(left to right) RIADA, ROSE OF HIND, KIBLA, RISALA and KASIDA at Crabbet in 1913. (Photo from the Brown collection, courtesy Arabian Horse Owners’ Foundation.)
Those of us who study the historical Arabians are always looking to expand the range of knowledge: for foundation stock there’s documentation of origin to pursue; one always hopes they and their progeny might have been the subject of a contemporary photograph or written comment which has been preserved. Some of us particularly value photos as an aid to making the old horses more “real,” even though we are well aware that interpreting such photos may be fraught with danger. As frustrating a situation as we can find ourselves in, is having an old photo of Arabian horses in which individuals are not identified. Fortunately, when a photo’s provenance is clearly established, there are sources of information with which to compare its images.
There are many such photos to work with, within the Crabbet canon alone; this discussion will center on one which Lady Wentworth used on page 27 of her 1924 Crabbet Stud Catalogue, and captioned, “Mares at Grass.” As luck would have it, there is an original Rouch print of this photo in the Brown collection at the Arabian Horse Owner’s Foundation, presumably one of the items W.R. Brown recieved from Spencer Borden when he bought out Borden’s Interlachen Stud. The Brown print is labeled “Arab mares at Crabbet – 1913” in what appears to be Lady Anne Blunt’s handwriting: Spencer Borden corresponded extensively with Lady Anne. This original print is of course much clearer and sharper than the reproduction in the Catalogue. The photo, which accompanies this article, shows five mares without foals; one group of four is in the foreground, two of them facing the camera and two looking away; a fifth is some distance behind them to the right.
One obvious resource for identifying horses in old photos, is to ask someone who might have been there at the time. I had the good fortune to be present nearly 13 years ago, when the late Lady Anne Lytton identified the foreground mares as Riada, Rose of Hind, Kibla and Risala. Either Lady Anne did not identify the mare on the right, or I did not remember the identification long enough to make a note of it.
The mares are in slick coat and at least four of them are in high condition; they are swishing flies, the trees are in full leaf and the pasture fairly short, all suggesting mid to late summer as the time the photo was taken. The foreground mares all appear to be in the prime of life, while the mare at the right is down in the back, has a big left knee and, under magnification, shows possible scars on her left cheek and point of hip. The mark on the cheek is ambiguous and may be a flaw in the negative, though it seems a lot to ask that such a flaw should accidentally fall in this position.
This photo clearly seems to show a group of dry mares on pasture in the summer of 1913; none of the mares named by Lady Anne Lytton has a 1913 foal in The General Stud Book (GSB). Known photos of Rose of Hind and Risala are consistent with the markings visible on the two mares facing away from the camera, and this pose of head and neck seems to be characteristic of Risala in other pictures. It is more difficult to be certain about a grey mare; Balis, Belkis and Bukra all were Crabbet (as opposed to Newbuildings) mares of the appropriate vintage, and all were barren in 1913. As a first approximation, I see no reason not to think Lady Anne had it right, and a photo of Kibla as a yearling seems consistent with this judgement, in terms of the general shape of her face and the distinctive cut of her nostrils.
The most interesting identification, from a historical standpoint, is that of the mare on the left as Riada. That 1904 brown daughter of Mesaoud and Rosemary had been Lady Anne Lytton’s favorite riding horse as a girl at Crabbet; the mare died of twisted gut in 1920 at age 16, and bred on into modern pedigrees through just one offspring, but that was Rayya by Rustem. Riada, in other words, was second dam of the internationally influential Kellogg sire *Raseyn, and this is her only known photo. Lady Anne certainly should have been able to recognize her favorite mare; if any confirmation be needed, Riada’s markings as recorded in Lady Anne Blunt’s manuscript studbook are, “near fore foot, narrow blaze like prolonged star, & spot between nostrils.” That fits this dark mare to a “T.”
That leaves the mare in the background. Comparing the original print with the version in the Catalogue suggests that, for publication, Lady Wentworth retouched the scarred cheek to show a white marking running up from under the mare’s chin. This apparent marking confuses the issue, as it calls to mind the distinctive face marking of Amida, and suggests that this mare might have been her dam Ajramieh, described by Lady Anne Blunt as having a “blaze all over muzzle.” Ajramieh would have been at Newbuildings in 1913 (this was during the partition phase of the Crabbet story), and furthermore possessed leg markings which should have been visible here. Peter Upton recently published a photo of Ajramieh (Arab Horse Society News. Winter 1989), which shows a different mare from this one, and confirms her leg markings.
I listed the Crabbet Stud’s producing mares in GSB between 1906-1916, just to get a base to start from; GSB does not distinguish between Crabbet and Newbuildings, but one can judge which half a mare was in by the sires to which she was bred. One way and another (the other candidates died, were sold, or disappeared from GSB before 1913; or their known markings don’t fit), the choices narrowed down to Abla, Betina, Kantara, Kasida, and Rahma. Abla, Kantara and Kasida all qualify on markings; the other two I can’t find markings on. All but one of these were producing to Newbuildings sires around this time, so were unlikely to have been photographed at Crabbet. Betina and Rahma were a generation or so younger than the rest of our group; Kantara and Abla would have been 12 and 14 in 1913, which would have made them roughly the same age as Kibla and Risala, while our subject is clearly an older mare. Further, Kantara has a 1913 foal in GSB, so would not have been running out with the dry mares even if she had been at Crabbet.
Kasida was definitely a Crabbet mare, and in fact was one of Lady Anne Blunt’s personal favorites. She would have been 20 when photographed here, and according to Peter Upton (The Arab Horse, p. 147) “aged before her time… was shot September 12, 1913.” There is a look of other Kasida photos in this mare, about the eyes and in the awkward conformation. I sent an enlarged copy photo to the Baker Street Irregular, R. J. Cadranell, who pointed out the “pale mane” referred to in Kasida’s published description and visible in her other photos. Based on this and other resemblances to known Kasida photos, and on his reconstruction of Crabbet history, he wrote “I’ve convinced myself that the mare in the photo you sent could not be other then Kasida.”
Thus it is possible, by combining sources, to go from “Mares at Grass” to a photographic record of Riada (Mesaoud x Rosemary), age 9; Rose of Hind (Rejeb x Rose Diamond), age 11; Kibla (Mesaoud x Makbula II) and Risala (Mesaoud x Ridaa), both 13; and Kasida (Nasr I x Makbula II), age 20. All five of these mares are widely represented in modern pedigrees and their photo should be of great interest to many students of the breed.
Crabbet Stud Catalogue, 1924.
W.R.Brown photo collection, in possession of the Arabian Horse Owners’ Foundation
Personal communication from Lady Anne Lytton, daughter of Lady Wentworth, and granddaughter of Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt.
Notes from Lady Anne Blunt’s manuscript studbook.
Breeding records published in The General Stud Book (GSB)
“‘Worth a King’s Ransom’ — Queen of Sheba,” by Peter Upton (Arab Horse Society News No. 73, Winter 1989).
The Arab Horse, by Peter Upton (Crowood Press 1989).
by Michael Bowling (copyright)
originally appeared in the Oct. ’76 issue of the Arabian Horse World
Antezeyn Skowronek in May 1976 at age 27. He is by Abu Farwa (Rabiyas x *Rissletta by Nasem) and out of SHARIFA (Antez x Ferdith by Ferseyn).
Antezeyn Skowronek was foaled 21 April 1949, bred by E. J. Boyer of Puente, California. He was sired by the quite literally unforgettable Abu Farwa 1960, a horse that can’t be done justice in short space. Briefly, Abu Farwa is one of the most strongly positive breeding influences on the Arabian horse in this country. His get and descendants excel in quality and conformation, and they continue to compile an impressive record in all fields open to the breed, both in and out of the show ring. Abu Farwa was an early product of the famed program of W. K. Kellogg; his sire was the end result of years of breeding for quality and athletic ability by Randolph Huntington and W. R. Brown in this country with basically English stock, and his dam was one of the most elegant individuals ever imported from Crabbet Park. He had the quality and ability for which he was bred, and he passed it on with great success in breeding.
SHARIFA 2798, dam of Antezeyn Skowronek, was not famous as his sire was—in fact she had a rather short breeding career and is best known for this one son. His success as a breeding horse indicates she must have possessed considerable genetic merit, for no sire, not even one of the magnitude of Abu Farwa, can get breeding horses without some cooperation from the mares he is bred to. Pictures and eye-witness accounts of SHARIFA show a very smooth compact mare with a beautiful big-eyed head. She had a fine disposition and was a good riding horse, certainly traits to value in the dam of a prospective foundation sire.
SHARIFA’s pedigree is less consistently English than Abu Farwa’s; her sire was one of the famous early “straight Davenports” and was trained for the track, setting records in speed trials. He has proven one of the most valuable outcrosses to English blood in this country, Antezeyn Skowronek being just one of many successful results of this blend. SHARIFA’s dam FERDITH was the first foal of the former top sire FERSEYN, and remains one of his best achievements; she topped an early-day California production sale and went on to produce many outstanding Arabians, including a remarkable lineup by ABU FARWA. It will be most interesting to read Carol Mulder’s article on FERDITH and her produce when she gets to her numerically, as she knew this group of good horses well. FERDITH’s dam ARDITH founded a good family in the Northwest; she was a great-granddaughter of *ABU ZEYD, called by Lady Anne Lytton the most beautiful son of MESAOUD, so crossing back to the top of the pedigree.
[Note added in 1999: Ardith’s paternal granddam Domow is registered, impossibly, as the bay daughter of two chestnut parents. The latest investigations confirm that her dam line matches that of the chestnut *Wadduda, so this *Abu Zeyd connection is no longer supported by the evidence. The sire of Domow is being sought among the bay stallions in Homer Davenport’s possession in 1912. MB]
The rest of ARDITH’s background was again the Davenport desert group—so Antezeyn Skowronek’s pedigree represents English breeding outcrossed with two highly successful American lines of closer desert derivation.
This pedigree produced a remarkable horse who offers an illustration of the fact that the most worthwhile horses do not always get an opportunity to have brilliant show careers. Antezeyn Skowronek won his class at Pomona as a yearling and as far as I know never entered a show ring again. He has spent the rest of his life as a breeding stallion, although as a mature horse he was started under saddle and proved a willing and enjoyable mount for trail and pleasure riding in his spare time.
After winning that colt class he was purchased by Carleton Cummings and taken to Idaho where he stood several seasons, his first foals arriving in 1952. He was used on Mr. Cummings’ mares and on some Kellogg mares at the University of Idaho during this period. Some time after 1955 he was moved to Spokane, Washington where it seems he remained for the remainder of his owner’s life; it was at this time, the Arabian population of Washington being a bit higher than that of Idaho, that he stood to some outside mares. At Mr. Cummings’ death the horse went into retirement for a couple of years, returning to active duty in 1965 on lease to the Synowski Ranch in Oregon. He was purchased from the Cummings estate by Lois Selby Perry, spending one season on lease at Glenwood Farm in Iowa on the way to Connecticut and the Perry establishment.
Antezeyn Skowronek was not used to sharing his world with a number of stallions and did not thrive at Perrys’; he was made available to the Illings of Twin Brook Farm in New York, first on lease and eventually by sale. In January of 1975 he made what is expected to be his last move and change of ownership; he is now “alive and well in Waldorf, Maryland” and being used lightly at stud. He observed his 27th birthday quietly and shows every sign of planning on at least a few more.
Listing the Antezeyn Skowronek get and descendants of note is simply beyond me in the time at hand—besides, I don’t have the whole October issue to fill with their stories. Rather than offend some by mentioning others I will risk offending all by limiting myself to general statements. Antezeyn Skowronek and his sons have sired many winners in halter and performance in Arabian and open shows, Antezeyn Skowronek is on the Leading Sire list (he is accounted the third leading siring son of Abu Farwa) and has founded a strong male line, with many sons and tail male descendants represented every year by Class A winners. His get and descendants include regional and Legion of Merit champions and U.S. and Canadian Top Tens at halter and performance, and National Champions in performance. He is, simply, a fine sire and an influence for good on the breed.
The story of Antezeyn Skowronek has been 27 years in the telling (leaving out the years of prologue before his birth) and this short sketch is hardly an adequate summary.
NOTE: I sincerely thank all those who participated in this tribute, and apologize to those who would have taken part had they been notified, or notified sooner.
(Ad recreated from the one appearing with 1976 Antezeyn Skowronek article)
July 1976 at age 27 (with Martha Baines)
is alive and well
and living in
Visitors Welcome — Young Stock For Sale
Call weekends (AC 301) 645-5547
Frederick, Maryland 21701
and still siring foals like these:
May filly at 2 1/2 months ex Mostly Magic by *Touch of Magic.
March colt at 3 weeks ex Faranique by RST Kumait+ He is for sale at private treaty. Contact Intissar Arabians, 3510 Walnut St., Harrisburg, Pa. 17109
July colt at 2 days ex Ramnada by Damascus Ramnada is for sale. Contact Mrs. Richard P. Davis, Prly Hill Rd., Sanbornton, N.H.
(Ad recreated from one appearing in the Arabian Visions, Jan-Feb, 1993)
Abu Farwa 1960 (Rabiyas x *Rissletta by Naseem) working cattle at the Richardson Ranch, near Chico, CA in 1956. Photo courtesy the Wests of Green Acres Arabians.
A recurring theme at New Albion is reinforcing a valued influence through multiple pedigree samples; we do not believe that a single source of any desirable ancestor provides an adequate genetic sampling. Our connections to the great Abu Farwa illustrate this handily. Watch for our new series of ads featuring other major elements in our program.
Abu Farwa, foaled at Pomona, California in 1940, was bred by the W.K.Kellogg institute and has become one of the sires in CMK breeding (and he exemplifies the origin of CMK as a concept: bred at Kellogg’s from a Crabbet-imported mare, while his sire had come to Pomona en utero from Maynesboro). Abu Farwa found his niche in life as a sire for H. H. Reese, the former Kellogg Ranch manager around whom crystallized the Southern California Arabian breeding tradition of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Abu Farwa sired 235 registered foals and became a major force in show and performance breeding; he was selected a Living Legend and his influence still is highly prized where real using horses are valued.
At New Albion we have been fortunate in owning one of the greatest Abu Farwa sons and one of his youngest daughters, in breeding to several of his sons and in working with the Abu Farwa influence through more distant lines. New Albion history parallels that of the breed in general, as in the way we have accidentally lost sources we would rather have maintained (italicized below). We do not claim this to be the ultimate Abu Farwa sampling and it certainly is not meant to be a static thing — there are Abu Farwa sources we would like to add or reinforce. This is where our program stands right now, in terms of one particularly prized founder.
Abu Farwa sources at New Albion (dam and maternal grandsire in parentheses): Tamarlane (Rifanta by Rifnas); Faryn (Ferdith by Ferseyn); Aayisha (Nawari by Alla Amarward); Nirahbu (Nirah by *Ferdin); Shama (Shamrah by Balastra); Abu Baha (Surrab by *Latif); Antezeyn Skowronek (Sharifa by Antez); Awad (Shamrah by Balastra); Farlowa (Farlouma by Farana); Muhuli (Follyanna by Terhani); Shah-Loul(Pomona Avesta by Farana); Galan (Saadi by Rifnas); Miss Nateza (Nateza by *Witez II).
[Additional lines through ’99 include: Riehaba (Amrieh by Kasar), Ga’zi (Ghazna by Chepe Noyon), Rokkara (Sokkar by Rantez) and Lawsouma (Farlouma by Farana).]
Our stallions trace to Farowa, Muhuli, Shah-Loul and Tamarlane. We have retained breedings to the Galan line through a son (out of the youngest Antezeyn Skowronek daughter) and grandson.
From the Desert, From the Green: The Imported Arabians of Lewis Payne
Copyright by R.J.CADRANELL
from Arabian Visions March 1992
Used by permission of RJ Cadranell
Of the Americans who imported Arabians from Crabbet, the name of Payne may not be as familiar as Brown, Kellogg, Selby, or Tankersley. Yet Lewis Payne probably spent more time making his selections, and became better acquainted with the horses and breeders in England, than did practically any other American buyer. In February of 1992 when I visited Lewis Payne in Stillwater, Oklahoma, I found him still at the same address listed for him in the 1966 stud book of the British Arab Horse Society. Also visiting that weekend was his daughter Penny Albright.
Mr. Payne’s first trip to Crabbet was in 1959. At that time Cecil Covey owned the Crabbet Stud. Lady Wentworth had died in 1957, leaving her horses to her former stud manager and tennis coach, Geoffrey Covey. As he had died a short time before she did, the horses passed to his son Cecil.
Mr. Covey was suddenly faced with owning a herd of approximately 75 head, on which he had to pay enormous death duties. Further, the Crabbet property itself had to be vacated; Lady Wentworth had left it to her youngest daughter, Lady Winifrid Tryon. Mr. Covey placed the stallions at Caxtons and the mares at Frogshole Farm, two properties he had inherited along with the horses, but it was imperative he reduce the herd to a manageable size. By the time of Lewis Payne’s 1959 visit, the dust was beginning to settle: large numbers of horses had been sold, and with a pared down herd Mr. Covey was continuing to breed.
Crabbet owned an impressive group of stallions in 1959. Although still photographs were not allowed, Lewis Payne was able to capture on movie film Oran and his sons Grand Royal and *Silver Vanity, as well as Indian Magic, Bright Shadow, and Dargee. Mr. Payne remembers that Indian Magic was considered probably the best ever bred at Crabbet. *Silver Vanity was also thought to be one of the best.
“There are many people who think that Dargee was probably the finest horse that ever walked at Crabbet Stud… he was just a picture horse.” he says. Dargee was bred by George Ruxton from mostly Crabbet lines. Lady Wentworth purchased Dargee as a yearling.
Lewis Payne did not buy any Crabbet horses in 1959. At that time he was still working for Aramco, the Arabian American Oil Company, and living on the east coast of Saudi Arabia at Dhahran. He had been living in Saudi Arabia since 1952. But it was several years after that when he and his daughter Penny began to participate in the equine activities at The Corral, originally known as The Hobby Farm, where a number of Aramco families kept horses and participated in the drill team or the gymkhana events, or simply enjoyed riding in the open desert. Lewis Payne bought his first horse in 1957, a bay stallion belonging to the Minister of Oil affairs. The mare he later imported from Saudi Arabia, “Johara,” was acquired in 1958 or 59. By approximately 1960, there were more than one hundred horses stabled at The Corral.
In 1961 some restructuring occurred within the company and Lewis Payne decided it was time to go back to America. Johara was shipped from Saudi Arabia in May of 1961. The trip took two months. In this country she was registered as *Hamra Johara, meaning “red jewel.” In America she produced nine foals, the last born in 1973.
Bringing horses back from Saudi Arabia was not difficult for Aramco employees. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Saudi Arabia imported goods, but had nothing to export on the cargo ships; oil left the country in tankers. Importing goods was expensive, because the ship’s return trip also had to be paid, in effect. Sending things back to America was therefore cheap. It cost about $350 to bring a horse home. Furthermore, the company covered the cost of building shipping crates and loading the horses on trucks and finally on ship, just as it did for furniture and other personal property an employee wanted to bring back to the States.
The year 1961 was also the year of Lewis Payne’s second trip to England. He had decided to breed Arabian horses, and after reading a magazine article had initiated a correspondence with Lady Anne Lytton, Lady Wentworth’s oldest daughter, about buying a young horse named El Meluk. Lady Anne replied that someone else had first refusal on El Meluk, but that she had a mare she would consider selling. Lady Anne invited him to spend a weekend with her at her home, Newbuildings, in Sussex.
Newbuildings lay about sixteen miles from Crabbet, and had been the final home of Lady Anne’s grandfather, Mr. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. Together with her grandmother, Lady Anne Blunt, he had founded the Crabbet Stud in 1878. Mr. Blunt had died in 1922, leaving Newbuildings to his adopted niece, Dorothy Carleton. When she died in the early 1950s, the house became Lady Anne’s.
Lewis Payne’s weekend stay at Newbuildings expanded to last three months. The mare Lady Anne offered him he bought and imported to the United States. She was *Mellawieh. Her dam Mifaria had been a gift from Lady Wentworth to her daughter on the occasion of one of their reconciliations. In 1951 Mifaria produced for Lady Anne *Mellawieh, by Lady Wentworth’s stallion Indian Magic.
Lewis Payne and Lady Anne Lytton would drive to studs in England so he could look at horses for sale. He visited Patricia Lindsay, where he was able to see some of the first Arabian horses to leave Poland since the end of World War II. He particularly admired the mare Karramba (Witraz x Karmen II) and the colt *Grojec (Comet x Gastronomia), a horse Lady Anne Lytton later bought and used for breeding. Another Polish mare Lewis Payne admired was H.V.M. Clark’s Celina (Witraz x Elza, by Rasim Pierwszy). He filmed Celina as she won her class at Kempton Park.
Mrs. Bomford showed him the old bay stallion Manasseh, sire of Dargee. She also had Dargee’s full brother, the bay My Man. At Mrs. Linney’s he saw the thirteen-year-old grey stallion Sahran (Rangoon x Sahmana, by Manak), the last grandson of Skowronek in England. She also had the Rissalix son Mikeno, who had inherited a full dose of the famous *Berk trotting action through *Berk’s daughter Rissla, dam of Rissalix. From Mrs. Linney he bought a two-year-old Mikeno daughter named *Micah Bint Mikeno, out of Myoletta, full sister to Dargee. Lewis Payne took movies at each of these studs.
Once he and Lady Anne went to a riding school to look at *Astran, a stallion belonging to a Miss Silberstein. Lewis Payne bought him and brought him to Newbuildings, where he was stabling his horses later exported to America.
In 1961 Lewis Payne also made a return visit to the Crabbet Stud at Frogshole Farm. At Crabbet, Lewis Payne bought one of the 1961 foals. He named her *Qasumah, after a pump station in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Covey congratulated Lewis Payne on being one of the few American buyers to spend time getting to know the English breeders and horses. In his experience, American buyers would look at the horses for sale, indicate which ones they wanted, write a check, and never be seen again.
*Mellawieh had produced one foal for Lady Anne Lytton, a 1957 filly by H.V.M. Clark’s stallion Champurrado. She was named Sahirah of the Storm, having been born during one. At the time of *Mellawieh’s importation to America, she was in foal to her half brother, Lady Anne’s stallion Manto. Manto was a chestnut born in 1956 by Blue Domino (Rissalix x Niseyra). The in-utero import was a 1962 chestnut filly, *Qatifah.
During the stay at Newbuildings, Lady Anne Lytton told Lewis Payne stories of growing up at Crabbet. She talked of the time she had spent living with her grandmother at Sheykh Obeyd Garden in Egypt, referring to it as one of the happiest periods of her life. She also told how Wilfrid Blunt used to drive a team of Arabs at a full gallop around a sharp turn and through a gate. When she was still quite young he tried to teach her to do this; she negotiated the turn at a full gallop, but crashed the carriage into one of the gate posts.
In America, Lewis Payne quietly went about his breeding program, utilizing the bloodlines he had obtained in England along with the Saudi mare *Hamra Johara. Today he has approximately nineteen horses. In addition to his own imported stock, the herd also carries the blood of *Ansata Ibn Halima. A few of the older mares are straight English or English/Saudi crosses, but all of the young stock and stallions carry lines to *Ansata Ibn Halima. Lewis Payne liked the horse and the way he moved. The blood of *Micah Bint Mikeno is not represented due to her death at the time she had her first foal, which was also lost.
An impressive horse is Qarlo, probably the only stallion in the world with Oran and *Ansata Ibn Halima as grandsires. Qarlo is out of *Qasumah and by Qartume, a son of *Ansata Ibn Halima and Qate (*Astran x *Mellawieh). Lewis Payne has built a unique herd combining some of the best horses ever to leave England with *Hamra Johara and *Ansata Ibn Halima.
In the following transcript, we are pleased to present an audience with Lewis Payne.
I first got acquainted with Arabians in Saudi Arabia. Somebody said. “We have some horses out here, would you like to take a ride?” I went and looked and thought, “Those scrawny, hungry looking things!” They didn’t mean much to me. So I got on [one] and I was absolutely astounded they did not have to be coaxed to go. The minute you got on them, they moved… So I finally bought a horse from the Minister of Oil Affairs. He was a poor hungry old horse, and I bought him out of sympathy as much as anything else, to fatten him up. He was a stallion, a bay…
In 1951, this may sound hard to believe, but the Arabs were pretty hard up… They had all these horses over at Khafs Dugra, which was near an irrigated place called Al-Kharj…. the king would send a head herdsman [saying], “Give one of my good horses to Prince Ali.” So he just marked down in a book, “One horse to Prince Ali.” Well Prince Ali wasn’t interested in horses, he was interested in Cadillacs… He would never come see the horse, didn’t even want it, so they continued to feed it, and one day Prince Feysul, who later became king, who was also Minister of Economics, he was pretty level-headed, he decided that people should feed their own horses. That was practically unheard of.
Some of the company representatives found out we could get horses. We made arrangements so we could go over and pick twenty horses out of the whole herd. There were seven or eight hundred there, I don’t know exactly. We all put up $200 and we had a committee go over. They picked out several horses, and [*Hamra Johara was] the one they gave me. She was seven years old and had never been broken. She had never grazed in her life… When I brought her over and we put grain in the feed box it was there a week before she found out it was good to eat. She wouldn’t eat out of your hand. An apple or a sugar lump meant nothing to her. She would eat this grass they would give her and some alfalfa. All that herd was being fed on grass, and occasionally alfalfa, just thrown over to them. Apparently she must have lived her first year of life with the Bedouins, because she was crazy about Arab women. She’d see Arab women walking in the distance — they looked like little black tents moving along — she’d always nicker, or want to go over to them. And little Arab children, she was crazy about them, she’d run over to see them… so we know she must have had her nose in a tent, at least the first year she was alive.
She was absolutely crazy about little kids, and people in general. She finally learned to eat apples, which were a rarity [in Saudi Arabia], we had to ship them in, and sugar. I could take a small cube of sugar and hold it between my two fingers. She’d reach over and very gently bite it in two, and never touch my fingers. She didn’t drink much water there… Even when I’d ride her out in the desert when it was terribly hot, I’d bring her in and give her a bath and put her in her stall, she never went to water. I’d catch her drinking water in the middle of the day sometimes, but she’d just barely sip it… When she came to this country she drank more water than she ever did over there, and she put on more weight. And she learned to graze. I would go down into this irrigated place and take her with me with a scythe and a basket. She’d stand there knee deep in this grass and watch me cut a basket full. Then I’d take it back and dump it in her box and she’d eat it.
How did the horses get to Al-Kharj? Ibn Saud just gradually collected horses, and they were put there because it was an irrigated area, and they could raise grass… None of them ever got to full build or promise, because they just didn’t have [the feed]… All the horses I had here were bigger than those there. A horse at Crabbet at a year old was bigger than a two year old desert horse, and it was feed, pure and simple…
The Arabs fed dates. One time we thought at the farm that dates were the thing to feed the horses, until it dawned on us the only reason they fed dates was because it was that or nothing.
…Horses at Khafs Dugra just accumulated. At that time all the ruling people lost interest in the horses because they got automobiles. The head herdsman had a book in which he’d write things down, I don’t know how accurate, I won’t make any promises on that. He pointed out the sire of my horse, a big red stallion, I don’t know his name, so we just called him “Big Red,” or Kabir Ahmar, big red horse. [Ed. note: this is not the same horse owned at the Corral and referred to there as “Big Red.”] What his breeding was, nobody knows. That man may have known, but it’s lost… My mare, I just list her as “D.B.” and consider her a foundation horse. She was accepted by the way for our registry, and I had her with these Crabbet horses, and when [Thompson] came [from the registry] to look [he] fell in love with her. She had a lot of good qualities, temperament more than anything else. Least head shy horse I ever saw; you could do anything with her.
RJC: Was any breeding done at Khafs Dugra, or was it just a place where they kept horses?
Lewis Payne: I don’t think they bred too much because they had all the horses they needed, and more.
Penny Albright: Feed was at a premium, too.
Lewis Payne: That’s not to say it wasn’t done, because it was. I know we got one quite young one, I think less than two years old, maybe two. Also we had a stallion from over there that had been chained to a stake and stood in one spot for five years. That’s why they didn’t breed any more. They didn’t know what to do with them. They had more than they could use, and nobody was interested in them.
BUYING HORSES IN ENGLAND
I was in Saudi Arabia from 1952. I spent nine years there…[then] there was a reduction in force… so I thought well, I’ll go home. But I stopped off in England to pick up horses. Of course Lady Anne Lytton was kind enough to invite me to stay at her place, and I spent some three months there gathering horses… She and I would go around and visit different studs… When we would leave she would say, “What did you think of this or that horse?” I didn’t really know too much, but I’d give my opinion and she’d tell me what was wrong with the horse. So the next time I’d look for a little more. When I heard [*Astran] was for sale… we went to look at him, and she told me, “He’s just a perfect horse.” I never heard her say that about anything. I asked the people there if I could bring a veterinary to come look at him. They said… “If you find something wrong with him, maybe we can buy him,” because they were merely boarding the horse. I brought the vet over… he would take care of the horses at the national stud, which really wasn’t far from Newbuildings Place. He went over and looked at him, and on the way back I said, “What did you think?” and he said, “That’s a nice horse, but the thing that puzzled me was I looked in his stall and he didn’t look very big, and I thought, ‘Why does this man want such a small horse?’ But he stepped out to the paddock and he grew four inches. I never saw such a thing.” He was only 14.2, but he said you would swear he was over 15 just by the way he stood. When Lady Anne and I were leaving after looking at him I asked her, “What’s wrong with him?” She said, “Absolutely nothing,” She said, “If he was here in the spring, I would use him on everything I have.” She said, “There’s a rumor around that he’s infertile, but nobody knows because he’s never been used.” When I had him checked for fertility after I got him to this country… we found he was highly fertile… He produced some pretty nice looking horses, to the third generation… [*Astran] was a direct descendant of Skowronek, but on that same level he had three crosses to Rasim, and that’s what made him….
[*Astran] was a very good riding horse, and I had the shock of my life when I put him in a show here, what they call English Pleasure… and he didn’t even place. I had him entered in a Park class. I said to the girl riding, “Go ahead and enter, but you’re not going to get anywhere,” and bingo, he won first. I went to the judge later and said, “What was wrong in the other?” He said, “I picked him in the first class to win the second class, because I thought he was too animated for a pleasure horse.” I don’t know why a pleasure horse should be a deadhead, but apparently that’s what they preferred….
*Micah bint Mikeno… strongly resembled the mare I brought out of Saudi Arabia. From across the pasture I’d have to look pretty close to tell the difference. Now that’s from two parts of the world, yet the type had so fixed…. I must admit the English mare moved better and she had a better shape of shoulder. There was also in Lady Anne Lytton’s box of photographs a picture of a mare that looked just like those two… *Micah was two years old. I bred her a year later, and unfortunately before she foaled about three or four days, I noticed her standing separate from the other horses…. I brought her in to another place to foal, and about four days before that she collapsed. She had a stroke. This place was right next door to the Oklahoma state veterinary school, so I had the vets over, and they couldn’t figure it out. It was definitely a stroke, and they had isolated it down to the third vertebra because she could move her head, but her body was inert. Her tail you could move over to one side and the next morning it would be exactly where you’d left it. After four days she tried to foal. The foal had no particular will to live. It had a beautiful head and four stockings, a lot like Mikeno, really. So I lost her. We finally had to put her down. …What caused it we don’t know.
The mare *Mellawieh was in foal to Manto; he was her half brother. She had been sent off but didn’t settle, so in sheer desperation Lady Anne Lytton bred her to her half brother Manto, by Blue Domino. She had a filly [*Qatifah]…
COLOR AND MARKINGS
At Crabbet, nobody worried about any white markings. I don’t see why people worry about it. I have seen horses in the Middle East, some with stockings clear over the knees, some with a big white splash on their bellies, and none of that that I could see ever affected a horse’s way of going, metabolism, threw them off their diet, or made them lame. If it did something of that nature, it would be a fault. But if it’s just a color or marking I just can’t see that it would make any difference….
[The Blunts] kept a stud [in Egypt], which was called Sheykh Obeyd, where they kept a good many horses that never came to England. One of them was a roan. I mentioned to Lady Anne that I’d never seen a roan Arab, and she said her grandmother had one and she showed me a photograph of [Kerima]. It’s a rarity, but don’t say it never happens. I’ve seen one horse in this country that was almost roan…. The people that owned it were so ashamed of it they kept it where nobody would see it. I snuck around and saw it and it was the best horse they had. Whatever the horse’s color is, or his markings, makes no difference…
It’s quite possible that colors do accompany other genes. I don’t know this for sure…. When Lady Wentworth died, Cecil Covey fell heir to about 75 pretty nice Arabian horses. There was hardly a single bay in the whole stud, if there was one at all. It had nothing to do with the color. It was merely that Lady Wentworth was looking for certain characteristics the bays didn’t come up with. Now this is not to decry a bay at all. It was merely what she was looking for. Lady Anne Lytton later bought a bay, a Polish horse, *Grojec, and was quite pleased to have him because of his color, because she said, “I remember we had some beautiful bays at Crabbet, and I’ll be awfully glad to get some back. I just think we need a little more variety.” And that is not to say one is better, or one is less than the other. It’s variety. Trying to get all Arabs to look precisely alike is a waste of time….
The Blunts, and of course Lady Wentworth, were quite insistent on a horse’s being able to move, because their introduction to the horse was in the desert where action and movement with efficiency is of paramount importance, which seems to have been lost now. If he’s flashy right now they think he’s good….
Probably the finest moving horse in 1961 or that era was Mikeno, who was by Rissalix and had the Rissalix action, which he got from Rissla, which she got from *Berk. Lady Anne Blunt told her granddaughter, Lady Anne Lytton, one time as they stood and watched *Berk moving, “Anne, that is the way an Arab is supposed to move.” It’s a reaching stride. It takes good slope of shoulder and it takes strong quarters…
When the Blunts founded Crabbet, horses were a means of conveyance, not just a hobby. They had to move from here to there in an efficient manner. I don’t know of anybody in the present day who would have the same background as the Blunts, because time is against you. The Blunts were artists, both of them, so they appreciated the beauty of a horse, the balance, the conformation… They rode their horses in the desert, and they knew that the horse had to make it there and back, so consequently they were quite critical of efficient action….
Here, you ride a horse around the ring for ten minutes or so and that’s it. There’s nothing wrong with that, and you can do anything with your horses you want to, but it is unfortunate that this flashy action, the high knee action — ladder climbing I call it — has come intto vogue so much that a reaching horse, like an Arab should be, is penalized. There’s nothing of course we can do about that, but if you want a horse to move across country, you better get one that reaches, and never mind how high they pick the feet up; it’s how far forward they go.
…I think perhaps the true characteristic of the Arab is moving from point A to point B. That’s not well presented in a show ring. It’s just impossible. So I think perhaps cross country racing is the best, and they have in England now a cross country race… I can see something to that. As for racing on the track, I see nothing wrong with that. And I understand there’s a new program out now: chariot racing, and that strikes me as quite interesting. And I would see nothing wrong with a sulky race trotting, because some of these Arabs can trot….
It is better when you have a horse with good conformation, but unfortunately in the desert, or that part of the world, there are very, very few good horses, but seldom do you find a horse with enough good points to say that it’s a first class horse. Occasionally it does happen, but it’s rare….
I personally prefer a horse with length of neck; some are shorter than others, but I prefer the length, because a horse’s head and neck is what helps his balance, and they can’t move gracefully with a short stubby neck.
I like strong quarters. I’ve seen Arabs that people rave about the high tail set, which doesn’t mean a thing in the world if there’s no quarters beneath it.
…Most Arabs have no heels to speak of on their hoofs. They’re rather short. I hadn’t paid much attention to this. One of the veterinarians working on our horses asked me, “Do all Arabs have low heels like this?” I got to thinking, “Why yes, they do.” Some of these Arabs that are kept to imitate the American Saddle horses, they let the feet grow out, and put shoes on them to get a longer heel. I don’t care for that action at all….
Geoffrey Covey had been a tennis coach, and Lady Wentworth had quite the thing with tennis. She purported to be world champion at royal tennis. They were quite friendly, so she appointed him to head the stud…. You must remember the nature of this woman. She was headstrong, strong-willed, opinionated. When she decided something was something, that was it. If she said it three times… it became a fact.
…When Lady Wentworth saw *Mellawieh, she ordered Anne to give her back to Crabbet. Anne said, “I’m not going to give you back that horse, I want her myself.” So her mother in a huff wasn’t even speaking to her. When I left England the last of October, she told me, “The last big argument I had with my mother was over that mare.” [At the end of Lady Wentworth’s life] she hadn’t seen her son in thirty years…. The only one speaking to Lady Wentworth was her daughter Winifrid. I had lunch with a family friend… who had been a school chum. She told me Lady Winifrid was to come over to her place for lunch, and she got a call from her: “I have to go… my mother is dying, and I’m the only one she’ll speak to.”
LADY ANNE LYTTON AND CECIL COVEY
[Lady Wentworth] left her horses to Geoffrey Covey, but he died… before she did. So Cecil Covey… fell heir to 75 beautiful horses…. He told me there was no way he could take care of that many horses. So they began selling horses. He told me… there were some very fine horses that sold for less than 100 pounds, which would be at that time around $300.
…I had talked to Lady Anne about breeding a mare to Dargee, and she had said, “Well, I’m not too sure about sending a horse over there.” There was a feeling between her and Cecil Covey, although they had grown up together at Crabbet, a feeling of estrangement… he told me… “I always felt that the family resented my getting the horses. I can understand that. But had any member of that family come to me and asked for a horse, any horse, they could have had it… because I feel that blood is thicker than water…” Lady Anne told me “well, we meet sometimes at horse meetings and are very cordial, but we just don’t have the comradeship.”
…I picked [*Qasumah] out of Mr. Covey’s herd because of the way she stood and looked…. She had a lot of white markings on her [and] he told me, “Americans don’t like white on horses.” I’d come out of Arabia and had seen white on horses and I didn’t see that it made any difference, so I said, “Well ‘Americans’ aren’t buying this horse, I am.” so I took her and I’ve never regretted it. I had talked to Lady Anne about what I’d picked out to buy there, so I asked Mr. Covey, “Would you mind if I had Lady Anne come over and look at this filly?” He said, “Why no.” A day or two later I spoke to her again…. I said, “Would you like to go over to Crabbet and look at this filly?” She was very eager… so we went over and in a few minutes they were just chatting…. He later told me, “I want to thank you for making it possible for Lady Anne to come over,” and this was when he told me he’d always felt that the family resented his having the horses.
I remember one time Lady Anne and Cecil were talking about something, and I thought, “I’ll just sit over here and listen and maybe learn something.” And they’d been talking thirty minutes or so about different horses when she turned to me and said, “Well what do you think? You haven’t said a word.” I was flattered those two people who had such a history with horses — she at that time was about sixty years old and he was approximately the same — they had all of those years of experience with the good horses, and I was amazed that they wanted to know my opinion on something. Yet I never once heard either one of those people say, “I’ve got the finest Arabs in the country.” Yet I’ve heard Americans say time and time again, “I have the finest Arabs in the country.”
At Crabbet, if a horse had something that they didn’t think was quite right… they would tell you…. They never tried to hide anything. They were looking more than anything else for the improvement of the horse.
by Michael Bowling
from Arabian Horse World July 1979
copyright by MICHAEL BOWLING
used by permission of Michael Bowling
first published in the Arabian Horse World July 1979
*Linden Tree Engravings of *Leopard and *Linden Tree from Randolph Huntington’s 1885 book, General Grant’s Arabian Stallions
“Wonderful Arabian Horses Presented to General Grant by the Sultan of Turkey”—note that this is the same pose of *Linden Tree (in background), with same pyramids and palm trees, as in another photo which follows. (Courtesy Linda Sale)
The story of the Arabian breed in North America is a long and complicated one, and could be approached from any number of perspectives. We are centering on the arrival of the Grant stallions simply because 1979 marks the centennial of their setting foot here—and one of them, *Leopard 233, became the first imported and registered Arabian to leave descent in our studbooks.
*Leopard was by no means the most important stallion ever imported to this part of the world, but he does hold chronological pride of place, and he is not without strategic importance. With the passage of time it is no longer entirely clear just who got whom started in breeding Arabian horses in America, but certainly, just as *Leopard arrived first, Randolph Huntington’s program was the first of the American historical groups to produce horses that bred on into modern pedigrees. It is quite certain that it was *Leopard that started Huntington on his career with purebred Arabians, so any influence Huntington has had, on breeding stock or on ideas of the breed, is owed in fact to *Leopard as first cause. It may well be that, Huntington or no, American Arabian breeding would have had a start in 1893 with the Hamidie Society horses from the Chicago’s World’s Fair—but how do we know that Huntington’s beginnings with the breed did not prepare the way for that group and its barbaric showmanship to make an impression?
In another intriguing sense, which has come clear to me gradually over the course of the pedigree research into *Leopard’s descent, this line of horses is a marker for the “American” breeding groups. Whether they were key individuals of a given line or not, *Leopard’s descendants turn out to have been owned, and bred from, by almost all of the important early-day American breeders—and thus in all but a few of the pedigree-defined “breeding groups” of today, lines to *Leopard will be encountered.
My search for photos of, and references to, the Grant stallions and their get and immediate descendants, has made another indelible impression on me: I now understand, in a way I never had before, that a hundred years ago the horse was a fact of life, a given, so basic and so commonplace to daily existence that next to no notice of it was taken by most people. Witnesses of the time are maddeningly casual in their accounts of the doings and activities of horsemen as related to the horses. Photography was an infant technology and was seldom applied to recording images of horses. A great deal of frustration has been the result, for from a 1979 perspective it seems impossible that horse ownership and the pursuit of a breeding program could be taken so much for granted. (I suppose from the perspective of 1879 the fact that most people today own and drive automobiles and give them little or no thought would seem just as outlandish—and the way things seem headed, our successors of 2079 may find today’s automobile-oriented society just as farfetched.)
At any rate, in the days of the practical horse, history at large is recorded on a basis of horsepower. It seems not to have been thought necessary to record the details of how that power was generated and applied, and the details of individual power units were recorded very seldom. Much of what we do know of the careers of the Grant stallions, we owe to Randolph Huntington’s passion for detail and documentation of horse breeding information. Huntington had a feeling for the existence of a gene pool (a concept no one in 1879 could have defined, but which Huntington understood intuitively) in which individual animals are merely temporary combinations of elements which may be eternal if man allows them to breed on—but which are lost forever without man’s cooperation. Huntington devoted a lifetime to the cause of breeding better horses, and it is most fitting that he be remembered in connection with the centennial of the Arabian in America. An excellent article on his career appeared in the June 1978 issue of this magazine, originating with the Arabian Horse Owner’s Foundation; this is recent enough that is should be pretty widely available, so I will not go into too much detail except as he relates to the Grant stallions.
Our story properly begins with the world tour taken by General Ulysses S. Grant after he served as president of this country. In the late 70’s of the last century it was not a casual project to travel around the world, and the details of the trip would be most instructive. What matters to us in this context is that in March of 1878 the general and his son Jesse arrived in Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
The published accounts of what actually took place on the day the Grants toured the private stables of Sultan Abdul Hamid II are distinctly contradictory. This is the first instance we encounter in the course of our narrative, of the misty insubstantiality of “fact” given the passage of sufficient time. This is especially true in a case like this, where the subject, a tour of a stable of horses, is of interest to specialists today but was scarcely a major event at the time.
In his memoirs published in 1925, Jesse Grant does not make it clear whether the Sultan was even present when the horses were displayed. He presents his father as asked to pick his favorites of the stallions paraded and naming a pair of bays; when asked his second choice, the general indicated a pair of greys. In his narrative Grant is shown as embarrassed on being told that the grey horses were his as a gift from the Sultan.
Thorton Chard, in a 1937 Western Horseman article drawing on Randolph Huntington’s private papers, quotes Grant’s friend and comrade in arms, General G.E. Bryant, as remembering a rather different story told him by Grant himself. Bryant’s version has the general told, by the Sultan speaking through an interpretor, that he was to be given his choice of the stallions, Grant naming *Leopard. Abdul Hamid II then presented *Linden Tree to make a pair.
1873 – *Leopard foaled in the desert
1874 – *Linden Tree foaled in Abdul Hamid II’s stables, Constantinople
Before 1878 – *Leopard presented by Jedaan Ibn Mheyd to Turkish governor of Syria
March 1878 – General U.S.Grant visits stables of Abdul Hamid II and is presented with *Leopard and *Linden Tree.
May 31, 1879 – Stallions arrive New Haven, Connecticut
Summer and Fall 1879 – Stallions exhibited at fairs
Late Fall 1879 – Stallions stabled at Gen. E.F. Beale’s Ash Hill Farm, Washington DC.
1889-1883 – Randolph Huntington breeds Clay mares to stallions.
1883 – *Leopard registered to J.B.Houston, New York, NY
*Linden Tree registered to U.S. Grant, Jr., New York, NY
Stallions shown at New York Horse Show, *Leopard placing first
1884 – Stallions again shown at New York Show, *Leopard again first.
1888 *Naomi imported by Huntington
*Linden Tree sold to General L.W. Colby and taken to Beatrice, Nebraska
1893 or 1894 – *Leopard ridden in militia parade by General Colby, probably in or around Diller, Nebraska
An addition to this version of the story has the original “Linden Tree,” chosen by the Sultan, injured before he could be shipped, and replaced without the Sultan’s knowledge with our registered *Linden Tree.
In any event, Chard published a facsimile of a letter from Grant to Huntington documenting that he was given two stallions from the Sultan’s stables, and Huntington himself eventually tracked down their origin in more detail. In his 1885 book on the subject of the Grant horses, Huntington says that “I believed, as will any American, that they must be of the highest possible type. No empire or nation would insult herself by presenting to so great a man, also the one representative man of so great a nation as ours, an inferior gift from its native animal life. General Grant’s Arabs had to be the purest and best.” According to Chard, “breeding the two horses to the same mares produced offspring with such different characteristics that Mr. Huntington was convinced that there was a blood difference, so he began a deliberate search, which after eight years, resulted in information that confirmed him in his convictions and established the facts that Leopard was a purebred Arabian and Linden Tree a purebred Barb.”
*Leopard was a Seglawi Jedran, desertbred by the Anazeh, foaled in 1873 and presented by Jedaan Ibn Mheyd of the Fedaan Anazeh to the Turkish governor of Syria. (Some accounts list Ibn Mheyd as the breeder, but Carol Mulder, with typical caution, makes the distinction that we only know he presented the horse.) This governor then presented the horse to Abdul Hamid II, who in turn gave him to General Grant.
Recall that in the same year of 1878, the Blunts were traveling within the Ottoman Empire, and found that they could not gain access to the best horses of the desert Bedouin while in company with Turkish officials, as the Bedouin feared confiscation of their stock in the name of the Sultan. Presenting that potentate with an inferior specimen would have been a most risky course of action—he owned his subjects’ lives as well as their horses—so we may safely assume that *Leopard was accounted a high-class example of Anazeh breeding.
Other Seglawis of the Fedaan Anazeh figure in modern pedigrees; surely the most distinguished of them is the great ZOBEYNI, the most important breeding horse in the fabulous collection of Abbas Pasha I (another potentate with an eye, and a yen, for the best and rarest, so his possession of Seglawis from the Fedaan is high recommendation). The Blunts’ desertbred KARS, a high-quality individual and the original head sire at the Crabbet Stud, was a Seglawi bred by Jedaan Ibn Mheyd and foaled just a year after *Leopard.
A hundred years ago in the desert, strains were not just name tags—the horses of a tribe were by and large interrelated, and those of the same strain and tribe almost certainly so. *Leopard’s origin is thus in common with that of some of the breed’s most unimpeachable breeding animals. It is most unfortunate that a widely-read 1965 Western Horseman article made a sidelong reference to *Leopard and *Linden Tree and lumped them together as “not, however, purebreds.” In the nature of things, people who would never be tempted to do any pedigree research remember statements like this one, without realizing they have no documentation, and an astonishing number still recall this “fact.” People, it ain’t so!
*Linden Tree was apparently bred by Sultan Abdul Hamid II and foaled in Constantinople in 1874. His Barb ancestors were associated with Abdul Hamid’s family for generations. It seems quite likely—and would support the Bryant version of the presentation story—that the Sultan would like to see a horse of his family’s breeding ranked at least as highly as one he had been given. Thus his singling out of *Linden Tree and sending him along.
These names, incidentally, are purportedly translations of the original Arabic names of the horses, not bestowed by General Grant. *Leopard seems to have been named with reference to his dappling; the origin of the other title has puzzled me since I first heard it.
When we talk about the “greatness” of something, we are usually referring to its impact over a number of years. In this sense of the word, “greatness” aptly defines the influence the old Ben Hur Farms of Portland, Indiana, has had on Arabian breeding in this country.
Mr. Herbert Tormohlen, owner of Ben Hur Farms, Portland, Indiana, at his turkey farm the Christmas before his death in July, 1968.
Ben Hur Farms was owned by Herbert and Blanche Tormohlen, both extremely knowledgeable breeders. Its program, which lasted for over 35 years, combined the breeding of two of the most successful programs existing at that time — that of the Davenport horses and Crabbet Stud in England.
The first registered foal from Ben Hur was the mare Valencia 587, foaled in 1926, by Hanad 489, and out of the prolific mare Dahura 90. Valencia and her full brother Ameer Ali 644 (foaled in 1927) were sold, along with Hanad, to the Kellogg Ranch in California. In 1930, Hanad and Valencia were named Champion Stallion and Mare at the Los Angeles County Fair and thus, according to an early Ben Hur brochure, they became the first champion Arabian stallion and mare in the United States.
The mare Dahura continued to produce steadily for Ben Hur. In 1929 and 1930, she produced Aabann 736 and Aabab 741, respectively, both by Hanad. Next she was bred to Hanad’s half-brother Tabab 441 (*Deyr 33 x Domow 267), and produced Aabazem 874 in 1931. Her last foal, Aabella 1014 by Mahomet 729 (Hanad x Domow) was foaled in 1933. Aabella, along with Aabann and Aabab, played an important part in the early Ben Hur program.
In 1935, at the first National Arabian Show, Aabann and Aabab won Champion and Reserve in three-gaited performance, now known as park, a feat which matched the record of their sister Valencia.
Besides Dahura, there were two other foundation mares at Ben Hur — Hayah 385 (Harara 122 x Dehahah), a Davenport mare, and Nadirat 619 (*Rizvan 381 x Nusara 371), a Crabbet mare.
Hayah possessed a rather erratic foaling record, with time lapses ranging from two to nine years. While at Ben Hur she produced three foals. The first, by Aabab, was Aahar 1734 in 1939, followed in 1943 by Aahmad 2747, sired by Aanad 1735 (Aabab x Nadirat), and finally, in 1944, Hayah produced her last, and according to some, her best foal, Aah Abu 3060, by Indraff 1575 (*Raffles 952 x *Indaia 813). Aah Abu, by the way, was her only grey foal. All the others were chestnuts.
Nadirat also played an important part throughout the entire Ben Hur program. She produced at least three foals there, beginning in 1938 with Aanad 1735, and Aalita 2746 in 1943, both by Aabab. She produced at least one other foal for the Tormohlens, the filly Aalastra 3716, foaled in 1946. Aalastra was one of two Gulastra 521 (*Astraled 238 x Gulnare 278) daughters at Ben Hur. The other was Aastra 3712, out of Aadraffa 2075 (Indraff x Aadah 1857). Both of these mares figured prominently in the Ben Hur program.
Herbert Tormohlen was a firm believer in Gulastra blood. He felt that although it wasn’t necessary to have a lot of this blood, it was important to have at least a little of it. A friend of Mr. Tormohlen, after seeing these mares, once asked why he was keeping them, as she felt they were only average. Tormohlen told the lady to take a closer look at their heads. When she did, she saw some of the most beautiful heads she had ever seen on a horse. Tormohlen then went on to explain that was the reason Gulastra blood was so important in a breeding program — incorporating even a small amount of this blood would add to the beauty and refinement of the heads on the horses produced.
Of the three early mares at the farm, only Dahura and Nadirat were to play a key role in its later program. Dahura is remembered most through her double granddaughter, Aadah 1857 (Aabab x Aabella), who later became one of Ben Hur’s two premier mares. She produced eleven foals in twelve years, ten of which were fillies. Nadirat became more influential through a daughter that was not bred at Ben Hur, the mare Aarah 1184.
Aarah, 1935 chestnut mare (Ghadaf x Nadirat)
Bred by C. P. Knight, Jr., of Providence, Rhode Island, and foaled in 1935, Aarah was by Ghadaf 694, a half-brother to Gulastra. Aarah was the only horse ever at Ben Hur to be given a formal burial and a commemorative monument on her grave. Her ten foals were directly responsible for some of the most illustrious champions and producers of her day.
An almost immediate reaction by older breeders to the “double A”-named horses is to think that they trace back to Aarah, and to a certain extent they are right. Aarah was acquired by Ben Hur in the early 1940’s, and she foaled her first for them in 1942, a colt named Aaronek 2249 by Indraff. That year she was bred back to *Raffles 952 (Skowronek x *Rifala 815), and the following year she produced the beautiful chestnut colt, Aaraf 2748.
Had Aarah produced only this foal, her place in Arabian history would have been assured, for Aaraf sired over 125 foals in his lifetime. That may be a small number by today’s standards, but considering the times then, and the fact that many of these foals became champions and went on to produce champions, the record is impressive.
Aaraf was not, however, Aarah’s last foal. In 1944 she produced the mare Aarafa 2872, followed by Aaraq 3371 in 1945, Aarief 3717 in 1946, and Aarafla 4344 in 1947, all by *Raffles. Aaraq was the only one of these five to be sold — as a colt he went to Tom Sheppard of Colorado. There are still many foals by him in the Midwest. The other four *Raffles/Aarah foals were retained by Ben Hur and used heavily in their program — in fact Aaraf, Aarafa, and Aarafla were three of Mr. Tormohlen’s favorite horses. He felt that they were three of the finest Arabs in the country at that time, and that was quite an honor, considering Tormohlen’s fine eye for horses.
Aaraf, 1943 chestnut stallion, (*Raffles x Aarah). Sired 125 purebreds.
Aarief, 1946 grey stallion, full brother to Aaraf above.
*Raffles was not the only stallion to which Aarah was bred. She also produced several outstanding foals by Azkar 1109.
Azkar was by Rahas 651 (Gulastra x Raad 474) and out of the imported Egyptian mare *Aziza 888 (Jamil x Negma). At one time, *Aziza was considered to be the most beautiful mare to come from Egypt and was of what is now referred to as Old Egyptian breeding (bred very closely to the Babson Egyptians). This cross to *Aziza blended well with the *Raffles/Aarah horses. *Aziza herself was a half-sister to *Roda 886, who crossed extremely well with *Raffles (producing Tut Ankh Amen 3830 and Star Of Egypt 4167, among others).
The cross to Rahas brought in another line to Gulastra, of which Mr. Tormohlen was so fond, while the cross to Raad (Sidi 223 x *Rijma 346) brought in yet another vital line. While *Rijma, who was imported from the Crabbet Stud, possessed a pedigree which read like a “Who’s Who” of Arabian horses from the studs of Abbas Pasha I and Ali Pasha Sherif, as well as from the Crabbet desert imports, Sidi’s pedigree represented some of the finest individuals of the early domestic programs.
Azkar sired many foals for Ben Hur, including Aazrar 10429, Aazhar 6145, and Aazkara 4879, out of Aarah; Aalzar 7984, out of Aahlwe 3403 (Khaleb 1168 x *Hilwe 810); Karada, out of Aadelfa 7983 (Aaraf x Aadah); Aaziza and Aazalia, both out of Aarafa; Aazdura 6146, out of Aadura 2744 (Indraff x Aadah); and Aazfar 13627, out of Aarafla. Many of these horses can still be found in modern pedigrees.
Produce of the *Raffles/Aarah cross became the mainstay of the Ben Hur program. Aaraf was head stallion, siring foals from mares who were daughters and granddaughters of their original foundation mares. The first Aaraf foals were born in 1946. Aakafa 3713 (x Aakala) was Aaraf’s first foal, followed by Aalurah 3714 (x Aadah) and finally Aarita 3715 out of Aalita 2746 (Aabab x Nadirat). Aaraf also blended well with the Azkar daughters, in particular Aazkara. Aaraf sired four sons and six daughters from Aazkara, and four sons and one daughter from Aazdura. Aaraf sired three foals from his full sister Aarafa — Aarafaa 10426, foaled in 1955, Lewisfield Sun God 21194 in 1962, and Lewisfield Sun Gal 27582 in 1964. From his full sister, Aarafla, Aaraf sired one daughter — Aafala 15522 in 1959.
Aarafa was one of the loveliest mares to come from Ben Hur, and another of Tormohlen’s favorites. She was a strong show horse, and won numerous championships. She also produced many champions, including U.S. National Reserve Champion Stallion, Lewisfield Bold Hawk by Aalzar; Lewisfield Nizrif 41760 by *Nizzam; Aaziza and Aazalia, by Azkar; Lewisfield Lovely by Lewisfield Nizzamo; as well as the three Aaraf foals, and many others.
Aarafla was also a consistent show champion and added many awards to the Ben Hur collection, most in what we now refer to as Park. In Tormohlen’s opinion, she exemplified what the “ideal” Arabian should be, as she possessed “the natural, uninhibited gaits and action of the exquisite beauty of the ancient or classic type of Arabian.” Carl Raswan was quick to verify this, and photos of Aarafla were added to his already famous collection. Aarafla, unfortunately, produced only two foals. The first was Aazfar 13627, by Azkar, who followed in his mother’s footsteps and won many park championships. Not only was Aazfar Aarafla’s only son, but he was Azkar’s youngest son as well. The second of Aarafla’s foals was Aafala, by Aaraf. Aafala was Aarafla’s only daughter, and at 21 years of age is still producing.
While Aaraf, Aarafa, and Aarafla were winning at shows in the East, Aarief was making an equally impressive name for himself on the west coast, while he was on lease to Lasma Arabians. While there he sired many foals, including Aadrief 12380 and Aalrief 14233, a National Top Ten horse. Aarief also played an important part in the breeding program at McCoy Arabians. He sired The Real McCoy, out of Fersara (dam of Ferzon), who influenced the breeding program at Lewisfield Arabians during the Sixties. Photos of Aarief were also added to the Raswan collection.
Ben Hur Farms acquired quite an impressive collection of trophies over the years, including numerous halter and park awards. The most prestigious, however, was the Egyptian Challenge Trophy, donated by King Farouk of Egypt. In order to retire the trophy permanently, Ben Hur had to win it three times at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, in Harrisburg. The winners were selected for “perfection of breed type, and performance.” The first horse ever to win this trophy, and the first horse to win it for Ben Hur, was Aarafa in 1950. Later the trophy was awarded to Aalzar, and finally, in 1963, it was won by Raffarana 12401, by Handeyraff 3940 (*Raffles x Hanadin 2575), out of Yatana 1232 (Farana 708 x Ghazayat 584).
Ben Hur Farms produced a number of other excellent horses during its existence, many of whom were not only champions themselves, but also the sires and dams of champions, including Aadeara 10823 (Aaraf x Aadura), Aalurah 3714 (Aaraf x Aadah), Aabona 12277 (Aaraf x Aaba) and Aahfour 10820 (Aaraf x Aastra 3712).
*Raffles, 1926 gray stallion (Skowronek x *Rifala)
Around 1960 the bulk of Ben Hur stock, some 40 horses, was sold to James F. Lewis, Jr., to become part of the foundation for his Lewisfield Arabians. Lewis had also imported a large number of horses from Lady Wentworth’s Crabbet Stud in England, and had purchased several horses of the *Raseyn/*Raffles cross. Lewisfield’s main stallion was *Nizzam 16070, and Ben Hur mares, when bred to him, consistently produced exquisite foals — perhaps his finest. Numbered among the champions from this cross are Lewisfield Nizziza, Lewisfield Nizzarafa, Lewisfield Nizzaza, Lewisfield Nizzara, Lewisfield Nizzoro, Lewisfield Nizzamo, Lewisfield Nizrif, and Lewisfield Legacy.
Lewisfield also bred a few “straight Ben Hur” horses, most of whom were sired by Aaraf. Most noted among these are Lewisfield Serenade 13633 (also called Aadaia) and Rafhanna formerly Lewisfield Dixie), out of Aadah; Lewisfield Royal Flush 21195, Lewisfield Caress 23656, and Lewisfield Bahama 27580, out of Aazkara; and Lewisfield Sun God 21194 and Lewisfield Sun Gal out of Aarafa. Aarafa’s son Lewisfield Bold Hawk (by Aalzar) was also “straight Ben Hur.”
When Lewisfield was dispersed in 1973, these Ben Hur horses were sold to various farms throughout the country, where they were incorporated into already existing programs. Gradually the percentage of Ben Hur blood decreased and appeared farther back in the pedigrees. However, no matter in what type of program these horses were used, they always helped to improve it, thus proving their versatility as breeding stock by mixing well with various bloodlines and becoming ideal outcrosses.
Today there are a number of dedicated breeders throughout the country, mostly in the central part, who maintain small herds of Ben Hur-bred horses, including Mary Manor Farm in Troy, Ohio; Phara Farm in Hartford, Wisconsin; and Marcy Arabians in Dyersville, Iowa. The quality of the horses at these farms and many others is comparable to that of the horses produced ten years ago at Lewisfield, and twenty or thirty years ago at Ben Hur Farms. The stallion B.H. Bold Decision 71851 (Lewisfield Bold Hawk x Burr-Hill Gindara), owned by Judy Williams of Nobelsville, Indiana, bears a strong likeness to his great-grandfather, Aaraf, and especially to his father’s half-brother, Lewisfield Sun God, as well as a striking resemblance to his distant cousins Sun God Reflection and The Midnight Sun, both owned by Annette Patti of Phara Farm.
The quality of these horses has remained constant, yet the prices have stayed relatively low. Still, it’s nice to know that in these days when so many people are determined to latch onto the latest imported fad, there are still a few breeders following a proven domestic program, like that of Ben Hur Farms, which has rightfully earned the title, “American-Bred.”
by Charles Craver
All rights reserved
(Copied to this web page by permission of Charles Craver)
Letan (*Muson x *Jedah) Foaled 1909. Bred by the Davenport Desert Arabian Stud. Both sire and dam were original imports.
Hanad (*Deyr x Sankirah) Foaled 1922. Bred by the Hingham Stock Farm. The most influential Davenport at the Kellogg Ranch.
*Wadduda, a famed war mare, imported by Homer Davenport in 1906, founded one of the greatest mare lines of the twentieth century. She was indeed the Queen Mother from whom many of the best Arabians of today descend. (from the back inside cover of the CMK Heritage Catalogue 1982)
*Hamrah, a desert-bred stallion and major progenitor of the Davenport legacy.
Lysander (Sir x Dhalana), foaled 1966. Bred by Charles C Craver III. A straight Davenport Arabian stallion still gracing Craver Farms with his presence in 1997.
By long-standing usage in the United States, the term “Davenport,” as applied to Arabian horses, is used to describe the horses registered by the Arabian Horse Registry of this country as having been imported in 1906 from the Arabian desert by Homer Davenport. By extension, the term is also applied to those horses which are entirely descended from those horses. The original importation consisted of twenty-seven head, of which twenty-five were registered. When they arrived in the United States, there were few other Arabian horses here. As the years went by, crosses were made with other bloodlines as they were imported. At present, almost all Arabians having several generations of American breeding trace to the Davenports to the extent that probably 90 percent of Arabian horses in the U.S. have in the neighborhood of 10 percent Davenport ancestry.
At the same time as this dissemination of Davenport bloodlines has gone on, a few Arabians have continued to be bred exclusively within the bloodlines of the Davenport importation. These horses are almost entirely of breeding stock which passed through the Kellogg Ranch. There are presently (1982) about 325 living Arabian horses of this sort in the ownership of about 75 individuals. This group of horses is one of the oldest breeding groups of Arabians anywhere to have been maintained on a closed pedigree basis: that is, without outcrossing to other bloodlines. As a group, their major distinctive feature is the similarity in type which they bear to the pictures and descriptions which we have of their imported, desert-bred ancestors of 1906. A few of them even bear marked resemblance to specific individuals in the importation. This is particularly noticeable in some descendants of *Muson #27, but people who know these bloodlines are also able to recognize features from others of the imported horses such as *Abeyah #39, *Deyr #33, *Farha #42, and *Hamrah #28.
The horses registered as imported by Davenport were as follows: *Haleb #25, *Houran #26, *Muson #27, *Hamrah #28, *El Bulad #29, *Wadduda #30, *Gomusa #31, *Azra #32, *Deyr # 33, *Mowarda #34, *Kusof #35, *Euphrates #36, *Antar # 37, *Reshan #38, *Abeyah #39, *Urfah #40, *Werdi #41, *Farha #42, *Hadba #43, *Jedah #44, *Haffia #45, *Enzahi #46, *Moharra #47, *Masoud #64, *Abbeian #111. All of these horses, having living descendants, are represented in pedigrees from Maynesboro (*Euphrates #36) or the Kellogg Ranch. The “Davenport” Arabians were personally obtained by Davenport through direct purchase from their bedouin owners who were required to establish their purebred status by oath taken before their sheikhs and fellow tribesmen. Davenport was proud that these horses were representative of the animals which were used in daily bedouin life.
The Davenport influence came into the CMK context with the stallion Jerrede #84 who was out of the Hamidie mare *Nejdme #1 and by the Davenport stallion *Euphrates #36. W. R. Brown was interested in using this horse as a sire at Maynesboro, but initially he was disinclined to do so because the sire, *Euphrates, like the other Davenports, was not registered with the Jockey Club, although he was, of course, registered with the Arabian Horse Club of America. Brown was able to arrange acceptance of *Euphrates by the Jockey Club through statements by Lady Anne Blunt of the Crabbet Arabian Stud authenticating his pedigree. This opened the way for registration by the Jockey Club of Jerrede and for use of that horse at Maynesboro by W. R. Brown. Jerrede’s role there is minor, and it is difficult to evaluate how successful he was as a sire.
In living CMK horses, practically all Davenport influence derives from the extensive use of Davenport related breeding stock at the Kellogg Ranch, where in early years, the Davenport bloodlines were very strongly represented.
Among the Davenports which were especially known as Kellogg breeding stock were the stallions Hanad #489, Antez #448, Letan #86, Jadaan #196, and *Deyr #33. Well-known mares were Adouba #270, Babe Azab #567, Fasal #330, Hasiker #268, Poka #438, Saba #437, Sankirah #149, Sherlet #339, and Schilla #419.
The Kellogg Ranch bred a few horses which were entirely Davenport in pedigree. The more frequent utilizations of the bloodlines, however, were in combination with horses of other background. Quite a number of these crosses were of foundation quality and provided the bases from which some of the most popular current American Arabians derive. Horses such as Khemosabi, Ferzon, The Judge, Fame, Ibn Hanrah, Fadjur, Galan, Garaff, and Saki all have strong Davenport elements in their pedigrees and would not be the same if there were to be replacement by ancestors of a different background.
When their numerical representation at the Kellogg Ranch was substantial, the Davenport bloodlines appear to have been well appreciated. From pictures of public record, foals produced by them were of excellent quality and helped to establish the reputation of the ranch as an Arabian horse nursery. In presentations at the Kellogg exhibitions, the Davenports were among the noted performers, with Hanad doing a trick and dressage routine he had learned as an older horse, Pep performing as a trick horse, and Jadaan being exhibited in costume. They were used successfully in a number of movies. In competition at public horse shows, they did well against other Arabians in California, including some of the most attractive and highly publicized of the Kellogg Crabbet imports.
As time has passed, a certain amount of partisanship had developed both towards and against the Kellogg Davenport bloodlines. From a distance in time it is difficult to understand the reasons for this, but partly, they may have had origins in the fact that the Davenports sometimes represented a different tradition in Arabian breeding from some of the other Kellogg bloodlines. These traditions were and still are reflected in the horses themselves. The Davenports were close to their desert origins. *Deyr #33 was actually a desert import. Others were only one or two generations removed. Such horses represented Bedouin values in Arabian breeding. Other fine bloodlines at Kellogg’s were quite different in their origins, some of them descending from long lines of Arabian breeding in Europe, England, and Egypt: perhaps these bloodlines tended to show the influences of the countries which had served as intermediate hosts for the several generations which transited the distance from Arabia to the Kellogg Ranch.
Actually, there was no good reason why one bloodline should be valued and another ignored among the Kellogg Ranch bloodlines, of which the Davenports were one. There was sufficient good in each that a lover of horses could be grateful they had been brought into a juxtaposition of some harmony and then passed on to private breeders as a contribution to the development of the Arabian horse in America.
The question naturally comes up as to what Davenport bloodlines added to CMK breeding. The answer breaks down into two parts, the first concerning those horses which are entirely Davenport in origin. This is a group of horses which is still quite representative of the desert imports of 1906. They tend to be of moderate size, athletic inclination, fine-skinned, large of eye, and wide between the jaws. Dispositions are comparatively quiet, and they adapt well to the owner who wants to give plenty of personal attention to his horse. Out of the small number which have been shown in recent years, there have been good successes in dressage, distance riding, halter, pleasure, costume, and park exhibition. One of the interesting things about this group of horses is that certain of them preserve the identity in type and strain of two of the major bedouin strains among the horses imported by Davenport, which were the Seglawi and the Kuhaylan. In recent years, the effort has been made to intensify this aspect of their breeding.
The other aspect of the contribution of Davenport bloodlines to CMK breeding has to do with how they have blended with bloodlines other than their own. For the most part, Davenport elements in CMK pedigrees are significant but certainly not overwhelming in terms of the percentage of total ancestry represented. In many instances their main contribution is probably in the form of background influences which facilitate the expression of desirable characteristics from other, more immediate pedigree sources. Where the percentage of Davenport ancestry becomes higher, of course, the influence of specific Davenport horses becomes more recognizable, and the vitality and muscularity of Letan, the long, upright neck of Hanad, the fine coat of Hasiker and the other identifiable characteristics can sometimes be picked out. Some years ago a study was done of the pedigrees of horses competing at our national show. It turned out that the more successful horses being exhibited in performance categories tended to have higher percentages of Davenport ancestry than the average horse winning at that show in halter classes. A frequent comment of trainers is that their horses having higher percentages of Davenport blood tend to be more easily trained. Usually the overall influence of Davenport blood in a horse is towards a smoother, more harmoniously built individual. This may be traceable to *Hamrah #28 who was a great brood mare sire and whose blood was very strongly present in the Kellogg Davenports.
The CMK movement offers an opportunity for increased appreciation of some of the older values in Arabian breeding. Davenport bloodlines have contributed very strongly to the expression of these values.
The subject of sire lines is an interesting one. In a sense they can be taken as canaries in the genetic coal mine–where traditional sire lines persist, it usually (though not always) means someone is selecting for a traditional stamp of horse, or at least paying attention to something other than the dictates of current fashion. The historical trend in most breeds is for the overall population to be grafted over to fashionable new male lines every few years.
There are surprisingly few sire lines in the Arabian breed, and the pre-1950 North American ones almost all trace ultimately to Ibrahim (Skowronek) or Zobeyni (Mesaoud, whose strongest branch is *Astraled to Gulastra; and Mahruss to Rijm). Among the Davenport lines, *Deyr and *Muson are pretty solid; all straight Davenports now trace to one or the other, and they also have representatives in combined-source breeding. I am not sure *Muson persists except through Kimfa, outside the modern straight Davenports and a few of their close derivatives. The lines of Las Trad and Ibn Hanrah for example descend from *Deyr.
Most of the other long-term survivors have to be classed as “trace” sire lines, and if any of these is to continue in existence, still less to prosper, someone has to make an effort to find the horses and get them used. The Old English *Kismet line is still available, and potentially so is the Davenport one of *Abbeian through Ralf. Davenport also brought in, before his own desert importation, *Nejdran DB who may be hanging on as well.
The old Midwest sire lines from *Saoud and *Al-Mashoor are getting very thin on the ground, I do not expect them to carry on. Ironically the other sire in this category, *Mirage, who was fading out a few years ago, illustrates how these things can be turned around: this is now a candidate for the world’s most widespread sire line, thanks to Bay-Abi and especially to his grandsons Bey Shah, Huckleberry Bey and Barbary. Those horses are not generally operating in the context of CMK breeding (Bey Shah is over half Polish, and Barbary over 75%), and the *Mirage sire line outside this branch still needs some attention.
Our other Old English sire line is that of *Aldebar to Dwarka, and although this line has died out in England it’s experienced a resurgence lately here: *Aldebar’s grandson Bezatal was widely used by endurance breeders, so his branch looks like remaining a strong one for a while. There are other branches of the *Aldebar line which were fairly widespread a few years ago and may still be available.
The other CMK sire lines which are potentially active are *Mounwer and *Zamal of the Hearst importation (the line of *Ghamil has just died out); these horses have grandsons active but again, there needs to be some attention paid to the sire lines if they are to hang on.
Sire lines are markers for breed history but they also have a biological reality: recall that the Y chromosome is transmitted only from sire to son, and if a sire line dies out, a particular Y chromosome is gone. Genetic variation has been demonstrated in the Y chromosomes of other species (including humans) so there is no reason to think it does not exist in the horse as well.
Used by permission of Rick Synowski. First published in the CMK Heritage Catalogue Volume III
This treatment reflects the CMK dam line picture before the 1993 revision of the CMK Definition. — MB
While CMK Arabian horses have come to represent a minority breeding group today, CMK foundation mare lines hold fast to their international domination of lists of leading dams of champions. Their production records, some accomplished by mares now deceased, may never be equalled. The character, type and breeding of such celebrated mares must inevitably be diminished and disappear when outcrossing to stallions of other breeding groups predominates.
Veteran horsewoman Faye Thompson, whose father Claude Thompson introduced the Arabian horse into Oregon nearly 60 years ago, observes that “modern Arabian horses are good horses, but they’ve lost that classic, desert look that used to excite me so. Modern horses don’t get me excited the way the old ones did” [CMK Record, Spring 1989].
It is to be hoped the classic desert look which so excited the observer does not disappear, but may be perpetuated on some scale as CMK mares produce within the CMK breeding group. Perhaps the realization of the unique history behind these mares will contribute to this end.
Imported in 1888: *Naomi
THE FIRST ARABIAN MARE TO come to North America and leave modern descent, and the oldest mare in the Arabian Horse Registry of America, is *Naomi, foaled in England in 1877. Her sire and dam YATAGHAN and HAIDEE were brought from the desert by Capt. Roger Upton. Randolph Huntington, America’s earliest breeder of Arabian horses still represented in modern lines, imported *Naomi in 1888. In 1890 *Naomi foaled the fine chestnut colt ANAZEH, the first Arabian bred and born on American soil to leave modern descent. ANAZEH was sired by *Leopard, the grey Arabian stallion presented by Sultan Abdul Hamid II of Turkey to General U.S. Grant in 1878.
A mare with many firsts to her credit, though perhaps not of the show ring variety, *Naomi was photographed here at age 18, standing behind the strapping 13-day-old Khaled, her eighth of ten foals. As an individual *Naomi must have pleased Randolph Huntington, who by this time was enjoying no small recognition as one of America’s leading breeders of light horses. Huntington would build his entire Arabian program around this single mare, and thus *Naomi would make a far-reaching contribution to the development of a North American Arabian gene pool via her high-quality descendants.
Perhaps the most important of *Naomi’s tail-female descendants was to be the Manion-bred IMAGIDA, dam of the illustrious *Raffles daughters GIDA and RAFGIDA and two sons also by *Raffles, IMARAFF and RAFFI. Another distinguished female line was founded by the straight Maynesboro MADAHA. *Naomi’s descent from both sons and daughters also included the likes of RAHAS, GHAZI, RABIYAT, GHAZAYAT, Abu Farwa, ALLA AMARWARD and Aurab, just to name a few of the famous ones. *Naomi’s sons and daughters were among the finest horses of their time, and their descendants continue to be so regarded.
1893: *GALFIA and *NEJDME
IN 1893, BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT with Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, 45 Arabian horses were brought from Syria for exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair. The Hamidie horses, so named for the Hamidie Hippodrome Company which sponsored the exhibition, were beset by a series of disasters. Financial ruin of the company and a fire left 28 horses to be auctioned off.
Only three mares of the entire group would be given the opportunity to breed on. In 1894 Peter Bradley purchased the mares *GALFIA and *PRIDE. The third mare, *NEJDME, was purchased by J.A.P. Ramsdell. *GALFIA would be the first of the three to produce with her 1895 colt, MANNAKY JR. by the Hamidie stallion *MANNAKY. The following year *GALFIA again foaled to *MANNAKY and the filly ZITRA was to establish *GALFIA’s tail female line into modern descent.
In 1898 *NEJDME established the third American mare line with the birth of NONLIKER, sired by Ramsdell’s Ali Pasha Sherif stallion *SHAHWAN. Unfortunately NONLIKER was the only foal of the magnificent *SHAHWAN to breed on in America. That *SHAHWAN left scant descent at Crabbet prior to his importation was to be regretted by the Blunts as well, given the breeding performance of his daughter YASHMAK. NONLIKER was joined by younger half-sisters NANSHAN (1902) and NANDA (1905); the *NEJDME lines of DAHURA and LARKSPUR came to be particularly highly prized.
The third Hamidie mare bred on but not in tail female. *PRIDE produced just one registered foal, the 1902 mare SHEBA sired by MANNAKY JR. SHEBA would leave an important mark on the breeding program of Albert W. Harris in her sons NEJDRAN JR (by *NEJDRAN) and EL JAFIL (by *IBN MAHRUSS), sire of Harris’ noteworthy EL SABOK.
Much of the identifying information on the Hamidie horses, including the original authentication, has been lost, presumably in the fire. Bits and pieces of information from letters and newspaper articles have surfaced over the years. Some of the information coming down is conflicting regarding strains and birthdates, if not the outright identities of some of the horses. What we do know is that the horses which bred on did so extremely well.
IN 1900 THE FIRST CRABBET MARE came to America in the person of the BASILISK granddaughter *BUSHRA. She is registered as imported from the Crabbet Stud by “Mr. Eustis” but almost certainly went directly to Randolph Huntington’s ownership and produced her American offspring for Homer Davenport.
Wilfrid Blunt considered the family of BASILISK to be one of the best of their early desert importations. Later, the American breeder Spencer Borden noted the BASILISK mare line as the “best blood in the world.” The BASILISK family would be well represented among the early imports. *BUTHEYNA, *BARAZA and *BATTLA followed *BUSHRA.
The BASILISK female line died out at Crabbet, though it continued to England from the line established by BELKA at the Courthouse Stud. In America the line flourished notably from the Maynesboro mare BAZRAH.
1905: WILD THYME and RODANIA
SPENCER BORDEN CAME UPON the scene at the turn of the century. His contribution to the Arabian horse in America as an importer, breeder and author during these early days was to be monumental. In 1898 Borden had imported *SHABAKA from England, a mare by the desertbred MAMELUKE and out of KESIA II, imported en utero from the desert. *SHABAKA was not to establish a female line but her influence was realized in a highly valued son, SEGARIO. The KESIA mare line would in fact never become established here, but was represented again in Borden’s 1905 import, *SHABAKA’s half-brother *IMAMZADA, and in the 1924 Harris import *NURI PASHA [ex RUTH KESIA].
In 1905 Borden imported two fillies from the Hon. Miss Ethelred Dillon and introduced the WILD THYME mare line to breed on in America. Borden’s yearling *MAHAL and weanling *NESSA were both daughters of the Crabbet mare RASCHIDA (Kars x Wild Thyme). Like BASILISK’s, WILD THYME’s family died out early at Crabbet, but it was ably perpetuated by both *MAHAL and *NESSA in this country.
It was a stroke of genius that, also in 1905, Borden introduced the RODANIA female line to America with his importation of the dowager queen mother of Crabbet, *ROSE OF SHARON. Borden’s coup in obtaining the most celebrated of Crabbet’s early matrons must be considered in light of her unparalleled international influence.
The RODANIA daughters spread the influence of Crabbet breeding to virtually every other Arabian horse breeding base in the world. *ROSE OF SHARON’s mare line would carry forward in American breeding by her tail female descendants imported later from Crabbet. Her uniquely American contributions to the breed came via her son *RODAN and daughter ROSA RUGOSA, dam of the important Maynesboro sire SIDI.
The two remaining branches of RODANIA’s family were brought to America later and also became firmly established here. The RODANIA daughter ROSEMARY is represented by *ROKHSA, imported in 1918 by W.R.Brown, *RAIDA, imported in 1926 by Kellogg, *RISHAFIEH, imported in 1932 by Selby, and *KADIRA, imported 1939 by J.M. Dickinson. The ROSE OF JERICHO branch was established by the 1926 Kellogg imports *ROSSANA, *RASIMA and *RASAFA, and the 1930 Selby ones *RASMINA and *ROSE OF FRANCE.
IN 1906 HOMER DAVENPORT imported 27 Arabian horses directly from the desert. This importation would be the largest genetic contribution unique to American Arabian horse breeding. Six of Davenport’s desert mares would establish mare lines, and each would be represented on the leading dams of champions lists. For many years the leading dam of champions, BINT SAHARA, and her runner-up daughter FERSARA, are of *WADDUDA’s line. SAKI, whose champion produce record would come to equal BINT SAHARA’s, was of *WERDI’s family.
As in the case of each of these mares, Davenport breeding blended wonderfully well with that of other early CMK sourcess, the result being realized in some of the best representatives of the breed in history. Interestingly, some of Davenport’s desert sources were the same breeders from whom the Blunts had purchased foundation stock nearly 30 years earlier. The success Davenport, and later W.R.Brown, Harris, Kellogg, Hearst and Selby realized in combining Davenport and Crabbet breeding represented in some cases a recombining of lines derived from the same desert sources.
Davenport mare lines survive both in straight Davenport breeding programs and inextricably within the larger CMK breeding group. Their contribution of classic desert type and quality can still readily be identified.
1909: BINT HELWA
APART FROM HOMER DAVENPORT, there was no one to compare to the spirited patronage of Spencer Borden for the Arabian horse in America at the turn of the century. Borden’s visits to the Crabbet Stud and his lively correspondence with Lady Anne Blunt were to gain him respect and favor in securing some of the best individuals of that Stud. And so in 1909 Borden would again bring a grande dame of Crabbet to American shores, the Ali Pasha Sherif bred *GHAZALA, daughter of the Crabbet family foundress BINT HELWA.
BINT HELWA’s line was a third to take hold in America but die out at Crabbet. And take hold it did in the two illustrious *GHAZALA daughters, GULNARE and GUEMURA. Two other branches of the BINT HELWA family would later provide foundation mares to American CMK breeding in *HAMIDA, *HAZNA and *HILWE.
1910: DAJANIA and *LISA
THE NEXT YEAR A FIFTH Crabbet family line would reach America in the DAJANIA mare *NARDA II, imported by F. Lothrop Ames. *NARDA II, a daughter of NARGHILEH, was purchased in foal to RIJM and the next year foaled *NOAM, a three-quarters sister to *NASIK, *Nureddin II and NESSIMA.
The DAJANIA family would be greatly distinguished at Crabbet and in America as producers of some of the greatest sires in the history of the breed: the aforementioned *NASIK and *Nureddin II, and NASEEM, INDIAN GOLD, *NIZZAM, INDIAN MAGIC, *SERAFIX, ELECTRIC SILVER and *SILVER DRIFT. In America the DAJANIA line sires included INDRAFF, RAPTURE and AARAF.
Later *INDAIA was imported by Roger Selby and *INCORONATA by Kellogg, bringing the imported family of DAJANIA mares to just four.
Also in 1910, the mare *LISA was imported by C.P.Hatch. She was listed as having been “bred in the desert” and registered as black. *LISA’s family line survives via one daughter, ALIXE by *HAURAN. ALIXE’s breeder was Warren Delano of Barrytown, NY. ALIXE in turn produced three daughters by JERREDE (*Euphrates x *Nejdme), and of these JERAL and NARADA bred on.
1918: FERIDA and SOBHA
THE MAYNESBORO STUD IN Berlin, NH was founded in 1912 by William Robinson Brown. Brown’s foundation stock was acquired in the beginning from other American breeders. It was, in fact, via Maynesboro that key links with some of the earliest CMK bloodlines were to be carried forward.
In 1918 Brown made an importation of 17 horses from the Crabbet Stud. Brown’s purchase would be a timely one for CMK breeding in that advantage was taken, purposely or not, of the legal feud between Lady Wentworth and her father Wilfrid Blunt, after Lady Anne Blunt’s death. Certain Crabbet horses were acquired by Brown which might otherwise never have left the Stud. This was especially true of the phenomenal *BERK.
The 1918 Maynesboro importation introduced the FERIDA family to North America in the two-yr-old chestnut filly *FELESTIN. *FELESTIN’s dam FEJR (Rijm x Feluka) also produced the stallions FARIS and FERHAN, sires in turn of the important English breeding horses RISSALIX and INDIAN GOLD.
A second, more prolific, branch of the FERIDA family was established eight years later with the importation of the celebrated FELUKA daughter, *FERDA, by W.K.Kellogg. Ten years after her importation, half the horses at the Kellogg Ranch would be descended from *FERDA, such was the value of this FERIDA line mare.
The 1918 Maynesboro importation also brought a seventh Crabbet family to America in the SOBHA representative, *SIMAWA, a mare who would later become important to the breeding program of Albert Harris. Selby and Kellogg would each make astute importations of SOBHA line mares in *SELMNAB (imported 1930) and *CRABBET SURA (imported 1936).
The most acclaimed branch of the SOBHA family did not reach America until the 1950s. This was the line of Lady Wentworth’s unforgettable SILVER FIRE.
1921 and 1922: *BALKIS II and *KOLA
W.R. BROWN WAS A U.S. ARMY Remount agent, and it was a major purpose of his breeding program that Arabians be bred as suitable mounts for cavalry. It was probably with this in mind that in 1921 and ’22 he imported Arabian horses from France, a country long esteemed for breeding cavalry horses.
Brown’s French importation was in keeping with the tradition of Huntington, Borden, Bradley and Davenport, who touted the utilitarian supremacy of the Arabian horse, promoting the Arabian for American cavalry use.
Two of the French mares would establish mare lines at Maynesboro. The *BALKIS II granddaughter FOLLYAT and the *KOLA daughters FADIH and FATH were broodmatrons which especially earned respect for the contribution of French breeding to the CMK foundation.
1924: QUEEN OF SHEBA
THE SOLE REPRESENTATIVE of the Crabbet family of QUEEN OF SHEBA to breed on in CMK founder lines was *ANA (Dwarka x Amida), imported to America in 1924. *ANA would produce two daughters for her importer Albert Harris. She was later sold to Philip Wrigley for whom she was to produce four more daughters including the notable ADIBIYEH.
*ANA was full sister to *ALDEBAR, bred by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales and imported by Henry Babson.
1928: *NOURA and MAKBULA
AMEEN RIHANI OF NEW YORK imported three Arabians from the desert in 1928, a stallion *SAOUD and two mares, *NOURA and her daughter *MUHA. A thin but well-regarded line was to come from these mares. *NOURA’s family would be famously represented by Margaret Shuey’s elegant matron MY BONNIE NYLON.
Roger Selby’s Crabbet importation of 1928 introduced the MAKBULA family to America in the small-statured, exquiste *KAREYMA. *KAREYMA would prove to be one of Selby’s best purchases from Crabbet, judging by the excellence of her produce. Selby would bring three more representatives of the MAKBULA line to Ohio in 1930 with the importation of *KIYAMA, *JERAMA and *NAMILLA.
IN 1929 HERMAN FRANK of Los Angeles imported *MALOUMA, the first of two Egyptian lines to be incorporated into the foundation of CMK breeding. *MALOUMA was purchased by Kellogg for whom she produced the four daughters which carry on her line.
1931: *LA TISA
IN 1931 THE CHICAGO INDUSTRIALIST and philanthropist Charles Crane made a trip to the Middle East and came back with some Arabian horses, gifts from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Aziz, who had not met an American before Crane. Crane dispatched a geologist engineer to Arabia in search of oil and water.
This exchange of favors between Crane and the Saudi ruler resulted in ARAMCO’s being established as Saudi Arabia’s petroleum exploration and development partner–a partnership which only too obviously has shaped American foreign policy to this day.
Crane’s two fillies, *LA TISA and *MAHSUDHA, reportedly were of quality and beauty in keeping with the rest of his venture. *LA TISA would establish a family which has carried forward into CMK breeding.
1932: BINT YAMAMA
W.R.BROWN INTRODUCED A second Egyptian mare line to CMK breeding with the 1932 importation of seven Arabians bred by Prince Mohammed Ali of Cairo. All were of the BINT YAMAMA family line, which was perpetuated by the four mares: *RODA and *AZIZA, daughters of NEGMA; *H.H. MOHAMMED ALI’S HAMAMA and *H.H. MOHAMMED ALI’S HAMIDA, both out of the famed NEGMA daughter MAHROUSSA. The Maynesboro Egyptian importation had been made at the same time as Henry Babson’s importation of six horses also from Egypt.
Interestingly, the origins of the Egyptian horses can be traced back in part to Abbas Pasha/Ali Pasha Sherif stock of the Blunt’s day. The exact origin of BINT YAMAMA and her relationship to early Blunt horses is a mystery yet to be solved.
IN 1934, JIM AND EDNA Draper of Richmond, California brought home five Arabians from Spain. Four of the five were mares, and all of the same female line, that of the Spanish ZULIMA through SIRIA. The elegant grey *NAKKLA was purchased by Kellogg’s and incorporated into that breeding program. The Drapers retained the SIRIA daughters *MECA and *MENFIS (dam of *NAKKLA) and *MECA’s daughter *BARAKAT, breeding them to CMK stallions.
The Draper Spanish mares produced admirably, gaining a place of pride within the CMK tradition. Edna Draper holds the distinction of being the last importer of CMK foundation stock still living.
THE LAST DESERT CONTRIBUTION considered a part of CMK foundation breeding was the Hearst importation of 1947. This was the largest group of Arabians brought directly from the Arabian desert countries since that of Homer Davenport.
The Hearst Ranch had been established with the purchase of Maynesboro stock upon that farm’s dispersal, which included the Maynesboro sires RAHAS, REHAL, GHAZI and GULASTRA. Hearst had also purchased Kellogg stock, bring about a parallel breeding program to that Stud’s.
The Hearst importation included eight mares (*RAJWA was accompanied by her daughter *BINT RAJWA), all but one of which contributed to the CMK breeding tradition.
HAGAR, THE “JOURNEY MARE,” was the Blunts’ second acquisition in the desert, but it took 75 years before her female line reached America to stay. HAGAR was purchased to carry Wilfrid Blunt from Aleppo to Baghdad and back to Damascus on the Blunts’ 1878 journey. She proved admirably up to the task and earned praise from Lady Anne in her journals.
HAGAR was sent to England as part of the foundation of the Crabbet Stud. She was sold to the Hon. Ethelred Dillon for whose Puddlicote Stud HAGAR proved a foundress. The first HAGAR breeding reached America in 1905 via the important Dillon-bred *NESSA’s sire *HAURAN and another HAGAR son, HAIL.
There was still no HAGAR female line in America when hers became another family lost to Crabbet. The line persisted through Miss Dillon’s ZEM ZEM and through HOWA, foundation mare of the Harwood Stud. ZEM ZEM and her daughter ZOBEIDE were left to Borden by Miss Dillon’s will, but left no further registered progeny.
It was not until 1953 that the HAGAR family would reach American shores and be carried on into CMK breeding. This came about when seven mares from Holland’s Rodania Stud (Dr. H.C.E.M. Houtappel) were imported to New York by T. Cremer. The mares were *CHADIGA, *FAIKA, *LATIFAA, *FATIMAA, *RITLA, *LEILA NAKHLA and *MISHKA.
With HAGAR’s line, American breeders had 10 mare families to carry on the Crabbet breeding base.
THESE, THEN, ARE THE ORIGINAL CMK MARE FAMILIES. They have been combined in American horse breeding history to form one genetic legacy uniquely American–CMK. The timeless quality of CMK mares should be obvious to all fanciers of the Arabian horse, but it would appear to fall to a few to recognize that an effort must be made to conserve the identity of these irreplaceable lines for posterity.
This treatment reflected the CMK dam line picture before the 1993 revision of the CMK Definition. — MB
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?