The Founding of the Crabbet Tradition (Part I)

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series The Founding of the Crabbet Tradition

Copyright 1990 by Michael Bowling, used by permission
Originally published in Arabian Visions March/April 1990

“The great tales… never end… But the people in them come, and go when when their part’s ended.” — J.R.R.Tolkien

We see the names of such Crabbet founder animals as Azrek, Mesaoud and Skowronek so often at the backs of extended pedigrees, it is difficult to appreciate the expanse of time stretching from the purchase of the filly Dajania on Christmas Day, 1877 to March, 1990. It may help to consider that Crabbet history breaks naturally into three major periods. Blunt breeding begins in 1878 and runs (with minor ambiguity over the break point) to 1919. Lady Wentworth’s firm hand is on the helm from 1920 to her death in 1957 when Cecil Covey inherits. The Crabbet Stud continues until 1971 but the reduction of stock necessitated by 80% death duties completes the transformation, begun in the earliest years and accentuated during the Wentworth phase, of Crabbet breeding into a world community. Long before 1971 “Crabbet” has larger implications than any individual breeding program can contain; nearly every modern breeding tradition has been enhanced by contributions from Crabbet and a robust Crabbet heritage maintains its own identity, as straight Crabbet or–like a varietal wine–blended yet retaining predominant Crabbet character.

The exuberant and expansionist Blunt period laid the foundation for all that was to follow at Crabbet and internationally. The Blunt imports were chosen over the course of nearly 20 years from hundreds of horses that might have been bought. The criteria for selection were authenticity of origin and individual quality; to remain in the Crabbet pool an influence had also to demonstrate compatibility with the breeding group. The scope of the pedigree base at Crabbet in the Wentworth years was continually reduced; many lines, lost at Crabbet and even in England, were to remain active in Australia and North America and so of major importance to the Crabbet tradition. An important development of the modern international era of Arabian breeding has been the genetic reunion of previously sundered Crabbet branches. Lady Wentworth’s introduction of the Skowronek outcross and its overwhelming success particularly in America can color one’s appreciation of what went before, but Her Ladyship made it plain that

“Skowronek was mated exclusively to mares of pure Crabbet blood so that the fame of his illustrious progeny is exactly halved by Crabbet mares, from which his blood cannot be divorced.”

The Partition Agreement

Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt were essentially disparate personalities; their grandson pictured the partnership “as though an eagle had wedded with a turtledove,” describing Blunt as a man of vision and enterprise and crediting his wife with immense attention to detail and mathematical precision. They held individual and frequently contradictory views on most aspects of life and not least on horse breeding and stud maintenance. The Blunts agreed in 1906 to live apart, and with the importance of the horses in their lives it is not surprising that they also chose to partition the Crabbet Stud. Not all details of the division are precisely recorded but we can follow in a broad sense. Thus in terms of their influence on Crabbet history, beginning with the foal crop of 1907 we can distinguish in most breeding decisions the planning of Blunt or of Lady Anne (toward the end of the Blunt period the distinctions become fuzzy). The record shows that both “Crabbet” and “Newbuildings” bred individuals of the very highest distinction; if today’s students of Crabbet breeding would like to have seen more use of Newbuildings sires with Crabbet mares and vice versa, still we would not choose to give up the results of either program.

Crabbet and Newbuildings were ancestral properties in Wilfrid Blunt’s family; Blunt lived at Newbuildings and Crabbet was the home of Judith Blunt Lytton (later Lady Wentworth) and her young family. Lady Anne chose to settle in Egypt at the garden of Sheykh Obeyd, near Cairo (historical note on the Victorian position of women: In order to have a home of her own it was necessary that Lady Anne buy from her husband land originally purchased and improved with her money). The Blunts had founded a stud at Sheykh Obeyd about 1890; it was reorganized in 1897 and provided a rallying point for the remmant of the famed breeding programs of Abbas Pasha and Ali Pasha Sherif. The original intent had been to exchange stock between the English and Egyptian studs, but when the stallions Rataplan and Jeroboam died at sea on the way to Egypt the enthusiasm for two-way transfers was greatly reduced; late in her life Lady Anne introduced two stallions and four mares at Sheykh Obeyd directly from Arabia. Her Egyptian stud came to have its own importance to Lady Anne Blunt and though it had no influence at Crabbet after 1904, it remained an aspect of Blunt breeding and horses bred there have been internationally significant through Babson and EAO Egyptian breeding.

The Crabbet Foundation

My objective here is to outline 40 years of the Blunt breeding program as recorded in England’s General Stud Book (GSB). There will be space to do little more than touch on general trends; the treatment will follow approximate chronological order.

Table 1: Mares imported by the Blunts
Year Name (Alternate names in parentheses) color year foaled key, see below
[Mares of the line to produce at Crabbet by 1920, counting the imported mare herself, in brackets]
“//” indicates no registered descent
“F” indicates a female line persists
1878 Babylonia (“Blot”) b 1875 [died 1878] //
Dajania (Jasmine, Lady Hester) b 1876 [8] F
Damask Rose ch 1873 [1] //
Hagar b 1872 [3] F
Jerboa b 1874 [5]
Purple Stock b 1874 [2] //
Sherifa gr 1862 [6]
Tamarisk ch 1867 [1] //
Wild Thyme (“Darley Filly”) b 1876 [2] F
Zenobia (Burning Bush) ch 1869 [1] //
1879 Basilisk gr 1875 [8] F
Francolin gr 1875 [1] //
Queen of Sheba br 1875 [5] F
1881 Canora ch 1874 [1] //
Dahma b 1876 [4] F
Jedrania b 1875 [2]
Meshura b 1872 [7]
Rodania ch 1869 [18] F
Zefifia gr 1873 [1] //
1888 Jilfa b 1884 [2] F
1891 Ferida b 1886 [5] F
Khatila ch 1887 [3] //
Safra gr 1885 [2] //
Sobha gr 1879 [10] F
1897 Badia ch 1884 //
Bint Helwa gr 1887 [3] F
Bint Nura GSB (Bint Nura es Shakra) ch 1885 [1]
Fulana br 1893 [4]
Johara (Bint Helwa es Shakra) ch 1885 [1]
1898 Jellabieh gr 1892 [2] //
Kasida ch 1893 [3]
Makbula GSB gr 1888 [5] F
1909 *Ghazala gr 1896 [Imported for Borden] F
1910 Azz gr 1895 //

Table 1 lists the imported Blunt mares and summarizes their breeding opportunity; only those whose influence persists are mentioned in the narrative. The GSB records 34 mares imported to England from 1878 to 1910 by the Blunts. Of these 21 were of desert origin; 13 came from Sheykh Obeyd and represented the historical programs of Abbas Pasha I and Ali Pasha Sherif. Thirty-one can be considered Crabbet founders (Babylonia died soon after her arrival; *Ghazala was in transit to Spencer Borden in Massachusetts; Azz had proved barren at Sheykh Obeyd and was sent to England in the vain hope of returning her to production with more sophisticated veterinary attention). Of the 31 mares, four left no live foals; among the remaining 28, 18 are desert imports and 10 are Egyptians. Eight of the desert mares and five of the Egyptians have left tail-female families in world Arabian breeding; six more desertbreds and one from Ali Pasha Sherif are still represented through indirect lines.

Table 2: Stallions imported by the Blunts
Year Name color year foaled key, see below
[Males of the line in use at Crabbet by 1920, counting the imported horse himself, in brackets]
// indicates no registered descent
M indicates a sire line persists
1878 Kars b 1874 [3]
Darley b 1876 [1] //
1879 Pharoah b 1876 [2]
1884 Hadban b 1878 [1]
Proximo b 1875 [1] //
Rataplan b 1874 [1]
1887 Ashgar ch 1883 [1]
1888 Azrek gr 1881 [3]
1891 Merzuk ch 1887 [1]
Mesaoud ch 1887 [12] M
1892 *Shahwan gr 1887 [1]
1897 Mahruss GSB ch 1893 [4] M
1898 Abu Khasheb gr 1894 //
Ibn Mesaoud ch 1892 //
1904 Feysul ch 1894 [3] M
Ibn Yashmak ch 1902 [1]
Ibn Yemama b 1902 //

Table 2 similarly treats the imported Blunt stallions of which GSB records 17, a ratio of one sire prospect for each two mares. Abu Khasheb, Ibn Mesaoud and Ibn Yemama were sold without being used; Proximo left no live foals and neither of those by Darley bred. Jedrania was bred once to the gift stallion Abeyan; Makbula and Jellabieh came from Sheykh Obeyd in foal in Ibn Nura and Antar; none of these matings had long-term influence. Only three direct male lines persist from Blunt breeding; these lines are outlined in Table 3.


Table 3: The Sire Lines Persisting from Blunt Breeding
Sueyd ->Sottam ->Ibn Nura ->Feysul ->Rasim ->Sainfoin ->Rheoboam
->Raseem ->Grey Owl
Zobeyni ->Wazir ->Mahruss ->Mahruss II ->*Ibn Mahruss ->El Jafil
->Rijm ->*Nasik
->*Nureddin II
->Harkan ->Aziz ->Mesaoud ->Nejef ->Firuseh
->*Abu Zeyd (Lali Abdar) ->Bazleyd
->*Astraled -> Sotamm
-> Gulastra
->Harb ->*Rodan
->Nadir ->Joseph
->Seyal ->*Berk

Crabbet: The First Years: 1879-1888

More than half the eventual imported sources (20 mares and eight stallions) were introduced at Crabbet in this first decade. The Blunts were in and out of England and horse care was not given sufficiently close attention (attested to by the fact that up to half the foals in some of this period’s small crops, and 23% overall, died before registration). This period saw 60 live foals registered, of which 12 mares and only one stallion are still in modern pedigrees. Kars and Pharaoh were the most used sires and were assisted by Darley, Rataplan, Hadban, Proximo, Abeyan and the home-bred colts Faris, Jeroboam and Roala. The average number of foals per sire was just over eight (counting dead foals); apart from Kars the other nine averaged only about five apiece.

An observer would have accounted Basilisk’s and Rodania’s the most successful of the mare lines in terms of numbers. Eighteen of the 20 mares imported in this period produced live foals at Crabbet; fully half of those (and the unlucky exported Tamarisk) were sold on and only 11 were to leave registered descent. Dajania and Basilisk were used for crossbreeding after they left Crabbet; Damask Rose, Canora and Dahma had no further report after producing the foal each was carrying at time of sale. Hagar and Jedrania were among the mares sold to the Hon. Miss Ethelred Dillon and left no straight Crabbet descent though they are represented in Crabbet/Old English lines. Sherifa’s daughter Shemse, and Wild Thyme with one daughter Raschida, are similarly placed in modern pedigrees.

The record shows that Kars and Rataplan were to breed on through a few mares (four daughters for Kars and two for Rataplan, both his out of Kars daughters), and Pharaoh through a son and three daughters. The Sherifa female line would fail by 1907 leaving her just one thin presence in Crabbet/Old English pedigrees. The Basilisk family, while a major one in the world context, would not survive at Crabbet in the long term. Dahma’s influence persisted only through two mares sold to Australia, though hers became a successful and extensively branched family down under. By far the most influential individuals bred at Crabbet in this decade have proven to be *Rose of Sharon (Hadban x Rodania), Nefisa (Hadban x Dajania) and Rosemary by Jeroboam (Pharaoh x Jerboa) out of Rodania.

Rodania, the only Blunt desert mare with female lines through three different daughters (and they by three different sires), has proven far the most influential foundation mare of the stud and is generally accepted as having the most extensively branched family in the breed. Her line is the most numerous in modern Egyptian breeding and is also strongly represented in Russia and Poland, apart from its obvious dominance in England, Australia and America. That does not even touch on the multiple ties to Rodania stallions.

Dajania, Lady Anne Blunt’s 1877 Christmas present to us all, left just one producing daughter at Crabbet but the incomparable Nefisa was dam of 21 foals and founded a mare family still widely sought after, and responsible for some of the greatest sires of Crabbet–or world–Arabian history. No breeder has ever made a more serendipitous first purchase; the repetition of Dajania’s name in modern Crabbet-derived pedigrees reaches astronomical proportions and the thought of what she might have achieved had she remained at Crabbet boggles the mind.

The Transition 1889-1898

The greatest record of all the Blunt desert stallions was achieved by Azrek, a horse imported in 1888 who stood at Crabbet just four seasons and got almost as many foals as had Kars in eight. How much of his success was luck–due possibly to more experienced management and certainly to the fact that the Blunts had fillies from the previous decade ready to go into production–and how much must be attributed to appreciation of Azrek’s own unquestioned excellence is difficult to judge. Azrek has more than twice as many sources in modern pedigrees as does his predecessor Kars, and he got the only major home-bred Crabbet sire of desert breeding in male line. This was the impressive bay Ahmar, who has no sons in pedigrees himself but is responsible for a notable lineup of daughters: Selma, Siwa, Bukra, Bereyda, Hilmyeh, Namusa.

Azrek’s brief tenure as head sire came to an end with his sale to Rhodesia in 1891, a year of major transitions; the last of the Blunt desertbred mares, Ferida, arrived at Crabbet in company with the first of the Egyptian transplants from Sheykh Obeyd: the young stallions Merzuk and Mesaoud and the mares Khatila, Sobha and her daughter Safra. Ferida had two Mesaoud daughters to produce at Crabbet but in the end only the branch from Feluka bred on. Khatila and Safra did not leave descent but Sobha, sold at an advanced age to Russia, left at Crabbet the line foundresses Selma (dam of Sotamm and Selima, and second dam of *Selmnab); Siwa who produced Sarama (dam of *Simawa) and Somra, dam of Safarjal, Seriya and Silver Fire; and the good colt Seyal, sire of *Berk, *Butheyna and *Selmnab’s dam Simrieh.

The record of Mesaoud already has been touched upon; he is one of the key founders of modern Arabian breeding, leave alone the Crabbet tradition. Merzuk was promptly exported to South Africa but he left *Rose of Sharon in foal with her greatest daughter, Ridaa, dam of the good sires Rustem (England and Egypt) and Rief (Australia) and of the tremendously successful mares Risala, Riyala and Rim, major architects of the Crabbet heritage. *Shahwan got 10 foals at Crabbet and departed without lasting influence there; his Sheykh Obeyd daughter Yashmak would later send a son to England. Ashgar, who had played second fiddle in the Azrek years, managed to leave a thin line through one of his five get. Even setting aside the prolific Mesaoud and Ahmar, whose tenures at stud overlapped into the next decade, the number of foals per sire rose to nearly 13.

The second decade of Crabbet breeding produced 122 foals; only 19 of them (just under 16%) were reported as dead in GSB. Of the surviving 103, 21 are in modern pedigrees. Ahmar and Rafyk were the most widely influential stallions. Nejran, Rejeb, Mareb and Seyal each left three or fewer breeding offspring, but Seyal achieved distinction as the first colt foaled at Crabbet whose tail-male influence persists to the present day. Fifteen mares from this period are still in pedigrees. Besides Ridaa and the Sobha daughters already noted, important dams include Rose Diamond (she produced *Abu Zeyd and Rose of Hind); the Bozra daughters *Bushra, Bukra (dam of *Berk and *Battla) and Bereyda (dam of *Butheyna, *Baraza, Miraze and Belka); Narghileh, possibly the greatest of all the Mesaoud daughters, whose sons included *Nasik, *Nureddin II, Naufal and the lesser known Rustnar (South America) and Najib, who got *Hilwe and the Tersk line foundress Ruanda. Narghileh numbered among her daughters the likes of the Australian dynasty builder Namusa; *Narda II, dam of two famed early endurance Arabians, the gelding *Crabbet and his sister *Noam who produced in turn the Maynesboro and Kellogg matron Nusara; and Nessima, dam of *Nafia and Nax and foundress of the mare family responsible for Naseel, General Grant and Masjid.

1898 marks the end of the transitional period; all the Blunt foundation mares had reached England, and all the stallions had been purchased though Feysul was still at Sheykh Obeyd.

Sources and Further Reading

History and Biography:

The Sheykh Obeyd Studbook in The Arabian Horse Families of Egypt, Colin Pearson with Kees Mol, Heriot, Cheltenham 1988

Lady Anne Blunt: Journals and Correspondence 1878-1917, Edited by Rosemary Archer and James Fleming, Heriot, Cheltenham 1986

A Pilgrimage of Passion: the Life of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Elizabeth Longford, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 1979

The Crabbet Arabian Stud Its History & Influence, Rosemary Archer, Colin Pearson and Cecil Covey, Heriot, Cheltenham 1978

M. Bowling articles giving more detail on the influence of individual Blunt animals:

Rose Diamond, The CMK Record, VIII/2 Fall 1989

*Berk 343: A heritage of “magnificent action” (two parts), The Crabbet Influence, March/April and May/June 1989

*Nasik 604, The CMK Record, VII/3 Winter 1988

Rosemary, four-part series, The CMK Record, IV/I-IV/4 1984

The Founding of the Crabbet Tradition (Part II)

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series The Founding of the Crabbet Tradition

Copyright 1990 by Michael Bowling, used by permission
Originally published in Arabian Visions March/April 1990

Full Steam Ahead: 1899-1906

The 1898 Crabbet foal crop, which had jumped by 10 over that of 1897, marked a new peak in numbers and initiated an era of sustained production. The smallest foal crops at Crabbet would now hover around the pre-1898 record high of 14. In this period the new Ali Pasha Sherif mares were active, and the Mesaoud fillies came into serious production. The Rodania family was clearly established as the most numerous at Crabbet, achieving distinction in the 1906 season as the first to be represented by five breeding mares, even though Rose of Jericho, *Rose of Sharon and Rose Diamond had been sold; Dajania, Basilisk and Meshura were roughly tied for second. On the sire side activity was dominated almost entirely by Mesaoud and his sons although Ahmar and Nejran closed out the Azrek era, Mahruss GSB got one very significant foal and the newly-arrived Feysul sired his most important offspring in his first Crabbet crop. No one sire dominated the stallion battery in any year and the average foals per sire fell slightly to 11.5. The shape Crabbet breeding would take in the future was largely defined in this period, when Daoud, Rabla, *Astraled, Risala, Ajramieh, Rijm, *Berk, Riada, Riyala and Rasim were foaled. The number of Crabbet foals which would influence future breeding rose sharply, perhaps largely because stronger international demand was developing for stock to found stable new programs. The Crabbet foals reported dead in GSB fell to 10% of this era’s 149, and 33 made it into modern pedigrees.

The Blunts worked at maintaining tail-male descent from Azrek; when Ahmar was exported to Java they bought back Nefisa’s Azrek son Nejran and used him for three seasons, but he was to breed on through just one daughter. *Rose of Sharon had also produced a top-class Azrek colt in 1890; this was Rafyk, the foundation sire of Australian Arabian breeding and whose name is extensively repeated at the back of most traditional Australian mare lines. According to the 1924 Crabbet Stud Catalogue Lady Wentworth in her turn meant to reintroduce the Azrek sire line through the double Rafyk grandson Minaret, but if that horse actually reached England nothing came of the venture.

The remaining Ali Pasha Sherif mares proved uncertain producers at Crabbet; in no more than three seasons did as many as five or six of the 10 produce, although a few straggled out to 1910. Astonishingly, the crippled Bint Helwa overcame her broken leg to be the most reliable broodmare of the lot; she shares honors with Rodania as the only Blunt imported mare to leave family branches through three different daughters–hers Hilmyeh, Hamasa and *Ghazala, with the last-named bred by Ali Pasha Sherif but used at Sheykh Obeyd. Ironically this family did not persist at Crabbet though the Sheykh Obeyd and American daughters of *Ghazala, plus *Hazna, *Hamida and *Hilwe, all founded highly influential lines. When *Rose of Sharon went to Spencer Borden in 1905 she was in foal to Bint Helwa’s son Harb and produced *Rodan. That horse was to be the only link to Harb in modern pedigrees but he proved a strong one, siring such mares as Gulnare, Bazrah, Niht, Fath and Fenzileh and leaving a male line through Ghazi.

Makbula GSB left a branch through her daughter Kibla; this became an essentially American family when Kibla’s granddaughter *Namilla and great granddaughters *Kiyama and *Kareyma transplanted the line wholesale to the Selby Stud. Bint Helwa’s elder sister Johara left a small international family. Indirect lines breed on from Makbula’s imported daughter Kasida, Lady Anne Blunt’s favorite riding mare, in the important Egyptian mare sire Kasmeyn; from Fulana in her very handsome son Faraoun, another far back in Austalian mare lines; and from the magnificent Bint Nura GSB who had no fillies to live but produced the imported stallions Abu Khasheb and Mahruss GSB and the Crabbet colt Daoud. Daoud gave his dam indirect mare lines in spades; one Daoud son, Redif, survives in pedigrees through his own influential daughter Bint Ranya.

Mesaoud established his male line more firmly before his 1903 sale to Russian Poland, though not via Daoud; *Astraled, Nejef, Harb and Nadir joined Seyal among the future sire branch founders. *Astraled, half-brother to Ahmar and Asfura, was the last foal of Queen of Sheba, who had become the most highly regarded of the Blunt desert mares. She lived to 25 and produced 10 foals but had only two daughters of record. Queen of Egypt died as a yearling; Asfura’s daughter Ajramieh did establish the family as a respected one that has always been small in numbers. Queen of Sheba has strong indirect influence; besides the Ahmar daughters already named, *Astraled and his sons Rustem, Razaz, Sotamm and Gulastra all were top sires of broodmares. Queen of Sheba’s name is another to be repeated in pedigrees with remarkable frequency, and the most international Mesaoud sire branch, that of *Astraled via Sotamm to Riffal and Oran, was notable for its Queen of Sheba reinforcement. Mesaoud had one major son outside Crabbet; the beautiful Azrek mare Rose Diamond was sold to the Hon. George Savile in 1903 and duly presented him the next year with Lal I Abdar (*Abu Zeyd), another from whom the male line persists.

Two new Ali Pasha Sherif sire lines were established at Crabbet in this phase. Mahruss GSB, chiefly a riding stallion, bred just four Arab mares in England; he sent *Ibn Mahruss to America en utero and got one Crabbet foal: *Rose of Sharon’s mighty son Rijm. That massive chestnut was admired for his scope, presence, freedom of stride and excellence of shoulder, back and loin. Before his sale to Spain Rijm contributed to the Crabbet tradition as sire of the breeding stallions *Nasik, Fakreddin and *Nureddin II; of the widely influential daughters Nessima, Fejr, *Noam, Belka and *Rijma; and of the great early endurance gelding *Crabbet. *Noam and Belka also distinguished themselves under saddle. Feysul came from Sheykh Obeyd with his son Ibn Yashmak late in 1904 and promptly sired the impressively smooth 1906 chestnut Rasim. Rasim served as a riding stallion for his first 11 years and narrowly missed going off as a charger with Neville Lytton in the First World War. His two eldest daughters were key figures of the Kellogg importation and Rasim became extremely influential in the Wentworth years.

The important mares foaled in this era included Ahmar’s Hilmyeh and Namusa, Rish by Nejran, and good daughters of the Mesaoud sons Rejeb, Seyal and Narkise, but if this was the dawn of a new day the sunlight radiated from superb daughters of Mesaoud and *Astraled. Feluka, dam of the Rijm siblings Fejr (to produce *Felestin; *Sulejman’s and Rasim Pierwszy’s dam Fasila; Faris, sire of Rissalix; Ferhan, sire of Indian Gold; and Fayal) and the Australian sire Fakreddin; of the greatest Kellogg foundation mare, *Ferda; and after her sale to H. V. Musgrave Clark of Fasiha, established the Ferida line with a vengeance. If Narghileh was not the greatest Mesaoud daughter then that honor must go to Ridaa’s 1900 filly Risala, dam of Rasim, *Rijma, Rissla, Razieh (Bint Rissala), Risfan (South America) and Rafina, a line foundress in Australia; few sires have ever had the equivalent of an *Astraled and a Risala in the same crop, as Mesaoud did in 1900. Rosemary produced two full sisters, the bay Rabla and brown Riada; the former founded an exuberant family still noted for action horses and the latter died of twisted gut, leaving just one breeding offspring, but that was Rayya, dam of *Raseyn. The records of the handsome grey Kibla, Ajramieh and Hamasa look pale in this company but each founded a major line in the breed.

A case could be made that Daoud and *Astraled, with fewer daughters, were better mare sires than Mesaoud. It must be remembered that all three were extensively used on mares of, by this time, highly selected Crabbet families; and above all that their daughters profited from a coherent, established context in which to operate. Riyala, the most important *Astraled mare of this period, produced Ranya, dam of Bint Ranya and the persistent Spanish influence Razada; Rafeef, sire of Nezma, *Rasafa and the superlative Risslina; the prolific Risama (Bint Riyala); the Hanstead matron Razina, the broodmare of her generation in England, granddam of Indian Magic, *Serafix, *Silver Drift, *Iorana, Bright Shadow, Namilla, Oran, Sala and *Count Dorsaz just to start the list; Ramayana, sold to Poland with Fasila and represented by Polish and Russian families today; Ruellia, who sent a son Riyalan to Australia and then went to Tersk; and Raftan, sire of Naseel, Ariffa and Doonyah. Rokhama by *Astraled bred on through just one daughter but that was *Rokhsa, who founded one of the greatest Maynesboro and Kellogg families.

Partition and The War Years: 1907 – 1918

The first foal crop for the partitioned Crabbet and Newbuildings mares arrived in 1907. Wilfrid Blunt’s chief sires in the Newbuildings half were to be *Astraled, Rijm, Harb, Ibn Yashmak and Rustem; Lady Anne at Crabbet had Feysul, Daoud, *Berk, Razaz, Sotamm and *Nasik (not all these were active as early as 1907). Blunt breeding presents a considerably more complicated picture from this point. Under the terms of partition, Crabbet and Newbuildings mares could be sent to sires standing in the alternate half, and no breeding animal (current or potential) could be sold without approval of the other side. In practice it developed that when Blunt needed money, Newbuildings horses which Lady Anne would be unwilling to see sold appeared on his sales list; and when Lady Anne wished to use a Newbuildings sire she bought or traded for him or one of his sons.

The foals reported dead in GSB for this period fell to just over 8% (14 out of 167) and 54 of the remaining 167 are in modern pedigrees–some of them very prominently indeed. Rodania now reigned supreme; Dajania’s family was a distant second while the Seglawi Meshura and Basilisk lines were fading as Sobha picked up speed. Average number of foals per sire at this period was still about 13. With substantial numbers of mares in production and some of the great sires of its history at their peak of activity, and with the individual geniuses of the two Blunts operating independently from a base of nearly 30 years’ observation of Crabbet breeding trends, it would be surprising if this period did not turn out some of Crabbet’s greatest products. Do not expect to be surprised.

One major sire exported in this period was *Astraled, who went to Lothrop Ames in Massachusetts in 1909; American Arabian breeding was not ready for a sire of this caliber and *Astraled landed in Oregon as a Remount sire, leaving just a handful of foals in New England. *Astraled became a legendary sire of crossbred using horses in his new home only to be called back to the place that had been prepared for him by W.R. Brown in 1923, in time to sire the great Gulastra in his last crop. Note that for the Blunts *Astraled got Riyala, Rustem, Rim and *Ramla from *Rose of Sharon’s daughter Ridaa; the only breeding *Astraled offspring from his early New England years was Kheyra, out of Ridaa’s half-sister Rosa Rugosa; and at Maynesboro Gulastra came from a daughter of Ridaa’s half-brother *Rodan.

It was during the years of partition that *Astraled got his important Crabbet sons, Razaz, Rustem and Sotamm. Rustem remained at Newbuildings where he got Rustnar, *Ferda, Arusa, Rayya and *Simawa. Rayya produced *Raseyn and *Ferda is in a class by herself among the Kellogg matrons, while *Simawa proved one of the best mares of the Maynesboro importation. Lady Anne used Razaz and Sotamm; the former sired important mares while the latter got the Australian mare sire Rief and Kasmeyn, a mare sire in his own right in Egypt (maternal grandsire of *Bint Bint Sabbah and Nazeer just for two), and Naufal who sired other foals beyond Riffal though that was his great success. Riffal left the important sire Oran in England along with the good mares Samsie, Nariffa, Quaker Girl (herself exported to Australia), Rubiana and *Mihrima (Canada); his sons The Chief and *Victory Day II bred on in the Netherlands and Canada respectively while the Riffal influence through his Australian get is incalculable.

*Astraled could have sired no colts and done very well for himself through daughters; his post-partition Newbuildings fillies included Rim and Selima, two of the breed’s dynastic matrons. Rim produced the likes of *Ramim, dam of Rehal and Ramghaza; *Rifla, dam of *Rifda, Rifnas and Shemseh; the ill-fated *Raswan, sire at Crabbet of Ferhan, *Rose of France and Star of the Hills (his only get), “World’s Champion” Raseem, one of the great mare sires of British history, though at Tersk he was surpassed by his daughter Rixalina; Naharin’s dam *Rimini; the Selby import *Rahal; *Rimal, a colt of remarkable beauty, gelded after his Kellogg importation; Rix, sire of *Ashan, *Crown of India, Radiolex and Shimrix; and *Nizzam’s and Niseyra’s sire Rissam. Selima’s noted foals do not match Rim’s for numbers but their influence spread extravagantly; all her breeding offspring were exported but her British influence remained substantial. Shareer, another “World’s Champion,” left Rythal, Rytham, Rythama and Sharima behind when he went to Russia accompanied by his great daughter Rissalma (in fact Rythal already was in Holland and Rytham went along on the Tersk trip but left the tremendously influential Sharfina, his only British foal, at Crabbet en utero). Shareer’s sister Sardhana produced *Crabbet Sura in England and founded a mare line in Poland when she accompanied Rasim, Fasila and Ramayana to Baron Bicker’s stud. Star of the Hills left Starilla to represent her in England (which she did ably through her son Saladin II) when Star traveled to Russia, where she founded one of the most important Tersk families. The Selby colt *Selmian was not used in England – he was sold at age three – but he got Selfra, Selmiana and Ibn Selmian among others.

(Appendix: Minor Pedigree Lines from Imported Blunt Mares)

The Founding of the Crabbet Tradition: Appendix: Minor Pedigree Lines from Imported Blunt Mares

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series The Founding of the Crabbet Tradition

Copyright 1990 by Michael Bowling, used by permission
Originally published in Arabian Visions March/April 1990

Minor Pedigree Lines From Imported Blunt Mares

Hagar, a dark bay without markings and with a “strange, wild head,” distinguished herself as a riding mare on the Blunts’ first desert journey: she was not considered a first-class mare at Crabbet but came to have first-class descent. Her great-granddaughter Howa was the foundation mare for Miss May Lyon’s Harwood Stud, still maintained today by Miss Lyon’s heirs, the Calvert family. Hagar was among the mares sold by the Blunts to the Hon. Miss Ethelred Dillon and she produced at Miss Dillon’s Pudlicote Stud *Hauran, sire of *Nessa and for Spencer Borden of Bazrah’s dam Bathsheba; *Hail, sire of Riad; and Zem Zem, whose daughter Zimrud is widespread including a tail female branch in the important modern British family of Bint Yasimet. The Zimrud line later returned to Crabbet in the person of *Nurreddin II’s show-jumper son Jeruan, sire of *Rishafieh and *Jerama before his sale to Tersk. Another Zem Zem branch descends from Hilal, sire of *Ibn Hilal.

Jerboa, bright bay with three white feet and a star, was the first of several mares to attempt to found a “J” family at Crabbet, where initial J did not prove a lucky letter. Jerboa is in modern pedigrees through her son and daughter Jeroboam and Jerud, full siblings by Pharoah. Jeroboam got Rodania’s daughter Rosemary and so is a widespread influence. Jerud produced at Crabbet and for Miss Dillon and from the latter connection is responsible for Jamrood by Maidan, sire of Hagar’s son *Hail and of Zem Zem’s daughter Zimrud.

Wild Thyme, bay with a star, was purchased because it was thought her strain, Kehilan Ras el-Fedawi, was also that of the Thoroughbred founder the Darley Arabian; the Blunts also imported a Ras el-Fedawi colt, called Darley. They later found that the original Darley had been a Maneghi; the Blunt Darley was a washout at stud and Wild Thyme was not much more highly regarded. She produced for the Blunts and for other owners, and her daughter Raschida (originally Wild Honey) was another to produce for Miss Dillon. Raschida produced Riad and has a substantial family in this country through her daughters *Nessa and *Mahal, imported by Borden before the Darley connection was disproved.

Sherifa, a white mare, was the senior individual of the first importation and probably the most highly esteemed, for the beauty of her head and for her character. She lived to an estimated age of 30 and left an active family at Crabbet, but the line trailed out around 1907 and she is represented in modern pedigrees only through her daughter Shemse by Pharaoh. Shemse had been sold from Crabbet in foal to Azrek and produced a grey colt, Ben Azrek, who got two registered daughters; Ruth Kesia from the non-Crabbet Borak [(Boanerges x Kesia II) and so blood sister to Borden’s import *Imamzada]; and Sheeba, whose dam Riad was 87.5% Blunt breeding. Ruth Kesia is widely influential through Shahzada by Mootrub and *Nuri Pasha by *Nureddin II; the latter’s sister Krim left a family in England. Sheeba breeds on through the mare sire Nuri Sherif, also by Nureddin II.

Dahma, a dark bay with star, snip, some white on all four feet, though not a familiar name in England or America, cannot be dismissed as a minor influence internationally for her daughter Dahna’s is one of the most extensively branched families in Australian breeding.

Jedrania, a bay, was the second J mare; she and her daughter Jebel Druz produced for the Blunts but she breeds on only through her Dillon son Jezail by *Imamzada, the sire of Hagar’s son *Hauran.

Meshura, a bright bay with four white feet and a blaze, was a distinguished individual and half-sister to the Blunt sire Pharaoh; their half-sister was dam of Azrek and Basilisk was from the same immediate family. Meshura founded a female line which reached several generations at Crabbet and outside, but is present today only through indirect lines. Her daughter Mansura (only offspring of Ashgar in pedigrees) produced Mareb by Mesaoud and he left descent through one daughter, Mareesa. Mabruka by Azrek produced Marhaba, dam of the Selby mare sire *Mirzam. Maisuna by Mesaoud was responsible for the male-line founder Joseph, sire of Rosh and Manasseh and of good mares.

Jilfa, again a bay with a star, was the third of the J mares. Her influence persists only through Jamusa, sold to the Hon. R.E.L. Vaughan Williams along with Mareb. That pair had a string of offspring in GSB but the line was founded by the filly Mareesa, who visited *Berk and Rasim at Crabbet to produce the glamorous Alfarouse and the less noticeable but more productive Yaquta respectively. Alfarouse breeds on through her sons Almulid, Ajeeb and Azym; there is a thin modern female line from Jilfa via Yaquta (thanks to Nyla Eshelman for pinning this line down).

Fulana, a dark brown with off hind sock and near fore coronet, was another who seemed for a time to be founding a Crabbet family. Her English branches all failed, and Fulana’s only descent today is through her very handsome Mesaoud son Faraoun with two important daughters in Australian pedigrees.

Johara, chestnut elder sister of the “broken legged” Bint Helwa, was marked with blaze, near hind sock and a small mark outside off hind. Two daughters produced at Crabbet but the thin lines from Johara today all descend from her great-granddaughter Jawi-Jawi.