,
and later on by any boy who is a light weight. The Bedouins declare that, unless
a colt has done really hard work before he is three years old, he will never
be fit to do it afterwards; so in the course of his third year he is taken
on expeditions, not perhaps serious ghazus, where he would run some risk of
breaking down or being captured, but on minor journeys; and he is taught to
gallop in the figure of eight, and change his legs so as to grow supple. This
treatment is indeed a kill or cure one; and, if the colt gets through it, there
is little fear of his breaking down afterwards. It is seldom that one sees
a three-year old without splints, though curbs and spavins are not common.
I have seen several animals with the shank bone permanently bent, through hard
work when very young. I agree, however, with the Bedouins, in believing that
to their general health and powers of endurance this early training is necessary.
The fillies go through the same course of treatment, and themselves become
mothers before they are four years old. The colts are sold off when opportunity
offers to the townsmen of Deyr, Aleppo or Mosul, as the case may be, or to
dealers who come round to the tents of the tribes, during their summer stay
in the extreme north. The best are usually taken by the townsmen, as the dealers,
especially those who supply the Indian market, seldom or never purchase hadud
colts. These cost about three times as much as the others, and it is easy to
forge a pedigree. The townsmen, particularly those of Deyr, who are almost
Bedouins themselves, know the difference well, and care for nothing but the
best. Others are sold to the low tribes, who take them in to the towns for
further sale, as soon as they have broken them. The fillies are generally kept
in the tribe.
Copyright 1990 by R.J.CADRANELL from Arabian Visions Sept ’90 Used by permission of RJ Cadranell
Almost no Americans still alive can say that they imported their own Arabian horses directly from Arabia. Two of the people who can are Mr. and Mrs. Richard T. Cavedo of Richmond, Virginia. The Cavedos spent ten years in Saudi Arabia, and stabled today on their farm are the offspring of a stallion and two mares which they imported from Saudi Arabia in 1962.
The Cavedos, and others who imported Arabian horses to America at about the same time, were connected to Aramco, the Arabian American Oil Company. Dick Cavedo was a pilot for Aramco and went to Saudi Arabia in 1952. His wife, Laura, joined him there in 1953. They lived in Aramco’s town at Dhahran. Writers have described the Dhahran that the Cavedos knew as “a piece of transplanted small town U.S.A.” The Americans lived in a self-contained community. They had to come up with their own entertainment, and constructed such amenities as a swimming pool, library, and even a golf course.
When Laura arrived, Dick already owned a five-year-old bay stallion named *Shams. *Shams was stabled at an American establishment known as the Hobby Farm, and later the Corral, about three miles outside of Dhahran on the Dhahran-Khobar road. This was home to horses, gazelles, rabbits, and an oynx. When Dick joined the Hobby Farm and bought *Shams, according to Laura, there were about 17 horses. By the time the Cavedos returned to the U.S. ten years later, there were about a hundred. “That’s how much it grew.” Laura observes. Among the Aramco personnel, as among Americans at home, some filled their leisure time with swimming and golf, while others chose horses as their mode of recreation. Laura had grown up with horses, and Dick originally bought *Shams to be a gift for Laura when she arrrived. But Dick liked the horse so well it was decided to buy another one for Laura. Eventually, they bought the mares *Munirah (also known as “Lil” or “Lilly”) and *Malaiha.
To look at horses, the Cavedos went to the oasis town of Qatif, about twenty miles to the north of Dhahran, where the Banu Khalid tribe came in summer. Laura says that some of the Banu Khalid lived there all year. They irrigated and cultivated date trees,
“and that’s where we bought our alfalfa.” Laura adds. “You would know an Arab employee of Aramco, who knew you were looking for horses.” Laura says. “Through him we would make an appointment to see a horse for sale on Thursday or Friday, the Arab weekend.”
On some trips there would be no horses to see.
“The Arabs would always have an excuse. They couldn’t catch the horse, or whatever. ‘Tomorrow, Inshallah’ they would say. Or the horse was not as described. We would go out to look at some ‘fine young mare’ and find a broken-down stallion.”
The Cavedos would bring along a saddle and hackamore to try anything that turned out to be ridable. Laura remembers one grey mare in particular.
“She was a very nice ride; a real sweet mare. But she was too old, and not only that, she was owned by maybe 18 people who couldn’t agree on a price or if they wanted to sell her at all.“
When the Cavedos did buy a horse, they asked for a bill of sale.
“We’d ask them to put down everything they knew about the horse, just for our own information.” Laura says.
The primary equestrian recreational activity for Aramco personnel was riding in the desert. Between Dhahran, Dammam, and al-Khobar, was an area of probably more than 40 square miles.
“There were no roads, no fences, just open desert. It was good riding.” Laura says. “You could go out for half an hour, or five hours. Sometimes we’d camp by the beach. Other times we’d have a barbecue and moonlight rides. The terrain wasn’t flat. There were big dunes, and some rocky ground, too.”
During nicer weather, from November to March, gymkhanas were held at the Corral. Dick, Laura, and a few friends originated the gymkhanas.
“Things changed as time went on, and the number of horses and owners at the Corral grew,” Laura says. “It started as a group of people who wanted to have some fun riding horses, and evolved from there. On Friday afternoons we would have our gymkhanas, and other Americans from Dhahran would come to watch, because they had nothing else to do. Gradually, more and more families, parents and children, got involved.”
Unlike Laura, however, most of these people had not grown up with horses. The March, 1956 issue of Aramco World printed an article on the corral, which estimated that more than half of the members had bought their first horse in Saudi Arabia. The gymkhanas eventually included events like pole bending, keyhole races, tilting, and obstacle courses. There was a drill team and a junior drill team. Less serious competitions were egg-and-spoon and equestrian versions of musical chairs. Other events included jumping, driving, races, and relay races.
“We would try anything we could think of that people did back in the States.”
Laura says. As the gymkhanas became more popular, the company became involved. The company erected a grandstand, installed loudspeakers, and poured oil on the sand to hold down the dust. There were special shows for dignitaries like Ibn Jiluwi (the Governor of Hasa province) and one for Doug Marshall.
As the population of horses and riders at the Corral grew, Arabs would show up there with horses for sale. The horses were generally from Riyadh, to start with, and later from Kuwait. Laura says that most Americans bought their horses in this way, or from other Americans who were returning to the States and leaving their horses behind.
“Once a horse entered the Corral, it stayed there, and was sold from one American to the next.“
Laura doesn’t recall that most Americans, and especially American women, went outside looking for horses the way she and Dick did. a few of the horses at the Corral were gifts from Ibn Sa’ud or Ibn Jiluwi. Almost all were bought locally. A few came from the island of Bahrain, which the Cavedos could see from their kitchen door. Laura remembers the Kuwaiti horses being an inch or two taller than the other horses, which difference she attributed to better feed.
“The foals we bred when we got our own horses home all matured taller than their parents.” Laura comments.
The Cavedos bought both of their mares in Qatif. *Munirah was Laura’s competition horse. Dick rode *Shams the most. They both rode *Malaiha, who was better behaved for the drill team than *Shams.
For a short time, an American friend of Dick and Laura’s managed the stables of King Ibn Sa’ud at Riyadh. During the term of his employ, the Cavedos were able to tour the royal stables and see. “all the King’s horses,” as Laura put it. This was near the end of Dick and Laura’s stay in Saudi Arabia. During the 1950s, Fran Richards wrote a column for The Arabian Horse News, which told American Arabian enthusiasts of happenings at the Corral. Fran Richards repeatedly made the point that few horses were found in the area of Dhahran outside of the Corral, since there was almost nothing to feed them. The May, 1956 issue of the News included a picture of Laura Cavedo with “Lil” (*Munirah) receiving the Horse of the Year trophy at the end of the gymkhana season. By 1955, the Dhahran Arabian Horse Association was part of I.A.H.A.
With so many Arabians stabled in one place, inevitably people began to breed foals. Some of the photographs Fran Richards sent for publication in the News, are of horses with “D.A.H.R.” (presumably the Dhahran Arabian Horse Registry) numbers.
“What we Americans were looking for in horses was something sound and ridable,” says Laura. “People wanted horses for recreation, or for their kids to ride. Many American personnel connected to Aramco had horses, but very few brought them back. I can’t think of anyone who went out to buy horses specifically for importation.”
Of the few Americans who did become attached to their horses and bring them home, even fewer bothered to apply for their registration. However, the stud book of the Arabian Horse Registry of America does contain a number of Saudi horses imported in the late 50s and early- to mid-60s. They are listed in the accompanying table. Earlier AHRA-registered Aramco-connected horses include the 1950 imports of Esther Ames (*Mahraa and her daughter *Muhaira) and John M. Rogers (*Thorayyah, *Subaiha, *Taffel, *Bakhaitah, and *Muneerah).
The Cavedos returned to America in 1962, bringing with them *Shams, *Munirah, and *Malaiha. On board the same boat were Ella Chastain’s *Al-Obayyah and “Redette,” as well as Miss Farrell Lovett’s gelding, “Ramadi.” Laura recalls,
“It was a long trip, lasting 43 days. We went by way of the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, through the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, and across the Atlantic. We arrived in America on Friday the 13th of July, 1962.”
Then the horses had to spend 60 days in quarantine. It was September before the Cavedo horses arrived in Virgina.
“Ester Holmes had imported some horses the year before, and she told us to have ‘passports’ and photo i.d.’s made identifying the horses. You just didn’t know which customs officials would want to see what papers. We tried to cover everything. We went before the American Consulate to have them verify that these were our horses, and we had health certificates issued, too,” Laura says.
When *Shams, *Munirah, and *Malaiha were released from quarantine, Laura made arrangements with the Arabian Horse Club Registry (as it then called itself) to apply for their registration. According to a 10/1962 letter to Laura from Nellie Bayley, the Registry’s assistant secretary-treasurer, the
“usual papers on Desert horses are sworn to at the American Consulate…”
The Registry also needed a copy of port of entry form showing the date of entry. It needed registration applications and registration fees. The letter concludes,
“When the papers are found to be complete and satisfactory, arrangements will be made with you for a mutually convenient time for the inspection.”
Milt Thompson inspected the horses and turned them down. Laura felt that one reason might have been the poor condition of the horses following the long months of shipping and quarantine. After hearing that other Aramco imports were granted reinspections and ultimately registered following initial rejection, Laura wrote to Dan Gainey in March of 1966 to request a reinspection.
Nellie Bayley answered that a reinspection could be scheduled if the Cavedos paid the inspector’s round trip fare from Denver to Richmond.
“That was more or less the last straw,” Laura says. “Maybe we should have kept at it, but by then the whole thing had left such a bad taste in our mouths that we didn’t.“
When the International Arabian Horse Registry of North America (IAHRONA) was founded in 1967, the Cavedo imports and their offspring were registered in its studbook. Today, the original imports are gone, but Dick and Laura still have on their farm the mares Lira II, Kita II, and Binni II, as well as the gelding Arak II. The gelding Chief Shamus is owned nearby. The youngest of the mares is twenty-three, and none have any foals on the ground. It does not seem likely that the Cavedo Arabians will ever contribute to American Arabian breeding but, if the Registry were to reconsider their application and if someone made the effort to get a foal from Kita II, they might.
Cavedo foals registered with IAHRONA: Binni II, (Shams x *Munirah) 1963 bay mare, owned by the author; Lira II (*Shams x *Malaiha) 1964 chestnut mare; Chief Shamus (*Shams x *Munirah) 1965 bay gelding; Arak II (*Shams x *Malaiha) 1967 chestnut gelding; Kita II (*Shams x *Munirah) 1967 chestnut mare.
Aramco Imports of the Late 50s and 60s
15998 *Nurah 1954 ch m bred by Mrs. James H. Gildea in Dammam. In the January, 1956 issue of the News, Fran Richards tells the story of the Gildeas and how they acquired the sire and dam of *Nurah:
“Mr. Gildea was general manager of the Saudi Government railroad and pier. *Nurah’s sire was a gift from Ibn Jiluwi, and her dam a gift from the King’s physician.”
Imported in 1959 by Laura Beavers.
18025 *Rudann 1951 ch m
18026 *Taamri 1948 ch s
18027 *Halwaaji 1954 ch m
18028 *Amiraa 1959 gr m; were all four bred by the Saudi Royal Stud in Riyadh. Imported in 1960 by Sam Roach. *Amiraa is a daughter of *Halwaaji. This information is from their entries in vol. XI of the AHRA studbook.
20427 *Hamra Johara 1952 ch m was bred by King Ibn Sa’ud and imported in 1961 by Lewis Payne.
27761 *Jamalah el Jedrani 1954 gr m was bred by Fran Richards in Dhahran from a mare she purchased shortly after her arrival in Saudi Arabia, and a Banu Khalid stallion owned by a friend and imported in 1963 by R.O. Richards.
27762 *Al-Obayyah 1957 gr m was bred by the Sa’ud Royal Stud, and purchased in Qatif by D.M. Chastain. Imported in 1962 by Ella N. Chastain.
28560 *Eman al-Shamalia 1953 ch m was bred by the Sa’ud Royal Stud in Riyadh. Imported in 1963 by Cynthia Sue Larsen.
36944 *Jalam al Ubayan 1949 ch s was bred by Ibn Jiluwi. Presented by Ibn Jiluwi to Lou and Mary Killian, who sold him to Connie Cobb. Imported by Connie Cobb in 1966.
36945 *Sheri 1963 ch m bred by W.C. Andrews. Imported in 1963 by W.C. Andrews. By *Jalam al Ubayan, above.
37774 *Furtha Dhellal 1960 gr stallion bred in al-Khobar. Imported in 1966 by C. Cobb.
37775 *Habiti 1952 bay m bred in Saihat. Imported in 1966 by B.J.Cobb.
110011 *Sindidah 1954 gr m bred by Sa’ud Royal Stud in riyadh. Imported in 1966 by M. Johnson.
Note: *Hadriyan 217415 (CAHR 8159) 1976 ch stallion bred in British Columbia, Canada, was imported to the U.S. in 1980. His dam *Hadriya (CAHR 7176) was bred by Dr. & Mrs. Kelly in Dhahran and foaled in 1954. Her sire was *Jalam al Ubayan, and her dam was *Sawannah, a Bahraini mare. The Kellys imported *Sawannah (with *Hadriya in-utero) in 1954.
Rick Synowski Copyright 1995
Used by permission of Rick Synowski
from Arabian Visions Mar/Apr 1995
Carleton Cummings holding the weanlings Antezeyn Skowronek and Abu Farwa’s Rawia, both by Abu Farwa. Rawia, called by Cummings “the Queen of Diamonds” for her three diamond star, strip and snip, carried two generations of children to show ring victories, the last at age 17 when she was named champion mare of the Pacific National Exposition in Vancouver, B.C., shown by an eight-year-old boy.
Like many kids looking for their first Arabian horse in the 1950’s and early 1960’s — kids perhaps from less than affluent families and looking to make their dreams of owning an Arabian horse come true — I first heard of Carleton Cummings after reading about his Skyline Trust Arabians. An article by H. H. Reese stated that Cummings had “developed his Arabian horse breeding program with the purpose of assisting boys and girls who like horses to secure good specimens of the breed on a partnership basis.” Reese’s article described Cummings’s “lend lease” program whereby youngsters could lease a mare, breed her and then, after the birth of the foal, return either the mare or the foal. To an imaginative 11-year-old, this sounded like just the ticket. I wrote a letter to Cummings. Having read H. H. Reese’s Kellogg Arabians a hundred times, I had pictured in my mind’s eye the Arabian horse I wanted to own. I described this horse to Cummings in the first letter. Cummings replied with a post card. He stated he had about 2500 letters on his desk from youngsters across the country. If I was still interested, I was to write him again. I wrote Cummings that very day and so began a correspondence of some two years which culminated in buying half interest in a weanling colt, Skowronek’s Antez, with my own savings in 1962. Cummings wrote the following spring that “few breeders ever get colts of this quality and even fewer ever offer them for sale.” Nevertheless, he was giving me the opportunity to buy out his interest in the now yearling colt. I took Cummings up on his offer. It was a purchase I was never to regret. Within a few weeks Cummings died of a heart attack.
Skowronek’s Antez (Antzeyn Skowronek x Raseynette). The author’s first Arabian and a wonderful companion for 28 years. He also proved a fine sire.
Cummings’s background outside the sphere of Arabian horses was in music. He had been an operatic tenor of some notoriety in the east. He later turned to teaching as professor of music at Wake Forest College and later as the head of the music department at the University of Idaho. Cummings’s wife, Theresa, had been a drama major in college where they met. After their marriage and graduation, they traveled to Army posts doing music and drama presentations during World War I.
Cummings’s background in music and theatre suited a personality that tended toward the theatrical, and a soul that was flamed by the same qualities in Arabian horses. His love for the dramatic carried over to the horses he purchased and bred and the ways he talked about them. However, his flowery descriptions were no means an exaggeration of the splendid group of horses he assembled.
His initial purchase in 1945 was the four-year-old Kellogg-bred Direyn (*Raseyn x Ferdirah). Cummings rode in a boxcar with Direyn the entire trip from Pomona, California to Moscow, Idaho. Cummings was to become part of “the Reese circle of breeders.” Reese, having left the Kellogg Ranch as manager by then, and with a ranch of his own, continued in an influential role in the early Arabian horse community. Cummings’s later purchases were from Reese himself, from that circle of cooperative breeders like the McKenna brothers, and from the Kellogg Ranch. Cummings’s notable purchase outside this circle was Rifala’s Lami (Geym x Maatiga, by Image) from Roger Selby in 1954. She was to become one of his most influential foundation mares.
Rifala’s Lami (Geym x Maatiga, by Image). Roger Selby wrote Cummings that she was as good a filly as he had ever bred.
In 1949, Cummings purchased the weanling Abu Farwa son Antezeyn Skowronek (x Sharifa, by Antez out of Ferdith, by Ferseyn). He became Cummings’s head sire. His progeny earned him a reputation as the third ranking son of Abu Farwa in the list of leading sires of show champions — with many fewer foals on the ground than the first two ranking Abu Farwa sons. Antezeyn Skowronek ranked first of the Abu Farwa sons on another of Gladys Brown Edwards’s lists: Abu Farwa sons whose own sons had sired show champions. Cummings himself claimed that for a three year period Antezeyn Skowronek had sired more ribbon winners than any sire of any breed. This was entirely possible since his progeny were in the hands of an army of horse-crazy, show-happy kids who would take their Skyline charges to every local show, weekend after weekend, entering dozens of classes in every division from halter to three-gaited to gymkhana events — and winning. These Antezeyn Skowronek offspring were notable not just for their quality and sheer beauty. And their successes were not limited to the competition of local shows. In 1958, the Pauley girls took their young Antezeyn Skowronek daughter, Khatum Tamarette, on the road, first to Estes Park, Colorado, to take 1959 U.S.Top Ten Mare; then to Yakima, Washington, to win Pacific Northwest Champion mare; and finally to Calgary to win a Top Ten at halter. These victories, which Cummings later described as no small feat of endurance for a young mare, earned her the Legion of Merit, one of the first mares to earn this award.
Antezeyn Skowronek, Skyline Trust head sire.
Cummings’s band of foundation mares numbered at 16. He selected these mares to complement Antezeyn Skowronek, but each was chosen on her own merits. Four of his mares were daughters of Ferseyn, taking Reese’s lead to cross Ferseyn daughters with Abu Farwa, and Abu Farwa daughters with Ferseyn, an idea which echoed Lady Wentworth’s earlier cross of Skowronek and Blunt lines. Cummings purchased the Farnasa daughter Anazeh’s Nijm from the Kellogg Ranch, in partnership with one of his protegées, Mary Hall. Anazeh’s Nijm was bred to Ferseyn prior to shipping her home. The resulting foal was the chestnut colt Ferseyn’s Rasim, whom Cummings traded Mary for full interest for his interest in the mare. Ferseyn’s Rasim became Cummings’s junior sire and proved himself an excellent cross on Antezeyn Skowronek daughters as well as on Skyline foundation mares. Two of Cummings’s foundation mares were daughters of the Antez son Gezan, a popular southern California sire of the early 1950’s. Antezeyn Skowronek himself was a grandson of Antez, a Kellogg sire of 100% Davenport breeding who ended an international career as a successful sire himself at the Reese ranch. The Davenport influence was an important presence in the Cummings breeding program.
Cummings was a somewhat controversial figure and outside his band of young, loyal protegées, he was not always well liked. He did not seem to care, and used to say “It doesn’t matter what people say as long as they keep talking about you.” This advice must have harkened back to the days when he performed on stage. Cummings was outspoken and did not mind stating his opinions while sitting in the stands at a horse show. If sitting on the same side of the arena as Cummings, everyone got to hear his opinions, which sometimes referred to the horses in the ring, whether they wanted to hear them or not. It was a little embarrassing for the youngster such as I who was sitting at his side. Cummings also made enemies of a few breeders who had horses for sale at fancy prices. Cummings’s kids sometimes beat these breeders in the show ring with horses leased from Cummings or sold by Cummings at bargain basement prices. And the parents of competing kids must have sitting in the stands bored stiff watching the Skyline horses entering, and often winning, class after class.
Wafa El Shammar (Cavalier x Shama, by Abu Farwa). When Cummings died everyone wanted this mare. Seven people lay claim to her. Wafa El Shammar produced a half-dozen champions. Five of her offspring produced national champions or top ten winners in halter and performance.
Abu’s Rissletta (Abu Farwa x Alleyna, by Alla Amarward), bred by and purchased from H.H.Reese. The rider is a young Bruce Clark, later well known as co-owner of Bru-Mar-Ba Stud. An important mare at that stud was Skyline-bred Rasim’s Ghazayat. Abu’s Rissletta was later purchased and shown by another youngster, Joyce Stockdale, who now with husband Ron Paelek owns Vantage Point Farm. When not carrying youngsters in the show ring, Abu’s Rissletta was having foals, including the important Risseyn for Berry’s Skyline Arabians in Iowa. Risseyn was trained and shown by daughter Lyn, now Lyn Freel of Crystal Castle Arabians.
Nadir (Gezan x Bint Sedjur). Maternal half-sister to Bint Sahara. Nadir produced Canadian Top Ten stallion Raseyn Gezan by Antezeyn Skowronek. Raseyn Gezan was leading sire of champions in Canada for years.
Cummings was not in the habit of getting things down on paper and sometimes made agreements or promises he did not remember. After his death, his daughter inherited his estate, which included the horses. I told her Cummings had promised Wafa El Shammar to me to breed to my colt. His daughter told me six other people had written to tell her Cummings had promised this mare to them. (I did get Wafa El Shammar, who became my foundation mare.)
Despite these discrepancies, Cummings was a real horseman and a genius as a breeder. The horses he selected and bred from were outstanding for their “tangible as well as intangible qualities.” Most of his horses were mounts and companions for youngsters. Few of the horses were ever trained or shown by professionals, but were remarkably successful nevertheless. As breeding horses, they were notable for their ability to consistently produce first rate stock. Cummings’s advertising slogan “Home of beautiful heads and great performance horses” was an accurate description of the Skyline Arabians, as was another of his slogans, “bred for and born with spectacular action.” Cummings admired the Crabbet-bred Naseem for his exceptional beauty above all other ancestor horses, and the Crabbet-bred *Berk for his spectacular action. He used to brag about the number of crosses his horses had to those icons of Arabian horse breeding. Cummings also admired *Raffles. He used to say he liked a “touch of *Raffles for beauty” in his horses. His statement no doubt reflected his delight with the foals of Rifala’s Lami, especially the Antezeyn Skowronek son Rifala’s Naseem. Cummings described Rifala’s Naseem as a “peacock of horses” and “well worth traveling 10,000 miles to see him.” From his pedigrees-in-a-name (another of Cummings’s idiosyncrasies) his pride in these particular ancestors of Rifala’s Naseem is obvious.
Perhaps most important of all, Cummings provided an opportunity for kids to have their dreams come true — not just to own an Arabian horse, but to own a good one. Cummings stressed hard work and responsibility to these youngsters, but his often heard advice was “to dream big.”
(Ad recreated from the one appearing with 1995 Skyline Trust article)
CMK PRESERVATION BREEDING
SILVER FELICITÉ 1993 fily (Jericho Cortez x Silver Joi)
Carlton Cummings would have raved about this filly and he would have recognized his own breeding in her — 4 crosses to Antezeyn Skowronek and tracing to 6 of his Skyline foundation mares. He too would have commented on her 6 crosses to NASEEM whose influence bred down in spades. We are honored to have bred and to own such a filly to carry forward the Skyline type and bloodlines into the 21st century.
RICK SYNOWSKI ARABIAN HORSES since 1962
200 SE Uglow #2
Dallas, OR 97338
For more information on CMK Arabian horses we carry the CMK HERITAGE CATALOGUES, vols. I, II, & III @ $10, each.
In Memoriam: Jericho Cortez 48007 (January 27, 1968 – March 8, 1995)One of the great Skyline stallions is gone.
(Ad recreated from the one appearing with 1995 Skyline Trust article)
Having owned Antezeyn Skowronek…
Robert Bruce photo, age 28
…there really isn’t much more one can say…
…except belatedly to thank his breeder, E.J.Boyer (and the guiding spirit H.H.Reese), his long-time owner, Carlton Cummings, who gave him opportunity with those brilliant mares in the Skyline program; the director of his later career, Rick Synowski; and the Illings of Twin Brook Farm who entrusted the old horse to us in Maryland.
Antezeyn left us just one representative, his lovely feminine daughter ENCHANTED GOLD, from the Lewisfield mare MOSTLY MAGIC. See the Skyline descendants’ photo feature for ENCHANTED and two of her offspring, CROWN OF GOLD by GALAN, making a good start as a sire at Hill House Arabians in Lincoln CA, and our own filly GOLD AND SPICES by ABU ZANZABAR. Both these youngsters are linebred Abu Farwa and CROWN traces in 50% of his pedigree to the classic Reese blend of Abu Farwa with ANTEZ.
MAGIC GOLD (Zadaran x Enchanted Gold) is one of the promising young geldings we currently offer for sale; he is rising four, has been ground worked and is ready to start.
Five CMK stallions at stud (shipped semen available; filly consideration on the Sweepstakes sires).
Neziah+ 85494 15 hh br 1972 (Galah x Nalysa by Ayf) book closed
Cantador 273930 15 hh ch 1983 (Kimfa x Auralu by Aurab)
*Seffer 318071 15 hh ch 1983 (Prince Saraph x Sa’lilah by Silver Flame) Sweepstakes